Richard Dawkins accused God that He is, ‘…vindictive [and a] bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser.…’ 1 He comes to that conclusion based on God’s command to annihilate the Amalekites, Canaanites and Midianites. We have to take a closer look at the Bible to see whether Dawkins is correct in his assessment of God.
The Bible says about God, ‘Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.’ 2 Let us begin to investigate the case of the Amalekites (Kill them all, Part 4).
The Amalekites were always hostile and aggressive towards the Israelites:
- They attacked the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. ‘When [the Israelites] were weary and worn out, [the Amalekites] met [them] on the journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.’ 3 Obviously the Israelites had no weapons or training in warfare then.
- The Amalekites joined Moab to attack Israel. 4
- In the time of Gideon, the Amalekites joined with the Midianites and other eastern people, and ravished Israel. 5
- The Amalekites sacked David’s city Ziklag and carried away all the plunder. 6 David fought valiantly, but some escaped.
How did God react to the Amalekites?
- God is fair (just and righteous). He does not protect His people when they are in the wrong. The Israelites disobeyed God and attacked the Amalekites and Canaanites. The Israelites got a thorough beating. 7
- God is merciful (loving and faithful). He gave the Amalekites hundreds of years to change their tune and let go their hostility towards the Israelites and God. 8
No normal head of state will allow his nation to be harmed and harassed. No leader of a country worth anything will allow outsiders to come and attack the citizens. We have modern examples of the unwarranted attacks by Isis and others on citizens of foreign countries, and the countries take action. So why is only God derided as vindictive and a bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser if He protects His people?
God is completely justified to react to the hostility of the Amalekites. In this case Dawkins has no leg to stand on.
- The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006. p31
- Psalm 89:14
- Deuteronomy 25:18
- Judges 3:13
- Judges 6:3-6
- 1 Samuel 30
- Numbers 14:40-45
- Psalm 83:4-7