In my Bible reading I have been lately going through Joshua and Judges. That is, when I am not just sickie sick in my bed. Boo @ sick. This part of the Bible is in fairly strong contrast to the earlier parts in terms of the morality involved. In the early parts of the Bible, Exodus, Leviticus, etc. there are some really bad parts, but there are also a ton of good, useful rules to help make a society work better. It is a really mixed bag, and taking it all as unchangeable truth seems crazy but there is much in there to admire.
Joshua and Judges is a extreme departure from that because it is just evil. Joshua was basically a long list of people the Israelites massacred with God's help and places they sacked and conquered. This isn't some battlefield victory followed by an occupation, it is pure genocide. The Israelites, by God's specific demand, murder every living person and animal in the areas they capture. They destroy the creations of those people and then move on to the next area. Specific non-Israelites are mentioned so that their torture and eventual murder can be catalogued. Reading this just makes my stomach churn. This isn't good, it isn't defensible, and it isn't holy. It is a story of genocide ordered and orchestrated by God, and I can only apply the word Evil to it.
Judges is slightly different in that it contains a series of stories, each of which unfolds in the same way. Firstly, the Israelites go astray and stop worshipping God properly, or worship Baal, or deny God his sacrifices. Then God causes another group to walk in and enslave and oppress the Israelites for years or decades in punishment. Eventually they complain enough and God raises up a champion among them who then proceeds to inflict brutal slaughter on their enemies, again leaving none alive. The Israelites worship God for awhile, then the cycle continues. Over and over this occurs, Astray, Slavery, Hero, Massacre, Worship. Can anything good be said about these stories?
Joshua and Judges is one of those parts of the Bible that is just indefensible. It a club, a bludgeon to smash gullible people into believing God to be jealous, angry and whimsical, the sort of person/thing that must be desperately feared. This is not a God of universal love and forgiveness, but a brutal tyrant who delights in the terror and obedience of his subjects and the destruction of those who are not part of his chosen clan. It portrays the execution of a non Jew to be not just free of guilt, but an admirable, necessary task in the pursuit of God's vision. I have found many good things in the Bible I didn't expect and now I have found chapters that are evil to an extent I never imagined.