Of course, conquest always involves war, so let’s start with a modern war story. Suppose a couple of generations from now, someone reads a story which describes the “conquest of Iraq.” In this story, American troops, guided by God, drive into Iraq. They surround the city where Saddam Hussein is hiding. They block the roads and announce that anyone who chooses to become American will be spared. Crowds and crowds leave the city, all chanting “We are Americans,” and go free. Finally, when the city’s almost empty, the soldiers march in and find Saddam Hussein cowering in a bunker. They say to him, “America forgives you,” and let him go.
D’you think anyone will believe that story? Why not?
And if the Bible stories of Israelite tribes moving into Canaan were similarly bloodless and forgiving, would you believe them?
Rereading the Bible now, in the light of modern understanding of tribal culture, historical context, geography, and yes, even military strategy, the story of the Jews in Canaan makes perfect sense—it sounds authentic; it even sounds like it comes from eye-witness accounts, which makes me trust the Bible’s version of history; and that makes it easier for me to declare with confidence what I already believe, that the Bible’s version of spirituality is accurate too.