The rule for war, in Deuteronomy, is as follows: present your enemy with the option of slavery or death and slavery. That might sound merciful in any year other than the one that 12 Years a Slave came out and will probably win a ton of Oscars. If you fight and lose, the men all are killed but the women and children wind up as slaves. So the question is, as the men making decisions about these things, do you decide to guarantee slavery for everyone? Or do you risk your own lives in the hope that you might win, knowing that even if you fail the circumstances won’t be different for your wife and children?

Seriously, Deuteronomy? This is your solution? What happened to remembering that you were slaves in Egypt and all that jazz? If you enslave another group of people you just begin the cycle of exploitation and conflict all over again.

This rule, as awful as it is, only applies to “the towns that are very far from you, which are not towns of the nations here” (v 15). I guess this means they plan to conquer lands beyond what God appointed? Ugh. For the current residents of Canaan, they “the towns that are very far from you, which are not towns of the nations here” (v 16). Men, women, children, babies, animals – all to prevent them from being tempted to idolatry. Men and women, I can understand the argument even if I think it’s horrible, but infants? Animals? How does killing newborns and non-sentient creatures remove any temptation to commit idolatry? I get with the animals that there’s a sense that they’re not supposed to profit off their conquest (other than taking all the land…) but again, everyone?

Even if you accept the idea that you need to eradicate all followers of other gods to remove the temptation – which I don’t, because really, if your faith isn’t strong enough to stand watching other people worshiping differently, that’s your problem – the killing of children turns this unarguably into genocide. You are literally advocating wiping these people out not because of their religion but because of their ethnicity.

One last rule: don’t cut down fruit trees around a city your laying siege to. ‘Cause you’ll need ’em once the city falls, I guess. Trees get more compassion than people. Yeesh.

Yeah, this was a frustrating chapter, to say the least. The rules are appalling and the logic behind them is nonsensical. I get that Deuteronomy has decided “we mingled too much” was the source of all their problems, but you can advocate a certain level of religious isolationism without pushing it to the point of annihilation of everyone else.

The Japanese: iyoiyo “finally, at last” (v 2), hirumu “to flinch, to shrink from, to recoil,” awateru “to panic,” urotaeru “to be dismayed” (v 3), tamawaru “to bestow” (v 4), houkenshiki “dedication ceremony,” man’ichi “unlikely event, by some chance” (v 5), kujikeru “to falter, to waver” (v 8), shiki “command, leadership” (v 9), koufuku suru “to surrender,” kankoku suru “to advise” (v 10), judaku suru “to accept,” kyouseiroudou “forced labor” (v 11), kousen suru “to resist,” houi suru “to surround” (v 12), arayuru “every” (v 18), rui “base, fortress, stronghold” (v 20).