Jews Yes, Judaism No

My parents were Jews, and they were nice people. If you see Jews as a race, then I’m a Jew too, and I try pretty hard to be nice people. I’ve known lots of Jews in my lifetime, and all of them except one fundamentalist were nice people. I still know lots of Jews, and I suppose this essay is directed especially at them.

Here’s something all these nice people have in common: They don’t take their religion very seriously. They haven’t studied the Old Testament, which is “their” part of the bible. If they do read any of the bible, they don’t think about it much. Nothing in the bible makes them stop and say

Wait – what????

In particular, they’re not very familiar with the Book of Joshua. I really, really, really dislike the Book of Joshua. I’d be happier with Jews if they called themselves JeJ, which stands for “Jewish Except Joshua,” meaning that they reject the Book of Joshua. That’s my request; that’s the point of this essay. I mean, sure, I could quibble about some other little things in the bible, but they’re all tiny compared to the Book of Joshua.

I’ll tell you about that book. Correct me if I get any of this wrong.

I’m sure that you know about Moses, because he’s a movie star. He led a slave revolt, freeing the Hebrews in Egypt. He parted the Red Sea; he received the Ten Commandments. Then he led the Hebrews around in the desert for 40 years (what was that about?). Anyway, then Moses died, and Joshua became chief. And then God said to Joshua, okay, the time has come, you will now enter the Promised Land, and kill all the inhabitants, and take their land.

Wait – what????

Yes, you heard that right. God, who is supposed to be so full of goodness and justice and all that, ordered an enormous genocide. Not as a punishment for wrongdoing, but just because those people were in the way. The Book of Joshua is a detailed accounting of all the slaughter.

Some people have suggested that the bible may not be historically accurate, and that in particular the war of Joshua may have never happened. That doesn’t matter. The real issue is what values the Jews embrace by accepting the Book of Joshua as part of their “sacred text.” It’s like the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Modern-day Zionism is a rerun of the Book of Joshua. The Zionists are imprisoning and killing the Palestinians and taking their land. And the Zionists say “God gave us this land, we have a deed for it,” and they point to the Book of Joshua, which their ancestors wrote.

This is not unusual in the history of nations. Most nations were “founded” by a war, and in many cases a genocidal war. The USA was “founded” by killing most of the Native Americans. But that shouldn’t be cherished as part of a religion. We can’t change the past, but we can change our attitude about the past. If we disapprove of past killings, maybe we can have fewer killings in the present and the future. I hope so.

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2022 Dec 15, version 1.02.

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