In Reading Deuteronomy, Stephen Cook has already shown how the Israelite occupation of the Transjordan was conceived in Deuteronomy as a battle, not against actual Canaanite people and tribes, but against mythic, even occult, forces.
In Deuteronomy 7:16 we have another appalling call for ethnic cleansing
You must destroy all the people whom the Lord your God is about to deliver over to you; you must not pity them or worship their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
Once again Cook denies that this command was meant literally. After all, if this came from Josiah’s time, it was at least 600 years after the actual time of Moses. Canaanites no longer had armies or kingdoms within the land. Deuteronomy is relying on a Near Eastern combat myth so that chaos and death are God’s true enemies and the Canaanite pagans stand for these more mythic enemies…
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