To clarify my previous comment further (I had to leave for an hour or so), while I agree there’s a natural tendency (corrupted by the corruptions of nature) to expect the deity to be most impressed with total genocidal victories, I also see various cultural factors in the OT texts (and the NT somewhat differently) with which God could mitigate the corrupted tendencies of a bunch of people He’s trying to train who (as representatives of all humanity) start off pretty near the bottom of the barrel morally and might even as well be devils. (I’m not trying to insult them; the Jewish scriptures themselves are frightfully self-critical along this line.)
And I can agree that even if God tries to mitigate violent damage by making use of pseudo-genocidal language in a shame/honor context of relatively non-violent military defeat, there are definite moral problems remaining in the idea that other cultures and people would be impressed by the notion of even a figurative genocide.
Even that wouldn’t be so much a dilemma (evil, duh) except that (as RM helpfully illustrates in his own way) we find YHWH flagrantly insisting on authoritative responsibility (and even direct action) for it.
Why we now regard what’s happening there as evil, duh, is an important question, too, and something to be approached (both for evangelical/apologetic purposes, and for self-criticism) within the bounds of our overarching theology. If we’re trinitarian theists (and obviously I think we should be), we must be careful to work from and not inadvertently invalidate ortho-trin Christian theology when dealing with how to interpret and learn from scriptural accounts of God’s relation to historical events.
That can result in strong criticisms of easy militant and combative interpretations of the violence texts (not only them, of course, but that’s our current topic) — and I’m well aware of those criticisms, because discovering and acknowledging and accepting such trinitarian Christian criticisms of such attitudes was a highly self-critical process through which I came to believe (some type of) Christian universalism to be true. I’m a zorchy militant guy by nature, after all! – and I know my nature has been corrupted, both physically and spiritually.
But by exactly the same token I can’t agree with universalist interpretations, however well-meant (and I know from experience that even militantly non-universalistic interpretations can be well-meant), that inadvertently deny or undermine orthodox trinitarian theism (whether directly or by extrapolation from undermining a more basic category like supernaturalistic theism per se).
Thus, as I said to Sobor earlier this morning, when I see attempts to divorce God from being authoritatively responsible for even morally dubious or wretched events, I see that I’ve got to put my foot down on that. I know it’s well-meant, but I can also see where that idea is going to go if followed out – away from supernaturalistic theism at all, and thus also (by extrapolation) away from any kind of Christian theism, much moreso away from trinitarian Christian theism.
Not that I’m setting up ortho-trin as an unchallengeable presumption, or even supernat-theism, but I see no valid reason to challenge it (inadvertently or otherwise) from this direction.