After God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 15, He then tells him something less exciting.
Your ancestors will eventually be slaves. They will be oppressed. They will be burdened.
BUT, God says, I will judge their enslavers. And God will eventually bring them back to this land that Abraham is standing on now. They will receive it as an inheritance.
In between those two events though, the land will be inhabited by the Amorites. What will become of them?
The Iniquity of the Amorites
I used to think that the Amorites were the name of a specific group of people. As such, I always wondered what it was that they did so bad that God kept talking about how bad they were.
As it turns out, they actually are a specific group of people, but the term here really refers to all the Canaanites in general. God is telling Abraham that those inhabitants are evil and will need to be exterminated before Abraham’s ancestors fully inherit the land.
(Spoiler alert: The Israelites do not kill everyone, which sets them up for problems later.)
This leaves a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people. Why would God order the execution of an entire race of people?
To answer this, we need to realize just how bad these people were. These were not “innocent bystanders” to the Israelites’ conquest. They were hedonistic, infanticidal pagans that performed all of their idolatrous acts to excess.
If sex was involved, it was perverted and extreme.
If sacrifices were ordered, people (including children) were sometimes included.
The people of Canaan were not a peaceful group of everyday citizens, they were an unGodly, barbaric race of humans that God had judged. So much so, that He says their iniquity is filling up day by day.
The Patience of God
Consider this though. Instead of just nuking them off the face of the earth like God did with Sodom and Gomorrah, He actually gives them 400+ years to repent.
Think about it. God was so patient with these people that He actually allowed His people to live in slavery for 400 years just to allow them plenty of time to change their ways. They didn’t, so when the Israelites showed up, it was judgment time.
Is God really as heartless and cruel as atheists would want you to believe? Hardly.
But based on what we know about history, humans have a pretty terrible track record. The Amorites deserved their punishment, regardless of who dished it out.