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  1. SAVE THE VIRGINS mc:He gets is [sic] from the destruction of the Amalekites and the alleged rape of the Midianite virgins. However, no one on earth can prove that the Midianite virgins were raped or even used for sexual pleasure. TILL No one on earth can prove (1) that the massacre of the Midianites even happened or (2) that if it did happen, the order to keep the virgins alive was made because of the value that men in those times placed on virginity. McDonald No one on earth can prove that massacre of the Midianites ever happened. However Till and those of his persuasion call it a real moral atrocity. How could it be considered a moral atrocity if it didn't happen? All Till can logically say is "if it did happen it would constitute a moral atrocity." Since he says it can't be proved that it happened he can't call it a moral atrocity. TILL If it never happened, then, of course, it wasn't a moral atrocity, because that which did not happen can't be anything but a tale. If, however, biblicists like McDonald are going to contend that it did happen, they must bear the burden of proving that it was morally right to kill children taken as captives in battle and to kill nonvirgins but keep the virgins alive for themselves. Anyone who doesn't have an inerrancy act to grind will read this story and understand that it was obviously saying that, if it happened, the virgin girls were kept alive for sexual reasons. For the sake of argument, however, let's just suppose that McDonald's source [snicker, snicker] Gleason Archer was right and that the virgins were spared just to be servants. That still leaves him with the problem of explaining what is so morally right about forced servitude. --- --- Till and (2) if it did happen, that the virgin Midianites were kept alive just to be servants, as McDonald's source quoted in our debate (Gleason Archer) claimed. McDonald As I pointed out in our oral debate in 1991 if they were used as sex slaves there would have been no reason at all for God to have been angry with israel for having sex with them. The account begins in Numbers chapter 25 where israel was led off into idolatry and fornication by the Midianites. In Numbers chapter 31 israel was given clear orders to kill them all. When they brought back the spoils of both men and women Moses was angry with them and told them to kill all the men and all the women who had known man by lying with him. TILL All the men had already been killed, if we are to believe this inerrant story. Numbers 31:7 They did battle against Midian, as Yahweh had commanded Moses, and KILLED EVERY MALE. 8 They killed the kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian, in addition to others who were slain by them; and they also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. The captives that they brought back, according to this inerrant story, were women and children. Numbers 31:9 The israelites took the women of Midian and their little ones captive; and they took all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods as booty. Some of these "little ones" were males, whom Moses ordered his soldiers to kill. Numbers 31:14 Moses became angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 Moses said to them, "Have you allowed all the women to live? 16 These women here, on Balaam's advice, made the israelites act treacherously against Yahweh in the affair of Peor, so that the plague came among the congregation of Yahweh. 17 Now therefore, kill EVERY MALE AMONG THE LITTLE ONES, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves. ---- --- For the sake of argument, let's just assume that the israelites were justified in killing the nonvirgin females because of the incident at Peor. To so assume, we would have to suppose that every last nonvirgin female brought back as captives had participated in the orgy at Peor. I will show later that this scenario is inconsistent with the rest of Numbers 31, but to give McDonald the benefit of the doubt, let's just assume that every nonvirgin female among these captives had participated in the event at Peor. That still leaves the males among the "little ones," whom Moses ordered his men to kill. -- ----- Let McDonald explain to us the objective morality in doing that, because these male children would not have been involved in the orgy at Peor. Oh, I forgot! The male children were killed to " cut off the seed of the Midianites." How silly of me not to recognize that. McDONALD These women were probably killed because they could be pregnant and/or they would lead the israelites off into fornication again. TILL As I pointed out in our written debate, notice how often McDonald will resort to "probablies" and "could-bes" to explain biblical embarrassments. I keep wondering just where someone who has so much linguistic difficulty writing his native language could have such amazing insights into what the Bible doesn't say. Here is a good place to mention that Church-of-Christ preachers often boast that they speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent, so I would really like for McDonald to show us where the Bible speaks about all these things that he somehow knows about the Midianite massacre. McDONALD The males were killed to cut off the seed of Midian. TILL Oh, is that so? Is this speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent? -- ------ --- Didn't Yahweh know that killing these male children would not "cut off" the seed of Midian? Midianites were mentioned several times after this, even though EVERY male Midianite had presumably been killed either in the invasion or the massacre of the "little ones," so where did the Midianites mentioned later (Judges 6:2-7, 11-16; 7:1-7, etc.) come from? If there were Midianites later on, what good, then, did it do to "cut off the seed of the Midianites" by killing the male "little ones"? Didn't the omniscient Yahweh not know that killing the males among the "little ones" wouldn't "cut off the seed of the Midianites"? You won't forget to answer that, will you? -- ---------------- -- I assume that everyone is noticing that McDonald is willing to defend the most despicable of human acts in order to defend his precious inerrancy belief. McDONALD The only ones that were allowed to live were the women who had not known man by lying with him (virgins). Now if God was going to allow the israelites to have sex with these virgins, if sex was on the agenda, he would have punished the israelites and the Midianites for no reason because they were being punished for committing fornication. Virginity had nothing to do with qualifying them for servitude, but it had everything to do with qualifying them for life. God had strict laws against having sex with someone outside of marriage. He just didn't allow it. Why would he break that edict in this matter? TILL Is this speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent? I have a simple question for McDonald. If this is really what Moses meant, i.e., just servitude, when he told his soldiers to keep the virgins alive for themselves, then why didn't he just say, "Keep the virgins alive to be your servants"? Shouldn't we have the right to expect an omniscient, omnipotent deity to guide his inspired ones to communicate in clear language so that disputes like this one would never arise? That aside, I would now like to ask McDonald to point out where this text said anything at all about these virgins working as servants. I will urge him in his answer to speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible remains silent. -- ----------- --- Finally, let's have a look at McDonald's claim that the nonvirgins were killed because they had led the israelites into idolatry and fornication. If we are to believed the inspired, inerrant word of God, only 24,000 israelites were killed for having participated in the orgy at Peor Num. 25:9). If we assume that each of the 24,000 had each had a Midianite sexual partner--or maybe they were Moabites (see Num. 25:1)--that would mean that there had been 24,000 Midianite participants in the orgy. The tale in Numbers 31, however, tells us that 32,000 virgins were kept alive that day (to be servants, of course). Are we to assume then that the young virgins were more numerous than the nonvirgins, whom we could reasonably assume were of various ages ranging from adolescence to old age? One would certainly think that a tribal society would have had more nonvirgins than virgins in its population. In other words, even if there had been as many as 24,000 Midianite women involved in the Peor orgy, we could hardly imagine that all of the nonvirgin captives had been involved in this incident. To so imagine, we would have to assume that the israelite men had had multiple partners or that the nonvirgin captives were fewer than the younger virgins. All that aside, I have been curious for some time to know how that israelites were able to determine which women were virgins. Maybe McDonald can tell us. -- ----------- ---- Till In my reply to Archer's "servant explanation," I pointed out that (1) if these females were kept alive just to be servants, there was no reason at all to kill the nonvirgins (as if nonvirgins couldn't work as servants) McDonald As I pointed out in 1991 I will point out again. Virginity had nothing to do with qualifying them for servitude; it had everything to do with qualifying them for life. Nonvirgins would be more apt to lead the israelite men off into fornication again and eventually into idolatry. TILL And in what way was McDonald able to determine that this was Yahweh's reason for having the nonvirgins massacred? Is he speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent. Anyway, given the importance that men in those ancient societies placed on virginity, wouldn't a pretty young virgin have been more tempting than a nonvirgin who had been around the block a few times? Till and that (2) the cultural emphasis that societies then placed on virginity would be a more likely explanation for why the virgins were spared (if this event actually happened). In support of this view, I pointed out (1) that when a successor was chosen for Queen Vashti, only virgins were considered as candidates to fill the position (Esther 2:1-4), McDonald Yes the culture did place an emphasis on virginity just as our culture used to and some are trying to get back to that idea. When a successor was chosen for Vashti virgins were brought before him. Not because having sex with a virgin was so pleasurable, but because virgins were considered sexually pure and the Kings servants didn't want to bring a woman to him who was not sexually pure. TILL Is everyone noticing how McDonald always knows the motivating factors in biblical stories, even when there is nothing in the stories that even implies what he is saying? Is this what he calls speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent? Till that (2) when David lay on his deathbed, the virgin Abishag was appointed to lie in bed with him to keep him warm (1 Kings 1:3). McDonald Yes, this is true, but a virgin was brought to him so no scandal could be started. If she was a virgin and known to be a virgin then people would not go around talking about her lying with David to keep him warm. TILL See what I mean? McDonald always knows everything that was involved behind the scenes in these stories. I could just as well say that they provided a virgin for David just in case he should regain some of his former sexual vigor. In such an event, he would have been rewarded with a female worthy of his stature. That observation would be just as valid as McDonald's. McDONALD Only a woman who was considered sexually pure could do this. If David was so sick that he needed someone to place her body next to his to keep him warm, I doubt that he was going to be much interested in sex anyway. TILL Is this speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent? I cited this example merely to emphasize the importance that men in those days attached to virginity. I didn't cite it so that McDonald could show us how he knows everything that went on the behind the scenes in this tale. I have shown that the importance attached to virginity in those days is a very reasonable explanation for why the nonvirgin Midianite captives were killed but the virgins kept alive for the men... er, excuse me, to be servants to the men. Till I don't recall without reviewing the manuscripts if I mentioned any other examples, but there are plenty in the Bible that could be cited. If McDonald doesn't know the value that males in biblical times put on virginity, then he really has no business trying to be an apologist. Anyone who doesn't have an inerrancy axe to grind can look at he text and see the obvious probability that Moses told his soldiers, who ould all have been males, to keep the virgins alive for themselves for sexual reasons. McDonald You can bring up all the accounts that you please, but you can't prove that these virgins were used for sex. TILL The text certainly implies it, and you can't prove that they were not so used. Until you can explain why Moses told the men to keep the virgins alive "for yourselves" rather than to keep them alive to become servants, reasonable readers will assume the more likely meaning. McDONALD I do know the value that males in Biblical times placed on virginity, but it wasn't because having sex with a virgin was so pleasurable. It was because virgins were considered sexually pure and if a man was going to find a wife, he would want someone who had not been with another man. TILL Well, I won't dispute that. To put a little frosting on the cake of my position in this matter, I will cite the case of Reuben and Bilhah. Genesis 35:22 While israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and israel heard of it. Because of this, Jacob later pronounced a curse of sorts on Reuben. Genesis 49:3 Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power. 4 Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto your father's bed; then you defiled it--you went up onto my couch! Jewish literature indicates that this offense was so grievous that Jacob (israel) never had sexual relations with Bilhah again. And now, children, love the truth, and it shall preserve you. I counsel you, hear ye Reuben your father. Pay no heed to the sight of a woman, nor yet associate privately with a female under the authority of a husband, nor meddle with affairs of womankind. For had I not seen Bilhah bathing in a covered place, I had not fallen into this great iniquity. For my mind, dwelling on the woman's nakedness, suffered me not to sleep until I had done the abominable deed. For while Jacob our father was absent with Isaac his father, when we were in Gader, near to Ephratha in Bethlehem, Bilhah was drunk, and lay asleep uncovered in her chamber; and when I went in and beheld her nakedness, I wrought that impiety, and leaving her sleeping I departed. And forthwith an angel of God revealed to my father Jacob concerning my impiety, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more ("Reuben's Testament" in Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs). The guys took sexual purity seriously in those days, and that ancient attitude is sufficient to explain why the israelites were told to keep the virgin Midianites alive for themselves. This is enough for McDonald to chew on for a while. I will continue my reply in part (2).
  2. McDONALD Darrel said that the context even showed that I was wrong, but he can't show anything in the context that even implies that I am wrong. TILL Okay, let me show you what is in the context that strongly implies that you are wrong. Notice the part emphasized in bold print (asterisks are used to emphasize for those who can't receive styled text). Isaiah 40:22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; **who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in....** If the earth were a flat disk, the heavens could be "stretched out like a curtain" and "spread like a tent" over it, but that could hardly be done to a sphere. This is probably why the JPS translated the verse as it did. It is He who is enthroned above the vault of the earth.... **Who spread out the skies like gauze, stretched them out like a tent to dwell in.** As I noted above, a tent could be stretched over a flat disk but hardly over a sphere, and God could sit above this and look down on the inhabitants of the earth, who would appear like grasshoppers, but this imagery would not support the view that God sat above a sphere, because from that vantage point, one could not see all the inhabitants of the earth. If, for example, he looked down on the western hemisphere, the inhabitants of the eastern hemisphere would not be visible.