it is ok to cut down trees

jack handyIt is often used as an example of God’s care for trees that God prohibited Israel from cutting down trees of their enemies. Whenever this is quoted, this seems to be quoted well out of context. Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy both make this mistake:

A couple verses before this, God is commanding total war. God commands Israel to kill everything that breathes:

Deu 20:13 And when the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword,
Deu 20:14 but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you.

So is God showing love for the trees and hate for breathing human beings? Not so much. God is telling Israel how Israel will best be served.

Here is the actual context:

Deu 20:19 “When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you?
Deu 20:20 Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

Israel is commanded not to cut down trees that produce edibles because they provide food. God is telling Israel not to destroy a source of food. God redirects Israel to cut down trees that do not bear food (like pine trees and oak trees). God tells them to use these trees to convert into siege weaponry to kill people.

These verses are absolutely not a love song for trees. It is not even a love song for people. Instead it is a military directive to help Israel succeed.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Misquoted Verses, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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