Genocide in the Old Testament

The course explores the most violent aspects of the Old Testament from an in-depth perspective through the analysis of biblical texts and historical artifacts.


Have you or those you know ever struggled with your view of the God of the Old Testament? Is He a God of tender mercy and peace? Or is He a vengeful God of wrath and destruction? In this course, Dr. Richard Hess from Denver Seminary provides an in-depth exploration of the seemingly most violent parts of the Old Testament through analysis of biblical texts and historical artifacts. Discover what these pieces of Old Testament history reveal to us about God’s true nature.

The course was developed in collaboration with Denver Seminary faculty.

  • Discuss why the God of the Old Testament is not a God of destruction but one of mercy and salvation.
  • Explain what the story of the flood in Genesis reveals about God’s true nature.
  • Explain how the story of Joseph provides a context for the conquest of Canaan.
  • Discuss, in detail, the conquests of Jericho and Ai and what we know about these cities and the people who lived there.
  • Explain the nature of the major battles fought in Canaan.
  • Address the issue of noncombatants in the Canaanite cities destroyed by Joshua’s army.
  • I appreciated Dr. Hess' passion for the subject. It was clear that he was well-versed in the subject matter because of his attention to detail--much of which could be discounted as irrelevant by a novice. However, with patience on the part of the student it becomes clear that the details matter in discrediting, with scholarly integrity, the attacks on God's character typically supported by poor biblical interpretation, lack of knowledge regarding relevant linguistic features and historical context. The course could be improved by emphasizing the principles of interpretation that a pupil could apply broadly throughout the Old Testament to avoid mischaracterizations of God because of poor interpretations. For example, he did this to some degree in Lesson 1 when he discussed the need to attend to the details of strong action by God along with the descriptions of the human condition, and the reasons that God presents for His actions. More of this would prove generally more useful for the average student of the Word. Overall, a big thank you to Dr. Hess!

    — Carolyn, United States
  • Very enlightening course and well presented.

    — Mark, United States
  • Ottimo

    — Giovanni, Italy

    — Charlotte, United States
  • Very interesting course, well presented, outstanding questions on quizzes and I would recommend this course and any of Dr. Hess' courses for study.

    — James, United States
  • This course is really an interesting one and so informative and gave good tips on history.

    — Samuel, Nigeria
  • I've been a student of the Bible for over 40 years and this course has given me so much new information that I can't wait to share. Thank you ODBU for this course.

    — Kevin, United States
  • Very well taught course that corrected several misconceptions of what I have always been taught and thought of the cities and towns of that era of Israel's history.

    — Edward, United States
  • Great course - interesting and informative. I learned a great deal. Thank you

    — Sidney, United States
  • I really enjoyed Dr Hess’s lectures and hope to have another course with him

    — Joanna, United States
  • This course was fascinating and fun! This is an interesting topic.

    — Jason, United States
  • It certainly gave me plenty of food for thought. I admit that it was hard to adjust my thinking to the smaller scale nature of some of Israel's battles in Canaan, but I can see why Dr. Hess presented what he did. Interesting subject matter. No regrets in taking the course. Nice bite-sized segments.

    — Donald, United States
  • Hearing the explanation of terms and what "men and women" meant, helped me to better understand God's intention and character when destroying the Canaanite cities.

    — Elisabeth, United States
  • I still have doubts about noncombatants being killed as it happened in Kings, especially king Saul and David who killed young and old. I do believe Dr. Hess put up some very good arguments especially about Ai and Joshua being forts where soldiers only resided.

    — Jean, Ireland
  • Dr. Hess clearly and persuasively presents his perspective on the events described in Joshua. He does not ignore other perspectives but does refute them on the basis of archaeological, linguistic, and contextual evidence.

    — Patricia, United States
  • I enjoyed the lessons and thought they were very well done.

    — Normand, United States
  • The course was easy to follow and presented new insights to me about genocide and God; it will provide useful information and a great source in answering the difficult questions concerning this subject.

    — Michael, United States

Course Content

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Lesson One
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Lesson Two
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Lesson Three
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Lesson Four
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Lesson Five
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Course Wrap-Up
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Basic Level
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Course Details

  • 5 Lessons
  • 16 Activities
  • 6 Assessments
  • 14 Min Average
  • 3 Hrs Minimum
  • 1.8 CEUs
  • Course Award

Course Resources

Videos Audios Transcripts Discussion Questions

Richard Hess, PhD

Course Provider

Denver Seminary

Course developed in collaboration with Denver Seminary.