The fact that the Israelites exterminated the Canaanites was justifiable because they were told to do so by God (Archer 1996). The main reason that God gave this command is because it would have been dangerous for the Israelites to have lived alongside the Canaanites; because this group of people polytheistic and sexually impure, they would have exerted a negative influence among the Hebrews. Since the Canaanites practiced a religion that involved infant sacrifice and prostitution, God thought that this extermination was necessary for His people to be able to flourish.
It is also important to note that the Canaanites committed many atrocities to the Israelites; this extermination is their just punishment. “In 1 Samuel 15:2-3, God commanded Saul and the Israelites, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt” (gotquestions.org). In addition, God can see the future; He must have commanded this of the Hebrews in order to ensure the protection of His people.
This extermination is extremely different from the jihad of the Muslims because God commanded the death of this group of people because of their unholy ways and potential threat. Jihad is defined as “a crusade for a principle or belief”; in the Islamic religion, this war waged as a religious duty has become extremely violent (Merriam-Webster). Violent jihad is a contradiction against the Qur’an itself; the Islamic people are not supposed to commit violence against others, just as we are prohibited from doing so according to the Ten Commandments. The main purpose of Jihad according to the Qur’an is to persuade others to believe fully in God; however, as Islam is derived from Judaism and Christianity, they are preaching our shared God (Morgan 2010). The violence that they are committing therefore disagrees with what is written in their own book of religious rules because these violent acts are mainly committed against those of Jewish and Christian faith. Instead of spreading the word of God, they are committing acts of terrorism who do not share identical social and religious views as they do. Since this is not an act of God, and clearly a violation of what is written in the Qur’an the extermination of the Canaanites and jihad are not even similar; the Canaanites were exterminated for the protection and growth of the Hebrew people while jihad only undermines the spread of holiness.
Archer Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Moody Publishers, 1996.
Gotquestions.org. Why did God command the extermination of the Canaanites, women and children included? N.D. http://www.gotquestions.org/Canaanites-extermination.html
Merriam-Webster. Jihad. N.D. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jihad
Morgan, Diane. Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. ABC-CLIO, 2010.