THE CONCEPT of holy war is developed in the passages we read today (specifically Deut. 20:16-18), where the Hebrew verb kharam is translated “devote to complete destruction”. The concept is broader than warfare; it is a sanction of someone or something because it is accursed or due to Yahweh’s exclusive ownership, and it is used to describe the Israelites’ treatment of cities in Canaan. It relates to the coming war between Israel and enemies who served — and were spawned by — lesser gods. We will visit this again when we get into the Book of Joshua.