During a PBS special on free-range chicken farming, Beth heard an animal rights activist refer to the American poultry industry as "the evil conglomerate which has brought to this country a new holocaust."
Beth's mother was in the back yard treating a line of hard-working ants to some insect spray when Beth found her. Beth asked her mother, "Mother, what's a holocaust?"
"A holocaust is when many people are killed by many other people, Dear One," said Beth's mother, shaking the can to get more of the poison ready to be squirted. "There is a description of just such an event in the Bible. Here, let me tell you about it."
And this is the story she told:
One day, Moses sent messengers to Sihon, king of Heshbon. The messengers said to the king, "The Israelites are going to come through your land instead of going around it. You are going to sell us food and water while we walk through town on our way to Jordan."
But God made sure that the king didn't want the Israelites to come through his land so that the Israelites would have a good reason to go to war with the people of Heshbon.
Then God said to Moses, "Look, now you have an excuse to take over Heshbon."
Sihon brought his troops to a place called Jahaz to fight with the Israelites, but God made sure that the Israelites were able to defeat the people of Sihon. In fact, the Israelites took control of all the cities in the land and killed every man, woman, and child that they found. Then they took all the animals and treasure that they could find for their own.
Beth thought about this for a moment. "Is that the holocaust the woman was talking about in the chicken story?" asked Beth.
"Not necessarily," said Beth's mother, standing as the last of the insects went through their death throes. "She could have been talking about when the Israelites killed all the inhabitants of Bashan, or when they killed everyone in Heshbon. In fact, there are quite a number of different things that she could have been talking about. What matters is not which particular instance she means, but that you understand the general concept."
"Now I get it," said Beth. Then she smiled and hugged her mother. All her questions had been answered.
Be sure to visit The Bible Annotated for more Biblical wisdom!