At dinner one night, Beth's father was talking about Vietnam and complaining about how the United States had not fought the way it should have.
When dinner was over, Beth helped her mother clean up. While she was helping she asked, "Mother, what did Father mean about Vietnam? How should people fight a war?"
"There's a story in the Bible about that," said Beth's Mother. And this is the story she told:
One day, Moses was talking to the Israelites and he said, "When you go to war against your enemies and you see horses, chariots, and more people than you, don't be scared. The God that got you out of Egypt is with you. So when you get to the battle field the priest should walk over and say, 'Listen, Israelites, don't be afraid to fight today. Don't shake or be terrified. God who is your god is the person that's going with you to fight for you against your enemies and save you.'
"Then the officers should say to the people, 'Is there anyone here who has just built a house and hasn't named it? If there is then he can go home because if he dies then someone else will get to name his house. Are there any men here who have planted grapes and not eaten any of them yet? If there are then they can go home because if they die someone else will eat their grapes. Are there any men here who have gotten married but haven't put their penis in their wife yet? If there are, then they can go home, too, because if they die then another man will put his penis in her.'
"Is that why Father didn't get drafted to go to Vietnam?" Beth asked her mother.
"Your father was drafted, Dear One," said Beth's mother. "But we were just about to be married and your father wouldn't be able to put his penis in me if he were in Vietnam. So we went to a lovely little Canadian town and got married there."
"But after you were married and Father put his penis in you, why didn't Father go to Vietnam then?"
"We were living in a little house, Dear One, and there was a garden behind it. Your father planted grapes in the garden but he never ate any. That way he would never have to go to war."
"Was Father afraid of going to Vietnam?"
"Yes he was, Dear One. In fact, that's another reason why he didn't have to get drafted. Listen:"
Moses continued, "The officers should also say,'Is anyone here scared? Scared people can go home so that they don't make other people scared.' When the officers are done talking, they should promote some people to captain and tell them to lead the people.
"When you come to a city that you want to fight, you should first try to make peace. Let the people in the city know that you won't attack if all the people who live there will just be your slaves. But if they aren't interested in peace, then you should surround the town and wait for them to run out of food.
"When God makes them give up because they are starving, you should kill all the men with a sword. You can keep the women, the children, the cows, and all the treasure for yourselves and eat all of it that you want because God gave it to you."
"Are the soldiers supposed to eat the women and children, too?" asked Beth.
Her mother thought for a moment. "If they want to, I suppose so," she said.
"You should do this to all the cities which are far away from you but which don't belong to the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, or Jebusites. Cities which belong to those people were given to you by God so you should kill everything in them that breaths and completely destroy them. This way, they won't try to change your religion.
"If you have to wait a long time for a city to run out of food, don't destroy all the trees around the city with an ax because you might want to get food for yourselves from them. You can cut down trees without meat growing on them for wood to make big weapons out of. You can also use them to build walls around the city that you are at war with until it gives up.
Beth thought about this for a moment. "That sure is a lot of rules," she said. "God sure knows more than anybody about how to kill your enemies!" Then she smiled and hugged her mother. All her questions had been answered.
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