The Old Testament has a number of references to God wanting to “completely destroy” entire groups of people. Here’s just one example from Deuteronomy 20:17-18:
Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.
That particular passage is preceded by a line that says “do not leave alive anything that breathes.” The message is clear: Kill them all. It’s what God wants.
Again, this happens several times in the Bible.
But one issue that pops up is that even after God commands utter destruction of an entire group of people, someone may escape. A descendent of those people appears later in the Bible.
In this video from “homicide detective and Christian apologist” James Warner Wallace, he uses that loophole as justification that God wasn’t really genocidal. In fact, he argues, God urging complete destruction of a group is just a figure of speech.
… if I said, like, “You know, last night the Lakers killed the Pistons.” Well, do you mean they actually murdered all the Pistons players? “No, no, I mean they destroyed them! They killed them!” What do you mean when you say that? “Well, it’s an expression!” Of course, that we understand.
And this expression we see in Scripture… [Another apologist] talked about this expression as an ancient near-eastern expression which really means something more akin to render them utterly harmless. It doesn’t mean you have to kill every single person in the group to render them utterly harmless.
See? It’s all just an expression. When God said certain groups needed to stop breathing, and that “we left no survivors,” and that every human and animal was destroyed “with the sword,” and that even infants should be “put to death,” that’s totally not what God meant.
So remember, kids. Take the Bible literally. Except all those inconvenient times when you absolutely should not.
(Thank to Kyle for the link)