Surely God could have spared the children! People tend to assume that children are innocent, even if their parents are doing bad things. The assumption is unfounded. For example, Palestinian Muslim children are officially taught in grammar school to hate their Jewish neighbors. They are so well indoctrinated that some of them give up their lives in suicide bombings as children. Corruption literally does breed corruption, which is why God did not want the Hebrews tainted by the other corrupt cultures of the Middle East.
Small children did not share the guilt of their parents. The Bible describes small children as not knowing right from wrong (Is 7:15-16), and in some cases, this meant that they were spared the earthly punishment their elders received. For example, when the Israelites sinned during their wanderings in the desert, God forbid the adults from entering the promised land, but gave it to their children who were too young to be held responsible (Dt 1:34-39). The Bible also clearly teaches that one person is not held guilty for another’s sin (Ezek 18). Therefore, the children who were killed would not face the same punishment in the afterlife as their parents.
Why were the children killed, if they weren’t guilty? Apparently, they were considered as morally neutral, since they weren’t yet old enough to be held accountable or to have done much right or wrong. While not as corrupt as their parents, they were part of the society that was judged, and shared its earthly (though not its eternal) fate. (Conversely, the family of a righteous person sometimes shared their relative’s protection from earthly destruction; see Josh 6:22-25, Gen 19:12-13.) Often, when someone did something wrong and was punished while on earth, only the evildoer themselves was punished. However, when a person or a society committed massive evil, that evil was punished by the destruction of the entire family or city; in such cases, only those who had actively demonstrated their integrity could be saved (14:13-20). See also Does God punish children for their parents’ sins?
The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” is really not as general as the King James version would indicate. The commandment actually refers to premeditated, unjustified killing – murder. Although God ordered the extermination of entire cities, He did so in righteous judgment on a people whose corruption had led to extreme wickedness, including child sacrifice. Did God destroy the righteous along with the wicked? In an exchange with Abraham, God indicated that He would spare the wicked to save the righteous. He demonstrated this principle by saving righteous people from Sodom and Jericho prior to their destruction. The charge that God indiscriminately murdered people does not hold to to critical evaluation of the biblical texts.
Fuck you for even trying to justify rape and genocide. Fuck you.