[/b]Of course, all your questions presume that the events described actually took place as described. Your questions also presume that God could've willed otherwise.
And that the Israelites and/or the writers did not ascribe their actions to God’s command ex post facto, for purposes of “justification” perhaps.
When one reads these ancient stories mythologically, or midrashically—or just as stories—one can freely bring one’s own moral convictions to them, and call such actions (real or storied) atrocities. One can also, if one is a theist who does not idolize the text, simply say: “Those stories do not reflect my understanding of God.”
Theists or nontheists, if those stories are part of their “aesthetic” or their cultural heritage, can argue, for example, that they show what evils certain attitudes of religious fundamentalism can lead to and have led to.
One can also, of course, reject the texts themselves for presenting immoral actions in some (divinely?) positive light. I would suggest, however, unless this is done either (1) because one has implicitly accepted the literalist/historicist interpretations of the texts (in my view, a “modernist” error), and/or (2) because the literalist/historicist interpretations have become so prominent as to render the stories dangerous—then one has to reject most mythologies on the same basis, and not simply allow them to stand as just that: mythologies and stories. (I could probably find morally objectionable things in The Lord of the Rings without feeling compelled to throw it in the garbage. On the other hand, I can imagine some people in a distant future discovering an LOTR that was lost over centuries, and imposing a religious literalism of sorts on it—“Frodo Lives!” )
People have always told stories (and a story-myth can be woven around some historical event, without pretending to be an accurate record of that event—like historical novels, say), and reworked old stories—the good, the bad and the ugly ones—for good, bad and ugly purposes; and the good, the bad and the ugly ones all can become part of a cultural heritage without requiring that the heirs suspend their own moral judgments in reading and interpreting and reinterpreting them. The whole rabbinical/midrashic tradition has, for a couple of millennia anyway, taken these stories and freely interpreted and reinterpreted them—and argued about them—and continues to do so.
[I recall, for example, a rabbi I met who said that, Yes, Abraham’s faith was tested when he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac—and that Abraham failed the test! No tzaddik would assent to such a thing, even if (he thought that) it was commanded by God. Real faith—a “torah faith”—required him to say, No! And that became part of the moral lesson that that rabbi taught from that story.] Rejection of this open, interpretive engagement with the texts is a fairly modern development.
In my view, there are two errors:
(1) Reading the texts without engaging the moral challenges they present (e.g., simply accepting that if the story says God commanded X, then X, at least in that case, must be accepted as morally unchallengeable); and
(2) Rejecting the texts out of hand because of the moral challenges they present (whatever other reasons one might have for rejecting them).
Both errors seem to stem from the literalist/historicist fallacy. DoctorScribbles’ challenge is a fair one—when leveled against that fallacy.
Within the context of people with immortal souls and the consideration given to human freedom, yes, permitting slaughter can be an act of love.
That’s a pretty broad statement. Can you justify (any of) the biblical examples provided by Dr. S. in such terms? And what kinds of “slaughter” would you not justify? And what are the criteria? Dr. S.’s examples do not seem aimed at Euthyphro’s dilemma, but at the justification of mass slaughter based on God’s will. So the question seems to become: “Can a loving God (or even a moral God) will (or command) such mass slaughter?”