Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reflections on Judges 2

    Judges 02 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. The LORD's angel went from Gilgal to Bochim and gave the Israelites this message from the LORD: I promised your ancestors that I would give this land to their families, and I brought your people here from Egypt. We made an agreement that I promised never to break,
  2. and you promised not to make any peace treaties with the other nations that live in the land. Besides that, you agreed to tear down the altars where they sacrifice to their idols. But you didn't keep your promise.
  3. And so, I'll stop helping you defeat your enemies. Instead, they will be there to trap you into worshiping their idols.
  4. The Israelites started crying loudly,
  5. and they offered sacrifices to the LORD. From then on, they called that place "Crying."
  6. Joshua had been faithful to the LORD. And after Joshua sent the Israelites to take the land they had been promised, they remained faithful to the LORD until Joshua died at the age of one hundred ten. He was buried on his land in Timnath-Heres, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. Even though Joshua was gone, the Israelites were faithful to the LORD during the lifetime of those men who had been leaders with Joshua and who had seen the wonderful things the LORD had done for Israel.
  7. (SEE 2:6)
  8. (SEE 2:6)
  9. (SEE 2:6)
  10. After a while the people of Joshua's generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things he had done for Israel.
  11. The LORD had brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they had worshiped him. But now the Israelites stopped worshiping the LORD and worshiped the idols of Baal and Astarte, as well as the idols of other gods from nearby nations. The LORD was so angry
  12. (SEE 2:11)
  13. (SEE 2:11)
  14. at the Israelites that he let other nations raid Israel and steal their crops and other possessions. Enemies were everywhere, and the LORD always let them defeat Israel in battle. The LORD had warned Israel he would do this, and now the Israelites were miserable.
  15. (SEE 2:14)
  16. From time to time, the LORD would choose special leaders known as judges. These judges would lead the Israelites into battle and defeat the enemies that made raids on them.
  17. In years gone by, the Israelites had been faithful to the LORD, but now they were quick to be unfaithful and to refuse even to listen to these judges. The Israelites would disobey the LORD, and instead of worshiping him, they would worship other gods.
  18. When enemies made life miserable for the Israelites, the LORD would feel sorry for them. He would choose a judge and help that judge rescue Israel from its enemies. The LORD would be kind to Israel as long as that judge lived.
  19. But afterwards, the Israelites would become even more sinful than their ancestors had been. The Israelites were stubborn--they simply would not stop worshiping other gods or following the teachings of other religions.
  20. The LORD was angry with Israel and said: The Israelites have broken the agreement I made with their ancestors. They won't obey me,
  21. so I'll stop helping them defeat their enemies. Israel still had a lot of enemies when Joshua died,
  22. and I'm going to let those enemies stay. I'll use them to test Israel, because then I can find out if Israel will worship and obey me as their ancestors did.
  23. That's why the LORD had not let Joshua get rid of all those enemy nations right away.

    Following the narrative of the first two chapters of Judges chronologically is difficult. Chapter one through chapter two verses 1-5 provide a glimpse of what took place in Israel following Joshua's death. Then in 2:6 another reference to Joshua's death begins an introduction and overview of the downward spiral of Israel through the period of the judges.

    The picture that is painted for us is that Israel's disobedience in driving out the remaining inhabitants of Canaan led to a breaking of the covenant with God. Furthermore, we are told why they were so disobedient. With the death of Joshua, his generation was gone and the generation that followed "did not know the LORD or the works He had done for Israel." (2:10) While this sounds as if the parents had failed to teach this generation of God and His works on their behalf, it is more likely that the word translated "know" really means "acknowledge." Though this generation hadn't lived through the exodus and wilderness wonderings, many of them had lived through the conquest of Canaan and had experienced the gathering of the people on several occasions in which the covenant was referenced and had experienced God's works on behalf of Israel in defeating the Canaanites. They "knew" of God and His works but chose not to "acknowledge" Him in their lives. Instead, they chose to intermarry with the people they failed to drive out and to worship the Baals that they worshiped, thus abandoning the God of their fathers.

    This rise of a generation who refused to acknowledge God set the stage for the period of the judges. This period became a succession of cycles that repeated themselves in a downward spiral, each cycle worse than the previous. A cycle began with the unfaithfulness of the people which led to God's anger over their unfaithfulness and turning them over to marauders who overpowered and enslaved them. When their suffering under slavery became great enough they cried out to God for help and He had mercy on them and raised up a judge who He used to rescue them. While the judge lived God gave them strength over their enemies, but once a judge died, the people returned to their ungodly ways and the cycle repeated itself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflections on Judges 1

    Judges 01 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, "Which of our tribes should attack the Canaanites first?"
  2. "Judah!" the LORD answered. "I'll help them take the land."
  3. The people of Judah went to their relatives, the Simeon tribe, and said, "Canaanites live in the land God gave us. Help us fight them, and we will help you." Troops from Simeon came to help Judah.
  4. Together they attacked an army of ten thousand Canaanites and Perizzites at Bezek, and the LORD helped Judah defeat them. During the battle, Judah's army found out where the king of Bezek was, and they attacked there.
  5. (SEE 1:4)
  6. Bezek tried to escape, but soldiers from Judah caught him. They cut off his thumbs and big toes,
  7. and he said, "I've cut off the thumbs and big toes of seventy kings and made those kings crawl around under my table for scraps of food. Now God is paying me back." The army of Judah took the king of Bezek along with them to Jerusalem, where he died.
  8. They attacked Jerusalem, captured it, killed everyone who lived there, and then burned it to the ground.
  9. Judah's army fought the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, the Southern Desert, and the foothills to the west.
  10. After that, they attacked the Canaanites who lived at Hebron, defeating the three clans called Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. At that time, Hebron was called Kiriath-Arba.
  11. From Hebron, Judah's army went to attack Debir, which at that time was called Kiriath-Sepher.
  12. Caleb told his troops, "The man who captures Kiriath-Sepher can marry my daughter Achsah."
  13. Caleb's nephew Othniel captured Kiriath-Sepher, so Caleb let him marry Achsah. Othniel was the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz.
  14. Right after the wedding, Achsah started telling Othniel that he ought to ask her father for a field. She went to see her father, and while she was getting down from her donkey, Caleb asked, "What's bothering you?"
  15. She answered, "I need your help. The land you gave me is in the Southern Desert, so please give me some spring-fed ponds for a water supply." Caleb gave her a couple of small ponds named Higher Pond and Lower Pond.
  16. The people who belonged to the Kenite clan were the descendants of the father-in-law of Moses. They left Jericho with the people of Judah and settled near Arad in the Southern Desert of Judah not far from the Amalekites.
  17. Judah's army helped Simeon's army attack the Canaanites who lived at Zephath. They completely destroyed the town and renamed it Hormah.
  18. The LORD helped the army of Judah capture Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, and the land near those towns. They also took the hill country. But the people who lived in the valleys had iron chariots, so Judah was not able to make them leave or to take their land.
  19. (SEE 1:18)
  20. The tribe of Judah gave the town of Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had told them to do. Caleb defeated the three Anakim clans and took over the town.
  21. The Jebusites were living in Jerusalem, and the Benjamin tribe did not defeat them or capture the town. That's why Jebusites still live in Jerusalem along with the people of Benjamin.
  22. The Ephraim and Manasseh tribes were getting ready to attack Bethel, which at that time was called Luz. And the LORD helped them when they sent spies to find out as much as they could about Bethel.
  23. (SEE 1:22)
  24. While the spies were watching the town, a man came out, and they told him, "If you show us how our army can get into the town, we will make sure that you aren't harmed."
  25. The man showed them, and the two Israelite tribes attacked Bethel, killing everyone except the man and his family. The two tribes made the man and his family leave,
  26. so they went to the land of the Hittites, where he built a town. He named the town Luz, and that is still its name.
  27. Canaanites lived in the towns of Beth-Shan, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo, and all the villages nearby. The Canaanites were determined to stay, and the Manasseh tribe never did get rid of them. But later on, when the Israelites grew more powerful, they made slaves of the Canaanites.
  28. (SEE 1:27)
  29. The Ephraim tribe did not get rid of the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites lived there with Israelites all around them.
  30. The Zebulun tribe did not get rid of the Canaanites who lived in Kitron and Nahalol, and the Canaanites stayed there with Israelites around them. But the people of Zebulun did force the Canaanites into slave labor.
  31. The Asher tribe did not get rid of the Canaanites who lived in Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, and Rehob, and the Asher tribe lived with Canaanites all around them.
  32. (SEE 1:31)
  33. The Naphtali tribe did not get rid of the Canaanites who lived in Beth-Shemesh and Beth-Anath, but they did force the Canaanites into slave labor. The Naphtali tribe lived with Canaanites around them.
  34. The Amorites were strong enough to keep the tribe of Dan from settling in the valleys, so Dan had to stay in the hill country.
  35. The Amorites on Mount Heres and in Aijalon and Shaalbim were also determined to stay. Later on, as Ephraim and Manasseh grew more powerful, they forced those Amorites into slave labor.
  36. The old Amorite-Edomite border used to go from Sela through Scorpion Pass into the hill country.

    Though the book of Judges begins with the statement, "After the death of Joshua," the sequence of events is unclear for the death of Joshua is again mentioned in chapter two as if it had just then happened. If his death didn't happen until after the events of chapter one, what does the statement of his death in 1:1 mean? My understanding is that the statement of Joshua's death in 1:1 serves as a heading for the book and the events recorded in chapter one are a summary of Israel's tribal conquests prior to Joshua's death that were not mentioned in the book of Joshua. At least most of these events were not mentioned in Joshua. However, the mention of Caleb's offer of his daughter to the one who captured the city of Kiriath-sepher, recorded in Judges 1:12-15, was also mentioned in the book of Joshua, chapter 15.

    The tribal conquests recorded in the first chapter of Judges serves more as an account of Israel's failures than of her victories. These tribal conquests were efforts by the tribes to finish the task of ridding their territories of the remaining Canaanites. Though there were numerous victories, none of the tribes were totally successful in ridding their territory of Canaanites. Each of these failures translates to disobedience by the Israelites. God assured them that He would hand the land over to them. All they needed to do was be faithful to engage the Canaanites in battle. Even though it is mentioned, for example, that Judah was unable to drive out the people living in the valley due to the iron chariots used by the inhabitants, as if the task was too difficult for them, God later rebuked them for their disobedience. The whole task of clearing the land was too difficult for them without God's help, but God promised to give His help if they were obedient to do their part. In many cases, rather than driving out the inhabitants they forced them into slave labor. If they had the strength to do this why were they not able to drive them out? It was because they compromised and did not do what the Lord told them to do.

    We can usually come up with a reason for why we can't or shouldn't do what God tells us to do but it is still disobedience no matter how logical our reason sounds. God has His reasons for instructing us to do what He asks us to do. Any reason we come up with for not doing it will be ours and not His, and translates to disobedience.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 24

    Joshua 24 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Joshua called the tribes of Israel together for a meeting at Shechem. He had the leaders, including the old men, the judges, and the officials, come up and stand near the sacred tent.
  2. Then Joshua told everyone to listen to this message from the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. This continued until the time of your ancestor Terah and his two sons, Abraham and Nahor.
  3. But I brought Abraham across the Euphrates River and led him through the land of Canaan. I blessed him by giving him Isaac, the first in a line of many descendants.
  4. Then I gave Isaac two sons, Jacob and Esau. I had Esau live in the hill country of Mount Seir, but your ancestor Jacob and his children went to live in Egypt.
  5. Later I sent Moses and his brother Aaron to help your people, and I made all those horrible things happen to the Egyptians. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, but the Egyptians got in their chariots and on their horses and chased your ancestors, catching up with them at the Red Sea.
  6. (SEE 24:5)
  7. Your people cried to me for help, so I put a dark cloud between them and the Egyptians. Then I opened up the sea and let your people walk across on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, I commanded the sea to swallow them, and they drowned while you watched. You lived in the desert for a long time,
  8. then I brought you into the land east of the Jordan River. The Amorites were living there, and they fought you. But with my help, you defeated them, wiped them out, and took their land.
  9. King Balak decided that his nation Moab would go to war against you, so he asked Balaam to come and put a curse on you.
  10. But I wouldn't listen to Balaam, and I rescued you by making him bless you instead of curse you.
  11. You crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho. The rulers of Jericho fought you, and so did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. I helped you defeat them all.
  12. Your enemies ran from you, but not because you had swords and bows and arrows. I made your enemies panic and run away, as I had done with the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River.
  13. You didn't have to work for this land--I gave it to you. Now you live in towns you didn't build, and you eat grapes and olives from vineyards and trees you didn't plant.
  14. Then Joshua told the people: Worship the LORD, obey him, and always be faithful. Get rid of the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt.
  15. But if you don't want to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you're living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you'll worship their gods. I won't. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!
  16. The people answered: We could never worship other gods or stop worshiping the LORD.
  17. The LORD is our God. We were slaves in Egypt as our ancestors had been, but we saw the LORD work miracles to set our people free and to bring us out of Egypt. Even though other nations were all around us, the LORD protected us wherever we went.
  18. And when we fought the Amorites and the other nations that lived in this land, the LORD made them run away. Yes, we will worship and obey the LORD, because the LORD is our God.
  19. Joshua said: The LORD is fearsome; he is the one true God, and I don't think you are able to worship and obey him in the ways he demands. You would have to be completely faithful, and if you sin or rebel, he won't let you get away with it.
  20. If you turn your backs on the LORD and worship the gods of other nations, the LORD will turn against you. He will make terrible things happen to you and wipe you out, even though he had been good to you before.
  21. But the people shouted, "We won't worship any other gods. We will worship and obey only the LORD!"
  22. Joshua said, "You have heard yourselves say that you will worship and obey the LORD. Isn't that true?" "Yes, it's true," they answered.
  23. Joshua said, "But you still have some idols, like those the other nations worship. Get rid of your idols! You must decide once and for all that you really want to obey the LORD God of Israel."
  24. The people said, "The LORD is our God, and we will worship and obey only him."
  25. Joshua helped Israel make an agreement with the LORD that day at Shechem. Joshua made laws for Israel
  26. and wrote them down in The Book of the Law of God. Then he set up a large stone under the oak tree at the place of worship in Shechem
  27. and told the people, "Look at this stone. It has heard everything that the LORD has said to us. Our God can call this stone as a witness if we ever reject him."
  28. Joshua sent everyone back to their homes.
  29. Not long afterwards, the LORD's servant Joshua died at the age of one hundred ten.
  30. The Israelites buried him in his own land at Timnath-Serah, north of Mount Gaash in the hill country of Ephraim.
  31. As long as Joshua lived, Israel worshiped and obeyed the LORD. There were other leaders old enough to remember everything that the LORD had done for Israel. And for as long as these men lived, Israel continued to worship and obey the LORD.
  32. When the people of Israel left Egypt, they brought the bones of Joseph along with them. They took the bones to the town of Shechem and buried them in the field that Jacob had bought for one hundred pieces of silver from Hamor, the founder of Shechem. The town and the field both became part of the land belonging to the descendants of Joseph.
  33. When Eleazar the priest died, he was buried in the hill country of Ephraim on a hill that belonged to his son Phinehas.

    The book of Joshua concludes with a renewal of God's covenant with Israel involving a recommitment by the people to worship only God and to get rid of all idols. This last chapter begins with an overview of Israel's history beginning with God calling Abraham out of a land beyond the Euphrates and from worship of other gods and bringing them to the present. This review also told how God had given them victory over the people of Canaan thus giving them "a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant." (24:13)

    With this reminder of what God had done for them, Joshua then challenged the people to "fear the LORD and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the LORD." (24:14) Joshua had lived through the exodus from Egypt and the whole wilderness experience and conquest of Canaan. He had seen it all. He knew of the fickleness of the people. So he spoke bluntly with them telling them to make a clear choice. If they weren't going to worship and serve the Lord then choose what god they would worship, whether the gods of their fathers beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land they were living. The choice was theirs, but they should be up front about it. He made it clear, though, that he had already made his choice, and he, along with his family, would worship the Lord. The people affirmed that they certainly would not abandon the Lord to worship other gods.

    But Joshua wasn't finished. He had heard such commitments from the mouths of these people before only to see them fail to live up to the commitment. So he said to them, in effect, "You say you will not abandon God, but you are actually unable to worship Him. "He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not remove your transgressions and sins." (24:19) Then he warned them, "If you abandon the LORD and worship foreign gods, He will turn against you, harm you, and completely destroy you, after He has been good to you." (24:20) But the people insisted that they would worship the Lord.

    With this commitment from the people to worship only the Lord, Joshua pressed them further saying, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the LORD." (24:22) Then he recorded this commitment in "the book of the law of God," and he set up a large stone under the oak next to the sanctuary as a witness against them should they be tempted to deny God. Having done this, he sent them home to enjoy their inheritance.

    The chapter and the book conclude with three burials. After all these events Joshua died and was buried. Then Joseph was buried. His bones had been carried with them all of the time since they left Egypt. Finally, Eleazar, the high priest, died and was buried. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 23

    Joshua 23 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. The LORD let Israel live in peace with its neighbors for a long time, and Joshua lived to a ripe old age.
  2. One day he called a meeting of the leaders of the tribes of Israel, including the old men, the judges, and the officials. Then he told them: I am now very old.
  3. You have seen how the LORD your God fought for you and helped you defeat the nations who lived in this land.
  4. There are still some nations left, but the LORD has promised you their land. So when you attack them, he will make them run away. I have already divided their land among your tribes, as I did with the land of the nations I defeated between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
  5. (SEE 23:4)
  6. Be sure that you carefully obey everything written in The Book of the Law of Moses and do exactly what it says.
  7. Don't have anything to do with the nations that live around you. Don't worship their gods or pray to their idols or make promises in the names of their gods.
  8. Be as faithful to the LORD as you have always been.
  9. When you attacked powerful nations, the LORD made them run away, and no one has ever been able to stand up to you.
  10. Any one of you can defeat a thousand enemy soldiers, because the LORD God fights for you, just as he promised.
  11. Be sure to always love the LORD your God.
  12. Don't ever turn your backs on him by marrying people from the nations that are left in the land. Don't even make friends with them. I tell you that if you are friendly with those nations, the LORD won't chase them away when you attack. Instead, they'll be like a trap for your feet, a whip on your back, and thorns in your eyes. And finally, none of you will be left in this good land that the LORD has given you.
  13. (SEE 23:12)
  14. I will soon die, as everyone must. But deep in your hearts you know that the LORD has kept every promise he ever made to you. Not one of them has been broken.
  15. Yes, when the LORD makes a promise, he does what he has promised. But when he makes a threat, he will also do what he has threatened. The LORD is our God. He gave us this wonderful land and made an agreement with us that we would worship only him. But if you worship other gods, it will make the LORD furious. He will start getting rid of you, and soon not one of you will be left in this good land that he has given you.
  16. (SEE 23:15)

    Joshua's life and leadership of Israel were coming to a close. Also, Israel was at a point of transition from conquest of the land to prospering in the land. Joshua gathered the Israelite leaders to remind them of God's faithfulness and in turn to encourage and even warn them to complete their conquest of the land. This gathering of leaders took place some 10 to 20 years following the initial conquest and distribution of land to the tribes. It was beginning to appear as if Israel was content to coexist with the remaining Canaanite inhabitants. This was a dangerous course for them to take. It was dangerous because it was disobedience to the Lord's instructions to them and dangerous because it left them exposed to the influences of the pagan Canaanites.

    It is one thing to coexist with pagans and remain resist to their influence while living in obedience to God, doing what He has given one to do. He often calls His people to be missionaries among pagan peoples. But it is altogether different to live among pagans and remain resistant to their influence while settling for disobedience to the Lord's instructions. They were, no doubt, telling themselves that it was not really a problem to allow the few Canaanites to remain in the land. What harm would it do? This is very dangerous reasoning that is invariably the prelude to a fall.

    Joshua's message to the Israelite leaders was a three-point message:

    • You have seen for yourselves everything the LORD your God did to all these nations on your account. (23:3)
    • The LORD your God will force them back (the remaining Canaanites) on your account and drive them out before you. (23:5)
    • Be very strong, and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses. (23:6)
    He concluded with a warning of what the outcome would be if they didn't fully clear the land of the Canaanites: "If you break the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and go and worship other gods, and bow down to them, the LORD's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land He has given you." (23:16)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 22

    Joshua 22 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Joshua had the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh come for a meeting, and he told them:
  2. You have obeyed every command of the LORD your God and of his servant Moses. And you have done everything I've told you to do. It's taken a long time, but you have stayed and helped your relatives.
  3. (SEE 22:2)
  4. The LORD promised to give peace to your relatives, and that's what he has done. Now it's time for you to go back to your own homes in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan River.
  5. Moses taught you to love the LORD your God, to be faithful to him, and to worship and obey him with your whole heart and with all your strength. So be very careful to do everything Moses commanded.
  6. You've become rich from what you've taken from your enemies. You have big herds of cattle, lots of silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and plenty of clothes. Take everything home with you and share with the people of your tribe. I pray that God will be kind to you. You are now free to go home. The tribes of Reuben and Gad started back to Gilead, their own land. Moses had given the land of Bashan to the East Manasseh tribe, so they started back along with Reuben and Gad. God had told Moses that these two and a half tribes should conquer Gilead and Bashan, and they had done so. Joshua had given land west of the Jordan River to the other half of the Manasseh tribe, so they stayed at Shiloh in the land of Canaan with the rest of the Israelites.
  7. (SEE 22:6)
  8. (SEE 22:6)
  9. (SEE 22:6)
  10. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh reached the western side of the Jordan River valley and built a huge altar there beside the river. When the rest of the Israelites heard what these tribes had done,
  11. (SEE 22:10)
  12. the Israelite men met at Shiloh to get ready to attack the two and a half tribes.
  13. But first they sent a priest, Phinehas the son of Eleazar, to talk with the two and a half tribes.
  14. Each of the tribes at Shiloh sent the leader of one of its families along with Phinehas.
  15. Phinehas and these leaders went to Gilead and met with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh. They said:
  16. All of the LORD's people have gathered together and have sent us to find out why you are unfaithful to our God. You have turned your backs on the LORD by building that altar. Why are you rebelling against him?
  17. Wasn't our people's sin at Peor terrible enough for you? The LORD punished us by sending a horrible sickness that killed many of us, and we still suffer because of that sin.
  18. Now you are turning your backs on the LORD again. If you don't stop rebelling against the LORD right now, he will be angry at the whole nation.
  19. If you don't think your land is a fit place to serve God, then move across the Jordan and live with us in the LORD's own land, where his sacred tent is located. But don't rebel against the LORD our God or against us by building another altar besides the LORD's own altar.
  20. Don't you remember what happened when Achan was unfaithful and took some of the things that belonged to God? This made God angry with the entire nation. Achan died because he sinned, but he also caused the death of many others.
  21. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh answered:
  22. The LORD is the greatest God! We ask him to be our witness, because he knows whether or not we were rebellious or unfaithful when we built that altar. If we were unfaithful, then we pray that God won't rescue us today. Let us tell you why we built that altar,
  23. and we ask the LORD to punish us if we are lying. We didn't build it so we could turn our backs on the LORD. We didn't even build it so we could offer animal or grain sacrifices to please the LORD or ask his blessing.
  24. We built that altar because we were worried. Someday your descendants might tell our descendants, "The LORD made the Jordan River the boundary between us Israelites and you people of Reuben and Gad. The LORD is Israel's God, but you're not part of Israel, so you can't take part in worshiping the LORD." Your descendants might say that and try to make our descendants stop worshiping and obeying the LORD.
  25. (SEE 22:24)
  26. That's why we decided to build the altar. It isn't for offering sacrifices, not even sacrifices to please the LORD.
  27. To build another altar for offering sacrifices would be the same as turning our backs on the LORD and rebelling against him. We could never do that! No, we built the altar to remind us and you and the generations to come that we will worship the LORD. And so we will keep bringing our sacrifices to the LORD's altar, there in front of his sacred tent. Now your descendants will never be able to say to our descendants, "You can't worship the LORD." But if they do say this, our descendants can answer back, "Look at this altar our ancestors built! It's like the LORD's altar, but it isn't for offering sacrifices. It's here to remind us and you that we belong to the LORD, just as much as you do."
  28. (SEE 22:27)
  29. (SEE 22:27)
  30. Phinehas and the clan leaders were pleased when they heard the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh explain why they had built the altar. Then Phinehas told them, "Today we know that the LORD is helping us. You have not been unfaithful to him, and this means that the LORD will not be angry with us."
  31. (SEE 22:30)
  32. Phinehas and the clan leaders left Gilead and went back to Canaan to tell the Israelites about their meeting with the Reuben and Gad tribes.
  33. The Israelites were happy and praised God. There was no more talk about going to war and wiping out the tribes of Reuben and Gad.
  34. The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar "A Reminder to Us All That the LORD Is Our God."

    After seven years of warfare to clear the land of promise of its former occupants, Israel had peace, the land had been distributed among the tribes and they were ready to settle into the land and build their new lives. Joshua called together the soldiers of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, who received land on the east side of the Jordan River. He commended them for faithfully honoring their commitment to help the other tribes clear the land before settling into their own land east of the Jordan. Then he sent them home, exhorting them to "carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the LORD's servant gave you: to love the LORD your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (22:5)

    As the soldiers of these three tribes came to the Jordan River on their way home, they saw the great divide the river made between their territory and the main territory of Israel and feared that a time might come in the future when their brothers in the main territory would question their right to worship the Lord at the tabernacle in Shiloh. Therefore they built a copy of the true altar as a witness of their right to worship at the tabernacle. However, when the rest of their brothers, living on the west of the Jordan, learned of their altar they were ready to go to war against them. It wasn't only the prospect of dishonoring God that upset these brothers on the west side of the Jordan, but also the threat it posed to them as well. As with the sin of Achan which brought God's judgment on the whole Israelite community, sin on the part of these brothers east of the Jordan threatened to bring judgment on them all.

    Fortunately, a party of eleven men were sent to investigate the intent of the tribes to the east. This party was made up of Phinehas, son of the high priest, and a leader from each of the ten tribes west of the Jordan. Once they learned that the erected altar was intended only as a copy and as a witness, they were satisfied as was the rest of the assembly when they heard the report. Civil war was avoided. This incident is an example of how the unity of the congregation is frequently threatened by assumptions of the motives of others and the wisdom of always verifying the validity of our assumptions before taking action.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 21

    Joshua 21 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. While the Israelites were still camped at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, the family leaders of the Levi tribe went to speak to the priest Eleazar, Joshua, and the family leaders of the other Israelite tribes. The leaders of Levi said, "The LORD told Moses that you have to give us towns and provide pastures for our animals."
  2. (SEE 21:1)
  3. Since the LORD had said this, the leaders of the other Israelite tribes agreed to give some of the towns and pastures from their tribal lands to Levi.
  4. The leaders asked the LORD to show them in what order the clans of Levi would be given towns, and which towns each clan would receive. The Kohath clans were first. The descendants of Aaron, Israel's first priest, were given thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin.
  5. The other members of the Kohath clans received ten towns from the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and West Manasseh.
  6. The clans that were descendants of Gershon were given thirteen towns from the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and East Manasseh.
  7. The clans that were descendants of Merari received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.
  8. The LORD had told Moses that he would show the Israelites which towns and pastures to give to the clans of Levi, and he did.
  9. The descendants of Aaron from the Kohath clans of Levi were priests, and they were chosen to receive towns first. They were given thirteen towns and the pastureland around them. Nine of these towns were from the tribes of Judah and Simeon and four from Benjamin. Hebron, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ashan, Juttah, and Beth-Shemesh were from Judah and Simeon. Hebron, located in the hill country of Judah, was earlier called Arba's Town. It had been named after Arba, the ancestor of the Anakim. Hebron's pasturelands went along with the town, but its farmlands and the villages around it had been given to Caleb. Hebron was also one of the Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone. Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon were from Benjamin.
  10. (SEE 21:9)
  11. (SEE 21:9)
  12. (SEE 21:9)
  13. (SEE 21:9)
  14. (SEE 21:9)
  15. (SEE 21:9)
  16. (SEE 21:9)
  17. (SEE 21:9)
  18. (SEE 21:9)
  19. (SEE 21:9)
  20. The rest of the Kohath clans of the Levi tribe received ten towns and the pastureland around them. Four of these towns were from the tribe of Ephraim, four from Dan, and two from West Manasseh. Shechem, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth-Horon were from Ephraim. Shechem was located in the hill country, and it was also one of the Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone. Elteke, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath-Rimmon were from Dan. Taanach and Jibleam were from West Manasseh.
  21. (SEE 21:20)
  22. (SEE 21:20)
  23. (SEE 21:20)
  24. (SEE 21:20)
  25. (SEE 21:20)
  26. (SEE 21:20)
  27. The clans of Levi that were descendants of Gershon received thirteen towns and the pastureland around them. Two of these towns were from the tribe of East Manasseh, four from Issachar, four from Asher, and three from Naphtali. Golan in Bashan and Beeshterah were from East Manasseh. Kishion, Daberath, Jarmuth, and En-Gannim were from Issachar. Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob were from Asher. Kedesh in Galilee, Hammothdor, and Kartan were from Naphtali. Golan in Bashan and Kedesh in Galilee were also Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
  28. (SEE 21:27)
  29. (SEE 21:27)
  30. (SEE 21:27)
  31. (SEE 21:27)
  32. (SEE 21:27)
  33. (SEE 21:27)
  34. The rest of the Levi clans were descendants of Merari, and they received twelve towns with the pastureland around them. Four towns were from the tribe of Zebulun, four from Reuben, and four from Gad. Jokneam, Kartah, Rimmonah, and Nahalal were from Zebulun. Bezer, Jazah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath were from Reuben. Bezer was located in the desert flatlands east of the Jordan River across from Jericho. Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer were from Gad. Bezer and Ramoth in Gilead were Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
  35. (SEE 21:34)
  36. (SEE 21:34)
  37. (SEE 21:34)
  38. (SEE 21:34)
  39. (SEE 21:34)
  40. (SEE 21:34)
  41. The people of the Levi tribe had a total of forty-eight towns within Israel, and they had pastures around each one of their towns.
  42. (SEE 21:41)
  43. The LORD gave the Israelites the land he had promised their ancestors, and they captured it and settled in it.
  44. There still were enemies around Israel, but the LORD kept his promise to let his people live in peace. And whenever the Israelites did have to go to war, no enemy could defeat them. The LORD always helped Israel win.
  45. The LORD promised to do many good things for Israel, and he kept his promise every time.

    Distribution of the land of Canaan among the Israelite tribes concludes with chapter 21 and the allocation of cities to the Levites. God had told them that the Levites' inheritance was Himself rather than land. However, He did provide them cities in which to live dispersed among the various tribes, along with the pastureland surrounding the cities for their livestock.

    After all of the tribes had received their allocation of land, the heads of the Levite families approached Joshua and the leaders to request their inheritance of cities. Lots were drawn to determine which cities they would receive. The outcome was that each tribe gave four cities to the Levite families with the exception of Judah and Simeon who gave nine cities between them and Naphtali which gave three cities. All of the cities of refuge doubled as Levite cities. It has been estimated that no one in Israel lived more than 10 miles from a Levite city. This dispersion was designed to provide teaching of the law to all of Israel. Unfortunately it did not keep them from turning to idols.

    Having received their inheritance, the Levites were faced with the same task of the other tribes to clear their cities of remaining Canaanites. Though their cities were within the territory of other tribes they apparently did not offer to help the Levites with this task. Thus they were not completely successful in eradicating their cities of Canaanites. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 20

    Joshua 20 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. One day the LORD told Joshua:
  2. When Moses was still alive, I had him tell the Israelites about the Safe Towns. Now you tell them that it is time to set up these towns.
  3. If a person accidentally kills someone and the victim's relatives say it was murder, they might try to take revenge. Anyone accused of murder can run to one of the Safe Towns and be safe from the victim's relatives. The one needing protection will stand at the entrance to the town gate and explain to the town leaders what happened. Then the leaders will bring that person in and provide a place to live in their town.
  4. (SEE 20:3)
  5. One of the victim's relatives might come to the town, looking for revenge. But the town leaders must not simply hand over the person accused of murder. After all, the accused and the victim had been neighbors, not enemies.
  6. The citizens of that Safe Town must come together and hold a trial. They may decide that the victim was killed accidentally and that the accused is not guilty of murder. Everyone found not guilty must still live in the Safe Town until the high priest dies. Then they can go back to their own towns and their homes that they had to leave behind.
  7. The Israelites decided that the following three towns west of the Jordan River would be Safe Towns: Kedesh in Galilee in Naphtali's hill country, Shechem in Ephraim's hill country, and Kiriath-Arba in Judah's hill country. Kiriath-Arba is now called Hebron.
  8. The Israelites had already decided on the following three towns east of the Jordan River: Bezer in the desert flatlands of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead, which was a town that belonged to Gad, and Golan in Bashan, which belonged to Manasseh.
  9. These Safe Towns were set up, so that if Israelites or even foreigners who lived in Israel accidentally killed someone, they could run to one of these towns. There they would be safe until a trial could be held, even if one of the victim's relatives came looking for revenge.

    A provision of God's covenant with Israel was the designation of cities of refuge. They were a safe haven for those who accidentally killed someone. It was another point at which God's covenant broke with common tradition of the time. The exercise of vengeance at the killing of a relative was widespread at this time. Along with it was the rite of the vendetta in which this vengeance against one who had killed a relative was passed down from one generation to another. It gave rise to increasing violence and killing of innocent people.

    God established a means of breaking this practice among His people through the cities of refuge. Once each tribe had received its allotment of land God reminded them to select these cities of refuge. Six were selected with three on the west of the Jordan and three on the east. If a person accidentally killed someone they were to immediately flee to the closest city of refuge for protection from the avenger of blood who was the closest relative of the one who had died and given responsibility to avenge the death. Arriving at one of these cities, the refugee could plead their case with the elders of the city and receive asylum. But receiving asylum guaranteed only temporary protection until a trial could be held to determine if the killing was truly accidental or was actually premediated murder. If it was murder a death sentence would be given.

    Though the cities of refuge provided asylum for those who killed someone accidentally it also became their prison. Should they go outside the city the avenger of blood was free to take his vengence, evidently without repercussion. So life was drastically changed for the one who accidentally killed another. Once the current high priest died the person was free to return to his home, but this might not happen for the remainder of his life.

    The cities of refuge impressed upon Israel the sanctity of human life. Avengers of blood were no longer free to take the life of another without due process. In addition, the life of one who killed another, even though accidentally, did not remain unaltered. The taking of a life was costly.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 19

    Joshua 19 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Simeon was the second tribe chosen to receive land, and the region for its clans was inside Judah's borders.
  2. In one region of Simeon's tribal land there were the following thirteen towns with their surrounding villages: Beersheba, Shema, Moladah, Hazar-Shual, Balah, Ezem, Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-Marcaboth, Hazar-Susah, Beth-Lebaoth, and Sharuhen.
  3. (SEE 19:2)
  4. (SEE 19:2)
  5. (SEE 19:2)
  6. (SEE 19:2)
  7. In another region, Simeon had the following four towns with their surrounding villages: Enrimmon, Tachan, Ether, and Ashan.
  8. Simeon's land also included all the other towns and villages as far south as Baalath-Beer, which is also called Ramah of the South.
  9. Simeon's tribal land was actually inside Judah's territory. Judah had received too much land for the number of people in its tribe, so part of Judah's land was given to Simeon.
  10. Zebulun was the third tribe chosen to receive land. The southern border for its clans started in the west at the edge of the gorge near Jokneam. It went east to the edge of the land that belongs to the town of Dabbesheth, and continued on to Maralah and Sarid. It took in the land that belongs to Chislothtabor, then ended at Daberath. The eastern border went up to Japhia
  11. (SEE 19:10)
  12. (SEE 19:10)
  13. and continued north to Gath-Hepher, Ethkazin, and Rimmonah, where it curved toward Neah
  14. and became the northern border. Then it curved south around Hannathon and went as far west as Iphtahel Valley.
  15. Zebulun had twelve towns with their surrounding villages. Some of these were Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Jiralah, and Bethlehem.
  16. This is the tribal land, and these are the towns and villages of the Zebulun clans.
  17. Issachar was the fourth tribe chosen to receive land. The northern border for its clans went from Mount Tabor east to the Jordan River. Their land included the following sixteen towns with their surrounding villages: Jezreel, Chesulloth, Shunem, Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, Debirath, Kishion, Ebez, Remeth, En-Gannim, Enhaddah, Beth-Pazzez, Tabor, Shahazumah and Beth-Shemesh.
  18. (SEE 19:17)
  19. (SEE 19:17)
  20. (SEE 19:17)
  21. (SEE 19:17)
  22. (SEE 19:17)
  23. (SEE 19:17)
  24. Asher was the fifth tribe chosen to receive land, and the region for its clans included the following towns: Helkath, Hali, Beten, Achshaph, Allammelech, Amad, and Mishal. Asher's southern border ran from the Mediterranean Sea southeast along the Shihor-Libnath River at the foot of Mount Carmel,
  25. (SEE 19:24)
  26. (SEE 19:24)
  27. then east to Beth-Dagon. On the southeast, Asher shared a border with Zebulun along the Iphtahel Valley. On the eastern side their border ran north to Beth-Emek, went east of Cabul, and then on to Neiel,
  28. Abdon, Rehob, Hammon, Kanah, and as far north as the city of Sidon.
  29. Then it turned west to become the northern border and went to Ramah and the fortress-city of Tyre. Near Tyre it turned toward Hosah and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. Asher had a total of twenty-two towns with their surrounding villages, including Mahalab, Achzib, Acco, Aphek, and Rehob.
  30. (SEE 19:29)
  31. (SEE 19:29)
  32. Naphtali was the sixth tribe chosen to receive land. The southern border for its clans started in the west, where the tribal lands of Asher and Zebulun meet near Hukkok. From that point it ran east and southeast along the border with Zebulun as far as Aznoth-Tabor. From there the border went east to Heleph, Adami-Nekeb, Jabneel, then to the town called Oak in Zaanannim, and Lakkum. The southern border ended at the Jordan River, at the edge of the town named Jehudah. Naphtali shared a border with Asher on the west.
  33. (SEE 19:32)
  34. (SEE 19:32)
  35. The Naphtali clans received this region as their tribal land, and it included nineteen towns with their surrounding villages. The following towns had walls around them: Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Chinnereth, Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, Kedesh, Edrei, Enhazor, Iron, Migdalel, Horem, Beth-Anath, and Beth-Shemesh.
  36. (SEE 19:35)
  37. (SEE 19:35)
  38. (SEE 19:35)
  39. (SEE 19:35)
  40. Dan was the seventh tribe chosen to receive land, and the region for its clans included the following towns: Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-Shemesh, Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, Elon, Timnah, Ekron, Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, Jehud, Azor, Beneberak, Gath-Rimmon, Mejarkon, and Rakkon. Dan's tribal land went almost as far as Joppa.
  41. (SEE 19:40)
  42. (SEE 19:40)
  43. (SEE 19:40)
  44. (SEE 19:40)
  45. (SEE 19:40)
  46. (SEE 19:40)
  47. Its clans received this land and these towns with their surrounding villages. Later, when enemies forced them to leave their tribal land, they went to the town of Leshem. They attacked the town, captured it, and killed the people who lived there. Then they settled there themselves and renamed the town Dan after their ancestor.
  48. (SEE 19:47)
  49. The Israelites were still gathered in Shiloh in front of the sacred tent, when Eleazar the priest, Joshua, and the family leaders of Israel finished giving out the land to the tribes. The LORD had told the people to give Joshua whatever town he wanted. So Joshua chose Timnath-Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people gave it to him. Joshua went to Timnath-Serah, rebuilt it, and lived there.
  50. (SEE 19:49)
  51. (SEE 19:49)

    Chapter 19 records the distribution of the remaining six Israelite tribes: Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Not only did the Lord's hand direct the distribution through the selection of lots, the distribution fulfilled Jacob's prophecy concerning his sons. The tribe of Simeon eventually lost its individuality as defined by territory. Originally, as described in this chapter, her allotment was given within the territory of Judah since Judah had too much. But over time Simeon migrated north to Ephraim and Manasseh and became incorporated within these tribes.

    Joshua proved to be a faithful and honest leader. Though he could have taken advantage of his position to appropriate a choice piece of land for himself, he waited until all of the tribes had received their allotments before making his selection. When he finally made his selection it was the city of Timnath Serah located in a rugged, infertile, and mountainous district of his own tribe of Ephraim.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 18

    Joshua 18 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. After Israel had captured the land, they met at Shiloh and set up the sacred tent.
  2. There were still seven tribes without any land,
  3. so Joshua told the people: The Judah tribe has already settled in its land in the south, and the Joseph tribes have settled in their land in the north. The tribes of Gad, Reuben, and East Manasseh already have the land that the LORD's servant Moses gave them east of the Jordan River. And the people of Levi won't get a single large region of the land like the other tribes. Instead, they will serve the LORD as priests. But the rest of you haven't done a thing to take over any land. The LORD God who was worshiped by your ancestors has given you the land, and now it's time to go ahead and settle there. Seven tribes still don't have any land. Each of these tribes should choose three men, and I'll send them to explore the remaining land. They will divide it into seven regions, write a description of each region, and bring these descriptions back to me. I will find out from the LORD our God what region each tribe should get.
  4. (SEE 18:3)
  5. (SEE 18:3)
  6. (SEE 18:3)
  7. (SEE 18:3)
  8. Just before the men left camp, Joshua repeated their orders: "Explore the land and write a description of it. Then come back to Shiloh, and I will find out from the LORD how to divide the land."
  9. The men left and went across the land, dividing it into seven regions. They wrote down a description of each region, town by town, and returned to Joshua at the camp at Shiloh.
  10. Joshua found out from the LORD how to divide the land, and he told the tribes what the LORD had decided.
  11. Benjamin was the first tribe chosen to receive land. The region for its clans lay between the Judah tribe on the south and the Joseph tribes on the north.
  12. Benjamin's northern border started at the Jordan River and went up the ridge north of Jericho, then on west into the hill country as far as the Beth-Aven Desert.
  13. From there it went to Luz, which is now called Bethel. The border ran along the ridge south of Luz, then went to Ataroth-Orech and on as far as the mountain south of Lower Beth-Horon. At that point it turned south and became the western border. It went as far south as Kiriath-Baal, a town in Judah now called Kiriath-Jearim.
  14. (SEE 18:13)
  15. Benjamin's southern border started at the edge of Kiriath-Jearim and went east to the ruins and on to Nephtoah Spring.
  16. From there it went to the bottom of the hill at the northern end of Rephaim Valley. The other side of this hill faces Hinnom Valley, which is on the land that slopes south from Jerusalem. The border went down through Hinnom Valley until it reached Enrogel.
  17. At Enrogel the border curved north and went to Enshemesh and on east to Geliloth, which is across the valley from Adummim Pass. Then it went down to the Monument of Bohan, who belonged to the Reuben tribe.
  18. The border ran along the hillside north of Beth-Arabah, then down into the Jordan River valley.
  19. Inside the valley it went south as far as the northern hillside of Beth-Hoglah. The last section of the border went from there to the northern end of the Dead Sea, at the mouth of the Jordan River.
  20. The Jordan River itself was Benjamin's eastern border. These were the borders of Benjamin's tribal land, where the clans of Benjamin lived.
  21. One region of Benjamin's tribal land had twelve towns with their surrounding villages. Those towns were Jericho, Beth-Hoglah, Emek-Keziz, Beth-Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, Chephar-Ammoni, Ophni, and Geba.
  22. (SEE 18:21)
  23. (SEE 18:21)
  24. (SEE 18:21)
  25. In the other region there were the following fourteen towns with their surrounding villages: Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, Zelah, Haeleph, Gibeah, Kiriath-Jearim, and Jerusalem, which is also called Jebusite Town. These regions are the tribal lands of Benjamin.
  26. (SEE 18:25)
  27. (SEE 18:25)
  28. (SEE 18:25)

To this point the tribes of Judah, Ephraim, and half of Manasseh had received their portions of the land in addition to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the other half of Manasseh who had their portions east of the Jordan. This left seven tribes yet to receive their portions. Before completing the allotments to these remaining tribes, they took a break. Given their activities during this time the break no doubt lasted several months. Their first activity was to move the entire community from Gilgal near Jericho, where they first established camp after crossing into Canaan, to Shiloh which was more centrally located. There they set up the tabernacle where it was to remain until the time of Samuel.

Two contrasting statements are made in the first three verses of the chapter. In verse one, in reference to the move from Gilgal to Shiloh, it says that "the land had been subdued by them." This statement may have been intended to point out that it was safe for them to move into the central part of the country since it had been subdued. But then in verse three Joshua reproaches them for delaying to take possession of the land. This reproach was likely made to the tribes in regard to completing the task of clearing their territories of the remaining Canaanites. But was he addressing the first 2 1/2 tribes who had already received their allotments of land in Canaan but had not yet taken possession or the remaining seven tribes who were complacent about receiving their allotments? In either case, there seems to have been a reticents about breaking up the encampment of the whole community to go take possession of their individual tribal allotments. If this was the case, it is understandable. After all, living together in this large encampment of people was all they had known their whole lives. Furthermore, it is a natural inclination for any of us to want to remain together in a comfortable and familiar community rather than break away and set out to unfamiliar territory. But God had not brought them to this land of promise merely to remain a tight community living all together. He had given them the land and intended for them to possess all of it.

Having reproached them for not taking possession of the land, Joshua's next action during their break was to give instructions for each of the seven tribes yet to receive land to appoint three men from their tribes to go and survey the land that had not been allotted. These 21 men were to bring back a written description of the remaining seven portions of land.  When these men brought back their survey of the land, Joshua cast lots to continue the distribution of land and the first lot came up for the tribe of Benjamin who then received their apportionment of land.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 17

    Joshua 17 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Manasseh was Joseph's oldest son, and Machir was Manasseh's oldest son. Machir had a son named Gilead, and some of his descendants had already received the regions of Gilead and Bashan because they were good warriors. The other clans of the Manasseh tribe descended from Gilead's sons Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida. The following is a description of the land they received. Hepher's son Zelophehad did not have any sons, but he did have five daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. One day the clans that were descendants of Zelophehad's five daughters went to the priest Eleazar, Joshua, and the leaders of Israel. The people of these clans said, "The LORD told Moses to give us land just as he gave land to our relatives." Joshua followed the LORD's instructions and gave land to these five clans, as he had given land to the five clans that had descended from Hepher's brothers. So Manasseh's land west of the Jordan River was divided into ten parts.
  2. (SEE 17:1)
  3. (SEE 17:1)
  4. (SEE 17:1)
  5. (SEE 17:1)
  6. (SEE 17:1)
  7. The land of the Manasseh tribe went from its northern border with the Asher tribe south to Michmethath, which is to the east of Shechem. The southern border started there, but curved even farther south to include the people who lived around Tappuah Spring.
  8. The town of Tappuah was on Manasseh's border with Ephraim. Although the land around Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, the town itself belonged to Ephraim.
  9. Then the border went west to the Kanah Gorge and ran along the northern edge of the gorge to the Mediterranean Sea. The land south of the gorge belonged to Ephraim. And even though there were a few towns that belonged to Ephraim north of the gorge, the land north of the gorge belonged to Manasseh. The western border of Manasseh was the Mediterranean Sea, and the tribe shared a border with the Asher tribe on the northwest and with the Issachar tribe on the northeast.
  10. (SEE 17:9)
  11. Manasseh was supposed to have the following towns with their surrounding villages inside the borders of Issachar's and Asher's tribal lands: Beth-Shan, Ibleam, Endor, Taanach, Megiddo, and Dor, which is also called Naphath.
  12. But the people of Manasseh could not capture these towns, so the Canaanites kept on living in them.
  13. When the Israelites grew stronger, they made the Canaanites in these towns work as their slaves, though they never did force them to leave.
  14. One day the Joseph tribes came to Joshua and asked, "Why didn't you give us more land? The LORD has always been kind to us, and we have too many people for this small region."
  15. Joshua replied, "If you have so many people that you don't have enough room in the hill country of Ephraim, then go into the forest that belonged to the Perizzites and the Rephaim. Clear out the trees and make more room for yourselves there."
  16. "Even if we do that," they answered, "there still won't be enough land for us in the hill country. And we can't move down into Jezreel Valley, because the Canaanites who live in Beth-Shan and in other parts of the valley have iron chariots."
  17. "Your tribes do have a lot of people," Joshua admitted. "I'll give you more land. Your tribes are powerful,
  18. so you can have the rest of the hill country, but it's a forest, and you'll have to cut down the trees and clear the land. You can also have Jezreel Valley. Even though the Canaanites there are strong and have iron chariots, you can force them to leave the valley."

    Chapter 17 details the allotment for half of the tribe of Manasseh. The other half received their allotment on the east side of the Jordan before the Israelites even entered Canaan. For this half of the tribe there were no male descendants to receive the inheritance so it went to daughters. Years earlier the daughers had approached Moses with the situation pointing out that there would be no inheritance for their tribe if it was given only to male heirs. God commanded that the daughters in such situations should receive the inheritance with the stipulation that they marry within the tribe so the inheritance did not become absorbed by other tribes.

    Now, as it became time for the tribe's allotment to be distributed the daughters went before Eleazar the priest to remind the leaders that "The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our male relatives." (17:4) This command was honored by Joshua and they received their land allotment. In a time when most societies primarily regarded women as property, this was a significant incident.

    Again we are told that the tribe did not completely clear the land of its inhabitants. Verse 12 says "The descendants of Manasseh could not possess these cities," as if it were beyond their ability to do so. But Joshua pointed out in later verses that this was not the case. They had the ability if they exerted it. Instead they chose to impose forced labor on the remaining Canaanites.

    This was the first tribe to register a complaint about its allotment of land asking "Why did you give us only one tribal allotment as an inheritance? We have many people." But Joshua told them they had sufficient land if they used their strength of numbers to clear it of timber and of the remaining Canaanites. Even though the hill country was a forest Joshua told them to "clear it and its outlying areas will be yours." Furthermore, he said to them, "You can also drive out the Canaanites, even though they have iron chariots and are strong." (17:18)

    The complaint of this tribe of Manasseh is typical of people who compare their obstacles to their own strength rather than God's. God had repeatedly assured the Israelites that He would drive out the Canaanites before them if they only took the initiative to drive them out. So it is in all our God-ordained endeavors. Whatever God tells us to do He does not do for us but with us. It is a joint endeavor with Him carrying the main load. Our part is to show up and trust Him to do His part. But when we fail to show up it is always because we are asking the wrong questions and focusing on the wrong things.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 16

    Joshua 16 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Ephraim and Manasseh are the two tribes descended from Joseph, and the following is a description of the land they received. The southern border of their land started at the Jordan River east of the spring at Jericho. From there it went west through the desert up to the hill country around Bethel. From Bethel it went to Luz and then to the border of the Archites in Ataroth. It continued west down to the land that belonged to the Japhlet clan, then went on to Lower Beth-Horon, Gezer, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  2. (SEE 16:1)
  3. (SEE 16:1)
  4. (SEE 16:1)
  5. The following is a description of the land that was divided among the clans of the Ephraim tribe. Their southern border started at Ataroth-Addar and went west to Upper Beth-Horon
  6. and the Mediterranean Sea. Their northern border started on the east at Janoah, curved a little to the north, then came back south to Michmethath and Tappuah, where it followed the Kanah Gorge west to the Mediterranean Sea. The eastern border started on the north near Janoah and went between Janoah on the southwest and Taanath-Shiloh on the northeast. Then it went south to Ataroth, Naarah, and on as far as the edge of the land that belonged to Jericho. At that point it turned east and went to the Jordan River. The clans of Ephraim received this region as their tribal land.
  7. (SEE 16:6)
  8. (SEE 16:6)
  9. Ephraim also had some towns and villages that were inside Manasseh's tribal land.
  10. Ephraim could not force the Canaanites out of Gezer, so there are still some Canaanites who live there among the Israelites. But now these Canaanites have to work as slaves for the Israelites.

    Joseph's descendants, the tribe of Ephraim, were next to receive their inheritance. Because Joseph kept the family alive through the famine years in Egypt, two of his sons were made heads of tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, giving his descendants a double portion. Ephraim's portion was in central Canaan from the Jordan on the east nearly to the Mediterranean on the west. It included the cities of Gilgal, Bethel, and Shiloh.

    A pattern has begun in the concluding statements of the tribal allotments. Of the tribe of Judah it was stated in 15:63, "But the descendants of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem." Now, in 16:10 it says that Ephriam "did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer." Ephraim turned this to an advantage by enslaving the people of Gezer and using them for forced labor, but this later caused problems for them when the Canaanites they allowed to remain rose up against them and enslaved them.

    Israel provides a perfect picture of man's inability to avoid sin. Even in her most victorious times, times when their relationship with God was going well, sin crept in.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 15

    Joshua 15 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. The clans of the Judah tribe were given land that went south along the border of Edom, and at its farthest point south it even reached the Zin Desert.
  2. Judah's southern border started at the south end of the Dead Sea.
  3. As it went west from there, it ran south of Scorpion Pass to Zin, and then came up from the south to Kadesh-Barnea. It continued past Hezron up to Addar, turned toward Karka,
  4. and ran along to Azmon. After that, it followed the Egyptian Gorge and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This was also Israel's southern border.
  5. Judah's eastern border ran the full length of the Dead Sea. The northern border started at the northern end of the Dead Sea.
  6. From there it went west up to Beth-Hoglah, continued north of Beth-Arabah, and went up to the Monument of Bohan, who belonged to the Reuben tribe.
  7. From there, it went to Trouble Valley and Debir, then turned north and went to Gilgal, which is on the north side of the valley across from Adummim Pass. It continued on to Enshemesh, Enrogel,
  8. and up through Hinnom Valley on the land sloping south from Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem itself belonged to the Jebusites. Next, the border went up to the top of the mountain on the west side of Hinnom Valley and at the north end of Rephaim Valley.
  9. At the top of the mountain it turned and went to Nephtoah Spring and then to the ruins on Mount Ephron. From there, it went to Baalah, which is now called Kiriath-Jearim.
  10. From Baalah the northern border curved west to Mount Seir and then ran along the northern ridge of Mount Jearim, where Chesalon is located. Then it went down to Beth-Shemesh and over to Timnah.
  11. It continued along to the hillside north of Ekron, curved around to Shikkeron, and then went to Mount Baalah. After going to Jabneel, the border finally ended at the Mediterranean Sea,
  12. which was Judah's western border. The clans of Judah lived within these borders.
  13. Joshua gave Caleb some land among the people of Judah, as God had told him to do. Caleb's share was Hebron, which at that time was known as Arba's Town, because Arba was the famous ancestor of the Anakim.
  14. Caleb attacked Hebron and forced the three Anakim clans of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai to leave.
  15. Next, Caleb started a war with the town of Debir, which at that time was called Kiriath-Sepher.
  16. He told his men, "The man who captures Kiriath-Sepher can marry my daughter Achsah."
  17. Caleb's nephew Othniel captured Kiriath-Sepher, and Caleb let him marry Achsah.
  18. Right after the wedding, Achsah started telling Othniel that he ought to ask her father for a field. She went to see her father, and while she was getting down from her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What's bothering you?"
  19. She answered, "I need your help. The land you gave me is in the Southern Desert, so I really need some spring-fed ponds for a water supply." Caleb gave her a couple of small ponds, named Higher Pond and Lower Pond.
  20. The following is a list of the towns in each region given to the Judah clans:
  21. The first region was located in the Southern Desert along the border with Edom, and it had the following twenty-nine towns with their surrounding villages: Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, Kinah, Dimonah, Aradah, Kedesh, Hazor of Ithnan, Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, Hazor-Hadattah, Kerioth-Hezron, which is also called Hazor, Amam, Shema, Moladah, Hazar-Gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-Pelet, Hazar-Shual, Beersheba and its surrounding villages, Baalah, Iim, Ezem, Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, Lebaoth, Shilhim, and Enrimmon.
  22. (SEE 15:21)
  23. (SEE 15:21)
  24. (SEE 15:21)
  25. (SEE 15:21)
  26. (SEE 15:21)
  27. (SEE 15:21)
  28. (SEE 15:21)
  29. (SEE 15:21)
  30. (SEE 15:21)
  31. (SEE 15:21)
  32. (SEE 15:21)
  33. The second region was located in the northern part of the lower foothills, and it had the following fourteen towns with their surrounding villages: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, Zanoah, En-Gannim, Tappuah, Enam, Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, and Gederothaim.
  34. (SEE 15:33)
  35. (SEE 15:33)
  36. (SEE 15:33)
  37. The third region was located in the southern part of the lower foothills, and it had the following sixteen towns with their surrounding villages: Zenan, Hadashah, Migdalgad, Dilan, Mizpeh, Joktheel, Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, Cabbon, Lahmas, Chitlish, Gederoth, Beth-Dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah.
  38. (SEE 15:37)
  39. (SEE 15:37)
  40. (SEE 15:37)
  41. (SEE 15:37)
  42. The fourth region was located in the central part of the lower foothills, and it had the following nine towns with their surrounding villages: Libnah, Ether, Ashan, Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah.
  43. (SEE 15:42)
  44. (SEE 15:42)
  45. The fifth region was located along the Mediterranean seacoast, and it had the following towns with their surrounding settlements and villages: Ekron and the towns between there and the coast, Ashdod and the larger towns nearby, Gaza, the towns from Gaza to the Egyptian Gorge, and the towns along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
  46. (SEE 15:45)
  47. (SEE 15:45)
  48. The sixth region was in the southwestern part of the hill country, and it had the following eleven towns with their surrounding villages: Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, Dannah, Kiriath-Sannah, which is now called Debir, Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, Goshen, Holon, and Giloh.
  49. (SEE 15:48)
  50. (SEE 15:48)
  51. (SEE 15:48)
  52. The seventh region was located in the south-central part of Judah's hill country, and it had the following nine towns with their surrounding villages: Arab, Dumah, Eshan, Janim, Beth-Tappuah, Aphekah, Humtah, Kiriath-Arba, which is now called Hebron, and Zior.
  53. (SEE 15:52)
  54. (SEE 15:52)
  55. The eighth region was located in the southeastern part of the hill country, and it had the following ten towns with their surrounding villages: Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah.
  56. (SEE 15:55)
  57. (SEE 15:55)
  58. The ninth region was located in the central part of Judah's hill country, and it had the following six towns with their surrounding villages: Halhul, Beth-Zur, Gedor, Maarath, Beth-Anoth, and Eltekon. The tenth region was located in the north-central part of Judah's hill country, and it had the following eleven towns with their surrounding villages: Tekoa, Ephrath, which is also called Bethlehem, Peor, Etam, Culon, Tatam, Shoresh, Kerem, Gallim, Bether, and Manahath.
  59. (SEE 15:58)
  60. The eleventh region was located in the northern part of Judah's hill country, and it had the following two towns with their surrounding villages: Rabbah, and Kiriath-Baal, which is also called Kiriath-Jearim.
  61. The twelfth region was located in the desert along the Dead Sea, and it had the following six towns with their surrounding villages: Beth-Arabah, Middin, Secacah, Nibshan, Salt Town, and En-Gedi.
  62. (SEE 15:61)
  63. The Jebusites lived in Jerusalem, and the people of the Judah tribe could not capture the city and get rid of them. That's why Jebusites still live in Jerusalem along with the people of Judah.

Chapter 15 records the boundaries of the land allotted to Judah, and within that allotment the portion that went to Caleb. Caleb had been promised this portion because he had given a positive report 45 years earlier when he and eleven others were sent to scout the land of Canaan. Judah received land in the southern region with a southern border going from the southern tip of the Dead Sea west toward the Mediterranean Sea and the northern border from the northern tip of the Dead Sea west all the way to the Mediterranean. Judah's portion included the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Lachish, Libnah, and Gaza. In all, Judah received 115 towns plus their villages.

Within Judah's allotment, Caleb's portion was around the city of Hebron. He swiftly set about to clear his portion of the sons of Anak who remained in the land. He gave his daughter to his nephew Othniel for capturing the city of Kiriath-sepher, and to this couple he gave land and springs of water.

The chapter ends on a negative note pointing out that Judah was unable to "drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem." No explanation is given as to why they were unable to drive out the Jebusites. God repeatedly promised to give them victory over the inhabitants of Canaan so we must wonder if it was lack of faith rather than of strength that caused this failure. It was not until the time of David that Jerusalem was finally cleared of the Jebusites.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 14

    Joshua 14 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Nine and a half tribes still did not have any land, although two and a half tribes had already received land east of the Jordan River. Moses had divided that land among them, and he had also said that the Levi tribe would not receive a large region like the other tribes. Instead, the people of Levi would receive towns and the nearby pastures for their sheep, goats, and cattle. And since the descendants of Joseph had become the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, there were still nine and a half tribes that needed land. The LORD had told Moses that he would show those tribes how to divide up the land of Canaan. When the priest Eleazar, Joshua, and the leaders of the families and tribes of Israel met to divide up the land of Canaan, the LORD showed them how to do it.
  2. (SEE 14:1)
  3. (SEE 14:1)
  4. (SEE 14:1)
  5. (SEE 14:1)
  6. One day while the Israelites were still camped at Gilgal, Caleb the son of Jephunneh went to talk with Joshua. Caleb belonged to the Kenaz clan, and many other people from the Judah tribe went with Caleb. He told Joshua: You know that back in Kadesh-Barnea the LORD talked to his prophet Moses about you and me.
  7. I was forty years old at the time Moses sent me from Kadesh-Barnea into Canaan as a spy. When I came back and told him about the land, everything I said was true.
  8. The other spies said things that made our people afraid, but I completely trusted the LORD God.
  9. The same day I came back, Moses told me, "Since you were faithful to the LORD God, I promise that the places where you went as a spy will belong to you and your descendants forever."
  10. Joshua, it was forty-five years ago that the LORD told Moses to make that promise, and now I am eighty-five. Even though Israel has moved from place to place in the desert, the LORD has kept me alive all this time as he said he would.
  11. I'm just as strong today as I was then, and I can still fight as well in battle.
  12. So I'm asking you for the hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You were there. You heard the other spies talk about that part of the hill country and the large, walled towns where the Anakim live. But maybe the LORD will help me take their land, just as he promised.
  13. Joshua prayed that God would help Caleb, then he gave Hebron to Caleb and his descendants.
  14. And Hebron still belongs to Caleb's descendants, because he was faithful to the LORD God of Israel.
  15. Hebron used to be called Arba's Town, because Arba had been one of the greatest of the Anakim. There was peace in the land.

    The previous chapter made a transition from war to land allotment. The first portion of land to be addressed was the land to the east of the Jordan River that had already been promised to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half tribe of Manasseh. Chapter 14 picks up with the allotment of the land west of the Jordan to the remaining 9 and 1/2 tribes. This was handled by lot which was guided by God. According to Jewish tradition this was done by drawing the name of a tribe from one urn while simultaneously drawing the boundary lines of a territory from another.

    The high point of this chapter is the account of Caleb's allotment. Caleb was of the tribe of Judah and one of the twelve scouts sent into Canaan 45 years earlier. Only he and Joshua gave a positive report, and because of this the Lord spared him to receive an inheritance in the land and promised the land to him that he had walked on as a scout. That land happened to be the area in which the Anakim lived who were giants. It is ironic that these were the people whose territory the scouts had entered to check out Canaan. They then assumed that all the people of Canaan were like the Anakim and further assumed the task to be impossible. But not Caleb or Joshua who had their eyes on the Lord.

    Caleb's faith remained strong 45 years later as the land was being distributed among the tribes. Now 85 years old, Caleb stepped forward as Joshua was about to begin the allotments to remind him of the promise he had been given about receiving the land upon which he had set foot as a scout. In making his request Caleb claimed to be as strong as he had been at age 40 when he scouted the land. He was ready to take on the Anakim who lived in the land he was about to possess. He knew the Lord would enable him to be victorious over them. Joshua blessed him and gave him the territory he had been promised which included the city of Hebron.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 13

    Joshua 13 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Many years later, the LORD told Joshua: Now you are very old, but there is still a lot of land that Israel has not yet taken.
  2. First, there is the Canaanite territory that starts at the Shihor River just east of Egypt and goes north to Ekron. The southern part of this region belongs to the Avvites and the Geshurites, and the land around Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron belongs to the five Philistine rulers. The other Canaanite territory is in the north. Its northern border starts at the town of Arah, which belongs to the Sidonians. From there, it goes to Aphek, then along the Amorite border to Hamath Pass. The eastern border starts at Hamath Pass and goes south to Baal-Gad at the foot of Mount Hermon, and its southern boundary runs west from there to Misrephoth-Maim. This northern region includes the Lebanon Mountains and the land that belongs to the Gebalites and the Sidonians who live in the hill country from the Lebanon Mountains to Misrephoth-Maim. With my help, Israel will capture these Canaanite territories and force out the people who live there. But you must divide up the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea among the nine tribes and the half of Manasseh that don't have any land yet. Then each tribe will have its own land.
  3. (SEE 13:2)
  4. (SEE 13:2)
  5. (SEE 13:2)
  6. (SEE 13:2)
  7. (SEE 13:2)
  8. Moses had already given land east of the Jordan River to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh.
  9. This region stretched north from the town in the middle of the Arnon River valley, and included the town of Aroer on the northern edge of the valley. It covered the flatlands of Medeba north of Dibon,
  10. and took in the towns that had belonged to Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon. Some of these towns were as far east as the Ammonite border.
  11. Geshur and Maacah were part of this region, and so was the whole territory that King Og had ruled, that is, Gilead, Mount Hermon, and all of Bashan as far east as Salecah. Og had lived in Ashtaroth part of each year, and he had lived in Edrei the rest of the year. Og had been one of the last of the Rephaim, but Moses had defeated Sihon and Og and their people and had forced them to leave their land.
  12. (SEE 13:11)
  13. However, the Israelites did not force the people of Geshur and Maacah to leave, and they still live there among the Israelites.
  14. Moses did not give any land to the Levi tribe, because the LORD God of Israel had told them, "Instead of land, you will receive the sacrifices offered at my altar."
  15. Moses gave land to each of the clans in the Reuben tribe.
  16. Their land started in the south at the town in the middle of the Arnon River valley, took in the town of Aroer on the northern edge of the valley, and went as far north as the flatlands around Medeba.
  17. The Amorite King Sihon had lived in Heshbon and had ruled the towns in the flatlands. Now Heshbon belonged to Reuben, and so did the following towns in the flatlands: Dibon, Bamoth-Baal, Beth-Baal-Meon, Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath, Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth-Shahar on the hill in the valley, Beth-Peor, Slopes of Mount Pisgah, and Beth-Jeshimoth. Moses defeated Sihon and killed him and the Midianite chiefs who ruled parts of his kingdom for him. Their names were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba.
  18. (SEE 13:17)
  19. (SEE 13:17)
  20. (SEE 13:17)
  21. (SEE 13:17)
  22. The Israelites also killed Balaam the son of Beor, who had been a fortuneteller.
  23. This region with its towns and villages was the land for the Reuben tribe, and the Jordan River was its western border.
  24. Moses also gave land to each of the clans in the Gad tribe.
  25. It included the town of Jazer, and in the Gilead region their territory took in the land and towns as far east as the town of Aroer just west of Rabbah. This was about half of the land that had once belonged to the Ammonites.
  26. The land given to Gad stretched from Heshbon in the south to Ramath-Mizpeh and Betonim in the north, and even further north to Mahanaim and Lidebor.
  27. Gad also received the eastern half of the Jordan River valley, which had been ruled by King Sihon of Heshbon. This territory stretched as far north as Lake Galilee, and included the towns of Beth-Haram, Beth-Nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon.
  28. These regions with their towns and villages were given to the Gad tribe.
  29. Moses gave land east of the Jordan River to half of the clans from the Manasseh tribe.
  30. Their land started at Mahanaim and took in the region that King Og of Bashan had ruled, including Ashtaroth and Edrei, the two towns where he had lived. The villages where the Jair clan settled were part of Manasseh's land, and so was the northern half of the region of Gilead. The clans of this half of Manasseh had sixty towns in all. The Manasseh tribe is sometimes called the Machir tribe, after Manasseh's son Machir.
  31. (SEE 13:30)
  32. That was how Moses divided up the Moab Plains to the east of Jericho on the other side of the Jordan River, so these two and a half tribes would have land of their own.
  33. But Moses did not give any land to the Levi tribe, because the LORD had promised that he would always provide for them.

    As noted in the previous reflection for chapter 12, Israel's main conquest of Canaan was concluded leaving minor skirmishes yet to be encountered to totally free the land of its former inhabitants. These skirmishes would be the responsibility of the various Israelite tribes as they took possession of their inheritance of land. Joshua had led Israel to this great moment in time. A moment for which the descendants of Abraham had waited centuries. It was time for the land of Canaan, the land of promise, to be distributed among the tribes of Israel.

    Joshua was now approximately 100 years old and had one last task for which God had appointed him. He was to distribute the land to the tribes.  The remainer of the book of Joshua is devoted to this task of taking possession of the land. Chapter 12 begins the transition of turning from military action to distribution of land. First it records God's reminder to Joshua of those territories not yet conquered.  He assures Joshua that He will drive these people out of the land on behalf of the Israelites, but first Joshua is to "distribute the land as an inheritance for Israel, as I have commanded you." (13:6) So attention is then turned to dividing the land among the tribes of Israel.

    This begins with a review of the land east of the Jordan that was promised to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to a description of the boundaries of the inheritance east of the Jordan for each of these tribes. It is repeatedly mentioned throughout these descriptions of land distribution that no allotment of land was to be made for the tribe of Levi. This tribe was to inherit, "the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel." (13:14) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reflections on Joshua 12

    Joshua 12 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Before Moses died, he and the people of Israel had defeated two kings east of the Jordan River. These kings had ruled the region from the Arnon River gorge in the south to Mount Hermon in the north, including the eastern side of the Jordan River valley.
  2. The first king that Moses and the Israelites defeated was an Amorite, King Sihon of Heshbon. The southern border of his kingdom ran down the middle of the Arnon River gorge, taking in the town of Aroer on the northern edge of the gorge. The Jabbok River separated Sihon's kingdom from the Ammonites on the east. Then the Jabbok turned west and became his northern border, so his kingdom included the southern half of the region of Gilead.
  3. Sihon also controlled the eastern side of the Jordan River valley from Lake Galilee south to Beth-Jeshimoth and the Dead Sea. In addition to these regions, he ruled the town called Slopes of Mount Pisgah and the land south of there at the foot of the hill.
  4. Next, Moses and the Israelites defeated King Og of Bashan, who lived in the town of Ashtaroth part of each year and in Edrei the rest of the year. Og was one of the last of the Rephaim.
  5. His kingdom stretched north to Mount Hermon, east to the town of Salecah, and included the land of Bashan as far west as the borders of the kingdoms of Geshur and Maacah. He also ruled the northern half of Gilead.
  6. Moses, the LORD's servant, had led the people of Israel in defeating Sihon and Og. Then Moses gave their land to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh.
  7. Later, Joshua and the Israelites defeated many kings west of the Jordan River, from Baal-Gad in Lebanon Valley in the north to Mount Halak near the country of Edom in the south. This region included the hill country and the foothills, the Jordan River valley and its western slopes, and the Southern Desert. Joshua and the Israelites took this land from the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Joshua divided up the land among the tribes of Israel. The Israelites defeated the kings of the following towns west of the Jordan River:
  8. (SEE 12:7)
  9. Jericho, Ai near Bethel, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, Gezer, Debir, Geder, Hormah, Arad, Libnah, Adullam, Makkedah, Bethel, Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek, Lasharon, Madon, Hazor, Shimron-Meron, Achshaph, Taanach, Megiddo, Kedesh, Jokneam on Mount Carmel, Dor in Naphath-Dor, Goiim in Galilee, and Tirzah. There were thirty-one of these kings in all.
  10. (SEE 12:9)
  11. (SEE 12:9)
  12. (SEE 12:9)
  13. (SEE 12:9)
  14. (SEE 12:9)
  15. (SEE 12:9)
  16. (SEE 12:9)
  17. (SEE 12:9)
  18. (SEE 12:9)
  19. (SEE 12:9)
  20. (SEE 12:9)
  21. (SEE 12:9)
  22. (SEE 12:9)
  23. (SEE 12:9)
  24. (SEE 12:9)

Chapter 12 provides a summary of the conquest of Canaan starting with the two kings east of the Jordan River conquered by Moses before his death and then listing 31 kings west of the Jordan conquered by Joshua. The first 11 chapters of Joshua record only the major battles west of the Jordan so prior to this list of chapter 12 we have only the hint given in 11:16-17 of any further battles.

As mentioned in previous reflections, the completion of the major conquest of Canaan did not conclude Israel's military efforts. There were still scattered peoples throughout the land that would have to be dealt with by each tribe as it took possession of its inherited territory.