BIBLE STUDY SERIES #584, 585 and 586

February 2, 2003

Joshua 11 - THRUSTING NORTH - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our present series of Bible Studies, which has continued for a number of years sequentially from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12, had, on our last Bible Study, covered the Scriptural record to that which is found in Joshua 10.

For new listeners, we should, as is our usual practice, "set the scene" with a short review as the preamble. We had previously examined the records of the acts of the Israelites under orders of The Captain of the Host of The LORD, and the transmission of these orders through their military leader, Joshua, as they proceeded towards occupancy of the Land of Promise which God swore to give to Abraham's descendants. The Israelites had completed their initial tasks, circling and taking Jericho and, after an episode wherein one family brought sin into the camp of Israel, causing a temporary defeat at the small town of Ai, that matter had been righted, and the town thereupon taken and put to the sword, and the movement had again gone forward in a move which thrust towards the central part of Canaan.

Joshua had led the Israelite tribes to the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal where Israel carried out a public ceremonial to proclaim, and affirm, acceptance of The LORD's Commandments as had been ordered of The LORD, through Moses. In Joshua 9, we had learned of a treaty into which the unwary Israelite leadership had been trapped by the lies of the Gibeonites. However, once entered, the compromising agreement must be observed, so those Gibeonites were told that they would be hewers of wood and drawers of water to Israel as slaves of The Sanctuary. We had mentioned that today's spiritual leaders stand in jeopardy of making the same mistake, and for the same reason.

The Southern Canaanites were infuriated with that surrender to Israel by the Gibeonites, and came out against them, causing the Gibeonites to appeal for help to Israel. Military aid was swiftly brought to them by a forced march. The defeat of the five kings of the Southern Canaanite confederacy which had sought to slay the Gibeonites was thus the means of the taking of all the Southern portion of Canaan. The Israelites had defeated the armies of the five Canaanite cities, and the rout was completed by a terrible hail storm sent by The LORD, which slew more of those enemies than had Israel. We then read the continuation of the somewhat bloody account which was found recorded in the Scripture portion, which we found in Joshua 10, for in those verses we saw that Israel was being given the task of what might well be called extermination of the people in the cities from which those armies of the South had emerged. We re-examined the morality of the activities of the army of Israel, and noted that it was an invasion ordered and guided by The LORD Himself, and we had added the appropriate stress upon the long-term ramifications of that which was being programmed and ordered by The LORD. We had read of the end of the five kings who had raised their armies from their cities to come against the army of Israel, and how the Israelite army had appeared at the gates of each such city in turn and swept through each with fire and sword. We had, while contemplating what was done, tried to keep before us the realisation that, when God had promised the land to Abraham's descendants, He had given these Canaanite people four hundred years while their activities were on trial, and were becoming increasingly depraved and sinful before He permitted the Israelites to begin their active displacement.

Having followed the Scriptural record to the second-last verse of Joshua 10, we will, today come to those Scripture portions which follow that point, and which generally describe the taking of Northern Canaan, following which the various tribal placements were to be assigned by lot. You might wish to have your Bible open to that point, and if there is a Bible map showing the Old Testament geography of the time, it might be useful to keep a slip of paper at that spot to mark that resource as well. There will later be listed many names of localities which we, today may think to be exceedingly monotonous and meaningless. However, in spite of the long lists of unfamiliar cities as they are cited, we ought to read the actual Scriptural reference, as here and there along the way we might pick up some small points of interest to the Bible student.

As an introduction to Joshua 11:1-23, we ought to consult The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "The third stage: the campaign in the north" and the first sub-heading, "Conquest of the northern confederacy (xi. 1-15)" which begins: "Joshua's successful campaign in the south aroused the alarm of the northern Canaanitish kings. Led by Jabin, king of Hazor (lit. 'the fortress'), they formed a great confederacy against Israel. This included Jabin's nearest neighbours but the call to arms was not confined to them, but included the kings in the hill country of the north and in the plains (RV, Arabah') south of Chinneroth (2), a city on the Lake of Galilee. (Cf. Jos. xii. 3 RV. 'Arabah' was the name given to the lowlands of the Jordan valley. The remnants of the defeated armies of the south were also summoned to make a supreme effort to repel the invaders. All these forces, equipped with chariots and cavalry, mustered at the waters of Merom, a stream flowing into the Sea of Galilee from the north-west. Joshua was encouraged for the battle by the assurance of God's presence and of victory and was commanded to burn the chariots and hamstring the horses of the enemy (6) so that they could not be used afterwards by the Canaanites or by the victorious Israelites, who might thus be tempted to put their trust in horses. A sudden attack once again struck panic into the hearts of the Canaanites, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel (8), who smote them and pursued them in headlong flight. Hazor was burned to the ground and its inhabitants utterly destroyed, but the smaller cities that 'stood on their mounts' (13, RV, rather than AV stood still in their strength) were left. Perhaps now that the Israelites were established in the land these were no longer a danger, but rather an advantage to settlers."

This is how the account continues from verse 43 of Joshua 10 through Joshua 11 to verse 7:

43. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
1. And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,
2. And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west,
3. And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.
4. And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.
5. And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

Now here we meet the more militant Canaanites from the whole of Northern Canaan, who have been assembled in order to try what the kings of Southern Canaan had failed to do with disastrous results to themselves. Probably the kings of this Northern confederacy had heard of the hail which had killed so many of the Southern army, and were assuming that nature could not strike twice in succession favouring the cause of Israel. Beside that, there were many who had joined up this time, in defence against this new danger.

The Companion Bible notes at verse 2 that "Chinneroth was afterwards called Lake of Gennesareth, Sea of Galilee and Sea of Tiberias", and that "west = sea, or coast." Also, in verse 3, "Mizpeh = Watch-tower." In verse 5, "met together" is explained as "by appointment."

6. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.
7. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.

This forms the first part of the chapter, and from it we may see that God is truly moving the battle against those Canaanites, so, once again, we ought to remember that God had already passed His judgment on their deplorable religious practices and would make an end of their dominance just as surely as he judged the Adamic peoples of Noah's day, and those whose practices He found worthy of death in Sodom and Gomorrah. There is an expression which states that there is "safety in numbers", but when The Almighty God finally moves to bring down judgment upon an entire people, He doesn't do it by half-measures. We would be well advised to keep this in mind in these modern times when multitudes are in what scripture calls "the valley of decision." We shall pick up our account on the next Bible study.

February 9, 2003

Joshua 11 - THRUSTING NORTH - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our present series of Bible Studies, which has continued for a number of years sequentially from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12, had, on our last Bible Study, covered the Scriptural record to that which is found in Joshua 10.

For new listeners, we should "set the scene" with a short preamble. We had previously examined the records of the acts of the Israelites under orders of The Captain of the Host of The LORD, and the transmission of these through their military leader, Joshua, as they proceeded towards occupancy of the Land of Promise which God swore to give to Abraham's descendants. The Israelites had completed their initial tasks, circling and taking Jericho and, after an episode wherein one family brought sin into the camp of Israel, causing a temporary defeat at the small town of Ai, that matter had been righted, and the town thereupon taken and put to the sword, and the movement had again gone forward in a move which thrust towards the central part of Canaan.

Joshua had led the Israelite tribes to the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal where Israel carried out a public ceremonial to proclaim, and affirm, acceptance of The LORD's Commandments as had been ordered of The LORD, through Moses. In Joshua 9, we had learned of a treaty into which the unwary Israelite leadership had been trapped by the lies of the Gibeonites. However, once entered, the compromising agreement must be observed, so those Gibeonites were told that they would be hewers of wood and drawers of water to Israel as slaves of The Sanctuary.

The Southern Canaanites were infuriated with that surrender to Israel by the Gibeonites, and came out against them, causing the Gibeonites to appeal for help to Israel. Military aid was swiftly brought to them by a forced march. The defeat of the five kings of the Southern Canaanite confederacy which had sought to slay the Gibeonites was thus the means of the taking of all the Southern portion of Canaan. The Israelites had defeated the armies of the five Canaanite cities, and the rout was completed by a terrible hail storm sent by The LORD, which slew more of those enemies than had Israel. We then read the continuation of the somewhat bloody account which was found recorded in the Scripture portion, which we found in Joshua 10, for in those verses we saw that Israel was being given the task of what might well be called extermination of the people in the cities from which those armies of the South had emerged. We re-examined the morality of the activities of the army of Israel, and noted that it was an invasion ordered and guided by The LORD Himself, and we had added the appropriate stress upon the long-term ramifications of that which was being programmed and ordered by The LORD. We had read of the end of the five kings who had raised their armies from their cities to come against the army of Israel, and how the Israelite army had appeared at the gates of each such city in turn and swept through each with fire and sword. We had, while contemplating what was done, tried to keep before us the realisation that, when God had promised the land to Abraham's descendants, He had given these Canaanite people four hundred years while their activities were on trial, and were becoming increasingly depraved and sinful before He permitted the Israelites to begin their active displacement.

Having followed the Scriptural record to the second-last verse of Joshua 10, we will, today come to those Scripture portions which follow that point, and which generally describe the taking of Northern Canaan, following which the various tribal placements were assigned by lot. You might wish to have your Bible open to that point, and if there is a Bible map showing the Old Testament geography of the time, it might be useful to keep a slip of paper at that spot to mark that resource as well. There will be listed many names of localities which we, today may find exceedingly monotonous and meaningless. However, in spite of the long lists of unfamiliar cities as they are cited, we ought to read the actual Scriptural reference, as here and there along the way we might pick up some small points of interest to the Bible student. As an introduction to Joshua 11:1-23, we had consulted The New Bible Commentary, under the heading which pertained to verses 1-15, and The Companion Bible at verse 6 which explains the words "hough their horses" as "sever the hamstring."

We might consult The New Bible Commentary for the rest of Chapter 11 starting with the heading "Summary of conquest (xi. 16-23). It states "The battles of Beth-horon and Merom were decisive, and the power of the Canaanites to resist the invaders was shattered. All organized resistance was broken down. And the land rested from war (23) in the sense that no more pitched battles were required. But the completion of the campaign took a long time (18), and even at the end of Joshua's life there remained yet very much land to be possessed (xiii. 1). To deal with the parts of the country still unsubdued was now to be the responsibility of the individual tribes. A special note is made of the defeat of the Anakim, perhaps because it had been they who had terrified the spies of Israel so disastrously forty years before."

The Canaanites had not, it seems, realised the impact which was contributed by that rapidity with which the forces of Israel had moved against those of the South. And that Israel was quite as capable of repeating that tactical advantage to achieve surprise with sudden onslaught against themselves. The Companion Bible notes of the name Misrephoth-maim in verse 8 as "salt or glass works." We shall read from verse 8:

8. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.
9. And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.
10. And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.
11. And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.
12. And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded.
13. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.

It seems that Israel left alone those cities which had not joined in the attack against them.

14. And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.
15. As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.

Reference to the commands of Moses continue to appear in the account, showing that at this time, the Israelites are seeking to carry forward Yahweh's commandments within their own national commitments, as they will continue to do while the leadership continues under Joshua's influence.

16. So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same;
17. Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.
18. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

At verse 18, The Companion Bible notes that "a long time" = "many days."

19. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.
20. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.
21. And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.
22. There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.
23. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.

It is most noteworthy that it was all done as verse 40 of Joshua 10 records, "as the LORD God of Israel commanded", and thus not for the purpose of robbery for personal or national gain. Why, then is the invasion important? We ought to consider the age-long ramifications of this invasion. The spiritual instruction to the whole subsequent sequence of generations yet to be born was involved in the projected plan of which this was simply one of the earlier stages. There will be spiritual symbolism threaded throughout all which unfolds, and reflections of earlier physical developments will resonate in all lands down through the rest of time, for it is all done in preparation for a far more important theme woven throughout the tapestry of time. There is an age-long plan which envisions the ultimate redemption of people in all nations, and the lessons being enacted with such bloody drama in those far-off days are done in order that we, and all subsequent generations in every race and nation will have the benefits of studying what there occurred and was recorded in the Holy Scriptures for our understanding and improvement. There will be more to see in these ancient acts than at first would appear. We hope to draw some of those lessons from the themes presented as our Bible Study sequence proceeds.

February 16, 2003

Joshua 11 - THRUSTING NORTH - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our present series of Bible Studies, which has continued for a number of years sequentially from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12, had, on our last Bible Study, covered the Scriptural record to that which is found in Joshua 10.

For new listeners, we should "set the scene" with a short preamble. We had previously examined the records of the acts of the Israelites under orders of The Captain of the Host of The LORD, and the transmission of these through their military leader, Joshua, as they proceeded towards occupancy of the Land of Promise which God had sworn to give to Abraham's descendants. The Israelites had completed their initial task, at Jericho and, after a set-back at Ai, eliminated the offence in their camp which had allowed it to happen. The movement had again gone forward, thrusting towards the central part of Canaan. At the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal, Israel had carried out a public ceremonial to proclaim, and affirm, acceptance of The LORD's Commandments as had been ordered of The LORD, through Moses. In Joshua 9, we had learned of a treaty into which the unwary Israelite leadership had been trapped by the lies of the Gibeonites. However, once entered, the compromising agreement must be observed, so those Gibeonites were told that they would be hewers of wood and drawers of water to Israel as slaves of The Sanctuary.

I would digress briefly to state that today, many Christian leaders appear to be falling into a parallel trap, and for the same reason, namely, a failure to properly check commonly expounded misconception against the clear national aspects in God's prophetic word. It is extremely important to make sure that we do not seek to misapply prophetic statements, basing these on commonly accepted notions without bothering to check them against the Scriptures. Applying prophetic scenarios to the wrong people leads to attempts to force those prophetic themes to a fulfilment with disastrous results.

The Southern Canaanites were infuriated with that surrender to Israel by the Gibeonites, and came out against them, causing the Gibeonites to appeal for help to Israel. Military aid was swiftly brought to them by a forced march. The defeat of the five kings of the Southern Canaanite confederacy which had sought to slay the Gibeonites was thus the means of the taking of all the Southern portion of Canaan. The rout was completed by a terrible hail storm sent by The LORD, which slew more of those enemies than had Israel. We then read the continuation of the somewhat bloody account which was recorded in Joshua 10, for in those verses we saw that Israel was being given the task of what might well be called extermination of the people in the cities from which those armies of the South had emerged. We re-examined the morality of the activities of the army of Israel, and noted that it was an invasion ordered and guided by The LORD Himself, and we had added the appropriate stress upon the long-term ramifications of that which was being programmed and ordered by The LORD. We had, while contemplating what was done, tried to keep before us the realisation that, when God had promised the land to Abraham's descendants, He had given these Canaanite people four hundred years while their activities were on trial, and were becoming increasingly depraved and sinful before He permitted the Israelites to begin their active displacement.

Joshua's successful campaign in the south aroused the alarm of the northern Canaanitish kings. Led by Jabin, king of Hazor (lit. 'the fortress'), they formed a great confederacy against Israel. This included Jabin's nearest neighbours but the call to arms was not confined to them, but included the kings in the hill country of the north and in the plains (RV, 'Arabah') south of Chinneroth (2), a city on the Lake of Galilee. Cf. Jos. xii. 3 RV. 'Arabah' was the name given to the lowlands of the Jordan valley. The remnants of the defeated armies of the south were also summoned to make a supreme effort to repel the invaders.

All these forces, equipped with chariots and cavalry, mustered at the waters of Merom, a stream flowing into the Sea of Galilee from the north-west. Joshua was encouraged for the battle by the assurance of God's presence and of victory and was commanded to burn the chariots and hamstring the horses of the enemy (6) so that they could not be used afterwards by the Canaanites or by the victorious Israelites, who might thus be tempted to put their trust in horses. A sudden attack once again struck panic into the hearts of the Canaanites, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel (8), who smote them and pursued them in headlong flight. The last chapter, Joshua 11, had ended with the words of verse 23 "So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war."

Having followed the Scriptural record to the end of Joshua 11, which describes the taking of Northern Canaan, we will, today come to those Scripture portions which follow that passage, and which generally list the forces which Israel defeated to this point, following which the next will tell of the various tribal placements which were to be assigned by lot. You might wish to have your Bible open to the beginning of Joshua 12, and if there is a Bible map showing the Old Testament geography of the time, it might be useful to keep a slip of paper at that spot to mark that resource as well. There will later be listed many names of localities which we, today may find exceedingly monotonous and meaningless. However, in spite of the long lists of unfamiliar cities as they are cited, we ought to read the actual Scriptural reference, as here and there along the way we might pick up some small points of interest to the Bible student.

Perhaps as an introduction to Joshua 12:1-24, we ought to consult The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "e. List of conquered Canaanite kings (xii. 1-24)." It states: "This list may be regarded as an appendix to the history of the wars of Joshua, concluding the story of the conquest before going onto the colonization of the country. Verses 1-6 deal with the conquests 'on the other (eastern) side Jordan' (1) under Moses (6). See Nu. xxi and Dt. ii. 24 - iii. 17. The remainder of the chapter lists Joshua's successes in Canaan, 'this side Jordan' (7). It is remarkable that such a small country should contain so many kings, even though these had merely local authority; its divisions were one factor which made the task of the Israelites easier than it might otherwise have been, though it should be noted that in face of an external threat the kings tended to combine their forces as at Beth-horon in the south and Merom in the north."

Let us read from Joshua 12:1-8, and comment thereon, and at the remaining verses, we will seek some points which may add to our understanding of the listings.

1. Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:
2. Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;
3. And from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, the way to Bethjeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdothpisgah:
4. And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei,
5. And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.
6. Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it for a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
7. And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even unto the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions;
8. In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites:

A summary list of the various conquered kings here follows, but if we wish to learn some facts about each we must delay the reading of those until the next Bible Study. It is most noteworthy that these things were all done, as verse 40 of Joshua 10 records, "as the LORD God of Israel commanded", and thus not for the purpose of robbery for personal or national gain. Why, then is the invasion important? We should have some answers after we cover the next Bible Studies.

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