BIBLE STUDY SERIES #587, 588 and 589

February 23, 2003

Joshua 12 - DEFEATED KINGS - 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 11 and part of 12.

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.

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. This was an invasion ordered and guided by The LORD Himself.

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. It ended in disaster for the enemies of Israel.

Having followed the Scriptural record to the end of Joshua 11 and having read the first 8 verses of Joshua 12, 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 Joshua 12:8, 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. The many listed names of localities we, today, might 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.

A very interesting and useful listing of Biblical places with historic notes on each is found in The Revell Bible Dictionary, and I thought that I might enhance the list of place names which appear in our Scripture portions in this and the next Bible Studies by making reference to that useful reference volume when considering each of the kings that were defeated by Joshua and the armies of Israel. After each verse, I will quote the significant information on the localities mentioned from that reference. So here is the summary list of defeated kings, beginning at verse 9:

9. The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;
Jericho - "moon city" (?) A city in the Jordan Valley about 17 miles NE of Jerusalem. Founded as early as 8,000 BC. Situated in a flourishing oasis, fed by a perennial spring. OT Jericho also became known as the "City of Palms." In Biblical history it is notable as the ancient city conquered by Joshua and the Israelites following their entrance into the land of Canaan. After its fall the walled city remained in ruins until the time of Ahab. It was finally abandoned at the time of the Babylonian Captivity. The NT Jericho was on the road from the fords of the lower Jordan to Jerusalem, a little S of the ancient site. Herod the Great built much of the NT city as a winter residence, and died there in 4 BC. Nearby are the traditional sites of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, and his temptations in the mountains to the W of the city. Further notes mention the John Garstang excavation dating of the city's destruction to 1500 BC, the conflicting assessment of Kathleen Kenyon, and more recently a reassessment which returns to the Garstang dating.

Ai - The city at which Joshua's forces met defeat after the capture of Jericho about 1400 BC. Located E of Bethel, its site is usually identified at the ancient ruins at Et Tell. However this site is problematic, for it appears to have been unoccupied at the time of the conquest. Also there was apparently no occupation of the city after about 1050 BC, although natives of Ai are said to have returned to Judah after the Exile. An alternative site, Khirbet Nisya, has been proposed, and has several advantages over the traditional site. It is located 11 miles N of Jerusalem, a little SW of Et Tell. There is also an Ammonite city of that name near Heshbon.

10. The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
Jerusalem - "city of peace" The capital of the Davidic Kingdom and the religious centre of Israel. Solomon constructed the Temple there as the sole worship centre of the God of Israel. After the division of the kingdom, Jerusalem remained the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah until the city's destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. After the return from exile the Temple was rebuilt, and a century later Jerusalem's walls were restored under the leadership of Nehemiah. Jesus spent the last week of his ministry at Jerusalem and at week's end he was crucified outside its walls. The scriptures contain over 800 references to the city of Jerusalem.

Hebron - "confederacy" An important city in S Palestine, located in the hill country of Judah about 19 miles S of Jerusalem. The city is near the ridge of the hills, and at an altitude of 3040 ft. above sea level. Hebron is the highest town in Palestine. The archaeological record shows almost continuous occupation at Hebron from the Early Bronze Age to modern times. It may be the oldest unwalled city in the world to possess that distinction. According to tradition it was founded seven years before Zoan (that is Tanis) in Egypt. It became a campsite of Abram, who lived at the oaks of Mamre near the city. The cave of Machpelah at Mamre became the patriarchal burial place. At the time of the conquest, it was a royal city of the Anakites, known as Kiriath Arba. Joshua took the city, but prior to his death, it had reverted to the Anakites. Caleb recaptured Hebron, which was designated a city of refuge. Its inhabitants aided David while he was a fugitive, and after Saul's death, David was anointed king of Judah in Hebron. David reigned here for seven years until the transfer of the capital to Jerusalem. Later Absalom engineered his rebellion from Hebron. During the reign of Rehoboam it was refortified as a S defence of Jerusalem. Hebron appears among the cities named on royal jar handle stamps of Judah, suggesting its importance as an administrative centre during the OT kingdom period. It was resettled after the Exile, and later became a city of the Edomites, within the province of Idumea.

The concluding words of a former Study are, I think, important enough to be repeated as conclusion to today's thoughts as well. I said this: "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."

March 2, 2003

JOSHUA 12: DEFEATED KINGS - 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 12

For new listeners, we should "set the scene" with a short preamble. We had previously examined the records of the entry into The Promised Land, by the Israelites under Joshua, as they proceeded towards occupancy of the Land of Promise which God had sworn to give to Abraham's descendants. We had followed the Scriptural accounts of events at Jericho and Ai, and at the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal, where Israel had carried out a public ceremonial to proclaim, and affirm, acceptance of The LORD's Commandments.

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 and 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 recorded in Joshua 10.

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 south of Chinneroth, a city on the Lake of Galilee. The remnants of the defeated armies of the south were also summoned to make a supreme effort to repel the invaders. It ended in disaster for the enemies of Israel.

Having followed the Scriptural record through to the end of Joshua 11 and into Joshua 12, which describes the taking of Northern Canaan, we had then come to those Scripture portions which follow that passage, and which generally list the forces which Israel defeated to this point. You might wish to have your Bible open to 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 as well. The Scriptures list at this point many names of localities which fell to Israel at this time. In this list which we are reading there are, along the way, some points of interest to the Bible student and we find a very interesting and useful listing of these Biblical places with historic notes on each which can enhance our understanding of the places named in The Revell Bible Dictionary. We are considering each of the kings that were defeated by Joshua and the armies of Israel as they appear in Joshua 12, and we had covered those kings and places mentioned up to the end of verse 10. After I read each verse, I will quote the significant information on the localities mentioned from that reference. So here is the summary list of defeated kings and cities, beginning at verse 11:

11. The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;
Jarmuth - "height" A Canaanite royal city in Judah whose Amorite king joined Adoni-Zedek in the attack upon Gibeon and was defeated. Re-built and occupied after the Exile, its ruins have been identified in the foothills of Judah, about 3 miles S of Beth Shemesh. A levitical city in the territory of Issachar also bore the same name.

Lachish - Large fortified city in the W foothills of Judah. Appearing as Lakisu in the Amarna Letters, it served as an important stronghold of the Canaanites during the 2nd millennium BC, until its conquest by Joshua. Lachish was later rebuilt by Rehoboam as part of his defenses against Egyptian aggression. Later Amaziah, king of Judah fled from a rebellion in Jerusalem to Lachish, and was killed inside its walls. A relief on the wall of Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh portrays the Assyrian siege and capture of Lachish in 701 BC. For some time thereafter, it was under an Assyrian governor, and its walls were again rebuilt. By 587 BC, Azekah and Lachish were the last strongholds defending Judah against Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Found in the gatehouse during excavation at Lachish were 21 ostraca (inscribed potsherds), known as the Lachish Letters, written shortly before the destruction of the city. They provide a fascinating insight into that critical period of the Israelite nation. Two of the letters make references to a prophet, very possibly Jeremiah. Lachish was revived after the Exile, and continued to be inhabited through the Persian and Hellenistic periods, until its abandonment about 150 BC.

12. The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;
Eglon - An Amorite royal city conquered by Joshua. Tell el-Hesi is the preferred site, located in the lowlands of Judah, about 7 miles SW of Lachish.

Gezer - "portion" A chief city of Palestine, located at a strategic point near the junction of major routes through central Palestine. W of the Valley of Aijalon. An ancient Canaanite city conquered by Joshua by 1200 BC. The city had succumbed to the Philistine invasion of S Palestine. Gezer later fell to an Egyptian Pharaoh who gave it to his daughter on her marriage to Solomon. Excavations have revealed extensive fortifications from the Solomonic period. Gezer, (then called Gazara) served as an important military fortress during the time of the Maccabees.

13. The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;
Debir - A Canaanite city in the hill country of Judah twice captured by Israel, and later designated a Levitical city Several locations near Hebron have been suggested as the site of the city, but Khirbet Rabud, about 8 miles SW of Hebron is the most probable. Also called Kiriath Sepher and Kiriath Sannah. Two other towns by the name are a border town of Gad, east of the Jordan near Mahanaim, and a town on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin near the valley of Achor; probably on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

Geder - A Canaanite royal city near Debir. Location unknown.

14. The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;
Hormah - "devoted" or "destruction" A Canaanite royal city near Ziklag in the S of Judah, and closely associated with Canaanite Arad. Originally called Zephath, its name was changed to Hormah after its destruction by the Israelites. It apparently changed hands more than once between Judah and Simeon. Probably to be identified with a site located about 8 miles SE of Beersheba.

Arad - 1, A town in the region of the Negev where the Kenites settled during the time of the Judges. Its site is most likely Tell Arad, about 17 miles S of Hebron. 2. A fortified city in the Negev whose Canaanite king attacked the Israelites under Moses, and was defeated. Possibly located at Tell Malhata, about 8 miles SW of 1.

15. The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;
Libnah - "whiteness" There is a location so named as a stopping place of the Israelites during the Exodus, but the one in Palestine was a Canaanite royal city in the W foothills of Judah, conquered by Joshua in his southern campaign. Assigned to the priests, the city revolted during the reign of Jehoram, king of Judah. At some point Judah regained control of it, and during the reign of Hezekiah, the heavily fortified city withstood the siege of Sennacherib. It may have been at this time that 185,000 of his men died overnight. The site of Libnah is commonly identified with Tell es-Safi, about 4.5 miles S of Azekah. The white limestone cliffs of the region may have given the city its name. However more recently, this site has been called into question; several alternate sites to the SE have been proposed, but the actual location of Libnah remains uncertain.

Adullam - "refuge" An ancient Canaanite royal city midway between Jerusalem and Lachish. With Socoh, it controlled a principal pass into the hill country of Judah, and thus was fortified by Rehoboam. Destroyed by Sennacherib, Adullam was again occupied after the Exile. Shortly after leaving Gath, David hid with his men in one of the limestone caves near the city.

16. The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;
Makkedah - "place of shepherds" A royal city of the Canaanites conquered by Joshua. The five Amorite kings who attacked Gibeon and were defeated by Joshua took refuge in a cave at Makkedah,but were found and put to death. It fell to Pharaoh Sheshonq I (the biblical Shishak) during the reign of Reheboam. The site may be located about midway between Lachish and Hebron.

As our time has about expired for today, we shall save the remainder of the list for the following Bible Studies.

Remember that, as Joshua 10:40 stated, all was done "as the LORD God of Israel commanded", and thus not for the purpose of robbery for personal or national gain. The spiritual instruction to the whole of subsequent history was involved in the projected plan of which this was simply one of the earlier stages.

March 9, 2003

JOSHUA 12: DEFEATED KINGS - 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 12

For new listeners, we should "set the scene" with a short preamble. We had previously examined the records of the entry into The Promised Land, by the Israelites under Joshua, as they proceeded towards occupancy of the Land of Promise which God had sworn to give to Abraham's descendants. We had followed the Scriptural accounts of events at Jericho and Ai, and at the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal, where Israel had carried out a public ceremonial to proclaim, and affirm, acceptance of The LORD's Commandments.

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 and 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 recorded in Joshua 10.

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 south of Chinneroth, a city on the Lake of Galilee. The remnants of the defeated armies of the south were also summoned to make a supreme effort to repel the invaders. It ended in disaster for the enemies of Israel.

Having followed the Scriptural record through to the end of Joshua 11 and into Joshua 12, which describes the taking of Northern Canaan, we had then come to those Scripture portions which follow that passage, and which generally list the forces which Israel defeated to this point. You might wish to have your Bible open to 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 as well. The Scriptures list at this point many names of localities which fell to Israel at this time. In this list which we are reading there are, along the way, some points of interest to the Bible student and we find a very interesting and useful listing of these Biblical places with historic notes on each which can enhance our understanding of the places named in The Revell Bible Dictionary. We are considering each of the kings that were defeated by Joshua and the armies of Israel as they appear in Joshua 12, and we had covered those kings and places mentioned up to the first part of verse 16, which listed "16. The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;" After I read each verse, I will quote the significant information on the localities mentioned from that reference. So here is the summary list of defeated kings and cities, beginning with Bethel, at the middle of verse 16:

Bethel - "house of God" An ancient Canaanite city originally known as Luz, situated on an important N-S route through the hill country of central Palestine. Near the city, Abram erected an altar and Jacob later renamed the city Bethel. Deborah, the nurse of Rebekah died and was buried here. Located on the N border of Benjamin, the city was captured by Joshua, but subsequently lost again to the Canaanites. It was thereafter taken and occupied by the Ephraimites. The ark of God was kept at Bethel before its removal to Shiloh. After the division of the kingdom, Bethel became the centre of Jeroboam's idolatrous cult, instituted to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. It continued as an Israelite royal sanctuary into the time of the prophets, who condemned the city for its idolatry. Not until the time of Josiah was the altar of Jeroboam destroyed. Bethel was reinhabited after the Exile. Its site is generally identified with Beitin. However, problems identifying nearby Et Tell with Ai, with which Bethel was closely associated, also bring into the question the traditional identification of Bethel. The ancient site may be located at Bireh, a little to the SW, which shows evidence of occupation extending back to the Chalcolithic period.

17. The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one;
Tappuah - Two sites bear this name. One is a town in the foothills of Judah, possibly located about 4 miles N of Hebron. It may be the same as Beth Tappuah. The second is a town on the N boundary of Ephraim, possibly modern Sheikh Abu Zarad, about 8 miles S of Shechem.

Hepher - "pit" or "well" A Canaanite royal city defeated by Joshua. The region surrounding it formed a district of Israel during the reign of Solomon. Identified with a site located on the Plain of Sharon about 8.5 miles E of Socoh.

18. The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one;
Aphek - Four towns are so named. The first was a Philistine royal city on the Plain of Sharon NE of Joppa, whose king was defeated by Joshua. Strategically located on the Great Trunk Road. Its name appears in several ancient Egyptian sources. Possibly the campsite of the Phillistines before their defeat of the Israelite army and capture of the Ark. Antipatris was later built on the site.

Lasharon - A Canaanite royal city conquered by Joshua. Possibly ancient Sarona, located about 6.5 miles SW of Tiberias. However some translations (NEB) read this as "the king of Aphek in Sharon."

19. The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one;
Madon - A Canaanite royal city in N Palestine, conquered by Joshua. Possibly a site about 5 miles NW of Tiberias, or perhaps Khirbet Madin, 3 miles farther S. It may be the same as Adamah.

Hazor - "enclosure" Of five sites which bear the name, the most significant is the first. A Canaanite royal city in N Palestine ruled by King Jabin, who led a coalition of northern kings against Joshua. After defeating the Canaanite forces, Joshua burned Hazor to the ground. During the time of the Judges, another Jabin who ruled in Hazor oppressed Israel, and was defeated by Deborah and Barak. Allotted to Naphtali, the city was later fortified by Solomon, and a citadel dates from the time of Ahab. A heavy layer of ashes, in places up to a yard thick, marks the city' final destruction by Tiglath-Pileser III about 732 BC. Thereafter Hazor served as little more than a military outpost. Located about 10 miles NW of the Sea of Galilee, the ruins of the upper city date from the 3rd millennium BC. The lower city of the 2nd millennium occupied an area exceeding 150 acres, making Hazor the largest city built in Palestine during OT times, with up to 40,000 inhabitants. However following its destruction by Joshua, the lower city was never rebuilt.

20. The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one;
Shimron Meron - Elsewhere called Shimron. A Canaanite royal city in N Palestine, defeated by Joshua and later allotted to Zebulun. Possibly to be identified with Semuniyeh, located about 6 miles W of Nazareth.

Achshaph - "Sorcery" An ancient Canaanite royal city conquered by Joshua and allotted to Asher. Possibly located about 7 miles SE of Acco.

21. The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one;
Taanach - An ancient city whose Canaanite king was defeated by Joshua. It was made a Levitical city of Manasseh but the Israelites failed to displace the Canaanite inhabitants. The battle in which Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera took place at Taanach. Pharaoh Sheshong I , the biblical Shishak, captured the city in 926 BC during his campaign against Palestine. It was thereafter only sparsely occupied. The ruins of Taanach lie at the south end of the Plain of Esdraelon, about 5 miles SW of Megiddo.

I think it important to repeat in conclusion to today's thoughts what I have previously said: "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. We must consider the ramifications of this invasion. 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 will have the benefits of studying what then occurred. We hope to draw some of those lessons from the themes presented as our Bible Study sequence proceeds."

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