BIBLE STUDY SERIES #596, 597 and 598

27 April, 2003

JOSHUA 13: OCCUPIED AREAS - PART IV

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 leading up to Joshua 13:15.

For new listeners, we need to give a preliminary review. 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. We had followed the Scriptural accounts of events at Jericho and Ai, and at the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal, where Israel had nationally proclaimed, 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. The Israelite military response, augmented by a terrible hail storm from The LORD resulted in the taking of all the Southern portion of Canaan. A somewhat bloody account of what followed is recorded in Joshua 10.

The alarmed northern Canaanitish kings formed a great confederacy against Israel, which included all the neighbouring peoples and the remnants of the defeated armies of the south. This ended in disaster for the enemies of Israel. Joshua 12, described the taking of Northern Canaan, and lists the forces which Israel had defeated to this point. Joshua 13 listed those sections of Canaan yet remaining to be taken by Israel. You might wish to have your Bible open to Joshua 13, and a Bible map showing the Old Testament geography of the time, might be useful as well. Today, we are continuing our approach to the summary account listing the areas conquered thus far, and those not yet taken, but lying within the area God had assigned to Abraham's descendants. We had partially dealt with individual verses found in Joshua 13:1-14, and we had digressed somewhat in order to consult The New Bible Commentary and the Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch which give overviews in greater or less detail, concerning the Book of Joshua from this point onward.

Today, following our two-part treatment of a Palm Sunday theme, we are again picking up the study of Joshua 13 continuing at verse 15, with a description of the tribal territory of Reuben. You will notice, if you have a map of the tribes open, that Reuben's allotment lay entirely east of the Jordan, and it had belonged to the Moabites many years before, until the Amorites had displaced the Moabites from this northern portion of Moab (Numbers 21:26), and subsequently, Reuben had, in turn, displaced those Amorites (Numbers 21:25, 31). Hence those of Reuben could be named geographically, from the land of their dwelling, as "Moabites", as was Ruth, although clearly Biblical Law would demand that she be an Israelite by genealogy and birth, for otherwise God would have transgressed His own strict regulation given in Deuteronomy 23:2-3 when she was allowed to become ancestor to David and to Our LORD. (And here, in support of that statement, we ought to stress the words at the end of that verse: "... even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever.") Picking up again with verse 15:

15. And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
16. And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;
17. Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,
18. And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,
19. And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,
[Zarethshahar, according to The Companion Bible "= light of the dawn, because it catches the rays of the rising sun."]
20. And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,
21. And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.
[The Companion Bible states "dukes=anointed (leaders), called kings in Num. 31.8."]
22. Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.
[The Companion Bible notes of this Balaam: "Cp. Num. 22.5; 24.3, 15; 31.8 Deut. 23.4"]
23. And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.

We next move to the inheritance of the Tribe of Gad, which came into possession of the land to the north of the Tribe of Reuben, and also on the east of the Jordan River.

24. And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.
25. And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;
26. And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;
27. And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.
28. This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

Next the territory allotted to the Tribe of Manasseh is reviewed:

29. And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.
30. And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities: [The Companion Bible notes "towns = villages. Heb. Havoth Jair. Cp. Deut. 3.14 Heb. daughters."]
31. And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.
32. These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.
33. But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.

When we reach chapters 20 and 21, we will find more concerning the assignment of those Levitical cities which served that tribe in place of an allotment of land. It was sensible to wait until the other tribes had some designated land assigned before making the grants of the cities to the Levites, because these must be distributed so as to be placed conveniently in locations spaced out across the countryside. The Tribe of Levy was to be divided among the other tribal lands in order that its members should be available to perform their tasks as priests and civil servants within the whole nation.

We are approaching the end of our time for today, so perhaps we ought to leave the further treatment of the subject for our next study in this series.

I believe that it is most important, once again, to emphasize that this invasion had proceeded, as verse 40 of Joshua 10 records, "as the LORD God of Israel commanded", and thus it was not carried out for the purpose of robbery for personal or national gain. The LORD God had certified that this land, which in its ultimate sense belonged to The Creator alone, was to be occupied by Abraham's descendants, as the prophetic Scriptures attest.

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 involved, and the lessons being enacted with such bloody drama in those far-off days are recorded in order that we, and all subsequent generations 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.

4 May, 2003

JOSHUA 14: OCCUPIED AREAS - PART V

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 leading up to Joshua 14:1.

For new listeners, we need to give a preliminary review. 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. We had followed the Scriptural accounts of events at Jericho and Ai, and at the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal, where Israel had nationally proclaimed, 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. The Israelite military response, augmented by a terrible hail storm from The LORD resulted in the taking of all the Southern portion of Canaan. A somewhat bloody account of what followed is recorded in Joshua 10.

The alarmed northern Canaanitish kings formed a great confederacy against Israel, which included all the neighbouring peoples and the remnants of the defeated armies of the south. This ended in disaster for the enemies of Israel. Joshua 12, described the taking of Northern Canaan, and lists the forces which Israel had defeated to this point. Joshua 13 listed those sections of Canaan yet remaining to be taken by Israel. You might wish to have your Bible open to Joshua 14, and a Bible map showing the Old Testament geography of the time, might be useful as well. Today, we continue our summary account listing the areas conquered thus far, and those not yet taken, but lying within the area God had assigned to Abraham's descendants. In Joshua 13, we had digressed in order to consult The New Bible Commentary and the Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch for overviews concerning the Book of Joshua from this point onward.

The theme "Caleb claims his homestead" forms a prominent part of the account in Joshua 14 which we will read with some comments. We ought to remember that assigning a portion of territory at this time to a tribe or a tribal leader did not necessarily mean that it had been cleared of the previous inhabitants. These might yet resist the occupancy of the land itself.

1. And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.

Here, Fausset's Bible Dictionary might yield to us some background information on Eleazar the Priest by way of review:

Eleazar was Aaron's third son by Elisheba, Amininadab's daughter, descended from Judah through Pharez (Exodus 6:23,25; 28:1; Genesis 38:29; 46:12; Ruth 4:18,20). On the death of Nadab and Abihu without children (Leviticus 10:1; Num. 3:4) Eleazar had the oversight of the chief Levites, who kept the charge of the sanctuary (Numbers 3:32). With Ithamar his brother he ministered as a priest in his father's lifetime, and was invested in Aaron's highpriestly garments as his successor, on mount Hor, just before his death (Numbers 20:25-28). With Moses he superintended the census (Numbers 26:3), inaugurated Joshua whom Moses set before him (for Joshua was in this inferior to Moses, who had direct intercourse with God; Joshua must ask divine counsel through the high priest), and divided the Midianite spoil (Numbers 27:22; 31:21). He took part in dividing Canaan (Joshua 14:1). He was buried in "the hill of Phinehas his son, ... mount Ephraim" (Joshua 24:33). The high priesthood passed to Ithamar's line in the person of Eli, but for the sin of Eli's sons reverted to Eleazar's line in the person of Zadok (I Samuel 2:27; I Chronicles 6:8; 24:3; I Kings 2:27).

2. By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.

Here we might review the term "lot" which appears in that verse, from notes as outlined by Fausset's Bible Dictionary:
Lot was early used to decide an issue; so in choosing each of the two goats on the day of atonement (two inscribed tablets of boxwood were the lots used according to one source), Leviticus 16:8, and in assigning the inheritances in Canaan (Numbers 26:55; 34:13), in selecting men for an expedition (Judges 1:1; 20:10), in electing a king (1 Samuel 10:20), in detecting the guilty (I Samuel 14:41,42), in selecting an apostle (Acts 1:26), as formerly priests' offices among the 16 of Eleazar's family and the eight of Ithamar (I Chronicles 24:3,5,19; Luke 1:9), in apportioning spoil (Obadiah 1:11; Joel 3:3), in dividing Jesus' garments (Matthew 27:35; Psalm 22:18). In Proverbs 16:33, "the lot is cast into the lap," i.e. into an urn or cap in the judge's lap; "but the whole disposing (Hebrew: judgment) thereof is of the Lord." Only in weighty cases resort was had to judgment by lot; it was entered on with solemnity, as God is arbiter. Sanctification of the people preceded in Joshua 7:13-18. Continuing at verse 3:

3. For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them.
4. For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance.

Here we might remind listeners that Reuben, chronologically the eldest of Jacob's sons, had gone up to his father's couch, that is to say, he bedded Jacob's concubine, Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, (Genesis 35:22; 49:4; I Chronicles 5:1) and in consequence, was set aside from inheriting the double portion of the firstborn. This status, Jacob had then transmitted to the eldest son of Rachel, namely Joseph, so that Joseph's progeny in his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, were designated as two tribes.

This was done by a special ceremony in Genesis 48, as Jacob was nearing his death. Specifically, Jacob had made the youngest of these two sons, Ephraim, the more privileged recipient of blessing by crossing his hands to place his right hand on Ephraim's head. These sons were not timid young children hiding behind Joseph's knees, as careless readers might imagine, or as so often pictured, but full-grown, strong young men, possibly about 25 years of age, when this ceremony took place, as a comparative study of the genealogy will prove. The sons of Joseph would most probably have been born at or near the start of the seven years of plenty while Egypt's granaries were filling up, which would be about eight or nine years previous to Jacob's arrival in Egypt, and Jacob had been in Egypt for 17 years at this point when the ceremony took place. Thus the ceremony of Genesis 48:12 must have involved the symbolic "bringing forth" of each son from between Jacob's knees, as if generated by his own loins. Such a ceremony would symbolically mark them each as tribal heads, and the equals of their uncles. We continue at verse 5 at the point when Caleb requested receipt of the portion of land which had been granted to him through Moses for faithful service in the matter of valiantly searching out the Promised Land a generation before (Numbers 32:11-12):

5. As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.
6. Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.
7. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
8. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
9. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
10. And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.
11. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.
12. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
13. And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
14. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.
15. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.

The Companion Bible notes of this "rest from war" that it was "during the first Sabbatic year." We shall continue these Bible Studies next week.

11 May, 2003

JOSHUA 15: OCCUPIED AREAS - PART VI

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 14.

For new listeners, we need to give a preliminary review. We had previously examined the records of the entry into The Promised Land, by the Israelites under Joshua, as they proceeded towards occupancy of Canaan. We had followed the Scriptural accounts of events at Jericho and Ai, and at the two mountains named Gerizim and Ebal, where Israel had nationally proclaimed 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 but also of its eventual outcome in the occupation of all of south Canaan, which alarmed northern Canaanitish kings who formed a great confederacy against Israel, including all the neighbouring peoples. This also ended in disaster for the enemies of Israel. Joshua 12, described the taking of Northern Canaan, and lists the forces which Israel had defeated to this point. Joshua 13 and 14 listed those sections of Canaan yet remaining to be taken by Israel. Today, we continue our summary account listing the areas conquered thus far, and those not yet taken, but lying within the area God had assigned to Abraham's descendants. We continue to consult The New Bible Commentary and the Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch for overviews concerning the Book of Joshua.

The theme "Caleb claims his homestead" had formed a prominent part of the account in Joshua 14 which we read last week. We ought to remember that assigning a portion of territory at this time to a tribe or a tribal leader did not necessarily mean that it had been cleared of the previous inhabitants. These might yet resist the occupancy of the land itself. You might wish to have your Bible open to Joshua 15, and a Bible map showing the Old Testament geography of the time, might be useful as well.

Introducing Joshua 15, The New Bible Commentary approaches this chapter with a simple and quite short discourse, of one paragraph in length, which we might now read. Under the sub-heading "c. Territory of Caleb and Joshua", it states its description quite briefly as follows. "Caleb now sought the fulfilment of the promise made to him in Dt. i. 36 (cf. Nu. xiv. 24, 30), and at his own request was given the strong city of Hebron for his inheritance out of the possession of Judah. Chapter xv. 15-19 describes how he claimed and enlarged this inheritance by conquest, aided by the valour of his kinsman Othniel who became his son-in-law. The boundaries of Judah are described, and their cities enumerated; and it is noted that the tribe was unable to take possession of the fortified city of Jerusalem (xv. 63). Valley (xv. 33), 'Lowland' (RV); i.e. the central highlands. Wilderness (61), the slopes of the hills leading down into the Arabah or Jordan plain."

While that comprises the total of the note on that chapter in The New Bible Commentary, Keil and Delitzsch, by contrast, present the reader with a most detailed and comprehensive discourse on the locations, and descriptive comments concerning, every village, town and city which is named in the chapter. Their examination covers pages 151 to 174, inclusive, in Volume 2 of their Commentary, which means that their treatment consumes some 24 pages of informative reference material. When the Bible student approaches such references, therefore, it is probably wise to seek a source which will be useful without consuming one's attention to its limits. I may, then, while tending towards the more simplified approach, dip occasionally into that greater reservoir of detail wherein I think we might find a particularly useful or curious point of interest.

Keil and Delitzsch point out that "the inheritance of Judah is first of all described according to its boundaries (vers. 1-12); then for the sake of completeness it is stated once more with regard to Caleb, that he received Kirjath-arba for his inheritance, and took possession of it by expelling the Anakites and conquering Debir (vers. 13-20); and after this a list is given of the towns in the different parts (vers. 21-63)."

Keil and Delitzsch then sub-divide the whole 63 verses of Chapter 15 into the following portions for a more convenient treatment of its parts: Verses 1-12: "Boundaries of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah", vers. 13-19, "The account of the conquest of the inheritance which Caleb asked for and received before the lots were cast for the land, verse 20 which contains the closing formula to vers. 1-19. The next section covers verses 21-32, the towns in the south land - Negeb, of which sub-division occur as follows: Vers. 21-23, the first group of nine places toward the territory of Edom, then vers 24-25, the second group of five or six places, vers. 26-28, the third group of nine towns, and vers. 29-32, the four groups of thirteen towns in the western portion of the Negeb. Vers. 33-47 are a listing of "Towns in the lowland or shepheleh" which term is given as "the land between the mountains of Judah and the Mediterranean Sea,- a broad plain of undulating appearance, intersected by heights and low ranges of hills, with fertile soil..." They further locate this stretch in the words "Towards the south the shephelah was bounded by the Negeb (vers. 21)", on the north ... "where the plain of Sharon began" and to complete the matter, "Towards the east the hills multiply and shape themselves into a hilly landscape, which forms the intermediate link between the mountains and the plain, and which is distinguished from the shephelah in chap. x. 40 and xii. 8, under the name of Ashedoth, or slopes, whereas here it is reckoned as forming part of the shephelah." Noting that "this hilly tract is more thickly studded with villages than even the plain", they continue "The towns in the shephelah are divided into four groups." Here they note vers. 33-36 form the first group of fourteen towns, in the northerly part, vers. 37-41, the second group formed of the sixteen towns of the actual plain in its full extent, vers. 42-44 containing the nine towns in the southern half of the hilly region, and vers. 45-47, the fourth group formed of the Philistine coastal towns. Then vers. 48-60, the five or six groups of towns on the mountains, a large ragged range of limestone mountains with many barren and naked peaks while the sides are for the most part covered with grass, shrubs, bushes, and trees, and the whole being intersected by many very fruitful valleys. These groups are in vers. 48-51, 52-54, 55-57 58-59, and vers 60. Vers. 61-62 are towns in the desert of Judah, along the Dead Sea. Vers. 63 notes again the inability to take Jerusalem. With that explanation, perhaps we can begin the actual reading of Joshua 15.

1. This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.
2. And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea, from the bay that looketh southward:
3. And it went out to the south side to Maalehacrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side unto Kadeshbarnea, and passed along to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and fetched a compass to Karkaa:
4. From thence it passed toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast were at the sea: this shall be your south coast.
5. And the east border was the salt sea, even unto the end of Jordan. And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan:
6. And the border went up to Bethhogla, and passed along by the north of Betharabah; and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben:
7. And the border went up toward Debir from the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is before the going up to Adummim, which is on the south side of the river: and the border passed toward the waters of Enshemesh, and the goings out thereof were at Enrogel:

The Salt Sea is today called The Dead Sea. It has a salt content of approximately 230 pp/000 salt from the fact that the water has no sea-level exit, because its surface lies approximately 1300 feet (nearly 400 meters) below sea level, and must escape basically by evaporation. This fact, however, has contributed vast quantities of chemicals which were, even many decades ago, to run into the trillions of dollars in value.

Achor - Achan was of Zarah-Judah, and he and all his family, after they had been executed by stoning and the bodies burnt, was buried under a great pile of stones there.

Note that a boundary-stone was considered a point of the utmost security of possession, and must not be moved, in accordance with the Law contained in Deuteronomy 19:14 which states "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it." It can be further amplified by the Tenth Commandment regarding covetousness (Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21, and reinforced by the curse of Deuteronomy 27:17: "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen."

As our time is gone for today, we shall have to pick up the remaining portion of this chapter from verse 7 onward next week.

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