BIBLE STUDY SERIES #602, 603 and 604

8 June, 2003

JOSHUA 19:10-51 OCCUPIED AREAS - PART X

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 as far as verse 10 of Joshua 19.

As a preliminary review, we should mention that we have been studying the records of the entry into The Promised Land, by the Israelites under Joshua. We 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 which eventuated in the occupation of all of south Canaan. A northern Canaanitish confederacy against Israel also ended in disaster for these enemies of Israel.

Joshua 12 described the taking of Northern Canaan, while Joshua 13 and 14 listed those sections of Canaan yet remaining to be taken by Israel. The list had continued through Joshua 16 and 17 with the Tribes of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, being assigned their territories. Joshua 18 gave mention to the setting up of the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and then the smaller tribes were given attention. We had most recently taken note of the territory given to the Tribes of Benjamin and Simeon.

Today, we continue our summary account at Joshua 19:10. In regard to the allotment given to the Tribe of Zebulun, Keil and Delitzsch make comments extending to nearly four pages which detail a discussion of the various possible interpretations of the precise locations of each portion of the described boundary and the cities which are likewise given a careful discussion as to location. It will be sufficient for us to read the Scripture passage at this point from verse 10 to verse 16:

10 And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their families: and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid:
11 And their border went up toward the sea, and Maralah, and reached to Dabbasheth, and reached to the river that is before Jokneam;
12 And turned from Sarid eastward toward the sunrising unto the border of Chislothtabor, and then goeth out to Daberath, and goeth up to Japhia,
13 And from thence passeth on along on the east to Gittahhepher, to Ittahkazin, and goeth out to Remmonmethoar to Neah;
14 And the border compasseth it on the north side to Hannathon: and the outgoings thereof are in the valley of Jiphthahel:
15 And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages.
16 This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.

We of the British-Israel-World Federation would agree with the view put forward by the Bond Netherlands Israel, to the effect that Zebulun's descendants may very well be chiefly located today among the people of Holland and of the Afrikaners of South Africa. Some years ago, a book and a video based upon it were produced to offer supporting evidence for that contention, and a magazine written in Dutch is produced by that branch of our Israel people. Following Zebulun, it was the turn of the Tribe of Issachar to receive their portion in the land. We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that Issachar's descendants today may well be prominent among the populations found in Finland and in Switzerland, among other places.

17 And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar according to their families.
18 And their border was toward Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem,
19 And Hapharaim, and Shion, and Anaharath,
20 And Rabbith, and Kishion, and Abez,
21 And Remeth, and Engannim, and Enhaddah, and Bethpazzez;
22 And the coast reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Bethshemesh; and the outgoings of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages.
23 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar according to their families, the cities and their villages.

The Tribe of Asher was next to receive its assigned area of land, and we might view some of the descendants of this tribe among those early to come to the fringes of Britain. However it has to be admitted that there are reasons for alternative thoughts concerning their descendants, as there indeed must be in most such cases.

24 And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families.
25 And their border was Helkath, and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph,
26 And Alammelech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth to Carmel westward, and to Shihorlibnath;
27 And turneth toward the sunrising to Bethdagon, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthahel toward the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul on the left hand,
28 And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon;
29 And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib:
30 Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their villages.
31 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages.

The tribe of Naphtali was next to receive an allotment of land. As their symbol was to be a "hind let loose", and as a hind matures into a stag, we are reminded of that fact as we read of early burials in central Scythian Asia wherein ice has preserved such marks as tattoos on the skin. Descendants would probably have moved westward in keeping with the general movement of such peoples subsequent to the deportations of Israel in the Assyrian captivity of Northern Israel.

32 The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the children of Naphtali according to their families.
33 And their coast was from Heleph, from Allon to Zaanannim, and Adami, Nekeb, and Jabneel, unto Lakum; and the outgoings thereof were at Jordan:
34 And then the coast turneth westward to Aznothtabor, and goeth out from thence to Hukkok, and reacheth to Zebulun on the south side, and reacheth to Asher on the west side, and to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.
35 And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth,
36 And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor,
37 And Kedesh, and Edrei, and Enhazor,
38 And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh; nineteen cities with their villages.
39 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali according to their families, the cities and their villages.

The Tribe of Dan comes last, at the end of the list, the same position which it, together with the two associated Tribes in its camp, held on the wilderness marches incidentally, as assigned in Numbers 2:31.

40 And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families.
41 And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh,
42 And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah,
43 And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,
44 And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath,
45 And Jehud, and Beneberak, and Gathrimmon,
46 And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho.
47 And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.
48 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages.

The Tribe of Dan was a sea-faring tribe, and was early establishing colonies across the waters in places like the Dardanelles and Greece, and their descendants were to leave a trail of the name of Dan in rivers such as the Danube (earlier called the Ister River), and in Denmark (Danmark). Scripture confirms this in Judges 5:17, in which the Prophetess Deborah sings of the absence of certain tribes from the battle, and alludes to Dan in the words "and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches." The Hebrew for "breaches" means "landing place", incidentally.

As we read of all these assorted assignations of territory in the Promised Land, we must be aware of God's promise to King David, delivered by the Prophet Nathan in a later generation, when Israel was settled in the Land of Canaan. II Samuel 7:10 states that God was yet, in the future, going to appoint a further "place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more... ." This could not be a prophecy concerning the land they were holding at the time of King David, as they most certainly were moved from that land by subsequent conquerors and deported. As St. Jerome in the fifth century AD explained to a Roman magistrate from Gaul, not only would this promise not apply to a land which the Israelites were then occupying, but that land, in any case was too small to accommodate all which was promised in that Scripture. We shall conclude by reading the rest of the chapter:

49 When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them:
50 According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnathserah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.
51 These are the inheritances, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, divided for an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. So they made an end of dividing the country.

We shall continue our studies next week.

15 June, 2003

JOSHUA 20- OCCUPIED AREAS - PART XI

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 as far as the end of Joshua 19.

As a preliminary review, we should mention that we have been studying the records of the entry into The Promised Land, by the Israelites under Joshua. We 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 which eventuated in the occupation of all of south Canaan. A northern Canaanitish confederacy against Israel also ended in disaster for these enemies of Israel.

Joshua 12 described the taking of Northern Canaan, while Joshua 13 and 14 listed those sections of Canaan yet remaining to be taken. The list had continued through Joshua 16 and 17 with the Tribes of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, being assigned their territories. Joshua 18 gave mention to the setting up of the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and then the smaller tribes were given attention. We had most recently taken note of the territory given to the Tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, and the rest of the tribes.

Today, we continue our summary account at Joshua 20:1. In this chapter, The LORD commands the appointment of six cities of refuge, and, at verse 7, the Israelites proceed to appoint these six cities of refuge. The New Bible Commentary has a couple of short paragraphs on this chapter which it might be useful to read by way of introduction, and a longer comment by Keil and Delitzsch may be useful after the Scripture is read. The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "f. Cities of refuge appointed (xx. 1-9)" states:

"According to the directions given in the Law of Moses, the six cities of refuge were set apart and sanctified ('appointed') for the asylum of those who had committed unintentional homicide. See Dt. xix. 4-6. The fugitive had to justify his claim to protection by first convincing the elders of the city of refuge of his innocence of murderous intentions, and then standing his trial before the congregation. At the death of the High Priest he was free to return home without fear of the avenger of blood. In Dt. iv. 41-43 Moses 'separated' three cities east of Jordan. In Dt. xix. 1-10 he orders three more to be separated when they dwell in the land and provides for a third triad if needed. See also Nu. xxxv. 9-34. Joshua and Eleazar now appointed (RV, 'set apart') three cities in the west, Kedesh, Shechem and Kirjath-arba, and 'assigned', or handed over for use, the three formerly designated by Moses in Transjordan." Let us now read today's Scripture portion from Joshua 20:

1. The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying,
2. Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses:
3. That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.
4. And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.
5. And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime.
6. And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.
7. And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.
8. And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.
9. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.

Keil and Delitzsch convey more information in their commentary under the heading "Selection of Cities of Refuge, or Free Cities, - Chap. xx" They note: "After the distribution of the land by lot among the tribes of Israel, six towns were set apart, in accordance with the Mosaic instructions in Num. xxxv., as places of refuge for unintentional manslayers. Before describing the appointment and the setting apart of these towns, the writer repeats in vers. 1-6 the main points of the Mosaic Law contained in Num. xxxv. 9-29 and Deut. xix. 1-13, with reference to the reception of the manslayers into these towns. [The Hebrew], 'give to you,' i.e. appoint for yourselves, 'cities of refuge,' etc. In ver. 6, the two regulations, 'until he stand before the congregation for judgment,' and 'until the death of the high priest,' are to be understood, in accordance with the clear explanation given in Num. xxxv. 24, 25, as meaning that the manslayer was to live in the town till the congregation had pronounced judgment upon the matter, and either given him up to the avenger of blood as a wilful murderer, or taken him back to the city of refuge as an unintentional manslayer, in which case he was to remain there till the death of the existing high priest. For further particulars, see at Num. xxxv. -vers. 7-9." That passage indicates the future appointment of forty-eight cities with their suburbs, and directs that of those tribes which have larger portions, more cities shall go to the appointed list, and the smaller tribal allotments shall contribute less cities.

With regard to the List of the cities, they note "Levitical cities were chosen, for the reasons explained in the Commentary on the Pentateuch..." On seeking out that passage, we find a discussion regarding God's purposes in erecting a sanctuary, and the desire that God might be near His people. They must realise that they were separated from Him by their sin, and God's wish is to stir a desire for reconciliation with Himself and the means for expiating their sins. All the laws and regulations of Leviticus have the aim of restoration of an inward fellowship on the part of the nation and each individual within it, to their God.

Keil and Delitzsch then proceed to the actual cities: "In the north, Kedesh, in Galil, on the mountains of Naphtali. Galil, (a circle) was a district in the northern part of the subsequent province of Galilee; it is called [in Hebrew - galil hagoyem], circle of the heathen, in Isa. viii. 23, because an unusually large number of heathen or Gentiles were living there. In the centre of the land, Shechem, upon the mountains of Ephraim... . And in the south, Kirjath-arba, i.e. Hebron, upon the mountains of Judah... . Ver. 8. The cities in the land on the other side had already been appointed by Moses (Deut. iv. 41-43). For the sake of completeness, they are mentioned here again: viz. Bezer, Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan... . The subject is brought to a close in ver. 9. The [Hebrew] signifies... cities of appointment, - those which received the appointment already given and repeated again in what follows.

On our next Bible Study, we will consider the Scripture contained in Joshua 21, but we might just have a few moments to take up the first three verses of the next chapter, and to give some thoughts to these as well, before we close.

1. Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;
2. And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.
3. And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.

Here, we now note that, having given the earlier allotment of those six cities of refuge, the rest of the forty-eight cities must now likewise be placed under the Tribe of Levi as their portion in the land. These forty-two remaining cities are not classed with those cities of refuge, however, but are given, with their suburbs, for the use of the Levites in their priestly and their civil service duties among the tribes. We shall have more to say on the next Bible Study in this regard.

22 June, 2003

JOSHUA 21- OCCUPIED AREAS - PART XII

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 as far as the start of Joshua 21.

As a preliminary review, we should mention that we have been studying the records of the entry into The Promised Land, by the Israelites under Joshua. We 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 which eventuated in the occupation of all of south Canaan. A northern Canaanitish confederacy against Israel also ended in disaster for these enemies of Israel.

Joshua 12 described the taking of Northern Canaan, while Joshua 13 and 14 listed those sections of Canaan yet remaining to be taken. The list had continued through Joshua 16 and 17 with the Tribes of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, being assigned their territories. Joshua 18 gave mention to the setting up of the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and then the smaller tribes were given attention. We had most recently taken note of the cities assigned as cities of refuge to the Tribe of Levi.

Today, we continue our summary account at Joshua 21, of which we had just time at the end of our last study to read the first three verses. In this chapter, The LORD commands that, having given the earlier allotment of those six cities of refuge, the rest of the forty-eight cities must now likewise be placed under the Tribe of Levi as their portion in the land. These forty-two remaining cities are not classed with those cities of refuge, however, but are given, with their suburbs, for the use of the Levites in their priestly and their civil service duties among the tribes.

The New Bible Commentary has several paragraphs which may be useful by way of introduction to this chapter, under the heading "g. Cities of the Levites appointed (xxi. 1-45)": "When all the tribes had received their inheritance, the Levites claimed the cities which had been promised to them by Moses. See Nu. xxxv. 1-8. As the representatives of the Hebrew faith and the ministers of its worship, it was necessary that they should be dispersed throughout the whole nation, and also that they should maintain their distinct position. To achieve both these purposes, they were given forty-eight cities out of all the tribes, along with the circle of pasture land (suburbs) around each of them. It may be that this pasture land, as distinct from agricultural land, was to be a reminder of the simple life which Israel had lived in the wilderness, and a constant recall to the simple religion with which that life was linked. Certainly the Levites were to be the custodians of the nation's spiritual life. Levi's three sons gave their names to the three great branches of the Levites, the Kohathites, the Gershonites and the Merarites. The Kohathites were subdivided into the priests (Aaron's sons) and those who did not fill the priestly office: and the Levitical cities were therefore divided among these four sections of the Levites. It must be noted that once again the cities were allocated by anticipation and it seems that some of them, e.g. Gezer, were not occupied at this time. This concludes the allocation of territory and cities and the section ends with three verses extolling the faithfulness of God: 'There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass (45)."

We shall now read the first section of Joshua 21, with comments inserted where appropriate.

1. Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;
2. And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.
3. And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.

As Keil and Delitzsch give over six pages to their treatment of this chapter, we shall hardly have time to investigate all that they say. We might note that, in the first three verses, they state that "After the cities of refuge had been set apart, the towns were also selected, which the different tribes were to give up for the priests and Levites to dwell in according to the Mosaic instructions in Num. xxxv. 1-8, together with the necessary fields as pasturage for their cattle." They go on to say that "From the introductory statement in vers. 1, 2, that the heads of the fathers (see Ex. vi. 14, 25) of the Levitical families reminded the distribution committee at Shiloh of the command of God that had been issued through Moses, that towns were to be given them to dwell in, we cannot infer, as Calvin has done, that the Levites had been forgotten, till they came and asserted their claims. All that is stated in these words is, 'that when the business had reached that point, they approached the dividers of the land in the common name of the members of their tribe, to receive by lot the cities appointed for them. They simply expressed the commands of God, and said in so many words, that they had been deputed by the Levites generally to draw lots for those forty-eight cities with their suburbs, which had been appointed for that tribe.' We continue at verse 4:

4. And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities.
5. And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.
6. And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.
7. The children of Merari by their families had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.
8. And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

Keil and Delitzsch continue their exposition on the passage with an explanation as follows: "The tribe of Levi was divided into three branches,- the Gershonites, the Kohathites, and the Merarites (see Num. iii. and Ex. vi. 16-19). The Kohathites again were divided into the four families of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel (Ex. vi. 18); and the family of Amram into two lines, consisting of the descendants of Moses and Aaron (Ex. vi. 20). The priesthood was committed to the line of Aaron (Num. xviii. 1-7); but the other descendants of Amram, i.e. the descendants of Moses, were placed on a par with the other descendants of Levi, and numbered among the simple Levites (Num. iii.; 1 Chron. v. 27-vi. 34). The towns in which the different families of Levi were to dwell were determined by lot; but in all probability the towns which each tribe was to give up to them were selected first of all, so that the lot merely decided to which branch of the Levites each particular town was to belong.- Ver. 4. The first lot came out for the families of Kohath, and among these again for the sons of Aaron, i.e. the priests. They received thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. 'This did not happen by chance; but God, according to His wonderful counsel, placed them just in that situation which He had determined to select for His own temple.' (Calvin).- Ver. 5. The rest of the Kohathites, i.e. the descendants of Moses, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, received ten towns from Ephraim, Dan, and half Manasseh.- Ver. 6. The Gershonites received thirteen towns from Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and half Manasseh in Bashan.- Ver. 7. The Merarites received twelve towns from Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun."

Keil and Delitzsch follow these comments with some on the question of the demographics involved in the Levitical distribution to all these locations, bearing in mind the long-term view of what was being done. Their words ought to be given weight when considering the next reference, which is a quotation from The New Bible Dictionary, item "Priests And Levites." It states: "The relationship between the priests, who are the descendants of Aaron, and the Levites, the other members of Levi's tribe, is one of the thorny problems of Old Testament religion. Not only are the biblical data many and varied, but the problems have been compounded by Julius Wellhausen's critical re-interpretation of the evidence which forms one of the cornerstones of the impressive edifice of Wellhausenian criticism. Any treatment, therefore, of the Levites must deal with the biblical evidence, Wellhausen's evaluation of it, and the numerous ways in which contemporary scholars have reacted to his evolutionary approach."

We may also draw in another aspect, by reverting to a note in The Companion Bible at Joshua 20:6, which bears upon the cities of refuge. It says in regard to a manslayer who enters one such city until the death of the high priest, that "The cities of refuge, being cities of the priests, bore the sin of the manslayer. What the high priest was to the Levites, the Levites were to the nation. On the Day of Atonement, therefore, all the sins of the nation came into his hand. On his death he was freed from the Law (Rom. 6. 7; 7. 1-4), and those whom he represented were freed also. (cf. Rom. 5. 9-11. Heb. 7. 23-25 for the contrast.) We will continue with the remainder of this chapter next week.

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