BIBLE STUDY SERIES #605, 606 and 607

29 June, 2003

JOSHUA 21- OCCUPIED AREAS - PART XIII

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, and those which were the more general portions of inheritance given to the Aaronic line of descent.

Today, we continue our summary account at the second part of Joshua 21, of which we had just time at the end of our last study to read the first nine verses. The next succession of verses starting with verse 9, relate the names of the particular cities which fell by lot to each section of the tribe of Levi in general. As with several recent studies, there will be many names which the Scriptural record lists, and although these are perhaps not familiar to many listeners, we know that there was, and still is, a certain value in reading what the record of God's Word contains.

9. And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name,
10. Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot.
11. And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it.
12. But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.
13. Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs,
14. And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs,
15. And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs,
16. And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.
17. And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs,
18. Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities.
19. All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs.
20. And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim.
21. For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Gezer with her suburbs,
22. And Kibzaim with her suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs; four cities.
23. And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs, Gibbethon with her suburbs,
24. Aijalon with her suburbs, Gathrimmon with her suburbs; four cities.
25. And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with her suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs; two cities.
26. All the cities were ten with their suburbs for the families of the children of Kohath that remained.
27. And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the other half tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Beeshterah with her suburbs; two cities.
28. And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs, Dabareh with her suburbs,
29. Jarmuth with her suburbs, Engannim with her suburbs; four cities.
30. And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with her suburbs, Abdon with her suburbs,
31. Helkath with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs; four cities.
32. And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities.
33. All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their suburbs.
34. And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs,
35. Dimnah with her suburbs, Nahalal with her suburbs; four cities.

There is an important note about the next two verses in The Companion Bible. At verse 38, the note reads: "By an homoeoteleuton (Ap. 6) some scribe, writing as far as "four cities" at the end of verse 35, went back with his eye to the same words at the end of v. 37, and so omitted, by an accident, the two verses 36 and 37, and continued at v. 38, which commences with the same words which end v. 35. Hence they are not contained in the current text of the Hebrew Bible. The A.V. puts these verses in, however, without a note; the R.V. also, but with a note. The two verses are contained in all the early printed Hebrew Bibles, the Sept. and Vulg., and very many codices. They were first omitted by Jacob ben Chayim (1524, 1525), and the current Hebrew printed texts have followed him. The Appendix 6 mentioned explains the meaning of the word homoeoteleuton as "like endings", the repetition of the same letters or syllables at the end of successive words. Used also of an omission in the text caused by such-like endings, the scribe's eye going back to the latter of such similar words instead of the former.

In The Interlinear Bible, printed by Hendrickson, a note at the end of Chapter 21 states "Both of these verses are supported by the majority of codices, and they are not lacking in the early translations. Verses 7, 40 and 41 give internal evidence to their validity and to their importance to a full revelation of the divine words. The verses were left out of the Hebrew Rabbinic Bible by Rabbi Jacob ben Chasim in 1525. This was without right or reason. For full discussions, see Knobel, p. 474; Keil, Commentary on Joshua, p. 457, note."

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Database in BibleWorks 5, on the sentence starting at the name "Dimnah" in verse 35, states "This and the following verse are wholly omitted by the Masora, and many hebrew Bibles which are esteemed very highly; though, without them, neither the twelve cities of the Merarites in particular (verse 40), not the forty-eight levitical cities in general (verse 41), not the six cities of refuge, can be made up. But these two verses, thus absolutely necessary for the truth and consistency of this chapter, are happily preserved in no less than 149 MSS. collated by Dr. Kennicott, and upwards of 40 collated by De Rossi."

We pick up the remainder of the chapter at verse 36:

36. And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs,
37. Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities.
38. And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Mahanaim with her suburbs,
39. Heshbon with her suburbs, Jazer with her suburbs; four cities in all.
40. So all the cities for the children of Merari by their families, which were remaining of the families of the Levites, were by their lot twelve cities.
41. All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.
42. These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus were all these cities.

As there are only a few verses remaining to this chapter, we might simply read them over in order to finish the unit formed of the whole of chapter 21 without further comment. However, as we can only do the reading without the commentary in the time remaining, we shall need to repeat them next week as there are a number of special points to be mentioned in connection with these remaining three verses.

43. And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
44. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
45. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

It will be more convenient to leave the actual comments on this portion until the next Bible Study. We shall continue this series next week.

6 July, 2003

JOSHUA 21-22 - OCCUPIED AREAS - PART XIV

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 42 of Joshua 21. We had read the final three verses of that chapter, but had to leave for the start of today's Study some commentary thereon.

For new listeners we should mention that we have recently been studying the Biblical record of the entry into The Promised Land by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua. We followed their progress as Jericho was taken, and a setback was encountered at Ai. We saw their leaders snared by the lies of the Gibeonites, and how, eventually that led to the taking of all of South Canaan. We watched as they assembled at the two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal for a service of national acceptance of The LORD's Commandments, and following that, how a confederacy of the northern Canaanites had met disaster in Joshua 12 by confronting Israel. Joshua 13 and 14 listed the sections of Canaan not yet taken, and in Joshua 16 and 17, we saw the chief tribes of the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, assigned their territory by lot. Joshua 18 spoke of the setting up of the Tabernacle for worship at Shiloh, and then the smaller tribes received attention. With each Tribe having received its allotment, the record then explained how six cities of refuge were assigned to the Tribe of Levi, and after that, the various other cities out of the territories of the rest of Israel were given over to the remainder of the Tribe of Levi to accommodate their civil service and religious assignments. We are, at the end of Chapter 21, finishing the last three summary verses, which were only read at the end of our last study. We will review them now, with some comments.

43. And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
44. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
45. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Arriving at these verses, which end the chapter, Keil and Delitzsch present a statement from which we may mention the following themes. "These verses form the conclusion to the account of the division of the land in chap. xiii.- xxi., which not only points back to chap. xi. 23, but also to chap. i. 2-6, and connects the two halves of our book together. By the division of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, the promise which Joshua had received from God after the death of Moses was fulfilled (chap. i. 2 sqq.). The Lord had given Israel the whole land which He had sworn to the fathers (Gen. xii. 7, xv. 18, compared with Josh. i. 3, 4); and they had now taken possession of it to dwell therein.- Ver. 44. He had also procured them rest round about, as He had sworn to their fathers, inasmuch as not a man of all their enemies stood against them. The expression 'gave them rest,' etc., points back to Deut. xii. 9, 10, and refers to all the divine promises of the Pentateuch which assured the Israelites of the peaceable possession of Canaan, such as Ex. xxxiii. 14, Deut. iii. 20, etc. No enemy had been able to withstand them as the Lord had promised Joshua (chap. i. 5)."

Of the words "The Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand." they remark "It is true the Canaanites were not all exterminated; but those who were left had become so powerless, that they could neither accomplish nor attempt anything against Israel, so long as the Israelites adhered faithfully to their God, or so long as Joshua and the elders who were his contemporaries were alive (Judg. ii. 6 sqq.), because the Lord had overwhelmed them with fear and terror before the Israelites...." They end with the remark that "the complete fulfilment of this promise was inseparably connected with the fidelity of Israel to the Lord."

As we now move ahead to Joshua 22, we must remind our listeners that, while most of the Tribes of Israel had taken up residence west of the Jordan River, there were, with their army, the troops of the Tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the Tribe of Manasseh. These are now to be released from their commitments to the rest of the Tribes, which they had undertaken in exchange for being allowed to settle the territory lying to the east of the Jordan River. Under the heading "h. Return of the eastern tribes and setting up of the altar of witness (xxii. 1-34)" The New Bible Commentary has suitable explanatory comments on the matters covered which we will read as sections of the chapter are taken up.

1. Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
2. And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:
3. Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.
4. And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.
5. But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
6. So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.
7. Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them,
8. And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.
9. And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

The Commentary begins: "The final incident of the colonization was the dismissal of the eastern tribes to their own inheritance on the other side of Jordan. Having commended them warmly for their loyalty, Joshua sent them off with a solemn warning not to let their isolation make them forget their allegiance to Jehovah

To denote their unity with the main body of Israel, the eastern tribes built a massive altar on the bank of the Jordan. Verse 11 makes it clear that it was on the western side of the river that it was built; over against the land of Canaan should be translated literally 'facing the same way as Canaan', i.e. on the same side. 'At the passage of the children of Israel' is better translated, as in RV, 'on the side that pertaineth to the children of Israel'.

10. And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.
11. And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.

Let us see how a misunderstanding now arose.

12. And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
13. And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
14. And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
15. And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,
16. Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD?
17. Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD,
18. But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.

Well, trouble is certainly looming as this event demonstrates, but we shall have to leave the outcome for the next Bible Study, as our time has neared its conclusion for today. If our listeners can't bear the suspense, they might turn in their Bibles to Joshua 22:19-34 to see how it turns out! We shall continue next week.

13 July, 2003

JOSHUA 22 - THREAT TO PEACE - PART I

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 18 of Joshua 22.

For new listeners we should mention that we have recently been studying the Biblical record of the entry into The Promised Land by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua. We followed their progress as Jericho was taken, and a setback was encountered at Ai. We saw their leaders snared by the lies of the Gibeonites, and how, eventually that led to the taking of all of South Canaan. We watched as they assembled at the two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal for a service of national acceptance of The LORD's Commandments, and following that, how a confederacy of the northern Canaanites had met disaster in Joshua 12 by confronting Israel. Joshua 13 and 14 listed the sections of Canaan not yet taken, and in Joshua 16 and 17, we saw the chief tribes of the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, assigned their territory by lot. Joshua 18 spoke of the setting up of the Tabernacle for worship at Shiloh, and then the smaller tribes received attention. With each Tribe having received its allotment, the record then explained how six cities of refuge were assigned to the Tribe of Levi, and after that, the various other cities out of the territories of the rest of Israel were given over to the remainder of the Tribe of Levi to accommodate their civil service and religious assignments. At the middle of Chapter 22, we had found that a misinterpretation of events, just as Israel ought to have been feeling relaxed from the difficulties of conquest, had come near to causing a war within Israel itself, and today, we will find out how matters were settled, in this unexpected situation.

The New Bible Commentary on Joshua 22 had started with the explanation that "The final incident of the colonization was the dismissal of the eastern tribes to their own inheritance on the other side of Jordan. Having commended them warmly for their loyalty, Joshua sent them off with a solemn warning not to let their isolation make them forget their allegiance to Jehovah." There had, almost immediately arisen a misunderstanding which had almost led to war. The representatives of those of Israel who were settling on the west of the Jordan had heard of a great altar which those who had just returned home had built at the Jordan bank. We will repeat from verse 12, as it makes the matter quite plain.

12. And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
13. And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
14. And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
15. And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,
16. Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD?
17. Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD,
18. But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.

As the New Bible Commentary makes clear at this point, "This innocent act was misconstrued by the western tribes as an attempt to set up a second altar of sacrifice, contrary to the Mosaic law (see Lv. xvii. 8, 9), and a deputation was sent from Shiloh, the site of the tabernacle, to investigate the alleged treachery (AV trespass) of their brethren. They reminded them of the disasters to the whole community that had followed previous acts of apostasy at Baal-peor and Ai, and magnanimously suggested that if the land to the east of Jordan was 'unclean' in the sense of not being hallowed by the evident presence of Jehovah, the eastern tribes could take their possession in the west. The eastern tribes made their defence in the most solemn terms, swearing by the three names of their God (El, Elohim, Jehovah), twice repeated (22, see RV mg.), that the altar they had built was nothing more than a permanent monument to their kinship with the tribes across the river. We read the Scripture at verse 19:

19. Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD'S tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God.
20. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.
21. Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,
22. The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,)
23. That we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;
24. And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?
25. For the LORD hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the LORD: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.
26. Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
27. But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.
28. Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.
29. God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
30. And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them.
31. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.
32. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.

The Commentary continues: "Their action was 'out of carefulness and of purpose' (24, RV), i.e. it was done deliberately in their anxiety lest their children should fail to realize their connection with the commonwealth of Israel."

33. And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
34. And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.

So the Commentary makes clear that "The explanation was promptly accepted and a happy reconciliation ensued: the altar itself became a perpetual witness of the episode." I might just add a word or two before leaving the subject of misunderstanding between groups and individuals as well as nations. Angry words, parting of the ways, or war can be so very easily brought about if reports, which are factually based in themselves, but misinterpreted, are given out in distant parts where knowledge and understanding are not complete. We ought, always, to check out such reports with those "on the other side", as we may otherwise, in self-righteous fury, do what destroys kinship, friendship, and even lives, all for lack of doing what the representatives of ancient Israel so wisely did, to the eventual happiness of all concerned. We shall continue our Series next week.

RETURN TO BIBLE STUDY
RETURN TO B.I.W.F. HOME PAGE