Showing posts with label Joshua. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joshua. Show all posts

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Joshua 20 - 24


Today let's look at the remaining chapters of Joshua.

The Book of Joshua
1. Entrance into Promised Land
2. Conquest of Promised Land
3. Distribution of Promised Land
4. Tribal Unity and Loyalty to LORD

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 18, 2013
Monday, Aug 19 - Joshua 1 - 6
Tuesday, Aug 20 - Joshua 7 - 12
Wednesday, Aug 21 - Joshua 13 - 18
Thursday, Aug 22 - Joshua 19 - 24 ( Revised 20 - 24)
Friday, Aug 23 - Judges 1 - 5
Saturday, Aug 24 - Judges 6 - 12

Cities of Refuge
Anyone killing another person accidentally could flee to a city of refuge. They have to stand at the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. The elders will then admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them, without handing him over to the avenger of blood. 


The one who came in has to 
- stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and 
- until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. 

Six cities were set aside by Joshua as 'Cities of Refuge.' 


Towns for the Levites
This chapter mentions the towns set aside for Levites by each tribe. Let's just look at the summary as I am pretty sure none of my readers really care which tribe set aside which town. Anyone interested can skim the chapter. The summary of this chapter is given in the following verse: 
41 The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasture-lands. 42 Each of these towns had pasture-lands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.
In the end, there is a small paragraph about the LORD. Let's not skip that. It speaks a lot about His righteousness.
43 So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the LORD'S good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
If we had to say all of this in one sentence, it would be: 


Eastern Tribes Return Home
Shiloh had become the new spiritual center, as the the Tabernacle had been moved to Shiloh.

There was not going to be any more fighting. So, Joshua called the tribal leaders of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh. During the conquest of Promised Land, they fought shoulder to shoulder with the rest and kept their promise. Joshua thanked them for their efforts, and let them off the hook - they were now free to go join their families in the transjordan region, east of river Jordan. He reminded them to study and meditate the LORD'S commandments. Joshua blessed them:
22: 8 “Return to your homes with your great wealth - with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing - and divide the plunder from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.”
The story gets interesting now. As soon as they cross the river and arrive on the eastern side, they build a huge altar, which is visible from a great distance. When the Israelites on the Canaan side heard this, they become very furious and jumped into unnecessary conclusions. They were still in the fighting mode, and gathered troops to go fight their brethren. They then showed bit restraint and send a delegation to inquire the matter - Phinehas, along with some tribal chiefs and priests.

As soon as they arrive at the site of the altar, they blast those who built it:
16 “The whole assembly of the Lord says: ‘How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the Lord and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now?
17 Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the Lord!
18 And are you now turning away from the Lord?
Then they give bit of an advice to their brothers:
“‘If you rebel against the LORD today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel.
19 If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the LORD'S land, where the LORD'S tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the LORD or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the LORD our God.
20 When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things, did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’” 
Apparently, they had not built an altar for any other gods; but for LORD Himself. They were worried about river Jordan being an obstacle between Israel on the west and themselves. They were worried about their decedents treating this physical boundary an obstacle to reach LORD, and may not fear Him anymore. This new altar would serve as a replica or monument of the existing Tabernacle at Shiloh. They concluded:
29 “Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.” 
In plain words, no sacrifices would be offered upon this new altar.

Phinehas, along with the tribal chiefs and priests, were pleased to hear that the fear of LORD was still with them. They returned to their land and dropped the idea of war.

The new altar was given a name, "A Witness Between Us - that the LORD is God."

Joshua’s Farewell to the Leaders
About two years prior to his death, Joshua addressed the elders and leaders. He had become quite old and weak. Unlike Moses, Joshua does not take up a whole lot of 'real estate' documenting his farewell speech - he just consumed less than two chapters.


Summary of Joshua's farewell speech:
- He reminded everyone that it was only with LORD'S help they were able to conquer everything,
- Obey all those laws of Moses, 'without turning left of to the right,'
- Do not assimilate with the Canaanites and acquire their perverted practices,
- With LORD'S power, they've been able to defeat everyone; hence they should love the LORD,
- Do not intermarry with the Canaanites, LORD will no longer drive them out on Israel's behalf; instead, they will become snares and traps for the Israelites, whips on their backs and thorns in their eyes, until they perished in the Promised Land,
- LORD has fulfilled every promise He has given. Not a single one has failed,
- LORD will bring all those evil things He has threatened if the Israelites go and serve other gods,
- That would be the end of their lives in the Promised Land.

The Covenant Renewed at Shechem
Joshua assembled the Tribal Leaders and addressed the entire nation. In this speech, he reminded the entire history of Israel from it's birth till date.


While concluding his speech, he said,
24: 14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
This is a popular verse visible in many christian homes, globally. 

 



The people responded, "We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.”
24: 19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD  He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the LORD.”
22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD.”
“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.
23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him.”
He then took a stone and set is as a witness against them at Shechem.

Buried in the Promised Land
Joshua died at the age of one hundred and ten in (1390 BC) and was buried at his own property. During his leadership and throughout his lifetime, the Israelites followed the LORD. He echoed the words of Moses and practiced the laws. Joshua preferred to be called 'Servant of the LORD' rather than the leader of Israelites.


The Israelites buried Joseph’s bones at Shechem, in the tract of land that Jacob owned. They had been carrying his bones every since they left Egypt.

Eleazar was buried at Gibeah, in the property of Phinehas.

May the souls of Joshua, the 'Servant of the LORD' and Eleazar, the High Priest, rest in peace!

Conclusion
In earlier chapters we saw that LORD communicated directly with Moses. However, during the time of Joshua, LORD exists in the Ark of the Covenant and did not take any physical form. Joshua seems to be a small character only in comparison with his predecessor, Moses. When we look at him all by himself, he was a great person. In Bible, we see larger personalities dwarfing their immediate followers due to their magnanimity.

In his farewell speech, Joshua told the Israelites, “You are not able to serve the LORD  He is a holy God; He is a jealous God.  The obedience of Israelites in light of Joshua's knowledge and comments suggests that Israel's future is questionable.

This concludes the book of Joshua. So far, we've completed six books from the Bible. Here is where we are, along with a brief statistics:

% Completion, OT Chapters = 22.71%
% Completion, OT Verses = 28.12%
Chapters completed = 211
Verses completed = 6,510
Days of tour = 37 days
Our speed (chapters) = 5.7 chapters/day
Our speed (verses) = ~176 verses/day

--------------------------------Bible Reading------------------------------------------

WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.







Joshua 24







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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Joshua 13 - 19

Dividing the Land of Canaan

The book of Joshua has 24 chapters and we are just half way through. However, there is not much action left. The conquest happened over a period of seven years and Joshua is tired, and in his 90's. There is still some more land to be conquered, but not anymore during Joshua's leadership.  Moses had asked Joshua to distribute the land to the twelve tribes. Next, we are going to see the Promised Land being distributed. Here's where we are:

The Book of Joshua
1. Entrance into Promised Land
2. Conquest of Promised Land
3. Distribution of Promised Land
4. Tribal Unity and Loyalty to LORD

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 18, 2013
Monday, Aug 19 - Joshua 1 - 6
Tuesday, Aug 20 - Joshua 7 - 12
Wednesday, Aug 21 - Joshua 13 - 18
Thursday, Aug 22 - Joshua 19 - 24
Friday, Aug 23 - Judges 1 - 5
Saturday, Aug 24 - Judges 6 - 12

Introduction
For the most part, the Israeli men are listening to the LORD'S commands and following His lead in conquering the territory. I said 'most part' for a reason - they were bit lenient in destroying some of them, which will soon turn to be their own killer. Since this part deals with property and distribution, I am going to share this on a map. For those who want to investigate more, make a trip to Biblemap.org - the places are listed for this section.

Land Still to Be Taken
The LORD said to Joshua, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over." and then He explains those lands, which is shown in the map below, listed as regions of the Philistines - this is the first region.

Just ignore those arrows for now

The second area to be captured and conquered is the mountain regions (stretching from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim), which the LORD will deliver himself by driving their inhabitants. For now, the Israelites have to just take care of land allocation.

Maps for the Guided Tour
Before we proceed further, I strongly urge you grab hold of a map to follow any of what's going on in the next few chapters. If you have your Bible handy with you, turn to those last pages and in there should be a map titled 'Land of the Twelve Tribes' or something on those lines. If you do not have the Bible near you, here is a two sided map. On one side is a plain old map for most of the guys on the tour (in blue) - they just need to get a general idea of the land and in their minds would say, "whatever!" The other side has a colorful map, which is for those feminine readers - who would want to see those precise locations, check neighboring tribes, and finally to compare the size of land allotted for each tribe.

One side of the handout map - high level

Other side of the handout map - detailed & colorful

Now that everyone has a map, and had a quick glance, let's move on.

Division of the Land East of the Jordan
This section discussed portion of land that was already allocated by Moses, located on the east of the Jordan River, to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half of the tribe of Mannasseh. Verses 13: 8 - 33.

Division of the Land West of the Jordan
This section talks about the new distribution that's being performed by Joshua. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds.

Allotment for Caleb
Caleb, the fellow spy of Joshua from the 'Class of 12' approached Joshua while at Gilal and asked his share. Make note that at the time Caleb approaches Joshua, the land which Caleb wanted (Hebron) was not yet conquered by Israelites. Apparently, LORD had promised him the 'land he walked' for his conviction and trust in the LORD. Caleb belonged to the tribe of Judah, and Hebron was given to Caleb as an inheritance. On the map, Hebron is situated west of Salt Sea & south of Jerusalem/Bethlehem.

Allotment for Judah
There is a small fairy tale that takes place in this chapter. Caleb has a daughter called Aksah. Finding a suitable husband for the daughter is any father's concern. Caleb being the best warrior second to Joshua, wanted to offer his daughter to the bravest person available. He therefore devised a test. Kiriath Sepher was a fortified city. Whoever broke into and conquered this city would be capable of protecting his most precious child.
15: 16 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.”   
Cousin Othniel took up the challenge and won Aksah's hand. The author of this book did not document any romance surrounding them or any of those common mushy stuff. However, something related to property caught the author's attention.
15:18 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him[b] to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”
19 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
On careful examination, it's evident there seems to be a disconnect. Something does not add up here. I'll try to fill in the missing pieces. Caleb gave a desert land to Othniel when he gave the hands of Aksah. Knowing the value of land in the Promised Land, Aksah prompted Othniel to ask her father for springs near the desert. Seems like Othniel is a man of battle and less of words. Hence, Aksah takes up the job of asking two springs from Caleb. That's why & that's what she asked Caleb when she got off her donkey.

Verses 15:20 - 62 indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Judea.

The tribe of Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; It is a bad omen for the men of Judah.

Allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh
Chapters 16 and 17 talk about the land allotted to the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh.

The tribal leaders of Ephraim and Manasseh approach Joshua as they are not satisfied with their allotment - they want more land. Joshua asks them to clear off the forest and take possession of it as well. About those Canaanites living in those areas, Joshua assures them they could drive them off even if they have chariots fitted with iron.

Couple of red flags appear in these chapters, wherein they did not drive out the Canaanites completely.
16:10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer;
17: 12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region.
13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.
Remember those five daughters of Zelophehad from Numbers 21? They got their inheritance too. Well, their names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah.

Division of the Rest of the Land
The Israelites are camped at Shiloh, and the country is under their control, however distribution of land is not complete yet. Joshua gets impatient and formulates a strategy.
18: 3 “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? 4 Appoint three men from each tribe.
These men surveyed the land, wrote those descriptions on a scroll, town by town, in seven parts, and returned to Joshua. He then cast lots for them in the presence of the LORD, and there he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their tribal divisions. The section below describes who got what.

Allotment of Land for the Tribe of:
  • Benjamin (Verses 18:11–28): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Benjamin.
  • Simeon (Verses 19:1–9): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Simeon. Judah had more than what they needed; hence some of their land was taken towards the share of Simeon (that explains why Simeon's property looks like an island within Judah). 
  • Zebulun (Verses 19:10–16): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Zebulun.
  • Issachar (Verses 19:17–23): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Issachar.
  • Asher (Verses 19:24–31): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Asher.
  • Naphtali (Verses 19:32–39): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Naphtali.
  • Dan (Verses 19:40–48): These lines indicate the land allotted to the tribe of Dan. Dan's tribe wasn't able to take possession of some of the land they were are supposed to have, therefore they take over another piece of land. 
Allotment for Joshua 
(Verses 19:49–51): Certain land was exclusively allocated to Joshua, just like how Caleb was eligible. Joshua was the last to get any inheritance. If you are paying attention, the first distribution was for Caleb, then the tribes, followed by Joshua. He first made sure everyone else was provided for. Next, he did not ask for the most fertile land, high octane real estate property nor a beach house retreat. He picked an obscure spot on the highland hills to spend the rest of his life (in peace). 

------------------------------Bible Reading ------------------------------

WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Joshua 7 - 12



Background
Yesterday we saw the fall of Jericho, and Joshua's men burning and destroying the entire city except for Rahab's family. If you recall, There was one important message that was convened - not to keep any of the loot from the city for themselves. One man did not give heed to these words. His name was Achan, who belonged to the tribe of Judea. Hence, LORD was not happy with Achan's act which we will see today. Also, there is a homework assignment that I am posting today.

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 18, 2013
Monday, Aug 19 - Joshua 1 - 6
Tuesday, Aug 20 - Joshua 7 - 12
Wednesday, Aug 21 - Joshua 13 - 18
Thursday, Aug 22 - Joshua 19 - 24
Friday, Aug 23 - Judges 1 - 5
Saturday, Aug 24 - Judges 6 - 12

Achan's Sin
The next city on Joshua's radar was Ai, situated east of Bethel, just two miles from Jericho. He sent spies to 'gauge' the situation. The men came back with a very confident and positive report. For those readers who are paying laser sharp attention, Ai is the same place where Abraham built an altar for LORD in Genesis 12:18.

According to their intelligence report, Joshua was recommended to sent just two or three thousand men as there were only few in the city of Ai. This confidence must have come upon them after the conquer of Jericho. Accordingly, Joshua sent three thousand men to take over Ai.

To their bewilderment, they were defeated, thirty-six men were killed and all were chased out. The news disheartened the Israeli force and people alike. Joshua along with the elders, torn apart in grief, tore their clothes, sprinkled dust on their heads as an outward sign of grief and fell face-down before the Ark and remained there until evening.  LORD answered Joshua's prayers:
7: 10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?
11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.
12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
Further, Joshua was asked to examine each and everyone in his camp to recover the booty. Joshua set up a methodical cross-examination procedure for every tribe. While 'meeting' with the tribe of Judea, he interrogated Achan in a sweet, arm-twisting language:
“My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done:
21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” 

Joshua's messengers arrived at Achan's tent and the plunder was there. The Israelites were furious with Joshua along with the leaders took Achan, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. There they were stoned to death and heaped up a large pile of rocks.


Ai Destroyed
Having settled those internal affairs, Joshua now devised a stratagem. To the west side of the city, Joshua placed an army in ambush. Another battalion attacked from the eastern side. Ai's army emerged from the city to meet the attack. The Israeli army pretended to be fleeing like last time. Joshua thus drew Ai's army further away from the city. At an appointed time, after receiving a signal, the army which lay in ambush entered the city, destroyed it and set it on fire. The enemy found themselves sandwiched from both sides and was completely obliterated.


Twelve thousand men and women fell that day - all the people of Ai. Joshua burned down Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins. He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. Details of this encounter are given in chapter 8.

The above image depicting the defeat of Ai is from Middle Byzantine era, A.D. 843–1261, located in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

One interesting account here - LORD approved the Israelites to carry off the plunder and livestock for themselves, after defeating Ai (see verse 2):
8: 2 "You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”
They did not kill the livestock and happily followed LORD'S instructions in looting and keeping the plunder for themselves (see verse 27):
27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the LORD had instructed Joshua.
If only Achan had waited couple more days, victory over Ai would have been his heyday. But can you imagine why LORD objected taking anything from Jericho, but allowed the same from Ai? I spent quite sometime pondering about this, while trying to 'read' LORD'S mind, and I 'think' I have arrived at a conclusion. Let's have it as a 'homework assignment.' I will post my response next Monday. Homework assignment is posted below :-)

The Covenant Renewed at Mount Ebal
Israel has now Jericho and Ai under their control, and are taking a short break. Based on Moses' advice, they were supposed to pronounce blessings and curses. Joshua now placed twelve tribes into two groups - one to stand over Mount Gerizim to bless the people; the other group to stand on top of Mount Ebal and pronounce curses.

The curses are all structured like this, "Cursed is the man who does so and so and so.”

After which all the people said, "Amen."

Joshua built an altar of uncut stones on Mount Ebal and offered burnt offerings. The details of the covenant were described in Deuteronomy 26 - 30 (Click on the link if you need to revisit).

The Gibeonite Deception
The title sounds like a perfect candidate for a fictional novel or even a movie. The rulers of Canaan were paying close attention to Joshua's movements, for they knew they were "in the line of fire." Right after the conquest of Ai, Joshua received a delegation of peace-makers. Their clothes were worn, food was dry and moldy, wineskins old and worn out - indicating a very long journey. They professed to have come from a long distance with the sole purpose to declare a peace-treaty with Israel. As a proof of a long journey, they said,
12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is.
13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”

The Israelites agreed for a treaty, guaranteed their lives and established it with a 'Gentleman's handshake' (see below). They also took and oath to stand by it. However, they had made a mistake, which is given in verse 14:
14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.  
They might, and should have checked with the LORD - by desiring the high priest to inquire of the LORD by means of Urim and Thummim, but overlooked it. Turns out that after three days of their departure, Joshua's military intelligence produced a report that those peace-seekers were from Gibeon - the neighboring place. Gibeon was a territory which comprised of four cities. They did not have a king, but were ruled by elders, and all their men were mighty warriors. The terror of Israelites were so great that Gibeonites approached Joshua and deceived them.

Notice how close Gibeon is situated, to Ai and Jericho

Upon hearing this news, Joshua's army marched towards them, but did not attack them due to the oath they took. Instead, Joshua summoned their leaders and asked, 
22 “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us?
They give a sheepish, yet genuine answer, "We were afraid of our lives."

Israelite leaders are fuming because their hands are tied due to the the oath and cannot do anything. The shame of being deceived added 'insult to injury.' Finally, they honor their word and make Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the rest of their lives. Talk about a 'Gentleman's word.'

The Sun Stands Still
Gibeonites are now 'untouchable' by the Israelites. However the surrounding and neighborhood kings rally against them for entering into a treaty with Israelites.

The surrounding Kings did welcome the idea of Gibeonites holding a treaty with Israelites. The King of Jerusalem and other 10 kings from the surrounding area mount up an attack on the Gibeonites - sort of preemptive strike. The Gibeonites reach out to Israel for help. Joshua and his team are the ones who keep their word and travel in the night and surprise everyone by arriving in the morning.


LORD is with Joshua and strengthens him. Israelites have an upper hand and some of the armies attempt to flee. LORD rains hail upon them and many are killed. It was a Friday and Joshua hoped the battle won't stretch into Sabbath. He therefore prayed to LORD that the sun won't set until the battle is finished. Miraculously, the sun stood there for another twenty-four hours, until the Israelites won those battles.
14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
An important message convened in this book is that it is the LORD who is fighting those battles on behalf of Israel. Whenever they listen to Him, they win those battles; on occasions they don't, the results are disappointing. Numerous miraculous events like this are evident for the reader to witness this fact.

Five Amorite Kings Killed
We are in chapter 10 and here is an alert for those reading the Bible. If you are a visual person (one who visualizes events happening right in front of your eyes while reading) and/or experience dizziness at the sight of blood, skim through this chapter - this section of the chapter gives a tight closeup of death. Even though most of Joshua is about killing and conquering, it has been providing high level statistics, however this section gets bit closer. I will stay bit farther at that juncture.

Five kings had run away into a cave. Joshua ordered his men to roll rocks in front of the caves and humiliate them. The kings were later brought out and executed. Their bodies were exposed on poles until evening, and later thrown into the cave.

The way I read this section is that LORD is destroying those people as a punishment.

Let's move on!

Southern Cities Conquered
Joshua's army is triumphantly taking over the Promised Land. Now they have annexed the following cities to their map.
- Libnah
- Lachish (Horam king of Gezer came to give a helping hand to the people of Lachish, but the Israelites defeat him as well).
- Eglon (in one day)
- Hebron
- Debir

The meat of the passage is that the LORD is with the Israelites and He is the one fighting these battles on their behalf.
42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
Sounds like the Israelites got their act together. They now know how to be good boys in the eyes of the LORD.

Northern Kings Defeated
So far. we've been talking only about the southern cities. The Northern cities caught wind about Joshua's activities in the south and his unparalleled success. They became restless and endured sleepless nights. Jabin, king of Hazor, decided not to keep quiet. He instead took a decisive action against the Israelites and summoned all those kings in the Northern area. This army was defiant in strength and confident in victory.
4 They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots - a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 
Joshua has not faced such a large army, and reached out to LORD.
6 The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.”
The LORD asked Joshua to 'hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.' Therefore, Joshua's men cut their nerves under their hams, or hamstring them, so that they might be rendered useless thereafter. LORD did not want the kings of Israel to multiply horses. Their chariots were to be burned so that the Israelites would not use them afterwards, who might be tempted to put their trust and confidence in them in the event of a war, rather than the LORD.

Joshua, depending upon Divine Help, led the Israelite warriors before the gigantic army of northern cities and conquered every city. He later hamstrung the horses and burnt the chariots. They burned the city of Hazor to the ground, but did not set ablaze the other cities and destroyed all of the people.

Towards the end of this chapter we read,
23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.
Now the men could go back to their families and do other interesting things; they were excited.

List of Defeated Kings
This is the tally of those kings which were defeated by Israelites - the children of LORD.

Drum rolls please..

The kings defeated under the command of our Prophet and leader, who ignited the conquest of a series or victories on this land - by the one and only Moses:

  • king of the Amorites, Sihon
  • king of Bashan, Og

Next, for the loooong list of kings defeated by the courageous leader, who meditated the laws of our LORD day and night, practiced them and put his entire faith in the LORD to accomplish this task - our hero Joshua: 

  • the king of Jericho
  • the king of Ai (near Bethel)
  • the king of Jerusalem
  • the king of Hebron
  • the king of Jarmuth
  • the king of Lachish
  • the king of Eglon
  • the king of Gezer
  • the king of Debir
  • the king of Geder
  • the king of Hormah
  • the king of Arad
  • the king of Libnah
  • the king of Adullam
  • the king of Makkedah
  • the king of Bethel
  • the king of Tappuah
  • the king of Hepher
  • the king of Aphek
  • the king of Lasharon
  • the king of Madon
  • the king of Hazor
  • the king of Shimron Meron
  • the king of Akshaph
  • the king of Taanach
  • the king of Megiddo
  • the king of Kedesh
  • the king of Jokneam in Carmel
  • the king of Dor (in Naphoth Dor)
  • the king of Goyim in Gilgal
  • the king of Tirzah
Well, all can relax a bit for now. 

Good day today. 


------------------------------Bible Reading ------------------------------

WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.











-----------------------------------Homework Assignment: 

Point to Ponder
Explain briefly why LORD did not allow Israelites to take any plunder from Jericho as explained in Joshua 6: 18, but were allowed to do so during their next invasion in Joshua 8: 2.  

Joshua 6: 18 "But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them."
Joshua 8: 2 "You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”

I know many of my readers are astonishingly brilliant and can expect fabulous and fantastic thought provoking answers. I will post my response next Monday. 

-----------------------------------Additional Info 1
The Achan Syndrome
Achan, when interrogated by Joshua said, "I saw, I coveted, I took." He became excited at the sight of the that costly robe of Shinar, even thought it brought him face to face with death. Once he committed the first sin, moving on to the next one was easy - he robbed the gold and silver devoted to the treasury of the LORD. The gold and silver is estimated to be of $80,000 present value. 

Talking about the first sin, there is a pattern in what happened at the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:6: When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it

One man Achan's sin affected the entire Israel nation. Same moral from Eden as well - everyone was affected by the act of Adam and Eve. 

In our case, certain goods become lustful for our eyes; the lust grows and leads us towards an eagerness to possess it. We fall prey for it and take it - which results in sin. Sin affects everyone and is contagious, affecting all of us. 

The evil of sin exists not only in our external world, but also within our churches. There are so many Achans within our church communities. Numerous robberies take place from the treasury of the LORD, yielding hidden unlawful gains. Few individuals may benefit momentarily, but looking at the example of Achan, blessings upon the entire community may be withheld. 

To get rid of Achan Syndrome, one needs to seek God’s face for guidance and help, as Joshua did. He is the only one who can and will give us the antidote, when asked. 

---------------------------------Additional Info 2
Tearing Clothes and sprinkling dust/ash
The defeat at Ai was an unexpected obstacle Joshua encountered in his next step towards possessing the land. It was quite common in ancient times, on hearing bad news, to express the grief of trouble. 

If someone was in sorrow, penitence, or grief, they would cover themselves with ashes or roll about in them as their outward expression. Tearing the clothes, beating the breast, tearing the hair, putting dust upon the head, and falling down prostrate, were the usual marks of deep affliction and distress. Many individuals throughout Old Testament have expressed their sorrow in a similar fashion. 

Catholics still practice it to announce their grief just before the Lenten season begins - on Ash Wednesday. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not observe Ash Wednesday; instead, Orthodox Great Lent begins on 'Clean Monday.'

Ash Wednesday was established as the first day of Lent by pope Gregory I (590-604 AD). According to the Catholic Church custom, those who had committed grievous sins were to present themselves to the bishop on Ash Wednesday. On that day the bishop would sprinkle ash onto their hair and shirts and, then each penitent would be turned out of the Church for the season of Lent. After 40 days of wearing the ashy hair-shirt, a public act of humiliation, and after a very uncomfortable plight, these penitents would be restored to the Church on Maundy Thursday. This custom was later modified. Today the palm branches blessed on Palm Sunday, are burned, blessed and stored to be used as ashes signed on the foreheads of the parishioners on the following Ash Wednesday.
Carnival, which comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell to the flesh" is celebrated the day prior to Ash Wednesday, popularly known as Mardi Gras; which ends abruptly Tuesday midnight.

-----------------------------------------Additional Info 3
Strategy, Stratagem and Tactic
Strategy is often discussed when an attack, battle, competition, or war is being planned. It is a careful plan or method for achieving a goal. Strategy is also the art of devising or employing stratagems. A stratagem is a trick or artifice used to gain advantage over an enemy or opponent. The term tactics in the military sense is concerned with the details of the deployment and movement of combat troops. Tactics in the more general sense are the device or devices for accomplishing an end.

Strategy defines HOW we are going to accomplish a goal.

A stratagem is a trick played to attain a goal or to gain an advantage over a competitor.

Tactics are those specific activities used to accomplish a strategy.

Credits: dictionary.com
---------------------------------------------Additional Info 4
Gentleman's Handshake
The custom of shaking hands began in the days of chivalry, when it was a way of showing that one had no weapons when meeting another person. This also gave rise to tipping one's hat - or in the old days, removing one's metal helmet that was part of a suit of armor - thus indicating trust that the person being met wouldn't chop off your head.

Shaking hands, and gentlemen's agreement was a way of sealing a deal without cumbersome paperwork and the expense of having a lawyer draw up a formal contract. In those tender days of yore, a man's (person's) word was sacred, and could be relied on.

Thus comes the expression "let's shake on it" to indicate commitment and agreement. Too bad it doesn't work well these days! According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, the expression, "An Englishman's word is his bond" dates back to AD 1500.

-----------------------------------------Other Paintings
Joshua commanding the sun to stand still - Joseph Marievien Museefabre Montpellier


Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still Upon Gibeon - John Martin - 1816


Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still Upon Gibeon - John Martin - 1816 (zoomed in)


Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still Upon Gibeon - John Martin - 1816 (Further zoomed in)


Sun Standing Still



Monday, August 19, 2013

Joshua 1 - 6

Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua
Background
We are stationed at the plains of Moab, on the eastern side of river Jordan, and mourned the death of Moses for 30 days. True that Moses is dead, but his influence of that holy unselfish life still lives on and the people know that they are not left alone. Joshua, courageous and inspired by a living faith in LORD, is trying to fill those 'big shoes.'

A brief resume of our new leader - Joshua:
- Born in the year 1355 BC,
- Belongs to the tribe of Ephraim,
- An apprentice of Moses,
- Accompanied Moses while he ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments,
- Only Israelite allowed by LORD to approach Mount Sinai.
- One of the twelve spies sent by Moses to the land of Canaan,
- Along with Caleb, gave an encouraging report about Canaan,
- Commander of the first battle against the Amalekites, and emerged victorious,
- Appointed by LORD to succeed Moses as leader of the Israelites,
- Currently carries the Spirit of the LORD.

Joshua is portrayed as the Jesus of Old Testament. Joshua and Jesus; both share their name from the same root - Yehoshua. Israel is going to receive the Promised Land through the hand of Joshua in the Old Testament. Whatever we receive from LORD in the New Testament is coming through Jesus Christ - our new Joshua.

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 18, 2013
Monday, Aug 19 - Joshua 1 - 6
Tuesday, Aug 20 - Joshua 7 - 12
Wednesday, Aug 21 - Joshua 13 - 18
Thursday, Aug 22 - Joshua 19 - 24
Friday, Aug 23 - Judges 1 - 5
Saturday, Aug 24 - Judges 6 - 12

Introduction
The book of Joshua is organized into four parts, and we hopefully we should complete it by Thursday:
  1. Entrance into Promised Land
  2. Conquest of Promised Land
  3. Distribution of Promised Land
  4. Tribal Unity and Loyalty to LORD
While at the camp, we hear there are 33 kings ruling the Land of Canaan. According to our current plans, we need to wage war with these kings and conquer their territory. War is a terrible curse upon human race who seeks to possess the earth by it's own unrighteous ways. Unlike many military histories, this book focuses on the commander’s Commander, - The LORD, who is leading the army and will demonstrate those victories were due to His intervention. One thing the reader will notice in this book is that, the name of Joshua itself is not mentioned that frequently - all credits are attributed to the LORD.

The LORD had two purpose - to drive out those idolatrous and dissolute Canaanites (whose measures of sin are full now) and to hand over the land of Canaan to sons of Israel.

LORD Commands Joshua
On the 37th day since the death of Moses, Joshua received word from LORD:
- Prepare to enter the Promised Land, which LORD will deliver,
- LORD will be with Joshua as long as he lives, and nobody will be able to stand up against him,
- Joshua needs to be strong, and courageous (LORD told him this three times!),
- Joshua needs to be careful to adhere to God’s law, and meditate on it, to be successful.
"Rally the troops," said the new leader, "We'll be crossing river Jordan in three days."


Joshua held a high level meeting with those tribal leaders of Rubenites, Gadites and Manasseh. This was to confirm their agreement made with Moses - that they will join forces to conquer the entire land, while their family and flocks stayed back. They also pledged their allegiance to the new leadership of Joshua. A small caveat though:
17 "Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses."
- they will be serving Joshua as long as LORD was with him. If the LORD abandoned him, they would abandon him the very instant.

Rahab and the Spies
Just across the river from where the Israelites were encamped, was the large and strongly fortified city of Jericho - one of the oldest civilizations dating to 9000 BC. The town was situated in about 6 acres of land, secured by a fort all around their city. The fort walls are estimated to be approximately 18 ft high.

The excavated walls of Jericho. Notice the man standing in the picture to get a vague idea about the size of wall. 

Joshua sent two brave and faithful spies - Caleb and Phinehas, disguised as potters to go gather military intelligence about Jericho. They went and camped at the place of an innkeeper, owned by a woman named Rahab. In the Bible, Rahab is mentioned as a prostitute and in olden days, inns and brothels were places where travelers would camp. Her inn was situated on the boundary of the city walls. Pay attention to Rahab - she occupies a major role in our tour, later on.

When the king of Jericho caught wind of the spies, his soldiers confronted Rahab. She hid them on her roof, at the peril of her own life. The scene reminds me of those James Bond movies. She told the king's soldiers that two strangers did come to her inn, they looked like potters and sold earthenware. Nobody took any notice of them, and before the gates of the city were to be closed they left.

Once Rahab was out of the danger zone, she talked to the spies and they got what they wanted. Rahab explained why she was helping them - the Canaanites are melting with terror & fear after hearing the approach of Israelites. They have heard all that LORD has done to them; news about His greatness and awesomeness has spread all around. By now, the Israelites have won half the battle.



Rahab guided Caleb and Phinehas to safety - down by a rope through the window, outside the city walls of Jericho. In return for her kindness they gave her a promise of protection when the city was being taken. They asked her to tie a red scarlet at her window and to assemble all her family members at her inn. Caleb and Phinehas got back to the camp safe and shared their episode with Joshua.



Crossing the Jordan
At the divine command, the Israelites are now ready to enter the Promised Land. At this time of the year, in the spring season, the melting snows of the mountains have raised river Jordan that it is overflowed its banks, making it almost impossible for almost 3 million people to cross without a miracle.

They camp there for a few days, and the the officers then go through the camp, and explain to everyone how this will work:
- The Ark is going to be carried ahead of them, into the Promised Land,
- All of them have to follow the Ark.
- They should not get too close and have to maintain a distance.
- People have to get ready as tomorrow is the big day they will set foot of the promised land.

The next day, the LORD told Joshua that He was going to exalt Joshua in the eyes of Israelites so that they will know He was with Joshua. Joshua shared with the people the miracle LORD was going to perform:
- When the priests set foot in the river, the water of the river will “stand up in a heap," and the flow of the river will be cut off,
- The priests carrying the Ark will lead the way, and they will enter the water,

It happened exactly the way Joshua said it would: the flow of the water was cuts off, as the priests entered the river bed and they were standing on dry ground. They remained standing in the middle of the river, while all of the people of Israel passed by.

Joshua passing the river Jordan with the Ark - Benjamin West 

The LORD let them settle on the other side of the Jordan. Once people crossed the river, LORD commanded Joshua to get twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, to go back to the river bed, where the priests were still standing with the Ark. They were asked to gather twelve stones out of the river. This was to serve them as a memorial, reminding them of what LORD did while they crossed river Jordan.

Next, LORD commanded Joshua to call the priests to come out of the river bed. As soon as they set their feet on the river bank, the water rushed back and resumed normal flow.
4:14 That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
Then they went and camped at Gilgal, which was on the border of Jericho. Joshua sets up the stones as a memorial of what the LORD had done.
21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’
22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’
23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
The entire Canaanites heard this miraculous crossing and were fearful about the Israelites - for they had arrived.

Circumcision and Passover at Gilgal
LORD ordered Joshua to "make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites." During their wilderness years, circumcisions were apparently suspended. Joshua made necessary arrangements and proceeded to circumcise all Israelite males - am wondering that would be over one million of them; and not all of them are kids. This is the new generation, close to 40 years of age - ouch! LORD said that, "Today I have removed the disgrace of Egypt from you." The place is interestingly called Gibeath Haaraloth - the 'hill of foreskins'. 

Soon, it is time to celebrate Passover and so they do. The next day after Passover, the Israelites were able to eat some of the fruit of the land for the first time. The following day, the heavenly manna ceased to appear and they were no no longer fed directly by the LORD; they were eating the produce of Canaan. 

The Fall of Jericho
Jericho was inhabited by a powerful race, who trembled at what they heard so far about Israelites. Still, they stood ready to oppose the invasion of their territory. They certainly had an advantage of the knowledge of the terrain, and one of the strongest fortress in the land, dubbed as "cities fenced up to the heaven."

Jericho was a principal seat of idol worship devoted to Asherah, who practiced the vilest form of worship in all of Canaan.

Joshua knew he needed LORD'S help. He therefore withdrew from the camp and spent time meditating and praying. One one such journey:
5: 13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell face-down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua meet the Commander of the Army of the LORD

The LORD spoke through the Angel that He would deliver Jericho into Joshua’s hands. Here is the plan:
- The Israelite army would march around the city, once a day. The priests would go ahead of them, carrying the Ark, and blowing trumpets.
- On the seventh day, they were to follow the same routine, but were to march around the city seven times, instead of one.
- At that time, on the seventh day, the priests were to give a long blast on the trumpets, and the people were to give a loud shout,
- The wall of the city will collapse, and the Israelite army could go in and take over the city.

Joshua communicated this to his people and cautioned them not to deviate from this plan. Further, he instructed them not to harm Rahab and her family.

There was one important message - not to keep any of the loot from the city for themselves:
18 "But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.
19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”
The people marched around the city walls just as they were told. On the seventh day after seven rounds of marching,
20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 
 Destruction of Jericho

Joshua's army went in and killed every living creature - men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Joshua sent Caleb and Phinehas into the city to bring out Rahab and her family, and they put them in a safe place. They burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house.
26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath:“Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:
“At the cost of his firstborn son
    he will lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
    he will set up its gates.”
The news of Joshua capturing Jericho reached throughout Canaan. The LORD was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the land.

Let's wrap up here for today - have a nice week ahead!

------------------------------Bible Reading ------------------------------





-----------------------------Additional Info 1
Rahab's rise to Hall of Fame
Halley's Bible Handbook suggests Rahab may have been a temple prostitute, which in Canaanite eyes was an acceptable line of work in those days. In olden days, inns/brothels catered sexual services, where travelers would halt during their journey. Such places are always common targets for spies to obtain local news.

Despite having a long list of gods and deities, Rahab was the only resident of Jericho who resolved to fear and obey Israel's God. She had enough understanding to realize that the God of Israel was no ordinary Canaanite deity. She risked her life and provided safe harbor and information to the spies. Courage to risk her life and protect the spies was from her unwavering faith.

While striking a covenant with the spies, Rahab was not selfish in being rescued alone; she included her her father, her mother, her brothers, and all her relatives.

Apart from Abraham's wife, Sarah, Rahab is one of two women named in Hebrews 11 as examples of godly faith.

Rahab learned that following LORD will change her life forever - it did; Rahab married Salmon, the son of Judah's tribal leader. From this marriage was born their son Boaz, a faithful man of God. Boaz would marry Ruth, and their son Obed would be the father of Jesse, the father of King David. From David would descend the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Christ. A former prostitute of Canaan would become what every Israelite woman hoped to be - a mother in the line of the Messiah.



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