Reading 67/341, Joshua 23 - Judges 1

[A] Today we finish Joshua and begin Judges. With this we are making a more complete transition from the Pentateuch to the Historical Books. While skeptics may doubt some of the miracles of Judges and beyond, the basic history is reliable. There are serious questions about whether the events of Exodus-Joshua ever happened. Some scholars believe that it is a set of stories that the people living in the area came up with to be united. There are reasons to doubt that 2 million slaves left Egypt in 1500 BC and conquered the area around the Jordan river. We read the books with the hermeneutic of trust, which is to say that we presume that it did happen because going down the rabbit hole of what did or did not happen is not helpful. This is the book that God gives us. It makes the most sense just to presume that it is accurate, since there is no solid evidence that it is not. Really, it is a lack of archaeological evidence that would be expected, but a lack of evidence does not really prove anything. Anyway, we are now entering in on a very different sort of writing in the book of Judges. There are some very strange stories. It is with this book above all that the principle must be kept in mind: just because an event is recorded in the Bible does not mean that God approves.
[B] The book of Judges relates a time in Israel's history where the people are settled in the land, but do not have a leader. Instead, whenever they need a leader, God sends them one, called a judge. A judge was not like a judge today, but more like a temporary king/general who fought the enemies of Israel.

...Joshua

It happened after many days, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, and Joshua was old and well stricken in years; that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and for their heads, and for their judges and for their officers, and said to them, “I am old and well stricken in years, and you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God, has himself fought for you. Behold, I have allotted to you these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from the Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, to the great sea toward the setting of the sun. The Lord your God will thrust them out before you, and drive them from out of your sight, and you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God spoke to you. Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses. Do not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, lest you come among these nations that remain among you. Nor make mention of the name of their gods, nor swear by them, nor serve them, nor bow yourselves down to them, but cleave to the Lord your God, as you have done up to this day. For the Lord has driven out from before you nations great and strong, but as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God himself fights for you, as he said to you. Take heed of yourselves therefore, that you love the Lord your God. Otherwise, if you do at all go back, and cleave to the remnant of these nations who remain among you, and make marriages with them, and go in to them, and they to you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive these nations from out of your sight, but they shall be a snare and a trap to you, and a scourge in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. Everything has happened to you; not one thing has been lacking of it. It shall happen, that as all the good things which the Lord your God spoke to you have happened, so also the Lord will bring on you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. When you disobey the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow down yourselves to them, then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land which he has given to you.”

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and they presented themselves before God. Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Your fathers lived in days of old beyond the River: Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor. They served other gods. I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. I gave to Isaac, Jacob and Esau, and I gave to Esau, Mount Seir, to possess it. Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out. I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and with horsemen to the Red Sea. When they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea on them, and covered them, and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt, and you lived in the desert many days. I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who lived beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you possessed their land, and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to Balaam. So he blessed you instead; I delivered you out of his hand. You went over the Jordan, and came to Jericho, and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Girgashite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, and I delivered them into your hand. I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out from before you, the two kings of the Amorites; not with your sword, nor with your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you did not build, and you live there; of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant, you eat.’ Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it seems wrong to you to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

The people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord and serve other gods, for the Lord our God himself brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us all along the way on which we went, and among all the nations through the midst of whom we passed, and the Lord drove out from before us all the nations, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your disobedience nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord, and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you evil, and consume you, even after all the good he has done you.” The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” They said, “We are witnesses.” “Now therefore put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” The people said to Joshua, “the Lord our God we will serve, and to his voice we will listen.” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us. It shall be therefore a witness against you, lest you deny your God.” So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

It happened after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old. They buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, and had known all the work of the Lord, that he had worked for Israel. The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money, and they became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him in the hill of Phinehas his son, which was given to him in the hill country of Ephraim.

Judges...

It happened after the death of Joshua, the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, saying, “Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” The Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.” Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites, and I likewise will go with you into your lot.” So Simeon went with him. Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they struck of them in Bezek ten thousand men. They found Adoni-bezek in Bezek, and they fought against him, and they struck the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their food under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me." They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. The children of Judah fought against Jerusalem, and took it, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. Afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, and in the South, and in the lowland. Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (now the name of Hebron before was Kiriath-arba), and they struck Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai. From there he went against the inhabitants of Debir. (Now the name of Debir before was Kiriath-sepher.) Caleb said, “He who strikes Kiriath-sepher, and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife.” Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it, and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. It happened, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field, and she alighted from off her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

The children of the Kenite, Moses' brother-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the desert of Judah, which is in the south of Arad, and they went and lived with the people. Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they struck the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. The name of the city was called Hormah. Also Judah took Gaza with its territory, and Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. The Lord was with Judah, and drove out the inhabitants of the hill country; for he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. They gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had spoken, and he drove out there the three sons of Anak. The children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem, but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day. The house of Joseph went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them. The house of Joseph sent to spy out Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) The watchers saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said to him, “Show us, we pray, the entrance into the city, and we will deal kindly with you.” He showed them the entrance into the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword, but they let the man go and all his family. The man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name of it Luz, which is the name of it to this day. Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its towns, nor of Taanach and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns, but the Canaanites dwelt in that land. It happened, when Israel had grown strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, and did not utterly drive them out. Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, but the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them. Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol, but the Canaanites lived among them, and became subject to forced labor. Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, nor the inhabitants of Sidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob, but the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out. Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath, but he lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became subject to forced labor. The Amorites forced the children of Dan into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the valley, but the Amorites dwelt in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became subject to forced labor. The border of the Amorites was from the ascent of Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Father,

    These are some questions about a previous readings: What is the significance of the circumcision, what does it represent? In reference to (if i remember correctly) having it done in Egypt and then again specifically before the Battle of Jericho? It said something also too that once it was healed the reproach (shame?) of Egypt was removed. Can you speak to that?

    Also, it refers to silver, gold, bronze, and iron to be considered sacred. What is meant by that?

    Thank you,
    Angela

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  2. Circumcision was the sign of belonging to God. Why this particular physical act was used as the sign we can only guess at. Circumcisions of various kinds have been done in many cultures throughout the world, so it was not an exclusively Hebrew tradition. The reason why it was done before Jericho was that it had not been done during the 40 years in the desert. Why not? That is never explained. All the boys born in the desert were not circumcised until they were on the threshold of entering the holy land. This is somewhat similar to the unusual passage earlier in exodus where Moses is almost killed by sickness because he did not have his son circumcised. It could be that Egyptian culture was anti-circumcision, and the Hebrews had picked up an abhorrence of the act. Whatever the reason that the circumcisions had not been done, they were done now and the people were no longer Egyptian slaves but a separate people who belonged to God and were going to take possession of their country.

    The metals are sacred because they cannot be destroyed. People and animals were killed. Everything flammable was burnt. The metals were dedicated to use in the sanctuary. They were not to take anything. The metals could not make any individual rich since they had been gained while the Israelites were acting as the judgment of God upon the Canaanites.

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