The conquering of Canaan by Joshua and Israel means is covered in an overview in these chapters. There are some details covered in the southern campaign since it happens suddenly because 5 kings gathered together to kill the Gibeonites, who made a covenant with Israel, believing them to be traitors of Canaan.
Speaking of the Gibeonites, this event has always struck me funny because I haven’t experienced this culture. In our world if I made an agreement with someone who lied to me to enter the agreement, generally the agreement wouldn’t be binding, but Israel understood their word was binding even though they were lied to.
The conquest of the land seems really short, but remember Joshua and the army of Israel just conquered the armies of Canaan, they didn’t occupy the cities and territories of Canaan right away. In fact, God wanted Israel to destroy the armies out in the open areas so that the cities wouldn’t be destroyed, because God was giving Israel a ready to live in Nation. After conquering the armies, the land was divided by God among the tribes of Israel. Each tribe was expected to occupy their territory and destroy the local populations living there. Israel did not do a good job of this part. Joshua did everything God asked him to do, but individually the tribes lacked leadership and courage to conquer their territories. In fact the tribal area of Dan on maps is different from what God gave them because they were too afraid of confronting the inhabitants of their territory.
The story of Israel’s conquest of Jericho is one of the most well-known from the bible. Marching 7 times around and the walls came tumbling down has been sung by many Christians for a long time, but the part of the story that fascinates me the most is the walking around the city for seven days. I try to picture myself as one of the soldiers, with a sword by my side walking around a fortified city with walls that estimates put between 20 to 40 feet high, and I’m wondering how we are going to get this city. I think it may have been God’s plan to show Israel that they could not conquer the city without His help. Remember the soldiers in Israel were not well-trained or well outfitted by the standards of their day. Their weapon was God, without him they could do nothing, which the story of Ai reminds them.
The destruction of Jericho apparently made Israel overconfident. Their reaction to conquering Ai was to decide on their own what to do, rather than ask God. And since Achan stole some of the things from Jericho, which were dedicated to God, God would not help them until the sin was purged from the Nation. But they didn’t know that because they believed they were strong enough to conquer Ai without God. Just as quickly as overconfidence set in, discouragement set in after 36 men were killed in the first battle with Ai. Joshua asks God why He brought them into the land to kill them, and wishes they could have stayed on the other side of the Jordan. I’m surprised by Joshua’s dramatic swings in attitude, to overconfidence and then to fear and lament. However, it reminds me that I should not be overconfident in my abilities nor afraid to follow God.
When Israel stones Achan and all of his family it suggests to me the family was aware of Achan’s theft and kept silent about it, since the law of Moses forbid Israel from putting to death the children for the sin of the father or vice versa.
Unfortunately for me my computer decided to fry and die on Thursday last week. After three days of work recovering my data, I finally recovered everything, Yea! But it will be a couple of weeks until I get my new computer. Until then I’m working on my small laptop, the key word there is small, as in small keyboard, small screen, and small form factor. That was great when I carried it around and surfed the net, read my books, etc. not so good for a work station though. Have a blessed week, I’ll get caught up soon.
After the death of Moses, the Lord speaks to Joshua to encourage him and to remind him that he isn’t the one in charge, God is! God tells Joshua that following the commandments will make Joshua prosperous and successful. That is the purpose for all the commands in scriptures, that we might learn godliness.
The story of Rahab is one of the great examples of God’s love for all. She’s not from Israel, and she’s a prostitute, but her faithful response to God’s spies, brought her salvation from the destruction of Jericho, and her offspring (Jesus) will offer atonement to all the world. The requirement of the scarlet cord in her window to identify her home reminds me of blood of the lamb that had to be put on the door frame that the angel might not kill the firstborn in Egypt and of course the ultimate blood covering, our passover lamb, Christ.
With the circumcision at Gilgal, we learn that Israel was not circumcising their children in the period of wanderings. I’m not sure why, but there isn’t any sign of God’s displeasure that they did not circumcise their children, maybe He instructed them to do so during the wanderings that they could start anew in the promised land.
The blessings given to each of the tribes by Moses offers hope and promise of what each tribe might be. The hope and promise appear to be meant for inspiration as the tribes prepare to conquer the land of Canaan. The hope and inspiration seemed to work for that generation, they were probably the most faithful generation in Israel’s history.
Before Moses died, God showed him the promised land from the top of Mount Nebo. I don’t know if I would have wanted to see the land I could not enter. Moses was buried by God, so that no man would know where he was buried, I assume God did this to prevent Israel making a shrine or worship place at the burial site of Moses. We have a habit of elevating the prophet or teacher rather than the creator of the wisdom. It is common throughout Christian history, for people to honor the Apostles, preachers or teachers rather than the Lord.
Joshua, one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan 40 years earlier, was chosen to follow Moses as God’s servant for Israel. He wasn’t a king or a priest but God’s servant to do what God asked. To lead Israel into the land God promised to Abraham approximately 400 years earlier. Joshua is told to be strong and courageous, because the Lord will never leave him. Christians are encouraged to live the same way in the New Testament, also remember that the Lord has promised He will never leave or forsake us as well.
The Song of Moses was given by God for Israel to learn and sing. It speaks about the purpose of the song, to be a witness against them. The song speaks to the righteousness of God and the unfaithfulness of the people. It encourages Israel to learn from the examples in the wanderings, but in the end it tells all nations to rejoice because God will make atonement for His people. Jesus’ sacrifice is the atonement promised by God for all nations. It is given because of God’s love and grace, what He asks of us is to learn from Him and follow. So what God told Israel to do in the song, to learn from what went before, is the same thing Christians are supposed to do, that we might walk in the light with our Lord.
As Moses was concluding renewing the covenant with Israel, he expanded upon the blessings and curses that come from obedience or rebellion. I noticed the descriptions of the blessings regarding fruitfulness and prosperity took less than a page to explain, but the curses took more than two pages. I began to wonder why the good was so much shorter than the bad. It seems to be comparable to what parents say to their kids, even for the most positive parents, we spend at least twice as much time explaining the bad things that can happen rather than the good. I know it is fashionable in some parenting education to focus on the good reasons for proper behavior rather than the negative consequences, but I think people need both. Some people are more motivated by fear of failing and some are motivated by the good things that will come.
God did not let their clothes or sandals wear out during the 40 years of wandering in the desert, I sure hope they had plenty of opportunities to wash them. In spite of the fact most of Israel didn’t keep the commandments of God, God still provided for the nation, it demonstrates His faithfulness and mercy for our weakness.