294.) Joshua 15

June 17, 2010

Revelation 5:1-5 (New Living Translation)

Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?”  But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.

Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it.  But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

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Joshua 15   (NRSV)

The Territory of Judah

The lot for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their families reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south.

2And their south boundary ran from the end of the Dead Sea, from the bay that faces southward; 3it goes out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron, up to Addar, makes a turn to Karka, 4passes along to Azmon, goes out by the Wadi of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary.

5And the east boundary is the Dead Sea, to the mouth of the Jordan.

“Visiting tourists covered with rejuvenating mineral mud relax during a hot summer day at the Dead Sea,” said the picture caption.  Do you suppose the ancient Israelites played around like this?

And the boundary on the north side runs from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan; 6and the boundary goes up to Beth-hoglah, and passes along north of Beth-arabah; and the boundary goes up to the Stone of Bohan, Reuben’s son; 7and the boundary goes up to Debir from the Valley of Achor, and so northward, turning toward Gilgal, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south side of the valley; and the boundary passes along to the waters of En-shemesh, and ends at En-rogel; 8then the boundary goes up by the valley of the son of Hinnom at the southern slope of the Jebusites (that is, Jerusalem); and the boundary goes up to the top of the mountain that lies over against the valley of Hinnom, on the west, at the northern end of the valley of Rephaim; 9then the boundary extends from the top of the mountain to the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah, and from there to the towns of Mount Ephron; then the boundary bends around to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim); 10and the boundary circles west of Baalah to Mount Seir, passes along to the northern slope of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon), and goes down to Beth-shemesh, and passes along by Timnah; 11the boundary goes out to the slope of the hill north of Ekron, then the boundary bends around to Shikkeron, and passes along to Mount Baalah, and goes out to Jabneel; then the boundary comes to an end at the sea.

12And the west boundary was the Mediterranean with its coast. This is the boundary surrounding the people of Judah according to their families.

“The Ashkelon Desalination Plant, which opened in 2005, converts more than 26 billion gallons of Mediterranean Sea water into fresh water for the State of Israel each year—5 to 6 percent of total demand. Ashkelon is not only the largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant in the world, it’s also one of the few public plants to recover waste heat to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”
— from Popular Science magazine

This plant is located on Mediterranean coastal land that was allotted to the tribe of Judah.

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Music:

“The Lion of Judah”  performed by Paul Wilbur.

You’re the Lion of Judah, the Lamb that was slain,
You ascended to heaven and ever more will reign;
At the end of the age when the earth You reclaim,
You will gather the nations before You.
And the eyes of all men will be fixed on the Lamb
Who was crucified,
For with wisdom and mercy and justice You’ll reign
At Your Father’s side.

And the angels will cry: ‘Hail the Lamb
Who was slain for the world, Rule in power.’
And the earth will reply: ‘You shall reign
As the King of all kings
And the Lord of all lords.’

There’s a shield in our hand and a sword at our side,
There’s a fire in our spirits that cannot be denied;
As the Father has told us for these You have died,
For the nations that gather before You.
And the ears of all men need to hear of the Lamb
Who was crucified,
Who descended to hell yet was raised up to reign
At the Father’s side.

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Caleb Occupies His Portion

13According to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, he gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba (Arba was the father of Anak), that is, Hebron .

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“The World’s Largest Porch Swing” is located in Hebron, Nebraska. It will seat 16 adults, or 24 children, or 128 babies.

Have you been to Hebron?

Hebron, Nebraska —was hit by a tornado in May 1953.  The storm wrecked two-thirds of the town’s buildings and injured 69 people.

Hebron, Connecticut — describes itself as “a quaint Connecticut town.”  It was formerly known for its apple orchards.

Hebron, New York — marketed their local “Beauty of Hebron” potato to London in the early 1880’s;  this potato helped restock the British Isles after the Irish Potato famine.

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14And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. 15From there he went up against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.” 17Othniel son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife.

18When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?”

“Since you gave me land in the desert, give me also springs of water.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

19She said to him, “Give me a present; since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me springs of water as well.” So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

The Towns of Judah

20This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Judah according to their families:

21The towns belonging to the tribe of the people of Judah in the extreme South, toward the boundary of Edom, were Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, 28Hazar-shual, Beer-sheba, Biziothiah, 29Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, 31Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon: in all, twenty-nine towns, with their villages.

33And in the Lowland, Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34Zanoah, En-gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, 36Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, Gederothaim: fourteen towns with their villages. 37Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, 38Dilan, Mizpeh, Jokthe-el, 39Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40Cabbon, Lahmam, Chitlish, 41Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah: sixteen towns with their villages. 42Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah: nine towns with their villages. 45Ekron, with its dependencies and its villages; 46from Ekron to the sea, all that were near Ashdod, with their villages. 47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; to the Wadi of Egypt, and the Great Sea with its coast.

48And in the hill country, Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49Dannah, Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51Goshen,

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Goshen College is a Mennonite liberal arts school. Pictured above are the members of their praise and worship team.

Goshen.   You know!

Goshen, Indiana — is home to Goshen College and to the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, the second-largest county fair in the United States.

Goshen, New Hampshire — has a tranquil lake known for its good canoeing and bird-watching.  Local residents call the lake “the Goshen Ocean.”

Goshen, Connecticut — was incorporated in 1739.  The town was a center for the manufacture of musket rifles during the Revolutionary War.

Goshen, Massachusetts — is a tiny rural town, population 921.

Goshen, Kentucky — is known for its thoroughbred breeding farms.

Goshen, New York — has a harness racing museum.

Goshen, Oregon — was originally a stage coach stop and now serves lumber mills in the area.

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Holon, and Giloh: eleven towns with their villages. 52Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah, 54Humtah, Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior: nine towns with their villages. 55Maon, Carmel,

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“Beach View:  Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.”  Photography by George Oze.

And you remember Carmel!

Carmel, California — officially Carmel-by-the-Sea, is known for its natural beauty and rich artistic tradition.  It also has a law that prohibits the wearing of high heeled shoes unless the wearer has a permit, which can be obtained at no charge from City Hall.

Carmel, Indiana — had one of the first automatic traffic signals in the country installed at the intersection of Main Street and Range Line Road.  This was in 1924.

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Ziph, Juttah, 56Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah: ten towns with their villages. 58Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor, 59Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon: six towns with their villages. 60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah: two towns with their villages.

61In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62Nibshan, the City of Salt, and En-gedi: six towns with their villages. 63But the people of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so the Jebusites live with the people of Judah in Jerusalem to this day.

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Whitetail deer in Jerusalem, Ohio.

O, Jerusalem!

I have read that there are towns named “Jerusalem” in 12 states.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lion of Judah (read his mane!).    http://teezine.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/lion-of-judah-detail.jpg
LIFE at the Dead Sea.    http://cache1.asset-cache.net/xc/75436251.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5E77BCFAC7E2B6B2926BF57DF5714C55BDAAD46A484DE7A5F
Ashkelon desalination plant.   http://www.water-technology.net/projects/israel/images/9-desalination-plant.jpg
world’s largest porch swing.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hebron_porch_swing.jpg
Tzarfati.     http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/albom/pictures/45.htm
Goshen College worship team.    http://www.goshen.edu/news/pressarchive/photos/08-parables.jpg
Oze.    http://fineartamerica.com/images-medium/beach-view-carmel-by-the-sea-california-george-oze.jpg
deer.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_bc3GmDzJFV0/SwsLBpHdfHI/AAAAAAAAAlk/gdgJd0xbNVk/s1600/deer+herd_00.jpg

293.) Joshua 13 and 14

June 16, 2010

“Promised Land” photography by Rolando Polo

Joshua 13   (NRSV)

The Parts of Canaan Still Unconquered

Now Joshua was old and advanced in years; and the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land still remains to be possessed. 2This is the land that still remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites 3(from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is reckoned as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron), and those of the Avvim, 4in the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites, 5and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath, 6all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. I will myself drive them out from before the Israelites; only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you.

7Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.”

The Territory East of the Jordan

8With the other half-tribe of Manasseh the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond the Jordan eastward, as Moses the servant of the Lord gave them: 9from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, and the town that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland from Medeba as far as Dibon; 10and all the cities of King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, as far as the boundary of the Ammonites; 11and Gilead, and the region of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan to Salecah; 12all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the survivors of the Rephaim); these Moses had defeated and driven out. 13Yet the Israelites did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites; but Geshur and Maacath live within Israel to this day.

14To the tribe of Levi alone Moses gave no inheritance; the offerings by fire to the Lord God of Israel are their inheritance, as he said to them.

The Levites are not being slighted here.  The time required to support their responsibilities at the Tabernacle and rendering service to God on behalf of the other tribes would preclude them from managing farms, fields, and livestock.  In chapter 21 we will see the towns, scattered throughout the land, that were assigned to the Levites.

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The Territory of Reuben

15Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the Reubenites according to their clans. 16Their territory was from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, and the town that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland by Medeba; 17with Heshbon, and all its towns that are in the tableland; Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, 18and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, 19and Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20and Beth-peor, and the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth, 21that is, all the towns of the tableland, and all the kingdom of King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses defeated with the leaders of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, as princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22Along with the rest of those they put to death, the Israelites also put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination.

Balaam

I was on the wrong road
And in the wrong road the Angel took her stand
To stand in my way and right my journey
I would not see her though she stood before me
My friends opened their eyes and saw
Saw her flaming sword
And flaming eyes
And terrible countenance
And said Friend do not go that way for the Angel of the Lord
Is there and will smite you
For the path you walk is the wrong path
I was angry with my friends
And berated them
And pushed them aside
Saw them foolish
Struck those who would not move from my path
Struck them as many as three times

Why do you strike us, they asked
Are we not your friends who love you
Who have guided you rightly
If your eyes are closed
Can we not be your eyes for you

In rage I lifted my arm to strike them again
To strike them down to dust
And trample them
Dust to dust

The Lord’s Angel rose in fury
And shone before my eyes
So brightly that even my closed eyes burned with brightness
The Angel made a sound like a great wind
And the dust rose and cut my face
And filled my nose and parched my tongue

Then the wind stopped and my eyes opened
The Angel stood there still
Now without a sword
And opened her arms
Beckoned me to her bosom

I came to her and wept
Wept as she held me
Wept for my blindness
Wept for the blows laid on my friends
Wept for the wrong road and all the wrong roads
Wept for the wrong turns and all the wrong turns

Held in her bosom
I asked her to forgive
To forgive me my blows and blindness
She held me
No she said
Forgive yourself

Open your eyes
Signs are there to see
Open your heart
Signs are there to follow

Open your ears
For the Word that is before any word
For the Word that is after every word
For the Word that is within every word

For the silent Word heard over forty days and nights
In the desert
For the Word in the wind
For the Word before the wind and after the wind
For the sound of the Word spoken in silence
Before the beginning

by Forrest Hainline

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23And the border of the Reubenites was the Jordan and its banks. This was the inheritance of the Reubenites, according to their families with their towns and villages.

The Territory of Gad

24Moses gave an inheritance also to the tribe of the Gadites, according to their families. 25Their territory was Jazer, and all the towns of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites, to Aroer, which is east of Rabbah, 26and from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir, 27and in the valley Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of King Sihon of Heshbon, the Jordan and its banks, as far as the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth, eastward beyond the Jordan. 28This is the inheritance of the Gadites according to their clans, with their towns and villages.

The Jordan River, south of the Sea of Galilee, was part of the territory given to the tribe of Gad.

The Territory of the Half-Tribe of Manasseh (East)

29Moses gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh; it was allotted to the half-tribe of the Manassites according to their families. 30Their territory extended from Mahanaim, through all Bashan, the whole kingdom of King Og of Bashan, and all the settlements of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty towns, 31and half of Gilead,

Gilead is a hilly region, a good place for grazing animals.

Remember this place!

It will be the scene of the battle between Gideon and the Midianites.

It will be the home of the prophet Elijah.

It became famous for its spices and balm:

Jeremiah 8:22 —

Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?

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and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, the towns of the kingdom of Og in Bashan; these were allotted to the people of Machir son of Manasseh according to their clans—for half the Machirites. 32These are the inheritances that Moses distributed in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan east of Jericho.

33But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, as he said to them.

Joshua 14

The Distribution of Territory West of the Jordan

These are the inheritances that the Israelites received in the land of Canaan, which the priest Eleazar, and Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the families of the tribes of the Israelites distributed to them. 2Their inheritance was by lot, as the Lord had commanded Moses for the nine and one-half tribes. 3For Moses had given an inheritance to the two and one-half tribes beyond the Jordan; but to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. 4For the people of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim; and no portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only towns to live in, with their pasture lands for their flocks and herds. 5The Israelites did as the Lord commanded Moses; they allotted the land.

Hebron Allotted to Caleb

Numbers 14:24 (English Standard Version)

“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”

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6Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal; and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him an honest report. 8But my companions who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’

10“And now, as you see, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel was journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old. 11I am still as strong today as I was on the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war, and for going and coming. 12So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day; for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; it may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as the Lord said.”

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from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Caleb’s faith in God never wavered though everyone around him doubted.  God convinced Caleb that the children of Israel should enter the Promised Land, but the people were intimidated by giants and fortified cities (Numbers 13:28-33).  Their disbelief forced Caleb to wait forty years in the wilderness before he finally entered the Promised Land.  Even after all those years, Caleb was as confident as ever in God’s power.

When God was dividing the land among the Israelites, the people were asking for the lush valleys and grassy plains.  Caleb asked for a mountain.  The Israelites had driven their enemies into the mountains, where they had built fortresses.  This did not intimidate Caleb—he asked for a challenge!  He did not trust in his own strength but in God’s presence.  Caleb longed to see God work in power, and he knew he would be less likely to rely on God if he dwelt in the easy places.  He chose a situation in which he would have to trust in God.  Caleb knew his inheritance from God was on the mountain.  He refused to allow the difficulty of gaining it to stop him from enjoying all that God had promised him.

If you always choose the easy way, asking for the peaceful valleys, you will never see God’s power displayed to enable you to take a mountain.  Seek out the mountains, and you will witness God doing things through your life that can be explained only by His mighty presence.

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Music:

“Climb Every Mountain” by Norwegian soprano Sissel.

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13Then Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14So Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. 15Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba; this Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.

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Today:  The West Bank city of Hebron, a frequent flashpoint of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, is home to about 400 religious Jewish settlers living in heavily guarded enclaves among some 160,000 Palestinians.  Clashes are common.

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And the land had rest from war.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Polo.    http://www.rolandopolo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/promised-land.jpg
map.    http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/joshua13-21map.jpg
Balaam, the donkey, and the angel.     http://pistolpete.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/balaam.jpg
the Jordan River.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/placesjpeg/Jordan_River_south_of_Sea_of_Galilee,_tb040300.jpg
Gilead goats.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Gilead%20goats2,%20tb%20n031701.jpg
Caleb.     http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_jsodkvOsdoI/S31j9zhtplI/AAAAAAAAAKc/GbiCDB8_GoQ/s320/old+testament+warriors.gif
mountain shopping.    http://www.gbcdecatur.org/files/MountainShopping.jpg
Hebron.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/hebron%20israel/travellersplus4/Hebron/HebronRuins1.jpg

292. Joshua 12

June 15, 2010

Many kings in our reading today!  Currently, 44 nations in the world have monarchs as heads of state.  Jesus is the King of Kings, over (for example) King Harald V of Norway.

Joshua 12   (NRSV)

The Kings Conquered by Moses

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Psalm 138:4-5 (New International Version)

May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth.

May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.

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Now these are the kings of the land, whom the Israelites defeated, whose land they occupied beyond the Jordan toward the east, from the Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward:

2King Sihon of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, and from the middle of the valley as far as the river Jabbok, the boundary of the Ammonites, that is, half of Gilead, 3and the Arabah to the Sea of Chinneroth eastward, and in the direction of Beth-jeshimoth, to the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, southward to the foot of the slopes of Pisgah;

Jesus is the King of Kings — King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

4and King Og of Bashan, one of the last of the Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei 5and ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan to the boundary of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and over half of Gilead to the boundary of King Sihon of Heshbon.

6Moses, the servant of the Lord, and the Israelites defeated them; and Moses the servant of the Lord gave their land for a possession to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

The Kings Conquered by Joshua

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Psalm 33:16-19 (New International Version)

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

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7The following are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the Israelites defeated on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir (and Joshua gave their land to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their allotments, 8in the hill country, in the lowland, in the Arabah, in the slopes, in the wilderness, and in the Negeb, the land of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites):

Jesus is the King of Kings — King Bhumibol of Thailand.

9the king of Jericho one

the king of Ai, which is next to Bethel one

10the king of Jerusalem one

the king of Hebron one

11the king of Jarmuth one

the king of Lachish one

12the king of Eglon one

the king of Gezer one

Jesus is the King of Kings — King Letsie III of Lesotho.

13the king of Debir one

the king of Geder one

14the king of Hormah

one the king of Arad one

15the king of Libnah one

the king of Adullam one

16the king of Makkedah one

the king of Bethel one

Jesus is the King of Kings — the Sultan of Brunei.

17the king of Tappuah one

the king of Hepher one

18the king of Aphek one

the king of Lasharon one

19the king of Madon one

the king of Hazor one

20the king of Shimron-meron one

the king of Achshaph one

Jesus is the King of Kings, even over Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll.

21the king of Taanach one

the king of Megiddo one

22the king of Kedesh one

the king of Jokneam in Carmel one

23the king of Dor in Naphath-dor one

the king of Goiim in Galilee, one

24the king of Tirzah one

—thirty-one kings in all.

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“King of Kings and Lord of Lords” by Rex and Carlene Morache

Revelation 19:11-16 (New International Version)

The Rider on the White Horse
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

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Music:

“O Worship the King!”  I love this hymn for its many names of God, its vivid imagery, its listing of many of God’s attributes.

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With this portion, we finish the first half of Joshua.  It has been an account of action: of preparation (chapters 1-5) and of conquest (chapters 6-12).  Reading it as a military campaign, we can certainly see Joshua as a great commander.  But Scripture makes it clear that his wisdom came from God.  Joshua lived his life in the full obedience that Paul advised to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:12 (New International Version)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
King of Norway.    http://www.topnews.in/files/King-Harald-Norway301.jpg
King of Saudi Arabia.    http://www.tehrantimes.com/News/10533/01_KING.jpg
King of Thailand.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/king%20of%20Thailand/ashmorris/king.gif
King of Lesotho.    http://blog.summerhill.co.za/storage/mike_images/people_owners/King-Letsie-III.jpg
Sultan of Brunei.    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/08/22/article-1047990-050066E50000044D-762_224x305.jpg
Elvis Presley.    http://irom.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/elvis-presley-poster-311708.jpg
Jesus on a white horse.   http://mark4.org/images/img_smallpaintings.jpg
sword and shield.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LdY0FxZMAxY/SpwtJbcsJpI/AAAAAAAAASQ/OC0s9IGBrMM/S660/Logo3.GIF

291.) Joshua 11

June 14, 2010

Map for Joshua’s northern campaign:  the country comes together, piece by piece.

Joshua 11   (NRSV)

The United Kings of Northern Canaan Defeated

When King Jabin of Hazor heard of this, he sent to King Jobab of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west, 3to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 4They came out, with all their troops, a great army, in number like the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5All these kings joined their forces, and came and camped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.

6And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will hand over all of them, slain, to Israel; you shall hamstring their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.”

7So Joshua came suddenly upon them with all his fighting force, by the waters of Merom, and fell upon them. 8And the Lord handed them over to Israel, who attacked them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, until they had left no one remaining. 9And Joshua did to them as the Lord commanded him; he hamstrung their horses, and burned their chariots with fire.

10Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and struck its king down with the sword. Before that time Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms. 11And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire.

“The Burning of Hazor” by Avi Katz

12And all the towns of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took, and struck them with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua did burn. 14All the spoil of these towns, and the livestock, the Israelites took for their booty; but all the people they struck down with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. 15As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

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Music:

Now the Israelites have their own land!  They have fought for it, yes, but they also know that it is a gift from God for themselves and their descendants.  The alternate national anthem for the United States puts those very thoughts to music.  School children sing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

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Summary of Joshua’s Conquests

16So Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland, 17from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He took all their kings, struck them down, and put them to death. 18Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.  (note:  some scholars say about seven years) 19There was not a town that made peace with the Israelites, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all were taken in battle. 20For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts so that they would come against Israel in battle, in order that they might be utterly destroyed, and might receive no mercy, but be exterminated, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

21At that time Joshua came and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their towns. 22None of the Anakim was left in the land of the Israelites; some remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod. 23So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments.

And the land had rest from war.

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“The Gift Outright”
by Robert Frost

(Perhaps you remember watching it on television:  the old poet wrapped up in heavy coat and scarf, reciting this poem from memory at John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inauguration.)

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people.  She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map of the northern campaign.    http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/joshua11-12map.jpg
Katz.     http://www.avikatz.net/bible/joshua/joshua11-burning.jpg
Robert Frost and John F. Kennedy.    http://alumniconnections.com/olc/filelib/HAA/cpages/215/Library/Images/Robert%20Frost%20at%20JFK%20inauguration.jpg

290.) Joshua 10

June 11, 2010

“Joshua speaks to the sun” by Salvador Dali (1964)

Joshua 10   (NRSV)

The Sun Stands Still

photo of the sun by the Hubble Space Telescope

When King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2he became greatly frightened, because Gibeon was a large city, like one of the royal cities, and was larger than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent a message to King Hoham of Hebron, to King Piram of Jarmuth, to King Japhia of Lachish, and to King Debir of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up and help me, and let us attack Gibeon; for it has made peace with Joshua and with the Israelites.”

5Then the five kings of the Amorites—the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon—gathered their forces, and went up with all their armies and camped against Gibeon, and made war against it.

6And the Gibeonites sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us; for all the kings of the Amorites who live in the hill country are gathered against us.”

7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the fighting force with him, all the mighty warriors. 8The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have handed them over to you; not one of them shall stand before you.”

9So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who inflicted a great slaughter on them at Gibeon, chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11As they fled before Israel, while they were going down the slope of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down huge stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the Israelites killed with the sword.

“The Lord hurled large hailstones down on them.”  —  by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

12On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.”

“Joshua Stops the Sun” by Rafael, 1518 (The Rafael Loggia, Vatican)

13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in mid-heaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel.

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Music:

“Cannons”  by Phil Wickham. “The moon and the stars declare who you are . . . “

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from Joshua, by Jerome F.D. Creach:

At stake in our interpretation of this text is nothing less than our view of God’s role in history and nature.  This does not mean that the details of Joshua 10:1-14 must be taken as historical in order to be faithful to Scriptures.  In fact, we must recognize that the notion of the sun standing still is not as unique as verse 14 indicates.  There is a very similar story in the Iliad (II.412) in which Agamemnon prays that the sun would not set until the Achaeans won their battle.  Hence, Joshua’s authors are using battle imagery and descriptive language known in other traditions, and from that point one might conclude that the story is not historical.  Nevertheless, that point should not end discussion of the larger issue, God’s involvement in human affairs.  Historicity may not have been the real issue for the author of this story, either.  He is, after all, drawing information from an ancient source; he is not claiming to have seen the sun stand still.  Rather, his main concern was that God could and did intervene within history for Israel.

Herein lies the main issue for modern Christians.  This author, like all biblical writers, thought of history and nature as parts of the created order that God controlled.  He conceived humans as part of nature and therefore subject to the movements of history over which God was master.  The modern view of things has radically changed these relationships so that humans are separate from nature, and humans shape history.  This worldview encourages an understanding of God as one who allows the world to run by natural law and of humans as those who move and shape history.  Joshua 10:1-14 calls the church to wrestle with this arrogant understanding of humanity.  For indeed the church claims that there was a day like no other, namely the day of the resurrection of the Lord (Acts 2:29-36).  That day was not brought about by human will or plan but by the act of God on behalf of broken humanity.

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15Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Five Kings Defeated

16Meanwhile, these five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah.

“Five kings had hidden in the cave.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

17And it was told Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them; 19but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies, and attack them from the rear. Do not let them enter their towns, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”

20When Joshua and the Israelites had finished inflicting a very great slaughter on them, until they were wiped out, and when the survivors had entered into the fortified towns, 21all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah; no one dared to speak against any of the Israelites.

22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” 23They did so, and brought the five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24When they brought the kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the Israelites, and said to the chiefs of the warriors who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks.

25And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous; for thus the Lord will do to all the enemies against whom you fight.” 26Afterward Joshua struck them down and put them to death, and he hung them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening.

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Habakkuk 3:11-13 (New International Version)

Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.

In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.

You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
Selah

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27At sunset Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves; they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.

28Joshua took Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Southern Cities Conquered

29Then Joshua passed on from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30The Lord gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel; and he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left no one remaining in it; and he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

31Next Joshua passed on from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish, and laid siege to it, and assaulted it. 32The Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he took it on the second day, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah. 33Then King Horam of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, leaving him no survivors.

34From Lachish Joshua passed on with all Israel to Eglon; and they laid siege to it, and assaulted it; 35and they took it that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword; and every person in it he utterly destroyed that day, as he had done to Lachish.

36Then Joshua went up with all Israel from Eglon to Hebron; they assaulted it, 37and took it, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it; he left no one remaining, just as he had done to Eglon, and utterly destroyed it with every person in it.

38Then Joshua, with all Israel, turned back to Debir and assaulted it, 39and he took it with its king and all its towns; they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining; just as he had done to Hebron, and, as he had done to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and its king.

40So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded. 41And Joshua defeated them from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, as far as Gibeon. 42Joshua took all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.

43Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Dali.   http://membres.multimania.fr/eikon26/1Theb/Jos_01_24_Jos_inCanaan/source/19.htm
Hubble photograph of the sun.    http://www.rise.org.au/info/Res/sun/image001.gif
Tzarfati.    http://www.biblical-art.com/artist_artwork.asp?id_artist=2096&alt=2&pagenum=1
Rafael.    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/stanzas/L39-Joshua.jpg
history book.    http://www.clipartguide.com/_small/1386-0804-0812-1544.jpg
sun and moon.    http://www.universaluv.com/universalUV%20website/Paintings/Sun%20&%20Moon.jpg
map of Joshua’s southern campaign.    http://www.betemunah.org/city_files/image017.jpg

289.) Joshua 9

June 10, 2010

More tricks today!

Joshua 9   (NRSV)

The Gibeonites Save Themselves by Trickery

Now when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites—heard of this, 2they gathered together with one accord to fight Joshua and Israel.

3But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they on their part acted with cunning: they went and prepared provisions, and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes; and all their provisions were dry and moldy. 6They went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the Israelites, “We have come from a far country; so now make a treaty with us.”

7But the Israelites said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a treaty with you?”

“Perhaps you live near us.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

8They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?”

9They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard a report of him, of all that he did in Egypt, 10and of all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan who lived in Ashtaroth. 11So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey; go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; come now, make a treaty with us.”’ 12Here is our bread; it was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey, on the day we set out to come to you, but now, see, it is dry and moldy; 13these wineskins were new when we filled them, and see, they are burst; and these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”

14So the leaders partook of their provisions, and did not ask direction from the Lord.

It seems to take us a long time to learn the lesson that neglect of prayer always leads to trouble, and destroys the spirit of discernment.  Neglect of prayer always suggests pride in our own judgment, which is fatal.  Satan as an angel of light is so plausible.  The foolish virgins so resembled those who were wide.  The tares sown in the field are so similar to the wheat.  The voice of the hireling sounds very like the voice of the shepherd.

How can we ever match Satan and his subtle ways?  Listen to me.  Never, never, NEVER trust your own judgment in anything.  When common sense says that a course is right, lift your heart to God, for the path of faith and the path of blessing may be in a direction completely opposite to that which you call common sense.  When voices tell you that action is urgent, that something must be done immediately, refer everything to the tribunal of heaven.  Then if you are still in doubt, dare to stand still.  Be strong enough and brave enough to dare to stand and wait on God, for none of them that wait on Him shall ever be ashamed.  Take it, all of it, to the Lord in prayer.

–from Victorious Christian Living:  Studies in the Book of Joshua
by Alan Redpath

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15And Joshua made peace with them, guaranteeing their lives by a treaty; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

16But when three days had passed after they had made a treaty with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and were living among them. 17So the Israelites set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.

19But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we must not touch them. 20This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath may not come upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, as the leaders had decided concerning them.

22Joshua summoned them, and said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ while in fact you are living among us? 23Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall always be slaves, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”

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Psalm 84:10 (New International Version)

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

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24They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; so we were in great fear for our lives because of you, and did this thing. 25And now we are in your hand: do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.”

26This is what he did for them: he saved them from the Israelites; and they did not kill them. 27But on that day Joshua made them hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to continue to this day, in the place that he should choose.

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Music:

Selah does a hauntingly beautiful version of the traditional folksong  “I’m Just a Poor Wayfaring Stranger.”  This song reminds me of the clever / deceitful ruse used by the Gibeonites, and the long road the Israelites had already traveled to be “just going over Jordan.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
rabbit in magic hat.    http://www.magicmasters.com/store/customer/images/Magic-0101.gif
Tzarfati.    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/albom/pictures/26.htm
oops.    http://www.faithandfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/oops.jpg
church at Las Palmas, San Isidro, Mexico.  Photograph by Lori Cannon.    http://w3.gorge.net/cannon/insidechurch.jpg

288.) Joshua 8

June 9, 2010

After an unsuccessful encounter with Ai, Joshua sought the Lord’s guidance. The next attack worked — by means of a ruse. Homer tells of a similar trick with the Trojan Horse. Both Joshua and Odysseus achieved military success and burned their enemies’ cities.

Joshua 8   (NRSV)

Ai Captured and Destroyed

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up now to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land. 2You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it.”

3So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to go up against Ai.

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Music:

As a church organist for more than 30 years, I am saddened when I think that so many young people in our churches are no longer familiar with some of the great hymns of the faith.  Here is one of the classics that never fails to inspire me:   “Onward, Christian Soldiers”  is sung here by a group which many DWELLING readers love — Libera.

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Joshua chose thirty thousand warriors and sent them out by night 4with the command, “You shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but all of you stay alert. 5I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us, as before, we shall flee from them. 6They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city; for they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, as before.’ While we flee from them, 7you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city; for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8And when you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire, doing as the Lord has ordered; see, I have commanded you.”

9So Joshua sent them out; and they went to the place of ambush, and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai; but Joshua spent that night in the camp.

10In the morning Joshua rose early and mustered the people, and went up, with the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11All the fighting men who were with him went up, and drew near before the city, and camped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. 12Taking about five thousand men, he set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley.

14When the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the inhabitants of the city, hurried out early in the morning to the meeting place facing the Arabah to meet Israel in battle; but he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15And Joshua and all Israel made a pretense of being beaten before them, and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. 17There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel; they left the city open, and pursued Israel.

18Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the sword that is in your hand toward Ai; for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the sword that was in his hand toward the city.

When the Mormons moved out West in the mid-1800’s, they came upon these unusually shaped trees and were reminded of the story of Joshua holding up his sword in this passage. So they named them “Joshua trees.” This photograph was taken by Andrew Chasteen at Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California.

19As soon as he stretched out his hand, the troops in ambush rose quickly out of their place and rushed forward. They entered the city, took it, and at once set the city on fire.

20So when the men of Ai looked back, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky.

“The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of their city rising into the sky.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

They had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22And the others came out from the city against them; so they were surrounded by Israelites, some on one side, and some on the other; and Israel struck them down until no one was left who survived or escaped. 23But the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

24When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and attacked it with the edge of the sword. 25The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. 26For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the sword, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their booty, according to the word of the Lord that he had issued to Joshua.

28So Joshua burned Ai, and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. 29And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree, threw it down at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.

Joshua Renews the Covenant

The amphitheater provided by the valley between the two mountains is utterly natural and very resonant.

30Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, “an altar of unhewn stones, on which no iron tool has been used”; and they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed offerings of well-being. 32And there, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.

33All Israel, alien as well as citizen, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark in front of the levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel.

34And afterward he read all the words of the law, blessings and curses, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the aliens who resided among them.

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So now we, as readers and hearers of the Word of the Lord in this book, know that Joshua is doing just what he was instructed to do in chapter 1 — to “act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you.”  He has led the people to take possession of the land for God.  They have erected an altar and given offerings.  Then they wrote out the law in permanent, visible form, and stood while it was read aloud to them.   Surely a day to remember!

This short but significant passage also reminds us that Joshua’s most important duty was not to engage in warfare and conquest, but to lead Israel in faithfulness and obedience to God.  It is a common temptation for Christians to believe that WHAT WE DO for God is more important than WHO WE ARE for God. Let us not be so busy getting good things done that we forget to “make every effort to enter that rest,” as we recently read in Hebrews 4, and be transformed by the refreshing, renewing presence of our Lord.

Your thoughts?

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Trojan Horse.     http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_TflM1a5ATJQ/Sw5NeVEIPkI/AAAAAAAABVI/ZPA-fOWIRE0/s1600/troy+trojan+horse.jpg
Chasteen.    http://www.climbing.com/photo/image/jtree-andychasteen08/joshua-tree-andychasteen08.jpg
Tzarfati.    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/albom/pictures/23.htm
Mts. Ebal and Gerizim.    http://www.bibletrack.com/notes/image/Ebal-Gerizim.jpg
Who are you?     http://www.fraserjohnson.co.uk/images/20080602114104_who-are-you.jpg

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