Joshua 14 - Judges 4
After Day 16 I went back and read some background on the book of Joshua. I was thinking about all the war and destruction involved in God's people being given their promised land. Here is the summary of difference between wars made solely by man against man versus the wars involved in God giving the land to his people:
"Joshua is not an epic account of Israel's heroic generation or the story of Israel's conquest of Canaan with the aid of her national deity. It is rather the story of how God, to whom the whole world belongs, at one stage in the history of redemption reconquered a portion of the earth from the powers of this world that had claimed it for themselves, defending their claims by force of arms and reliance on their false gods." CJB Online-BibleStudyTools
Although this doesn't reduce the pain of war, it does help me to understand the significance of the retaking of the land through violence. I have to keep in mind that these peoples with their gods and human efforts had heard of the one God and, apparently, chose to reject him. Rahab the prostitute confirms that the people knew about God's might when the two spies entered the city where she lived. Rahab and her family were saved because she acknowledged God and asked to be spared. The other inhabitants of the city would have had the same knowledge and opportunity but chose to continue worshiping their gods.
Here's another interesting thing to think about - there is significance in Joshua's name and the events of God redeeming the land for his people that is prophetic:
The role of the central human actor in the events narrated here is reinforced by the name he bears. Earlier in his life Joshua was called simply Hoshea (Nu 13:8,16), meaning "salvation." But later Moses changed his name to Joshua, meaning "The Lord saves" (or "The Lord gives victory"). When this same name (the Greek form of which is Jesus; see NIV text note on Mt 1:21) was given to Mary's firstborn son, it identified him as the servant of God who would complete what God did for Israel in a preliminary way through the first Joshua, namely, overcome all powers of evil in the world and bring God's people into their eternal "rest" (see Heb 4:1-11 and notes)." CJB online - BibleStudyTools.com
Chapters 15 through 19 recount the remaining dividing of the land, by lots, among the remaining tribes of Israel. Kind of dry reading unless you take out an old map that shows the borders that are being described. It's interesting to note that, even though the territories are assigned, they're not yet occupied by the tribes - God has yet to drive out the people living in the territories. The tribes will still need to be obedient and move in to take over the territories as God prepares them for it going forward. Will Israel be obedient in these things? (hmm, don't think so.)
Chapter 20 assigns the cities of refuge and chapter 21 gives cities to the L'vi'im but there's one special assignment in verse 12. The L'vi'im were given the city of Kiryat-Arba except for: 12 but the fields and villages of the city they gave to Kalev the son of Y'funeh as his possession.
This is the specific land that Caleb had visited when Moses sent the representatives out to reconnoiter and report on the land long ago. At that time, Caleb had been promised that he would live to see the land given to Israel after the 40 years in the desert and that he would receive his portion from the land he had visited. That must have been an exciting promise fulfilled for Caleb!
The very end of chapter 21 reminds us again of God's faithfulness:
44 Then ADONAI gave them rest all around, according to everything he had sworn to their ancestors. Not a man from all their enemies stood against them; ADONAI handed all their enemies over to 45 Not one good thing that ADONAI had spoken of to the household of Isra'el failed to happen; it all took place.
Despite all the failures of Israel, God fulfilled his promises to them!
I find it amazing that, after all the years of the people of Israel seeing God's might and fulfillment of promises, that Joshua has to say to them in Jos 24:
23 "Now," Y'hoshua urged, "put away the foreign gods you have among you, and turn your hearts to ADONAI, the God of Isra'el." They were claiming to be witnesses against themselves that they promised to follow God and yet they still were hauling around their foreign gods??? And then I realized, we still do that today - our foreign gods are the things in our lives that take our attention away from God's will, while we claim God's promises as his children. How we must still bring heartache to ADONAI.
Interesting to note in Judges 1:16 - the decendants of Moshe's father-in-law finally moved in with Y'hudah's people and occupied that land with the Israelites. I wonder how many years it has been since Moshe invited his father-in-law and his people to "throw in" with the twelve tribes while they were still wandering the 40 years in the dessert?
Right away in Judges 1 the people are not obeying God's order to drive out the people in the lands they possess:
21 The people of Binyamin did not drive out the Y'vusi who inhabited Yerushalayim; rather, the Y'vusi continued living with the people of Binyamin in Yerushalayim, as they do to this day.
and it's in Jerusalem. I wonder how different history would have been if Israel had been true to their promises to follow all that ADONAI had commanded them? The rest of the chapter lists tribe after tribe who moved into their territories but didn't drive out the occupants, as they had been told to do. We can see where this is going...
Judges 2 starts out by saying that Israel followed God throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the lifetimes of the older men who outlived Joshua but then says:
10 When that entire generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation arose that knew neither ADONAI nor the work he had done for Isra'el.
If the next generation didn't know ADONAI or his works, then the parents must not have taught their children as they had been instructed to do. Our society over the past few generations has done the same thing, using the rationalization "We'll let them learn about the different religions and then make their own choice." Why don't we learn from history and experience? That generation that hadn't been taught about God then abandoned him and we've seen the same thing happen in our lifetime. Things don't go well for Israel from this point forward and we're seeing the same thing in our generations. We've seen times of revival in our lifetimes and then things head back for the worse and it seems to mirror the times of when God appointed a Judge and had mercy on Israel but as soon as there was no judge, the people reverted to their ways, even worse than before the judge. Apparently, there was always a remnant that was following ADONAI because there were people from whom God could appoint a judge but most of the nation was pursuing their own evil ways. That is like our society (and world) - there are followers of God, believers in Jesus, but many who are not and are not only pursuing their own ways but trying to keep believers from having influence on our society. Reading the book of Judges really gives food for thought on how we should redouble our efforts to seek Gods' will and not be quiet where we see wrong-doing. God was faithful to the judges and heard their groanings. I believe he will still hear ours.
I noticed something in Judges 4 today that I hadn't caught before. The setting is when Deborah is the judge and the people are again calling out for God to rescue them becuase they've been given over to Sisra due to their evil ways. Sisra has a large army and he is treating Israel badly. Deborah calls Barak and says that God has heard the plea of the people. Barak is to go to Mount Tavor where God will make Barak successful over Sisra and his army. Barak is not brave and says he will go only if Deborah will also go. Now here's what I noticed for the first time - Deborah says she will go but Barak will not receive any glory because ADONAI will hand Sisra over to a woman. Barak, Deborah and the men of Israel got to Mount Tavor. Sisra's army is routed, all 900 of his chariots are stopped and every member of the army is slain. I had always interpreted this as Deborah being the woman who was successful. It finally dawned on me today that it is Ya'el, the wife of Hever (of the descendants of Moshe's father-in-law.) Sisra escaped the battle and went on foot to Ya'el's tent to hide. Ya'el killed Sisra by driving a tent peg through his temple while Sisra was sleeping. It wasn't Deborah, the judge, whom God used to defeat the oppressing king. It wasn't even one of the peoples of the tribes of Israel that God had been leading for so long. It was a woman of descendants who didn't even join with Israel until after Israel had been given their territories. Wow!