Day 67: Joshua 19-21; Conquest of Canaan: The Inheritance (Part 2)

“Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.  And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands.  Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”

And so it is done.  The inheritance of the land has been divided up and the people have gone to take possession of it.  Each tribe has received their lot, their cities, and their promise.  I don’t know if you caught it, but even in this there was some trouble with the natives when the tribe of Dan went to take their possession.  However, even then, God was faithful and the usurpers were wiped out and the land possessed.

We read in here too, according to the law that we had read in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, that the people set up “cities of refuge” for people to flee to.  These were safe-havens for Hebrews and Gentiles alike, in which people that were accused of something could flee to as a way of protecting themselves.  They could stay there until the due process of law had taken its course at which time the person would either be found guilty or innocent.  If they were innocent, they could stay in the city.  If they were guilty… well… not so much.  They would be stoned in the valley outside of the city that was usually reserved for trash, waist of all sorts, and other assorted things of an unclean nature.

Also, according to the Law, the Levites who did not receive an inheritance (because God is their inheritance) were given towns to dwell in.  Remember with me that the Levites were chosen for service at the Tabernacle, service to the priests and to the worship of God.  This is a direct result of their response to Moses during the Golden Calf incident when we are told, they were the only ones that stood up for the Lord.  They, therefore, were not given land, but cities in which they could dwell and pastures in which they could graze their flocks.

This returns us again to the verse we began with.  This is not necessarily a passage of Scripture that we read and see God very clearly acting.  Yet, in the Bible, God is the primary actor, the primary character… always at work in the world, which is why this last verse is so important:

“Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.  And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands.  Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”

It was not the people of Israel who made their own peace, it was the Lord that gave the land to them, it was the Lord that gave them what He promised, it was the Lord that gave them rest on every side and peace in their time.  It was the Lord that had given all their enemies into their hands… and it was the Lord that completely fulfilled all of His promises to the people of Israel.  It all begins, happens, and ends with God.



Day 66: Joshua 15-18; Conquest of Canaan: The Inheritance (Part 1)

Today’s reading is not necessarily a thrilling one, I know… lots of names of cities and demarcation of boarders.  Here, for the third day in a row, is a map from Visual Unit that might give you some idea as to what the allotment of the land looked like.

Plan for the Promised Land

 

This map shows some of the cities that are used in the descriptions we read in these chapters.

There are, however, multiple parts of this reading that talk about how “the Israelites did not drive them out” and “they lived among them as forced labor.”  I want to point these sections out to you today and tomorrow because these people that Israel allows to dwell among them against the expressed command of God, are the people that continue to cause trouble for them throughout the whole of Israel’s future.  From the Philistines to the Canaanites that are left among them, we will meet these people again and again in the time of the judges and in the time of the Kings as well.  Here are some notable groups still living among them:

15:63 – “the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.”  These will not be vanquished until the time of King David.

16:10 – “ However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.”  These would also remain here until the time of King David.  We also see at the end of chapter 17 that the people of Ephriam and Manasseh do not go down and take care of these peoples because they are afraid of them.  It is hard to believe that, after all they have accomplished, they are afraid of a anyone at all.

While I would hesitate to condense this down into some pithy moral teaching, I think it is important to note here that the people of God did a great deal of work and followed the Lord in this whole time of conquest.  However, they didn’t finish the job.  In fact, Scripture tells us that the people of God were content to live in the hill country, which was much more like living in the wilderness, rather than going down and taking the land that God had given to them.  How sad it is that, really, the total conquest of Canaan is more than 100 years off yet.  God is faithful to His people though, even though this oversight will cost them repeatedly for many years to come.  Oh what things they could have avoided if they had just finished the task.  I wonder what this says to us though?  I think to myself right now, what things has God called me to in my life that I have only done a halfway job of?  I wonder what life would be like if I pursued them until they were finished?



Day 65: Joshua 11-14; Conquest of Canaan: The Northern Campaign

So continues the saga of the conquest of Canaan.  After defeating the southern kings, Joshua returns to Gilgal and then starts off on the northern front.  This map, from Bible Mapper shows pretty well the conquest of the northern Canaan.

ConquestOfCanaanNorthernCampaign_1_thumb

Joshua and the people of Israel, with the Lord fighting for them, are able to defeat the united armies of the North.  All the kings that joined together against the people of Israel are vanquished in one battle.  Joshua takes their cities and destroys them, and they pass into the list we read of the conquests of Moses and Joshua.  This map from glenacres.org show briefly the whole of the conquest of the Promised Land.

Conquest of Canaan

There is a troubling part in today’s reading that I am not entirely sure about.  God comes to Joshua and says that there is still land to be conquered.  Then God goes on to say that He will drive them out.  The next thing we hear is that the land is being divided up.  God’s statement is somewhat ambiguous in that He speaks like He has been speaking when the people of Israel were conquering Canaan, and they the people don’t follow and, what we’ll find out fairly soon, the rest of the Canaanites don’t get removed from the land and continue to live among the people of Israel.  This is something that was expressly forbidden.  God knew that if there were people left, they would draw the people of Israel away from Him… it confuses me as to why they are left and allowed to stay.

However, this is what happens and will be the subject of many narratives to come from Judges through the time of the Kings and beyond.  In the mean time, the land receives rest from war and the people of God receive their inheritance.  God has once again shown Himself to be faithful and true to His word, even if the fulfillment of the promise take over 400 years.  God has grown the people of Israel from 1 man and his wife to a nation easily numbering over a million men, women, and children, and given them a bountiful, plentiful land in which to dwell as His people.