Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Church

I’m in training this week, which is why I haven’t been posting. But I was playing with Google Maps today, trying to figure out how to put a map on my church’s website. After a couple of hours playing with the Google Maps API, I realized something simple: there’s a tool right on the maps page, that says “Link to this page,” which will give you a map you can post.

For example:

View Larger Map

Unfortunately, I think I’m going to be building my church’s website on, and they don’t allow you to embed iFrames. (Blogger does, which is why you can see the map above.) So I’m going to have to use the Static Map Wizard, instead.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Joshua 22

Joshua 22: Eastern Tribes Return Home


This is a very interesting passage. (In my opinion.)

Now that the LORD has given the Israelites peace, Joshua summons the tribes who live on the other side of the Jordan—the ones who promised not to return home until all of the fighting was done—and tells them they can go back home. In fact, he thanks them for their work:

[Joshua] said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you.” (verses 2–3)

So Joshua lets them return, with a warning to keep the law and to walk in the LORD’s commandments but also with a blessing.

So they do. But once they get across the Jordan River, they build an “imposing” altar (verse 10). (I think they build the altar on their side of the river; the text just says that it’s “by” the Jordan, but without knowing the place names better, I can’t determine if it’s on their side or the other side.)

When the rest of the Israelites hear about this, they’re furious. (Remember that all of the Israelites are to worship the LORD at the designated altar; they are not to be building their own altars.) They muster up their troops, and get ready to go to war against the tribes that they believe are disobeying God. However, they show a little bit of restraint; before they start fighting, they send Phinehas the priest and some of the chiefs of the different Israelite tribes, to reason with the Trans-Jordan tribes.

When they went to Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh—they said to them: “The whole assembly of the LORD says: ‘How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the LORD and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now? Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the LORD! And are you now turning away from the LORD?

“‘If you rebel against the LORD today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel. If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the LORD’s land, where the LORD’s tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the LORD or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the LORD our God. When Achan son of Zerah acted unfaithfully regarding the devoted things, did not wrath come upon the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’”

(verses 15–20)

However, all is not as it appears:

Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel: “The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD, do not spare us this day. If we have built our own altar to turn away from the LORD and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the LORD himself call us to account.

“No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you—you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD.’ So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD.

“That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the LORD.’

“And we said, ‘If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the LORD’s altar, which our fathers built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.’

“Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.”

(verses 21–29)

When the priests and chiefs hear this, they are not only placated, they’re “pleased” (verse 30). In fact, they take these actions as proof that the LORD is with them. They return back to their homes, content that everything is well.

The Reubenites and Gadites give the altar a name: “A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God” (verse 34).


The Israelites caused trouble for themselves by not consulting the LORD, when dealing with the Gibeonites. I think a similar thing is happening here; if the Israelites have the means of consulting with the LORD, they should really do so, before jumping to a conclusion that will cause not just ill-will, but war.

This chapter also shows a little bit about human nature. Not just that the Israelites assume the worst about their brothers, but about the fact that the Trans-Jordan tribes feel they have to have this altar, to remind the other Israelites that they really do worship the LORD.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Readers

I’ve received a few comments lately, from people who have been looking through the blog, and I wanted to thank you for your feedback.

Although I’m really just maintaining this blog for my own benefit, rather than anyone else’s—it’s very helpful, to me, to force myself to do an in-depth look at each passage in the Bible, one by one—it’s still nice to hear that others are finding it helpful, too.

Joshua 21

Joshua 21: Towns for the Levites


This chapter outlines all of the towns—with their surrounding pastureland—that were given to the Levites. As you may recall, from earlier books, the Levites were not to have land of their own; instead, they were to be given land from the other eleven tribes, because the LORD is their inheritance. (See, for example, Numbers 18:20–21.)

The chapter starts with the Levites coming to Joshua to remind him to give them towns:

Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The LORD commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” So, as the LORD had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance: (verses 1–3)

This leads me to wonder if Joshua had forgotten to give them their towns, or if they were just being impatient, or if nothing negative was going on, and I’m just reading too much into it.

I won’t bother to go through all of the towns that were allocated. From each tribe, the passage mentions what towns were set aside for the Levites, and which ones were dedicated as cities of refuge. The only exception is here:

They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession. (verses 11–12)

It seems they didn’t give the Levites some of the area that they were supposed to, because it had already been allocated to Caleb. (I say “it seems” because the passage that I’m going to quote below seems to disagree. So I might be misinterpreting this.)

The chapter sums up thusly:

The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands. Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.

So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

(verses 41–45)


There’s not much to say about this passage; I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of interest in which towns were allocated to the Levites. I do find the last quoted passage interesting, though; going along with the theme of Joshua being a “feel good” book, this passage is perhaps painting a rosier picture than what actually exists. Did the LORD give the Israelites rest on every side? Yes He did. Did any of their enemies withstand them? No, not one of their enemies withstood them. But there is still the fact that the Israelites didn’t do all that they were supposed to do; although none of their enemies withstood them, we can’t ignore the fact that they didn’t take on some of their enemies in the first place, because they were too lazy or too scared to fight them.

One might—of course—use this as a modern-day analogy; God gives us all that we need to follow Him, but we don’t always take advantage of these gifts, which is why we let Him down so often. The Israelites could have defeated the remaining people living in the Promised Land, but they didn’t.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Joshua 20

Joshua 20: Cities of Refuge


In this passage, the LORD reminds Joshua to set aside some cities of refuge. (The concept of a “city of refuge” was first introduced in Exodus 21—although the actual term “city of refuge” wasn’t used—and formally in Numbers 35.) Since God reminds us what a city of refuge is, I’ll outline it again here. (This is, after all, a synopsis…)

Anyone who accidentally kills someone can flee to a city of refuge, to be protected from the “avenger of blood” (verse 3). When he does, he’s to stand at the entrance to the city, and plead his case with the city’s elders. Assuming that he does so successfully, they are to let him into the city, and give him a place to live. If the avenger of blood does come after him, the elders of the city are now allowed to surrender him up.

The “accidental killer” (my term, not the Bible’s) is not allowed to leave the city until:
  1. He has stood trial before the assembly (presumably being found innocent of murder), and
  2. The High Priest who was in office at the time dies
After the LORD reminds Joshua about these rules, they set aside six cities as cities of refuge.


The Bible mentions the concept of the “avenger of blood” from time to time, but I don’t think this is something that’s prescribed in the Old Testament laws, per se; I get the impression that this is something more cultural than legal. But God is still protecting the accidental killers from these avengers—they exist, whether it’s legal or not.

Although cities of refuge are given a lot of coverage, in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and now again in Joshua, I don’t remember a case in the Old Testament of one ever being put to use. I may very well be wrong, though.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Concerning Announcements

I found this via the Pure Church blog:

Concerning Announcements, from Ecclesiophilist.

Joshua 13:8–19:51

Joshua 13:8–19:51: Division of the land


Over the next few sections, the Bible will tell us how the land is alloted to the twelve tribes of Israel. It makes for some long reading, and I suggest that you have some maps handy, if you’re going to go through it. ( might help, although you’re probably better off with a map that will show the areas more clearly. Maybe by the time you’re reading this does do that.) Personally, geography isn’t my strong point, and it’s laborious to go through it all, for me. So I’m combining a few sections together in this post, instead of covering them piece by piece.

Here are the different sections covered. I’m not going into any detail about what land was allocated to whom—which is the bulk of the text—which is why this synopsis is so short, compared to the length of the text. (Some would say that a synopsis is supposed to be short—and they’d probably be right.)

  • Division of the Land East of the Jordan (13:8–33): This passage reminds us about the land that has already been allocated, East of the Jordan River, to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half of the tribe of Mannasseh. This was done while Moses was still leading the Israelites.
  • Hebron Given to Caleb (14:6–15): In this passage, Caleb approaches Joshua, and reminds him about his conduct when the original spies were sent into the Promised Land—that all of the spies gave a negative report except for Caleb, who tried to convince the Israelites that they could take the land, with the LORD fighting for them. Because of that, God had promised Caleb and his descendants “the land on which [his] feet have walked” (verse 14:9). Caleb was forty-five, at the time, and forty years has passed, making him eighty-five now. (However, Caleb claims to be as vigourous to go out to battle now as he was forty years ago.)

    So Joshua blesses Caleb, and gives him the land of Hebron (which is, I assume, the land upon which Caleb’s feet walked).
  • Allotment for Judah (Chapter 15): This chapter goes into detail outlining the territory which is alloted to the tribe of Judah. (With the exception of Hebron, which would have been part of their territory, except that it was explicitly given to Caleb.)
    • This chapter also outlines an interesting story about Caleb, from when he was conquering some of this land: When he came to Kiriath Sepher, he promised the hand of his daughter Acsah in marriage to whomever could attack and capture it. Othniel did, so Caleb gave him Acsah to be his wife.

      Later on, either Acsah or Othniel also asked Caleb for an additional field, with springs of water, so Caleb gave it to them. (According to the footnote for 15:18, it’s not clear whether Acsah urged Othniel to ask Caleb for the springs, or if Othniel urged Acsah to ask him.)
    • Verse 15:63 also tells us that the men of the tribe of Judah were not able to dislodge the Jebusites, who lived in Jerusalem. Any time you see this, it’s usually a warning that you’ll be seeing a lot of these people causing the Israelites problems, for the next hundred years or so…
  • Allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh (Chapters 16–17): These chapters outline the land that was allotted to the tribes of Ephraim and the rest of the tribe of Manasseh.
    • Another couple of troubling footnotes in verse 16:10, and verses 17:12–18: They didn’t dislodge the Canaanites from the land—although, in this case, the Canaanites were forced into labour, for the Israelites.

      In fact, the Manassites, specifically complained to Joshua that they didn’t have enough land, because they were a large tribe, but Joshua was having none of it:

      The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly.”

      “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

      The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

      But Joshua said to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

      (verses 17:14–18)

    • This passage also mentions the land that was allocated to Zelophehad’s daughters. (You can read the original decision, to give Zelophehad’s daughters an inheritance, in my blog posting about Numbers 27:1–11.)
  • Division of the Rest of the Land (18:1–10): At this point, Joshua is starting to get a bit impatient with the Israelites; there are still seven tribes who haven’t yet received their inheritance.

    So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (verse 18:3)

    So he sends a few men from each tribe to go and map out the land, and he will use those maps to allocate the rest of the land to the remaining seven tribes.
  • Allotment for Benjamin (18:11–28): This passage outlines the land to be allotted to the tribe of Benjamin.
  • Allotment for Simeon (19:1–9): This passage outlines the land to be alloted to the tribe of Simeon. It’s noted that some of their territory was taken from the share of the tribe of Judah, since “Judah’s portion was more than they needed” (verse 19:9).
  • Allotment for Zebulun (19:10–16): This passage outlines the land to be allotted to the tribe of Zebulun.
  • Allotment for Issachar (19:17–23): This passage outlines the land to be allotted to the tribe of Issachar.
  • Allotment for Asher (19:24–31): This passage outlines the land to be allotted to the tribe of Asher.
  • Allotment for Naphtali (19:32–39): This passage outlines the land to be allotted to the tribe of Naphtali.
  • Allotment for Dan (19:40–48): This passage outlines the land to be allotted to the tribe of Dan. However, the tribe of Dan isn’t able to take possession of some of the territory they are supposed to have, so they take over another piece of land. (Presumably a piece of land which was easier to conquer.) I don’t know, however, if this means they took land which should have belonged to another tribe; I assume it does mean that.
  • Allotment for Joshua (19:49–51): In this passage, some land is specifically allocated to Joshua.


It’s tempting to skim over these passages, since there’s so much geography involved, but as you’ll have noticed, there’s a lot of other stuff in these passages, too. (e.g. you’d never know the story about Caleb’s daughter Acsah if you didn’t read these passages; I don’t think it occurs elsewhere.)

As I keep harping on, there are also some troubling aspects outlined here: Although the book of Joshua is mostly a good news book, this passage gives us some foreshadowing that the Israelites didn’t completely follow the LORD’s commands. They should have destroyed all of the people from the Promised Land, but they didn’t. Sometimes because they got tricked (and didn’t consult the LORD), as with the Gibeonites, and other times they were just too plain scared to go and fight the people that they should have been destroying. With the LORD fighting for them, they should have had no problem eliminating the people, but they didn’t trust Him.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Joshua 13:1–7

Joshua 13:1–7: Land Still to be Taken


The book of Joshua is definitely a “good news” book. The Israelites are obeying the LORD, and, because of that, everything they are putting their hands to is coming out successful. But that doesn’t mean that they have completely finished the job. By the time we get to this passage, Joshua is “old and well advanced in years” (verse 1), and therefore the LORD is reminding him about the land that still remains to be taken.

First of all, there is the land of the Philistines and the Geshurites. (God outlines all of the area that belongs to these people; a quick trip to will probably help you to understand where these areas are.)

The second area still to be conquered is the mountainous regions (“from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim” (verse 6)), where the Sidonians live. However, God will drive them out Himself—the Israelites just have to take care of allocating the land.


I assume that the LORD is telling Joshua this for him to pass on to whatever leaders take over after he’s gone. After all, God doesn’t specifically tell Joshua to do anything; He simply says, “here is the land that still hasn’t been taken over.” Another interpretation might be that He is berating Joshua, for not finishing the job, although I don’t get that impression from the text. Just to compare notes, I looked in Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, and read this:

Joshua is supposed to have been about one hundred years old at this time. It is good for those who are old and stricken in years to be put in remembrance of their being so. God considers the frame of his people, and would not have them burdened with work above their strength. And all people, especially old people, should set to do that quickly which must be done before they die, lest death prevent them, Ec 9:10. God promise that he would make the Israelites masters of all the countries yet unsubdued, through Joshua was old, and not able to do it; old, and not likely to live to see it done. Whatever becomes of us, and however we may be laid aside as despised, broken vessels, God will do his own work in his own time. We must work out our salvation, then God will work in us, and work with us; we must resist our spiritual enemies, then God will tread them under our feet; we must go forth to our Christian work and warfare, then God will go forth before us. (link added to the verse)

I also notice that one of the nations mentioned, still left to be conquered, is the nation of Philistines. We’ll be reading about them for quite a while, after the book of Joshua is finished.

A final thought: I’m not sure what the LORD means when He says (about the Sidonians), “I myself will drive them out before the Israelites” (verse 6). Isn’t that always the case? Whenever the Israelites defeat another nation, isn’t it because He has won the battle? So why is He explicitly stating it like this, in this case? Will this be a different type of battle than normal? I don’t have answers to these rhetorical questions.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Joshua 12

Joshua 12: List of Defeated Kings


This passage simply sums up all of the kings that have been defeated by the Israelites, to date.

First, the kings that were defeated under Moses’ leadership:

  • Sihon, king of the Amorites
    • Some detail is given as to how much territory Sihon’s kingdom covered, which now belongs to the Israelites
  • Og, king of Bashan
    • Some detail is given as to how much territory Og’s kingdom covered, as well. Also, it’s mentioned that Og was the last of the Rephaites, although that doesn’t mean anything to me.

After this, the kings that were defeated by the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership are mentioned; they conquered the kings of: Jericho, Ai, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, Gezer, Debir, Geder, Hormah, Arad, Libnah, Adullam, Makkedah, Bethel, Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek, Lasharon, Madon, Hazor, Shimron Meron, Acshaph, Taanach, Megiddo, Kedesh, Jokneam (in Carmel), Dor (in Naphoth Dor), Goyim (in Gilgal), and Tirzah.

No detail is given about any of these kingdoms; how much territory they covered, or anything about them. They’re simply listed.


Even though we’re only about halfway through the book of Joshua, the action is pretty much finished, by this point; most of the rest of the book is concerned with the LORD’s instructions on how to divide up the land. Not that the Israelites have finished taking the land over—the next passage, Joshua 13:1–7, will make that clear—but they’ve taken over all that they’re going to take over under Joshua’s leadership. (Over the last few passages, we’ve seen the Israelites defeat kingdom after kingdom, but I don’t think it happened all at once; it probably took years for the Israelites to take over as much of the Promised Land as they have up to this point.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Music In Church

I’m in some all-day meetings for the next little while, so I probably won’t be blogging here much. But in place of my next couple of posts on Joshua, here’s a link to a post on The 9 Marks blog: Some More Thoughts on Music.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Joshua 11

Joshua 11: Northern Kings Defeated


In the last passage, Joshua and the Israelites finished conquering all of the Southern kings in the Promised Land. In this passage, they continue the work.

Hearing what has happened to the kings in the South, Jabin, king of Hazor, decides to take decisive action against the Israelites. He summons all of the kings of the Northern areas of the Promised Land, and puts together a huge army—“as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (verse 4)—to battle the Israelites, and defeat them once and for all. But there’s nothing for the Israelites to be worried about:

The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.” (verse 6)

So Joshua and the army attack these nations, wipe them out, and, as directed, hamstring the horses and burn the chariots. They capture every city, burn the city of Hazor to the ground (they didn’t raze the other cities), and destroy all of the people.

The passage—and, in a way, the whole book of Joshua—is summed up in these verses:

So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and struck them down, putting them to death. Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses. (verses 16–20)

Verse 23 tells us that after all of this, the land had rest from war.


This is a very rosy chapter; it leaves us with the impression that the Israelites did all that the LORD had commanded them, and destroyed all of the people in the Promised Land. (Except for the Gibeonites, of course, with whom they accidentally made a treaty.) However, this isn’t quite the case; the Israelites did a very good job destroying all of the peoples that they did battle with, in the last few chapters of Joshua, but, as we’ll see in later chapters/Old Testament books, the Israelites didn’t completely wipe out all of the people in the Promised Land. And the people that they didn’t wipe out will be thorns in the Israelites’ sides for pretty much the rest of the Old Testament.

Verses 16–20, quoted above, include an interesting comment, which comes up from time to time in the Old Testament: The LORD hardened the hearts of the nations who did battle with the Israelites, which is why they didn’t seek a treaty instead of fighting. On the theme of the LORD hardening people’s hearts, I talked about it when I blogged about Exodus 7:25–8:32, so I won’t cover it again. (If you want to read it, go down to the Thoughts section of that blog entry. Not that I properly explain it—as I mention in that blog entry, I don’t have a full explanation—it’s just that I don’t have anything to add here.)

I had read—I believe it was in the notes in my New Student Bible—a theory that the reason God had the Israelites hamstring the horses and burn the chariots is that it was new technology, that was either
  1. Too advanced for them, or
  2. Something He didn’t want them to have, since they might rely on it, instead of on Him
Unfortunately, I wrote this at work, so I couldn’t pull out my Student Bible to look it up. I did, however, find a passage from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, as follows:

Joshua’s obedience in destroying the horses and chariots, shows his self-denial in compliance with God’s command. The possession of things on which the carnal heart is prone to depend, is hurtful to the life of faith, and the walk with God; therefore it is better to be without worldly advantages, than to have the soul endangered by them. (Jos 11:10–14, hyperlink added)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Joshua 10:29–43

Joshua 10:29–43: Southern Cities Conquered


In this passage, Joshua and the Israelites continue their takeover of the Promised Land. They conquer quite a few cities in this passage:

  • Libnah
  • Lachish
    • The passage specifically says that they took Lachish on the second day, although it’s not specified how many days it took for most of the other cities, so I don’t know if this is quicker or slower.
    • In this instance, another king—Horam king of Gezer—comes to try and help the people of Lachish, but the Israelites defeat him, too.
  • Eglon
    • It only took the Israelites one day to take Eglon
  • Hebron
  • Debir
So all in all, the Israelites take the whole Southern region of the Promised Land. In each case, the Israelites totally destroy the cities, as the LORD commanded them.

And why were they so successful?

All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. (verse 42)


I don’t have much to say about this passage, except that it’s good to see the Israelites following the LORD’s instructions.