Friday, September 16, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 12

Chapter 12
Summary:This chapter lists the kings and kingdoms that the Israelites slaughtered and whose land they took east of the Jordan River, from the Arnon River to Mount Hermon, and all the plains to the east:
  • Sihon, King of the Amorites: Dwelled in Heshbon, ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the Arnon River; to the Jabbok River bordering the Ammonites; to the plains bordering the Chinneroth Sea on the east; to Bethjeshimoth to the east; and Ashdothpisgah to the south.
  • Og, King of Bashan: A remnant of the giants that dwelled in Ashtaroth and Edrei. He reigned in Mount Hermon, in Salcah, all of Bashan to the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half of Gilead to the border of Heshbon under reign of King Sihon.
These were the kings that were conquered under Moses's leadership, and were given as possessions to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

The following are the names of the kings which Joshua and the Israelites slaughtered on the west of the Jordan River, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon toward Mount Halak, going toward Seir. Joshua divided these lands amongst the Israelites by their tribes. These lands included the mountainsides, valleys, plains, wilderness, and south country where lived the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and the Jebusites.It's noted that 31 kingdoms were conquered and their kings executed under Joshua.
Notes:1.) The kingdom of Geder (meaning "stone wall") is mysteriously only referenced twice in the bible - both in this chapter and in 1 Chronicles 27:28. It is unknown where this place may have existed, with some scholars believing that it may in fact be an error, or perhaps the misspelling of a similar city. (Reference:
2.) Another mysterious unknown city referenced by the bible in a handful of passages: Numbers 14:45, Numbers 21:3 (where it is named), and in Judges 1:17 (where the city is also referenced by its Canaanite name of Zephath). However, the city's name and destruction as it is referenced in Numbers: Chapter 21 happened under Moses's leadership, not Joshua's as this chapter implies.
3.) While there is no prior account of the city of Arad being conquered by Joshua, there is a reference to a King Arad in Numbers: Chapter 21. However, the destruction of King Arad's cities occurred under Moses's leadership, not under Joshua's as this chapter seems to imply.
4.) No prior account of the conquering of this city is referenced.
5.) Yet another mysterious unknown city referenced only a handful of times throughout the bible. It may or may not be the cities and places referenced in Joshua 15:34, 15:53, 16:8, 17:8.
6.) Yet another mysterious unknown city. It's not clear if there may be any relation to the city Gath-Hepher referenced in Joshua 19:13. Additionally "Hepher" is also the name of the youngest son of Gilead (Numbers 26:32), the second son of Asher (1 Chronicles 4:6), and a hero of David (1 Chronicles 11:36).
7.) Yet another mysterious unknown city. Although it is referenced several times throughout the bible under various different spellings, it's believed that these may refer to several distinct places, some of which may simply be fortresses or encampments and not actual cities. (Reference:
8.) Yet another mysterious unknown city. It's possible that this may not refer to a city in its own right, but perhaps is meant to serve as a qualifier to the preceeding city of Aphek to distinguish it from other Apheks, however this theory seems unlikely as the final verse totals the conquered kingdoms at 31. (Reference:
9.) Yet another unknown city, Taanach appears seven times in the bible, in addition to here in Joshua 12, it is mentioned mostly in lists and can be found in Joshua 17:11, 21:25, Judges 1:27, 1 Kings 4:12, and 1 Chronicles 7:29. It is also referenced in Judges 5:19 as the site of a battle against the Canaanites.
10.) Interesting of note is the role that this city will play much later in the book of Revelation. The Greek translation of Mount Meggido (Har Megiddo, in Hebrew) is Armageddon, referring to the site where it is predicted that the "end times" will occur.
11.) It's assumed that "Kedesh" may be an alternate spelling for "Kadesh-Barnea", the site where the Israelites had stayed for the majority of the thirty-eight years after leaving Mount Sinai. (Reference:
12.) Believed to be the modern city of "Kaimon", 12 miles south-west of Nazareth. (Reference:
Thoughts:This chapter essentially serves as a list of the kingdoms that the Israelites had annihilated. While prefaced with the massacre of the kingdoms of King Sihon and King Og - once again noting that King Og was apparently a remnant from a race of giants - under Moses's leadership, the chapter goes on to list 31 kingdoms conquered by Joshua.

Of the 31 kingdoms listed, only about half of the conquests are depicted in the bible. It's possible that in some cases this may be due to ancient cities sometimes having alternate names, and in other cases it may be that the conquest might perhaps have been recorded in a "lost book" of the bible. Even more curious is how little is known about half of these cities that are unaccounted for.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 11

Chapter 11
Summary:When King Jabin of Hazor had heard of these events, he sent word out to King Jobab of Madon; as well as the kings of Shimron, Achshaph, and the kings north of the mountains; the kings of the plains south of Chinneroth; the kings in the valley; the kingdoms that border the west of Dor; the Canaanites to the east and to the west; the Amorites, the Hitites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the mountains; and the Hivites under King Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.

They gathered forces, together with as many people as there are grains of sand upon the seashore, along with multitudes of horses and chariots, and encamped along the waters of Merom to fight against the people of Israel.

God tells Joshua not to fear, stating to him that by this time tomorrow he will deliver them all, slain, over to the people of Israel, and that they are to subsequently cripple their horses by hamstringing them and burn their chariots.

Joshua arrived with his armies by the waters of Merom and attacked his enemies. God delivered them into the hands of the Israelites, who smote them and pursued them toward greater Zidon, to Misrephothmaim, and east toward the valley of Mizpeh. The Israelites continues to smite them until none survived. Joshua then did as God had commanded him - he hamstringed their horses and burnt their chariots.

Joshua then turned back, took the kingdom of Hazor and slew King Jabin*, for the kingdom of Hazor was the leader of the kingdoms that had joined forces against the Israelites. The Israelites slaughtered all of the people in the city at swordpoint, utterly destroying them, sparing none that breathed, and Joshua burnt the city of Hazor with fire.

Joshua took all of the cities belonging to those kings, executed the kings at sword point, and destroyed their cities, just as Moses, God's servant, had commanded. But the Israelites burned none of these cities - except Hazor, which Joshua had burnt. The Israelites looted the spoils of these cities and took the livestock for themselves, but every person was slaughtered by the edge of their swords, until they destroyed them all, leaving none left to breathe.

As God had commanded Moses, so did Moses command Joshua, and so Joshua did, leaving nothing undone that God had commanded Moses.

Joshua took all the land: the hills, all the south country, all the land of Goshen, the valley, the plains, the mountain of Israel and the valley below. From Mount Halak, going up to Seir, to Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon. All of their kingdoms he took, and their kings he smote and slew them.

Joshua waged war for a long time against those kings, and there was not a city that made peace with the Israelites, except for the Hivites that inhabited the city of Gibeon, all others were defeated in battle. It was God who had hardened their hearts so that they would come against the Israelites in battle, so that he might destroy them utterly without favor, as God had commanded Moses.

At that time Joshua had cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, from the mountains of Judah, and the mountains of Israel. Joshua had destroyed them completely along with their cities. There we none of the Anakims left in the land seized by the Israelites, and they remained only in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.

Joshua took the entirety of the land, according to what God had laid out to Moses, and Joshua distributed it as an inheritance unto the Israelites according to their divisions by their tribes. The land then rested from war.
Notes:1.) The slaying of King Jabin by Joshua seemingly appears to contradict Judges 4:24 which depicts the slaying of King Jabin occurring 120 years after Joshua's death. While it's possible that perhaps these could be two distinctly different kings that happened to have coincidentally shared the same name and ruled over the same kingdom, the possibility that the latter king could have been descended from the former seems unlikely due to the following verse of this chapter that reads:
11:11 - "And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire."
Thoughts:The chapter begins with King Jabin, the king of the city of Hazor, forming a military alliance with the kings of well over a dozen other cities in order to attempt to thwart the impending invasion by the Israelites. While the kingdoms amass a massive army, horses, and chariots camped along the waters of Merom, God reassures Joshua that he has nothing to fear, stating that by the same time the following morning, they will all be slain. He adds after which the Israelites are to "hamstring" the horses and burn the chariots of their enemies

.Joshua arrived with his army in a surprise attack by the waters of Mermom and he chased the enemy forces, smiting them until none were left surviving, burning their chariots, and hamstringing their horses.

After conquering the kingdom of Hazor and executing King Jabin, Joshua slaughtered all of the inhabitants sparing no one, and burnt the city to the ground.

Similarly he conquered the rest of the cities, slaughtered the inhabitants, but did not burn them to the ground. Instead, the Israelites looted the city and took the livestock for themselves, while leaving no survivors.

The chapter makes sure to make note that these conquests were commanded by God to Moses, and in turn Moses had commanded Joshua, and that Joshua had followed these commandments decreed by God to the letter - leaving nothing undone. It's made important to understand that these violent, ghastly, and merciless conquests were not Joshua acting on his own volition, but that he was actually acting precisely upon God's commands. In fact, the bible states that once again God hardened the hearts of the enemy kings to ensure that they would engage the Israelites in battle, and that they wouldn't attempt to flee or make peace with the Israelites like the Gibeonites did, opting for enslavement as an act of self preservation.

This is yet another example that is inconsistent with the claims that the god of the bible is somehow "merciful". There is simply no way you can describe a being with the quality of "merciful" that robs his enemies of free will and provokes them into attacking in order to justify an excessive retribution. Instead it actually becomes more difficult to view the Israelites' enemies as wholly "evil" if God has removed, hampered, or otherwise interfered with their ability to flee, surrender, or subject themselves to enslavement as the Gibeonites had done. In fact, God would share culpability and blame for any "evil" committed by his enemies by preventing them from acting any other way.

The chapter wraps up by stating that Joshua had now taken all of the land he was commanded to, slew their inhabitants as commanded to, and had annihilated the Anakims from the land he took, leaving them only to dwell in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. After dividing up the conquests of lands amongst the Israelites by their tribes, war had ceased in the land.