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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Old Testament Tales - Joshua

Joshua:
1. Where does Joshua first appear in the Bible?
2. How close were Joshua and Moses?
3. What tribe was Joshua from?
4. What has a talking donkey got to do with Bible?
5. Did the Israelites kill all their enemies in the desert?
6. Where is Gilead?
7. What happened to Rahab the harlot?
8. How did the Israelites enter the Promised Land?
9. What happened at Jericho?
10. How many times did the Israelites cross water on dry land?

Joshua (Hoshea), an Ephraimite (Num 11:28, 13:8, descendant of Joseph), first appears in the Bible when the Amalekites attack the Israelites on their way to Mount Sinai. Moses tells Joshua to lead the army (Ex 17:9). Later Joshua goes up Mount Sinai with Moses, and so is not involved in the golden calf incident (24:13).

Moses leads the Israelites in the desert, handing leadership over to Joshua just before they cross the Red Sea into Canaan (Num 27:18). Their travels are plagued with rebellion, plague, thirst (back at Meribah near Mount Sinai, Num 20), poisonous snakes (21:4-9), and the threat of attack (Num 20:18, 21:1,23,33). The fact that they survived in such great numbers, is testimony to God’s provision for their physical, mental and spiritual health in his many commandments, and sickness and disaster might be seen more as God removing his protection than God actively moving to harm his people. And despite rumors to the contrary, God didn’t always tell his people to destroy anyone who opposed them—they simply marched round the land of the Edomites (20:21).

When the Israelites were camped outside Canaan in the land of the Amorites, Balak king of Moab called for supernatural help against them and sent for the prophet Balaam (Num 22:1-6). At first Balaam refuses to help, since God has told him he cannot say anything against the Israelites, but eventually God lets him at least to go speak to Balak (22:20), but then sends an angel to stop him (perhaps because he didn’t wait to hear God’s message). Balaam’s donkey sees the angel before Balaam does, and God speaks through the donkey’s mouth. Balaam is unable to curse Israel, and Balak sends him away in disgrace. Meanwhile the Israelites have begun to mingle with the Midianites and with their worship of Baals (Num 25). Another plague comes to the Israelites in consequence, followed by war and the destruction of Midian (Num 31:1-31). While we view the death as punishment, the Jews viewed is as vengeance. Since death is ordained for all of us, it’s interesting to ask how God views it, and if that might change our image of this destruction. Perhaps the plague could not be removed without the death of all those carrying it (Num 31:17-18).

As the people approach the Promised Land, the tribes of Gad and Reuben ask if they can stay in Gilead East of the Jordan—land that wasn’t originally promised to Israel (Num 32:5,33). Moses agrees as long as they, and Manasseh (half of Joseph’s tribe) send soldiers to aid in the conquest. God decrees how the rest of the Promised Land should be shared between the remaining 9 ½ tribes (Ephraim representing the other half of Joseph’s tribe), with the Levites having cities and duties rather than land. After Moses death (Deut 34:9), Joshua sends spies to Jericho, who stay with Rahab the harlot (she may just have been an inn-keeper according to Josephus). She hides them under bundles of drying flax—a detail which rings true given the location and the season, and is rewarded by her family being spared when the city falls (Josh 2:6, 6:23). Joshua leads the people across a miraculously dry River Jordan (dried by an earthquake and resulting mudslide at Adam, where such slides are known to happen, 3:16). Jericho falls to the sound of trumpets and the stamping of feet (6:20, not impossible, though the timing is surely God’s) and the conquest begins.

2 comments:

Lloyd said...

Sheila I always enjoy reading your Bible studies. Joshua is one of my favorite Bible charters because he was always so faithful to God even when the going got tough. Of course God had special plans for Joshua as the new leader of the Israelites crossing over to the promise land. Blessing, Lloyd

Lloyd said...

Sheila... I Just dropped in to wish you and your family a Merry CHRISTmas. Miss your Bible studies. God bless, Lloyd