Joshua 17-18: From Shiloh to Jerusalem

Joshua 17

Manasseh

1Then allotment was made to the people of Manasseh, for he was(BQ) the firstborn of Joseph. To(BR) Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead,(BS) were allotted Gilead and Bashan, because he was a man of war.

When we look at the first verse we wonder about the allotment being made to Manasseh before Ephraim from the language of the ESV; however, in the Hebrew, the word “for” can also mean “though”. It would make more sense for the verse to be “though he was the first-born of Joseph”, he received these things, given the context of the blessing to Ephraim before Manasseh.

Prior to this chapter, Manasseh was already divided into two parts, one on the east and one on the west; the giving of Gilead to Manasseh is a result of acknowledging Machir, son of Manasseh, as a man of war. Gilead and Bashan being on the border, a mountainous region on the East-side of Israel facing the neighbouring pagan enemies (much like Judah in the south) is therefore fittingly given to Machir. It is one of the few times that the LORD expressly explains why he gave a particular piece of land to a particular person from a tribe. His providential allocation is by no means random and is fitting to the character of the person and tribe, justifying the importance of looking at which tribe is placed where, and for what reason we can deduce especially in accordance to Jacob’s blessing to the 12 tribes in Genesis 48.

Rest of the clans (the descendants of Manasseh)

2And allotments were made(BT) to the rest of the people of Manasseh by their clans, Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida. These were the male descendants of Manasseh the son of Joseph, by their clans.

v.2 in particular focuses on “the male descendants of Manasseh the son of Joseph” – from Manasseh to Machir to Gilead to Hepher to Zelophehad. This is immediately juxtaposed to v.3 which focuses on the daughters of Zelophehad, a point which I have discussed in Numbers 27, concerning the freedom of men and women before the LORD as according to the eternal truth laid out in Galatians 3:28 (though there is, of course, a distinction to be made as noticeable in the predominantly allocation to the male heads so far). In the situation where there is no male head, a woman is indeed suitable though not necessarily preferred in the leadership and headship of representing the tribe.

Daughters of Zelophehad

3Now(BU) Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 4They approached(BV) Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the leaders and said,(BW) “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our brothers.” So according to the mouth of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brothers of their father. 5Thus there fell to Manasseh ten portions, besides(BX) the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is on the other side of the Jordan, 6because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance along with his sons. The land of Gilead was allotted to the rest of the people of Manasseh.

Through the allotment we learn a bit about God’s culture imposed upon the Israelites. Contemporary scholarship seems to look at the Jewish culture as unhelpful in our understanding of the Trinitarian God, but only helpful in understanding who this mysterious ‘YHWH’ is. It is important to see how the connections are played out in replacing Zelophehad and Hepher with the five daughters, and the other five sons of Gilead making up the ten portions.

Sons (5 sons of Gilead)

Daughters (5 daughters of Zelophehad)

Abiezer

Mahlah

Helek

Noah

Asriel

Hoglah

Shechem

Milcah

Shemida

Tirzah

It is therefore fitting that in present time, the five daughters fully represent the one head Hepher; if not for the daughters it is most likely that the land would have been split between the six sons of Gilead as listed in v.2. This takes me to Hebrews 7:10 – that we have paid our tithes to the King of Salem through Abraham while we were still in his loins; and here the daughters are blessed, representing Zelophehad son of Hepher. For what reason? As Numbers 26, 27 and Joshua 17 has intimated, because they are the daughters of Zelophehad and no other reason beside that. Similarly, it is because we are Abraham’s spiritual children that we are blessed through him; it is because we stand in the seed of Genesis 3:15 that we are blessed in the pre-elected Son of God. If the 5 daughters were to stand before Yeshua without the heritage and headship of their forefather, without the approval of God through Yeshua, then this land would not have been given to them. What right have we to stand before the Father without the blessings and testimony of the Son and the Spirit who represent us?

Side

Specific boundaries

East

7The territory of Manasseh reached from Asher to(BY) Michmethath, which is east of Shechem.

South

Then the boundary goes along southward to the inhabitants of En-tappuah. 8The land of(BZ) Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, but the town of Tappuah on the boundary of Manasseh belonged to the people of Ephraim. 9(CA) Then the boundary went down to the brook Kanah. These cities, to the south of the brook, among the cities of Manasseh, belong to Ephraim.

West and North

Then the boundary of Manasseh goes on the north side of the brook and ends at the sea, 10the land to the south being Ephraim’s and that to the north being Manasseh’s, with the sea forming its boundary. On the north Asher is reached, and on the east Issachar. 11Also in Issachar and in Asher(CB) Manasseh had Beth-shean and its villages, and Ibleam and its villages, and the inhabitants of(CC) Dor and its villages, and the inhabitants of En-dor and its villages, and the inhabitants of Taanach and its villages, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; the third is Naphath.[a]

12(CD) Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 13Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites(CE) to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.

It is unfortunate, like the other tribes mentioned before, that Israel cannot put her faith in the LORD and drive out the unbelievers. We can point at v.12-13 and look at the weakness and rebellion of Israel, but let us take the logs out of our eyes and consider the depth of our sins in our modern idols, our metropolitan affluence, which make us spiritually adulterous, as equally compromising in His eyes as the Israelites were. Should it then surprise us that the LORD decides to send calamity on our nations, on our economy, on our personal livelihood when Israel should have expected no less for failing to drive out the respective Canaanites from each tribe?

14Then(CF) the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but(CG) one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am(CH) a numerous people, since all along the LORD has blessed me?” 15And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and(CI) the Rephaim, since(CJ) the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” 16The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have(CK) chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in(CL) the Valley of Jezreel.” 17Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, 18but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites,(CM) though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”

The nature of the Israelites is further explored and exposited by Calvin here:

“We are therefore led to conclude, that when the lots were cast for the two tribes, the admirable counsel of God arranged that the brothers, who had a common father, should be contiguous and neighbors to each other. It is unworthy in them, therefore, to complain and plead that only one inheritance had been given to them, because Joshua had neither such heartlessness nor so much malice as to defraud them of a clear right either through thoughtlessness or envy.160 But herein lay the falsehood of their complaint concerning narrow boundaries, that they counted all that was yet to be acquired by warlike prowess as nothing; as if the lot had assigned portions to the other tribes only in subjugated territory. Joshua, accordingly, in a single sentence, refutes and disposes of their plea, and retorts upon them a charge by which they were trying to throw obloquy upon him. If your resources and your numbers are so great, why, he asks, do you not make an inroad on the enemy, whose country has been given to you? Nor will the event disappoint you, if, trusting to the promise of God, you boldly proceed to the inheritance which he has bestowed upon you. We see how, although proper provision had been made for them, they were so blinded by sloth as to complain that they were straitened for room, because they were unwilling to move their finger to seek the full possession of their inheritance. Wherefore, this passage teaches us, that if at any time we think less is performed for us than is due, we ought carefully to shake off all delays, and not rashly throw upon others the blame which is inherent in ourselves.”

Is it so untypical of Manasseh to ask this from Joshua, especially when we have seen just how filled with fear the Israelites are? That they have chosen not to go up the mountain to meet the LORD save Moses; that despite their numbers in Egypt they did not fight for their freedom; despite the manna they still complained that the LORD is unfaithful and that Moses is leading them to death; despite Moses being on the mountain covered by miraculous cloud and fire they would still create their own gods; despite the presence of Christ in the tabernacle they would still provide their own extra offerings; despite the victory of the Israelites and Achan would still covet causing corporate harm. Indeed, what the Manassites have asked is indeed typical of this chosen nation to be light to all other nations. The LORD knows as much and the refrain at the end of the allotments referring to their failure to drive out the non-Christian nations is testament to the failures of the physical church compared to the spiritual church embedded in Israel and later proclaimed more widely in the rest of the world after the Pentecost. In the words of Adam Clarke, “God will not reverse his purpose to meet their slothfulness; they alone who overcome shall sit with Jesus upon his throne. Reader, take unto thee the whole armor of God, that thou mayest be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all – to Stand. And remember, that he only who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Joshua 18

Allotment of the Remaining Land

1Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at(CN) Shiloh and set up(CO) the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.

Joshua 18 starts out victoriously, after the reader is reminded of the failures of Israel through the shame and sloth of Manasseh, fitting to a tribe who is great in relation to the rest of Israel – but not as great as Ephraim. V.1 immediately takes us to Shiloh, named after the Messianic name first mentioned in Genesis 49:10 (in the original Hebrew it represents ‘tranquility’ and more insightfully ‘tribute’ in the ESV translation). With the tabernacle set up at this symbolic place of tranquility, “the land lay subdued before them” – this three-fold imagery of a Sabbath-like rest should be a welcome break to the succession of wars prior to these chapters of geographical allotment. In Genesis 49:10 Jacob makes this specific prophecy about Judah:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (KJV translation)

The danger of the ESV translation is that the word ‘tribute’ does not carry with it the theological weight as Shiloh does. It should not be a surprise that this place called Shiloh is a chosen place for the tabernacle to rest; for the people to rest; and for them to see that the land has been subdued before them. John Calvin especially looks at the Hebrew word play “Shiloh” to mean “his son” – and this type of wordplay is not devoid of its function especially in a book named “Yeshua”, which as a Hebrew noun means “salvation” (again, a fitting name, along with Shiloh, to refer to Christ the Son!):

“That which some of the Jews suppose, namely, that it denotes the place (Shiloh) where the ark of the covenant had been long deposited, because, a little before the commencement of David’s reign, it had been laid waste, is entirely destitute of reason. For Jacob does not here predict the time when David was to be appointed king; but declares that the kingdom should be established in his family, until God should fulfill what he had promised concerning the special benediction of the seed of Abraham. Besides the form of speech, “until Shiloh come,” for “until Shiloh come to an end,” would be harsh and constrained. Far more correctly and consistently do other interpreters take this expression to mean “his son,” for among the Hebrews a son is called שיל (shil.) They say also that ה (he) is put in the place of the relative ו (waw😉 and the greater part assent to this signification.205 But again, the Jews dissent entirely from the meaning of the patriarch, by referring this to David. For (as I have just hinted) the origin of the kingdom in David is not here promised, but its absolute perfection in the Messiah. And truly an absurdity so gross, does not require a lengthened refutation. For what can this mean, that the kingdom should not come to an end in the tribe of Judah, till it should have been erected? Certainly the word depart means nothing else than to cease.”

Of course, Shiloh is but a symbolic place, just as Bethel, Hebron, Sinai and the garden of Eden were. The LORD is by no means restricted to any of these areas, for all of these places intimate the meeting place between the Father and mankind – through the Son, by the power of the Spirit:

Psa 78:56-61 Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies, (57) but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow. (58) For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols. (59) When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. (60) He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind, (61) and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe.

For all the shortcomings of the Israelites in failing to obey God, it is moreso because of their failure to understand how Canaan, how the Levites who possess no land, how Shiloh and how the tabernacle all point towards Christ. Hence “they provoked him to anger with their high places”. The Christians since the Spirit has been poured onto all flesh have no escaped from these temptations either; and why should they, when the Israelites who were equally blessed with the presence of the Spirit could not resist the heresy of the extreme iconodules – that they have begun to love the icons, the high places, the objects which symbolize the true object of worship? The sins of Eli and his household in later books has revealed the place as mere symbolism, and inherently without divine value, but it is indeed a shadow to the peaceableness of the more perfect tabernacle, Yeshua:

“Some think there was an eye to the name of the place, Shiloh being the name by which the Messiah was known in dying Jacob’s prophecy (Gen_49:10), which prophecy, no doubt, was well known among the Jews; the setting up of the tabernacle in Shiloh gave them a hint that in that Shiloh whom Jacob spoke of all the ordinances of this worldly sanctuary should have their accomplishment in a greater and more perfect tabernacle, Heb_9:1, Heb_9:11. And Dr. Lightfoot thinks that the place where the tabernacle was set up was therefore called Shiloh, because of the peaceableness of the land at this time; as afterwards in Salem was his temple, which also signifies peaceable.” (Matthew Henry)

2There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. 3So Joshua said to the people of Israel,(CP) “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?

With the huge pretext within the first verse of Joshua 18, we understand Joshua’s statement. Why should they delay to take the land? Why should the Israelites, when leaving Egypt, wait for the leavened bread which represents their unwillingness to put their faith in Christ and destroy their past life? Joshua points out the persistent sins of these tribes, even though Christ has won this land for us already. And thus the division of portions takes us back to God’s divine providence and sovereignty, symbolic seven perfect portions (the number representative of God’s perfect Sabbath-rest) decided before the LORD in Shiloh out of all the other places (v.8).

4Provide three men from each tribe, and I will send them out that they may set out and go up and down the land. They shall write a description of it with a view to their inheritances, and then come to me. 5They shall divide it into seven portions.(CQ) Judah shall continue in his territory on the south,(CR) and the house of Joseph shall continue in their territory on the north. 6And you shall describe the land in seven divisions and bring the description here to me.(CS) And I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. 7(CT) The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their heritage.(CU) And Gad and Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.” 8So the men arose and went, and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go up and down in the land and write a description and return to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” 9So the men went and passed up and down in the land and wrote in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions. Then they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh, 10and Joshua(CV) cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel,(CW) to each his portion.

The Inheritance for Benjamin [the first of the seven allotments]

11The lot of the tribe of the people of Benjamin according to its clans came up, and the territory allotted to it fell between the people of Judah and the people of Joseph.

Side

Specific boundaries

North

12(CX) On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan.(CY) Then the boundary goes up to the shoulder north of Jericho, then up through the hill country westward, and it ends at the wilderness of(CZ) Beth-aven. 13From there the boundary passes along southward in the direction of Luz, to the shoulder of(DA) Luz (that is, Bethel), then the boundary goes down to(DB) Ataroth-addar, on the mountain that lies south of Lower(DC) Beth-horon.

West

14Then the boundary goes in another direction, turning on the(DD) western side southward from the mountain that lies to the south, opposite Beth-horon, and it ends at Kiriath-baal ((DE) that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city belonging to the people of Judah. This forms the western side.

South

15And the southern side begins at the outskirts of Kiriath-jearim. And the boundary goes from there to Ephron,[b](DF) to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah. 16Then the boundary goes down to the border of the mountain that overlooks(DG) the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is at the north end of the Valley of(DH) Rephaim. And it then goes down the(DI) Valley of Hinnom, south of the shoulder of the Jebusites, and downward to En-rogel. 17Then it bends in a northerly direction going on to En-shemesh, and from there goes to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim. Then it goes down to(DJ) the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben, 18and passing on to the north of(DK) the shoulder of Beth-arabah[c] it goes down to the Arabah. 19Then the boundary passes on to the north of the shoulder of(DL) Beth-hoglah. And the boundary ends at the northern bay of(DM) the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this is the southern border.

East

20The Jordan forms its boundary on the eastern side. This is the inheritance of the people of Benjamin, according to their clans, boundary by boundary all around.

Names of the Cities

21Now the cities of the tribe of the people of Benjamin according to their clans were(DN) Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz, 22Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, Geba—twelve cities with their villages: 25Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28Zela, Haeleph,(DO) Jebus[d] (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah[e] and Kiriath-jearim[f]—fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the people of Benjamin according to its clans.

Specifically, with reference to Jebus in v.28, we understand them to be the bearers of the ancient city and name of Jerusalem also known as Salem (c.f. Psalm 76:1-2), which Melchizedek was the king of during the times of Abraham; not to mention Zela which is the place where Saul, Jonathan and the family of Kish were buried. Benjamin is not short of places which will later become landmarks in Israel’s history though not immediately clear as to why it may fit this ravenous wolf of Genesis 49:27 – unless we place it in the context of the events of the gospel which occur at the key place of Jerusalem.

Benjamin is the second (and last) son of Rachel causing the death of his mother as she called him Ben-oni – and this may give us true insight as to why Jerusalem, among other important cities, are given to such a small but important tribe. Ben-oni literally means “son of my sorrow/pain” as opposed to “Benjamin” which means son of my right hand; and it goes to wonder why Jerusalem, the place where the Son is crucified, is under Benjamin’s jurisdiction, this head initially called the “son of my sorrow/pain” and immediately transferred to being the Son at his father’s right hand, indicative of virtue, strength and Jesus Christ at the heavenly Father’s right hand. So the divine allotment continues in fitting this city to Benjamin; it is in the tribe’s jurisdiction that so many people divide the spoils like a ravenous wolf just as they divided the spoils of Jesus’ clothing (Psalm 22:18), and yet it is here that we see the Son being exalted and fully glorified.

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Joshua 17-18: From Shiloh to Jerusalem

Joshua 15-16: Judah and Joseph

Joshua 15

Judah and Joseph

(Courtesy of ESV Study Bible)

After being done with the allotment east of Jordan, we now turn to the allotment west of Jordan.

1. The Allotment for Judah

Side

Specific boundaries

South

1The allotment for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their clans reached southward(A) to the boundary of Edom, to(B) the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south. 2And their south boundary ran from the end of the(C) Salt Sea, from the bay that faces southward. 3It goes out southward of(D) the ascent of Akrabbim, passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron, up to Addar, turns about to Karka, 4passes along to Azmon, goes out by(E) the Brook of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary.

East and North

5And the east boundary is the(F) Salt Sea, to the mouth of the Jordan. And the boundary on the north side runs from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6And the boundary goes up to(G) Beth-hoglah and passes along north of(H) Beth-arabah. And the boundary goes up to(I) the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7And the boundary goes up to Debir from(J) the Valley of Achor, and so northward, turning toward Gilgal, which is opposite(K) the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south side of the valley. And the boundary passes along to the waters of(L) En-shemesh and ends at En-rogel. 8Then the boundary goes up by(M) the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the southern shoulder of the Jebusite ((N) that is, Jerusalem). And the boundary goes up to the top of the mountain that lies over against the Valley of Hinnom, on the west, at the northern end of the Valley(O) of Rephaim. 9Then the boundary extends from the top of the mountain(P) to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah, and from there to the cities of Mount Ephron. Then the boundary bends around to Baalah ((Q) that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10And the boundary circles west of Baalah to Mount Seir, passes along to the northern shoulder of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon), and goes down to(R) Beth-shemesh and passes along by(S) Timnah. 11The boundary goes out(T) to the shoulder of the hill north of Ekron, then the boundary bends around to Shikkeron and passes along to Mount(U) Baalah and goes out to Jabneel. Then the boundary comes to an end at the sea.

West

12And the west boundary was(V) the Great Sea with its coastline. This is the boundary around the people of Judah according to their clans.

It is important to notice that Judah is right next to the Gentile nations; next to the Great Sea, Dead Sea, and river. It is also the only nation ‘housing’ Simeon, implying its vastness in comparison to other nations incapable of being protected. Judah is on the toughest frontier and yet it is also in the prime location to be a light to the Gentiles there. Many people are skeptical of this aspect of Israel’s faith, especially that of an important tribe like Judah, but as Walter Kaiser intimates in the opening preface of his thesis “Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as Light to the Nations”:

“Centrifugal witnessing [outward-moving witnessing]… is the role assigned to Israel in actively sharing with others the Man of Promise who was to come. This is why Paul quoted Isaiah 49:6 in his attempt to convince the Jews at Antioch of Pisidia that it had been God’s intent all along to extend his blessings of redemption to the Gentiles (apart from any process of proselytism by which Gentiles converted to Judaism)… The source of world missionary activity is rooted in God’s call to the nation Israel in the Old Testament”.

Although the aspect of outward evangelizing is not the centre of attention in these chapters of Joshua, it is important to remember why God providentially placed these nations in these particular locations; the fact that Jerusalem, the place where the light of the work of salvation shone the brightest, is in Judah; the fact that the wilderness of Judah is in the extreme south next to the Gentile nations where Jesus travelled to during his struggles with Satan. Even the names of the cities in the extreme south of Judah where the wilderness is, provides ample background as to why Christ chose to go there for his trials: house of desert, city of salt (salt being commonly associated with destruction, c.f. Lot’s wife), amongst other cities briefly indicating the fallenness of the wilderness. It is a suitable battleground between Christ and Satan, where the victory of Christ in the desert symbolically points towards the victory of Israel in its exodus from Egypt through the wilderness towards Canaan the typological Promised Land.

There is no coincidence that the first tribe mentioned on the west of the Jordan, after the three ‘firstborns’ Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, is the tribe through which the Promised Seed is to come. The focus on Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh is clearly in line with the prophecies of Genesis 48 – the superior focus on Judah and Joseph, from whom stems Ephraim and Manasseh (the greater of the two being the younger of the two – Ephraim) – hence this order; the tribe of Christ and the type of Christ side-by-side.

This awe of Judah is further re-iterated by the inclusion and greater detail of the episode of Caleb in v.13-19. It is a re-statement of what was stated in Joshua 14, with specific detail to the driving out of the sons of Anak. V.17-19 displays a picture of Caleb’s family for the first time – his nephew capturing Kiriath-sepher, and him blessing his daughter more than what she has asked for. This Christ-focused family no doubt is a good influence having looked towards Hebron and stayed in this important land of Judah. The taking of Debir, the ‘sanctuary’ (a sense of holiness), previously called the city of the book/branches implies a sense of importance to this place being displaced by the victorious Christians. So not only do we see a prophetic implication behind the allotment of Judah and its placement, as well as the microcosmic victory represented by Caleb and his Christ-focused seeds.

The inheritance of the tribe of the people of Judah according to their clans

Cities in extreme south toward the boundary of Edom

21…Kabzeel,(AB) Eder, Jagur, 22Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24(AC) Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, 28Hazar-shual,(AD) Beersheba, Biziothiah, 29Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, 31(AE) Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon: in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

In the lowland

33… Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34Zanoah, En-gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35(AG) Jarmuth,(AH) Adullam,(AI) Socoh, Azekah, 36Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, Gederothaim: fourteen cities with their villages.

37Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, 38Dilean, Mizpeh, Joktheel, 39(AJ) Lachish, Bozkath,(AK) Eglon, 40Cabbon, Lahmam, Chitlish, 41Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and(AL) Makkedah: sixteen cities with their villages.

42(AM) Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44(AN) Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah: nine cities with their villages.

45(AO) Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46from Ekron to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

47(AP) Ashdod, its towns and its villages;(AQ) Gaza, its towns and its villages; to(AR) the Brook of Egypt, and the Great Sea with its coastline.

In the hill country

48…Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49Dannah, Kiriath-sannah ((AS) that is, Debir), 50Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51(AT) Goshen, Holon, and(AU) Giloh: eleven cities with their villages.

52Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah, 54Humtah,(AV) Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior: nine cities with their villages.

55(AW) Maon,(AX) Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah, and(AY) Timnah: ten cities with their villages.

58Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor, 59Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon: six cities with their villages.

60(AZ) Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah: two cities with their villages.

In the wilderness

61In the wilderness,(BA) Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62Nibshan, the City of Salt, and(BB) Engedi: six cities with their villages.

63But the(BC) Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem,(BD) the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.

The common refrain of Israel’s failure to root out the pagan nations is once more repeated in v.63. Matthew Henry makes important observations about these refrains, alongside the aforementioned importance of first mentioning Judah before other tribes:

“Now here… We do not find Bethlehem, which was afterwards the city of David, and was ennobled by the birth of our Lord Jesus in it. But that city, which at the best was but little among the thousands of Judah (Mic_5:2), except that it was thus dignified, was now so little as not to be accounted one of the cities, but perhaps was one of the villages not named. Christ came to give honour to the places he was related to, not to receive honour from them…. Jerusalem is said to continue in the hands of the Jebusites (Jos_15:63), for the children of Judah could not drive them out, through their sluggishness, stupidity, and unbelief. Had they attempted it with vigour and resolution, we have reason to think God would not have been wanting to them to give them success; but they could not do it, because they would not. Jerusalem was afterwards to be the holy city, the royal city, the city of the great King, the brightest ornament of all the land of Israel. God has designed it should be so. It may therefore be justly looked upon as a punishment of their neglect to conquer other cities which God had given them that they were so long kept out of this…. Among the cities of Judah (in all 114) we meet with Libnah, which in Joram’s days revolted, and probably set up for a free independent state (2Ki_8:22), and Lachish, where king Amaziah was slain (1Ki_14:19); it led the dance in idolatry (Mic_1:13); it was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion. Giloh, Ahithophel’s town, is here mentioned, and Tekoa, of which the prophet Amos was, and near which Jehoshaphat obtained that glorious victory, 2Ch_20:20, etc., and Maresha, where Asa was a conqueror. Many of the cities of this tribe occur in the history of David’s troubles. Adullam, Ziph, Keilah, Maon, Engedi, Ziklag, here reckoned in this tribe, were places near which David had most of his haunts; for, though sometimes Saul drove him out from the inheritance of the Lord, yet he kept as close to it as he could. The wilderness of Judah he frequented much, and in it John Baptist preached, and there the kingdom of heaven commenced, Mat_3:1. The riches of this country no doubt answered Jacob’s blessing of this tribe, that he should wash his garments in wine, Gen_49:11. And, in general, Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise, not envy.”

Matthew Henry sees how the captivity of Jerusalem is a punishment to Israel; but it is even more of a punishment for Christ to use Jerusalem as the centre of salvation, as the place where he is to be crucified, as the place prophetically provided back in Genesis 22 (Moriah). However, unlike Caleb, the rest of the Israelites did not see the importance of Jerusalem, and it took Christ’s blood to display the utter symbolism of this significant part of Judah. These failures are not only intimated in the final verses of this chapter, but prophetically implied as listed in Matthew Henry’s commentary, with reference to the list of cities of Judah which began the train of sin, leading to much trouble in both David and Saul’s ministries.

Furthermore is the humility of a place like Bethlehem which is not even named in its allotting, fitting to the nature of Christ’s humility as Son of God in flesh. Though the story of Judah is heavily implied through the allotment in Joshua 15, it is within God’s plan that these things are to come so that Christ can be glorified in the humility of Judah’s eventual failures to recognize the reality of the Son to come through their line.

Joshua 16

2. The Allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh

Joseph’s tribe

1The allotment of the people of Joseph went from the Jordan by Jericho, east of the waters of Jericho,(BE) into the wilderness, going up from Jericho into the hill country to Bethel. 2Then(BF) going from Bethel to Luz, it passes along to Ataroth, the territory of the Archites. 3Then it goes down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of Lower(BG) Beth-horon, then to(BH) Gezer, and it ends at the sea.

This specific allotment to ‘Joseph’ is symbolically more important than the mentioning of Manasseh in the previous few chapters. V.4 officially recognizes this half-tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim as part of the people of Joseph, as part of the blessed tribe under Jacob, as is indicated by the willingness of the tribes on the west of the Jordan in accepting what God would provide for them providentially and geographically.

4(BI) The people of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance.

Ephraim

(Courtesy of Bible-Atlas)

tappuah

Side

Specific boundaries

East and South

5The territory of the people of Ephraim by their clans was as follows: the boundary of their inheritance on the east was(BJ) Ataroth-addar as far as Upper Beth-horon, 6and the boundary goes from there to the sea.

North and East

On the north is(BK) Michmethath. Then on the east the boundary turns around toward Taanath-shiloh and passes along beyond it on the east to Janoah, 7then it goes down from Janoah to Ataroth and(BL) to Naarah, and touches Jericho, ending at the Jordan.

North and West

8From(BM) Tappuah the boundary goes westward to the brook Kanah and ends at the sea. Such is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Ephraim by their clans, 9together with(BN) the towns that were set apart for the people of Ephraim within the inheritance of the Manassites, all those towns with their villages.

10However,(BO) 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(BP) to do forced labor.

Once more we receive the refrain here, as repeated in Joshua 13:13, Joshua 15:63; Joshua 17:12-13 and so forth. Israel is by no means a pretty nations; in fact, she is on the road to become the allegory, the proverb, of the prostitute in the book of Hosea. No man reading the Old Testament can even see how Israel could, corporately, function as a light to the nations right now; however, we can see there is hope in families like Caleb’s; in families like Abraham’s; in families like Elijah – because they all held on to the Promised Son of God. It is only in the redemption of Christ, the truth of all these shadows, that the church can corporately function as a bodily priesthood.

Joshua 15-16: Judah and Joseph

Joshua 13-14: The New Heaven and Earth of all saints

Joshua 13

Land Still to Be Conquered (for the 9 tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh):

ReubenGadManasseh

(COURTESY OF THE ESV STUDY BIBLE)

Joshua 12 was just a taster of these remaining chapters, as Joshua 13 opens with the statement that there remains much land to possess. What is more important is the LORD’s statement that Joshua is old; however, this mentioning of age is not arbitrary, but an indication that Joshua is nearing his time of sleeping. There have been several aged saints, especially the pre-Exodus patriarchs, but the LORD is explicitly saying that Yeshua’s time of human life is coming to an end. It is here that we can briefly reflect on the comparison between Joshua and Acts; that though Christ had gained much land, had provided the firstfruits of New Kingdom victory for the Christians in his years as man on earth, much more work had to be done in the End Times. Although much land has been gained for the Israelites, there are still persistent enemies whom the Israelites will not be totally able to displace (a look at Israel today is evidence enough) until New Creation.

V.1-6 thus outlines the remaining nations which possess these lands:

  • The regions of the Philistines,
  • and all those of the Geshurites (from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is counted as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron),
  • the Avvim, in the south, all the land of the Canaanites
  • Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites,
  • land of the Gebalites,
  • all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath,
  • all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians.

The general outline of the inheritance east of the Jordan for the Gadites, Reubenites, and half-tribe of Manasseh is between v.8-13. However upbeat it may seem that the narrator is outlining land yet to be conquered, it comes with a disclaimer in v.13:

13(CW) Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.”

Despite the sweeping victory of Joshua, the infidelity of Israel provides the omen that Israel as a nation cannot be the effective kingdom of priests, for only the true Christ can be the head of the true kingdom of priests, the invisible church which partakes in physical Israel thus far. The failure to root out the enemies politically is repeatedly mentioned in later chapters regarding the allotment to the different tribes as well, intimating an omen of sorts to the rocky relationship between Yahweh and Israel in the coming generations.

The Inheritance of the Levites

It is quite important to notice that despite the focus on Reuben, Gad and Manasseh in Joshua 13, we see a repeat of the inheritance of the Levites, as if indicating that the truth of these geographical allotments find their true meaning in what the Levites represent (Joshua 13:14; 32-33, and Joshua 14:3-4). They represent the spiritual truth, the Day Light of these shadows. God is indeed concerned with the physical abode of these Israelites, but He is not now trying to create the new kingdom on earth, at least not until the resurrection of the earth itself which has been groaning since the fall (Romans 8:22).

The Inheritance East of the Jordan (to the Reubenites, Gadites and Manasseh) as according to Numbers 32 (c.f. map)

Tribe

Land

Reuben

Sharing the kingdom of Sihon with Gad

(v.15-23)

15And Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the people of Reuben according to their clans.

16So their territory was from Aroer,(CY) which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland by(CZ) Medeba;

17with Heshbon, and all its cities that are in the tableland;(DA)

Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, 18(DB) and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, 19and(DC) Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20and(DD) Beth-peor, and(DE) the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth,

SUMMARY OF THE LAND: 21that is,(DF) all the cities of the tableland, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon,(DG) whom

Moses defeated with(DH) the leaders of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22(DI) Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.

Border of Reuben

23And the border of the people of Reuben was the Jordan as a boundary. This was the inheritance of the people of Reuben, according to their clans with their cities and villages.

Gadites

Sharing the rest of the kingdom of Sihon

(v.24-28)

24Moses gave an inheritance also to the tribe of Gad, to the people of Gad, according to their clans.

25(DJ) Their territory was Jazer,

and all the cities of Gilead,

and half the land of the Ammonites, to Aroer, which is east of(DK) Rabbah,

26and from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim,

and from(DL) Mahanaim to the territory of Debir,[e]

27and in the valley Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah,(DM) Succoth, and Zaphon,

Border of Gad

the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, having the Jordan as a boundary, to the lower end of the Sea of(DN) Chinnereth, eastward beyond the Jordan. 28This is the inheritance of the people of Gad according to their clans, with their cities and villages.

Half-tribe of Manasseh

29And Moses gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh. It was allotted to the half-tribe of the people of Manasseh according to their clans.

30Their region extended from(DO) Mahanaim, through all Bashan, the whole kingdom of Og king of Bashan,

and all(DP) the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities,

31and half Gilead,

and(DQ) Ashtaroth,

and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

These were allotted to the people of(DR) Machir the son of Manasseh for the half of the people of Machir according to their clans.

It is important to ask why these three particular tribes are the focus of the attention here. There is no coincidence when we realize that Gad, Manasseh and Reuben are all firstborns; Reuben is the first son of Jacob and Leah, Gad the first son of Jacob and Zilpah, and Manasseh the first son of Joseph. However, none of these firstborns are blessed in the same way as Joseph himself was blessed who was not the physical ‘firstborn’. Neither was Ephraim, the blessed of the two sons of Joseph in Genesis 48:17-20, the physical first-born.

The lesson taught, once again, is the physical vs. the invisible church. The physical first-born who does not hold onto Christ may not live the character of the true first-born, the true first-begetting, of the Son of the Father. Adam, the firstborn of creation; Israel, the firstborn of God; Christ, the true firstborn – and Israel is only the firstborn son of God if she takes her head as Christ, rather than Adam. Yet, Gad, Manasseh and Reuben have asked specifically for the land on the east of the Jordan, unlike the other tribes who happily settle with what they are given (especially the Levites who are repeatedly referred to). So while the Kingdom of Sihon and of Og in Bashan are separated amongst these three tribes, the irony is that these blessings are but a pale comparison to what the humble spiritually first-born Israelite is to receive. No ‘superior’ land east of the Jordan, though facing the sun, can defeat the true new heaven and earth lit by a perpetual light. Thus, almost in an entirely short summary (compared to the detail given to these two and a half-tribes) in Joshua 14:1-5 on the inheritance west of the Jordan, the focus is not on the land, but on what the land represents – to even have no land at all, because the Levites are awaiting the true new land where they can have eternal communion with the Trinity eye-to-eye and face-to-face. It is a discipline which they will undergo, preparing the rest of Israel to look at New Creation rather than the temporary Promised Land.

Joshua 14

Caleb’s Request and Inheritance

6Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the(EA) Kenizzite said to him, “You know(EB) what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD(EC) sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8But(ED) my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9And Moses swore on that day, saying,(EE) ‘Surely the land(EF) on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ 10And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive,(EG) just as he said, these(EH) forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11(EI) I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and(EJ) for going and coming. 12So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the(EK) Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”

V.6-11 is an amazing testimony of Caleb; not only does he outline the glory of his dependence on Yahweh, his purpose of taking the land in v.11-12 is combined with such an assurance of Yahweh’s victory over the Anakim. There is no spirit of fear in him, except the spirit of rejoicing and love (2 Timothy 1:7) from the Holy Spirit. V.11 in particular is a display of the LORD’s protection over Caleb – how can an old man like him be still as strong today as in the day that Moses had sent him? To compare an 85 to a 40 year old man? This is all His doing, who has the holy power to prevent the wearing off of creation (Deuteronomy 29:5), keeping things alive; though the entirety of the process of re-creation, or renewal, must go through death first then re-birth in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The choice of Hebron is interesting besides the fact of the LORD promising the land to him (v.12), but moreso because it is the land near where the patriarchs were buried. Matthew Henry provides insight on this point:

“Joshua was both a prince and a prophet, and upon both accounts it was proper for him to give Caleb his blessing, for the less is blessed of the better. Hebron was settled on Caleb and his heirs (Jos_14:14), because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And happy are we if we follow him. Note, Singular piety shall be crowned with singular favours. Now, 1. We are here told what Hebron had been, the city of Arba, a great man among the Anakim (Jos_14:15); we find it called Kirjath-arba (Gen_23:2), as the place where Sarah died. Hereabouts Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived most of their time in Canaan, and near to it was the cave of Machpelah, where they were buried, which perhaps had led Caleb hither when he went to spy out the land, and had made him covet this rather than any other part for his inheritance… We are afterwards told what Hebron was… It was one of the cities belonging to priests (Jos_21:13), and a city of refuge, Jos_20:7. When Caleb had it, he contented himself with the country about it, and cheerfully gave the city to the priests, the Lord’s ministers, thinking it could not be better bestowed, no, not upon his own children, nor that it was the less his own for being thus devoted to God… It was a royal city, and, in the beginning of David’s reign, the metropolis of the kingdom of Judah; thither the people resorted to him, and there he reigned seven years.”

These are therefore the spiritual implications behind the choice of Hebron, and an appropriate juxtaposition to chapter 13’s almost self-obsessed focus of Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Although Matthew Henry does not explicitly refer to this episode typologically or eschatologically, he has laid down the appropriate framework and observations. Jesus is the true prince and prophet to give us the land, and here Joshua’s giving of Hebron to Caleb is akin to Christ giving us the true land where we will once again meet the sleeping saints; not only this, but Caleb’s submission of the actual land to the priests displays his conscious knowledge of the importance of the priests, the joint importance of both Yeshua as prophet and prince, and the Levites as priesthood. So Hebron, in Joshua 14, bears such significance in enabling us to understand and sift (though the narrator is quiet on this issue) the importance of the geographical allocation against what land is given, and for what reasons exactly. The submission of Kiriath-arba, the city of Arba (the greatest of the Anakim) only adds on the strength of the imagery; that what had been temporarily held by Satan was in fact always Christ’s. Adam Clarke’s study of the name provides a different but important perspective as well:

“That is, the city of Arba, or rather, the city of the four, for thus קרית ארבע kiryath arba may be literally translated. It is very likely that this city had its name from four Anakim, gigantic or powerful men, probably brothers, who built or conquered it. This conjecture receives considerable strength from Jos_15:14, where it is said that Caleb drove from Hebron the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai: now it is quite possible that Hebron had its former name, Kirjath-arba, the city of the four, from these three sons and their father, who, being men of uncommon stature or abilities, had rendered themselves famous by acts proportioned to their strength and influence in the country. It appears however from Jos_15:13 that Arba was a proper name, as there he is called the father of Anak. The Septuagint call Hebron the metropolis of the Enakim, μητροπολις των Ενακιμ. It was probably the seat of government, being the residence of the above chiefs, from whose conjoint authority and power it might have been called חברון chebron; as the word חבר chabar literally signifies to associate, to join in fellowship, and appears to be used, Job_41:6, for “associated merchants, or merchants’ companions, who traveled in the same caravan.” Both these names are expressive, and serve to confirm the above conjecture. No notice need be taken of the tradition that this city was called the city of the four because it was the burial-place of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Such traditions confute themselves.”

Clarke’s observations only enhance our understanding of the strength of Caleb’s faith in Yahweh. The LORD had accomplished, through him alone, the victory over these giants. However, on a conjecture, it is interesting to note Clarke’s final observation that Hebron is also the burial-place of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and perhaps sensus plenior may be applied to the inhabitants of Kiriath-arba for unknowingly naming the city after the patriarchs rather than actual Anakim giants. Unfortunately, the text is sparse on providing whether Kiriath-arba was knowingly named after the four spiritual giants of the Old Testament as well as giving credit to Arba, the strongest of the Anakim. Whatever the case may be, the layered irony gives the reader insight into the importance of Hebron, the four patriarchs definitively more significant than the four pagan giants.

13Then Joshua(EL) blessed him, and he gave(EM) Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day,(EN) because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. 15(EO) Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba.[f] (Arba[g] was the greatest man among the Anakim.)(EP) And the land had rest from war.

A brief point of contention lies in the term ‘Kenizzite’ in v.14 – some saying that Caleb reigns from the tribes listed in Genesis 15:19, although the LXX adds a qualifier which says “he who goes against the current” (ό διακεχωιζιδμένος), perhaps focusing not on his foreign nationality, but on his actions as going against the popular rebellion of Israel against Yahweh.

Like Joshua 11, Joshua 14 ends with shaqat rather than Sabbath – indicating temporary stillness, idleness of the land; but by no means a long-lasting Sabbath which has yet to come.

Joshua 13-14: The New Heaven and Earth of all saints

Joshua 11-12: Firstfruits

Joshua 11

2. Conquests in Northern Canaan

1When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of this, he(A) sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the(B) Arabah south of(C) Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and(D) in Naphoth-dor on the(E) west, 3to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the(F) Jebusites in the hill country, and the(G) Hivites under(H) Hermon in the land of(I) Mizpah. 4And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number(J) like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

6And the LORD said to Joshua,(K) “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall(L) hamstring their horses and burn their(M) chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua and all his warriors came(N) suddenly against them by the waters of Merom and fell upon them. 8And the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as(O) Great Sidon and(P) Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the Valley of(Q) Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining. 9And Joshua did to them(R) just as the LORD said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

The string of victories which the previous chapter listed is already enough a firstfruit which Israel has tasted. The names of these kings are ironic – Jabin who is intelligent, one whom God observes; king of Hazor, a city called a ‘castle’ – a fortress against all opposition. The king of Shimron, a city of high heights, of ‘guardianship’; the king of Achshaph, a city of ‘fascination’; Naphoth-dor on the west, “uplifting of the dwelling” – these are but a few of the names which these kings are named; which these cities are known as. Yet this is all empty, pure arrogance. Like the wailing of Isaiah 16:7, these wonderful nations shall wail and mourn for themselves as their human richness is utterly destroyed and revealed for what they really are, compared to the true richness stemming from the Trinity through Israel. These empty names are like the tragedy of the Tower of Babylon in Genesis 11 as those nations sought a ‘name’ for themselves, when they could have called upon the name of the LORD.

V.4 in particular describes in detail how they were a great horde like the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots, joining forces at waters of Merom, a high place, to fight. Eve here the narrator’s irony does not cease – because throughout Scripture, if there is any ‘council’ worth mentioning, it would be the council of saints and sons of God (Job 15:8; Psalm 82:1; 89:7; Jer 23:18; 23:22; 52:25; Ezekiel 13:9; all the angels surrounding Elijah – 2 Kings 6:17). Although Israel is one nation, unlike the ‘great horde like the sand on the seashore’, there is no doubt that the invisible council of the LORD is far greater than even the uncountable sand. Our reliance is not on physical might, but the headship of God. Glen Scrivener comments on this particular aspect of headship in relation to Israel within the relationship between man and wife:

“OT headship has deep military significance.  e.g. “The LORD thunders at the head of His army.” (Joel 2:11)  Our battles are with spiritual powers through prayer.  (Eph 6:10-20).  Therefore headship is being prayer warrior for your wife.  To see a ‘head’ at their most manly is to see him on his knees.”

When we saw Christ crucified, he was the man on his knees; when we saw Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, we saw the man on his knees – and this is a huge contrast to Adam in the garden of Eden, who rose up valiantly against God through taking the fruit from the tree of good and evil, standing tall and was ‘like God’ able to judge good and evil. The symbol of Christian strength therefore is not countable by worldly powers, but is other-worldly where He is made strong when we are made weak and meek. The LORD is the only shepherd of the Israelites (Psalm 23:1).

That is why in v.6 we see the promise which He makes – “You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire”, a phraseology not unlike the commandments in Exodus which all begin with “you shall”. As eschatological as these commandments are, in indicating what we shall be doing in New Creation, it is an indication that the LORD is paving the path for the Israelites so that to hamstring the enemies’ horses and burn their chariots with fire is not a possibility, but almost a triumphant inevitability. The Hebrew word for ‘hamstring’ (עקר akar) can also mean to pluck up or to root up; and this is very important given the context of v.6 talks about the enemy given to Israel as already slain. Therefore, this verse in entirety is displaying the enemies being rendered as utterly useless, to the point where neither horse nor chariot should be of any use to Israel. This in itself is also a duty of humility which the Israelites need to practice (Deuteronomy 17:16), to not own or displace everything which the enemies had possessed – especially these horses which have been used purely for war and are unclean like David’s hands which are unsuitable for the creation of His temple; ironically also unlike the great Solomon who had horded up plenty of horses against His will.

Then in v.7 we see Joshua come against them by the waters of the same high place Merom and fell upon them. LORD gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon (“fishering/hunting”) and Misrephoth-maim (“burnings of water”); eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh (“watchtower”), the name of each location complementing context of the situation of Joshua hunting the enemies of Israel by the waters where only two verses ago they had encamped to fight Israel. In this situation where the tables have fully reversed on these Canaanites, we see Joshua fulfilling exactly what the LORD had promised (between v.7-9). It is in this joint act of Joshua’s obedience and the LORD’s promise that we see His glory displayed fully; yet even Joshua could have chosen not to hamstring the horses and burn the chariots, such simple commands which the Israelites tend more than often to compromise. Why oh why will Israel die (Ezekiel 18:31) by succumbing themselves to these worldly pleasures more often than Yeshua’s obedience which typifies that of Christ?

10And Joshua turned back at that time and captured(S) Hazor and struck its king with the sword, for Hazor formerly was the head of all those kingdoms. 11And they struck with the sword all who were in it, devoting them to destruction;[a](T) there was none left that breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12And all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua captured, and struck them with the edge of the sword, devoting them to destruction,(U) just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13But none of the cities that stood on mounds did Israel burn, except Hazor alone; that Joshua burned. 14And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the people of Israel took for their plunder. But every man they struck with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. 15(V) Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant,(W) so Moses commanded Joshua,(X) and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

We then move on to v.10 where Jabin, the king of intelligence who was looked on by God, the king of Hazor, who was the head of all those kingdoms is finally slain by Joshua. Nothing stopped Israel. Their debacle at Ai (Joshua 7) was thankfully early on; by His providence, they experienced such discipline prior to the important battle against Jabin. Thus, only Hazor is burned, to symbolically show that if the head of all these kingdoms has lost and his proud nation burned, then all other enemies will fall. To see Satan fall like lightning (Luke 10:18) is but a foretaste of the fall of all enemies especially on the Day of Resurrection. Unlike the horses and the chariots, the spoil of these cities and the livestock are lifeless and untainted by the blood of war (v.12, 14, 15) and thus Israel, like in every other victory so far, could take their plunder while Yeshua took the breath away from Israel’s enemies. This duty resembling Christ who shall take the Spirit away from all men (not the indwelling Spirit, but the Spirit who keeps a man physically ‘alive’ just as everything in the universe is held-together through Christ – c.f. Genesis 6:3; Psalm 3:5; Colossians 1) when only the believers shall be living forever for we are no longer mortal, but the breath of life shall not dwell forever in Israel’s enemies.

Joshua 10:40-42

Joshua 11:16-20

40So Joshua struck the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland(FH) and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining,(FI) but devoted to destruction all that breathed, just as the LORD God of Israel commanded. 41And Joshua struck them from(FJ) Kadesh-barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of(FK) Goshen, as far as Gibeon. 42And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time,(FL) because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. 43(FM) Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal. (compare this Joshua 10:40-42 with Joshua 11:16-20)

16So Joshua took all that land,(Y) the hill country and all the Negeb and(Z) all the land of Goshen(AA) and the lowland(AB) and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17(AC) from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as(AD) Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon below(AE) Mount Hermon. And he captured(AF) all their kings and struck them and put them to death. 18Joshua made war(AG) a long time with all those kings. 19There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except(AH) the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. 20For it was the LORD’s doing(AI) to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed,(AJ) just as the LORD commanded Moses.

There is much similarity between Joshua 10:40-42 and Joshua 11:16-20, save a few more details and inclusions which are bolded in the column for chapter 11. It is in these summary lines which we see even more of God’s involvement in helping Israel gain these lands. Although the narration in itself seems to indicate the lightning-pace at which Israel is the victor, v.18 is very honest in saying that the war was made for a long time; and it is only from this macro-perspective that we see the LORD’s faithfulness. If the book of Joshua, like the books of Kings or the books of Chronicles were to hone in on every single battle, every sweat and every sorrow, then we would lose sight of what is being taught here. The book of Joshua is a book of victories, a book of harvest, chronicling the victories of Israel as long as they continue to stand firm with Christ. It is not a silent history of war; it is a proactive commentary of first-fruit, first indicated when a spy like Caleb reported faithfully; and now partially fulfilled through the reaping of the enemies’ possessions, awaiting the true and complete fulfillment in New Creation as the night shadows of the Old Testament come to dawn on the cross, and to full Day on His return.

This joy is not only shared within the Israelites, but also shared among the Gibeonites as well (v.19) who were spared and brought into battle on Israel’s side as well; just as Ruth was one of the first to welcome God into Canaan, so Gibeon is now fighting to prove her love for Yahweh, and not only feeding or exploiting the bittersweet covenant between the two nations. It is under this context that v.20 is provided – the LORD does not elect people to reprobation against the contemporary adaptation of Calvin’s doctrine of predestination; v.19 already stated that these Gibeonites chose to side with Israel. These Gibeonites are no different from the Canaanites, save that they are elected through Israel, just as the Gentiles are elected through Christ the true Israel. Why then would the LORD harden only the hearts of the other nations, but not Gibeon? This first mentioning of ‘hardening’ occurred back in Exodus when the Pharoah’s heart was hardened, but not until the latter plagues where the Pharoah was given several opportunities to repent. The hardening of their hearts is but a confirmation of the path which these enemies have consistently chosen to walk, whereupon they would be but pigs before the pearls of the gospel, no longer capable of looking on Jesus with opened eyes but condemned to a stone heart and eternal blindness (c.f. Romans 1:18-32 – the LORD giving people over to their sinful passions).

21And Joshua came at that time and cut off(AK) the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua devoted them to destruction with their cities. 22There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza,(AL) in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain. 23So Joshua took the whole land,(AM) according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses.(AN) And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel(AO) according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.

Who are the Anakim, from the hill country, from Hebron, Debir, Anab, Judah, and Israel? The parallel between Abram and Lot’s story has not ceased even in this chapter; while the Rephaim were also present in Abram’s victorious struggle over the pagan nations, so also the Anakim were scattered everywhere waiting to be conquered by the true giants under Yahweh’s banner. The deliberate mentioning of Anakim at the end is most fitting to this story which can be protracted to an eschatological perspective – as if Jabin was not the real enemy, the greatest antagonist, we have the sons of Anak who had caused Israel to tremble (at Hebron where Abram made an altar to Yahweh – Genesis 13:18; and where the Israelites first met them again in Numbers 13:22). However, Israel is on a victorious streak before the LORD had deemed it so. Matthew Henry puts it in perspective:

The cutting off of the sons of Anak is particularly mentioned because these had been such a terror to the spies forty years before, and their bulk and strength had been thought an insuperable difficulty in the way of the reducing of Canaan, Num_13:28, Num_13:33. Even that opposition which seemed invincible was got over. Never let the sons of Anak be a terror to the Israel of God, for even their day will come to fall. Giants are dwarfs to Omnipotence; yet this struggle with the Anakim was reserved for the latter end of the war, when the Israelites had become more expert in the arts of war, and had had more experience of the power and goodness of God. Note, God sometimes reserves the sharpest trials of his people by affliction and temptation for the latter end of their days. Therefore let not him that girds on the harness boast as he that puts it off. Death, that tremendous son of Anak, is the last enemy that is to be encountered; but it is to be destroyed, 1Co_15:26. Thanks be to God, who will give us the victory. “

Joshua 11

(COURTESY OF ESV STUDY BIBLE)

Finally, the tribal allotments from v.23 onwards (c.f. Deuteronomy 34:1-2 – the prophecy of the fulfillment of these allotments within Moses’ vision prior to his death) is once more an iteration of the golden time to come, that Israel is now the new ruler of their Promised Land. Indeed, the land finally had rest from war!

However, even the language of the sentence seems to purvey a sense of an ‘omen’ – instead of using the Hebrew word for Sabbath, the writer of Joshua uses a different word (שׁקט) which indicates quietness, stillness, idleness. The Sabbath in contrast is a word and a day which means celebration, a time of true rest from labour, a holy day to the LORD. However, the rest of v.23 is not necessarily ‘sanctified to the LORD; it is just an interceding time before more wars, before more trials. Two things can be stated about this:

(1) That Israel has yet to conquer all the lands and enemies until David and Solomon’s time, after which Israel continues to fight and eventually conquered by Assyria and Babylon, which is why there is no true Sabbath rest. Furthermore, the use of שׁקט instead of Sabbath has a subtle implication that the time of the Judges (to come right after Joshua) is not a time of worship, but a time when each shall do as he/she wishes.

(2) The true Sabbath rest does not come until New Creation; our Christian life to this day is a spiritual struggle against the prince of the air, and thus we can only experience temporary stillness, though we are warned against idleness because true Sabbath is not ‘rest’ from godly works (Luke 14:3).

Joshua 12

Joshua 12

(COURTESY OF ESV STUDY BIBLE)

List of Kings Defeated

East Side of the Jordan:

Name of Kings

Location

Allotment (land given to…)

Sihon, king of Amorites/Heshbon (v.2-3)

Heshbon, ruled from Aroer (edge of the Valley of the Arnon), from the middle of the valley as far as river Jabbok (boundary of the Ammonites – half of Gilead) and the Arabah to the Sea of Chinneroth eastward, and in the direction of Beth-jeshimoth, to the Sea of the Arabah (Salt Sea), southward to the foot of the slopes of Pisgah

Reubenites and Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh

Og, king of Bashan (remnant of the Rephaim) (v.4-6)

Ashtaroth and Edrei, ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan to the boundary of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and over half of Gilead to the boundary of Sihon (king of Heshbon).

Reubenites and Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh

West Side of the Jordan

31 Kings – their locations:

Jericho

Tappuah

Ai

Hepher

Jerusalem

Aphek

Hebron

Lasharon

Jarmuth

Madon

Lachish

Hazor

Eglon

Shimron-meron

Gezer

Achshaph

Debir

Taanach

Geder

Megiddo

Hormah

Kedesh

Arad

Jokneam in Carmel

Libnah

Dor in Naphath-dor

Adullam

Goiim in Galilee

Makkedah

Tirzah

Bethel

The image more or less provides a vaster pictorial presentation of Yeshua’s successful and unstoppable conquest. The boundaries are outlined in Numbers 32, and the displacement of the seven nations (Deuteronomy 7:1) hailing from Canaan the son of Ham in Genesis 10 is recorded explicitly in this chapter (save the Girgashites – mentioned in Joshua 3:10 and Joshua 24:11, it is likely that they were assimilated into the six other nations of Canaan since it is implied that they fought with Israel).

Furthermore, the list of kings (from left column to right column) is in the order in which they were conquered, Jericho first until the final northern alliance from Hazor onward. These 31 kings, predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 29:23 that they were to reject Christ and His gospel:

This shows what a very fruitful country Canaan then was, which could support so many kingdoms, and in which so many kings chose to throng together rather than disperse themselves into other countries, which we may suppose not yet inhabited, but where, though they might find more room, they could not expect such plenty and pleasure: this was the land God spied out for Israel; and yet at this day it is one of the most barren, despicable, and unprofitable countries in the world: such is the effect of the curse it lies under, since its possessors rejected Christ and his gospel, as was foretold by Moses.” (Matthew Henry)

Not only this, but the land was truly as fruitful (Joshua 12:8) as Caleb had reported; as various and as beautiful a land could be. This is something which the Israelites have never tasted, from being a small family before Joseph’s time to being a wondrous mixed multitude during the Exodus, to possessing the land of thirty-one kings against their one King and LORD Whom they serve. Adam Clarke indicates that these kings possess small land and allotments in their time compared to the nations today, however I think Joshua 12 is focusing not on the size of the land but the very fact of victory over thirty-one arrogant leaders and the very euphoria of Israel’s 40 years of wilderness nearing the end day by day. Not only this, but Canaan is a thoroughly pleasing land the moment the Israelites have conquered it; but in present times, as Matthew Henry noted, it is a land riddled with incessant wars, terrorist activities, tainted by all types of heathens and persecutions against Christians by the minute. It is not the true Promised Land but a mere foretaste as Canaan is overshadowed by New Jerusalem.

Joshua 11-12: Firstfruits

Joshua 9-10: The suffering of the true King

Joshua 9

1As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan(CV) in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast(CW) of the Great Sea toward Lebanon,(CX) the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, 2they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.

The events of verses 1-2 find a direct parallel in Psalm 2 – the joining together of evil as a wicked council against Christ (Psalm 2:2). These nations gather to bully this corporate hermit nation, listed in the first verse – all the kings in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the “Great Sea”, no doubt a Hebrew wordplay on insolent and haughty things.

However, all of them but one gathered against Yeshua – the Gibeonites who are part of the Hivites, hailing from one of the sons of Canaan.

Before we move on to meditate on the Gibeonites, we should consider the weight of what is mentioned in the opening two verses. Israel is, indeed, by no means a small nation. However, for what reason do these nations gather together to fight? Israel’s purpose is not to simply destroy and conquer – but to supplant mercy, as indicated in Deuteronomy 20:10.

Not only this, but these nations should have already heard the gospel – they have enough information from this priestly nation to have faith in the Star, the Messiah to reign from the line of Judah. We are revealed just as much from the words of the nation Gibeon:

3But when the inhabitants of(CY) Gibeon heard what Joshua had done(CZ) to Jericho and(DA) to Ai, 4they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. 6And they went to Joshua in(DB) the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” 7But the men of Israel said to(DC) the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then(DD) how can we make a covenant with you?” 8They said to Joshua,(DE) “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” 9They said to him,(DF) “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God.(DG) For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10(DH) and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in(DI) Ashtaroth. 11So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”‘ 12Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14So the men took some of their provisions, but(DJ) did not ask counsel from the LORD. 15And Joshua(DK) made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.


From v.3-15 we read about the deception concerning the Gibeonites; yet, in the midst of their deception, they speak much truth in v.9-10 indicating the clarity in which they understand the gospel of Yahweh’s faithfulness to Israel as chosen nation. However, the focus of the chapter should not be on the Gibeonite deception; it should be on the very fact that Gibeon even planned to deceive! In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon is a nation more magnificent and powerful than Ai; yet Ai stood her ground despite the righteousness of Israel, Yahweh. Why did Gibeon decide to deceive and betray the nations of Canaan? What is furthermore interesting is that they somehow believed that Joshua’s vow is as good as gold; and they attempted to straddle both the proverbial boats of Israel and God’s enemy as they deceive Joshua and yet decided not to directly fight Israel – both for the reason stated in v.9-10 – because of the greatness of their God.

The Hebrew in v.6 in particular can be translated as “cut the covenant sacrifice with us” (כרתו לנו ברית). Adam Clarke believes that these words from Gibeon indicate that the heathen culture has adopted the terminology of ‘cutting the covenant’ and incorporated into their own pagan worship; however, I beg to differ. There is nothing to imply that the Gibeonites practiced this covenant-cutting in their pagan worship; contrarily, Gibeon is asking Israel to do the honours of cutting a covenant with them, on the further basis of what the true God has done in the land of Israel in v.9-10. There is no reason for Gibeon to impose their own religious traditions on Israel, because Gibeon is submitting herself to Israel’s successful witness and tradition set down by Yahweh. One can only imagine how much they understand in the mystery of the actual cutting of the covenant, but that would be digressing too far from the text.


Thus, neither a full submission to Jesus, nor an enjoining to the council of wickedness; and from the following verses we will come to understand the role of Gibeon’s half-lie on an eschatological plane:


16At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors(DL) and that they lived among them. 17And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day.(DM) Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. 20This we will do to them: let them live, lest(DN) wrath be upon us,(DO) because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became(DP) cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders(DQ) had said of them.


The revelation of the lie comes three days after the making of the covenant when the Gibeonites were revealed as liars. This theme of the third day again amplifies the idea of the works of the evil one being revealed once the work on the cross is accomplished on the 8th day of the week, 1st day after the Sabbath, 3rd day after he was crucified, until Christ’s ascension which has yet to happen (1 Corinthians 3:13). V.17 furthermore emphasises on this third day (akin to the detail Moses gave to Abraham’s visit of Moriah on the third day in Genesis 22) the realisation of this deception.


From v.19-20 we learn that these nations are not attacked because of the faithfulness of the oath made, a commandment which Joshua seeks to obey (details concerning the law of different types of vows in Numbers 30). The oath between Israel and the Gibeonites in fact teaches us about the spirit behind the letter of this oath: how Christ established the oath between the church and the Trinity in his mediatory role. Unlike Israel who has no knowledge of Gibeon’s alternate agenda, Christ consciously knows that he is making an oath with his Father to become the head of all creation and the church who submits to Him (Romans 5:8).


Also, unlike the oath made between Gibeon and Joshua, Christ’s oath to submit to the Father’s will and the Father’s pre-election of Christ before creation describes the perfect promise of the redemption of His creation. The covenant made between Gibeon and Joshua is akin to the covenant made between a prostitute and Christ, but this covenant and oath pales in comparison to the promise between Christ and the Father. Nonetheless, the allegory of Gibeon and Yeshua is no different from the allegory of Hosea and his prostitute-wife – the irony being that Gibeon deliberately dressed herself in rags when in reality, her spiritual state before Yeshua is that of rags. Nonetheless, she is willing to be coated by the robe of righteousness which Yeshua, the representative head of Israel, is to provide Gibeon as opposed to the destruction of the council of nations who stand against the LORD. To paraphrase John Calvin’s opinion of this tragic obligation between Gibeon and Israel, it was a foolish oath which the Israelites made – an oath which could have been prevented if they only travelled within three days distance to the neighbouring nations to find out about this deceptive nation and her scheme.


Despite the consequential cursing of Gibeon in v.23, this covenant is not entirely bitter – but actually bittersweet. The Gibeonites shall be servants, but they are cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. Like the Levites, they are given a privileged position to enter, to touch, to be in the presence of the tabernacle (Psalm 65:4; 84:10). The Gibeonites, with their understanding of Israel’s relationship with the LORD, truly feared Him that they would rather deceive and join them rather than fight and realise an inevitable death. If only they were honest in coming to Yeshua’s feet, then they would partake in greater rewards and greater glory; however Gibeon is an example of a feeble church who does not come to God with clean hands (Psalm 24). The reality of the allegory is that we, the church, are wearing rags of a prostitute but are now clothed with His righteous robes – whereas Gibeon is merely mock-playing this representation. Despite Gibeon’s deceiving role, the underlying motivation is pure – they do not want to be devoted to destruction, because in their hearts they truly believe that Yahweh is the true LORD. Even their under-handed approach to peace is neutralised by that oath between Yeshua and Gibeon.


The question does not apply simply to Gibeon but to every Christian as well. How many of us approach our LORD with clean hands? We may be disciplined and punished for our initially impure approaches and motivations, but the fact that we want to enter into Christ’s oath with his Father in the salvation of the world means that even our impure motives are washed away by the Son’s blood.


This is because our Christ thankfully has the clean hands necessary to propitiate our sins from His and His Father’s judgment. Yeshua’s understanding of that enables him to re-enact God’s love for the church in his love for Gibeon. V.22-27 entails how the bloodthirsty Israelites would rather disobey God’s commandment to keep one’s oath, indirectly blaspheming the oath within the Trinity before creation, than love Gibeon and place her in a place of exalted privilege in the house of the LORD. This is why even Gibeon can walk before and serve the altar of the LORD (V.27) in His house (v.23) as well as the rest of the congregation, a duty that we should all partake in (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10 – servant of the altar, 1 Corinthians 9:13). Matthew Henry remarked:


“…this curse is turned into a blessing; they must be servants, but it shall be for the house of my God. The princes would have them slaves unto all the congregation (Jos_9:21), at least they chose to express themselves so, for the pacifying of the people that were discontented; but Joshua mitigates the sentence, both in honour to God and in favour to the Gibeonites: it would be too hard upon them to make them every man’s drudge; if they must be hewers of wood and drawers of water, than which there cannot be a greater disparagement, especially to those who are citizens of a royal city, and all mighty men (Jos_10:2), yet they shall be so to the house of my God, than which there cannot be a greater preferment: David himself could have wished to be a door-keeper there. Even servile work becomes honourable when it is done for the house of our God and the offices thereof.”


The humility of this service can hardly be a curse in light of the other curses made on other nations (list of curses in Deuteronomy 27). Adam Clarke notes this carefully, concerning the fundamental mercy underlining the attitude Israel should have to the Gentiles:


That their conduct in this respect was highly pleasing to God is evident from this, that Joshua is nowhere reprehended for making this covenant, and sparing the Gibeonites; and that Saul, who four hundred years after this thought himself and the Israelites loosed from this obligation, and in consequence oppressed and destroyed the Gibeonites, was punished for the breach of this treaty, being considered as the violator of a most solemn oath and covenant engagement. See 2Sa_21:2-9, and Eze_17:18, Eze_17:19. All these circumstances laid together, prove that the command to destroy the Canaanites was not so absolute as is generally supposed: and should be understood as rather referring to the destruction of the political existence of the Canaanitish nations, than to the destruction of their lives. See the notes on Deu_20:10, Deu_20:17.”


22Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying,(DR) ‘We are very far from you,’ when(DS) you dwell among us? 23Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants,(DT) cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had(DU) commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so(DV) we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. 25And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.” 26So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27But Joshua made them that day(DW) cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day,(DX) in the place that he should choose.


If only we can truly understand the deepest mystery of this episode – that even the “meanest office in God’s service will entitle us to a dwelling in the house of the LORD all the days of our life” (Matthew Henry). This bitter-sweet covenant has purified the deceptive rags of Gibeon on whom the LORD had mercy, for they survived in the holy courts as opposed to complete destruction which befalls the other nations in following chapters. Gibeon grasped the gospel; Gibeon cherished the gospel; Gibeon approached the gospel warily, but unashamedly; and Gibeon is made the lowest in the LORD’s bosom but far higher than anything she could have achieved in all of her lifetime. Israel’s centrifugal, outward-looking, witness has begun to bear its fruit – from Rahab, to an entire nation. However, like those who take the fruit from the true vine, there will always be those whose head is Satan, and who will continue to take fruit from the vine of Sodom and Gomorrah as listed in the coming chapters.


Joshua 10

1As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction,[l](DY) doing to Ai and its king(DZ) as he had done to Jericho and its king, and(EA) how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2(EB) he[m] feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For(EC) it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon,(ED) gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

The mystery of the gospel is hidden in the name Adoni-zedek (v.1) – why would this king be called “my Lord is righteous”? Because this is the king of Jerusalem, the centre of attention where Christ will be crucified; Jerusalem, which means teaching of peace, intimating the rulership of Melchizedek, the King of Salem, the king of “righteousness” and “peace”). However, this Adoni-zedek is but a false portrayal of the true King of righteousness, Jesus.

It is interesting that the ESV has a footnote which notes the alternate translation which I personally prefer – the devotion of these nations as an offering (c.f. v.28, 35, 37, 39, 40). For Joshua to mention once more that Gibeon is a great city, greater than Ai and all its warriors is to imply how much greater Yahweh is; as if Gibeon was a cowardly nation, we need only imagine one of the mightiest nations dressing themselves in rags and humble themselves before the true LORD. Yet, these nations like Ai, whose might is weaker than that of Gibeon, arrogantly attempts to destroy Israel when they not only have heard of Israel’s witness as the temporarily chosen nation of priests, but also that Gibeon has entered into an everlasting covenant with them. This only adds to Ai’s guilt and ignorance for turning away from Jesus Christ.

The beauty of this chapter is that there is much parallel here found in Genesis 14 – where Abram saved Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, from the warring nations (four kings against five, Genesis 14:9). The enemies there may bear different names with different meanings, but there is not disputing their spiritual allegiance: and what is found in this story of Genesis is a correlation between Abram and Israel; Lot and Gideon; the warring nations and the mentioned warring nations here.

It is no mistake that Abram in Genesis 13:18 is recorded as having settled by the oaks of Mamre, at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD. This battleground is exactly where Joshua is saving Gibeon, a parallel of Abram saving Lot:

6And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua(EE) at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” 7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and(EF) all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8And the LORD said to Joshua,(EG) “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands.(EH) Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10(EI) And the LORD threw them into a panic before Israel, who[n] struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of(EJ) the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11And as they fled before Israel, while they were(EK) going down the ascent of Beth-horon,(EL) the LORD threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.


We see here even more fulfillment of what is spoken of in the final chapters of Deuteronomy. The LORD expressly, in v.8, says that He is with Yeshua – and as such, any nation standing against Israel will fail, manifested in the hailstones which were more fatal than the Israelites’ swordplay. This symbolically occurs Beth-horon, the house of hollowness, and how empty indeed is the pursuit of Gibeon’s enemies when Abram had equally only taken a small amount of men, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan to save Lot. Such is the unlikelihood of the victory of God’s children, but His will accomplished nonetheless! The ironic imagery of the five kings running away from Israel akin to the picture of Abram’s victory over the massive scale of the feudal war of the nine kings settled by one Christian and his allies.


12At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

(EM) “Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14(EN) There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for(EO) the LORD fought for Israel.

15So(EP) Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

16These five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at(EQ) Makkedah. 17And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them, 19but do not stay there yourselves. Pursue your enemies;(ER) attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the LORD your God has given them into your hand.” 20When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow(ES) until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, 21then all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah.(ET) Not a man moved his tongue against any of the people of Israel.


And thus the poetic stanza in v.12-13 sees the sun is being still at Gibeon, a symbolism of the victory for Gibeon; the moon in the valley of Aijalon, the field of deers, an encouraging Hebrew implication where one can refer to 2 Samuel 22:34 (“my feet like a deer and set me on secure heights…”). Where the sun stands victorious over Gibeon, where the moon stopped over the deer-fields, is where Christ and the church is victorious over her enemies, this supernatural standstill of the sun and moon’s pathways once more repeated at the cross, and once more to happen on the Resurrection Day. This is no metaphorical miracle (v.13-14), and this theme of Genesis 14 is repeated here and will once more be repeated in Revelation 6:15 when the stone over the cave represents the shelter of these pagans turning into their own prison.

The subsequent return of Joshua to Gilgal in v.15 is to remind the Israelites of the symbolic representation of the land; the place of the rolling away of their reproach.


22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” 23And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25And Joshua said to them,(EU) “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous.(EV) For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And(EW) they hung on the trees until evening. 27But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and(EX) they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.


From v.22-27 we see the cave as symbolic of the best of the land of Canaan rushing to their own deaths unwittingly; the same story told of all non-Christians in this world, running to their impending doom. All 5 kings were eventually killed with feet on their neck, an allusion to Jesus’ feet on kings’ neck as His enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).

Not only this, but we see the cursed judgment of the cross enacted in v.26-27. There is nothing glorious about the death of these kings; there is nothing mighty about their war. They were pitifully, ashamedly, and quickly destroyed. There is no glory in their death; there is no-one to mourn for them. Yet, this is the very death which Christ experienced, these accounts amplifying our understanding of what Christ had done for us on the tree and the depth of Him exclaiming “Eli Eli, lema sabachthani”. There can be no other people in this world, save these once-glorious kings, who can also proclaim these words – but they have no eternal glorious future of them; they have no Spirit dwelling in them to redeem them from the gates of Hades. As if the Spirit need not spend more time on these inglorious heathens, v.28 is a brief momentary tribute to one more of these kings. Indeed, the written word testifies to Christ, not to leave these kings any space in the Bible for glory. What had happened to the king of Jericho has, in domino effect, displayed the power of the Spirit in redeeming the Promised Land for the church just as the outpouring of the Spirit had done so in the international evangelism of the apostles from the book of Acts onwards.


28As for(EY) Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah(EZ) just as he had done to the king of Jericho.  29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to(FA) Libnah and fought against Libnah. 30And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king(FB) as he had done to the king of Jericho.


There is thus a common refrain after conquering each nation… “30And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho (C.f. v.32, 35, 37, 39, 40)”, this refrain charted below:

Verses

Conquered Nations

v.29-30

Makkedah to Libnah

v.31-32

Libnah to Lachish

v.33-35

Lachish (aided by Horam king of Gezer) to Eglon

v.36-37

Eglon to Hebron

v.38-39

Hebron to Debir

Thus, we end this chapter on v.40-42, from Debir to Negeb – to the whole land, hill country, lowland, slopes and to the kings: a general statement of Joshua’s conquerings. From Kadesh-barnea (desert of fugitive/wilderness of wandering) as far as Gaza (strong), all the country of Goshen (drawing near) as far as Gibeon: the meaning of the names detailing the procession of Israel from the wilderness to strength; drawing nearer and nearer to the sun which stood still over Gibeon – a huge comparison between the blessings of Deuteronomy against the failures of Numbers, now that we see Israel through Yeshua capturing these powerful nations in one go, reflecting the power of the LORD in the time of Abram, because the LORD fought for Israel. And at the end of all this, Joshua returns to Gilgal (c.f. Joshua 5:10; 10:15; 10:43), never forgetting that it is Yahweh who rolled away, who cleansed, who imputed Christ’s righteousness onto reproach-worthy Israel.

Joshua 9-10: The suffering of the true King