1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

From chapters 4 to 7, the narrator shifts focus from the genealogy of the promised Seed to the House from which the Seed is born.  Note that the sons of Israel are born in the following order:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Dinah
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Yet, in 1 Chronicles 4-7, they are described in the following order:

  • Judah
  • Simeon
  • Reuben
  • Gad
  • Half tribe Manasseh
  • Levi (including Zebulun)
  • Issachar
  • Ben
  • Naphtali
  • Manasseh
  • Ephraim
  • Asher

It is not clear why the order has been switched – although it becomes apparent when we refer to Genesis 48 and 49, where the Spirit of God speaks through Jacob and blesses his sons, prophesying specifically that the Christ shall come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) – hence, 1 Chronicles 4 begins not with Reuben the firstborn, but with Judah, to which we turn to now.

Judah

Genesis 49:8-12 –

8  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9  Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10  The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11  Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

12  His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk.

This is the only tribe whose description includes a detailed story of a man of God.  This is the story of Jabez (Ch 4:8-10), who (compared to the other tribes) proves to walk in the light of Christ; not to mention Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, is also named after a man of Judah (Ch 4:4).  Furthermore, Judah’s reputation exceeds those of the other tribes.  As described under Simeon’s description, the men “did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah”.  Such is the blessing of childbirth through Judah, in ensuring that the Messiah’s light is not extinguished from this anointed bloodline.

Simeon

Genesis 49:5-7 –

5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.

It is interesting that with this tribe in particular, it is noted that they are inferior in number to Judah (Ch 4:27), and that the cities they lived in were theirs, until David reigned (Ch 4:30).  They also rested in the land, which the former inhabitants belonged to Ham (Genesis 9:22) – the father of the Canaanites.  Indeed, they are thus divided and scattered, without the glory bestowed upon Judah.

Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 –

“3  “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4  Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!”

Thus the firstborn of Israel is disgraced; the Son of God could have been born through Reuben, and yet – like the firstborn Adam – it is from another son that the Second Person shall be born from.  Unstable as water, Reuben shall not have pre-eminence – and instead, Judah shall become “strong among his brothers… and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph”.  Of this, Adam Clarke comments:

 

This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: “From Judah the King

Messiah shall proceed.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: “Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph.

And Matthew Henry too also states:

The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling his father’s concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to excel, Gen. xlix. 4. Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency. Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men’s names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben’s seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben’s sin. Yet, though that tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness. Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any one, and therefore they were divided. (1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child’s part (for so Jacob by faith blessed them, Heb. xi. 21; Gen. xlviii. 15, 22), and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But, (2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10. Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time, Messiah the Prince, Mic. v. 2. This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph’s; and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.

Gad

Genesis 49:19

19  “Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels.

Thus, with Gad, his tribe is compared to the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh – valiant men expert in war (Ch 5:18), crying out to God in battle in defeat of the Hagrites (described to be from the line of Hagar according to Smith’s dictionary – “The same people, as confederate against Israel, are mentioned in (Psalms 83:6) It is generally believed that they were named after Hagar, and that the important town and district of Hejer , on the borders of the Persian Gulf, represent them.”)

Half-tribe of Manasseh

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.””

Indeed, although Manasseh is the elder, he is only blessed secondary to Ephraim’s blessing in Genesis 48 – for Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh.   Perhaps Jacob saw that the half-tribe would break faith with the God of their fathers (v.25) by whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land.  Thus, their genealogy is relegated to a mere description of how them, the Gadites and the Reubenites are exiled by the king of Assyria.  They are described once more in chapter 7:14-19, though nothing remarkable is described.

Levi

Genesis 49:5-7 –

“5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.”

And now we come to the tribe of Levi.  It is interesting that the LORD did not choose Judah, or the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to become the anointed men of priestly work.  Instead, the LORD chose Levi – who wields weapons of violence; who in their anger they killed men (c.f. Moses smiting an Egyptian man, a typical response of a Simeonite / Levite in revenge, Exodus 2:12).  This is the reason why the Levites do not own their portion of land like the other tribes (c.f. Joshua 13:33 – the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance; Ch 6:63, 77 – some land taken from Zebulun which is not otherwise mentioned between chapters 4 and 7).  Though they are scattered (Ch 6:61-65), it is for a different reason – to highlight the mercy and grace of our LORD.  Though Simeon rests in the land of the Canaanites, Levi rests in the arms of the LORD by His election.  These are “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there”.  David, a man of music, would relegate such an important role to the elected priesthood by example (1 Samuel 16:23), which would otherwise remain as wrathful murderers unwilling to receive the grace and mercy of the Father through Christ.

Issachar

Genesis 49:14-15 –

14  “Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

15  He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor.

Just as Issachar is described as a strong donkey, so in chapter 7:1-5 we see that they were all mighty warriors.

Benjamin

Genesis 49:27 –

27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Benjaminites, too, were known to be mighty warriors – the ravenous wolf that they are.

Naphtali

Genesis 49:21

21  “Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns.

It is interesting that save for Judah, Levi, and Ephraim (further described below), the other tribes are known for wars; they are known to be preparing for conflict.  Yet, Judah, Levi and Ephraim are known for peace; for enjoying the true Sabbath that God made for Adam upon the next day of Adam’s birth.  It is not incidental that in New Creation it shall be a feast of peace and our lives of conflict, now, are but temporary.  Naphtali, according to the prophecy, falls somewhat into character as the Chronicler does not provide much detail – neither revealing whether they have fallen into the side of war or peace.

Ephraim

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

This promised and blessed younger son of Joseph bore, among others, Joshua the son of Nun.  It is from this tribe that the typological shepherd, Yeshua, hails (Ch 7:27).  The immediate description of Manasseh prior to Ephraim, closing with the land of the Manassites in v.29 in fact shows the dichotomy between the future of Manasseh compared to Ephraim; Manasseh, which broke faith; Manasseh, which owned Megiddo, the place of Josiah’s death; Ephraim, which bore the typological Messiah of the Hebrews, ushering their new age in Canaan.  Ephraim seen as ushering peace, owning much land; Manasseh seen as rebellious, causing much strife.

Asher

Genesis 49:20 –

“20  “Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies.”

Thus, unsurprisingly, Asher too is described to include mighty warriors and chiefs of the princes (Ch 7:40).

Zebulun and Dan – summary of the tribes in the history of redemption

Yet, what of Zebulun and Dan?  Zebulun’s land is referred to, a portion of which is given to the Levites above.  In Genesis 49:13, they were prophesied to “dwell at the shore of the sea”; to “become a haven for ships”, and their “border shall be at Sidon”.  Zebulun seems to be traditionally shrouded in anonymity compared to the other tribes; but this is positive compared to Dan’s deliberate omission from John’s book of Revelation.  Like Chronicles, the tribe of Joseph appears twice in Revelation (Revelation 7:6, 7:8).  Thus, just as 1 Chronicles 4 opened with the reminder that the Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, the typological Messiah from Ephraim, the gospel mercy of the LORD through Christ showered upon the Levites, the significance of which is not equally borne by the other tribes who shadow under the physical firstborn Reuben – a man of war and rebellion – we end chapter 7 with a reminder that the Anti-Christ is a man from within.  Just as Christ was a man not loved by his own (John 1:10-11), so also the Satan and His children (John 8:44) shall pretend to judge his own people, being a serpent in the way, biting the heel of the horse.  That is why Jacob yearned for the salvation of Christ (Genesis 49:18) – for it is Dan who acts as judge, but the LORD is true judge who shall give life for those in His Son and not death:

Genesis 49: 16-18 –

“16  “Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17  Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

18  I wait for your salvation, O LORD.”

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1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

Joshua 23-24: The Next Generation

Joshua 23

Joshua’s Charge to Israel’s Leaders

1A long time afterward, when the LORD had given(A) rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua(B) was old and well advanced in years, 2Joshua(C) summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. 3And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake,(D) for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you.

And so we come to the final chapters of Joshua.  How fitting a leader he has been, the entire book marking his unstoppable victory over the neighbouring races in Canaan.  v.3 in particular celebrates that these victories came from the LORD alone, it is the “LORD [their] God who has fought for [them]”.  This humility is fitting for a king, and indeed even Christ himself would proclaim that it is not His own will that he is to complete the redemption of creation through the cross, but His Father’s.

Does this mean that Christ is not glorified, and only His Father?  By no means, for he arose to the right hand of the Father; does this mean that Joshua is not glorified, and only Yahweh?  By no means, for by his obedience and faith in Christ is he clearly exalted, old and advanced in years suffering much persecution under the Egyptians and dwelling for such a long period of time being one of the last people who have lasted the entirety of the chronicles between Exodus and Joshua.  Even the great saints of old had been marred with sin – Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Miriam.  However, this book has narrated and characterized his story as that of Yeshua, a Hebrew name and term for ‘salvation’.  Although it is Joshua who has saved the Israelites by giving them the firstfruit of the land, it is through the true Yeshua that the Old and New Testament saints gain the firstfruit deposited through the Holy Spirit.

4Behold,(E) I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5The LORD your God(F) will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land,(G) just as the LORD your God promised you. 6Therefore,(H) be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses,(I) turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7(J) that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you(K) or make mention of the names of their gods(L) or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8(M) but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. 9(N) For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you,(O) no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10(P) One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God(Q) who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11(R) Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God. 12For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you(S) and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13know for certain that(T) the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you,(U) but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.

Yet, like what is proclaimed in Deuteronomy 31:16, Israel will continue to whore after idols.  V.6-8 in particular uses the similar imagery and language of whoring, of prostitution, of making marriages with the remnant of these nations (v.12) – these remnants being a result of each tribe being too incapable and too disobedient to completely drive them out.  Such is the nation which does not hold onto Christ – the entangling of the whoredom epitomized in Abraham’s intercourse with Hagar, of the church of Ephesus losing her first love (Revelation 2:4), spawning off the seeds of destruction rather than the Seed of Promise whose first love is the church; the vine of Sodom and Gomorrah rather than the vine of Christ who is engaged to the Bridegroom.  Paul’s theology stems from the theology of these Old Testament saints, saying nothing beyond what Moses and the prophets had stated (Acts 26:22, 28:23), and the plucking of these Israelites from the vine of Christ will be most apparent in the first incarnation, and once more in His second coming where the spiritual church shall be revealed before the ashamed physical church which the unbelieving Israel is a type of.

Note also Christ’s words before He ascends: “…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).  Again, in Luke 24:46-49, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.  But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  There is much similarity between his temporary departure and Joshua 23:14-16:

14“And now(V) I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that(W) not one word has failed of all the good things[a] that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you(X) all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, 16if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”

The difference is largely laying in the fact that Christ himself is no mere prophet – but he is the Sent One with the power to send the promise of His Father upon all Christians; the Person who can be with us to the end of the age.  Joshua, like Moses (end of Deuteronomy) and Jacob (Genesis 48-50) in their pre-sleep speeches laid out similar truths, but they were looking forward to the eternal Messiah.  As intimated in v.14, Joshua is about to “go the way of all the earth”.  What way is this?  The truth that is laid out on all the earth, as explained in Genesis 1 – that even seeds have to die and be reborn and bear new fruit; that saints are to go through the passage of death into resurrection; that the four seasons of the earth from the Jewish new year beginning at Fall (the American description of the season being more theologically poignant than the British term “Autumn”)in the month of Tishri, and the year ending in Summer, the month of full enjoyment of the harvest in the Spring-time which we are now in, beyond the Winter of death.  These are but a few tastes of the ways of the earth, of the gospel proclaimed to all of creation (Psalm 19; Romans 1), and even he must succumb to this natural process of life as Christ the head in Whom all creation holds together (Colossians 1) must forcefully resurrect even the non-believers on the Day of Resurrection, but unlike the rest of creation and the believers in Christ, they will receive no renewal nor redemption.

They were the definitive Messianic Israelites, yet they already preached the gospel in advance, the full expression of faith in Christ manifested in the central focus on the tabernacle.  As we see later in the books of Kings and Chronicles, we learn that Israel’s backsliding spirituality goes hand-in-hand with their inability to see beyond the shadows of the land, the sacrifice, and even the Name of God, beginning to call on other name(s) for protection.  V.15 in particular is proof that Israel is but a shadow and the failure of the majority in holding true to Christ so that the Gentiles should be given the gift of salvation to make them jealous (Romans 11:11), for despite Israel’s privilege and positive handicap of receiving the law of Moses, even those without the law (pre-Moses, and the Gentiles) would practice the law (c.f. Genesis 22) and become even more righteous than the Pharisees through their deeper understanding of the gospel which Israel will eventually lose.  The crux thus lies in Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  Simon Gathercole investigates these statements of “coming” in “The Pre-existing Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke” as distinguishing between his Messiaship and his role as prophet like those before Him, from that of Joshua who is a typological Messiah-prophet.

Joshua 24

The Covenant Renewal at Shechem

1Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel(Y) to Shechem and(Z) summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And(AA) they presented themselves before God. 2And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago,(AB) your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and(AC) they served other gods. 3(AD) Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and(AE) led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many.(AF) I gave him Isaac. 4And to Isaac I gave(AG) Jacob and Esau.(AH) And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess,(AI) but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. 5(AJ) And I sent Moses and Aaron,(AK) and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and(AL) afterward I brought you out.  6“‘Then(AM) I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and(AN) you came to the sea.(AO) And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7(AP) And when they cried to the LORD,(AQ) he put darkness between you and the Egyptians(AR) and made the sea come upon them and cover them;(AS) and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt.(AT) And you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan.(AU) They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. 9(AV) Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel.(AW) And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10(AX) but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11(AY) And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho,(AZ) and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites [people of Jerusalem]. And I gave them into your hand. 12And I sent(BA) the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was(BB) not by your sword or by your bow. 13I gave you a land on which you had not labored(BC) and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

Similar in style to the end of the last book of the Pentateuch, God repeats the works which he has done for Israel between v.2-10, from the time of Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob the father of all Israelites, from Jacob to Moses – and under the banner of Moses, the end of the exodus of Israel finally in sight as they stand before the LORD in their own land.  For so many generations, the ancestors of the Israelites have been mobile in their witness and evangelism, and finally Israel has come to a halt.  Israel is the type of the church under the law of God, but the patriarchs themselves were also types of the church as well; the difference is the period.  Where the saints from Adam to Joseph were not under the law and in their mobility preached the good news of the promised Seed to come, typifying the Christians in the end times without a home, there are three layers to understanding what shadow Israel is portraying.

The first layer is that of Israel being the physical church, with the need to sift out those who are believing in Christ and those who, like the physical church today (but not the spiritual), attend church but do not have a relationship with Him.

The second layer is that of the difference in typology of church-hood between Israel and the mobile patriarchs – and it is that Israel represents the church in New Creation, in New Jerusalem, in True Canaan.  For we as a church today are hermits in the power of the Holy Spirit living in spiritual tents, but on the Day of Resurrection we will be ushered into the permanent physical kingdom where heaven and earth are united and we will still live under the laws of the kingdom but without compromise for we will be filled unceasingly with the intimacy of the Trinity – making the state of Israel’s kingdom so much more pitiful and less desirable when we compare her to the kingdom of New Jerusalem.

The third layer is that Israel is proclaimed as light to the nations – where the patriarchal Christians travelled in small groups, functioning as a fellowship of sorts, it is in Israel that we find a national Christocratic government of God.  Where Israel stood on the side of light, darkness confuses the pursuing Egyptians (where the narrative in Exodus shows the pillar of cloud and fire standing between the mixed multitude in Israel and Egypt c.f. Exodus 14:24, the narrative in Joshua interprets that as darkness which confounded the non-Christians for they were blind and deaf to the truth of God’s intervention for Israel).  Where Israel is incapable, the LORD fights entirely (v. 12 c.f. the hornets versus the natural weapons of the Israelites). In this manner, Israel is a type of Christ, for it is in Israel that we find the Holy Spirit; it is in Israel that we find the tabernacle, temple and shekinah glory of Yahweh, a truth foretold in the lives of the saints prior to Moses as listed out by God here.  What Israel represents is but a macro-perspective of what the patriarchs believed in; and what the New Jerusalem represents is but the true perspective of the golden times of Israel especially under the reign of David and Solomon.

And so, under these three layers of understanding the birth of the nation Israel from such a rich history of God’s provision do we see from v.13 that we as Christians will eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that we did not plant as in New Creation, and as first prophesied in Genesis 2:15 when the first man was sabbathed in the garden planted by Christ.

Choose Whom You Will Serve

14(BD) “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness.(BE) Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15(BF) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD,(BG) choose this day whom you will serve, whether(BH) the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or(BI) the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.(BJ) But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

In v.14-15 we immediately see Joshua’s evangelism technique – he uses testimony, he uses history, he uses personal experiences to reach the conclusion of v.15 – “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”.  He gives the people an option – serve the gods beyond the River/in Egypt or even the ‘gods’ of the lands if they truly appeal to you still, after such a wealth and mound of witness as described at Gilead.  There is no need for him to re-iterate that there is only one true God, Yahweh, El, Elohim as the tribes on the east of Jordan had done in Joshua 22.  The historical evidence, the personal experience, the present witness of the tabernacle icons and sacrifices all witness and testify to the one true living God.  Hence their reaction in v.16-18:

16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, 17for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

19But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is(BK) a holy God. He is(BL) a jealous God;(BM) he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20(BN) If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then(BO) he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.” 22Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that(BP) you have chosen the LORD, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23He said, “Then(BQ) put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.”

This portrayal of God in v.19-20 is undoubtedly one of the many reasons why the Marcionites amongst other heresies believe the God of the Old Testament to be different from the God of the New Testament; or even Joachim of Fiore’s interpretation of the Old Testament to be the ‘age of the Father’, the saints living under fear, and the New Testament and the End Times to be the ‘age of the Son’ and the ‘age of the Spirit’.  This however directly contradicts what the New Testament authors themselves understood, for there has always been only one mediator between man and God (1 Timothy 2:5), the creation being through Christ in  the head (bereshit – the very first word of Genesis, commonly mistranslated as “in the beginning”), and the gospel of all ages preached even to Abraham (Galatians 3-4) before the law was given.

Why then do Joshua’s words seem so misleading?  Because we are built upon misconceived Christian traditions which do not see Christ in the Old Testament!  For even in Hebrews 3, the first two chapters speaking of the supremacy and mediatorial role of Christ, emphasizes that it was those who left Egypt and were disobedient who did not enter the Promised Land.  It was those with “unbelieving heart” which led them to fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12); and that in 2 Peter 1 we are called to “supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfast-ness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” so that we do not act as though we have forgotten that we are cleansed from our former sins.

We are thus tested for the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:7), and like the Christians of the New Testament so also these Israelites are commanded by Joshua to serve the LORD (c.f. 1 Peter 1:13-25).  The misnomer of ‘faith alone’ has taught lies to this generation as if we are ‘secured’ in salvation by our one profession of faith, when Scripture teaches us that we are preserved in faith, that we are to persist, and that our good works are emblems of our faith and that these are done solely by God alone through the Son and Spirit.  And what this means is that if we disobey, then we grieve the Spirit and he rightly disciplines us; and if we fall after tasting the Spirit but not being indwelled by Him then we fall eternally; but if we thirst for Him, then he will continually protect us in the midst of inevitable sufferings which Christ himself experienced.  The oaths which the Israelites made in v.22 will be held against them, just as our oath to be Christians when we professed to be born again will be held against us, for we now know the truth and made a marriage vow which we should enjoy and not persistently break lest our marriage vow was built upon deception and lies and Spirit-less!  And so v.24 here is reflected in Hebrews 3:15 which quotes Psalm 95:7-8 – “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion”, the rebellion in the wildernesses.

25So Joshua(BR) made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place(BS) statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26And Joshua(BT) wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And(BU) he took a large stone and set it up there(BV) under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold,(BW) this stone shall be a witness against us, for(BX) it has heard all the words of the LORD that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28So Joshua(BY) sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

Once again, we should not overlook the specific locations provided in the Old Testament narrative.  Let us first consider what we know of Shechem and a particular terebinth which has already been mentioned before the book of Joshua:

Gen 35:1-5  God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”  (2)  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.  (3)  Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”  (4)  So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.  (5)  And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

Jacob hid all the foreign gods under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.  Here, Joshua sets up a large stone and sets it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD – no doubt, any Israelite with a familiar understanding of the history of his or her ancestor would know that Joshua did not randomly choose a place to set up the large stone.  It is at Shechem, that Jacob destroyed the idols; it is under the oak, the terebinth, that the idols were taken away from sight; and it is now under the terebinth in Shechem near the sanctuary of the LORD that Joshua commands the Israelites to hold true to their words, as if it was God himself telling Jacob to do the same.  The parallel is thus made between Yahweh commanding Jacob/Israel, and Joshua commanding the nation Israel; Joshua standing in as a type of Yeshua, and Israel standing in as a fulfillment of the prophetic imagery of Jacob in Genesis 35.

Joshua’s Death and Burial

29(BZ) After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being 110 years old. 30And they buried him in his own inheritance at(CA) Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.

Genesis 35 is not the only connection made, but also Genesis 50:26 when the patriarch Joseph also died at 110 years old.  Timnath-serah was Joshua’s inheritance as stated in Joshua 19:50, and Adam Clarke comments:

“The Septuagint add here, “And they put with him there, in the tomb in which they buried him, the knives of stone with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, according as the Lord commanded when he brought them out of Egypt; and there they are till this day.” St. Augustine quotes the same passage in his thirtieth question on the book of Joshua, which, in all probability, he took from some copy of the Septuagint. It is very strange that there is no account of any public mourning for the death of this eminent general; probably, as he was buried in his own inheritance, he had forbidden all funeral pomp, and it is likely was privately interred.”

Burial is an important tradition, and also indicative of where the promises of these OT saints lay.  The additional insight in the LXX is most welcome – putting the knives of stone with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, reminding us of the mystery of circumcision first instituted in Genesis 18, looking forward to the life-circumcision of Christ and its replacement with water-baptism after Christ has fulfilled his incarnate mission.  This theme of burial, of necessary death, of the ‘ways of the earth’, is the typical way of how the Mosaic books have ended, with the deaths of Jacob, Joseph, Miriam, Aaron, Moses and now Joshua.

31(CB) Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua(CC) and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel. 32(CD) As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land(CE) that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money.[b] It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph. 33And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of(CF) Phinehas his son, which had been given him in(CG) the hill country of Ephraim.

Thus, it is fitting to look at the fulfillment of the treatment of Joseph’s bones from Genesis 50:25 and Exodus 13:19, the burying of the bones most likely to take place when the land of Canaan was completely taken.  It is at this point we realize that Joseph and Joshua are both receiving their funeral procession, the burial of Joseph’s bones in the land of his forefathers, as promised; and Joshua’s acceptance of the end of his life on earth in present creation.  It is interesting how he was called the servant of the LORD, a phrase used especially in Numbers 12:7, Deuteronomy 34:5 and Joshua 1:1 in reference to Moses placing him in line with those who stood by the LORD.  This is quite interesting, because the theme of servanthood is aligned to Stephen’s description of those who stand with Christ and those who stand against Him (Acts 7).  Joshua is now directly expressed to be with Christ, and Moses also – enabling us to read the Old Testament by understanding who is truly a Christian saint, doing His will, and those who belong to a non-Messianic non-Christ-focused Judaism.  As these saints were in many ways types of Christ, just as we are reflections of His image especially after being redeemed and the Holy Spirit conforming us to the Son, so an affront to Moses and Joshua is also an affront to Christ.  Matthew Henry looks at the extra-biblical views of Joshua’s death in seeing Joshua’s death in relation to Christ’s death:

“Joshua’s burying-place is here said to be on the north side of the hill Gaash, or the quaking hill; the Jews say it was so called because it trembled at the burial of Joshua, to upbraid the people of Israel with their stupidity in that they did not lament the death of that great and good man as they ought to have done. Thus at the death of Christ, our Joshua, the earth quaked. The learned bishop Patrick observes that there is no mention of any days of mourning being observed for Joshua, as there were for Moses and Aaron, in which, he says, St. Hierom and others of the fathers think there is a mystery, namely, that under the law, when life and immortality were not brought to so clear a light as they are now, they had reason to mourn and weep for the death of their friends; but now that Jesus, our Joshua, has opened the kingdom of heaven, we may rather rejoice.”

Almost immediately (in the narrative) comes the death of the high priest Eleazar, the obedient and eldest son of Aaron.  It should be noted here that whether or not the narrative is accurate in its chronology, the more important message is the coalescing of all the saints who had witnessed God’s miracles in relation to Egypt, the Exodus and the arrival at Canaan, from Joseph to Moses to Joshua to Eleazar.  They are thus buried with their forefathers, and they are living among those who have set the example of faith for the next generations to come.  Yet, it begs the question: how many more saints were like these mighty men?  Yahweh had been merciful on this weak, rebellious nation and time and time again he has set them examples of imperfect Christians who are still exalted amongst people who are simply rebellious, unbelieving and completely condemnation-worthy for they have much access to God’s witnesses in the tabernacle, the testimony of these saints, and so forth.  As Adam Clarke commentates, this is the same necessity for all those who profess Christianity: to “enter into a covenant with God through Christ”, and such profession must come with it good works stemming from marital love deposited by the Holy Spirit.  He continues:

“It does not appear that Joshua was ever married, or that he had any children. That he was high in the estimation of God, we learn from his being chosen to succeed Moses in the government of the people. He was the person alone, of all the host of Israel, who was deemed every way qualified to go out before the congregation, and go in: to lead them out, and bring them in; and be the shepherd of the people, because the Spirit of God was in him. See Num_27:17, etc. He is called the servant of God, as was Moses; and was, of all men of that generation, next in eminence to that great legislator… they gave him Timnath-serah, in the barren mountains of Ephraim, and even this he asked Jos_19:50. But was not this the best city in the land? No – it was even No city; evidently no more than the ruins of one that had stood in that place; and hence it is said, he builded the city and dwelt therein – he, with some persons of his own tribe, revived the stones out of the rubbish, and made it habitable.”

In such a short paragraph, Clarke hits on all the things true also of our Messiah Yeshua Christ.  He who was not married, so that he would marry his first love the Bride, the Church (Colossians 1:16; Revelation 19:7); He who was persecuted (Hebrews 13:13); He who was humbled (Psalm 8:5); He who was the Servant of servants (Acts 3:13) – and yet Christ would still take Jerusalem, the place where he was murdered and framed, and re-frame, re-new it as the central glory of New Creation – so much as to call it the New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2), as intimated by Joshua’s treatment of this seemingly hopeless peace of land.  And yet, Joshua is just a man, and the Messiah has still not come, not for another thousand years the Israelites are given the temporary institution of the Mosaic law, completely sufficient to point their mind towards Christ’s first coming and their impending resurrection in New Creation – and so the book of Joshua ends abruptly, on the deaths of those notable saints.  Joshua ends with the spirited image of the eternal oath made at Shechem, the Israelites full of hope and future; Acts ends on the active proclamation of Christ to the ends of the earth – there is much in common, and yet in the End Times, the proclamation is with much more vigour, much more enthuasiasm, much more speed, the spiritual Bridegroom much more united – the centripetal force of the Spirit working in ways more than an indwelling in the saints of the Old.  However, where there are times of Christ-focused Christians, there are times of rebellion even in the last 2000 years, and thus the end of Joshua rightly sets up the time of the Judges and Kings just as we also are in the time of Judges and Kings today until the coming New Jerusalem embodied in David and Solomon’s Kingdom to come.

Joshua 23-24: The Next Generation

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

Genesis 45-47: The remnant and the future of Israel

A word of thanks for the written encouragement and comments on the blog!  I look forward to hearing more from whoever you may be and above all expecting to see some comments relating directly to the posts and whether something is indeed spoken from the Spirit of Christ, or whether what I’ve written is not entirely scriptural.  Thanks for those who prayed for the Philippines trip – please continue to pray for the children every so often, as I feel that many of the kids whom we looked after have yet to really know Christ and bear the cross, whilst some have already begun bearing the fruit of the Spirit.  Meanwhile, let’s finish off Genesis!

1.  The surviving remnant through Jesus Christ alone (Genesis 45)

2.  The reunion of Jacob the doubter and Joseph the Christ – the remnant in a foreign land (Genesis 46)

3.  Goshen (Genesis 46:31-47:11)

4. Israel’s burial (Genesis 47:12-31)

1.  The surviving remnant through Jesus Christ alone (Genesis 45)

Here we begin what is a sequence of responses to Joseph’s apparent ‘resurrection’, his reclaiming the position and glory with his father prior to being sold as a slave. He re-iterates his own identity – “I am Joseph!” (v. 3). This type of proclamation is necessary for the brothers who were unfaithful to him, who hated him, and who had his robe dipped in goat’s blood and effectively killed him. The colourful robe which showed the splendour of his relationship with his father was soiled with the blood of a goat normally used for sacrifice; and in the same way we soil the relationship of splendour between the Father and the Son with our sin which was placed on Christ, and which only His blood can cleanse.

Which is only then unsurprising that “his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence”. Indeed, they are so dismayed because they are convicted with the guilt of a sinner; they are convicted that they were the ones who crucified Joseph. Yet Joseph pre-empts them and rids them of their guilt: “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” If he stopped there, then he would indeed add weight to their dismay and burden; but he does not, and so he continues (v.5, 7) “…And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.”

In what way could Joseph preserve the family? Only if he is exalted and placed in a position of responsibility; a position of a ruler of the land – “the lord of all [Pharoah’s] house and ruler over all the land of Egypt”. It is this authority and sovereignty that can preserve the faithful Christian remnant in Canaan. Without which, if Joseph was a mere man who was “brought back to life” and was not exalted nor ascended to a position of glory which reflects that of the colourful robe between him and his father, then there is nothing for Joseph to give. Such is the manner in Jesus’ proclamation to Mary Magdalene – “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”” (John 20:17).

And where does Joseph’s authority come from? Where does his sovereign power in the land of Egypt find its source? From the God who sent him. V. 8-9 explains all: “So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharoah, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry””. Indeed, such is the good news – that even God can work through our sins for His glory. If it was not for the rejection of Israel’s other sons, then Joseph would not have been sent to the Gentile nation – and in the same way, the rejection of Christ by the Jews effectively sent the gospel to the Gentiles, symbolized by the Egyptians here. But has Joseph rejected his Israelite brothers, being an Israelite himself, just as Christ was? Did Christ reject his Jewish brothers, though he preached a message that benefited both Jews and Gentiles alike? As Paul writes in Romans 11 – “By no means!”

v.7 of Romans 11 continues to explain: “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened” – who is the Elect One except for Christ himself, elected and sent to do the work of the Father? Elected and sent to be risen to glory and to be the captain and King, to bring with him his Jewish and Gentiles brothers to shelter away from the global famine of desperation and death? And it is in the elect that the Israelites did not receive a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see, nor ears that would not hear… though it is unfortunate that many of the other Israelites failed to be in the Elect One. In the same way, God had used Joseph’s brothers stumbling in previous chapters for His glory. Romans 11:11-12 continues – “Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”.

It is in this way that God glorifies Himself through the trespasses which sold Joseph, the type of Christ, into the world, and that the gospel is given to the Gentile Egyptians first and yet the fullness of the nation Israel is even further magnified! How so? V.7 has already exposed this: “To preserve for (Israel) a remnant on earth, and to keep for your many survivors! The detail as to how many will be revealed in the next few chapters.

And so from v. 16-20 we receive the Pharoah’s positive reaction to Joseph’s brothers entering a Gentile land. His response is not that of division – but he welcomes them. What a far cry from Moses’ temporary father in Egypt! Rather, the Gentiles and Jews had lived side by side, and furthermore had been blessed through the Gentiles. This further enforces the point in Romans 11 – “if their (the Jews’) trespass means riches for the world (Egypt in this context), and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles (food which is stored and sold from Egypt), how much more will their full inclusion mean!”. Yes, and the full inclusion has been typified and has begun in this story of Joseph.

Evangelism

So, v. 21-24 is a picture of the evangelistic commission – “Do not quarrel on the way” (v.24) and “have no concern for your goods, for the best of the land of Egypt is yours” (v. 20). Indeed, as Christians we should not quarrel along the way when we wish to spread the Great Gospel to the ends of the earth, to our own brothers and sisters, to our own mothers and fathers. We should unite and tell of the great news of where the bread is found in a time of famine, but how rare that is! How easy it is for the brothers to stop and think that Joseph is a liar, a lunatic or is indeed who he proclaims to be. How easy it is for them to tarry, to wait around and eventually have Jacob/Israel die on them whilst they take their time and do not take evangelism seriously? Joseph gives the typified mandate – “Do not quarrel on the way”. So we should also learn to not quarrel, but learn to discern and discuss the truth without losing the sense of urgency caused by the power of the famine, yet also the sense of sovereignty and protection from Joseph’s words for the brothers need not find their security in the goods given to them. Rather, these goods are temporary provisions – the real meat, the real deal, the real goal is the land. We should therefore set our sights on the higher throne (Rev 7:9-17), rather than worry about our own possessions in the meanwhile.

When the gospel of Joseph’s effective resurrection was given to Jacob, Jacob’s “heart became numb, for he did not believe them”. Such is the response of many Christians in Jesus’ incarnate days – many did not believe. Many were astounded. As Jesus responded: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken of! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26). Indeed. O foolish Jacob! You who kept your son Joseph’s dream in mind, the prophecy of his leadership over his 11 brothers… was it not necessary that Joseph should suffer these things and enter into his prophesied glory? But this doubting Thomas had his fears and doubts removed when he saw the glory and gifts given to the brothers. His brothers were indeed “witnesses of these things”. Just as Christ said to his disciples: “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49). So Joseph had given them wagons, according to the command of Pharoah, and gave them provisions for the journey – change of clothes, money, donkeys, good things of Egypt, grain, bread, and provision… these are just a few things which God has blessed his brothers with, as a testimony to God’s grace and righteousness. Jacob, the type of the doubter, ceases his doubt when he sees his sons clothed by the gifts of the Pharoah – and it is by these visible outwards signs of the good news of Joseph’s return that he is convinced and that his spirit revived. Jacob is absolutely thrilled – “I will go and see him before I die” (v.28). Though he is old, he is willing. Such is the type of necessity that every aged man and woman should express, if they too are carrying the cross of Christ and looking forward to his great return.

2.  The reunion of Jacob the doubter and Joseph the Christ – the remnant in a foreign land (Genesis 46)

This chapter is actually quite interesting. Unlike the normal genealogy, we have an establishment of the number of people who entered Egypt. 33 + 16 + 14 + 7 = 70 people in total (v. 25), 66 not including Jacob’s sons’ wives. This is definitely very different from the Exodus 12:37 – six hundred thousand people (including, of course, the Egyptians who converted to Christianity) compared to 70 Jews. Within a space of 430 years, and assuming that a new generation is spawned every 30 or 40 years, we are expecting about 10 to 20 generations from Joseph’s death to the great Exodus. This would mean that 30,000 to 60,000 on average were the numbers added to the church of Christ each generation, without taking into account the exceptionally huge numbers of converts probably during the time of the famine and during the time of the plagues in Exodus. This, indeed, is a fulfillment of God’s prophecy – many are indeed added to the house of Israel who will return to Canaan eventually.

I have prepared a lineal table here showing those who entered Egypt in this period (to be uploaded later!).  Note the little detail about Er and Onan in v. 11 – such is indeed odd, given that the type of Scriptural utterances concerning people’s burials in Israel are often those of righteous men and women. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah are all such examples. But then there are those who were probably buried elsewhere – Lot, and Joseph who were buried outside of Canaan. I think this is the type of detail which displays the symbolic nature of Canaan. Canaan is indeed a place which points towards the true Promised Land, but in itself, it is not the promised land. That is why Er and Onan’s death there makes no difference; their belonging may be found in Canaan, but their hearts are found in Babylon. Contrarily, Lot and Joseph are men in Christ, buried outside of Canaan. Even the focus of Joseph’s marriage to the daughter of Potiphera displays an inclusion of these Jewish-Egyptian children, Manasseh and Ephraim, into the covenant people. Thus, this chapter works to focus on the spiritual covenant people found to be the wanderers of Egypt and Canaan, but it is not their physical heritage (e.g. Er and Onan) which will enable them to receive their promised inheritance.

3.  Goshen (Genesis 46:31-47:11)

“…for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (Gen 46:34). Now, why does Joseph want to maintain the shepherd culture of the Jews even in foreign land? This is an interesting portrayal of the light not mixing with the dark. Indeed, we are in the world, but not of it – and here, Joseph wishes to maintain not simply Israel’s cultural, but their very spiritual identity. Would Israel aim to be accepted into Egypt at the cost of losing their identity in the Great Shepherd King? Or would Israel aim to live in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, whilst compromising their Christian values?  Daniel surely did not forsake his ways… and it seems that the Christians entering Egypt are not aiming to do so either.  

Pharoah’s response is likely that of a Christian – “Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock”. This land will be the same land that the Israelites will be living in – Exodus 8:22 and 9:26 show God’s protection over the land of Goshen from the plagues because that is where the Israelites dwelled.  This is not only some land… but it is the best land. The Egyptians have no excuse by the time of Exodus to enslave the Israelites.  They could have peered into their own historical annals to find out why the Israelites had been part of Egypt, and why they lived in Goshen, the best land even among a Gentile nation.

For it is the very same reason the remnant of Israel receives the same blessings wherever they go – for the church is found not in the location, but in the people.  The church of Christ, the synagogue, the assembly, the congregation is what God is protecting.  Their congregation at Goshen, at Canaan, are examples and foresights of God’s people inheriting the true land to which they look forward to.  The nature of the church in Goshen is very different to the nature of the church in Sodom and Gomorrah.  The former inherits the blessing of the land, because that is where God wants them to go by the command of the Pharoah who is effectively an obedient agent of our LORD in these chapters.  The latter does not inherit the blessing of the land, is hated by both Christians and non-Christians for being lukewarm, failed to evangelise to neighbours and yet mingled and lived with the Sodomites like he was one of them.  Lot may be saved, but he is not a picture of a man walking by the Spirit persistently; Israel and others do not forget the Promised Land which Canaan witnesses to.  People should flock to God, to the Promised land.  People should flock to Canaan.  God’s people may go out to other lands, may be blessed in other lands, but eventually they should go back to Canaan.  Such is the same story for us – we find our solace in flocking to Christ, our Sabbath, in new Jerusalem sitting at the right hand of the Father.  And Christ sent us out to the people, to the lands, to mission fields in law firms, banks, offices, rural areas, paddy fields whatever the location may be… and God blesses us there.  He will give us the best, in spite of difficulties which will face us (Genesis 15:13)… which is why we continually look not on our Goshens in life, we do not look to our possessions for security (Genesis 45:20), because even those things will fail us.  The juxtaposition of the first half of chapter 47, speaking of the glory of Goshen, placed next to the second half of chapter 47 which speaks of how the Israelites were protected in the land of Goshen – that during this period both the priests in Egypt and the Israelites still flourished.  v.27 of chapter 47 reveals that Israel thus settled there, and still gained possessions in it, were fruitful and multiplied.  How can they be fruitful and multiply by the tens of thousands during this period?  This clearly shouts out the hand of God over this faithful but entirely weak nomadic nation.  

4. Israel’s burial (Genesis 47:12-31)

By the end of chapter 47, Joseph had made “servants of them (all the Egyptians) from one end of Egypt to the other.” (v.21)  Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for they had a fixed allowance.  There is interestingly a refrain in the latter part of Genesis 47 – “the land of the priests alone did not become Pharoah’s” (v.22, v.26). Thus, only the priests and Israel found favour during this horrible 7-year period.

But why does Israel maintain his position to leave Egypt and return to Canaan, despite being there for a full 17 years?  Joseph swore to Israel that he would bury him in Canaan, but why?

Hebrews 11:21 sheds some light on the matter: “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff”.  Israel’s death is a faithful one where he knows where he goes, to the place where he would be gathered with his people in the true Eden.  He is going to where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah were buried, and he ensures that his descendants will not forget their inheritance by asking to be buried in Canaan, the mock-promised land.  His worries in chapters 42-45 about a lonely death is no longer present; instead, he gets to relay his message to Joseph, and to his 12 sons with their sons and daughters.  What a magnificent turn of events! We’ve already spoken of the significance of the staff in previous entries, paraphrasing Justin Martyr that it is a foretelling of the cross on which Jesus died.  It is a symbol of guidance for lost sheep, yet it can also effectively act as the rod of punishment; or it can be a measuring rod shaped like a staff (Rev 11:1) – and none of this contradicts the power of the cross, which is also a guidance and security for us sheep; a picture of punishment for those who are threatened by its power (e.g. Satan) by nailing sin to the wood of the tree, or a measuring rod outlining the very re-created city in which we live.  This indeed is a very powerful image – and no wonder such a small detail is included in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures.  Who cares if he leans on a staff?  But if this ‘staff’ represents the very power of the cross on which our Christ is crucified, then indeed Jacob leans on the cross of Christ as his security that he is buried in Canaan, and raised up to New Jerusalem along with the other saints of old.

Genesis 45-47: The remnant and the future of Israel

Genesis 42-44: Refiner’s Fire

1.  “That we may live and not die”  (Genesis 42)

2.  Joseph and his brothers, the covenant people (Genesis 42:19- 43:34)

3.  The testing of the eleven (Genesis 44)

The problem with the Joseph story is that too many people read it as many different things; some have read it as prosperity gospel (the blessings given to Christians); some have read it as an elevation of the Christian himself (e.g. Joseph placed in a high position).  Others have read it negatively – that Joseph’s testing is unnecessary, perhaps mean.  Or perhaps Joseph is imperfect, which is why he may be harbouring negative thoughts towards his brothers.  However, these are all very non-Christological interpretations, and they do not serve to edify the body of Christ if we read this story as a swansong of the Old Testament How-To Guide to becoming rich, becoming noticed, or becoming important.  It is, as I have been trying to maintain consistently, about Christ.

1.  “That we may live and not die”  (Genesis 42)

The first thing we have mentioned about Joseph since Chapter 37 is how the dream he prophesies speaks not only of himself temporarily, but eternally of Christ – how all the stars, moon and sun point to Christ.  Joseph is a type of Christ.  Which means that as bread-giver in a time of famine, we have a picture of Christ giving bread in a time when the Word of God has not appeared to the Israelites for 400 years.  It is a time of wilderness, of famine, and a time when people desire, nay, are desperate for the Living Bread.  Jacob wisely tells his 11 sons not to look at one another (v.1) for aid; rather, look to Christ, who dwells in Egypt, a land outside his home.  Look at The Christ, who tabernacled with men temporarily outside of his home-place with his Father and Spirit.  He is the one who will give the Living Bread and Water in this famine.

Benjamin

But not all are sent – only 10 are sent, whilst the last one is kept at home.  The reason why the last son, Benjamin, is kept at home is only partially explained, for Jacob feared that harm may happen to Benjamin.  One may immediately assume it is to do with Benjamin’s youth – but remember that it has been at least 9 years since Joseph has been sold as a slave to Egypt – not only that, but by now Benjamin has already 10 sons (Genesis 46:21).  2 of the 9 years wer spent in prison, 7 spent gathering the food, and then, somewhere during the latter 7 years when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph then opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians (Genesis 41:56-57).  This wasn’t merely a local famine – this is a global famine, and I would imagine that a famine spreading over all the earth would not be immediate.

If it isn’t because of his youth that he is prevented from visiting Egypt, then what might it be?  It is possible that it has to do with Joseph and Benjamin being his only second-born son after Rachel’s death, the first love of his life.  Look at how Jacob addresses him in v. 38 – “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one leftOnly one?  What about the other 10!?  Again, this is similar to how God spoke to Abraham concerning Isaac, his “only son” despite Ishmael’s earlier birth.  Ishmael, who was born of a servant who belonged to the wilderness was merely given birth by the will of man.  So, it is similar with most of the other brothers; but through Rachel, Jacob’s first love, is Jacob given two sons against the barrenness of Rachel, much like the barrenness of Sarah.  We were given Isaac by such a miraculous birth beyond scientific comprehension; and again, we were given Joseph and Benjamin also against scientific comprehension.    In any case, at this point it is mere extrapolation but keep this mind in point.

Custody for 3 days

Here again, we see a glimpse of the future fulfillment of Scripture: The brothers were kept in custody for 3 days, after which he says “Do this and you will live, for I fear God”.  In the same way, on the 3rd day on Mt. Sinai, the 10 commandments and the Law was given to Moses, after they have already been saved.  What is the meaning of Joseph’s expression – “Do this and you will live, for I fear God”.  Is it conditional?  The phraseology is odd – what does “Doing this” have anything to do with “God”?  It is as if the one who gives the commands right now is a representative of God before them.  This, in fact, is very similar to Christ’s commandments in the New Testament – do this and you will liveLove me with all your heart, your mind, your soul… and you will live.

So also, on the third day, we will rise up.  But will we be struck down in our second death, or will we go on to ascend?  We can only have eternal life in the interim of the End Days if we choose to look on Christ, and let faith be a tool of such an expression.  Look at Hosea 6:

1“Come, let us(A) return to the LORD;
for(B) he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and(C) he will bind us up.
2After two days(D) he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3(E) Let us know;(F) let us press on to know the LORD;
(G) his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us(H) as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

The narrative of these last chapters of Genesis make us assume that Joseph had already decided the fate of these brothers.  He had already decided to obey God and let Him fulfill his dreams.  Look at v.9 – “And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them”.  Indeed, he isn’t going to condemn even the father and Benjamin who weren’t even involved in the treachery of selling him as a slave?  In which case, these 11 men, and their father Israel, already had salvation offered to them – but the question is, will they take it?  Will they show the fruit of their desperation, of their search for the living bread?  Will they be even so much as willing to bring another brother as a witness to their truth?  This is why Joseph says, “do this and you will live”.  Examine the fruit of the Spirit as a mark of your salvation.  Examine the desperation for the living Word in your heart, and you shall live eternally with Jesus in new creation.

2.  Joseph and his brothers, the covenant people (Genesis 42:19- 43:34)

Notice the effect Joseph has on the people.  They are convicted – and they want to live.  v.20-21 of Chapter 42 shows their confession – they have truly repented before the LORD Christ.  “…’bring your youngest brother to me.  So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.’  And they did so.  Then they said to one another, ‘In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen.  That is why this distress has come upon us.’  Reuben is the first one to reveal his heart.  He was the one who had been slow in his obedience… yet he had eventually expressed his anger against their collective sin.  Like Peter, he regretted what he had done; he regretted taking part with the wicked. His regret is fully expressed in Chapter 42v.37, to exchange his sons for Jacob’s two sons from Rachel.

What is interesting is the little detail about Joseph speaking in the Egyptian tongue, whilst the Israelites spoke in their own linguistic dialect.  The parallel I find is the apparent ‘misunderstanding’ between the two parties; we think our Christ does not understand us, because of his supposed elevated position.  But he does, and he understands our dialect, our hearts very well.  And our LORD is not a merciful pushover; he takes what is dear to us to make a point – so much as to take our kin (v.24 chapter 42).

Yet, upon the way, he provides us with the necessary resources to respond to his commands.  He gifts us with the necessary finances to fulfill His commands.  It is all from Him – the manna, the water from the Rock, the Tree of Life, the Bread of Life, even the very gold and silver used to make the Tabernacle.v.28: “At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, ‘What is this that God has done to us?'” Indeed, I find it unclear here whether they are pleasantly surprised or genuinely frustrated.  Either way, Joseph still awaits their obedient response as an expression of their love for their brother Simeon; love for their father Jacob; love for their brother Benjamin – such love which has been seriously lacking from their birth (Simeon and Levi’s sin against Shechem; the brothers collectively hating and scheming against Joseph; Judah’s disobedient attitude in bonding with a prostitute).  Joseph’s actions have put them in their rightful position, and now they remember and realise their sins; indeed, so much as to respond in desperation.

The fact that Joseph is placed in a position to know the family better than the brothers assume creates a very good foretelling of Jesus’ omniscience in partnership with the Father and the Spirit.  From knowing how many husbands an adulterous wife has to knowing the heart of the rich man, Joseph knows and probes the family of Jacob to the point of their conviction and confession.  Such truth and knowledge penetrates, bone, soul and marrow (Hebrews 4:12).

But it seems that they had delayed in going to save their kin.  They actually took their time to eat the grain given by the LORD through Joseph, and still delayed in returning to save Simeon!  Then at this point, Jacob’s name reverts to Israel – and this is a sign of his obeying God again.  He tells him to take the honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

A land flowing with milk and honey; pistachio nuts and almonds being the edible type of Seed; but myrrh?  Myrrh, gold and frankincense was given to Christ – two of which are used for anointing, one of those two being an anointing for death (which is myrrh, representing the death of Christ Jesus).  I doubt this is a common gift given to the living LORD of the land. (Chapter 42:30).

Bread, water and the Wedding Feast

What a surprise then for them to see that Joseph, the lord of the land, would give them water and wash their feet a la Christ with his disciples and truly caring for the beast of the last (Genesis 1:28; Chapter 43:24).  There they were, eating the Bread which they desired at noon, at the height of God’s righteousness Psalm 37:5-6:

5(J) Commit your way to the LORD;
(K) trust in him, and he will act.
6(L) He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as(M) the noonday.

So also, our God will eat with us (Matthew 22) at the great wedding feast in the city that has no night and where the true light of noon will be the Lamb Himself.

When Joseph returns to his chambers to weep, his brothers do not see it.  In the same we only have a glimpse of God’s love for us, God’s faithfulness, and God’s tears for us.  We know, in part, through the glory of the Scriptures, of God’s true love.  But will we stand in his chambers, dwell in his tabernacle and Holy of Holies behind the veil to see his face, and bask in his true glory and love?  Not yet.

So the brothers are amazed at each other as they sat before him, firstborn and youngest according to their age (v. 33), but Benjamin’s portion was greater than any of theirs.  There, however, was no jealousy – instead, they drank and were merry with him.  They may sit at different positions around the table, but they are all in communion with the lord of the land.  So also, let us be children in faith, let us be little children in the Spirit (Matthew 11:25, Matthew 19, Luke 22:26), like Benjamin who is the youngest (though by no means physically young) but most prone to be hurt in this world.  This is fulfilled in the spirit of breaking the tradition of the ‘right of the firstborn’ – for Joseph fully understands that the LORD does not differentiate between the physically old and young reprobate, but fully depends upon the old and young in Christ.

3.  The testing of the eleven (Genesis 44)

Now, Joseph tests the eleven brothers, just as the risen Christ tested the eleven apostles.  They had the temptation to place the blame on someone else, but Judah laid his heart before Christ.  He laid honesty before Christ.  And he offered himself self-sacrificially for his brother.  Judah has made a full metanoia from his Chapter 37 phase.  He is now willing to be a SERVANT.  This is a fulfillment of dream of Joseph – and now Judah is prepared to be a servant of Joseph.

Conclusion

These three chapters have been very colourful in painting the picture of the brothers of Joseph, at least some if not all of them having a changed heart through this experience.  The famine has created the conviction of sin; their inability to look to each other for aid; so they look to God for the living Bread; whereupon the cost of taking up the cross of the living Bread is that they lay their life down to take it up again – all of which Reuben and Judah (as we know) have come to experience as true Christians refined by the disciplinary and consuming fire of the LORD.

Genesis 42-44: Refiner’s Fire

Genesis 39-41: He who will give us the bread of life

I seem to be able to get internet every so often.  Please pray continually for the trip!  Meanwhile, back to Genesis.

  1. Joseph rejecting the whore of Babylon (Genesis 39)
  2. Pierced for our transgressions (Genesis 40)
  3. Restored to true glory (Genesis 41)

1.  Joseph rejecting the whore of Babylon (Genesis 39)

Joseph, compared to Judah, was a good witness. Even though Judah remained in Canaan, Joseph, who was born in Canaan/Israel and brought to Egypt, was a far better witness. The LORD was with Joseph (v.2), and Joseph’s evangelism clearly enabled Potiphar to see the LORD with him, and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands (v.3). Nothing is explicitly spoken of Potiphar’s faith in Jesus, but Potiphar had a peripheral trust in the work of the LORD as to enable Joseph to be the overseer of his house.

As Joseph grew in form and appearance as a handsome and attractive man (v.6), a sign of both growing in stature with God from the previous verses and with man in this verse, here is a Christian who is walking closely with the Holy Spirit who dwells within him.

Yet, the whore that is Potiphar’s wife, attempted to seduce Joseph into lying with her. He refused the advances of the whore of Babylon (Isaiah 14; Revelation 14:8; 17:5), and he was unjustly accused of something which he did not do – he was completely innocent, a man who pleased God, and served men. However, even as he dwells in the pit, the LORD was with him and showed his steadfast love and faithfulness towards Joseph (v.21). Even in the pit, Joseph’s work was successful because of the LORD (v. 23).

2.  Pierced for our transgressions (Genesis 40)

The wonderful thing about the image of Genesis 39 is that it is a direct foretelling of Jesus’ incarnation. Indeed, this man who is born an Israelite is called to Egypt to be tested for forty days and forty nights; not only that, but he also grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:52), pleasing to both God and man. No doubt, the events of chapter 39 reflected very much what Jesus’ had done in the early days of his ministry. But he was unjustly brought to the cross to die for sins which he did not actually do. Meanwhile, in spite of the rejection of Christ, His work is intercessory on our behalf – the dreams of the chief cup-bearer and the baker are good examples. The chief-cup bearer, like Nehemiah, is that of a faithful Christian who is brought up on the third day (v. 20); and the chief baker, on the third day, did not rise again. He experienced his second death, after his first one in the pit.

Yet, when we receive the blessings of man, we forget where the true blessings came from very often. And here, we see the ascension of Christ – his true glory is revealed in the next chapter when God remembers Christ, although men did not.  The glory of the chief cup-bearer is but the firstfruits of the true glory of Joseph.  And the glory of Joseph in the following chapter is but the firstfruit of the true glory of Christ, and his work when he ascends and his work when he returns the second time where the tree of life and its leaves are given for the true healing of all nations.

Revelation 22:2

“…also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

3.  Restored to true glory (Genesis 41)

In spite of all the cultish methods the magicians of Egypt employed to satiate the Pharoah’s trouble over dreams, God has used dreams as a tool of his communication of prophetic events. This interpretation of dreams is highly prophetic of that of Daniel; and both Daniel and Joseph were gifted with the charismatic gift of dream-interpretation. Here, however, it is not merely exalting Joseph to the position of that of a person who can interpret dreams. Rather, it is the significance of there being no-one the King of Egypt can rely on; and how someone so seemingly insignificant and forgotten can not only bring blessings to the cup-bearer, but bring blessings to the Pharoah himself. Joseph knows he is not the centre of the story (v. 16) – however, he knows someone who should be – and that is God himself.

His faithfulness and evangelism is so convincing that even the Pharoah admits to God’s power shown through Joseph; just as Abimelech admits the blessedness of Isaac. “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (v. 38). Clearly, by now, there is a somewhat working knowledge of the Trinity: the Spirit of God, the Father (Creator) who is the God of the heavens, and the Son, the Chief Angel who makes appearances to several characters of the Old Testament.

Now, Joseph is re-clothed – he is no longer merely a servant of Potiphar, as he was a servant of the disciples and the Jews of Jerusalem. He is ascended and restored to the right hand of God the Father, that for a “little while [he was made] lower than the angels; you (the Father) have crowned him (Christ) with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6). And so it is the same here – Joseph is crowned as second to the Pharoah by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him, clothed with the King’s signet ring and garments of fine linen and gold chain representing his present glory and righteousness. But remember – Joseph is merely a type to the true gospel.

By the end of the chapter, seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began. And so also, as prophesied in Amos 8:11, this famine of bread is merely a type of the famine on the land…

“not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it”.

This is the famine of 400 years until Christ’s incarnation in the time prior to the writing of the synoptic gospels. For 400 years the word of the LORD has not been heard, indeed leading to all types of weird theologies popping up (c.f. Pharisees and Sadducees) when the written word of the Pentateuch, Prophets, Writings and Psalms have not been consistently preached and contemplated upon. And the same here – seven years of plenty of bread had been collected, as the law and gospel has been continually proclaimed from Adam to Malachi; but there will be a famine of the hearing of the words of the LORD, after which time the only place to hear the true words of Christ is from his own incarnated mouth at the time of fulfillment. In the same way, people flock “from all over the earth” (v. 57) to Egypt, to find the Israelite from the Promised Land providing true bread for the people to feed. Let us fellow Christians take our evangelism seriously, as we direct those to the one who resides in the true Promised Land, who can give them the true bread of life.

Genesis 39-41: He who will give us the bread of life

Genesis 36-38: The unidentifiable Mediator

NB:  I may not be posting for this week, because I will be serving at a church mission @ Philippines (pending internet @ the hotel or otherwise).  Please pray for me and the kids who are going, and that people will be saved!

1.  Esau’s descendants (Genesis 36)

2.  The Dream about Christ: Gospel re-enacted (Genesis 37)

3.  The story of Judah and Tamar: Randomly inserted, or God glorifying? (Genesis 38 )

1.  Esau’s descendants (Genesis 36)

Here we have the first really detailed account of a nation that does not involve the Saviour’s line – and there is much about Esau indulging in his adulterous polygamous relationship with Canaanite wives, most definitely a burden to Isaac and Rebekah given their understanding of Christian marriage.  These Canaanites were effectively the forefathers of Edom, the not-so-brotherly nation of Israel (c.f. Obadiah).

Here is a table for easy referencing (table to be uploaded later!).

How sad it is that despite Esau and Jacob’s reunion at the end of chapter 35, Jacob failed to evangelise to Esau and have him serve Jacob, both maintaining their Israelite identity.  Rather, Esau returns to his place in Canaan, merging with the Canaanites, whilst Jacob is still in the Canaanite world but not of it.  The juxtaposition of chapter 36 and the events of chapters 34-35 simply shows the different priorities in the two brothers; however compromised they both are, Jacob at least still looks to the LORD.

2.  The Dream about Christ: Gospel re-enacted (Genesis 37)

Chapter 37 begins with “these are the generations of Jacob” – clearly, we have now moved to a different part of the history of Israel.  In other words, these are the generations of he who cheats – he who struggles.

What is interesting is the dynamic between Joseph and Jacob – perhaps because Joseph is the actual firstborn of Jacob’s first love; but we can only have guesses at this point.  What is interesting is how Joseph brings a bad report of the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah – both the servants of Leah and Rachel.  These were the children who were born illegitimately per se; children born out of competition, rather than heeding God’s will.

If we look at the grander events played out in Genesis 37-40, we can see that more is being spoken of than the relationship of Joseph with his 11 brothers.  Never in Scripture is a man particularly exalted, unless it speaks of the blessed man of Psalm 1 – who, though not exclusively about Jesus Christ, definitely speaks of Christ in the context.  Sure, we have the odd few who are exalted in Jewish and Muslim tradition (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon) – but even these characters have their serious flaws.  We’ve looked at Jacob, and he is really not very different from us.  Even Joseph understands that he is not the one who interprets dreams, but God alone (Genesis 40:8 ).  If that is the case, what does Joseph’s dream really mean?  Is it only about Joseph and his 11 brothers serving him?  Of course not.

Back to context… here is a summary of the things that happen in this chapter (and a preview of things to come) – thanks to Dev’s post on Genesis 38:

(1)  Israel, the God who fights for us, loved Joseph, his firstborn son more than any of his other sons (v.3).  Joseph owned a robe of many colours, made by his father exclusively for him.

(2)  Joseph brought a bad report of the children born out of competition and not of God’s will; and because of this, as well as his brothers seeing that their father loves Joseph more than the others, they hated him. (v.4)

(3)  Joseph’s dream, which caused his brothers to hate him even more (v. 5) – the dream firstly takes form as such, “Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright.  And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”  The second dream took form of this: “Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me” (v.9).  The father rebuked him, and his brothers were jealous of him (v.11), but “his father kept the saying in mind“.  Another Selah moment for his father perhaps?  For the first time is a ‘prophecy’ being made not about Christ and his lineage, but about Joseph and exclusively Joseph.  Or is this really the case?  This is probably why Jacob had to have a second look at Joseph’s words.  What is the significance of the two dreams?

(4)  Joseph is sent by his father to Shechem, and further directed to Dothan.  Shechem which we know about in Genesis 34 (the massacre); Dothan which we later will know is the place where Elisha witnessed the vision and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6). (v. 12-17)

(5)  Joseph is then thrown into a waterless pit, and the Midianite traders passed by and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for 20 shekels of silver. (v. 18-28 )  His robe had already been stripped from him (v. 23)

(6) Reuben failed to speak up when he could have – and when he returned to the pit, it was too late (v. 29).  They decided to dip Joseph’s robe in a slaughtered goat’s blood and proclaim that a fierce animal had devoured him (v. 32-33).  Jacob, Joseph’s father, mourned for many days but he refused to be comforted, saying “I shall go down to Sheol to my son” (v.34-36).

In these six short events, without looking at the future yet, is something oddly ‘coincidental’.  Let’s compare the above to what I have to say – the Father loved His only son, and the splendour of that love is portrayed through the colourful robe, as the rainbow of the throne of God and the covenantal rainbow had displayed; it is the Son’s role to bring to the High Judge all those who deserve to be punished, and all those who do not spiritually abide in the Son’s line (displayed by the physical birth through Bilhah and Zilpah).  The dreams were exclusively about Christ, about the bowing of the sun, moon and stars which witness to Christ alone (check my post on Day 1 and 4 of Creation) rather than the actual saints, since any blessing is a result of abiding in Christ.

Christ is then sent by his Father to find his brothers, the shepherds, in Shechem of Canaan and then re-directed to Dothan (I’m positive there is something significant here with the locations… what say you?) only to find the Father’s shepherds rejecting Christ.  And so Christ is rejected by the physical Israel, and thrown into a waterless pit temporarily, to signify the rejection he received from the shepherds who failed to fulfill their role.

Christ is then lifted out of the pit only to be sold in slavery to Egypt for 20 shekels of silver as his royal robe was stripped from him, just as Christ was sold by Judas to Caiaphas and the Pharisees for silver, and his robe stripped from him.  Reuben’s intervention was spoken too late, and his silence cost Joseph his suffering, just as Peter’s silence at the suffering of Christ was unedifying to God.  Christ’s splendour with his Father is unrecognisable, and what we see in the synoptic gospels are but only a faint glimmer of his transfigured self – and Joseph without his colourful robe makes it harder for others to see his glorious relationship with his Father.

The Death of Christ is a painful thing to the God in Heaven – so much that he denies comfort unless Christ returns to the Father, whereupon the Father’s livelihood is restored only upon the resurrection and ascension of his Anointed One (v.34-36). Here are some bullet points from Dev to make it clear:

– We start of with Joseph – the picture or type of Christ – Son of His Father
– His first coat – the coat of many colours – the splendour/glory He had with His Father – even before the world began
– We see him dream of exaltation – the Lamb that would be exalted on high
– Yet his brothers – the first shepherds – would hate him for that dream, he knows they would kill him, and throw him into the pit, they would claim a lion has devoured him – Christ knows that the Lamb has to be slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8 )
– Then so it begins – he is sold into slavery into Egypt – and indeed out of Egypt He would be called

Indeed, so this is a true gospel witness to the Son being slain prior to his incarnate work when he would be called out of Egypt and that he enters the world stripped of all dignity and all of his splendour with his Father, only to have it partially restored when his work on the cross is complete, and come to completion on the day of Ascension.

3.  The story of Judah and Tamar: Randomly inserted, or God glorifying? (Genesis 38 )

Then we come to the chapter 38.  Some may even say Moses messed up the order – surely he could have placed this chapter somewhere before or after the chronology on Joseph?  However, this proves to be quite an important chapter.  For fear of misquoting, here is something which was taken from http://the48files.blogspot.com/2008/04/judah-and-tamar-retold.html:

Gen 38 Ruth
Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite Elimelech moved away from his people to Moab
Judah and his son marry a Canaanite Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabites
Judah’s two sons die Elimelech and his two sons die
Judah and Onan act unfaithfully as kinsman-redeemer Boaz acts faithfully as kinsman-redeemer, the un-named redeemer of Ruth 4 does not act faithfully
Tamar faithfully seeks to continue the line Ruth faithfully seeks to continue the line
Tamar offers herself as a prostitute to Judah Ruth seeks to seduce Boaz in a way which could almost be considered entrapment
Judah dishonourable and seduced by Tamar Boaz is honourable in his conduct to Ruth
Tamar is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of Boaz, David and Jesus Ruth is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of David and Jesus

The parallel is uncanny – and this is built on the word spoken in the book of Ruth chapter 4:11-12:

11Then all the people who were(J) at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah,(K) who together(L) built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in(M) Ephrathah and(N) be renowned in Bethlehem, 12and may your house be like the house of Perez,(O) whom Tamar bore to Judah, because(P) of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

Surely, the relationship between Judah and Tamar is hardly God-glorifying?  But in actuality, it is the line God has chosen to reveal his Son.  The genealogy is established in Ruth 4:18-22:

18Now these are the generations of Perez:(W) Perez fathered Hezron, 19Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20(X) Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Let’s look more closely at Genesis 38 now.  When Judah took a Canaanite wife, his firstborn was wicked because it was an abomination in the eye of God to have a covenant between a Canaanite and an Israel!  How can the light mix with the dark?

But the line spoken of in Ruth 4 truly came around through some odd methods – her father-in-law planted his seed in her – Tamar, who is rejected by all and lived as a widow awaiting something to take her as a wife, and playing the role of a prostitute.  Indeed, what is spoken of here is the Holy Father planting his Seed by the power of the Holy Spirit in the prostitute church of Israel, especially the Virgin Mary (who is by no means sinless) whose conception is by someone greater than Joseph the carpenter, but the Father himself.

Finally, the proof of the birth is in the signet, cord and staff, all of which are sufficient to display the birth of the true Son.  The glory is difficult to identify through the unconventional and seemingly inglorious method of conception, but the three items is what identifies Jesus Christ – the signet which speaks of the Holy Spirit in him; the cord of his relationship with his Father (Psalm 2); and the Shepherd staff by which his power and guidance is further identified (Jeremiah 48:17).  The birth of Perez can only be confirmed by the scarlet thread; just as Rahab wanted proof of her conversion to Christianity by her scarlet cord (Joshua 2) – both speaking of the breach of the walls of Canaan, the dividing wall between the Israelites and the Gentiles.

So why is Chapter 38 weaved in between 37 and 39?  Because the acts of Joseph prophesies the act of Christ before the foundation of the world and when he is the incarnate Messiah – and chapters 37-50 speaks of the gospel of Christ punished, sold in slavery, exalted and placed at the right hand of the Pharoah.  Such is the befitting interlude of Chapter 38 which Christologically explains the prophetic events of the final chapters of Genesis!

Genesis 36-38: The unidentifiable Mediator