Fairview Baptist Church
2040 Main Street WW - Ashland, Kentucky 41102
"Where Everybody Is Somebody and Jesus is Lord"

 

Sunday School Archives
The lessons below are for the current month

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week5

To send an email regarding the Lesson Study Guide follow the link below:

Email Link: baileysadlerlesson@hotmail.com


This Sunday School Study Guide is provided free of cost for personal study and as an aid for Sunday School teachers.  It contains copyright material and may not be reproduced in any form for sale, without permission from the copyright holders.

 


 

 

Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – 2015

 

Study Theme: Be Strong & Courageous:

What This Study Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

This week’s study is focused on how we (believers) are to deal with failure and how God can help us to move beyond failure and refocus on God’s future plan for us.

 

 

June 7

Accept Your Leadership Role

 

June 14

Be Confident in God’s Power

 

June 21

Stick to God’s Plan

X

June 28

Move Beyond Failure

 

July 5

Work Through Conflict

 

July 12

Call Others to Step Forward

 

LIFE IMPACT:

Leaders confront failure, deal with it, and move forward.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.  

Identify The Cause of Failure (Josh. 7:13-15)

Admit/Confess Sins That Led To Failure (Josh. 7:19-21)

Deal With Failure & Refocus On God’s Plan (Josh 7:25-26; 8:1)

THE SETTING: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

The Israelites had effortlessly defeated the city of Jericho.  They apparently had followed God’s instructions carefully, and the city wall fell down.  When they attacked the next town, Ai, they lost!  Joshua had sent spies to Ai, and the spies confidently announced that only a small group of soldiers would be needed to take Ai.  (For a map of Israel’s three campaigns—Central, Southern, and Northern—during the conquest of Canaan at end of this guide.)

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN

INTRODUCTION:

  Being people who influence others doesn’t mean we never make mistakes or sin.  Exercising leadership means from time to time we will have to confront failure, sometimes brought on by our or others’ sin.  Too many people rationalize or ignore sin, but the only real solution is to be open and deal decisively with it.  We see in the life of Joshua that he dealt decisively with a serious sin against God by one of the Israelites.  After it was admitted and dealt with, God used the people again.  We are not left in our failures. God forgives and calls us to move forward.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

I.

Identify The Cause of Failure (Josh. 7:13-15)

13 “Go and consecrate the people. Tell them to consecrate themselves for tomorrow, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are things that are set apart among you, Israel. You will not be able to stand against your enemies until you remove what is set apart. 14 In the morning you must present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord selects is to come forward clan by clan. The clan the Lord selects is to come forward family by family. The family the Lord selects is to come forward man by man. 15 The one who is caught with the things set apart must be burned, along with everything he has, because he has violated the Lord’s covenant and committed an outrage in Israel.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.   What are some ways our culture responds to failure today?

2.   What happened between the fall of Jericho ( Josh. 6.) and verse 13 above? (See Josh. 7:1-12.)

3.   How were the people to prepare themselves for an encounter with the Lord (v. 13)?

4.   What does it mean to “consecrate” something or oneself (v. 13)?  (See Digging Deeper.)

5.   Why did the people need to consecrate themselves (v. 13)?

6.   What things were to be set apart? 

7.   What was the effect of one man’s sin on the people (vv. 13-14)?

8.   What did they need to do about the sin in the camp?

9.   Why do you think the sin was to be dealt with so forcefully?

10.   According to this passage, how would the guilty person/s be identified?

11.   What would be the fate of the guilty person (v. 15)?

12.   How do you think this person/s would be punished for the same crime today?

13.   Why do you think sin was treated more harshly then than today?

14.   When it comes to failure, how do you think a good leader handles it?

15.   What are some reasons that we may not deal with failure in a positive manner?

16.   What is your initial reaction to these verses?

17.   How would you summarize and explain this passage to a new believer? 

18.   What happens when we ignore sin and go on as if nothing happened?

 

Lasting Lessons in Joshua 7:13-15:

1.  The underlying cause of many of our problems is our sin.

2.  Committing a sin is not the same as making a mistake.

3.  God wants us to deal in a candid way with our sin and guilt.

 

II.

Admit/Confess Sins That Led To Failure (Josh. 7:19-21)

19 So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make a confession to Him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.” 20 Achan replied to Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.”

1.   What took place in verses 16-18?

2.   Who was Achan and what was his sin (See Digging Deeper.)

3.   What did Joshua mean when he asked Achan “. . . give glory to the Lord, . . .” (v. 19)? 

4.   What words suggest Joshua approached Achan calmly and kindly (v. 19)?

5.   What suggests that Joshua still spoke directly and personally to Achan (v. 19b)?

6.   How did Achan respond to Joshua’s request (vv. 20-21)?

7.   Do you think Achan knew what was in story for him?

8.   Ultimately, against whom is all sin committed?

9.   Based on this passage, do you get any sense that Achan was remorseful for his sinful behavior?  Why, or why not?

10.   Do you think Achan could have done anything to change the outcome of his sinful behavior?  Why, or why not?

11.   Might the outcome been different if Joshua had interceded with God on Achan’s behalf?  Why, or why not?

12.   We have no way of knowing, but do you think Achan considered what his sin might bring on his family?  Why?

13.   Do you think confession is a necessary step for moving beyond failure?  If so, why?

14.   How does unconfessed sin affect our relationship with God and others?

15.   What are some actions Achan could have taken when he was tempted to sin?

 

Lasting Lessons in Joshua 7:19-21:

1.  We should confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness.

2.  We should avoid trying to rationalize or ignore our sins; we should accept blame rather than blaming others.

3.  We should avoid situations that will tempt us to sin.

 

III.

Deal With Failure & Refocus On God’s Plan (Josh 7:25-26; 8:1)

7:25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the Lord will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned them to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them, 26 and raised over him a large pile of rocks that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from His burning anger. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Achor to this day.  8:1 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take the whole military force with you and go attack Ai. Look, I have handed over to you the king of Ai, his people, city, and land.

1.   What happened between verses 21 and 25?

2.   According to verse 25, what did Joshua say to Achan (v. 25)?

3.   How did the Lord trouble Achan (v. 25)?

4.   Who participated in Achan’s punishment? (v. 25b)?

5.   How did Achan’s sin impact his family (v. 25b)?

6.   What impact do you think it had on the people of Israel?

7.   What was done with the remains of Achan and all he had (vv. 25c-26a)

8.   How did Achan’s punishment impact the Lord (v. 26)?

9.   What does Achor mean? (See Digging Deeper.)

10.   What resulted from the faithfulness of the people in dealing with sin in their camp?

11.   Do you think this has a message for our churches today?  Why, or why not?

12.   How did God encourage Joshua to attack Ai (v. 8:1)?

13.   What message do you think this whole study has for believers today?

14.   How would you summarize it?

 

Lasting Lessons in Joshua 7:25-26; 8:1:

1.  When we deal directly with the cause of our failure, God can still work through us.

2.  The only true solution for our sin problem is a vital relationship with Jesus.

3.  God’s wrath is an expression of His deep hatred of sin and of His deep commitment to His people.

 

CONCLUSION:

Few people truly set out to fail.  In fact, most of us do all we can to avoid failing.  Failure may be attributed to a lack of knowledge, skills, or abilities required to succeed; exercising poor judgment; misunderstand the gravity of a situation; or inadvertent tactical mistakes.

In the story of Achan we are confronted with the most serious kind of failure—spiritual failure.  Spiritual failure is the result of disobedience and unfaithfulness to God.  Disobedience and unfaithfulness are more than mere mistakes; they are acts of sin against God.  As leaders, we are charged to confront the sin that leads to failure, deal with it kindly but directly, and lead people to confess it.  While our sinful actions have temporal consequences, in Christ those who confess their sin are restored to usefulness to the Lord and are able to move forward to victory.

When it comes to confessing personal sin, where do you stand?  Do you have personal sin that you need to confess before the Lord?  How quick are you to confess personal sin when it appears in your life?  On a scale of 1 (snail) to 10 (rabbit), how do you rate yourself on the quickness with which you confess your personal sin?  Does your rating leave unconfessed sin lingering within your camp?  Ask God to lead you in cleaning your camp!  He will, if you want it cleaned up.  Do you want to be a Joshua or an Achan?

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

FOCAL PASSAGE:  Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. 14 In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. 15 And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.


19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.


25And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day. 8:1And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:   (KJV)

New International Version: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it. 14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man. 15 He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!’”


19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”


25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since. 8:1 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.   (NIV)

New Living Translation: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the LORD. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.  14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the LORD will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the LORD will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the LORD will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. 15 The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the LORD and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”


19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”  20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. 21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”


25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The LORD will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble£ ever since. So the LORD was no longer angry. 8: 1Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.   (NLT)

 

Lesson Outline — “Move Beyond Failure” — Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

I.

II.

III.

Identify The Cause of Failure (Josh. 7:13-15)

Admit/Confess Sins That Led To Failure (Josh. 7:19-21)

Deal With Failure & Refocus On God’s Plan (Josh 7:25-26; 8:1)

COMMENTARY:

(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament,Believer's Bible Commentary,” andThe Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

Failure at Ai—Joshua 7:13—8:1

7:13. The people must be consecrated again. This procedure was necessary whenever God was going to act in some special way. He was going to come in judgment to remove the defilement from his people.

7:14. The people would present themselves to the Lord by appearing before the sanctuary. The terms “tribe,” “clan,” “family,” and “man” indicate various divisions in a society that was organized tribally. The Hebrew words are not used consistently in the OT, and it is difficult to find suitable equivalents in English. “Family” was a larger unit than our nuclear family, and the term “man” includes both wife and children. There is no specific statement as to how the Lord would single out the culprit (cf. 1 Sam 10:19-24). In a similar case (1 Sam 14:36-43), the guilty party was selected by casting lots. The use of lots eliminated any possibility of favoritism or manipulation. The decision was placed solely in the hands of God (cf. Prov 16:33). It is interesting to notice that the cause of defeat was revealed by the oracle, but lots were cast to find the offender.

7:15. Though corporate responsibility was stressed, individual responsibility and guilt were not overlooked: The culprit “shall be destroyed.” The nation would be absolved of guilt when the guilty individual was ferreted out and punished. The death penalty was made even more offensive by burning the offender’s body (cf. Gen 38:24; Lev 21:9). The expression “all that belongs to him” is ambiguous. In v. 24 it is clear that both persons and possessions were included.

 The culprit discovered and punished (7:16-26)

7:16-18 In the selection process each tribe, clan, and family was represented by a single individual. To us the procedure seems to leave everything up to chance. For them it left everything in the hands of God, and, in the final analysis, the right person was chosen.

7:19. “My son” may be the customary way of addressing a subordinate. Though Joshua deals gently and fairly with him, some indignation and vindictiveness are apparent in v. 25. The expression “give glory to the LORD” is found also in John 9:24. In both instances it is an appeal for an honest confession. The same verbal root in Hebrew means “to praise” and “to confess”; therefore “give him the praise” could be translated “confess to him” (cf. KJV, which reads “make confession unto him”). Confession of sin is a way of honoring God. Joshua did not rely solely on the selection by lot. Personal confession and the gathering of evidence were also required (vv. 22-23).

7:20. Achan confessed his sin but was not forgiven because he did not confess willingly (cf. Ps 32; 1 John 1:9). His silence during the long process of casting lots is evidence of the hardness of his heart. As the selection came closer and closer to him—first his tribe, then his clan, then his family—he obviously hoped to avoid detection. His confession is not indicative of repentance because he would not have confessed if he had not been caught. True confession goes beyond the admission of what one has done. It includes recognition of guilt and true remorse.

7:21. Achan called what he took “plunder.” He viewed it as something customarily divided among the victors. Perhaps he was opposed to having everything put under the ban. The word “shekel” indicates a measure of weight, not a coin. Money was not coined until the seventh century. The weights are only approximate. “Wedge” indicates an ingot or a bar (RSV). Coveting is often the beginning of a sinful action. The tenth commandment is “You shall not covet” (Exod 20:17). The same three verbs “I saw,” “I coveted,” “I took” are found in the story of the Fall (Gen 3:6; the words “desirable” and “covet” are from the same Heb. root hamad; cf. James 1:13-15). Achan hid the things he took because he knew he had sinned. The gold is not mentioned at the end of this verse or in v. 22. Silver may have been an inclusive term for both precious metals.

7:22-23. The messengers located the hidden booty, brought it to Joshua, and spread everything “before the LORD” (v. 23), i.e., at the Tent of Meeting (cf. v. 14), because he is the final Judge.

7:24. Representatives of the entire nation participated in the punishment of Achan in order to remove the guilt from all the people. Apparently Achan did not have a wife at this time; only “his sons and daughters” are mentioned. The punishment of children for the sin of their father is an offense to our sense of justice. Achan’s family was implicated in his crime because he could not have hidden his loot in the ground under his tent without their knowing it. Moreover, this punishment is an example of the severe discipline that was necessary in time of war. Special severity was required also because Israel was God’s agent in bringing severe judgment on the Canaanites. Achan was a wealthy man, possessing “cattle, donkeys and sheep.” He had little need for what he stole.

“The Valley of Achor” has been identified with the Buqei‘ah, about ten miles west of Qumran, high above the Dead Sea. In Hebrew “Achor” means “disaster.” It is easily confused with Achan’s name (1 Chronicles 2:7 gives Achar as Achan’s name), and it is obvious that a play on words is intended.

7:25. Once again “all Israel” refers to representatives from the whole nation. They were acting in accord with their promise to Joshua in 1:18. In the phrase “stoned him,” the third person singular pronoun is used to point to Achan as the main offender; but the others were included. Then they were burned, and stones were heaped on them.

7:26. The last action of v. 25 is enlarged on in v. 26 with the additional statement that this enormous heap of stones was still standing when this story was recorded. After Achan’s sin had been judged, “the LORD turned from his fierce anger”; and Israel was restored to favor. The story of Achan and the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) are very similar. Hall explains, “God’s first revenges are so much more fearful, because they must be exemplary.”

The second attack on Ai

8:1.  Joshua and all Israel had been demoralized by their defeat in the first attack on Ai. Now that the sin of Achan had been dealt with, God assured Israel of his presence and help (cf. 1:9). This time they had the divine promise of victory, a much larger army, and a far better strategy. The intertwining of miracle and human effort is hard to unravel in the Book of Joshua. Even with God’s help, common sense and the best military strategy could not be neglected.

It is not clear how many men constituted “the whole army.” The numbers given in this chapter are confusing (cf. vv. 3, 12). When Transjordanian tribes were commanded to muster all their fighting men (1:14), they sent about 40,000 troops (4:13) out of approximately 110,580 men of military age (cf. Num 26:7, 18, 34). Using the same proportions the Twelve Tribes could have mustered an army of 200,000 to attack a city of 12,000 counting both men and women. Does it seem reasonable to suppose that if Joshua had come against the city with a massive force of 200,000 men, he would have been able to lure the inhabitants into attacking him? E.J. Young suggests that the 30,000 in v. 3 is the size of the whole army whereas the 5,000 in v. 12 is the number of troops who were to lie in ambush. The rest of the army would have been held in reserve.

SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers

 

The New American Commentary: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

The Lord’s response to Joshua’s and the elders’ mourning was directed to Joshua alone, and it was a rebuke couched in holiness terms. Israel (not just Achan; see v. 1) had sinned, and God would not tolerate it. This passage shows that God was not open to the charge of a double standard with reference to his treatment of Israel and the Canaanites. He had ordered Israel to exterminate the Canaanites because of their sin, but here he allowed all Israel to be affected by the sin of one man. The overriding concern in all such episodes was his demand for holiness and obedience and the concern for purity of worship. 

7:11. Despite the indication in 7:1 that only Achan had violated the instructions concerning the things banned, this verse extends the responsibility to the entire nation, in an example of what has been called “corporate solidarity.”  This concept embraces at least the following ideas: (1) the entire group is treated as a unity; (2) sometimes the entire group is represented by a single individual; and (3) sometimes the individual and the group are merged.  The third of these ideas is embodied here; the individual and the group are closely identified: the verse affirms that “Israel has sinned,” and yet later Achan confesses, “I have sinned” (v. 20).

This verse indicates the seriousness of the sin and God’s outrage at it, because of the slow, climactic buildup of the language and the differing terms for sin, which become more specific with every word. First, the general word “sin” (āā˒) is used. Next, the more specific term “violated” is used (˓ābar, lit., “crossed over [the line], transgressed”). Next, the specific sin is mentioned in two different ways: the Israelites had taken (lāqa) some of the devoted things and they had stolen (gānab). They had also lied (kiāš), and they had put (śām) the devoted things among their own things. Six verbs are thus used to describe Achan’s (=Israel’s) actions, four of which indicate sin in their own right and the other two do so in this context. The successive clauses are all linked by the word gam, usually translated “also.”  Here, the linking of the verbs and clauses in this way indicate a progressive buildup of specificity and, in the process, they describe the totality of what Achan did.

Israel had violated God’s covenant. The word “covenant” refers to many different dealings of God with his people at different times, but here the specific reference appears to be to the portion of the covenant he had made with his people through Moses that referred to the annihilation of the Canaanites (Deut 20:10–20).

7:12. The reason for Israel’s defeat is now revealed: Israel itself—just as Jericho before it—was made liable to destruction because of its sin, and it had suffered a humiliating defeat because of this. What’s more, God would no longer be with Israel, until they (the “you” is now plural) removed the sin from the camp. God’s threatened withdrawal of his presence was a serious thing, since he had specifically promised to be with his people earlier in the book (1:5, 9). God’s presence was withdrawn on two occasions in later times, with dire consequences: 1 Sam 4:19–22; 16:14. This threat to withdraw emphasizes once again God’s absolute standards and demands of holiness.

7:13–15. The sin needed to be dealt with, and vv. 13–15 detail God’s instructions for this. In v. 13, the instruction is again to Joshua: he was to sanctify the people in preparation for what God would do on the morrow. The language here echoes that of 3:5 in an ironic way, where Joshua ordered the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Here, the people also were to consecrate (qdš) themselves, but, in contrast with the “amazing things” (niplā˒ôt) that would be “among” (bĕqereb) the Israelites, now the “devoted things” (ērem) were “among” (bĕqereb) them. The need for purification was due to very different things in the two cases.

Verse 14, by its orderly instructions and by the verb used here, indicates that the Lord was in control of the entire process of identifying the culprit through the basic social units of society: tribe, clan, and family. Three times the verb “catches” or “captures” is used in v. 14 (lqd), again at the beginning of v. 15 and once each in vv. 16–18. The NIV translates it “takes” (as do most versions),  but the idea indicated by “catches” is much more expressive, as well as accurate.

The punishment was severe and total: Achan and everything that belonged to him were to be burned with fire (v. 15), a sentence that was carried out after stoning (v. 25). Caleb’s sin involved violating the Lord’s covenant and doing a “disgraceful thing” (nĕbālâ). The latter concept denotes “disorderly and unruly action in breaking a custom” or “behaving treacherously toward God.” 

Achan was found out for the sin he had committed, and he and his family were stoned and burned. Because he had violated God’s command concerning the booty from Jericho, Achan found himself in the position of the inhabitants of Jericho: he himself was devoted to destruction. He in effect had become a Canaanite by his actions. This account masterfully builds, slowly and deliberately, to its climactic dénouement in v. 26.

7:16–18.  Chapter 3 is again echoed (see on 7:13) here, since the first three words in Hebrew are identical to those in 3:1: “And Joshua arose early in the morning.” The first time, it was for a noble cause: to prepare the Israelites for entering the land. This time, it was for a far more grim cause: to identify and punish the one who had violated the covenant.

In vv. 16–18, Achan is methodically and inexorably identified by the process God specified in v. 14. The specific means by which he was identified is not indicated (by lot? by Urim and Thummim?), but the expressive vocabulary of v. 14 continues here: Achan was “caught” by the process.

7:19. Joshua addressed Achan as “my son,” an indication of his assuming a leadership—even paternal—role in the incident. He issued four commands to Achan: “ascribe glory to the Lord,” “give him praise,” “tell me what you did,” and “do not hide it from me.” The first two clearly parallel each other, as do the second two. However, it would appear that the two sets of verbs also parallel each other. That is, the four actions commanded by Joshua are part and parcel of one event. By confessing (and not hiding) his sin, he was indeed glorifying and praising God. Joshua was not instructing Achan to indulge in a disengaged act of glorifying and praising God and then to confess his sin; rather, by his very confession, he was glorifying God. The same wording is found in John 9:24, where the Pharisees spoke these words—“Give glory to God”—in urging a blind man whom Jesus had healed to tell the truth (and, in their minds, by doing so, he would have needed to confess his sin of lying when he claimed that Jesus had healed him).

7:20–21. Achan immediately confessed that he was guilty (v. 20) and gave the details of what he had done (v. 21). He had taken plunder that was very valuable. The “beautiful robe from Babylonia” was literally “one beautiful garment of Shinar” (see the NIV text note). The land of Shinar is mentioned in Gen 11:2 as the place where men built the Tower of Babel (i.e., the “Tower of Babylon”).  The two hundred shekels of silver weighed more than eighty ounces, and the fifty-shekel “wedge”  of gold weighed about twenty ounces. 

Achan’s actions, besides violating (1) the Eighth Commandment (about stealing: Exod 20:15), (2) God’s instructions in Deut 20:10–20 (see on v. 11), (3) the injunction against lying (Lev 19:11), and (4) the First Commandment (about not having any other gods before the Lord: Exod 20:3; see on v. 1), also directly violated the Ninth Commandment (about coveting: Exod 20:17). A telling parallel to this passage if Gen 3:6, where the same verbs are used of Eve: both she and Achan “saw” (r˒h) and “desired” (or “coveted”) (md) and “took” (lq) what was forbidden to them.

Achan attempted to hide his sin from the God from whom nothing could be hidden (see Ps 139:7–12). A subtle wordplay connects vv. 19 and 21: Joshua instructed Achan not to hide (kd) anything from him when he confessed (v. 19), but Achan had hidden (mn) the things he stole (v. 21). 

7:22–26. This section brings the Achan incident to a brisk conclusion, in a continuous narrative stream. In v. 22, the veracity of Achan’s words in his confession (v. 21) is confirmed, since the wording concerning where the booty would be and how it was arranged (with the silver below) is identical in both verses. Achan now was indeed telling the truth and “glorifying” God (see v. 19). In v. 23, the items of booty were “spread out” before the Lord. The word used here (yr) is significant, since it is translated most commonly as “poured out,” referring to the use of oil in anointing and other religious contexts. The stolen items were “poured out” before the Lord, returning to him what belonged to him.

Achan was brought out to be stoned, not only with each of the items he had stolen, but also with all his possessions and his entire household, including his children (v. 24). This was an extremely severe punishment (see the excursus on “Destruction and Devoted Things in Joshua” at the end of chap. 6), but it illustrates again God’s absolute demands of holiness. Achan’s sin had infected the entire nation of Israel (7:1), and ridding Israel of the stain of this sin required the annihilation of everything with which he had had intimate contact. Ironically—and tragically—for Achan, God allowed the Israelites to take booty in the next victory, at the second battle of Ai (8:2). He could have had anything he wanted if he had only waited on God. Like Adam and Eve, he lost sight of the character of our generous God and thought that satisfaction required taking. Achan’s greed was his downfall. Also ironically, it was Joshua and “all Israel” who did this to Achan. Previously, all of Israel had been indicted because of Achan’s sin (v. 1), but now the nation was acting to purge itself of the contamination, and it could again move ahead confidently in the task of taking the land of Canaan. Achan’s self-centered actions resulted in terrible consequences not only for himself but also for his family. This illustrates the principle that sin does have its consequences.

Joshua’s question in v. 25—“Why have you brought this trouble on us?”— is turned on its head by his next statement, an assertion that the Lord would now bring trouble on Achan. Joshua used the same word for “bringing trouble” here (˓kr) that he had earlier used in warning the people against taking the devoted items, since doing so would “bring trouble” (˓kr) on the entire camp (6:18). The story of Achan proves the veracity of Joshua’s earlier words. Sin always would have its consequences. The root here (˓kr) forms the basis for the name of the site in later times (“Achor,” vv. 24, 26).

The punishment for Achan and his household was stoning and burning (v. 25b). The exact sequence of events is not entirely clear. The text reads, literally, “And all Israel ‘stoned’ him [with] a stone, and they burned them with fire, and they ‘stoned’ them with stones.” The two verbs for stoning here are different, and the burning with fire seems to be misplaced (i.e., it would most likely have happened after—not before—the stoning of everyone: see NIV). The overall impression forged by the repetitions is one of completeness. It is possible that one of the words for stoning refers more properly to the heaping up of a pile of stones over Achan’s corpse, a point made explicitly in v. 26. 

A great pile of stones was heaped over Achan, one that remained “to this day,” that is, until the time of the writing about this event (v. 26a). This was also done to the king of Ai when Israel had finally defeated him (8:29), as well as to Absalom after he was dead (2 Sam 18:17); in each case, the wording is almost identical to that here. In Josh 8:29, the wording is exactly the same, making the point clearly that God would not favor his own people when they blatantly disobeyed, any more than he would favor wicked Canaanites. Because of his sin, Achan was expelled from Israel and treated as a Canaanite. In this way, the Lord’s anger was abated.

The connection between this pile of stones and the earlier set of twelve memorial stones that Joshua erected on the banks of the Jordan River is hard to ignore. The reason for each one was different, but both piles of stones remained in their place “until this day” (4:9; 7:26; see also 10:27). The first set was specifically to be a reminder to Israel of God’s presence with them (see 4:7). The pile of stones over Achan is not infused with the same meaning, but the very fact that it remained “until this day” shows us that it was a reminder to Israel of the story of Achan and the consequences of sin.

The name of the place—“Valley of Achor”—means “Valley of Trouble” (see NIV text note), undoubtedly given to it because of the events that transpired here. Achan’s name in several places in the Greek translation of Joshua is “Achor,” which no doubt represents a fusing of the two names.  It too had retained its name “to this day.” 

The Destruction of Ai

The account of the destruction of Ai follows immediately upon the story in chap. 7 of Achan’s sin, the resulting defeat at Ai, and the punishment of that sin (see the introductory comments to chap. 7). In the larger perspective of the book, there should never have been any question concerning the Israelites’ ability to take Ai, since Yahweh would be its warrior and guarantor of the land (cf. 1:2–9). However, in the immediate context of Achan’s sin, the defeat at Ai brought great distress: it caused Joshua and the people to fear and to raise questions of God (7:5–9).

The trauma was alleviated by Israel’s rooting out the evil in its midst, the abatement of Yahweh’s anger, and the great victory achieved after the events of chap. 7. God was no longer angry with Israel, since atonement had been made for its sin, and the task now was to get on with the conquest. Thus, he gave the city of Ai into the Israelites’ hands: they captured it via an elaborate ambush. In chap. 8, that victory is described in some detail, more so than for any other battle in the book. It is the first true military victory recounted (since the taking of Jericho can hardly be called a “battle”) and involved a military strategy for which the Lord gave instructions. 

The chronology and geography in this chapter are difficult.  The chapter seems to describe two ambush forces, sent out on two different days (vv. 3–9 and 10–13). However, this is not according to the Lord’s instructions in v. 2, and it presents the particular difficulty of the first (improbably large) ambush force of thirty thousand men (v. 3) being forced to spend two nights and a day in hiding near Ai—a city with only twelve thousand inhabitants of its own, less than half of the numbers in ambush force—without being detected by its inhabitants.

More probably, there was just one ambush force and only one night involved. Verses 3–9 describe the main aspects of the preparations. Verse 10 describes the commencement of the battle the next morning. Then, vv. 11–13 contain a flashback, expanding upon the narrative of vv. 3–9. This is indicated by the syntax of vv. 11 and 14. Verse 11 begins with a disjunctive, circumstantial clause construction and thus introduces the retrospective account of vv. 11–13.  The signal that this account is concluded—and that the main narrative is resuming—comes at the beginning of v. 14, which begins with the paragraph marker wayĕ (“and it happened”), followed by a stage-setting time reference in a subordinate clause (“when the king of Ai saw”) and a normal resumptive verb form.  This solution is not without its problems—the main one being the number “thirty thousand” in v. 3 (on which, see below)—but it fits best the syntax of the passage.

Thus, the sequence of events would be as follows. Joshua commissioned a group of men to lie in ambush west of Ai, as the Lord had instructed (vv. 3b–4, 12–13). He sent them out (v. 9a), then he went with the main fighting force to be stationed north of the city (vv. 3a, 11) and spent the night with this group (vv. 9b, 13b).  He and the people went up to Ai the next morning (v. 10), which was seen by the king of Ai (v. 14), who mustered his people to meet Israel in battle. The Israelites put their ruse into effect, pretending to flee, drawing out of the city its entire population (vv. 15–17). 

At the same time, the ambush force was arising (v. 19), and when Joshua stretched out his javelin toward Ai, they entered the city and set it ablaze (vv. 18–19). When the Aiites saw this, they realized that they were surrounded before and behind, and they succumbed to a slaughter that left none alive except their king (vv. 20–26). The Israelites took the cattle and booty as spoil (v. 27)—which had been authorized this time by God (v. 2)—and burned the city, exposing the body of its king in an act of humiliation before burying it under a great pile of stones (vv. 28–29).

The Beginning of Instructions for Taking Ai (8:1)

8:1 Yahweh’s words of encouragement to Joshua in 8:1 reinforce the statement of 7:26, that he was no longer angry with Israel. Atonement had been made for the nation’s sin, and the task at hand was to get on with the conquest. The encouragement consisted of two parts. The first—“Do not be afraid”—is found more than seventy times in the Old Testament, most commonly (but not exclusively) in battle contexts: see, for example, Exod 14:13; Deut 1:21; 3:2; 7:18; 20:1; 31:8; it is repeated in Josh 10:8, 25; 11:6. The second—“do not be discouraged”—is similar, and it echoes God’s encouragement to Joshua in 1:9.  God’s encouragement here is a fitting introduction to a battle narrative and represents a welcome promise from God, particularly in light of the previous problems. We should note that there were no words of promise, assurance, or guidance from God when Israel attacked Ai the first time, a significant contrast. He was not with them because of their sin. God’s assurance that he had already given the king of Ai and all his people and their lands into Joshua’s hand echoes the same past-time perspective we noted at 1:3.

SOURCE:  The New American Commentary; Volume 5; Joshua; David M. Howard, Jr.; Gen. Ed.: E. Ray Clendenen; © 1998 Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN.

 

The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Joshua 7:13-15,19-21,25-26; 8:1

7:13-26. Public trial. Verses 13ff are written in the style of prophetic speech, particularly in light of the prophetic formula found in v. 13 (“for thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel”). The procedure for the sacred lot is detailed in vv. 16ff, concluding with the “call for the doxology of judgment” (v. 19) which brings the court proceedings to an end with the defendant’s admission of guilt and acknowledgment of the justice of Yahweh (vv. 20f). The defendant’s confession is then corroborated by the messengers (vv. 22f), after which the sentence is carried out (vv. 24ff), and the chapter ends with an etiology (v. 26b).

The precise nature of the sacred lot ceremony is unfortunately not spelled out in our text, although scholars commonly note the apparently parallel procedures found in 1 Sam. 10:20f and 14:41f (use of the lot is also mentioned twice in Joshua (14:2; 18:6) in regard to the delineation of tribal territories. Kyle McCarter, Jr., in his excellent commentary on 1 Samuel, has proposed an intriguing interpretation of the “Urim and Thummim” (cf. 1 Sam. 14:41, Septuagint) as “accursed, condemned,” and “pronounced whole, acquitted,” respectively. These objects were apparently kept in the priest’s ephod, and they may have been marked simply with an “’aleph” and “taw” (the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet), respectively. Although the exact nature of their form and appearance is uncertain (with pebbles, dice, sticks and arrows all having been proposed), they were evidently “cast” or “thrown” in order to indicate the divine will, perhaps akin to our own practice of “heads” or “tails.”

In any case, in Josh. 7:13-26, the three typical sociological divisions of ancient Israel—house, clan, tribe—form the basis for the present proceedings. Achan’s guilt and the relief of those not chosen must have been equally and increasingly immense as first the tribe of Judah was chosen, then the clan of Zerah, then the house of Zabdi, and finally Achan son of Carmi. As Woudstra points out, “Instead of informing the people directly about the identity of the offender, the Lord chooses the indirect means of the lot. This serves to awaken in the people an awareness of their involvement in the sin committed, and at the same time it lets the full light fall upon the individual who committed it.”

As Butler notes, v. 19 has a doxological tone, “The culprit discovered in the sacral process is called upon to confess his guilt, which gives praise and glory to God by showing that the divine judgment has been just” (p. 85). Woudstra (p. 129, n. 45) notes that the Jewish sages believed Achan became the recipient of the world to come, since he had made confession. How ironic that Christians, who have their own lively expectation of the world to come, often live all too readily for this world only, forgetting that it is the truth that will make us free.

Woudstra points out that the proper term for Achan’s sin is “coveting” as shown in v. 21. The reader will readily recall that the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) ends with the prohibition of such a perilous mental perspective (cf. Exo. 20:17; Deut. 5:21). Although commonly described as the only commandment able to be broken without overt, outward activity, the sin of coveting nevertheless leads all too often to the breaking of many of the other commandments (e.g., killing, committing adultery, stealing, lying under oath). The actual plunder involved was not that extensive. It included a robe from Shinar (NIV, “Babylon”; but as Boling pointed out, the garment in question might have been either an import or a local imitation), a bar of gold weighing about one and a quarter pounds (0.6 kilograms) and 200 shekels of silver (probably weighing a total of about five or six pounds, or a little over two kilograms). Even at today’s inflated prices for gold, the total value of this booty is easily under $10,000 (although the cost of the robe is impossible to estimate). Imagine the entire nation being imperiled for this!

Spreading out the plunder “before Yahweh” (v. 23), apparently another way of indicating a location in front of the Ark of the Covenant (cf. the expression “Ark of Yahweh” previously in v. 6), the entire community, as it were, returned the objects to their God. It was the melancholy duty of “all Israel” to put Achan and his household to death after Joshua passed sentence on them, as in v. 25b, “Why have you brought this trouble [Hebrew verbal root ] on us? Yahweh will bring trouble [same Hebrew root] on you today.” This theme of reciprocity is, of course, found throughout the Bible, perhaps most famously in Paul’s admonition to the Galatians, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow” (Gal. 6:7, NRSV). Christians believe in a sovereign God, Who can do whatever He pleases (cf. Ps. 115:3), so we are not to bind Him, as it were, to inflexible formulas, even if they are biblical. Still, all too often, we do reap what we sow, and we would do well always to keep this in mind.

In any case, Achan and his family were both stoned and burned, thus providing a haunting object lesson for his present and future compatriots. Some have tried to maintain that only the stolen objects were burned, but the text is clear. So that the lesson would not be lost, both a large pile of rocks and a memorable etiology (the valley of “trouble,” Hebrew cf. the double usage of the verbal cognate back in v. 25) are cited by the narrator (v. 26). It goes without saying that a third melancholy memorial remains in memory of Achan and his sin, i.e., the entirety of Josh. 7.

8:1-29. Victory over Ai. For the overall structure of this section, consult the introductory remarks for ch. 7. Once again, commentators who take 7:1-8:29 as one major unit may well be on target, inasmuch as the dilemmas posed at the beginning of ch. 7 do not find complete resolution until the end of this part of ch. 8. Still, 7:25f does provide a clear conclusion to the Achan story proper, and it also stands as a rather close literary parallel to the end of the present passage, 8:28f (note that in both cases burning is said to have taken place, as well as the erection of a large pile of stones). In any case, 8:1-29 will be divided into three sections: salvation oracle (vv. 1f), obedient battle against Ai (vv. 3-23) and destruction of Ai (vv. 24-29).

8:1-2. Salvation oracle. Butler suggests that these verses continue the lament perspective found in 7:6-10, where the prophetic liturgy was then interrupted by the covenantal lawsuit (7:11f) and the long public trial (7:13-26). Only after the trial was completed could the word of salvation be given. Here, in sharp contrast to the spy narrative in ch. 7, the directions for battle come directly from Yahweh, and here, in blessed relief to the depressing results of the first Ai battle, victory and deliverance are promised in language closely paralleling Yahweh’s original instructions to Joshua in 1:6-9. Israel, her earthly commander, and her heavenly ruler were finally pulling in the same direction. Interestingly, the laws were apparently modified here to allow both plunder and livestock to be appropriated by the Israelites. Although this modification may help reinforce the possibility that Jericho was some sort of firstfruit to be devoted to Yahweh, some have suggested that the permission to take spoil from Ai may well have been, among other things, intended to remove the temptation to which Achan had succumbed. But both types of conquest were always possible. Israel received as booty some possessions of Canaan as a means of supply from the Lord, the manna having ceased.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Joshua-Ruth.  Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.

 

DIGGING DEEPER:

Outrage (v. 15)—The Hebrew term nebalah refers to any senseless, foolish, or disgraceful action. In Achan’s case, his foolish act was in direct defiance of God’s command.

Shekels (v. 21)—A standard unit of measure which came to be associated with money through the weighing of gold and silver. Two hundred shekels would equate to about five pounds of silver.

Burning anger (7:26)—In our context, the phrase refers to God’s righteous indignation against Achan’s possession of banned items in blatant violation of His expressed prohibition.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources, 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

DEDICATE, DEDICATION: A general term used in the Bible to describe an act of setting apart or consecrating persons or things to God (or gods), persons, sacred work, or ends. The act is usually accompanied by an announcement of what is being done or intended and by prayer asking for divine approval and blessing. In the Old Testament the people who were set apart included all Israel (Ex. 19:5, 6; Deut. 7:6; 14:2) and the priests (Ex. 29:1-37). The things that were set apart included the altar in the  tabernacle (Num. 7:10-88), images of pagan deities  (Dan. 3:2, 3), silver and gold (2 Sam. 8:11), Temple (1 Kings 8:63; Ezra 6:16-18),  walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:27), and private dwellings (Deut. 20:5). The idea of dedication is embodied in the New Testament word “saints.” The whole church is set apart to God (Eph. 5:26). The individual believer is one of a dedicated, sanctified, consecrated, priestly people; set apart “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

CONSECRATE: Consecration refers to persons or things being separated to or belonging to God. They are holy or sacred. They are set apart for the service of God. The Hebrew kadosh and Greek hagiazo are translated by several different English words: holy, consecrate, hallow, sanctify, dedicate.

Old Testamen:  God is said to be kadosh or “holy.” The Hebrew word originally meant “to be separate.” The holy One of Israel is separate because He is God. “I am God, and not man; the Holy One in your midst” (Hos. 11:9). Hosea pointed to both the otherness or separateness of God and His nearness. The holiness of God came to mean all that God is. With the prophets God’s holiness was understood to include justice, righteousness, and many ethical concerns. “God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness” (Isa. 5:16). When persons or things were “consecrated,” they were separated to or belonged to God. “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). When persons were “consecrated,” they were set apart to live according to God’s demands and in His service.

New Testament: This ethical understanding of God’s holiness is found throughout the New Testament. In Matthew 23:16-24 Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees on the basis of their neglect of justice, mercy, and faith. He said it is “the altar that sanctifieth the gift” (Matt. 23:19). The cause to which persons give themselves determines the nature of the sacrifice. When the cause is God’s, the gift is consecrated. Jesus’ mission was to sanctify persons. Paul said that Christians are called to be “saints,” and their sanctification comes through Christ. In the Old Testament the ordination of persons to the service of God is indicated by the phrase “to fill the hand.” This phrase is usually translated “consecrate” or “ordain.”

Numbers 6:1-21 sets forth the vow of the Nazirite.  Nazar from which Nazirite is derived, means “to separate” and is translated “consecrate” in Numbers 6:7, 9, 12.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

ACHAN (ay' khuhn) or ACHAR (1 Chron. 2:7). In Joshua 7:1,  a Judahite whose theft of a portion of the spoil from Jericho brought divine displeasure and military defeat on the Israelite army. After the battle of Ai, the Lord told Joshua the reason for Israel’s defeat was that the ban concerning the spoil of Jericho had been violated (Josh. 7:11). Achan was discovered to be the guilty party, and he and his family were stoned to death (Josh. 7:25).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

ACHOR (aw' khawr): Place name meaning “trouble, affliction,” or “taboo.” The valley in which Achan and his household were stoned to death (Josh. 7:24-26). Later, it formed part of the border of Judah. It is the subject of prophetic promises in Isaiah 65:10 and Hosea 2:15.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

 

Israel As Tribes

By T. Van McClain

T. Van McClain is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and director of library services at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Northeast Campus, Schenectady, New York.

T

HE OLD TESTAMENT WORLD at times seems quite strange to modern readers.  One reason for this strangeness is the cultural difference that exists between modern forms of government, generally based on territory, and the forms of government described in the Old Testament, generally based on family relationships.  The Old Testament period covered about 4,000 years or more.  At the time of the patriarchs, the governmental system was based on kinship, in particular the extended family or clan.  By the time of Malachi, at the close of the Old Testament, Israel was a state.  A state is a form of government that involves territory, cultural organization, and a strong centralized government with broad coercive powers.  The state is the most advanced form of government.  A state generally has the authority to tax, to form a bureaucracy, and to raise a military force.  States are territorial.  Kinship-based governments are also territorial, but the government is based more on familial ties.  The cultural change of a people from primitive forms of government may be called cultural evolution, but it has nothing to do with the concept of biological evolution.  Cultural evolution is simply cultural change.  Nation-states existed at the time of Abraham, but Abraham did not need to adopt that type of government.  If a simple form of government was adequate, an “advanced” form was not necessary.

The Social Structure of Israel

The social structure of ancient Israel varied throughout its history. 

The ‘father’s house’ . . . is the household or extended family.  It consists of grandparents, parents, children, and even unmarried uncles, aunts, and cousins . . . . marriage was outside the family; on the other hand, marriage was probably to take place within the clan.1

The next level of structure was the clan.  A clan would be composed of several related families.  It consisted of a group of kinsmen in a protective association.  In the Book of Ruth, the closest family member to Ruth and Naomi was perhaps from the immediate or extended family.  He chose, though, not to be the kinsman redeemer.  Boaz was part of the clan and could then become the redeemer.2

The third level of structure was the tribe.  While the words clan and tribe can be used interchangeably, a clan is generally considered to be a smaller family unit than a tribe.  A study of Numbers 26 suggests that a tribe generally consisted of one to eight clans.3

The final and largest level of structure was the state.  The twelve tribes of Israel, “the sons of Israel,” constituted the nation of Israel.  In the family unit the father might serve as a priest; the state level, though, called for a centralized religious institution.4

From a Family to a Nation

During the patriarchal period the “father’s house” was the basic unit of government.  In Genesis 12:1, God commands Abram to leave his father’s house.  Being obedient, Abraham left his father’s house, which meant he forfeited all of his inheritance and any rights to the family’s property.5   Further, he left his “relatives,” his clan, his interrelated families.  At least some of Abraham’s extended family, Lot and his family, went with Abraham.

During Joseph’s lifetime the people of Israel descended into Egypt, and the Israelites constituted an extended family or clan.  This extended family grew during the next 400 years in Egypt into multi-clan units or tribal units.  Thus the form of government the Israelites had at the time of the conquest (roughly 1400 BC to 1380 BC ) was tribal in nature, although some anthropologists would argue that under Joshua the Hebrews were a multi-clan group.6

Anthropologists carefully distinguish several forms of government between the familial or simplest form of government and the national or state form of government, which is the most complex.  The governmental system of most primitive societies is based on kinship.  The family and clan based governmental structure is generally quite informal.  The multi-clan or tribal form of government is, of course, made up of a group of clans.  Generally one clan will be considered the senior clan, but the chief of that clan is usually subject to a ruling council made up of the chiefs of the other clans.  The clans or tribes of Ephraim and Judah had, for most of Israel’s history, the greatest influence.  A tribal form of government does not have to be based on kinship, although it often will be.  If not kinship then, what makes a tribe a tribe?  Some anthropologists have generally defined a tribe as “a group of individuals who share language, culture, territory, and see themselves as an autonomous unit.”7  In addition to these traits, Israelite tribes also shared a common ancestry.

By the time of Moses, the importance of the tribal structure in the governance of Israel can be illustrated by the method used of taking a census, where Numbers 1:2 indicates it was to be “by their families” and “by their fathers’ households” (NASB).  The Lord also specified in Numbers 1:4 that , “With you, moreover, there shall be a man of each tribe, each one head of his father’s household” (NASB).  The chosen individuals were to stand as leaders with Moses.

Inheritance laws also illustrate the tribal form of government that prevailed during Moses’ lifetime.  God designed that the family’s inheritance be protected.  The family homestead was to pass to the sons, with the firstborn son receiving a double portion.  For a family with no sons, the daughters were to receive the inheritance.  Daughters who inherited land were forbidden from marrying outside their tribe, which prevented their land from going to some other tribe.8 

Achan’s action (with his family’s likely approval or knowledge) in keeping for himself what belonged to God was, in essence, rebellion or mutiny not only against God but against the governing authority.  During the American Revolution, General George Washington ordered the execution of the ringleaders of a mutiny by New Jersey soldiers in January 0f 1781.  Morale was low, and “Washington, fearing the total dissolution of the Army, [urged] severe measures.”9  Similarly, Joshua needed to take severe measures, since Achan’s actions risked the destruction of the entire army.  Achan had disobeyed God and had violated the covenant.

Israel’s social stratification at the time of the conquest is clearly evident in the selection for the transgressor: “In the morning you must present yourselves tribe by tribe.  The tribe the Lord selects is to come forward clan by clan.  The clan the Lord selects is to come forward family by family.  The family the Lord selects is to come forward man by man” (Josh. 7:14, HCSB).

David’s rise to the throne in particular, along with Saul’s kingship, brought an end to the tribal form of government for Israel.  David was politically astute and saw, for instance, the value in affirming Saul or his tribe, the tribe of Benjamin.  David put to death Saul’s confessed killer and mourned the death of the king (2 Sam. 1:1-27).  David also praised the men of Jabesh-gilead for burying Saul (2:4-7).  The remains, however, were not placed close to Gibeah,  Saul’s family home; so David retrieved Saul’s and Jonathan’s bones and buried them in the sepulcher of Saul’s father, Kish, at Zela in Benjamin (21:11-14).  In addition, David spared Saul’s grandson Mephibosheth (9:6-13).  David’s kindness toward Saul’s descendants and followers led the tribe of Benjamin to support David (see 1 Chron. 12:29).

After David’s reign, the authority of the Kingdom of Israel and then the Northern and Southern Kingdoms superseded the tribes’ authority.  Inheritance was still determined by tribal affiliation, but governing authority passed to the state.                              Bi

1.  Bandstra, “Tribe” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, gen. ed. Bromiley, rev. ed., vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 905.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Ibid.

4.  Ibid.

5.  Walton, Matthews and Chavalas, IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 43.

6.  Grunlan and Mayers, Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 229.

7.  Ibid., 226-29.

8.  Numbers 36:6-9; Hirsch and McKim, “Inhert/Inheritance” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, gen. ed. Bromiley, rev. ed., vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 824.

9.  The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress – Timeline: The American Revolution,” The Library of Congress [online: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/1781.html.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2012.

 

Ai

By Daniel P. Caldwell

Daniel P. Caldwell is vice president of church relations and dean of the Cooper School of Missions and Biblical Studies, William Carey College, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

A

FTER DEFEATING THE GREAT CITY OF JERICHO, the Israelites focused their attention on the city of Ai.  Even though the city was smaller than Jericho, Ai was an important city to control. 

Ai (pronounced as IGH [eye] or Ay-igh [A-eye]) probably means “the ruin.”1  The city was located in central Israel in the territory of Benjamin, situated about two miles southeast of Bethel (modern-day Beitin).  Archaeologists identify Ai with the modern villages of Haiyan or et-Tell.2

Archaeologists have completed two major expeditions at Ai.  Judith Marquet-Krause led the first major excavation from 1933-1935.  After her untimely death in 1936, her husband published information about her excavations at Ai.  Joseph A. Callaway, a professor and archaeologist from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, led the second significant excavation from 1964-1972.  Callaway eventually led seven archaeological campaigns at the location.

Excavations indicated that the city’s earliest origin dates around 3000 BC.3  This period of occupation is commonly known as the Early Canaanite I Age or the Early Bronze Age (3150-2850 BC).  Other periods of occupation continued until the return of the exiles from Babylon as indicated in the Book of Ezra.4  The findings of archaeological excavations have enlightened our understanding of the Israelite biblical world during these periods.

The early habitation of the city of Ai reveals many interesting archaeological finds.  The city probably began as a village as did other sites in the surrounding area.  During the Early Canaanite I Age this city became fortified.  The logical conclusion for fortification may have been the result of a dominant nation, such as Egypt, penetrating into the land.5  At the same time Ai was fortified, other cities in the southern region were also fortified.

An extraordinary structure made of large stones, the wall surrounding the early city of Ai had a width of 19 feet and a height of about 21 feet.  The wall encompassed an area of about 27 acres.  This made the city considerably larger than Jerusalem, known then as Jebus, which was about 8 to 10 acres in size at this time in Israel’s history.6

Archaeologists discovered within the early city a large public pool for water collection.  The pool, which was “constructed inside the corner of the city wall,” held about 1,800 to 2,000 cubic meter of water.  “This would be enough to supplement rainfall and other sources for a population of 2,000 inhabitants.”7  Also scattered throughout the city were the remains of red burnished ware and painted pottery.8  Archaeologists have uncovered at the site two large structures, likely the remains of former public buildings.  The actual function of these buildings is unclear and thus up for debate.  On the top of the acropolis, the highest point in the city, workers unearthed a large building with four remaining pillar bases.  Early excavators referred to this building as a palace.  Others argued that it was an early temple.  While temples are commonly found on high points in the city, the absence of altars and other vessels used in worship seems to argue against this assumption.

Near this building and adjacent to the fortification wall, archaeologists found a second building.  This structure contained several small rooms and numerous remains of pottery and alabaster.  Early excavators identified this building as a temple.  Some argue that the upper building may have been the temple and that the building near the wall was a storage facility where a variety of items were simply stored until needed.9 

Inhabitants abandoned the early city around 2400 BC.  Archaeological evidence does not show any consistent occupation of people at this site for over a thousand years.  As a result the city fell into ruin.  Nomadic groups may have inhabited the site for brief periods of time, as people groups commonly moved into abandoned sites.  Yet excavations have not produced any artifact s to identify their existence.

The earliest evidence of latter occupation of the site dates to around 1200 BC, known as Iron Age I or as the Israelite Age.  Some scholars date Joshua’s conquest of the city of Ai to around 1400 BC.  Thus his arrival at Ai at this time would reveal a city with little to no occupancy by people and a city in disrepair.  The inconsistency in this dating has led some scholars to conclude that this site—identified as Ai—may not be correct.10  Regardless of the exact location, though, the lessons gleaned from the biblical text concerning the sin and disobedience at Ai ring true to our present day.

Scriptures first mention Ai in Abraham’s journey through Israel (Gen. 2:8) and mention it again as he returned from his sojourn in Egypt (13:3).  Between Ai and Bethel Abraham built an altar and worshiped God.

During the time of the Israelite conquest into Canaan, the land was divided into a number of small territories.  Local chieftains, who each carried the title of “king,” governed each territory.  Joshua 12:1-24 mentions 33 such kings ruling in the area—2 kings east of the Jordan and 31, west.  These kings extended their rule from a fortified citadel to the surrounding district.  Thus the Israelites’ defeat of each city included gaining control of the immediate terrain.

After defeating the great city of Jericho, the Israelites focused their attention on the city of Ai (7:2-5).  Even though the city was smaller than Jericho, Ai was an important city to control.  Situated on a prominent road that led to Jerusalem, Ai was only a few hours in distance away.  It was also on the main road taken by pilgrims from the hill country and to the fertile district of Samaria.

Joshua dispatched spies from Jericho to view the city and the surrounding region.  The report they gave to Joshua implied that the city and its population were small.  So Joshua dispatched about 3,000 soldiers to take Ai.  They were unsuccessful.  They were touted from the city, pursued by the men of Ai, and were slain along the way.

How could they have defeated the great walled city of Jericho and its people but could not take the smaller city of Ai?  The defeat came because of the actions of Achan and his family.  Under his tent he had buried gold and silver taken from the city of Jericho.  Soldiers were not to take anything from the city.  When Achan took these items, he brought ruin to the Israelites.  For punishment, Achan and his family were stoned to death.  Afterwards the Israelites returned to Ai and were successful in defeating the city.

Few other Old Testament passages outside the Book of Joshua mention Ai.  Jeremiah 49:3 mentions the city in an oracle of judgment against the Ammonites.  This passage is problematic.  The Ammonite territory was on the east side of the Jordan River.  Thus the city mentioned must be another city of the same name or possibly a similar name.11  The biblical literature of the postexilic period mentions Ai twice.  These passages list Ai in connection with Bethel (Ezra 2:28; Neh. 7:32).  They identify the number of exiles returning to the city and identify Ai as a city outside Jerusalem where the people lived on returning from Babylon.

As revealed in the Bible and in subsequent archaeological findings, the city of Ai has a long and interesting history of occupation, decline, and restoration.  Perhaps the greatest revelation and lesson gleaned from Ai is not from the city but from what God did at the city.  Through the sin of Achan, the Israelites failed to do what God commanded them to do.  And punishment came.  Through their genuine repentance and forgiveness, though, God forgave and restored the Israelites.  He gave them a second chance to be used by Him.  Thus the story of Ai serves as a reminder of how great God’s love is for us.                                            Bi

1.    Harrison, “Ai” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Bromiley, gen. ed., vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 82.

2.    Simon Cohen, “Ai” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1962), 72.

3.    Harrison.

4.    Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1988), 69.

5.    Aharoni, The Archaeology of the Land of Israel, Rainey, trans. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982), 57.

6.    Ibid., 59.

7.    Callaway, “Ai” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Freedman, ed. in chief, vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 129.

8.    Aharoni, 56.

9.    For a more detailed argument of the identification of these buildings, see Aharoni, 73-74, and Finkelstein, 69-70.

10.   Campbell, No Time For Neutrality (Wheaton: Victor Books SP Publications, Inc., 1981), 59-60.

11.   Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1980), 717.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Fall 2006.

 

The Levites

By Wayne VanHorn

Wayne VanHorn is pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mississippi.

The Tribe of Levi Is Set Apart

THE LEVITES descended from Levi, the third son born to Jacob and Leah.  Their importance began with the events that unfolded in Egypt during the process of the exodus.  God raised up Moses and Aaron to be the Israelites’ leaders.  They were descendants of Levi (Ex. 2:1-1).  Levi’s tribe became important initially because God’s choice of Moses and Aaron.  The genealogy listing Levi and his three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, indicates the significance placed on the family of Levi at the time that the Book of Exodus was written (Ex. 6:14-27).

At the time of the exodus, God used the 10th plague to convince pharaoh to let his people go.  This final plague was the death of the firstborn of all Egyptians and their livestock.  God required Moses to set aside the firstborn of all Israelites as a perpetual reminder of this great act of deliverance (Ex. 13:1-16).

Exodus 32:15-29 is a key passage for understanding why God chose the Levites instead of the firstborn as the group that would serve Him in the tabernacle and later in the temple.  While God was inscribing His word on stone tables for Moses, the people reverted to idolatry at the foot of Mount Sinai.  When Moses saw the people’s sin, he smashed the tablets and then called for those who would stand for the Lord to come to him (Ex. 32:26).  The Levites responded in loyalty to the Lord (Moses was a Levite).  God wrought judgment on the camp through the Levites.  On that same day, the Lord blessed the Levites (Ex. 32:29).

The Tribe of Levi as Transporters of the Tabernacle

Our next full glimpse of the Levites comes in the Book of Numbers.  God instructed Moses to take a military census (Num. 1:1-3).  Moses omitted the Levites from the census, setting them apart instead to service the tabernacle (Num. 1:47-53).  Their function was to take down, to transport, and to set up the tabernacle every time the Israelites moved.  They were to encamp around the tabernacle, providing a barrier between it and the other tribes.  The place of highest honor went to the descendants of Aaron, who camped on the east side of the tabernacle nearest its entrance (Num. 3:38).  The positions of the other divisions of the Levites are enumerated below.  Before we look at the threefold division of the Levites, we need to understand that God chose the Levites in place of the firstborn (Ex. 13:1-16; Num. 3:11-13,40-51).  God commanded Moses to number the Levites.  The total was 22,000.  Then God instructed Moses to count the firstborn of all the tribes.  The total was 22,273.  The Lord substituted the Levites for the firstborn, paying Aaron and his sons 5 shekels for each of the 273 additional firstborn (Num. 3:11-51).  God chose the Levites because of their devotion to Him as displayed at Mount Sinai in lieu of the firstborn who had been set apart for Him from the time of the exodus (Ex. 13:1-2).

The Threefold Division of the Levites

Properly speaking, Aaron and his descendants were Levites.  However, since they were chosen by God to be the line of priests, they were not considered in the threefold division of the Levites.  Once the Levites had been selected to serve the priests (sons of Aaron) as a type of auxiliary work force, they were divided into three groups bearing the names of the three sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (Gen. 46:11; Ex. 6:16-19; Num. 3:1—4:48).  Each division was then assigned specific tasks related to transporting the tabernacle through the wilderness as the Israelites moved from place to place.  The Gershonites were to position themselves along the west side of the tabernacle.  They were responsible for transporting the tent with all of its coverings, the screen for the door of the tent, the buildings of the court, the cords, and anything pertaining to these (Num. 3:21-26; 4:21-28).  The Kohathites camped on the south side of the tabernacle and were responsible for portage of its contents, including the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary (Num. 3:27-32).  The priests (sons of Aaron) had to cover each item in the tabernacle before the Kohathites could transport them (Num. 4:5-15).  The Merarites were encamped on the north side of the tabernacle.  Their responsibility was to transport the frames, bars, pillars, bases, and accessories related to the construction of the tabernacle (Num. 3:33-37; 4:29-33).

The Levites in Deuteronomy

In Deuteronomy, the role of the Levites just prior to entering the promised land involved more than transporting the tabernacle.  The Levites were to carry the ark of the Lord, to minister before the Lord, and to bless the people in His name (Deut. 12:12,18-19; 14:27-29; 16:11-14).  The Levites even before David’s time, 1000 BC, served as administrators of the law, passing sentence on legal issues (Deut. 17:9).  They were considered to be guardians of the written law (Deut. 31:9,24-26), who insured that the king had a copy to read, to meditate on, and to enforce in the kingdom (Deut. 17:14-20).  The Levites lived on the tithes and animal offerings made to the Lord (Deut. 18:1-8; 26:10-13).  They also were used of God to keep bloodguilt from coming on an innocent Israelite city, an extension of their judicial duties (Deut. 21:1-9).  Their duties included making determinations with regard to leprosy (Deut. 24:8).  They joined Moses in instruction the people and were to pronounced curses and blessings once the people entered the land (Deut. 27—28).  One of their most important roles was perpetuating the law of the Lord among new generations of Israelites (Deut. 31:9-13).  Finally, in his blessing of the tribes before his death, Moses acknowledged the Levites’ special position as servants of the Lord to determine His will (Urim and Thummim), to observe His word and keep His covenant, to teach God’s justice and law to the people, to conduct the sacrifices, and to burn incense (Deut. 33:8-11).

The Levites in the Old Testament

The Levites are mentioned in at least 13 of the 39 Old Testament books.  Of particular importance is the fact that the tribe of Levi received no territory as their inheritance in the promised land (Josh.  14:3-4; 18:7).  Instead they were dispersed throughout Israel just as Jacob had predicted on his deathbed (Gen. 49:5-7) and were settled in 48 cities located throughout Israel (Josh. 21:1-41).  Included among these 48 Levitical cities were 6 cities of refuge to which those involved in involuntary manslaughter could flee for protection (Josh. 20).  The Levites kept the treasury, opened and closed the sanctuary, and oversaw the supplies necessary for worship (1 Chron. 9).  In his last days, David prepared the Levites for service to the temple (1 Chron. 23).  Some were appointed judges, others singers, still others as porters, or attendants for the sons of Aaron.  They were to praise God in the morning and evening and attend to all aspects of worship when the temple was built.  During the postexilic period, 450 BC, the Levites assisted in helping the people understand and interpret the law as Ezra read it (Neh. 8:7-12).  They continued to function in their capacity as priests and priest assistants were into the New Testament period.                                                                                                         Bi

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Winter 2001-02.

 

JOSHUA’S CONQUEST OF THE LAND

By Rick Johnson

Rick Johnson is professor of Old Testament, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

JOSHUA’S CAMPAIGN as told in Joshua 1 – 12 took place in two major parts.  The first secured the southern regions, primarily the territory of Judah.  The second subdued the areas in the north around the Sea of Galilee and the town of Hazor. 

Joshua began the southern campaign by establishing a base of operations at Gilgal and attacking Jericho.  First, he sent spies to Jericho.  When they reported that all of the people were terrified of Israel, he led the nation across the Jordan to capture the city.  The people marched around Jericho blowing the rams’ horns once a day for six days.  On the seventh day, after marching around the city seven times, the people shouted and the walls fell down flat.  The Israelites entered straight into the city and captured it, destroying everything except Rahab, her family, and the booty Achan secretly kept.

The capture of Jericho gave Israel access to the pass leading up into the central highlands of Judah.  An invasion here would cut off the southern region from the north, allowing a “divide and conquer” strategy.

Following this route, the next town Israel encountered was Ai.  Since it was small, Joshua sent only a small detachment.  The Israelites were put to flight, however, because Achan kept booty God had commanded them to destroy.  After executing Achan and his family, Joshua sent an ambush party to position itself between Bethel and Ai.  In the morning he brought the army up from the east.  When he had lured the men of Ai out into the countryside, the ambush attacked from the west and burned the town.  The sight of the smoke caused the men of Ai to lose heart, and Israel defeated them completely.

Word of this victory led the kings of the hill country in Canaan to gather to fight Israel.  But the town of Gibeon, in the region later allotted to Benjamin, deceived Israel into making a peace treaty.  When the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon heard of it, they attacked Gibeon.  Joshua marched from Gilgal by night and launched a surprise attack early the next morning.  Israel completely routed the Amorite kings.  As their armies fled away westward to Azekah and Makkedah, a miraculous hailstorm destroyed more of their soldiers than did the Israelites.  The Lord also helped Israel by some kind of astronomical miracle in response to Joshua’s prayer.1 Israel captured the five Amorite kings and executed them.  Joshua also continued southward capturing the towns of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir.  Then he returned to Gilgal.  This battle completed the southern campaign.

In the next phase of the conquest Jabin, king of Hazor, gathered a large coalition from the towns and peoples in the regions near the Sea of Galilee.  They camped at the waters of Merom, probably located near modern Meiron, northwest of the Sea of Galilee.  The brief battle narrative in Joshua 11 simply reports Joshua attacked them quickly and put them to flight.  The opposing armies fled westward towards Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and eastward towards the valley of Mizpeh.  The Israelites struck down their soldiers, hamstrung their horses, and burned their chariots.  Either the Israelite forces were untrained in the use of horses and chariots,2 or they renounced them in favor of dependence on God.3 Then Joshua burned the town of Hazor and destroyed the other enemy towns.

The Book of Joshua also mentions other peoples and towns Joshua captured but for which no battle narrative is given.  A brief notice in Joshua 11:21-22 reports Joshua completely destroyed the Anakim from the hill country, leaving a few only in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.  The list of conquered kings in Joshua 12:9-24 includes the kings of Aphek, Taanach, and Megiddo, but their defeats are nowhere specifically mentioned.   (See Map Below.)

1.   For various explanations of this event, see the following, Dan G. Kent, Joshua, Judges, Ruth in Layman’s Bible Book Commentary (Nashville: Broadman, 1980), 52; Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 107-10, 117 n. 33; Robert Dick Wilson, “Understanding ‘the “Sun Stood Still’” in Classic Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), 61-65.

2.   Trent C. Butler, Joshua, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), 127-128.

3.   Marten H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 191.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 30, Number 3; Spring 2004

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

707. What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (06/28/15)  Which creature did the ten spies liken themselves to when compared to the giants of the land?   Answer Next Week?

The answer to last week’s question:  (06/21/15)  What natural disaster did God release upon the Amorite army as they passed through Beth-Horan that killed more of them than the Israelites did? Answer:  Hailstones; Joshua 10:11.

 

MAP OF ISRAEL’S CANAAN CONQUEST:

 

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.