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Year 1, Week 24, Day 5

I have a brief observation for today’s reading of Joshua 10-11.

Today’s reading describes the military campaigns that Israel undertook in order to take possession of the land: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war” (Joshua 11:23). While there will still be fighting in particular areas as the tribes take possession of their land allotment, the Israelites are now the dominant force in control of the Land promised to them. Joshua 10 records the conquest of the southern portions of the Promised Land: “Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah. And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho” (Joshua 10:29). Joshua 11 records the conquest of the northern portions of the Promised Land: “So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them and put them to death” (Joshua 11:16-17). The major campaigns to take the Promised Land are now complete.

One of the things that struck me from today’s reading is the emphasis that the LORD places in the conquest of the Land as a portrait of the LORD’s promise to crush the head of the serpent: “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool…The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath” (Psalm 110:1,5). While Psalm 110 was penned long after the time of Joshua and has a still future orientation, it reaches back to promises that the LORD made long before the time of Joshua: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The conquest of the Land during the time of Joshua reflects the LORD’s actions to crush His enemies, putting them under His feet: “And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks” (Joshua 10:24). What Joshua and the Israelites are doing on this day of conquest is a partial glimpse of what the LORD has promised and a partial preview of the LORD’s sure fulfillment of what He will do. Joshua encouraged Israel with these actions: “And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (Joshua 10:25).

What today’s reading makes clear is that the LORD is granting victory to His people: “And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you” (Joshua 10:8). While the Israelites will do actual fighting, the LORD is also their Warrior: “And the LORD threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword” (Joshua 10:10-11). Thus, the destruction of the inhabitants of the Land, was an act of Divine judgment: “For it was the LORD'S doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:20). Reminiscent of the LORD hardening Pharaoh’s heart as a part of His judgment and destruction, so now, the LORD judged the Amalekites as He declared during the days of Abraham: “And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16).

As we will see in the readings over the coming days, there is a tension between the complete victory that the LORD has given to Israel in taking the Land, and the remaining battles that the Israelites would need to engage in. The first generation of Israelites refused to take the Land because of their fear of the Anakim: "And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (Numbers 13:33). Not the sons of Anak have been destoryed—except of few: “There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain” (Joshua 11:22). And the few who are left in Gath will re-emerge as a threat to a future king of Israel: “And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span” (1 Samuel 17:4). But Goliath too will have his head crushed: “And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground” (1 Samuel 17:49).

What struck you in today’s reading? What questions were prompted from today’s reading?

Pastor Joe