Sunday, October 7, 2012

LXIX - Joshua Chapters 9-12 - The Conquest of Canaan

Chapter 9  -  The Gibeonite Deception

Chapter 9, like many of the passages in this Book of Joshua, is interesting reading.  Israel's military victories at Jericho and Ai sent shock waves through all of Canaan.  News like that spreads fast.  The tribes of the land began to prepare for war (9:1-2).  However, the Gibeonites decided that making peace with Joshua would be a better solution than going to war against someone who had God on their side.  But they were not confident that Joshua would be so willing to make a peace treaty with them because by this time it was "common knowledge" that Israel was going to claim the entire land of Canaan as its sovereign land.  And that means to conquer all settled nations within Canaan's boundries, which included Gibeon.  So the Gibeonites (vss 3-->) devised a deception.  They sent a delegation to Joshua, claiming that they were from a far-away land (beyond Canaan's boundries).  They put on old worn out clothes and sandals, put old wine in cracked wineskins, and carried with them moldy bread, all of which they showed to Joshua to prove they had been traveling for months.  Joshua did not seek God's guidance in this matter, and Joshua bought their story and made a peace treaty with these Gibeonites.  Three days later (vs 16) it was learned that Gibeon was almost next-door-neighbors to Israel's camp.  In vs 18 it says all of Israel was upset with their leaders for making such a foolish deal, but Joshua intends to keep his promises.  (Ever make a foolish deal?  Makes you feel like a real idiot for a long time, but Joshua did the right thing by keeping his end of the deal.)  So, as told in vss 22-27, although Joshua could not kill them, he made them servants to Israel the entire lives of the Gibeonites and all of their future generations.  As vss 24 and 25 indicate, this was just fine with the Gibeonites, as anything was better than total annihilation.

Chapter 10  -  The Gibeonite treaty with Israel triggered an attack by Adonizedek, King of Jerusalem.  He appealed to the surrounding kings and was successful in persuading them to join him in attacking Gibeon.  There were five kings and their territories all together.  In verse 6 the Gibeonites put Joshua in another jam.  They told him that since they belonged to Israel now, Israel was obligated to protect them against their attackers.  {Noteworthy is the fact that it would have made Joshua's objective easier to accomplish if any Canaanite-against-Canaanite battle would take place in order to help thin down the opposition.  A foolish decision seems to never stop punishing.}  Vss 9-15 describe how God helped Joshua defeat all of those Amorite tribes.  God even made the day longer so Israel could finish the job before darkness gave the Amorites an escape.  Somehow the five kings escaped and hid in a cave at Makkedah (vss 16-27).  Joshua found them and had them executed, hanging their bodies, which was a custom of war in that very brutal period of the world's History.
The remainder of chapter 10, it tells of Joshua's successful Southern Campaign.  After he had defeated the five kings at Makkedah, he went on to conquer Makkedah and all its population.  From there he moved southwest and took Libnah, from which he moved directly south to Lachish.  From Lacish he moved a considerable distance north to Dezer, from which he went back southwest to Eglon, and from there went on to defeat Hebron and Debir.  These verses also note territory boundries that they also defeated.  Israel was obedient and totaly destroyed these cities and all of their inhabitants.  Then Joshua returned to their camp at Gilgal, on the eastern edge of the Promised Land.

Chapter 11  -  The Northern Campaign

The two northern-most settlements in Canaan were Kedesh and Hazor.  As stated earlier, news travels fast.  All the northern kings were painfully aware of Joshua's conquests in the South and they had sense enough to know that they were next.  Jabin, king of Hazor thought, of course, there would be safety in numbers.  So he proceeded to gather the kings of the North to make their armies one huge army, too mighty for Joshua to defeat.  (They didn't understand just how powerful God is.)  The first 5 verses of chapter 11 described just how large that combined army was.  It was large in numbers, well equipped, and well-organized.  But in verse 6 God tells Joshua that he will be victorious.  Joshua and the Israeli army marched north quickly and attacked at Merom.  Joshua fought and chased them until there were no survivors.  Then in obedience, Joshua went into all the cities from which these kings came and destroyed the cities and their inhabitants.  Joshua continued to purge the Promised Land.  In verse 18 it says he made war against these kings for a long time.  Those wars were long and bitter.  I looked up the length of time and found (someone else's calculations) by calculating Caleb's age given in Joshua 14:7,10 and Moses's statemenmt in Deut. 2:14, these wars lasted seven years.  Seven years of aggressive war is a loooooong time.

An interesting note:  In reviewing Joshua 10 and 11, we can see that with the exception of Jericho and Ai, Israel attacked only after being attacked.  A bit of a stretch, knowing that Israel would have had to attack them sometime anyway, but its interesting that they were actually provoked, making it mostly a defensive campaign.  Chapter 12 goes on to list by name the kings (31 in all) that were defeated by Joshua and the nation Israel.

Next post:  Land allotments begin

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