This is part of my series on the conquest of Canaan.
It all started with Abraham. God loved him. He even called him his friend.
(1) He promised Abraham that he would give the land of Canaan to his descendants (Genesis 13: 14 – 16).
“The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”
God told Abraham that he would not give his descendants the land for a long time. They would be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years.
(2)He was waiting for the sin of the Amorites (one of the peoples living in the promised land) to reach its full measure before he gave Abraham’s descendants the land (Genesis 15: 12 – 16).
“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
Abraham gave birth to Isaac and Isaac gave birth to Jacob and Jacob gave birth to 12 sons, who eventually had so many descendants that they became very numerous. They all moved from Canaan, which did not yet belong to them, to Egypt to escape a famine. After they had lived in Egypt for a long time, the Egyptians forced them to become their slaves and treated them badly. God then sent Moses to rescue them and take them to the land he had promised Abraham (Exodus 3; 7 – 10).
“ The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey —the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
So, God saved the Israelites from Egypt and led them towards Canaan to take it from the people who were living there.
(3) God said he would drive out the people of the land for them and instructed the Israelites not to make any treaties with them or they would ensnare the Israelites.
“Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you”. (Exodus 34: 11, 12)
(4) God warned the people that if they did not drive out the inhabitants of the land as per his instructions, those who remained in the land would give them trouble and he (God) would do to the Israelites what he planned to do to the Canaanites (drive them out).
(5) The fourth point deserves further elaboration. The Israelites’ remaining in Canaan was dependent on their obeying God’s laws. If they refused to do so, he would punish them with increasing intensity until he finally drove them from the land, just like he had done to the Canaanites (Leviticus 26; 14 – 46).
(6) God said that the land of Canaan was his and the people were tenants (Leviticus 25: 23).
(7) God gave his reasons for driving the Canaanites from the land in Leviticus 18. He accused them of practicing such ‘detestable’ things as incest, bestiality, homosexuality, and child sacrifice. He said that because of those things, the land vomited them out. And said that the land would vomit them out too if they practiced those things.
“‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” – Lev 18: 24 – 28
(8) The Canaanite king of Arad attacked the Israelites when he heard they were coming. They retaliated and destroyed his city. I have found no indication that they occupied it (Numbers 21; 1 -3).
(9) Sihon, king of the Amorites took an army against the Israelites when they asked to pass through his land. The Israelites fought and defeated him, killed everyone in his city, took the spoils and occupied his land. (Numbers 22: 21 – 31)
(10) After taking other smaller Amorite settlements, they went towards Bashan. The king of Bashan came out to meet them in battle and they won and did to him as they had done to Sihon (Numbers 22: 32 – 35).
(11) The other kingdoms became scared and launched plots to destroy the Israelites. The Moabites and Midianites hired Balak to curse them. When that failed, they sent their women to seduce the Israelite men and lead them into idolatery so that God would be angry with them and kill them. More than 24,000 people died from the plague that God sent as a result. God then ordered the people to remember what the Midianites had done to them and kill them. This vengeance was executed later and all the Midianites with the exception of the young girls were killed. I have found no indication that the Israelites occupied the land of the Midianites (Numbers 22 – 25, 31).