- After using Babylon to punish Israel, God uses some other nations to punish Babylon for hurting Israel. The point being that even when God withdraws protection from his people and lets you hurt them, hurting them is still illegal. The fact that God doesn’t stop you from doing something wrong doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong. The fact that he uses it – as a punishment maybe – or brings a blessing from it, still doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong.
- God warns Babylon, like he’d warned Israel, the Canaanites, and the people of Niniveh.
- The phrase “devote to destruction” is used here too. “Devote to destruction all her army”.
- The book of Joshua and the first few chapters of Judges detail the actual conquest of Canaan.
- There are specific battles detailed in the first few chapters, the most famous of which are Jericho and Ai.
- One tribe – the Gibeonites – have the foresight and intelligence to trick the Israelites into making a peace treaty with them.
Two important issues are noteworthy
- The first part of Joshua details his conquests and ends by saying that “So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war” (Joshua 11:16-23).
- Yet the second part says that a lot of the land was still unconquered when Joshua was old and Joshua had to divide the land between the Israelites and let them fight to clear it. (Joshua 13). Similarly,the first chapter of Judges has the Israaelites struggling to drive out the Canaanites after Joshua’s death.
- Secondly, certain lands are listed as conquered in the first part of Joshua and all the inhabitants killed, but the second half and the first chapter of Judges designates them as yet to be conquered. Examples are Hebron (Josh. 10:40), Debir (Josh. 10:38), the hill country and the Negev and the western foothills (Josh. 10:40). Judges (1: 9 – 11) details the conquest of those lands after Joshua’s death.
- While the first part of Joshua emphasizes that the land was conquered and every living thing in it killed, the second part and the first chapter of Judges emphasize driving out the Canaanites. In Judges 1, certain cities were listed in which the Israelites had trouble driving out the Canaanites, but it makes no mention of killing them. This is relevant to the previous note that God’s command to the Israelites was to drive out the Canaanites and to destroy them.
- When the Israelites finally became strong enough, they did not drive out the Canaanites (Judges 1: 27 – 36), (Josh 16:10), (Joshua 17:12-13). Instead, they lived with them and subjected them to forced labor.
- So, the Israelites disobeyed God and God responded as he had promised. He punished them.
Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” – (Judges 2: 1- 3)
- This was fair. Remember Numbers 33:55-56
“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.“
- Stubborn Israelites
- Israel did not drive the Canaanites out of the land like they were supposed to. They let them stay.
- As a result God refuses to drive out the Canaanites and punishes the people by letting the Canaanites ensnare them.
- Eventually, when all the people who had seen God’s miracles were dead, their children began to worship other gods.
- So, God let the Canaanites oppress them. A deal is a deal, after all. “Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.” (2:15)
- God is kind, so he sent Judges to lead the people back to him. By those judges, he defeated his people’s oppressors. The people stayed on the right path until the Judge died, and then returned to their evil ways.
- The people of Ephraim could not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer so they just lived among them. But the Canaanites were required to do forced labor. (16:10)
- As God had commanded Moses, the daughters of Zelophehad received shares of land because their father had no sons. (17: 3 – 6)
- The Mannasites were not able to occupy some of their lands because the Canaanites were determined to live there. However, when they grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor and did not drive them out completely. (17: 12, 13)
- The descendants of Joseph complained that the land they were given was too small for them (numerous as they were) so Joshua told them to clear some of the forested hill country, drive out the Canaanites there and take it. (17: 14 – 18)
- After all the division that had gone on, 7 tribes still needed land, but there was no conquered land for them. So Joshua told them to spy out the rest of the land. Then he would divide it among them and they could conquer it. (18: 1 – 10)
- After all the division was done, Joshua was given land from the Territory of the Ephraimites. He built a town and settled there. (19: 49, 50)
- They set apart the cities of Refuge so that any one (Israelite or Foreigner) who killed someone accidentally could escape there. (20: 1 – 9)
- Caleb drove out the people living in the lands he was given.
- Caleb gave his (married) daughter land and the upper and lower springs. So women could own property. (15: 18, 19)
- Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem. So they simply lived there with them. Hmm… They didn’t just slaughter them all. (15:63)
- Joshua didn’t divide the land alone. He had Eleazer the priest and the leaders of the tribes of Israel to help him.
- According to verse 4, the Levites didn’t receive a share of the land. They only received towns to live in and pasture for their flocks. Isn’t that kind of contradictory?
- Caleb was blessed with land of his own (Hebron) for his faithulness to God when they went to spy out the land. But it looks like there were still people (Canaanites) in the land that was given to him.
- Important to note is that in all of his conquests, when God told Joshua that he was going to give him victory, he didn’t just wait for the victory to fall from heaven. He executed brilliant strategies to bring about the outcome. e.g. in 11:5, he took the Canaanites by surprise although God had already assured him of victory.