Friday, April 13, 2018
Did you believe yesterday that Joshua laid waste from Jerusalem to Egypt, in time to come home to Gilgal? Reset, reboot, it’s a new day, and a new chapter of Joshua, and there’s a whole slew of northern kings to be faced. Not just a few Amorites under 5 kings, but 5 peoples: Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Hivites.
The leader this time is King Jabin of Hazor. Hazor is known to us as Hebron. The heights that still must be controlled for military dominance in Palestine. We’re ranging north, but also south to the Dead Sea, and east and west.
The other guys are as numerous as the sand on the seashore – but Israel is not scared. God is on their side, providing tactical advice to hamstring horses and burn chariots, to demobilize the cavalry. It’s reminiscent of the fate of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots sunk in mud, but with more agency for the Israeli troops.
Just as the rout yesterday ran all the way through the Negev to Goshen, the east Nile delta, today the rout heads north to Sidon, and east as far. Look at a map, and see the scope: ‘this land is your land, from Bonavista, to Vancouver Island, from the Arctic Circle, to the Great Lakes waters…’. That’s a song we sang, and First Nations heard differently, back in the day, eh?
Just as the king of Jerusalem was humiliated yesterday, the king of Hazor lost his alpha male status today. His town is razed, but all the other cities built on mounds were spared, and booty taken. Of course, genocide of their people was complete. Are you beginning to take this rhetoric with a grain of salt? What’s the message?
The chapter concedes near the end that Joshua fought these peoples for a long time. The people remained in the land. We all knew that, always. We coexisted, in Peter Russell’s terms in ‘incomplete conquest’, with others who we no longer feared, but we kept up our guard and our boundaries. Good fences make good neighbours.
The exception is the Anakim, a people not mentioned before in the recitations of the 6 peoples of the land. Are they the Beothuk, or are they a mythical tribe? They are dismissed to the Gaza strip. The claim to the Hebron highlands is crucial for David in the future. The summary of the highlands as ‘Israel and Judah’ are terms from centuries later, the divided kingdoms. Is it a later editorial summary?
As we near the end of the week we near the end of war, with the ritual claim that the land has been cleared of other peoples. Now the land can be divided among the 12 tribes by allotment – by lots. Listen once more to the chapter:
When King Jabin of Hazor heard of this,
to King Jobab of Madon,
to the king of Shimron,
to the king of Achshaph,
2and to the kings who were
in the northern hill country,
and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth,
and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west,
3to the Canaanites in the east and the west,
and the Jebusites
in the hill country,
and the Hivites under Hermon
in the land of Mizpah.
4They came out,
with all their troops,
a great army,
in number like the sand on the seashore,
with very many horses and chariots.
5All these kings joined their forces,
and came and camped together
at the waters of Merom,
to fight with Israel.
6 And the Lord said to Joshua,
‘Do not be afraid of them,
for tomorrow at this time
I will hand over all of them,
you shall hamstring their horses,
and burn their chariots with fire.’
7So Joshua came suddenly upon them
with all his fighting force,
by the waters of Merom,
and fell upon them.
8And the Lord handed them over to Israel,
who attacked them and chased them
as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim,
and eastwards as far as the valley of Mizpeh.
They struck them down,
until they had left no one remaining.
9And Joshua did to them
as the Lord commanded him;
he hamstrung their horses,
and burned their chariots with fire.
10 Joshua turned back at that time,
and took Hazor,
and struck its king down with the sword.
Before that time
Hazor was the head
of all those kingdoms.
11And they put to the sword
all who were in it,
utterly destroying them;
there was no one left who breathed,
and he burned Hazor with fire.
12And all the towns of those kings,
and all their kings,
and struck them with the edge of the sword,
utterly destroying them,
as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded.
13But Israel burned none of the towns
that stood on mounds
which Joshua did burn.
14All the spoil of these towns,
and the livestock,
the Israelites took for their booty;
but all the people
they struck down with the edge of the sword,
until they had destroyed them,
and they did not leave any who breathed.
15As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses,
so Moses commanded Joshua,
and so Joshua did;
he left nothing undone
of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
16 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,
17from Mount Halak,
which rises towards Seir,
as far as Baal-gad
in the valley of Lebanon
below Mount Hermon.
He took all their kings,
struck them down,
and put them to death.
18Joshua made war a long time
with all those kings.
19There was not a town
that made peace with the Israelites,
except the Hivites,
the inhabitants of Gibeon;
all were taken in battle.
20For it was the Lord’s doing
to harden their hearts
so that they would come against Israel in battle,
in order that they might be utterly destroyed,
and might receive no mercy,
but be exterminated,
just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
21 At that time
and wiped out the Anakim
from the hill country,
and from all the hill country of Judah,
and from all the hill country of Israel;
Joshua utterly destroyed them
with their towns.
22None of the Anakim was left
in the land of the Israelites;
only in Gaza,
and in Ashdod.
23So 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.