Through the Bible in a Year: Joshua 11-15

This Week’s Reading Schedule

Today’s (Wednesday’s) Bible reading is Joshua 11-15.
Thursday, April 12: Joshua 16-20.
Friday, April 13: Joshua 21-24.

Next week we will read Judges.

The overall year’s plan is here.

Joshua 11

Joshua 11 describes more of Israel’s conquests. Towards the end of the chapter, the "Anakim" are mentioned. They are mentioned because they were giants (Num. 13:33; Deut. 2:10-11).

The Anakim were destroyed in the land, but they were left in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod, which are Philistine cities. They were southwest of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean coast. It is likely that Goliath was a descendant of Anak.

The capture of the land of Canaan and the destruction of its inhabitants typifies deliverance from sin in our lives as Christians. The Canaanites that were left after Joshua’s campaigns led the children of Israel astray with the worship of false gods. In the same way, we must not leave any remnants of sin in ourselves. We must purge our own land so that sin, deceptive as it is (Heb. 3:13), does not creep back into our lives.

The term I’ve heard is that we must be "thorough" with ourselves, letting the Lord deal with every part of us.

Joshua 12

King Og of Bashan is said to be one of the few remaining Rephaites (v. 4). This is another race of giants. In fact, in most cases, the Hebrew word Rapha is simply translated "giant," though sometimes Bible translations leave it as Rapha or Rephaim (plural).

The Rephaim are mentioned along with the "Emim" in Genesis 14:5. The Emim are described as giants along with the Anakim in Deut. 2:10-11.

Joshua 13

It seems as though we’ve been told that Joshua has conquered all the land, but this chapter begins by telling us that much of the land remains to be conquered. Again, beware of taking all-inclusive language too literally.

Keep in mind that the Israelites were primarily taking possession of the narrow strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. God had promised them, however, all the land from the Euphrates to the Nile. Such an expansive kingdom would not happen until the time of David and Solomon and then never again.

This chapter gives the land divisions on the east of the Jordan, which Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh had asked for. Once the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean had been conquered for the remaining tribes, the men of those two-and-a-half tribes were free to return to their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan.

Joshua 14 and 15

Caleb was one of the two faithful spies—Joshua was the other—who went into the land when Moses first led the Israelites to Canaan. The people didn’t listen to Caleb and Joshua, so they were banished to the wilderness for 40 years until all the men over 20 died … except Caleb and Joshua.

Caleb was given Hebron, which was not just a city, but an area as well. We’ve already read that the city of Hebron was captured (10:36-37). Now we’re told that Caleb attacked Debir, but Debir had been already captured and destroyed as well (10:38-39).

My conclusion is that in chapter 10, we are reading an overview of the conquest of Canaan. Chapters 14 and 15 bring up Caleb’s part in that, and it was Caleb who led the capture of the cities of Hebron and Debir that we read about in chapter 10.

Chapter 15 begins a listing of the cities that were in Judah’s territories. In tomorrow’s reading, we’ll get the divisions given to the other tribes.

Obviously, these cities are unfamiliar to almost all of us. Reading through those cities is not going to be the most interesting reading, since you don’t know where hardly any of them are.

I recommend using a map. The internet has a real simple colored list of the tribal areas that can help give an overview, and then there’s an interactive map with lots of city names.

You don’t need to know all the cities, but it will be helpful to have an idea where Jerusalem is, as well as the five major Philistine cities: Ashdod, Gath, Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron. They are major factors when we read about King David. You also should know the location of Samaria, the future capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Finally, take a look at Dan (far, far north), Bethel, and Shiloh, which are commonly mentioned cities throughout the histories we will read. Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom, put golden calves in Dan and Bethel. Knowing where those cities are helps us understand why he chose those cities.

It wouldn’t hurt to note Mt. Hermon, considered the northern tip of Israel and mentioned throughout the Psalms, and Mt. Carmel (in the north on the coast), where Elijah has his famous battle with the priests of Baal.

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