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Mission Accomplished!

Publishing Date : 09 July, 2019

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER


Joshua secures Canaan for Israel though significant parts of it remain unconquered still


General Joshua continued to wage war on Canaanite domains and it was not until seven years since the capture of the very first, Jericho, that he declared victory. Altogether, he had defeated 31 kings. The conquest of Canaan, however, was not decisive: in some territories, the inhabitants were not driven away but were simply subjugated. The standing order by Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the exodus,  was that in every war, the Israelites should totally annihilate the enemy, sparing no woman or child. 


But it seemed the Israelites simply became fed up of their god’s penchant for blood and therefore chose to exercise unilateral restraint at the risk of incensing him. For as long as the enemy meekly surrendered, the Israelites simply turned them into minions rather than callously put them to the sword.


In some territories, the inhabitants simply did not give up the fight: they continued to wage guerilla warfare against their Jewish occupiers. This was particularly the case with the Jebusites of Jerusalem, who were only totally vanquished by King David more than 300 years later. Some of the Canaanite nations  actually succeeded in warding off  the mighty Israelite army. A case in point were the dreaded Philistines of the great Goliath fame, whose domains lined the Mediterranean shores.  About 8 Canaanite territories tenaciously fought for and maintained their full sovereignty.


Invariably, the kings of the defeated nation suffered the worst fate as they were subjected to a very slow and excruciatingly painful death. For example, this is what happened to the 5 Amorite Kings, one of whom was the ruler of Hebron, as per JOSHUA 10:16-26: “Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah.  It was told Joshua, saying, ‘The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah’. 


Joshua said, ‘Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them … Then Joshua said, ‘Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave’.  They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave …   When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, ‘Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings’. So they came near and put their feet on their necks … So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he impaled them on five trees.”


HOUSE OF JOSEPH GET LION’S SHARE OF TERRITORY

Exactly where in history are we at this juncture? Our own research places the commencement of the exodus at circa 1335 BC.  The Bible says the Nation of Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years but that is simply a symbolic number: the wilderness years lasted no more than 13 years, a scenario we have persuasively demonstrated in earlier articles. The conquest of Canaan was declared complete 7 years later.  This was in the year 1315 BC.


Now, as indicated above, the Israelites did not have full bragging rights over Canaan. Some of the land remained either unconquered or unpossessed and in some territories the Israelites opted to simply co-exist with the people they were unable to dislodge from their midst. Be that as it may, Joshua declared mission accomplished and raised the Israelite flag over the Promised Land.  Then he set about apportioning the newly-garnered lands to the nation’s 12 tribes.


Three tribes had already been allocated their own domains way back in 1308 BC. This was the land east of the Jordan valley, which did not constitute part of the Promised Land as the Promised Land was west of the Jordan River. The tribes were Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. Thus only the remaining nine-and-half tribes were entitled to a share of the Promised Land.

The tribe of Judah, being the largest and the seniormost chronologically (after Reuben, Simeon, and Levi forfeited their seniority having fallen out of favour with their father Jacob), was the first to receive its allocation. Judah’s share consisted of all the southern land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. This included Jerusalem despite the fact that the Jebusites had dug in their heels there and therefore the Israelites could not lay full claim to it.


Next was the House of Joseph, which had been divided into two, namely that of Ephraim and Manasseh. Legally, the House of Joseph was the seniormost in that Jacob had chosen Joseph as his anointed heir being the son of his favourite wife Rachel. It is not surprising, therefore, that the House of Joseph was allocated prior to every other tribe save for Judah.  Of the House of Joseph, the tribe of Ephraim, who was younger than Manasseh, was allocated first.


Ephraim was prioritised over Manasseh apparently because he was once Pharaoh Aye of Egypt and thus had a loftier pedigree than that of his older brother. Ephraim received the central portion of the land and the other half tribe of Manasseh was given land to the north of Ephraim’s.  All in all, the House of Joseph had the largest allocation overall (that is, taking into account the lands on both sides of the Jordan River), which accorded with their status as the anointed and therefore exalted tribe.   


That is not to say the House of Joseph were content with what they got. They actually approached Joshua to register their dismay over their allocation given their population. When combined, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were actually the largest tribe (85,200 at the last count), outnumbering even the tribe of Judah (76,500). As such, they insisted to Joshua, they deserved much more than they were given and accordingly tried to prevail over him to allot them further territory. But Joshua was having none of that: he told them point blank that if they wanted an expanded domain, they should earn it by launching their own conquests of the lands that were yet unconquered. The House of Joseph was not prepared to go to those lengths as its nearest enemies reportedly had superior chariots.  


Of the remaining 7 tribes, the tribe of Simeon was carved out an own territory from the vast portion allocated to Judah and so was the only territory wholly enclosed in another. The tribe of Benjamin was given a tiny sliver of territory between Ephraim and Judah. Asher and Naphtali received the northernmost part of Canaan, with Zebulun and Issachar to their immediate south. Dan’s was next to Ephraim’s on the Mediterranean seaboard. All in all, Judah and Manasseh had the largest portions whereas Dan, Benjamin, Zubulun, and Issachar had the smallest.


Then came the turn of the Levites, Israel’s virtual  13th tribe. Ishkur-Adad had long decreed that the Levites could not own land as they were a priestly tribe dedicated wholly to his service (they were even exempted from taking part in wars). That did not mean they would be homeless. They were to be allotted towns dedicated to them throughout the land both east and west of the Jordan River. Levi had three sons, namely Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. When Joshua distributed the towns to the Levites, he allotted them on the basis of these three family units. Kohath received 23 towns, 13 of which went to the descendants of Aaron and 10 to the rest of the family. Gershon received 13 towns and Merari 12.  

JOSHUA, CALEB GET PERSONAL SHOTS IN THE ARM

General Joshua and Caleb, Israel’s seniormost citizens, received personal allocations of land in recognition of their illustrious role in the triumphs and exploits of Israel.  Joshua and Caleb,  if you recall,  were the only two of 12  spies who gave a positive report on the land they had been sent to check out (NUMBERS 13:30; and 14:7-9) Joshua was given Timnath Serah  in the hill country of Ephraim, which he had specifically requested for.


Caleb was now 85 years old but he still had a lot of fight left in him. He  asked Joshua not to parcel him a handout but  to let him have a go at some of the unconquered lands. Joshua accordingly gave him the nod to take possession of Kiriat-Arbour, later to be known as Hebron, and Debir. Hebron was a tough call. It was occupied by the mighty Nephilim, a race of giants that had resulted from intermarriages between the Igigi (space-based Anunnaki) and Earthling women.  But like the formidable soldier he was, Caleb managed to expel the Nephilim from Hebron.


In the case of Debir, Caleb put out a lottery. He offered his beautiful virgin daughter Acsah to anybody who would take the city on his behalf. Othniel, the son of his brother, took up the challenge, triumphed,   and won himself the prize that was the voluptuous Acsah. Finally, Joshua established what were known as cities of refuge. These were places where somebody who had accidentally committed murder and was being sought by a hired avenger would flee to for safety. The refugee would remain in that city till the sitting high priest died, whereupon he was legally released from guilt.  Joshua designated six of the cities allocated to the Levites as cities of refuge.   


JOSHUA DEPARTS


After Israel was settled in the land under the leadership of Joshua, they enjoyed a period of about 25 years during which they lived the high life.  It was land on which they had not laboured, in  cities which they had not built: in here, they ate of vineyards and olive groves which they did not plant. It was truly a land flowing with milk and honey. As Joshua brought his leadership to a close due to old age, he assembled all the tribes of Israel, as represented by their leaders,  at Shechem for a final reminder of their covenant relationship with Ishkur-Adad, much as Moses had done too in his waning days.


It is significant that Joshua chose to hold the solemn assembly at Shechem and not at Shiloh, where Adad’s sanctuary now stood. Shechem was a natural choice in that it was here Abraham received the first promise from the Anunnaki god Nannar-Sin, Adad’s older brother, after his migration into Canaan and built an altar. Jacob had also settled at Shechem on his return from his uncle in Haran.


Joshua  was 110 years when he finally passed on. This was circa 1290 BC by our reckoning. Shortly thereafter, Eleazer, who had succeeded Aaron as High Priest, passed on too. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a radically new one. The latter is known as the Era of the Judges.

TUMULTUOUS ERA OF JUDGES ENSUES

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion. Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government  or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.


Besides lacking central temporal authority (i.e. central government), there was little religious authority in many ways as well. Although they had the Tabernacle (which centuries later would be replaced by the Temple in Jerusalem), there was competition from private altars. These were not altars for idol worship, but a place in the backyard to offer private sacrifices. The alternative of private sacrifices undermined the idea of the Tabernacle as the central location for religious life. On top of everything, the era of the Judges was a period of almost continual warfare – a state of affairs that would continue until the time of Samuel, the last of the Judges.


Just who were the judges?  At that time in Israel, a judge was almost never a person who passed judgment on certain cases, or who settled disputes, though there was such a role. Deborah did have a kind of judicial function, but this seems more related to her role as a prophetess than as one of Israel’s judges. None of the other judges in the Book of Judges actually judged in the most common sense of the word.


Judges were not an early prototype of Israel’s kings, either. Judges were primarily “deliverers” from the oppression of Israel’s enemies. They sometimes acted independently, as did Samson, who was a kind of “Lone Ranger judge”. Some of the judges led the military forces of one or more tribes against their foes. These judges did not lead the military forces of the entire nation, but only certain segments of it. As a rule, they did not have any administrative function, as a king would. The Anunnaki gods raised these judges up spontaneously, because of Israel’s oppression by their enemies. There was no succession and no dynasty. Usually, the Israelites were free from oppression as long as the judge lived.


     The era of judges lasted for at least 300 years. This was 15 judges in all.
     The first judge was Othniel, Joshua’s nephew, and the last was Samuel.
     Othniel led for 40 years. The longest reign was Ehud’s, Othniel’s successor who was in office for 80 years. With a tenure of less than 1 year, Shamgar’s was the shortest.
     Of the 15 judges, only one was a woman, Deborah. The fourth judge, she led for 40 years, one of only very few women in the Bible to receive a prominence that is otherwise strictly the preserve of males.   
     Perhaps the most famous judge is Samson, who led for 22 years. Of course his saga as related in the Bible is replete with legendary tales: no man of any size simply would possess the power to bring down a hall or take on a whole army singlehandedly and repulse them:

such feats are only possible in Silvester Stallone’s Rambo franchise movies. It also does not make sense that once he was shorn of his hair, he lost his power.  
  
NEXT WEEK:   ERA OF KINGS BEGIN

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