Joshua 24 – The Covenant Renewal at Shechem

English translation of hebrew version. Map of ...

English translation of hebrew version. Map of the twelve tribes of Israel, before the move of Dan to the North (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joshua has divided the land between the tribes of Israel, and some years have passes.  The last two chapters of Joshua are remembered as his farewell speech and final words at the covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem.  This latter is laid out just like an ancient treaty or covenant between a suzerain (a superior or dominant entity) and its vassals (or subjects).  Such treaties contain a preamble introducing the sovereign (verse 2), a historical prologue of past graciousness with the vassals (verse 2-13), stipulations of the vassal’s responsibilities (verses 14-24), written record preserving the covenant agreement (verse 26), named witnesses (verses 26-27), and blessings and curses (verse 20 and throughout).

Joshua’s famous charge to them in verse 15 to “choose who you will serve” along with the warning in verse 20 should serve as a chilling reminder to them that God will not tolerate apostasy from them.  Unfortunately, the insistence of the people that they will serve only the Lord will all too soon be forgotten by many, as we see the pattern of the judges.

Verses 29-33 detail the death and burial of Joshua at the place of his inheritance at Timnath-serah, Eleazar’s burial at Gibeah, and the burial of Joseph’s bones at Shechem.

(Side note: Archaeologists have found Shechem to have been a large center of pagan worship.  A great article on Shechem can be found at the following link to Bibleplaces.com)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Joshua 4 – Twelve Memorial Stones from the Jordan

After all the nation had passed over the Jordan, the Lord told Joshua to appoint 12 men – one from each tribe – to take twelve stones from the earth where the Jordan flows, in the same spot where the priests stood.  the stones would be set up as a memorial where they camped at Gilgal.  This memorial would serve as a reminder to their children and their heirs (verses 6-7) of the Lord and His power, and His faithfulness to His promise to them.  But it would also serve as a reminder to the rest of the people, and a warning as well (verses 23-24) of the might of God.

The word of the river being held back for thousands and thousands of them to cross would soon make their presence feared.  In verse thirteen, the troops passed over the “plains of Jericho” which is said to make it only about 5 miles east of Jericho.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 1 – Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt

Highlights we have passed over in Genesis – As Israel (Jacob) nears death, he takes Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh as his own (Gen 48:5). That is why there is not tribe of Joseph in the “Twelve Tribes of Israel”.  These two make up the “half-tribes”.  Jacob sets Joseph and Ephraim apart, and once again the younger is blessed above the first-born as he says that “his offspring shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen 48:19). He makes it clear that he is to be buried in Canaan, where his people shall end up, and blesses all of his sons. Chapter 49 is full of poetic imagery and prophecy, much of it (particularly verses 8-12) pointing to the empire of King David, and ultimately, the Lord Jesus, the Messiah.  In chapter 50, Pharaoh allows Joseph to bury his father in Canaan, and Genesis concludes with the death of Joseph.  And so, God’s word picks up 400 years later…

Genesis 15:13-14:
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Pharaoh Oppresses Israel

The 12 sons of Israel (Jacob) (and Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh) have long since died; and their descendants, now referred to as “the people of Israel” have multiplied greatly – to the extent that the ruler of Egypt fears their numbers.  So they are ruthlessly made slaves (verse 13), and the mid-wives instructed to kill all newborn sons.  But the midwives feared God (verse 17), and they let them live.  “And the people multiplied greatly and grew very strong” (verse 20), as God had promised Abraham in Genesis 13:16.  Pharaoh then ordered his people to cast every son that is born to the Hebrews into the Nile.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Genesis 41 – Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams

We come to a lengthy, but crucially important chapter of the Bible – two years after Pharaoh has his chief baker hanged.  Pharaoh has two dreams of his own.  When his wise men were unable to tell him what the dreams mean, his cupbearer (undoubtedly hoping to gain favor) had a sudden improvement in his memory, and told him about Joseph rightly predicting the baker’s fate and his own by interpreting their dreams.  So Joseph is quickly brought out of prison (verse 14), cleaned up, and brought before Pharaoh, who repeats his dreams to him.

Joseph is quick to point out before interpreting (verse 15), that it is God who will give Pharaoh the answers he is looking for, not Joseph himself.  Then throughout the interpretation, he makes it clear that God has shown Pharaoh through these dreams the reality of what He is about to do.  Joseph says that the “doubling” (verse 32) of the dreams (for they both mean the same thing) means that they will be fulfilled soon.  There will be seven years of great abundance, followed by seven years of severe famine.  He tells Pharaoh that he should appoint overseers over the land and take “one-fifth of the produce” from the plentiful years into reserves “so that the land may not perish through the famine” (verse 36).

So begins Joseph’s rise to power, as the Pharaoh decides that he will be that overseer.  He declares that Joseph will be second only to Pharaoh himself in all the land (verse 40).  To complete his acceptance as such in the land, Pharaoh gives him an Egyptian name (Zaphenath-paneah) and the hand of “Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On” in marriage.  It is from this marriage that Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim are born.  We will see these two names figure prominently throughout the Old Testament, as their descendants become the famed “half-tribes” destined to go with the descendants of Joseph’s 11 brothers, as the “Twelve Tribes of Israel” are led by Moses, and finally by Joshua to the Promised Land ~400 years later.

For now though, Joseph’s choice of names for the two in verses 51-52 (the name Manasseh ironically relates to “forget” and Ephraim sounds like the Hebrew for “make fruitful”) reflects his acknowledgement throughout the chapter that God is in control, and that by His power Joseph’s life has been blessed.

The boy who was 17 years old (in Gen 37:2) before his brothers threw him away is 30 years old when he begins with Pharaoh (verse 46); and after the famine began 7 years later, “all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (verse 57).

Now, thanks to God, the young Hebrew has just become the second most powerful man in the world!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 37 – Joseph’s Dreams

Moving from Genesis 32 to Genesis 37 – here are some highlights we have skipped over.  Esau and Jacob’s reunion goes much better than he had feared, but they have little to do with each other. Esau and his people move from the land of Canaan, and he is the father of the Edomites (we will hear much about them, particularly after the Babylonian captivity). Dinah, Leah’s daughter is sexually assaulted by Shechem.  Ultimately, Jacob’s sons (led by Simeon and Levi, who slaughter him and all the males of the city) take their revenge.  Jacob seems more worried about himself and his reputation in the land than anything else.  Reuben has laid with his father’s concubine in an apparent effort to assume position in the family, very much a slap in the face of Jacob – for which he will carry a grudge.

Isaac has died, as well as Rachel (after bearing his son Benjamin). And as 35:22-25 state  “…Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali.”  So now we have the basis for the “twelve tribes of Israel.”

Jacob, having already proved he was not the best father, shows favoritism to Joseph and made him a “robe of many colors.” We read about this same Hebrew term (for the robe) again only in 2 Sam. 13:18, with (King) David’s daughter Tamar. So we know it is a very special coat, and simply seeing him wear it must have angered his brothers. Then Joseph has what can only be thought of as the bad judgment to tell them about his dreams that seem to signify his entire family bowing down to him. His angry and jealous brothers conspire to kill him. Reuben talks them into throwing him into a pit, hoping to save him later. But Judah talks the others into selling him to Midianite traders, who in turn sell him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.  Jacob’s despair, thinking he is dead, is deep after the boys pull off their deception (v 31-35).

Joseph has gone from favored son to prisoner in a far-off land – betrayed by his own family in the worst possible ways. How quickly ones fortune can turn! And soon, God will show that to be very much the case – as He has special plans for Jacobs’s favorite.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

___________________

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert