How does history become ‘accepted’? What has been the process of consensus building around event to the point where we call it ‘historical fact’? History is recorded in various ways over time, with the dominant narrative of events undergoing periods of fluidity…until consensus is reached and affirmed, and reaffirmed.
The hebrews Scriptures (Holy Writings) were preserved, copied with supernatural care and circulated throughout the Mediterranean in paleo-Hebrew 1000 B.C. – 500B.C. Around 500 BC. the Aramaic alphabet was adopted for the Hebrew language in the time of Nehemiah and Ezra, returning exiles from Babylon. This enabled literate people in that area of the world to read the Hebrew scriptures. Around 300 B.C. The first five books of the O.T. were translated into Greek and less than 100 years later the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures began circulating throughout the Greek speaking world. From there they were translated into many languages for the last 2000 yrs. These events in Joshua happened around 1400 B.C. For about 3400 years, the historical information of the Hebrews scriptures was known in agreement with other historical sources to be undisputed, universally accepted as historical fact.
Through out Scripture, the listing of people and places is how God embeds verifiable historical information into HIS Holy Writings. The significance of Chapter 12 is the documenting of God’s work through HIS people as to how God could conquer an entire region.
Joshua Chapter 12
1 These are the kings east of the Jordan River who had been defeated by the Israelites and whose land was taken. Their territory extended from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon and included all ‘The Land’ east of the Jordan Valley.
- This is the conquest of the portion of the promised land led by Moses
- These conquests are described at the end of the book of Numbers, chapter 21
2 King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, was defeated. His kingdom included Aroer, on the edge of the Arnon Gorge, and extended from the middle of the Arnon Gorge to the Jabbok River, which serves as a border for the Ammonites. This territory included the southern half of the territory of Gilead. 3 Sihon also controlled the Jordan Valley and regions to the east—from as far north as the Sea of Galilee to as far south as the Dead Sea, including the road to Beth-jeshimoth and southward to the slopes of Pisgah.
- Arnon George is east of the southernmost part of the Dead Sea
- The Jabbok River meets the Jordan river where the city of Succoth is
4 King Og of Bashan, the last of the Rephaites, lived at Ashtaroth and Edrei. 5 He ruled a territory stretching from Mount Hermon to Salecah in the north and to all of Bashan in the east, and westward to the borders of the kingdoms of Geshur and Maacah. This territory included the northern half of Gilead, as far as the boundary of King Sihon of Heshbon.
- Raphaites: Giants like Anakites, (11:21-22) & Goliath. Og had 6 fingers & toes
- Bashan was a region that was called that in 1400 B.C. (Bible & other sources)
- 732 BC city of Ashtaroth in region known as Bashan conquered by Assyrians
- Then Assyrians made the Northern kingdom of Israel pay tribute (2nd Kings 15)
- Then they conquered & deported population (2nd Kings 16 & 1st Chronicles 5)
- Scripture is grounded in verified history (Accounts were verified for centuries)
- History was a oral record alongside the written (99% of people illiterate)
6 Moses, the servant of the Lord, and the Israelites had destroyed the people of King Sihon and King Og. And Moses gave their land as a possession to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
- Reuben, Gad and Manasseh ASKED FOR THE LAND
- Good land for livestock…
- They would be the 1st of the tribes to be exiled (1 Chronicles Ch. 5)
7 The following is a list of the kings that Joshua and the Israelite armies defeated on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which leads up to Seir. Joshua gave this land to the tribes of Israel as their possession, 8 including the hill country, the western foothills, the Jordan Valley, the mountain slopes, the Judean wilderness, and the Negev. The people who lived in this region were the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
- Geographic look at the territory conquered
- Listing of people groups that were largely destroyed (remnants on coast & hills)
These are the kings Israel defeated: 9 The king of Jericho. The king of Ai, near Bethel. 10 The king of Jerusalem. The king of Hebron. 11 The king of Jarmuth. The king of Lachish. 12 The king of Eglon. The king of Gezer. 13 The king of Debir. The king of Geder. 14 The king of Hormah. The king of Arad. 15 The king of Libnah. The king of Adullam. 16 The king of Makkedah. The king of Bethel.
- The listing of the kings is a social / political look at what was conquered
- Not all the cities conquered were initially occupied
- Not all of these Kings were previously mentioned
17 The king of Tappuah. The king of Hepher. 18 The king of Aphek. The king of Lasharon. 19 The king of Madon. The king of Hazor. 20 The king of Shimron. The king of Acshaph. 21 The king of Taanach. The king of Megiddo. 22 The king of Kedesh. The king of Jokneam in Carmel. 23 The king of Dor. The king of Goyim in Gilgal 24 The king of Tirzah. In all, thirty-one kings were defeated.
- Kings not mentioned before may have been defeated in Ch. 11:16-18
- 33 kings in all…The KING of 33 kings…the KING of all kings: Yahweh!
The land promised to Abram by God had people occupying it. God had HIS people devote these people to destruction in order to fulfill HIS promise. It happened and God wanted us to know it happened. For centuries this information was attested to as historically accurate. (not necessarily complete)
Moses and Joshua were commanded by God to devote these kingdoms according to to HIS plan. The listing of physical territory and each ‘king’ is a display of historical verifiability for generations to come with specific geographic and political information. This victorious God-Given conquest is part of the identity of HIS people, then and now.
At this point God’s people begin to occupy The Promised Land, but it is not a completed conquest of all the territory promised to Abram. Up to this point there has been unified obedience under Joshua (except 1st battle of Ai).
BIG Themes of the Book of Joshua:
- Obedience fuels the miraculous
- God’s People can possess what God promises them
- God’s People are strong & courageous when they trust HIM
- The value of our faith in God is found in our acting on it
- Disobedience leads to disaster
- Leadership matters to all of us
- God always fulfills His Promises
Why is it important for a follower of Christ to embrace the Historicity of the Hebrew Scriptures?
How does YOUR historical understanding of all Scripture influence your life as a disciple of Christ?
Which ones of the seven themes listed above do you fully resonate with? Which ones do you not fully agree with?
VISION & PRACTICE:
God has embedded history into Scripture and The Scripture contains verifiable history for us to see HIM at work in HIS Story. Might we grow in our practice of applying historical context to our understanding of God’s Word.