Thursday, March 17, 2011

Joshua 21-24 I Shall Call This Alter... ED

Joshua 21-24

We reach the end of Joshua.  The book and the man.
This book has a satisfying ending (a sense of completion) unlike most of the previous books we've been thru.  

The Levites get their cities and everyone goes off happy to their own little piece of the Promised Land.
21:43-45 Tells us that the LORD has given the Israelites all the land he swore unto them, but the previous chapters give us several instances were he couldn't drive out the rightful owners of the land(16:10, 17:12).  He shouldn't have over-promised.

But wait!  The children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an alter in their land on the other side of Jordan.  Surely they must be up to no good!  The rest of the Israelites send an investigative party to find out why.  they're (rightly) afraid that God will punish everyone for the crimes of the few.
Turns out everyone was worried about nothing as the alter is for praising the LORD.

Here's a Hmmmm moment.  God asks the Israelites which of the many gods they will serve.  Him, the pre-flood gods or the god of the Amorites.
He seems to give them a choice here where, before they got to the promised land, he would have destroyed them .  Interesting.
24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

We end with another recap of God mass killings before Joshua takes his final bows before the people.  

I'm curious.  Apart from the need to change the name, this book seems like it should be part of the Pentateuch.  It's a direct continuation of the story and bookends Exodus nicely.
Is the separation due only to being written AFTER the death of Moses?

Anyway, now that the Israelites are settled into the Promised Land, I'm guessing that the Book of Judges will be much more peaceful.
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  1. "Anyway, now that the Israelites are settled into the Promised Land, I'm guessing that the Book of Judges will be much more peaceful."

    You guess wrong. Just a friendly warning.

  2. Just had to giggle a little about your last sentence. Cause, um, no.

    Really enjoying your blog, btw. First time commenting, but have been following since I think Genesis 20ish.

  3. BTW, I have no idea how I inserted the white highlight into the last few paragraphs. I can't seem to undo it in the menu. If anyone knows how to get rid of it please let me know.

  4. @Bruce,

    Ya the judges do allot of smiting. :-D

    Bruce if you edit the html you should be able to remove that formatting. Also if you highlight it you can probably set it back to no special formatting. That's all i got. :-D

  5. For those keeping track of Hebron's sketch history, there's some more: they give Hebron not to Caleb, but to the Kohathite levites. Caleb is now said to have been given the suburbs. (The next verse appears to be a doublet of this, simplifying the Kohathites to "sons of Aaron the priest.")

    Chapter 22 has Phinehas, Eleazar, and the Tabernacle (P hallmarks), and confronts the idea of worshipping elsewhere than the Tabernacle. Seems to be a doublet, one part being P. But J/E was totally fine with non-centralized altar usage. But it seems partially in JE style (note the teleological explanation at the end.) I don't know what to make of it.

    Chapter 23 is the Deuteronomist's conclusion to Joshua.

    Chapter 24 is fascinating, because it contains- for the first time in the Bible- a relatively encompassing summary of all that comes before it. From Genesis through Joshua, we get the highlights.

    The text does NOT seem like P, it seems a lot more D-ish, but D can't be summarizing the Torah. D had nothing to do with the Torah.

    There are two explanations I can think of:

    1. We have a hexateuch, and this is its original conclusion. Given the style, I would guess E, which is in some ways a precursor to D. Strongest evidence? E begins with Abram and Sarai, precisely where this summary begins! It also uses the term "Amorite", E's generic synonym for "Canaanite".

    Furthermore, this story takes place at Shechem, the capital of the Northern Kingdom- where E was written.

    2. This is a very late edit, done in the style of the Deuteronomist.

    Evidence: none, really.

    I don't know, this is all very confusing. I'm going to go watch Battlestar Gallactica. My head hurts.