Joshua Dies & Western Mountains (Homeland of Jesus)

That’s a lot of land, probably more than Alexander the Great conquered, at least in regards to the acreage used and the population of the people.

Mark Wilson describes a visit to Pella, an ancient city located in the Perean foothills of the Jordan River where Jesus’ followers sought refuge while escaping Jerusalem’s destruction.

Before writing my doctoral thesis two decades ago, the only Pella that I knew about was a small town in south central Iowa famous for its windows and doors.

But in the course of my research, I discovered fascinating data about another Pella located in the Perean foothills of the Jordan River.

In March I finally had the opportunity to visit the Pella located in northwestern Jordan.

Jesus, while looking over the temple mount in Jerusalem shortly before his death, prophesied that its beautiful stones would be thrown down within a generation.

He warned that the residents should flee Jerusalem to the mountains when they saw the Roman armies surrounding the city.

Jesus’ admonition is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 24:15–22; Mk 13:14–20; Lk 21:20–24).

Perhaps Jesus visited Pella during his visit to the Decapolis (Mk 7:31) and Perea (Matt 19:1; Mk 10:1), and recalling its secure location, cryptically referred to it in this prophecy.

Eusebius’s Church History recounts that the Jewish followers of Jesus heeded his warning and fled to Pella for safety before Jerusalem’s destruction.

Birgil Pixner believes that, after the city’s destruction, they returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their Jewish-Christian synagogue on Mount Zion.

Joshua, like Moses, told the Israelites to walk with You.  Did they?

“That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:

But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day” (Josh 23:7-8). 

“1 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you. 

Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof ” (Josh 23:12-14).

Joshua then told them what God said,

“…Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. 

And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 

And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 

I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 

And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red Sea” (Josh 24:2-6).

Joshua then said,

“And I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat. 

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

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. 

Bethsaida
Bethsaida, an ancient city on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, is a “tale of two cities” – an Iron age city of the land of Geshur, and a Roman city known as Julias. The area of Bethsaida was referred in the New Testament in conjunction with two of Jesus miracles: healing the blind man and the first feeding of the Multitude. It is also known as the birthplace of some of the Apostles (Andrew, Peter, Philip).
The area of BethSaida is located at the fertile delta of the upper Jordan river, when it enters to the sea of Galilee. The site is located on a hill, several hundred meters to the east of the Jordan river, and 30M higher than the valley. It is 1.5KM north of the northern shores of the sea of Galilee, and 4KM northeast to Capernaum. The ruins cover about 20 acres on the hill.

And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods.

For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:

And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you 2 hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 

And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. 

Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel” (Josh 24:13-23).

For the remainder of Joshua’s life Israel served God.  Eleazar, son of Aaron died also.

1 & 2 God gives us freewill, but that doesn’t mean that we can worship Jesus and do evil things on the side. 

The freewill is to choose Him or Satan.  I’ve have personal experience in this.  Once God helps you at your request, you can’t go against Him and later come back. 

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.

Known in Joshua’s day as “the head of all those kingdoms,” the tell of Hazor is today the largest in Israel at 200 acres.
At its height in the Canaanite period, the city encompassed the entire tell. Later when it was inhabited by Israelites, the fortified city included only the Upper City.

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb 10:26-27).

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb 6:4-6).

“For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

Dan
A stepped path approaches the gate from the east. The gate is built of three arches which were constructed from sun-backed bricks.
The outer arch (2.4m wide) is visible above and to the sides of the entrance in the photo below. The arch-shaped lintel is one of the earliest complete standing arches found in the world, and the archway is the earliest intact structure in the world.
This was the gate where Abraham passed during his pursuit against the North Kings.
(Gen 14:14): “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan”.

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet 2:18-22).

Western Moutains
(Homeland of Jesus) 

This central spine of mountains ranging from 1,500 to 4,500 feet in altitude runs the length of western Palestine, broken only by the Jezreel Valley. 

The Israelite tribes originally settled here and began clearing the forests natural to the region (Josh 17:14-15). 

The Western Mountains with their three major divisions – Galilee, Samaria, and Judah – played the major role in biblical history.

North of the Jezreel Valley lies Galilee, a region with two distinct  characteristics.  Upper Galilee is a high, uplifted plateau isolated by its height from surrounding regions. 

Mount Meron, the highest point, rises to an elevation of 3,963 feet.  Well watered and heavily forested in antiquity, Upper Galilee played a less prominent historical role due to its relative isolation.

Herodion
Herod the Great built this monumental fortress and palace in the Judean desert south of Jerusalem, and was buried here.

The site was a rebel stronghold during the great revolts against the Romans.

It is one of the most exciting archaeological sites in Israel.

By contrast, the gentle hills and broad, fertile valleys of Lower Galilee are more familiar to biblical students.  The rolling hills, oriented east and west, do not exceed 2,000 feet and often are much lower. 

Bisecting valleys (Beth Kerem Valley, Beth Netofa Valley) made travel easy.  Vineyards, olive trees, and wheat flourished in the favorable climate and soil.

Villages and towns like Nazareth, Cana, and the provincial capital, Sepphoris, dotted the landscape.

Samaria (Hill Country of Ephraim)

 The regions of Samaria and Judah constitute the Western Mountains south of the Jezreel.  These mountains, composed of soft sedimentary rock, have been scoured by rainfall forming wadis that penetrate the mountains from east and west.

The term wadi refers to gullies formed by runoff erosion.  Normal dry, wadis canbecome raging torrents, especially in semidry regions.

The term wadi refers to gullies formed by runoff erosion.  Normal dry, wadis can become raging torrents, especially in semidry regions.  

The Sea of Galilee is one of the most memorable places recorded in the Gospels during Christ’s ministry on Earth.

Those who have been blessed to visit the Holy Land not only marvel at the natural beauty of the lake and its surrounds, but also find it easy to picture Biblical times upon viewing the splendor of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus grew up in the town of Nazareth, which is just 15 miles from the Sea of Galilee.

Some of these wadis are wide, allowing easy travel; others are narrow, steep, and easily defended. 

Nazareth is situated in a beautiful valley in the Nazareth Mountains in the Lower Galilee.

It was here that the birth of Christ was announced, and the place where His parents, St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary had their home and raised Him.

The ancient quarter, located on the western edge of the valley, is a unique part of the city.

This picturesque area of winding alleyways is home to numerous churches and sites of interest.

During the Crusades the city (which had been a mere village until the Byzantine occupation) grew in importance, and was embellished with many churches.

Today it is a popular pilgrimage destination, and was visited by three Popes.

Pope Benedict XVI visited Mount Precipice

in 2009.

Nazareth is a significant politic, economic, and cultural hub.

Approximately 70% of its population is Muslim, the rest being Christian.

A tour of Nazareth is a unique experience that is best embarked upon early.

We start from St. Mary’s Well – one of the city’s most ancient sites.

An important road – the Ridge Road – following the crest or watershed, links Samaria and Judah. 

Many biblical cities lie along or near this route: Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Bethel, Mizpah, Shilow, and Shechem.

The two sides of the Western Mountains are noticeably different.  The western side of the mountains catches the rain from the Mediterranean Sea, but the area east of the crest receives little rain as it plummets down into the Rift.

As a result, the lands east of the crest are increasingly desert like, especially as one moves south. 

Samaria begins with the Gilboan Mountains (about 1,600 feet) and rises in altitude to more than 3,300 feet near Bethel.  The northern part  of Samaria, the tribal area of Manasseh, is lower and more accessible than the southern sector.  

Here a softer limestone eroded more easily creating extensive valleys; convenient roads followed these valleys. 

The Wadi Farah, an especially important conduit, links Samaria with the Transjordan (Gilead) by way of the Wadi Jabbok across the fords near Adam. 

All the capitals of the Northern Kingdom, Israel (Shechem, Tirzah, and Samaria), were located in north Samaria.  Shechem lies between Mount Ebal (3,083 feet) and Mount Gerizim (2,890 feet), scene of the blessings and curses of Deut 27-28.

The Samaritans built a temple on Mount Gerizim, later destroyed by John Hyrcanus in 128 B.C. 

South of Manasseh a harder limestone withstood erosion producing a high, more isolated plateau (3,000) with steep slopes on both sides.  The tribe of Ephraim settled here. 

Shiloh, Bethel, and Mizpah, located along the Ridge Road, appear frequently in Old Testament history.  Settlers took advantage of the exceptionally rich soi8l to produce abundant crops. 

They farmed the valleys and built terraces on the hillsides, reaping a bounty of wheat, barley, and olives.  The gentle depression called the “Saddle of Benjamin” separates Samaria from Judah.

Judah, or Mount Judah, is a mountainous highland; altitudes range from 2,000 to 3,400 feet with the higher elevations found near Hebron in the south.

The major cities – Jerusalem, Beth-zur, and Hebron – are located along or just off the Ridge Road that follows the crest of the mountains.

Samaria (City)
Shomron (Samaria) was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom, established by Omri and Ahab.

An important Hellenistic and Roman cities in the Holy Land.

Judah is one of the most protected regions in Palestine.  The Wilderness of Judah, a dry desolate area stretching down to the Dead Sea, functions as a formidable barrier to the east. 

The mountains plunge precipitously more than 3,500 feet from Jerusalem down to Jericho in the Rift below.  The few settlements of this desert region clustered just east of the watershed.  

Brigands, outcasts, and Jewish freedom fighters south refuge in this barren region, known as Jeshimon in the Old Testament (1 Sam 23:19).  The Shephelah restricts access to Judah from the west, while the Negeb and deserts Protect the region to the south.

Judah is more rugged and somewhat drier, with less available agricultural land than Samaria.  However, the soil is fertile, and terrace farming provides ample space for the cultivation of vines, fruit trees, and grain crops.

Dividing the Land & Hazor: Head of all those Kingdoms

Wow, when You 1say something You aren’t joking.

“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. 

This is the land that yet remaineth all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri” (Josh 13:1-2).

See verses 2-33 and chapter 21.

Hebron, known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the Cave of Machpelah
The earliest signs of settlement were on the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age I site centered on Tel (mound) Rumeida. Hebron was a Canaanite royal city when Abraham arrived there to settle.
With the exception of Jerusalem, there is no other ancient city more important in Biblical tradition than Hebron.
The Biblical Hebron is a city in Eretz Israel 19 miles south of Jerusalem in the Judean Hills 3050 feet above sea level. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the world and was founded seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Num 13:22) in the 18th century BC (circa 1725 BCE). The Bible first mentions Hebron in connection with Abraham and the cave of Machpelah.
After Abraham departed from his nephew Lot he moved his tent and settled at the oaks (terebrinths) in the plain of Mamre. Then Abram removed his tent and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre. Abraham approached the Hittites to buy the field owned by Ephron to bury his wife Sarah.
Gen 23:1 – And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
Gen 23:17 – And the field of Ephron [the Hittite] which was in Machpelah (Hebrew double tombs or later Patriarchs), which was before [to the east of] Mamre; the field and the cave which was therein and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure .
Then under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites attacked and conquered Hebron itself. The clan of Caleb was the force that captured the Canaanite city and then settled in it.
By King David’s time Hebron was an important city in Judah. It was therefore a natural place for God to send David to be acknowledged as King of Judah (Hebrews) (2 Samuel 2:1-4).

“If you remember the only two people that made it to the Promised Land, which is where they are now, is Joshua and Caleb” (Lev 14:24).

“And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. 

And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak. 

And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher.

And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. 

And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. 

And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?

Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.  And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs” (Josh 15:13-19).

“And they appointed the city Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjath-arba which is Herbon in the mountain of Judah to be refuge cities” (Josh 20:7).

1 God never lies, and whatever He says will be:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Is 55:11).  

God made us in His own image and after His likeness (Gen 1:26-27) so He expects us to do the same. 

God not only wants us to treat Him with respect, but everyone:

“The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy  neighbor as thyself” (Matt 22:39). 

As the saying goes, A man is no better than his word. The same as when we make a promise or vow to others and certainly to God:

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 

Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecc 5:4-5).

Hazor:
Head of all those Kingdoms

Tel Hazor
Tel Hazor is one of the largest, most important biblical sites in the Canaanite and Israelite periods. The bible gave it the title: “the head of all those kingdoms”.

View of King Solomon’s walls in Tel Hazor.

” And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms” (Josh 11:10).

Hazor was the largest and one of the most important Canaanite city-states before Joshua’s destruction of the city (Josh 11:1-10).

Located nine miles north of the Sea of Galilee at the point where the international trade route crossed the Jordan on the way to Damascus, Hazor dominated the Huleh Basin and controlled a key commercial route.  

Documents from Mari written about 1850 B.C. mention Hazor as a major commercial center involved in the vital tin trade used in making bronze.

Egyptian sources often refer to Hazor, starting with its first appearance in the Execration Texts (2000-1800 B.C.) down to the reign of Seti I (1304-1290 B.C.).

We are especially well informed about Hazor during the 1300s, when the city reached its zenith. The Amarna Texts mention Hazor’s king, Abdi-tirshi.

Few Canaanite rulers used the title “king” during this period, another indication of Hazor’s importance.

This photo shows the reconstructed gate from King Solomon’s period, the 10th C BC.
The gate is symmetric on both sides of the entrance, and is composed of two towers, three rooms within each tower, and two bastions projecting on both side.

The road turns around towards the right side (North).

Tel Hazor is located on the east of the northern part of Israel, the upper Galilee.

Its prime location on the main ancient road through Syria to Babylon, made it an important city.

This road bypassed the impossible way through the desert, and was an important link between the two strong empires of the ancient world: Egypt on the south, and Mesopotamia (Babylon, Assyria, Persia) on the north.

You can reach the site, a national park, by driving north from Rosh-Pina (road 90).

The museum that hosts most of the archaeological findings is located in another location: in the nearby Kibbutz, Ayyelet Ha-shachar, 0.5KM north to the park’s entrance.

Additional findings are displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

After Joshua conquered Hazor, the Bible rightly recalls that Hazor “formerly was the head of all those [Canaanite] kingdoms” (Josh 11:10).

The massive tell of Hazor looms 130 feet above the surrounding plain.

To the north, a large earthen rampart built by Canaanites in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1750 B.C.) enclosed a “Lower City” inhabited until its final destruction in approximately 1220 B.C. After 1200 B.C. the people who inhabited Hazor occupied only the high mound.

Together, the tell and Lower City cover an area of over two hundred acres, making Hazor the largest city in Palestine prior to the Hellenistic era.

Yigael Yadin conducted excavations at Hazor from 1955 to 1958 and again in 1968. Excavations have recently resumed under the supervision of Ammon Ben-Tor.

Although inhabited before 2000 B.C., Hazor achieved prominence in the Middle Bronze Age when the tell was resettled and the city greatly enlarged to the north.

A massive rampart constructed of earth layered against an inner core enclosed an area 1,000 yards long and seven hundred yards wide.

Excavations within the enclosure revealed a substantial city complete with public buildings, domestic structures, and an unprecedented array of temples.

A major destruction occurred about 1550 B.C. Yadin attributed this to the Egyptian pharaoh Ahmose, who expelled the Hyksos from Egypt. The destruction marks the transition into the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.).

Late Bronze Age Hazor has yielded archaeological evidence illustrating the religious life of the city. Several temples and a wealth of objects used in worship have enriched our knowledge of the period. 

One temple displays a plan similar to Solomon’s temple of a later day. The layout of the building consists of a porch with two pillars (reminiscent of “Jachin” and “Boaz” of  Solomon’s temple [1 Kg 7:15-22]), a slightly wider hall, and an inner “holy of holies.”

This structure, one of a series of temples erected on the same spot, still contained the furniture used in worship when the temple was destroyed about 1220 B.C.

The objects found in the holy of holies included libation tables, two large kraters, an offering table, and a basalt incense altar decorated with an emblem associated with the storm god Hadad.

The temple directly above contained a beautiful lion orthostat in the doorway. The term orthostat refers to well-worked stone slabs often used as panels along the lower parts of interior walls. 

A huge system to supply fresh water is located in the south west side of the upper city.
This system was built in the 9th C B.C., during the time of King Ahab.

It was designed after similar inner-city water systems, such as in Tell Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish, and possibly the “conduit” (“gutter”) the King David captured in Jerusalem (2 Sam 5:8).

The builders dug into the ground, going through earlier Iron age levels, and supporting the dig with large walls. They dug down 46M deep in a square vertical shaft – until reaching bedrock.

Similar orthostats were found in other areas and point to Hittite influence at Hazor. An inscribed clay model of a cow’s liver used in divination was found nearby.

A small rectangular temple located on the inner slope of the western rampart yielded several small stele (upright stones called mazzeboth in Hebrew, cf. Deut 12:3) and a seated statue of a god or king.

A relief on the central stele depicted two hands extended upwards toward a crescent containing a disk.  These emblems have been associated with the moon god Sin and his consort.

Nearby, a potter’s workshop contained small clay masks and a silver-plated bronze standard showing a goddess holding two snakes. The cult standard suggests the “Stele Temple” was dedicated to the consort of the moon god.

A Late Bronze Age Canaanite shrine termed the “Stele Temple” found at Hazor. Notice the seated figure to the left and the line of sacred stones (Hebrew mazzeboth).

Late Bronze Age Hazor was a truly cosmopolitan city. In addition to the Hittite influence noted above, cylinder seals of Mitannian influence and large quantities of Mycenaean pottery indicate wide-ranging international relations.

However, the Late Bronze Age in Palestine was not peaceful; a major destruction of Hazor about 1450 B.C. probably was the result of an Egyptian raid during the reign of Thutmose III or Amenhotep II.

Shortly before 1200 B.C. both the Upper and Lower cities were violently destroyed in a great conflagration, bringing to an end Canaanite Hazor.

Many scholars connect this destruction with Joshua and the Israelite who “burned Hazor with fire” (Josh 11:11).

Final Conquest of Canaan & Tell Beit Mirsim

You promised the Israelites that they could have all that land so You killed everyone for them.  Accept the ones that tricked Joshua by lying where they came from.

Tomb of the Patriarchs
Hebron
Like Jerusalem, 23 miles to its north, the ancient city of Hebron stirs deep religious and political passions, and has been the scene of heightened tension between Jews and Arabs for much of the last century.

Hebron is revered as one of the four holiest places in Judaism (along with Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberias) and Jews had lived continously there for centuries until the small community was forced out after brutal massacres led by Arab residents in the early 20th century.

After Israel recaptured the West Bank during the Six Day War in 1967, a number of Jewish families reestablished the community near the ancient Tomb of the Patriachs.

As part of various peace agreements with the Palestinians, the Israeli government has withdrawn its presence from the majority of the city and now allows it to be administered by the Palestinian Authority.

Though the site of conflict during the Palestinian War from 2000 to 2005, the Jewish area of Hebron is now relatively safe and tourists are free to visit the community and the Jewish biblical sites under the guarding eye of the Israel Defense Forces.

If you choose to go there and visit know that you are on your own, i.e., if an Ambassador of the United States is not protected by our own government a regular citizen certainly isn’t.

We have such an awesome president.

I don’t understand why You didn’t kill them too, since they lied.  I guess it’s because Joshua promised that they wouldn’t, and You don’t like liars (Jn 8:44, Rev 21:8), so now they have slaves.

King Jabin of Hazor heard of all these massacres and sent a message to King Jobab of Madon, King Shimron, King Achshaph, and to the kings on the north of the mountains and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west, and to the Canaanite on the east and west. 

Also to the Amorit, the Hittite, the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hibite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.

“And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel. 

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire” (Josh 11:5).

No city, but the Hivite, the people of Gibeon, made peace with Israel.  Joshua and his army killed everyone and burnt their kingdoms.

All these kings fought against Joshua because God had hardened their hearts, as he had done with Pharaoh. 

Below is a list of all the kings and kingdoms he destroyed so now he possessed their land, which is on the other side of Jordan:

Sihon King of the Amorites, Og King of Bashan, King of Jericho, King of Ai, King of Jerusalem, King of Hebron, King of Jarmuth, King of Lachish,  King of Eglon, King of Gezer, King of Debir, King of Geder, King of Hormah, King of Arad, King of Libnah, King of Adullam, King of Makkedah, King of Beth-el, King of Tappuah, King of Hepher, King of Aphek, King of Lasharon, King of Madon, King of Hazor, King of Shimron-meron, King of Achshaph, King of Taanach, King of Megiddo, King of Kedesh, King of Jokneam of Carme, King of Dor, King of the nations of Gilgal, King of Tirzah (Josh 12:8-24).

Tell Beit Mirsim

Ancient Tell Beit Mirsim
The Excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim

A three-hectare tell (mound) in the low hill country southwest of Hebron on the west bank of the Jordan.

This fortified settlement has been identified as the biblical town of Kirjath-sepher.

Successive occupation layers from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the Neo-Babylonian destruction in 588 B.C. (with a gap from the end of the Middle Bronze Age in the later 16th century B.C. until the second half of the 15th century B.C.) have helped establish a chronology for the Levant especially through the detailed analysis of pottery.

The town seems to have been prosperous.

Stone dye vats indicate that one industry practised here was the manufacture of textiles.

Tell Beit Mirsim, located 15 miles (9.3 km) southwest of Hebron, was excavated in the late 1920s and the early 1930s.W.F.

Albright, a principal ex­cavator of the site, believed it to be the Bib­lical Debir.

This identification is now widely rejected; Khirbet Rabud is now considered to be a better candidate for Debir, and no one knows the name by which Tell Beit Mirsim was known in Biblical times.

Even so, Albright’s careful excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim has helped to define the modern sci­ence of archaeology.

The story of Tell Beit Mirsim, a particularly informative site, helps us to understand the basics of archaeological methods.

In digging a site, it is important to be able to distinguish the strata for that site. Strata refer to the layers formed by successive occu­pations of a location.

Throughout the history of a city, newer occupation levels are built on top of older ones (i.e., earlier occupation lev­els are lower, with more recent levels closer to the surface).

For example, a city may have existed at a particular spot in the 12th cen­tury B.C. — until it was burned down by an enemy. Rebuilding could have occurred at some later time at the site, only for it to have been destroyed again.

Hebron, which rises 3,050 feet (926 meters) above sea level, has a long and rich Jewish history.

It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan.

King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years.

One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.

It was only in 1929 — as a result of a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder were forced to flee — that the city became temporarily “free” of Jews.

Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and the invasion by Arab armies,

Hebron was captured and occupied by the Jordanian Arab Legion.

During the Jordanian occupation, which lasted until 1967,

Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor – despite the Armistice Agreement – to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city.

Additionally, the Jordanian authorities and local residents undertook a systematic campaign to eliminate any evidence of the Jewish presence in the city.

They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue.

Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, Commander of the Central Command, Uzi Narkis, and Gen. Rechavam Ze’evi visiting the gate of the Tomb of the Patriarchs (WZO).

After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established.

On April 4, 1968, a group of Jews registered at the Park Hotel in the city.

The next day they announced that they had come to re- establish Hebron’s Jewish community.

The actions sparked a nationwide debate and drew support from across the political spectrum.

After an initial period of deliberation, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s Labor-led government decided to temporarily move the group into a near-by IDF compound, while a new community – to be called Kiryat Arba – was built adjacent to Hebron.

The first 105 housing units were ready in the autumn of 1972.

The Jewish community in Hebron itself was re-established permanently in April 1979, when a group of Jews from Kiryat Arba moved into Beit Hadassah.

Following a deadly terrorist attack in May 1980 in which six Jews returning from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs were murdered, and 20 wounded, Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Likud-led government agreed to refurbish Beit Hadassah, and to permit Jews to move into the adjacent Beit Chason and Beit Schneerson buildings in the old Jewish Quarter.

An additional floor was built on Beit Hadassah, and 11 families moved in during 1986. Over the last two decades, many other Jewish properties and buildings in Hebron have been refurbished and rebuilt.

For example, the pres­ence of clearly defined burn layers at Tell Beit Mirsim have helped archaeologists to distin­guish the various strata of that site.

 Pottery helps to date the strata at a site. The use of pottery to fix a date for a stratum is referred to as “ceramic dating.”

Pottery samples were collected from Tell Beit Mir­sim and compared to finds from other sites in Palestine.

Careful classification of exca­vated pottery at the Tell Beit Mirsim site helped to refine and establish the pottery – dating system.

Jar, Beth Mirsim, IDA I 4962. Juglet has been placed in the cup of the spout. Tell Beit Mirsim was excavated in the 1920’s and 30’s by William Foxwell Albright.

Tell Beit Mirsim was unusual in that it held remains from ten different occupation levels, spanning the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, Late Bronze and Iron periods.

Also, the site yielded excellent examples of the material culture of a Judean town during the monarchic period (when Israel and Judah were ruled by kings).

This evi­dence is useful for making comparisons to physical remains from other sites, especially those related to the archaeology of early Israel.

Periodically the tools of archaeology need to be refined. As an example, Albright attributed the final destruction of Tell Beit Mirsim to the Babylonians in 589-587 B.C.

Recent investigation, however, has indicated that its ultimate demise likely came at the hands of the Assyrians, as part of the cam­paign of Sennacherib in 701 B.C.

Based upon the new evidence supporting this dating ad­justment, archaeologists have found it nec­essary to make minor adjustments in the ceramic chronology.

 

The Victory of Gibeon & Gibeon

That was a good war plan, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Napoleon, or any of them ain’t got nothing on You.

The Battle at the Pool of Gibeon
In 1956 a remarkable discovery was made that provides additional evidence of the authenticity of the biblical accounts of David’s days.

Before David had secured leadership over all the tribes of Israel.

Abner, who had been Saul’s general, served one of Saul’s sons.

Abner brought his army to fight David’s army, led by Joab.

Abner’s and Joab’s troops met beside the above famous water supply of that day called the pool of Gibeon.

“And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them by the pool of Gibeon.

So they sat down, one on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool.

Then Abner said to Joab, ‘Let the young men now arise and compete before us.’ And Joab said, ‘Let them arise.’ So they arose and went over by number, twelve from Benjamin, followers of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve from the servants of David. And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together.

Therefore that place was called the Field of Sharp Swords, which is in Gibeon.

So there was a very fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David” (2 Sam 2:13-17).

James Pritchard conducted an exploration of this site from 1956 to 1962.

He discovered 31 jar handles bearing the Hebrew name Gibeon, which confirmed the site.

Early in his search archaeologist Pritchard located a round water shaft, 37 feet in diameter, that led to a pool used by the city.

This shaft, comments Biblical Archaeology Review, “was cut into the limestone bedrock to a depth of over 82 feet.

Also cut into the limestone are a staircase and railing, which wind down to a level floor about halfway to the bottom of the shaft.

From there, the stairs drop straight down another 45 feet-to the level of the water table”.

In the same issue archaeologist Bryant Wood concludes:

“A large pool at Gibeon is no doubt the pool where the forces of Israel’s second king, David, fought under Joab against the forces of Saul’s son Ishbosheth under Abner.”

All the kings, the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, and the Jebusite, gathered together to fight Joshua.  But the Gibeons were smart, they knew that You were with Joshua and they couldn’t beat You:

“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai.

They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;

And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. 

And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. 

And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? 

And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants.  And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye?  And from whence come ye?

And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt,

And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth.

Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. 

This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is moldy.

And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey. 

And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. 

And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation swear unto them.

And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they dwelt among them. 

And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim. 

And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel.  And all the congregation murmured against the princes “(Josh 9:3-18).

Because they had promised not to kill them they couldn’t, so they turned them into slaves.  Tricked and lied to didn’t matter, Joshua made a promise and God does not like liars.

Later, Adoni-zedek, the king of Jerusalem, heard what Joshua had utterly destroyed Ai and Jericho and he too was scared.

Samuel’s Mountain is located on the main road between modern day Ramot and Givat Zeev.

One looks down from the mountain on Ramot and Jerusalem to the south-east.

At the time of the Israelite’s entry into Canaan, Gibeon was the chief city of the Hivite confederacy.

Other cities of their’s were Chephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath-Jearim.

In 2 Sam 21:2, however, the Gibeonites are called Amorites.

It appears that the name Amorite was used as a general term for all non-Israelis remaining in the land, especially in later writings.

Gibeon was made a Levitical city.

It was founded in this location because of its excellent water supply of 8 springs, and an underground reservoir. It is only 5 miles, from Jerusalem and is 2,533 ft above sea level.

Apart from the excellent view over Jerusalem, one can see on a clear day from One of the springs on the Samuels Mt – on the Auerbach property

this high place, to the Mediterranean in the west and the Mountains of Moab in the east.

The men of Gibeon went to Joshua because the kings of the Amorites were coming to destroy them, so he took it to God.

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee” (Josh 10:8).  

And the Israelites slaughtered most of them.  The ones that got away managed to get as far as Beth-horon.  God then threw down great stones from heaven and they all died; more died from the hailstones than from the children of Israel’s sword.

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.  Is not this written in the book of Jasher?  So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.  

And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel” (Josh 10:12-14).

Joshua returned to Gilgal and the five kings mentioned above hid in a cave at Makkedah.  Joshua then had his men roll big stone upon the mouth of the cave. 

They then went and killed all the kings’ men.  After the slaughter they returned and Joshua called his men to the cave.

“And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.

And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. 

And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening” (Josh 10:24-26).

Joshua next fought against Libnah, then he went and defeated Lachish, as well as  Horam king of Geser that came to help Lachish.  They then took Eglon, Hebron, and Dibir. 

Because God fought for him he utterly destroyed every kingdom from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon, and then returned to Gilgal.

Many people say that since God is a loving God He won’t put anyone in Hell, these people obviously have not read the Bible.

The are correct that He is a loving God, but He doesn’t love evil and He will destroy it, as well as anything or anyone involved with it.

Gibeon

Taxes
Discovered during the Temple Mount Sifting Project, this seventh-century B.C.E. clay bulla inscribed in paleo-Hebrew script with the phrase “Gibeon, for the king” provides new evidence for how ancient taxes were collected during the reign of the Biblical King Manasseh.

Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain both famously remarked about the certainty of death and taxes, and a recent archaeological discovery concerning ancient taxes in Jerusalem has added to scholars’ certainty about a tax system in ancient Israel, especially during the reign of Judah’s King Manasseh.

Assyrian records suggest that King Manasseh implemented heavy taxes on his people in order to pay tribute to King Esarhaddon and then King Ashurbanipal, Sennacherib’s successors in Assyria.

These ancient taxes thus helped King Manasseh maintain relative peace in Judah during his 55-year reign.

Other evidence from the paleo-Hebrew inscribed fiscal bullae indicates that the city of Lachish was rebuilt during this time, 16 years after its destruction by Sennacherib’s invading army.

Gibeon is located at the modern village of el-Jib, 6 miles (9.6 km) northwest of Jerusalem.

As you can see the city of Gibeon was quite large.

At the time of Joshua, it had a large wall around the crown of the hill and also a secure water supply so could have been well defended.

You have to wonder why the Gibeonites were so afraid of the Israelites when they lived in such a secure city.

They indeed knew that God was with them and knew they needed to do something to save themselves.

The story of Joshua is a story to remember.

When things get tough or out of hand and you are ready to throw in the towel, think of Joshua and turn to God.

Pottery and two Egyptian scarabs (stone beet­les used as talismans, ornaments or sym­bols of resurrection) indicate occupation at the time of the conquest, but no archi­tecture from that period has yet been un­earthed.

Only a small fraction of the site has been excavated, however, so there is much more to investigate.

Gibeon was “an important city, like one of the royal cities”. It ruled a small league of cities that included Kephi-rah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim.

When the Gibeonites arrived at Gilgal, 16 miles (nearly 26 km) to the east, they deceived the Israelites by noting the condi­tion of their wineskins:

These wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are (Josh 9:13).

In the divided monarchy period wine-making was a major industry in Gibeon.

The people used both wineskins and jars as containers for wine.

The han­dles of the jars in which the wine was exported were inscribed with the name of the city, along with that of the vintner.

Some 31 jar handles have been discov­ered here inscribed with the name “Gib­eon,” making identification of the site a certainty — a welcome rarity in the archaeology of Palestine.

When Joshua discovered the Gibeo­nites’ deception, he consigned them to ser­vitude as “woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God”.

The most conspicuous feature of Gibeon is in fact its abundant water supply: one major and seven minor springs.

The “pool of Gibeon” is mentioned in 2 Sam 2:13 and the “great pool in Gibeon” in Jer 41:12.

The Conquest of Ai & Jericho and the Date of the Conquest

That’s a pretty stiff sentence for stealing from the enemy, but I guess that lets people know that You mean business.

I know if we ask You for help You’ll help us, but You do things Your way, which don’t always make since, but they always work out best.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;’ but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7-8).

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be 1 tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

But every man is 2 tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. 

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished bringeth forth death. 

Do not err, my beloved brethren” (Jas 1:13-16).

Et-Tell, the Remains of Ai
Ai was the second city Joshua’s army attacked during the Conquest.

The ruins of this city are a mound known to archaeology as et-Tell.

A few individuals have questioned this identification, motivated by the fact that the archaeology at et-Tell at the traditional date for the Conquest does not fit the biblical account of the Conquest at all.

However, the geography and topography of et-Tell closely match the biblical description of Ai.

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valor, and sent them away by night. 

And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye already:

And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them. 

(For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.

Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 

And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you” (Josh 8:1-8).

The Destruction Layer
Josh 8:28 records: ” And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day”.

The Bible clearly indicates that the city was burned when it was destroyed by Joshua.

Judith Marquet-Krause conducted extensive excavations at et-Tell in the 1930’s.

She reported:

“The city dated back to the dawn of the Early Bronze and had been destroyed at the end of this same period, or at the very beginning of the Middle Bronze by a violent fire.”

The Heap of Stones

The Bible goes on to record: “And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day” (Josh 8:29).

Judith Marquet-Krause recorded the following paragraphs in her report on her excavation at Ai:

The discovery of the sanctuary was the unexpected result of a long and difficult labor.

Situated to the South-West of the palace, on a less elevated piece of ground, the site completely disappeared beneath a 6 meter [over 19 feet] high heap of stones, covering a more or less circular area of about 20 ares [.5 acre].

This heap made me think of a tower dominating the view to the South-West.

Until most of the other remains were found, almost at the surface of the soil, it was difficult to foresee if the transport of that heap of stones would reward our effort.

But, during the previous work, one characteristic attracted our attention: all heaps of stones cover over some intact, ancient, remains.

With an average of 80 to 100 men, lasting one long month, we were relentless to transport the stones.

Cleared of the rubbish, a 5000-year-old sanctuary, associated with a Citadel, offered itself to our eyes with its set of religious furniture scattered on the ground.

“And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.  And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city. 

And there was not a man left in Ai or Beth-el, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. 

And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.

And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers. 

And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.

And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape. 

And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua” (Josh 8:14-23).

“And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai. 

For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 

Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua” (Josh 8:25-27).

“And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,

As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 

And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel” (Josh 8:29-32).

“And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 

There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” (Josh 8:34-35).

1 The devil tempted Jesus, but he failed.  Matt 4:1-11.

2 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13). 

Don’t let this scripture confuse you, it doesn’t mean that God won’t let bad things happen, it means that if you walk away from him so far that You can’t hear Him and bad things will happen, but if you return to Him then He will make the bad good. 

This may be confusing and hard to understand, but I have experience in this.  Remember that God loves you and any good father will allow unpleasant things happen for you to learn.

Digging Up Joshua’s Ai: Infant burial jar and offering vessels.
Remains of an infant around the age of birth were placed in the jar and buried beneath the floor of a building just inside the gate of the LB I fortress.

The location of the building and a fine ware pedestal vase included with the burial suggest the structure was the commandants’ headquarters.

The find confirms that there were women in the fortress as stated in Josh 8:25.

 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. 

Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb 12:6-15).

Jericho and
the Date of the Conquest

Who destroyed Jericho City IV? The “early date” for the conquest places it at around 1400 b.c., while the “late date” sets it at about 1220 B.C. There are at least three dif­ferent ways interpreters have tried to corre­late the fall of City IV with the” early date:”

A Late Bronze I conquest theory asserts that Jericho was conquered by Joshua in the latter part of Late Bronze I at about 1400 B.C..

This theory is based on the presence of Late Bronze I pottery at the site. Also, scarabs of Egyptian pharaohs Hatshepsut.

“Gibeath-haaraloth”, (Gilgal)
Holman Bible Dictionary

Place name meaning, “hill of foreskins.” KJV translates the place name in Josh 5:3 , while modern translations transliterate it.

Joshua used traditional flint stone knives rather than more modern metal ones to circumcise the Israelite generation about to conquer Canaan.

A whole generation had neglected God’s commandment and lived as strangers or sojourners in the wilderness.

The new generation forsook the sojourner status with God and became His people through circumcision at the cultic site near Gilgal.

This site marked Joshua’s and the nation’s obedience to divine command showing readiness to receive the divine gift of the land.

The exact location is not known.

Thutmose III and Amenhotep III have been found there. These scarabs indicate a habitation of the site during the Egyptian Eighteenth Dynasty, or during Late Bronze I.

All of this suggests that the catastrophic destruction of Jericho City IV took place at the close of Late Bronze I, about 1400 B.C.

Against this view, others have made the following arguments:

Late Bronze I does not work well with an Israelite conquest. There were very few great, walled cities in Canaan during this period, in contrast to the Bible’s assertions that the Israelites were in awe of the high walled cities that confronted them (Deut 1:28).

A number of scholars believe that a small scale occupation of Jericho during the Late Bronze Age had no walls and could not have been the city Joshua encountered.

The Late Bronze I pottery found there may relate to this small occupation, not to City IV, and the Late Bronze I pottery at Jericho may have no relationship to Joshua’s conquest.

The scarab of Amenhotep III poses an obstacle for arguing this view. If the Late Bronze I Jericho was indeed destroyed by Joshua, then the scarab of Amenhotep III obviously had to have arrived there before the city fell.

The dates of Amenhotep’s reign are usually set at 1390—1352 (or 1386—1349),too late for Joshua’s victory, which is generally set at around 1400 b.c.

The re-dated Middle Bronze conquest theory agrees with the conventional wis­dom that Jericho City IV fell at the end of the Middle Bronze Age.

However, it re-dates the Middle Bronze Age and asserts that the chronology of Egypt and the Middle Bronze Age needs to be revised downward by about 150 years.

Under this premise Jericho City IV actually did fall at the end of the Middle Bronze period—around 1400, not 1550 b.c. Two facts are in favor of this approach, but there is a problem as well:

Most interpreters believe that City IV fell at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, so this theory does not have the burden of having to overturn that conclusion.

A conquest of Canaan works well with what is known about the end of the Middle Bronze Age.

The cities of the land were forti­fied with high walls at this time, but in the next period, Late Bronze I, they were for the most part meager sites with little or no forti­fication.

It is conceivable that the Israelite conquest was instrumental in bringing Mid­dle Bronze culture to an end.

Most interpreters, however, regard the re-dating of the end of the Middle Bronze Age by 150 years to be radical and unwarranted.

There is currently a movement in some quar­ters to lower dramatically the conventional chronology for Egypt and thus also the date for the Middle Bronze/Late Bronze bound­ary, but mainstream Egyptology has yet to embrace this proposal.

The conventional Middle Bronze con­quest theory holds to both a Middle Bronze date for Jericho City IV and the conventional chronology. It argues that the exodus took place during the Middle Bronze Age and that Joshua came to Jericho about 1550. This approach, however, has very few supporters:

It flies in the face of the Bible’s own chronology, which strongly indicates a con­quest in about 1400.

It unconvincingly entangles the exodus story with the history of the Hyksos.

It is extremely difficult archaeologically to account for Israel in the land as early as the year 1550.

Thus, the archaeology of Jeri­cho as we currently understand it is impossible to reconcile with a” late date” for the conquest (c. 1220 B.C.).

The Sin of Achan & The Walls of Jericho

It seems the Israelite’s are behaving now, do they continue to walk with You?

“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. 

Aerial view of Jericho, looking south
The trenches and squares visible today are from Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations in the 1950s and the more recent Italian-Palestinian excavation which began in 1997.

According to Kenyon’s dating, there was no city for the Israelites to conquer at the end of the 15th century B.C., the Biblical date for the event.

The Jericho of Joshua’s time could not be found-it was lost!

Through our research, however, we have found the lost city of Jericho, the Jericho attacked by the Israelites.

And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.

And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labor thither; for they are but few.

So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.

And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. 

And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?  Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! 

O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 

For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.

Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 

Fortifications of Jericho
Before the Israelites entered the promised land Moses told them, “You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky” (Dt 9:1).

The meticulous work of Kenyon showed that Jericho was indeed heavily fortified and that it had been burned by fire.

Unfortunately, she misdated her finds, resulting in what seemed to be a discrepancy between the discoveries of archaeology and the Bible.

She concluded that the Bronze Age city of Jericho was destroyed about 1550 B.C. by the Egyptians.

An in-depth analysis of the evidence, however, reveals that the destruction took place at the end of the 15th century B.C. (end of the Late Bronze I period), exactly when the Bible says the Conquest occurred (Wood 1990).

Pottery found at Jericho by John Garstang. This distinctive pottery, decorated with red and black geometric patterns, was in use only in the 15th century B.C., the time of the Israelite Conquest according to Biblical chronology.

Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.

In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. 

And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.

So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: 

And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan…of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 

The Fallen Walls
The citizens of Jericho were well prepared for a siege.

A copious spring which provided water for ancient, as well as modern, Jericho lay inside the city walls.

At the time of the attack, the harvest had just been taken in (Jos 3:15), so the citizens had an abundant supply of food.

This has been borne out by many large jars full of grain found in the Canaanite homes by John Garstang in his excavation in the 1930s and also by Kenyon.

With a plentiful food supply and ample water, the inhabitants of Jericho could have held out for several years.

Schematic cross-section of the fortification system at Jericho.

And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:

When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.   

So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. 

And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. 

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan…and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us?  The LORD shall trouble thee this day.  And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day.  So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger.  Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day” (Josh 7:1-26).

The Walls of Jericho 

Jericho is one of several cities that claim to be “The oldest city of the world.”

We will not consider the other claims here, and just say that Jericho is indeed one of the oldest cities in the world.

It is also the city that is the furthest below sea level.

Old Testament Jericho has undergone four excavations: by Charles Warren (1867-1868); Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger (1907-1909); John Garstang (1930—1936);and Kath­leen Kenyon (1952-1958).

Unfor­tunately, the first three digs used methods modern archaeologists consider primitive and unreliable, and the site has suffered from erosion.

Watzinger concluded that Jeri­cho was unoccupied during the Late Bronze Age, when it was supposed to have been destroyed by Joshua, while Garstang deter­mined that the heavily fortified city was destroyed late in this period.

But Kenyon argued that it was annihilated at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, around 1550 B.C., after which it boasted at best a meager settlement through the Late Bronze period—leaving no fortified city for Joshua to destroy.

Dating issues aside, much of the archaeological data corresponds with the Biblical account:

Jericho’s prominence and wealth suggest a great city. Excava­tions have shown that Jericho had massive defenses.

Its tell (mound composed of remains of successive settlements) was sur­rounded by an earthen embankment stabi­lized by a 15-foot (4.6 m) stone wall.

Atop the retaining wall stood a free-standing mud brick wall about 6 feet (1.8 m) thick and three or four times as high. A similar wall topped the embankment.

Jericho’s mud brick walls crumpled in a heap at the base of the retaining wall.

The tell of Jericho is named Tell es-Sultan.
There have been many excavations here and many disagreements over the interpretation of what has been found.

The picture here shows a Neolithic Tower that is considered the oldest building in the world.

The tower is 3.6 meters tall and is connected to a wall from the same time period.

Archaeologists suggest that an earthquake took place and that the fallen bricks formed a ramp by which the Israelites surmounted the retaining wall.

A 3 foot (.9 m) high ash layer verifies a massive conflagration (v. 24).

There are indications of plague in Jericho before its fall.

Joshua 3:15 states that Israel forded the Jordan at harvest time.

Collaborating evidence includes Rahab’s drying of flax on her roof and Israel’s Passover cele­bration (a springtime festival observed just prior to harvest) immediately before the battle.

Full jars of recently harvested grain confirm the brevity of the siege.

That Jericho’s grain was left to burn is extraordinary, suggesting that the invaders had an unusual reason for leaving it intact.

The details surrounding the destruction of Jericho City IV thus closely parallel what we read in the Bible. Unfortunately, the date of the fall of this city remains a problem.

If, as Watzinger and Kenyon argued, Jericho fell around 1550 b.c, there would have been no significant city there when Joshua arrived around 1400 b.c.

Nev­ertheless, however one deals with the chronological problem, there is much about City IV to encourage the Christian reader about the reliability of the Joshua 6 account.

The Fall of Jericho – 1451 B.C. & The Conquest of Canaan

If I heard correctly, Jericho has stone walls, how are they going to conquer that?

Old ruins in Tell es-Sultan better known as Jericho the oldest city in the world Ted Wright, an archaeologist, presented information related to the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt and the later conquest of the area of Canaan. Ted Wright has participated in the excavation of Jericho and Khirbet el-Maqatir, thought to be the modern location of the city, Ai, mentioned in the Bible. One thing that Ted Wright said, which has stuck with me, is that modern archaeology continues to affirm people, places and other information contained in biblical accounts.

“And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them anymore, because of the children of Israel.

At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time” (Josh 5:1-2).

“And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised” (Josh 5:4-5).

“And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day. And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho” (Josh 5:8-10).

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?

And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Josh 5:13-15).

“Now Jericho was straightly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

Signs of destruction from the final phase of City IV betray the calamity that befell Jericho.
“The destruction was complete,” wrote Kathleen Kenyon, the area’s excavator.

She discovered a debris layer a yard or more thick across her entire excavation area.

This debris is visible in the west balk behind the meter stick in the photo above (a balk is a side of an excavation square left standing to preserve a record of the square’s strata).

The destruction debris has been removed elsewhere to expose the remains of the destroyed city.

At the top of the north balk, upper right corner in the above photo, is an erosion layer consisting of material washed down from further up the slope.

Within the destruction debris of the north balk, we can see the remains of a late-14th century B.C. structure.

At upper left is a cobbled, stepped street (seen in close-up below left).

The line of stones that extends from the center left edge of the larger photo to the center bottom is a drain that passed under the street preserved at upper left.

The drain was originally covered with stones, but the channel of the drain is exposed here in the upper part.

And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him “(Josh 6:1-5).

Joshua relayed the message to the people.

“And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout” (Josh 6:10).

“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.

And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.

And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

Cypriot bichrome ware – pottery decorated in two colors.
Now known as a key indicator of Late Bronze Age occupation, this pottery, excavated by Garstang at Jericho, is just what Kenyon later looked for, unsuccessfully.

These sherds were found on the east side of the tell, apparently having slid there when a large structure upslope eroded.

In Garstang’s day, the significance of such bichrome ware was not yet appreciated, and he failed to single it out from the other pottery types he uncovered.

As fate would have it, Kenyon, who well knew the link of such ware to the Late Bronze Age, conducted her dig too far north of the eroded runoff to find any bichrome ware.

Had she dug further south, or had she been aware of Garstang’s finds, the debate over the date of Jericho’s fall could have taken a very different course: Kenyon might have dated Jericho’s demise to about 1400 B.C., (as Garstang did) and not to about 1550 B.C., the end of the Middle Bronze Age.

Why Kenyon did not study Garstang’s finds more closely remains a mystery.

And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.

But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye swear unto her” (Josh 6:15-22).

“And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

And Joshua saved1Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.

So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country” (Josh 6:24-27).

1 God is always in control, and He doesn’t care what type of person you are because He will change You to fit His needs, as He had done to Moses.

Rahab became Joshua’s wife, and the mother of Boaz who married Ruth.

Four scarabs and a seal recovered from a cemetery northwest of Jericho.
A scarab is a small, beetle-shaped Egyptian amulet, inscribed on its underside, often with the name of a pharaoh.

Shown clockwise from upper left are scarabs bearing the names of Tuthmosis III (c. 1504-1450 B.C.E.), Amenhotep III (c. 1386-1349 B.C.E.) and Hatshepsut (c. 1503-1483 B.C.E.) and the reverse side of a seal, lower left, of Tuthmosis III.

The cemetery outside Jericho has yielded a continuous series of Egyptian scarabs from the 18th through the early 14th centuries B.C., contradicting Kenyon’s claim that the city was abandoned after 1550 B.C.

And Ruth was King David’s great grandmother, the blood line of Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews (many think it’s the Apostle Paul, but no one knows for certain) speaks of her as a shining example of faith (Heb 11:31).

James shows his appreciation of her as a person in whom faith was not merely theological but also practical (Jas 2:5).

The Conquest of Canaan

After defeating the nations east of the Jordan, Israel turned to the Prom­ised Land west of the Jordan Valley. The Canaanites occupied the coastal and valley areas and the Amorites the highlands.

Old Testament chronological data suggests that the con­quest took place at the end of the 15th century B.C.

The Conquests of Canaan
Joshua and the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River just south and east of the city of Schechem.

Many battles and “conquests” followed their entry into Canaan (also referred to as “The Promised Land”, “Israel” or “Palestine), but the first major battle that transpired took place due south of their entry, and is known as the Battle of Jericho.

The entire process, including the taking of Transjordan, took about seven years, most of that time spent in conquering Canaan.

Archaeologists disagree about the date of the conquest, variously supporting the fol­lowing possibilities:

A Late Bronze II Age Conquest

This view, placing the exodus during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II and the con­quest at the end of the 13th century B.C., was once almost unanimously held.

Ci­ties like Debir, Lachish, Bethel and Hazor were said to have been destroyed around 1220 b.c. by the Israelite onslaught.

But today many scholars have abandoned this thesis:

The Merneptah Stele (inscribed stone slab) suggests that Israel was already settled in the land.

Few walled cities have been discovered from this period.

It is impossible to place Jericho’s fall at this time.

A Late Bronze I Age Conquest

Late Bronze Age
The Late Bronze Age, known as the Mycenaean period around 1500 B.C.

In this time period the Greeks conquered Crete and took over some over their pottery designing styles with a cream colored background and designs painted in black and red.

This position argues for a conquest around 1400 B.C., as supported by a current understanding of the Biblical chronology.

The scenario:

Jericho’s capture gave the Israelites a foothold. From their camp at Gilgal they launched attacks westward into the high­lands.

The Dark Age
The Dark Age was when the making of pottery went downhill.

No one had enough money to spend and especially for pottery.

Most pottery that was done in this time was in peoples homes without a potters wheel and by people who did know much about pottery.

But between 1000 and 900 BC pottery started making its way back to become popular again.

This era was called the “photo-geometric” because it was before the geometric style yet there

After taking Ai they subjugated the southern part of the country.

Joshua did not attack Shechem, thought to be a major city at this time, instead striking a coalition of northern kings at Hazor.

Shechem, in the central highlands near Mount Ebal and Mount Gerazim, separated the southern from the northern city-states.

Joshua could not have avoided Shechem, and some scholars even suggest Shechemite cooperation with Israel.

Problems With a Late Bronze I Age Conquest

Canaan was sparsely populated, lacking the great cities the Bible mentions.

Most interpreters date Jericho’s destruc­tion to the end of the Middle Bronze Age, over 100 years earlier.

The megalithic tombs of the Stone Age
In the open, cultivated countryside, the farmers of the Stone Age built barrows or burial mounds.

In the oldest barrows the burial chambers were built of wood.

Later the chambers were constructed of large granite blocks.

The burial mounds were monuments to ancestors and they were built in their thousands.

They testify to great engineering skills, and it took the cooperation of many people to build them.

The book of Joshua nowhere cites She­chem as a power city.

God commanded Israel to exterminate the Canaanites.

Joshua 9 men­tions the Gibeonite trick, but this only under­scores Joshua’s unwillingness to cooperate with Canaanite cities and contradicts the notion of Shechemite cooperation with Israel.

A Late Middle Bronze Age Conquest

Cities were heavily fortified.

The end of this age saw a major societal collapse and the destruction of numerous cities, including Jericho.

The population may have plummeted by as much as 80%.

Bronze age: Water system at Tel Gezer
Inhabitants of the first settlement at Gezer, toward the end of the 4th millennium B.C., lived in large rock-cut caves.

In the Early Bronze Age, an unfortified settlement covered the tel.

It was destroyed in the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. and abandoned for several hundred years.

In the Middle Bronze Age (first half of the 2nd millennium B.C.), Gezer became a major city.

The tel was surrounded by a massive stone wall and towers, protected by a five meter high earthen rampart covered with plaster.

The wooden city gate, near the southwestern corner of the wall, was fortified by two towers.

Most scholars have attributed this destruction to the Egyptians — a premise now widely questioned based on lack of evidence.

Problems With a Late Middle Bronze Age

This period is thought to have ended about 1550 B.C., too early for the Bible’s chronology.

It is difficult to relate Egyptian Chronology to a 1550 B.C. conquest. No suitable pharaoh reigned then.

Proposed Solutions to the Problem With a Late Middle Bronze Age Conquest

Scholars have tried to correlate the exodus with the expulsion from Hyksos.

This solution is unconvincing, and there remains the problem of the discrepancy with Biblical chronology.

Some historians suggest re-dating the end of the Middle Bronze period.

If the date were lowered by 150 years, to around 1400 B.C., this era could have ended at the traditional date of the conquest. But this would also require a re-dating of Egyptian chronology.

Most interpreters find this view unconvincing and eccentric.

Archaeologists routinely revise older, seemingly well-established conclusions.

The interpretation of the data in Palestine is fraught with difficulties; even well-received interpretations may be built upon flimsy foundations.

Given this uncertainty, it would be amazing if researchers were able to attain conclusive evidence regarding the time and circumstances of the conquest.

Israel Crosses the Jordan & Conquest And Settlement

I can understand why they would be afraid of You, I mean, everyone knows how powerful You are.

Heck, I’m afraid of You and I haven’t seen anything compared to what they’ve seen. 

I’m assuming that Joshua and them overtook Jericho, did they remember the deal they had with Joshua, or did they do like the butler did to Joseph? (Gen 40: 14 and 23)

Joshua got up early the next morning and they went to the Jordan River. He told them that when they see the ark of the covenant and the priests they are to follow, but stay 3,000 feet behind it.

Jordan River
The Joran river has the lowest elevation in the world.

It rises on the slopes of Mount Hermon, on the Syrian-Lebanese border, flows southward through northern Israel to the Sea of Galilee, and then divides Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on the west from Jordan on the east before emptying into the Dead Sea at an elevation of about 1,312 feet (400 metrrs) below sea level.

The Jordan is more than 223 miles (360 km) in length, but, because its course is meandering, the actual distance between its source and the Dead Sea is less than 124 miles (200 km).

After 1948 the Jordan River marked the frontier between Israel and Jordan from a few miles south of the Sea of Galilee to the point where the Yābis River flows into it from the east (left) bank.

Since 1967, however, when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank (i.e., the territory on the west bank of the river south of its confluence with the Yābis), the Jordan has served as the cease-fire line as far south as the Dead Sea.

The river was called the Aulon by the Greeks and is sometimes called Al-Sharīʿah (“Watering Place”) by the Arabs. Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike revere the Jordan; it was in its waters that Jesus was baptized by St. John the Baptist.

The Jordan Valley is, in effect, a rift valley running north and south and forming part of the gigantic rift-valley system that extends from southern Turkey southward via the Red Sea and into East Africa.

The valley itself is a long and narrow trough averaging about 6 miles (10 km) in width.

Throughout its course the valley lies much lower than the surrounding landscape.

The valley walls are steep, sheer, and bare, and they are broken only by the gorges of tributary wadis (seasonal watercourses).

The Jordan River has three principal sources, all of which rise at the foot of Mount Hermon.

The longest of these is the Ḥāṣbānī, which rises in Lebanon, near Ḥāṣbayyā, at an elevation of 1,800 feet (550 metres).

From the east, in Syria, flows the Bāniyās River; between the two is the Dan, the waters of which are particularly fresh.

Just inside Israel, these three rivers join together in the Ḥula Valley.

The plain of the Ḥula Valley was formerly occupied by a lake and by marshes; in the 1950s, however, 15,000 acres (6,000 hectares) were drained to form agricultural land.

At the southern end of the valley, the Jordan has cut a gorge through a basaltic barrier.

 “And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan” (Josh 3:7-8).

When the priests stepped into the Jordan the water was stopped on two sides so there was a dry pathway for the Israelites to go through.

“And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,

And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night” (Josh 4:1-3).

Approximately 40,000 men were ready to fight.

“And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?

The Jordan
The Jordan River would rank right up there with the Nile, the Amazon, and the Mississippi.

It begins at the Springs of Banias near Caesarea Phillipi at the northern most tip ofIsrael.

Here, the crystal clear water of the melted snow from Mt. Hermon begins its descent of almost 10,000 feet in the distance of 156 miles, culminating as it empties into the Dead Sea.

Along the way, this river feeds the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius) and provides the main source of water for Israel and some of neighboring Jordan.

Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:

That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God forever” (Josh 4:20-24).

Conquest And Settlement

The death of Moses closed an important chapter in the life of Israel, but a new challenge lay before the people. 

Poised beyond the Jordan in the Plains of Moab, the tribes of Israel beheld the land promised to Abraham.  To claim their inheritance would not be easy; Canaan had a large, mixed population who would not yield territory willingly.  

The Canaanites lived in fortified cities along the coast and in the great valleys.  Amorites dwelt in the hill country, while the Amalekites roamed the Negeb (Num 13:29). 

Other groups – Jebusites, Hivites, Perizzites, and (Neo) Hittites – occupied the villages and towns of the land (Josh. 3:10; 9:1; Deut. 7:1). 

As Joshua assumed the mantle of leadership from Moses and prepared the tribes for battle, he knew only the power of God could grant the fulfillment of the ancient promise to his forefathers. 

The books of Joshua and Judges tell the story of conquest and settlement. Joshua concentrates on the initial phase of the process, while Judges describes the struggle of the tribes to possess the land in the face of pressure from neighboring people. A careful reading of both books makes two things clear. 

Ancient tombs, Petra, Jordan, Middle East.

First, the conquest of the land was not accomplished in one generation. The conquest was a process that extended over many generations and was not completed fully until the time of David and Solomon (1000-922 B.C.). 

David was the first king who ruled over a territory that included all the lands allotted to the tribes. For this reason it is best to regard the period of the judges as an extension of the settlement process. 

Second, the Israelites had a very difficult time extending the limits of their control out of the mountains into the plains and valleys.

Chariots gave the Canaanites a distinct advantage on flat lands (Josh 17:16-18). Moreover, Israel faced threats from other peoples, like the Philistines and Moabites, as they attempted to expand their territorial limits.

Historical Background 

Bogazkale/Hattusa: The Anceint Capital of the Hittite Kingdom
Of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Turkey, the ruins of the capital of the the Bronze Age Hittite Kingdom at Hattusa, near the modern turkish village of Bogazkale in Turkey’s Corum Province, is the one which really merits a visit.

As the site of Hattusa is a bit off the beaten tourist track, there are only two or three hotels in the village of Bogazkale, and all of them are closed in winter.

Temperatures in winter could drop to as low as -20 degrees Celsius, which means water pipes would freeze and burst, while the roads leading out of Bogazkale would be rendered unpassable due to heavy snow.

From 1200 to 1000 B.C. the Ancient Near East experienced a time of change as the traditional powers of the Late Bronze Age, Egypt and the Hittite Empire, collapsed and new group; emerged.

Destruction debris found at numerous sites throughout the Near East as well as contemporary documents testify to the turmoil attending the changes.

Archaeologists call the era from 1200 to 1000 B.C. “Iron Age I,” but the real changes that heralded a new era had little to do with the rapid introduction of iron.

The distinguishing characteristic of Iron Age I was the appearance of new peoples in the Levant, including Israel.

The Sea People

No event symbolized the new era better than the migrations of the Sea Peoples as they swept across the Near East in search of new lands.

Coming by both land and sea, the Sea Peoples represented several different groups who came in several waves out of the lands adjacent to the Aegean Sea, the Balkans and the southern coast of the Black Sea in search of new territory.

They overran a Hittite Empire already seriously weakened by harassment from Assyria and Mitanni on the east, and they destroyed important cities on the coasts of Syria (Ugarit) and Lebanon.

Two different groups of Sea People attacked Egypt during the reigns of Merneptah and Ramses III (ca 1175 B.C.). Among the invaders were Philistines who later settled the southern coast of Canaan.

Power Vacuum

The Mortuary Temple Of Ramses III
Ramses III ruled Egypt for some thirty years during the 20th Dynasty, when central power was weakening, foreign influence was declining and internal security was poor.

In fact, he was the last Ramses of any consequence.

After his death the state priesthood of Amon acquired increasing power and finally seized the throne and overthrew the Dynasty.

Temple of Ramses III

Ramses III had successful battles in Asia and in Nubia.

His most important battle was against the ‘People of the Sea’ who attacked Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.

This battle, and his wars in neighboring lands, were recorded in his temple.

It was built on the same plan as the Ramesseum of Ramses II, but is unique in having been contracted and decorated progressively, as the campaigns of Ramses III occurred.

It therefore provides a step-by-step record of his military career, and has the added advantage of being extremely well preserved.

The political vacuum created with the collapse of the Empire and the decline of Egypt left Palestine and Syria vulnerable, but no immediate rival appeared to fill the void.

Assyria, the most likely benefactor of Egypt’s weakness, was in no position to take advantage of the situation.

Consequently, less powerful peoples seized the opportunity, gradually creating new political bases in the Levant.

Aramean groups mentioned in records since about 1200 B.C. established kingdoms centered on key cities in Syria and northwest Mesopotamia. Aram-Damascus, Aram-zobah, and Hamath all were Aramean kingdoms mentioned from the time of David onward.

The Philistines settled along the southern coast of Canaan by 1150 B.C. In the Transjordan the kingdoms of Moab, Edom, and Ammon tightened their grip on the land they had occupied for some time.

Small Neo-Hittite states (Carchemish, Samal, Arpad, Aleppo) appeared in southeast Asia Minor in the aftermath of the Sea Peoples’ devastation.     

Moses Replaced & Jericho

I’m sure Moses is better off with You than on Earth.  I wonder how well Joshua is going to do?

Mount Nebo
An elevated ridge in Jordan, approximately 817 meters (2680 feet) above sea level, mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land that he would never enter.

The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land and, to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan.

The West Bank city of Jericho is usually visible from the summit, as is Jerusalem on a very clear day.

“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 

From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swear unto their fathers to give them. 

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 

“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho” (Deut 34:1).

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Josh 1:1-9).

Joshua told the people to prepare themselves because in three days they would be going over the Jordan to possess the land, and they agreed to do whatever God told them to do. 

Joshua then sent two men to check out Jericho.  When they arrived they went to Rahab’s, a harlot, and stayed there.

“And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country” (Josh 2:2).

So the king told Rahab to give him the men but she had hidden them on the roof so when the king’s man searched for them they didn’t find them.  She told them that they had just left, but if they left now they would be able to catch them, so they did.

“And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 

And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 

For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 

The Valley of Moab
Somewhere in here God buried Moses.

And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 

Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token” (Josh 2:8-12). 

Joshua’s men agreed and she lowered them down by a cord through the window.

The men then told her to place a scarlet thread on the window so they will now where she was, but if she told anyone of this agreement then they too would be destroyed.

“So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: 

And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us” (Josh 2:23-24).

Jericho
The Oldest City in the World

This city developed in the Palestinian territory about 10 thousand years B.C. At the beginning there were only hunters from the Stone Age who lived there. At that time Jericho still had no city status because it had no walls. The oldest urban community has developed about 8 thousand years B.C. because the first walls were built then. At that time around 3 thousand people lived in the city. Archaeologists found the remnants of the canals where the cereals were grown. These canals also flowed with water that swept the plants.

Ancient City of Jericho

The city was surrounded by ramparts and towers from which citizens could observe the movement of the enemies. The houses were made of dried brick and these houses were made in round.

In the city, dead people were buried under the houses. They were buried in fetus position and without head. People thought the soul of the dead people was in the head so they kept their heads in the houses so that soul would not run away.In the next millenniums a lot of different tribes lived in the city. Because of this there is not much archeological evidence from the earliest periods of the city. Up to 2300 years B.C. there were no major events in the city. In these years Amorites moved to the city and several centuries after Caanans.

The remains of the city of Jericho

So, the city was developed slowly and there are many records of the city in the Bible. The records are from the Old Testament and they say that Jericho was one of the first cities that the Jews had conquered after slavery in Egypt. It happened about 1200 years B.C. and then more than 5 thousand people lived in the city. Jericho was abducted during the Jewish siege.

Today, Jericho is a city or oasis in which lives around 20 thousand people. The city is about 40 kilometers away from Jerusalem. Because of the current war in Palestine there are no many tourists as it was before. However, Jericho is the city that is most appealing to historians and archaeologists. Today many people consider this is not the oldest city and they think it’s just a trick which attracts tourists.