Israel Crosses the Jordan & Conquest And Settlement

Hands OutI 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.

1. Jordan River
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?

2. Springs of Banias near Caesarea Phillipi
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. 

3. Ancient tombs Petra Jordan Middle East.
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 

4. Bogazkale Hattusa The Anceint Capital of the Hittite Kingdom
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

5. The Mortuary Temple Of Ramses III
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.     

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