Saturday, April 3, 2010


Joshua 1-3

The book of Joshua opens immediately after the book Deuteronomy, with the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan and having just mourned the death of Moses. God commands Joshua to get the people ready to cross the Jordan, and tells him the boundaries of the land he is giving the Israelites. He also tells him not to "let this Book of hte Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night...then you will be prosperous and successful." He tells him that he, the LORD, will be with him wherever he goes. Joshua ordered the officer to go through the camp and prepare the people to depart, and they did so. This included the men of the Reubenites, Gadites and Manasseh who were taking the land on the east side of the Jordan.

In chapter two, Joshua sends two spies into the land, "especially Jericho," and they "entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there." The king of Jericho had been warned that there were Israelite spies, but when he sent a message to Rahab, she hid the spies in the flax on her roof and told the men of Jericho that they had left, and encouraged them to chase "quickly" and they might "catch up with them." That night she told the spies that she knew that the Lord had given the promised land to the Israelites, and that "a great fear of you has fallen on us...all who live in this country are melting in fear." She pleaded with them to swear by the Lord that she and her family would be spared, and they agreed as long as she didn't tell anyone. She let them down out of the city on a rope through a window, and tied a scarlet cord in the window as a sign of protection. After three days of hiding in the hills, the spies went back to Joshua and told him "everything that had happened to them" and that "all the people are melting in fear."

Joshua and the people moved and camped at the edge of the Jordan from three days and then prepared to cross into the promised land. The priests took the ark of the covenant, at Joshua's bidding, and went ahead of the people. As soon as the priests carrying the ark stepped into the Jordan, the LORD stopped the waters, so that they "piled up in a heap a great distance away...while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah was completely cut off." The priests with the ark stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all of the nation crossed over.

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • The LORD said that he would exalt Joshua. In doing this, he used essentially one of the same miracles he had used to exalt Moses, as he "parted the waters." Yes, this was stopping a river as opposed to parting a sea, but the people, again, passed through a body of water on dry ground.
  • One of the questions as we read translations of the bible texts is how does the translation differ from the original? In the case of the older OT documents, there are significant differences that are unavoidable. For example, apparently there are only two tenses in ancient Hebrew which map to twelve different English tenses. This results, obviously, in potentially ambiguous texts. The issue I'm more interested in right here, however, is style. I thought to write that there are no obvious stylistic differences between Joshua and the books that preceded it, but as I started, it occured to me that I don't know enough to say that. Whatever the style of the original writers, it's an old language translated to a new one, mainly by the same people. The books are going to read similarly regardless of how different they may have appeared to their original audiences.

Proverbs 19:15-29

Verse 21 carries a message that has frequently been put, rather pithily, as "man proposes, God disposes." ("Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.")

Proverbs 19

15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless man goes hungry.

16 He who obeys instructions guards his life,
but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.

17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done.

18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to his death.

19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty;
if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to advice and accept instruction,
and in the end you will be wise.

21 Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

22 What a man desires is unfailing love [b] ;
better to be poor than a liar.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to life:
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.

26 He who robs his father and drives out his mother
is a son who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.

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