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Archive for the ‘Tellit On The Mountain’ Category

It is the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2)

When I started my series of articles about the Hebrew people five years ago I thought it might take two articles to say the things I wanted to. My goodness! What a miscalculation. There have been seven and we are not finished yet.

I have attempted to give you a peek at the Old Testament history of the Jews. I have no qualifications to speak of, that you should listen to me. I just have a desire to communicate the biblical story of these people, for it is the greatest story ever told.

Cuyp, Aelbert
Christ Riding into Jerusalem

Jesus was a Jew. His mother was a descendant of Abraham and his father the Creator of the universe. He was no ordinary man, but he was a man. He walked the streets of Jerusalem and the dirt roads of the countryside. He was a friend of sinners and political dissidents. He hung around with smelly fishermen as well as educated doctors, and could dumbfound the priests, the scholars and learned elders. And in the end he became the lamb that took our place; he gave his blood for us; he took our punishment. Only he could do that, for he was sinless; we are not.

And it does matter. Heaven and hell are both real places. We need his provision of forgiveness for without it we are doomed. We can never be good enough, but he was and is good enough for all of us. His love for us is real, and our response to that must be real also. It involves a true turning from what we used to be, a quality decision, made from the heart. It can’t be, Oh yes, I want that, and then tomorrow you have forgotten what you said yes to.  Jesus said it himself, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father. (Matthew 7:21)

We do our Lord’s will by learning who he is and what he desires and making that our goal. Sometimes we will miss the mark, but he will lovingly correct us, and we can go from there — make the corrections, go back to square one if we have to. He will not condemn us for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. (Romans 8:1) But he offers us peace. Come unto me, he says to those who are tired and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . learn of me . . . for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your soul. (Matthew 11:28-29) Oh! The peace that Jesus gives.

. . . . . .

From time to time during the three years of his public ministry Jesus had occasion to be in the city of Jerusalem. Perhaps you know some of the stories — how he was so furious they were selling animals and exchanging monies in the temple that he took a whip and drove the merchants from the temple courtyard. He was no wimp, even if he was a gentle man! I would not want to incur his wrath. Maybe you know that he was a miracle worker: he healed sick people, blind people, even raised the dead. One time he rode into town on a donkey as people spread their cloaks and palm branches in the road before him, rejoicing and saying, Blessed is the king of Israel! (John 12:13) But he said My kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) Nevertheless, he remains King of Kings in this world and the next.

James Tissot
Disciples Admire Buildings of the Temple

Once when they were in Jerusalem his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Matthew 24:1-2) The disciples were impressed with the magnificence of the temple and attendant structures. These were remarkable, for Herod had spared no expense in building this new temple, using costly materials and employing the finest artisans. But here is Jesus saying that not one stone will be left in its place, not one. This is an important statement and we find the same words repeated in the gospels of Mark and Luke — not one stone left upon another.

And in addition,  there is a very ominous warning in Luke: And when he (Jesus) was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:41-44)

The Romans attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, and very soon all of Jewish Jerusalem was in ruins, including the whole of the splendid temple that Herod had built. Scavengers dug to the bedrock in various places, seeking melted gold and valuables. The toppled stones were eventually recycled into other building projects until what had been the city of Jerusalem was unrecognizable. So complete was the destruction that in time the hill where the temple and attendant buildings had stood was plowed for crops. The only remaining structure was the Roman fortress Antonia, on the hill overlooking the desolation. And that was pretty much the end of Jerusalem, for centuries.

And then, two thousand years later — Amazement! Israel officially became a nation, recognized throughout the world, in 1948. The rest is history — recent history. But by that time, for the most part, we (Christians and Jews) had lost the centerpiece of our heritage, the place where God put his name, the holy hill of Zion and the temple of his presence. Oh, there is a presence for sure, erected by the Muslims in 691 AD within the perimeter of the old fortress. But God’s house and David’s citadel seem to be misplaced. We don’t know where they are.

Stepped Stone Structure
Omerm/Wikimedia Commons

Archaeologists are digging and looking, and a lot has been found, and artifacts dated. It is wonderful to see the ancient stones exposed, and to know the era to which they pertain, even if we don’t know for certain what some of them mean structurally. But, in our desire to assemble the puzzle as quickly as possible, we have forced some pieces into places where they do not belong. Then, we have empty spaces that will never be filled until we dislodge those ill fitting places and move them to their proper locations.

It is an easy thing to move a name. Read my article Whatever Happened to Whetstone Gap?  A land developer liked the name apparently, and so he moved it eight miles to the west and named the road into his housing project Whetstone Gap Road. Within fifteen to twenty years everyone knew Whetstone Gap Road and where it went — to the cul-de-sac at the border of that subdivision, never mind there wasn’t a hint of a gap there. The little whetstones for which Whetstone Gap was originally named are to this day where they always were, strewn across the slopes of the Whetstone Ridge.

I don’t know where Ornan’s threshing floor was, but I promise you the coordinates of that landmark have not moved! Was there really a threshing floor up there on that rugged wild mountain, or was it within the perimeter of the walled city of Salem, protected and secure?

The Spring

Now, we have the eye witness account of Aristeas https://www.ellopos.com/blog/4508/letter-of-aristeas-full-text-in-greek-and-english/34/and also the account of Tacitus (The History of Cornelius Tacitus, V,11) that there was water springing up within the confines of the Jewish temple.

Old Water Tower
Frostproof, FL

These accounts are summarily dismissed as false or impossible. After all, the springs we are accustomed to flow from the surface of the ground downhill to lower elevations. Very well, but now think of the thousands of small towns that are served by water tanks or towers standing high above the level of the structures. The water flows down out of the tank into pipes below ground level, and then up from the ground into spigots in the various buildings. How does it do that?

If you think about that for a little while you might get some idea of how Solomon’s temple could have been supplied with fresh water.

In my article about the Gihon Spring I mentioned a small (less than ten feet across) spring in South Carolina that reportedly gushed periodically as much as six feet in the air. That little spring in South Carolina worked on the same principle as the Gihon, and like the Gihon, it has ceased its spouting. But, here is a fascinating article about another of these springs — The Bubble, a man made lake in the community of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.  https://www.fandm.edu/news/latest-news/2017/07/06/f-m-researchers-find-ground-water-runs-deeper-than-hydrologists-thought 

This lake is fed by a group of about 30 springs arising from a whopping 1800 feet below the surface. Furthermore a recent study has determined the main source of the springs’ water (the catchment area) is some 50 miles away, on the other side of the mountain. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2017GL073790

Based on this study, water is gushing into The Bubble at the rate of 16 million gallons a day. (Figure appears to be correct. I double checked.) A 13 minute  video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_r9y_abG2w shows two of the bubbling inflow sites; one is bubbling rapidly. Note in the following article that water under pressure is forced to the surface, creating the bubbles.  https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC680XC_the-bubble?guid=0c346836-34df-40db-9489-3bf8da62a433

The water level of The Bubble sometimes rises rapidly, but this is due to rainfall at the main catchment site miles away. None of these articles mention a siphon effect such as was associated with the Gihon.

Both the Gihon and The Bubble are karst springs, which means the subsurface rock is pretty much limestone, a soft rock that forms caves, pipes and cisterns due to percolating water over the millennia. Great quantities of water can be stored in these underground compartments. Karst waterways can be quite complex; and, they can be connected over long distances. In the case of the Gihon, an additional feature was present — a natural siphon, perhaps at a great distance away, which drained a large subterranean cavern, which, when refilled to a certain level, would activate the siphon and drain again, resulting in periodic gushing.

Hezekiah’s tunnel

Presently the Gihon is no longer pulsing. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10040-010-0600-6

However the yield is quite significant, witness the photos of Hezekiah’s tunnel. Now let us go back to the old days, when the Gihon was a gushing spring, that is during the time of the kings of Judah/Israel. I find it interesting that King Hezekiah and the people stopped up “springs” and then they stopped up the brook (Kidron). (Second Chronicles 32:4) There must have been a lot of water originating at the Gihon spring. At eight pounds a gallon, even a little water can exert a lot of pressure. Now, think about The Bubble — the lake in Pennsylvania. Hydrologists have determined that water bubbles up from 1800 feet under the ground! Even if the pulsing of the Gihon had not been sufficient to raise its waters to the surface of the Jebusite ridge, some simple engineering could  have, and if necessary did remedy that problem. I am not alone in this belief.

The Gihon spring is the key to the temple location. Think about how many thousands, tens of thousands, of animals, even big animals such as oxen, were sacrificed on feast days, when the twelve tribes gathered in Jerusalem. In the early days there were no aqueducts to Jerusalem. They had to get rid of that blood and gore somehow. Pity the hundreds of poor donkeys that (theoretically) would have had to trudge for days on end up and down hill from the Gihon all the way to the Dome of the Rock! There was a better way!

The Akra

Now, what did David obtain when he and his troops invaded and took the Jebusite stronghold of Salem? For one thing, a fortress or fortification inside the walls of the city. Josephus In the Whiston translation tells us David took the lower city but the citadel “held out still”, whereupon King David issued a challenge to his men: the first to go up by way of the “tsinor” and smite the Jebusites would be captain, and here it was that Joab won that position for himself.  After David and his men conquered the Jebusites David took up residence in Salem (Jerusalem). He erected buildings from the Millo (a filled area) and inward “round about the lower city ; he also joined (See Psalm 122) the citadel to it,” and named Jerusalem The City of David . (The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 3, Sections 1 and 2) (See also Second Samuel Chapter 5) Here we have an excellent clue as to where the citadel was, and its relation to the rest of Jerusalem. The lower city mentioned here is that part of ancient Jerusalem (Salem) that was lower in elevation than the citadel — which would have been all of it. Remember, these were the first days, the beginning of David’s Jerusalem. If we look at ancient Jerusalem today — the 12 acre crescent shaped southeast ridge — there is no evidence whatever of an elevation significantly higher than the rest of the ridge. However, we know the citadel was higher than its surroundings. Josephus plainly states this later in The Antiquities. Scriptures in First Maccabees also support this conclusion. So? Shortly we are going to find that the high hill that supported the citadel/Akra in the ancient city was leveled to the bedrock under the Hasmonean king/priest Simon. Small wonder we can not find the Akra today!

A Section of Hezekiah’s Wall

We hear about the citadel again in 444 BC when, in preparation for his work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah asks the Persian King Artaxerses for timber to make gates for the citadel by the temple and for the city wall. (Nehemiah 2:8) This was during the time the Jewish exiles who had been 70 years in Babylon were returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding their city. Here the writer of the narrative indicated the citadel was by (beside) the temple. The fortress (citadel) is mentioned again after the rebuilding of the wall. Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, and Hanani are given charge of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 7:2) Before the Babylonian captivity King Hezekiah had rebuilt and strengthened the Jebusite mid-slope walls. They were very strong, being several feet thick. Nevertheless the Babylonians had toppled some of them in their invasion. These were the walls that Nehemiah repaired. Sections of these massive walls are extant today.

The Bible says it took the people 52 days to repair the wall. (Nehemiah 6:15) During the whole of that time the inhabitants of the land who had taken up residence there while the Jews were in Babylon hindered the work at every opportunity and made plans to attack the workers on the wall. When Nehemiah heard of this he divided the workers. Half continued the work an the other half stood guard with shields, spears and bows. (Nehemiah 4:16)

When the repairs were done Nehemiah gathered the princes of Judah, the priests and Levites, elders and officials — two great companies of them that gave thanks. (Nehemiah 12:31) These divided and held a dedication processional, beginning at a point on the west side of the city, and walking upon the wall, one group walking toward the north and the other group to the south, going around the city with rejoicing and blowing of trumpets and much jubilation, meeting on the east side of the city at the double gates before the temple (the Prison Gate and the Water Gate, above the Gihon spring) and then proceeding in two rows into the house of God. The Bible says the joy of this celebration was heard afar off. (See Nehemiah 12:31-43)

Tomb of Mattathias ben johanan
Father and First Leader of Maccabean Revolt
Ariel/Wikipedia

We find more about the Akra in the books of First and Second Maccabees. These books (and others) were taken from most Bibles in the 1800’s. However they are still available from booksellers in the collection known as the Apocrypha. The Maccabean Revolt took place in the interim between the recordings of the Old Testament and the Gospels in the New Testament. The story of the Maccabees and their leadership in the struggle for Jewish independence during that time is inspiring. The word Maccabee is from the Hebrew word for hammer. It was not a surname, at least to start with.  When Antiochus and the Seleucids began to oppress the Jews, forbidding reading of the Torah, observance of the sabbath, circumcision of boys —  in effect requiring them to turn from the worship of the one true God to the worship of idols, the resistance was led by Mattithias, a priest from a settlement near Jerusalem, and his five sons, of which the high priest Simon was the last survivor. The Maccabees are better known as the Hasmoneans. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/history-and-overview-of-the-maccabees

In Nehemiah’s time the Jews had been subject to the Persians, But by the time of the Maccabees (around 170 BC) the Persians had yielded to the authority of the Greeks. Consequently the area of Judea and Samaria came to be ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s successors, namely Antiochus of the Seleucid/Greek empire. The Greeks cared naught for the God of Israel. They were pagans, worshippers of Zeus and other false gods. In time these wicked rulers abolished the Aaronic priesthood and the position of high priest was sold to the highest bidder. Finally a dispute between Antiochus and one of his appointees spiraled into an all out war with much bloodshed and sweeping political changes. One result of these changes was that temple worship became a mix of Judaism and the worship of Hellenistic gods. This was totally unacceptable to devout Jews. Then, to cap it all, in 167BC Antiochus greatly antagonized the Jews by sacrificing a pig in the temple.

After their invasion and destruction of Jerusalem. Antiochus and his forces (and their sympathizers) built a new stronghold next to the temple. Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall and with mighty towers and made it a strong hold for them . . . For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary . . . Thus they shed blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it. (First Maccabees 1:33-37) Josephus said of the Akra in this situation, “for the place was high, and overlooked the temple.” (The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 5, Section 4, paragraph 252) 

While they held the Akra the Hellenists harassed and even killed Jews who attempted temple worship. The Maccabees, with God’s help, were eventually successful in leading the devout Jews to victory in their revolt against the Syrians (Seleucids), Greeks and Eqyptians and the many powers that had sought to enslave them and take away their heritage, though it was a long and hard fought battle that cost thousands and thousands of lives. In the end, around 142BC, Simon, the last of the Maccabee sons, high priest and ruler of Judea, successfully attacked and took the Akra from the Seleucid forces.

Josephus gives a pretty good location for the Akra. He describes the hills of the city of Jerusalem. Then he says, “But the other hill, which was called ‘Acra’ and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of the moon when she is horned.” This is the southeastern ridge, the original Jebusite city, which is in roughly the shape of a crescent. Here Josephus is calling the entire southeastern ridge the ‘Acra’. He goes on to say “However in those times when the Hasmoneans (the Maccabees) reigned, they filled up that valley (Cheezemongers or Tyropean) with earth . . . Then they took off part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation than before, that the temple might be superior to it. (The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 4, Section 1, paragraph 137)

Reinforcing this statement we go to Josephus again for more detail: “Simon, (high priest of Jerusalem, of the Hasmonean family above) took the citadel of Jerusalem by seige (which was then occupied by the Hellenistic Syrians/Greeks and apostate Jews) and cast it down to the ground, that it might not be any more a place of refuge to their enemies . . . And when he had done this he thought it . . . for their advantage to level the very mountain itself upon which the citadel happened to stand that so the temple might be higher than it. And indeed when he had called the multitude to an assembly he persuaded them to have it so demolished, . . . so they all set themselves to the work and leveled the mountain, and in that work spent both day and night without intermission, which cost them three whole years before it was removed, and brought to an entire level with the plain of the rest of the city. After which the temple was the highest of the buildings.” (The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 13, Chapter 6, Section 7, Paragraphs 215-217)

Dr. Ernest Martin, author of The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot believed the Akra was built on a tel or layered hill, south of that other rise known as the Ophel summit, where the temple was. If you read my article about Joshua you remember the city of Jericho had been occupied by many preceding civilizations, building one upon another, and had grown to a great height. Obviously the mound supporting the Akra was somewhat higher than the Ophel because the citadel overlooked the temple. This excess of elevation could well be the reason the citadel “held out still”  (The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 3, Secion 1, Paragraph 63) when David attacked it. If Dr. Martin’s supposition is correct and the high southernmost hill that Simon dug down and carried away was in fact a tel, (and it might have been; after all it took three years to reach bedrock) it would be very interesting to find what is in the filled ravine of the Cheesemongers and at the bottom of the corresponding section of the Kidron Valley. Three years of digging day and night must have misplaced, or sadly, destroyed very many artifacts.

The Temple

Unknown Artist’s Rendering of the Temple
Public Domain

The southeast hill of Jerusalem was long and narrow, though today the northern section of that hill is substantially wider, due to having been filled in and added to a number of times over the years. When Solomon built the first temple, “the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar . . . but when King Solomon had built a wall to it on its east side, there was then added one cloister founded on a bank cast up for it . . . in future ages the people added new banks, and the hill became a larger plain.” (The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Section 1, Paragraph 184-185) Earlier we read that David joined the citadel to the structures he built in the “lower city”. And now we see the “plain” upon which the temple was built was very skimpy, so much that a bank had to be cast up for a cloister. If we at first discount the words of Josephus, maybe we can give him credit if we look at Psalm122, a psalm Jewish pilgrims sang on their way to worship at the temple. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: Whither the tribes go up . . . to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. (verses 3-4) Most sources indicate the temple itself was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide and 45 feet high. “It was covered all over (with) plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fine splendor . . . But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow, for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding white.” (The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Section 6, Paragraph 222-223) Seven years in the building, it was as beautiful and impressive as it was within Solomon’s means to make it.

Painting of Solomon Dedicating the Temple
James Tissot/public domain

When Solomon dedicated the temple many thousands of Jews were present as the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice and a dense cloud of glory filled the temple (First Kings 8:10) insomuch as the priests were unable to carry on their functions and the people fell on heir faces in worship. And when Solomon had made an end of praying the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. (Second Chronicles 7:1-2) Our God is a supernatural God!

But in time, people turned away from the temple. Sometimes the ruling class, the kings and their officers and associates were the worst offenders. Even Solomon, when he was old, was lured away from the Lord by his many pagan wives, whom he sought to please. Intrigue developed; the northern tribes split off from Judah and Benjamin, and began to worship golden calves. The rulers of the northern kingdom were basically apostates. Nor were the kings of Judah much better. However there were some Judean kings who sought the Lord’s direction and obeyed the commandments. One of these was Hezekiah. And he (Hezekiah) did what was right in the sight of the Lord. (Second Kings 18:3) 

Ahaz, Hezekiah’s predecessor, had worshipped heathen gods, and sacrificed his children to them, and had done very wickedly in his reign. As a result Judah had been invaded repeatedly, and a number of its citizens carried away captive by the neighboring countries.  When Hezekiah came to the throne succeeding Ahaz he found the house of the Lord neglected and in disarray, dirty and filled with rubbish. Right away he assembled the Levites And said to them, Hear me ye Levites, sanctify yourselves and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord and have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord and turned their backs . . . Wherefore the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem and he hath delivered them to trouble . . . Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel that his fierce wrath may turn from us . . . And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. It took the priests and eighteen Levites and their brethren of which we have no number, eight days to clean and sanctify the temple. For shame! (Second Chronicles 29:5-17) Note here the rubbish was not taken far off, but to the brook Kidron. I can’t help wondering if the temple had been where the Dome of the Rock now stands, would they have gone to the trouble to carry the trash as far as the brook — round trip probably over a mile.

This wonderful old book illustration shows worshippers and their sacrificial animals going up to Jerusalem from the Gihon spring.

I have made my point; however Hezekiah’s story is worth the re-telling and so we continue. After the purification of the Lord’s house Hezekiah sent word to all the tribes, even to the northern tribes who had earlier broken away from Judah, inviting them to the feast of unleavened bread. A multitude of people from all Israel came. It was such a joyous occasion that when the feast was over, they elected to add another week to the festivities. After that the people went out and destroyed the heathen worship places before they went back to their homes.

Later on Hezekiah learned that the king of Assyria had in mind to invade Judah. At that time, the Bible says he stopped the fountains and closed the Gihon spring exit, turning the water into an underground tunnel, so the Assyrians would not be able to take advantage of Jerusalem’s water source. He built up and strengthened the city wall, and made shields and weapons and organized the soldiers for war. In time the king of Assyria sent his servant with a message to taunt and threaten Hezekiah and the people of Judah. The Assyrians made a gross error however, in that they spoke against the Almighty saying: Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered? (Second Kings 19:10-11)

When Hezekiah received the king’s message he went to the temple and prayed for deliverance from the Assyrians. In a little while the prophet Isaiah came to him and told him God had heard his prayer and that God himself would prevent the Assyrians from harming Jerusalem. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred, fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib King of Assyria departed. (Second Kings 19:35-36)

photo by
Dietmar Rabich
Wikimedia Commons

Continuing on we read that later Hezekiah was sick. Again Isaiah came. This time Isaiah told him the Lord had said to get his house in order that he was going to die. In response to this the scriptures say that Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and that he cried and prayed. Then the Lord changed his mind and sent Isaiah back to tell him that he would heal him. The Lord said he would add fifteen years to his life, and that furthermore he would deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrians. Hezekiah then asked for a sign from the Lord that he would do what he promised. Here the prophet asked him, Shall the shadow (sundial) go forward ten degrees or go back ten degrees? Hezekiah said he wanted it to go back. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord; and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward. (Second Kings 20:9-11)  This was the second time the Lord in his wisdom altered the spinning of the heavenly orbs for one of his servants. See Joshua Chapter 10 for the story of how the sun stood still for Joshua. They laid a lump of figs on Hezekiah (he had a boil). Hezekiah’s sickness was healed and he lived fifteen more years.

Now we have looked at the Akra, the Temple, and the Gihon spring. As promised in the first edition of this post, here is a map that depicts the topography of the ancient Jebusite city of Salem and the high area to the north as it was when King David and his men took the city. The dot on the map is the approximate location of the Gihon spring. The Jebusites had waterways from the spring, but they are not shown. The numbering of the contours is in meters above sea level; the interval is 10 meters.  The rise in the far north represents the area of the Roman fortress, now occupied by the Dome of the Rock. The middle rise going south is my opinion of the approximate location of the temples. The southernmost hump represents what I believe to be the area of David’s citadel, the Akra, which land feature Simon the Hasmonean high priest and the citizens of Jerusalem dug down and dumped into the Tyropean and Kidron valleys.

God Bless You! It’s Easter! He is risen!

 

 

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Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh — the Lord will provide

Count the stars. From an old woodcut. Wikipedia

Most of us have heard the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac — near, because it nearly happened! If you have read the book of Genesis, or the articles preceding this one, you know Abraham and his wife Sarah had a son in their old age, Isaac, the first of a vast multitude of descendants, the Hebrew nation, the Israelites. Look now toward heaven, God said to Abraham, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them, . . . so shall thy seed be. (Genesis 15:4-5)

God had promised this son years earlier, but as time drew on and Sarah did not conceive, she gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham as a wife. Here is what she said, Go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. (Genesis 16:2) We don’t know why she did this. Was she trying to help God fulfill his promise? Was she trying to diminish the reproach of her barrenness? We don’t know. But, we do know Hagar gave birth to a son, Ishmael.

Thirteen years later the Lord spoke to Abraham and told him that Sarah would have a son the next year. When Abraham voiced some concern for Ishmael at this point, God was quick to tell him what he had already promised Hagar, that he would make Ishmael fruitful, and . . . multiply him exceedingly; . . . and . . . make him a great nation. (Genesis 17:20)

God further stated: But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. Though long in coming, this was God’s plan. May we be patient to wait for his plan. There had been conflict between Hagar and Sarah already, and now Ishmael is causing distress in the family. In Galatians is a comment by Paul that indicates Ishmael “persecuted” Isaac, who was much younger than him. (Galatians 4:28-29) Then Sarah said to her husband, Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son. (Genesis 21:10) The Bible says Abraham was grieved about this, but God told him, Let it not be grevious in thy sight . . . in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. (Genesis 21:12) So Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away, and the angel of the Lord took care of them. After that Hagar and Ishmael lived in Paran. (See Genesis 21.)

Now, can you imagine what consternation Abraham experienced later on when God spoke to him saying, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one the mountains which I will tell thee of. (Genesis 22:2) By then Isaac was a youth, old enough to understand that an animal was necessary for a burnt offering. He questioned his father as they were on their way to the land of Moriah, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? In answer Abraham told his son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. (Genesis 22:7-8)

Rembrandt painting
Abraham and Isaac

Here we need more revelation than Genesis provides. Let’s go to Hebrews Chapter 11 where the writer is talking about faith. By faith Abraham, when he was tested (that is, while the testing of his faith was still in progress), offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises (of God) was ready to sacrifice his only son (of promise); to whom it was said “IN ISAAC SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE CALLED.” for he considered (it reasonable to believe) that God was able to raise Isaac, even from among the dead. (Hebrews 11:17-19 Amplified Bible)

When they came to the place God showed him, Abraham made an altar, laid the wood on it, bound his son and laid him upon the wood. Oh my! And as he took up the knife to kill his son the angel of the Lord stopped him. And he said, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything to him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (Genesis 22:12) At that point Abraham saw a ram caught by his horns in a thicket. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. (Genesis 22:13) And it is said to this day, On the mount of the Lord it will be provided. (Genesis 22:14 Amplified Bible) Isaac’s life was spared by God, who provided the lamb for the burnt offering. What a wonderful picture of Jesus, the Lamb who died in our place!

After the sacrifice of the ram Abraham and Isaac came down from the mountain and joined their two traveling companions who were waiting for them, and together they left the land of Moriah and returned home to Beersheba. Where had they been? Just where is the land of Moriah? There is only one other mention in scripture of the word Moriah and that is: Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (Second Chronicles 3:1) Here is a mount Moriah which is synonymous with the temple and another  place — the threshing floor of Ornan.  Now that puts the temple, the threshing floor, and Mount Moriah all in one place. Who can argue with that!

Well, the Samaritans will. Their land was the land of Moreh, the place where God first spoke to Abraham, promising his descendants the land on which he stood. Their city was Shechem of old, and their mountain, Gerazim, the Mount of Blessing, where Joshua convened all of Israel upon their entrance into their promised land. The Samaritans believe their mountain to be the sacred mountain, where God provided his own sacrifice, the ram caught in the bushes. The Samaritans number less than a thousand today, yet those few cling tenaciously to their beliefs and customs, as witnessed by their annual celebration of Passover. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/samaritans-perform-sacrificial-passover-ritual-452001

Samaritan ruins at Sebastia

These people are a remnant of those Jews in the northern kingdom of Israel of whom nearly all were taken captive by the Assyrians and resettled along the Euphrates River and beyond.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25079122/ Those Jews that were taken captive are now considered “lost tribes” since they never returned to Israel. The northern tribes of Israel had separated from their southern brothers shortly after the death of Solomon and in time established the city of Samaria as their capital. The northern kingdom lasted over 200 years, but finally fell in 722 BC after a three year siege by the Assyrians. Many years later Samaria became a Roman possession and the Emperor Augustus gave Samaria to King Herod; he renamed it Sebaste. Today, the ruins of ancient Samaria can be seen near the modern town of Sebastia.

Returning now to our subject — concerning the words the land of Moriah, Robert Harris, a professor of ancient languages in an excellent web publication from 2006 tells us that the translation is actually the land of THE Moriah. He also gives us the medieval interpreter Rashbam’s opinion that God was sending Abraham to the Amorites. Professor Harris does not claim to give us any clear facts, which is understandable (since there aren’t any) but he does give a short discussion of Moriah from an important (and very old) Jewish commentary. https://www.jtsa.edu/torah/examining-the-word-moriah/

So, what do we have now? We know the threshing floor of Ornan (or Araunah, see First Chronicles) was named Mount Moriah according to Ezra the writer of Second Chronicles, and that Solomon built the temple there. We have the traditional narrative (repeated by Josephus in the first century AD) that the temple was built on the site of Abraham’s intended sacrifice of Isaac. Then, we know the Samaritans claim their land to be the land of Moriah and their mountain of Gerazim to be the sacrificial site. Further, we have the translation (in the foregoing paragraph) that speaks of the land of THE Moriah.

Proximity of Temple Mount to City of David. Temple Mt. at top; City of David on hill east of paved street. Avram Graicer/Wikimedia Commons

Now, some folks hold fiercely to a tradition that the Temple Mount was the place Abraham brought his son Isaac intending to sacrifice him to the Lord. But, we need to consider that we still don’t know for certain where the land of Moriah was, let alone the mountain where it all took place. Further, and more importantly, we need to consider that the Temple Mount is a mere one third of a mile (or less) from the City of David, which at the time of Abraham’s sacrifice was an inhabited settlement, the walled city of Salem. We know Abraham had been there before and was already acquainted with Melchizedek, king and priest of that city. Melchizedek had come down out of Salem bringing bread and wine to Abraham in the valley of Shaveh as he was returning from the battle of Siddim. (Genesis 14:18-20) The Temple Mount location, so near the city of Salem, within shouting distance even, seems very unlikely.

So where is that mountain that Abraham saw afar off?  Obviously the answer can not be found in the Bible. Is there a preponderance of extrabiblical evidence that gives a clear answer to that question? Not that I have found. But I have found some scholarly folk who admit not knowing where it was the Lord sent Abraham. Regardless of that, by the first century AD certain suppositions about this event were already beginning to solidify. Josephus, the Jewish historian from that era wrote that the temple was  built on the site of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son. (The Antiquities of The Jews, Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 2, Paragraph 226)  Josephus can be counted a reliable source reporting the events he actually saw and lived through; but, can he be expected to give a first hand account of an event 2,000 years before his time. Of course not.

But, there are certain things people want to believe. It sounds right. It seems right. Grandma said it. It must be so. It is here we come up against an immovable stone — the rock of tradition — can we ever chip it all away?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God. (Psalm 46:4)

On feast days in ancient Israel as smoke rose up from the temple courtyard, the waters of the Gihon Spring washed away the blood of thousands of sacrificial animals. Today one sacrifice remains, and that is Jesus, who continually offers us cleansing that an ocean of the blood of bulls, sheep and goats could never accomplish.  Just so you know.

Old photo of the entrance to Gihon Spring
Wikipedia

The Gihon Spring is a big, big spring. Until the twentieth century it was the only significant water source for that great city Jerusalem. However, due to population growth, most of Jerusalem’s water is now piped in from outside sources.

The word gihon is Hebrew for bursting forth or gushing, which described the activity of this fascinating water work. Gihon is called an intermittent or rhythmic spring due to periodic gushing and tapering of its flow. Typically this type of spring is fed by accumulations of groundwater in naturally formed underground caves and cisterns, which are numerous in the area of Jerusalem, due to the high incidence of limestone and dolomite. The pulsing feature of these springs is generated by a natural siphon channel that empties the water out of the underground reservoir until air breaks the pull of the siphon and the process begins again. An easy to understand explanation of siphoning is available at http://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-does-a-siphon-work.

Hezekiah’s tunnel Wikimedia commons

Some years ago a group of hydrologists  monitored the Gihon for a while and reported the spring was not pulsing during the time of their inspection. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10040-010-0600-6. Whether pulsing or not, a tremendous amount of water still flows from the Gihon Spring. Today, thanks to the efforts of the Israelis, tourists can now wade these waters in the channel known as Hezekiah’s tunnel.

Siphon springs are rare and they do not necessarily go on forever. A small spring of this type that early settlers in Spartanburg County, South Carolina called the Boiling Spring gushed periodically as much as six feet in the air and was quite an attraction for many years. This was apparently a cold water geyser and not part of a geothermal system, as people watered their horses from the spring. But, civilization took its toll. As the town of Boiling Springs prospered and grew, the boiling spring gradually ceased its boiling. However, the spring flows today and is protected by a small park. http://www.sciway.net/city/boilingsprings.html. Besides urbanization, changes in landforms such as that produced by earthquakes can damage delicate subterranean systems, causing springs to fail.

Jerusalem is an ancient city, located in Biblical Canaan, the land promised by God to the Hebrews through their earliest ancestor Abraham. The first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible occurs in Genesis 14, where we find Melchizedek, the king and priest of Salem (ancient Jerusalem) coming out to meet Abraham as he returns from the battle of Siddim (the battle of the four kings). Jerusalem was then a city of roughly twelve acres situated atop the ridge above the Gihon spring which at that time emptied down the side of the hill and into the Kidron Valley. Easily defensible from its high elevation, Jerusalem had already been inhabited some thousands of years.

Here is a primitive illustration of the “blind and the lame” taunting David.

Several generations later, around 1,000 BC, King David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites. By then the Hebrews had been attempting to take that city for nearly four hundred years. The Jebusites held a very advantageous position at the top of their ridge and they taunted David, saying their city was so impregnable their “blind and lame” could defend it. David knew it was impossible to attack them from below. Somehow David and his men had to get inside the city walls.

From earliest times the Jebusites had furnished their settlement with water from the Gihon Spring. They took advantage of naturally occurring shafts and tunnels, adding to these by their own efforts as necessary, chiseling through the soft limestone and dolomite subsurface of their hill. Dating these subterranean water structures today remains a difficulty; however, we know there were Jebusite waterways in use in David’s time. One such channel, which positively dates before David was cut from the surface and covered with stones.

We are not privy to David’s military “intelligence” about these various underground watercourses. All we know is that eventually David said to his men, Whoever getteth up to the tsinor, and smiteth the Jebusites, . . . he shall be chief and captain. (Second Samuel 5:8) (The word tsinor is ambiguous, probably it means pipe or tunnel, or perhaps gutter.) Joab, one of David’s “mighty men” went up first. We have no more details. In all likelihood Joab and his men entered the city through a water passage. They succeeded in taking the strong hold of Zion: the same is the City of David. (Second Samuel 5:7)

While he was yet living, King David amassed a great supply of building materials in preparation for the magnificent temple of the Lord that his son Solomon would build in Jerusalem. Construction began soon after David’s death and took seven years. Solomon spared no expense, using the finest materials and employing the most skilled artisans, plus thousands of workers. First Kings Chapter 6 gives details of the temple’s ornate features: for example, doors carved with cherubims, palm trees and flowers, and overlaid with gold. It was here the Israelites brought their sacrifices and offerings including, yes, live animals and birds that were slain by the priests and Levites, their blood sprinkled upon the altar, and their flesh consumed by fire. Water from the Gihon Spring (for there was no other water source) cleaned up the mess in short order. Thank goodness, I say! But how? We will see.

Though there were times when worship at the temple of Solomon was neglected due to the apostasy of the people, the magnificent structure stood nearly 400 years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians who invaded Judah, killing thousands, and finally taking thousands captive to Babylon. Seventy years later the Jews under the leadership of Zerubbabel were allowed to return to their land and rebuild their temple. Recorded in the book of Ezra is the celebration that was held when the foundation of the rebuilt temple was laid. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks to the Lord; And all the people shouted with a great shout; because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, . . . wept with a loud voice. (Ezra 3:11-12)

This second temple, known as Zerubbabel’s temple is the one we read about in the letter of Aristeas from the third century BC.  Aristeas was an Egyptian official, sent to visit Eleazar, the high priest in Jerusalem. Here is an exerpt from his eye witness account:

The whole of the floor is paved with stones and slopes down to the appointed places, that water may be conveyed to wash away the blood from the sacrifices, for many thousand beasts are sacrificed there on the feast days. And there is an inexhaustible supply of water, because  an abundant spring gushes up from within  the temple area . . .  There are  many openings  for water at the base  of the altar . . .  so that  all the blood of the sacrifices which is collected in great quantities is washed away in the twinkling of an eye.  http://www.ellopos.com/blog/4508/letter-of-aristeas-full-text-in-greek-and-english/34/

A replica of the Temple

The historian Josephus gives us some detail about the next temple, the magnificent structure built by the Roman ruler Herod on the site of Zerubbabel’s temple. Herod’s temple was lauded for its beauty and artistry, its gates covered with gold, doors hung with beautifully colored veils, and decorative vines made of gold. (The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Section 4) When Herod spoke to the people of his elaborate plan for a new temple many were afraid he might tear their temple down and not be able to accomplish his monumental building plan. But he told them “he would not pull down their temple until all things were gotten ready for building it up entire again. And as he promised them this beforehand, so he did not break his word to them.” (The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15, Chapter 11, Section 2) This, then, is the temple of Jesus’ time. It was made of beautiful white stones, and was so impressive that one of Jesus’ disciples exclaimed to him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Matthew 13:1-2)

And so it was. Not even a stone is left of these three temples. Only the water remains — the sacred Gihon Spring.

 

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“choose you this day whom you will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  (the words of Joshua, Chapter 24:15)

As my ancestors were wont to say, “A lot of water has run under the bridge.” That meant a lot of time had passed, and with it many events. It has been more than four years since my last article pertaining to the Hebrew people, predecessors of the present day sons and daughters of Israel. Despite all its faults, which are not worse than our own, Israel remains the apple of God’s eye, and the seat of His kingdom, which is coming perhaps sooner than we think.

Remains of ancient tower at Jericho, ca 7,000 BC

We left off at Jericho, where by the Lord’s intervention, it took no more than a boisterous shout and the din of trumpets blowing to bring down a six foot thick brick wall surrounding a city of seven acres. It is important to note that this miraculous event took place after Joshua had encountered an unusual personage. And it came to pass, as Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold there stood a man over against him with a 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? (Joshua 5: 13-14)

The Jericho of Joshua’s era was cloaked in mystery for a long time, to the point there were doubts as to whether there ever was such a place. However, recent excavations and re-examinations of previously held opinions have pretty much settled the issue, certainly for those who believe the Bible. Much of the controversy had to do with questions about the timing of the conquest, and the huge, impenetrable wall that surrounded the city.

The biblical narrative is always true, and when it seems not, it is because our understanding needs a little adjusting. At present there is on YouTube a video depicting excavations at ancient Jericho which show how and where the walls fell. Yes, they have now dug them up. You can see this at http://www.experienceisraelnow.com/heres-a-great-video-about-the-walls-of-jericho/ . To further support the archaeological facts there is an article at http://www.biblearchaeologyreport.com/2-19/05/25/biblical-sites-three-discoveries-at-jericho/  which tells us, “The phrase ‘fell down flat’ is translated from two Hebrew words: (naphal — to fall) and (tachath — bottom or below).  Thus a literal understanding would be that the wall fell below itself. Excavations at Jericho have revealed that this is precisely what happened.” One can see in the video that the massive upper wall fell below itself, to the bottom of a lower retaining wall. Thus the Hebrews were able to scramble up, every man straight before him. (Joshua 6:20)

Be aware that despite all the unmistakable evidence of Joshua’s remarkable conquest of the city of Jericho there are non-Christians who would like the world to believe that such an event never happened. If you visit Jericho in the near future you will likely be subjected to this type of propaganda. While it is a fact there are 23 levels of civilization at Jericho, nearly all of which pre-date Joshua by thousands of years, the proof of Joshua’s destruction of that city is extensive and the sum of it overwhelms all arguments to the contrary.

So: now that we have put Jericho to rest, let us take another look back, all the way back to Abraham, first known as Abram, and his father Terah, who, about four thousand years ago, with their households and possessions, left their home in Ur of the Chaldees and settled at Haran, in upper Mesopotamia. After Terah died, the Lord said to Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee. (Genesis 12:1) The Bible tells us that by faith he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11:8) His first recorded stopping place was Shechem, an ancient site on the outskirts of the modern city of Nablus. We are going to see that Shechem holds an important place in the history of the Israelites. And Abram passed through the land to a place called Shechem (Sichem), unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land. (Genesis 12:6-7) 

Jesus at Jacob’s well. John Linnell, public domain, Wikimedia Commons

What is God up to? Why has he led Abram to the land of the Canaanites? Why are Abram’s descendants promised this land? Oh, the vastness of God’s plan! Oh the depth of . . . the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33) If we stand here in the footprints of Abram and take just a little peek down through the ages we see Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel digging here in the hard ground . . . and if we keep looking . . . yes! there is Jesus, asking a Samaritan woman for a drink from Jacob’s well — Jesus the Messiah, fully God, but totally man, a descendant of this man Abram. The writer of Hebrews says, He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:16) Wow! At this point however, Abram is 75 years old and childless; his wife, about 65 now, has never borne children.

Fast forward some years, the Bible doesn’t tell us how many, maybe ten more or less . . . the Lord appears to Abram in a vision. Abram still does not have any children so he asks God about that saying, Behold to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. (Genesis 15:3) Here the Lord corrects him saying This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir . . . Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: . . . So shall thy seed be. (Genesis 15:4-5)

That evening as the sun was going down God made a covenant with Abram, a solemn agreement complete with a sacrifice of animals and birds upon an altar of rough stones, lit by the fire of God himself. The Bible says a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness came upon himAnd he (God) said to Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them: and they shall afflict them four hundred years; . . . thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. (Genesis 15:12-13, 12-16) The fulfillment of the promise was sure, but it lay in the faraway future . . . why, we are not told, except that the iniquity, the evil, of the Amorites, was not complete.

So, what about the Amorites? Who were they and just what was their wrongdoing? Though perhaps the more numerous and powerful, the Amorites were just one of several people groups occupying the land of Canaan, including the Kenites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perrizites, Jebusites and others. In many instances, these groups were themselves subdivided geographically. These various tribes descended primarily from Noah through his grandson Canaan; they shared a common ancestry and a common heathen culture: idol worship to start with, and then incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality and bestiality. These sins of the Canaanites are listed in Leviticus, followed by the directive: Defile not yourselves in any of these things, for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. (Leviticus 18:24-25) (For all these abominations have the men of the land done which were before you.) (Leviticus 18:27) Note here that the word nations is plural. Not only were the Amorites to be ousted from the promised land, but the other sinful “ite” nations as well.

God continued to lead Abram, eventually changing his name to Abraham and establishing the covenant of circumcision with him. In time Isaac, the promised “seed” was born to Abraham and Sarah, and through Isaac’s son Jacob sprang the twelve tribes of Israel. It is worth mentioning here that Abraham had additional children after Sarah died some years later. He also had a son Ishmael, older than Isaac, whose mother was Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden. Ishmael is considered to be the progenitor of the Arabic peoples. If you need a brush up on Abraham, you could check out my first article in this series — The Hebrews: From the Call of Abraham to the Passover.

It is now the fourth generation. The years of affliction are now finished. Moses has led the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt to freedom at the border of Canaan. Now under the leadership of Joshua, they have begun to lay claim to their inheritance. The Lord has enabled them to supernaturally defeat the fortified city of Jericho and take the smaller fortification of Ai. It is time for the restating of the covenant between God and the children of Abraham. This occasion has been ordained ahead of time by Moses who directed that when the Hebrews had entered their promised land an altar should be erected at Mt. Ebal whereon were to be written the words of the law (commandments). Ceremonies at Mt. Ebal were to include burnt offerings and peace offerings, with the people eating and rejoicing before the Lord. Joshua and the Levites were charged with reiterating, in the hearing of all the people, the commandments, and their attendant blessings and curses.

View from Mt. Ebal by “someone35″/Wikimedia Commons

Now, obeying the directive of Moses, Joshua leads that vast throng from their camp at Gilgal northward through the Jordan valley to Shechem — that same hallowed ground where, centuries ago, the voice of God echoed in the ears of Abraham, Unto thy seed will I give this land. (Genesis 12:7) Oh, the significance of that day! It is fair to estimate that well over a million descendants of Abraham assembled there at that natural amphitheater, half under the slopes of Gerazim, the mount of blessing, and half at Mt. Ebal, the mountain of cursing. If we listen with our hearts we can almost hear the words of Joshua ringing out from Mt. Gerazim . . .  if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy ground. (Deuteronomy 28:2-4) and then, as the Levites lift up their voices, the curses. (Deuteronomy 27:14) But . . .  if thou wilt not hearken . . . cursed shalt thou be. . .(Deuteronomy 28:15) And at the end all the people said “Amen.”

The conquest of the land of Canaan had begun even before the crossing of he Jordan, when two Amorite kings of the east, Sihon and Og, were defeated. Their lands were awarded by Moses to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh, on condition that these tribes aid the others in subduing Canaan. The cities of Jericho and Ai have been taken. Now, however, there slips a sour note into the Hebrews’ songs of victory. The nearby Hittites of Gibeon, having heard of the invincibility of the armies of Israel are terrified. They send to the Hebrews’ encampment an entourage pretending to be foreigners desiring a league of peace, which the Hebrews unwittingly agreed to. The Bible says they asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. (Joshua 9:14) Uh oh! Not a good idea, not then, not now. In a matter of days the “foreigners” were found to be Hittites, people whom the Lord had said should be wiped out, but now it was too late, for the Hebrews had sworn by the Lord God in their agreement of peace with these people. The lives of the Gibeonites were spared; however, the Israelites reduced them to servanthood, requiring them to be their woodcutters and water drawers.

Not long after that a coalition of Amorite nations attacked Gibeon for their involvement with Israel and Gibeon sent to Joshua for help. Joshua and the armies of Israel responded quickly and a fierce battle ensued. During that battle Joshua spoke to the Lord and the Bible says the Lord hearkened. For about a whole day, the sun stood still and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves. (Joshua 10:13) If you find that too fantastic to be true, you can find any number of writings to support that, including arguments there was an eclipse that day. This sounds plausible, until one reads in verse 12 that the sun was in Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, which, as almost everyone knows, is hardly an alignment for an eclipse!

So let’s consider. If the sun stood still in Canaan, it must have stood still everywhere. Right? Are there non-biblical reports of that happening? Yes, there are. Here is an excerpt from an article by Richard Riss, published by believersweb.org that sheds lots of light on this supernatural event:

In 1940, Harry Rimmer summarized these traditions as follows:

In the ancient Chinese writings there is a legend of a long dayThe Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico have a like record, and there is a Babylonian and a Persian legend of a day that was miraculously extended. Another section of China contributes an account of the day that was miraculously prolonged, in the reign of Emperor Yeo. Herodotus recounts that the priests of Egypt showed him their temple records, and that there he read a strange account of a day that was twice the natural length.

Rimmer concludes this section with a lengthy quotation from the Polynesian account of this event.

In 1950 Immanuel Velikovsky came out with his controversial book, Worlds in Collision, based on the premise that the account of the long day in Joshua is accurate, accounting for many other unsolved scientific mysteries. In support of his premise, he also refers to the ancient traditions of a long day.

You can read Harry Rimmer’s wonderful little book of 32 pages – Modern Science and the Long Day of Joshua – on the internet. Search for the book by name at archive.org. Used copies of Velikovsky’s book are available from online booksellers.

There is no doubt Joshua’s campaign against the inhabitants of Canaan was vicious. The Lord strictly instructed the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites and their culture in Deuteronomy Chapter 7. When the Lord shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and has cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perrizites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them and wholly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. (Deuteronomy 7:1-2)

Remember, these Canaanite people are idol worshippers. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee. (Exodus 23:33) Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break down their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. (Deuteronomy 12:2-3) God’s people are to worship him only. (Exodus 20:3)

Within an estimated five to seven years of fighting a sizable portion of Canaan was under Israelite control. The Bible lists a total of 31 kings west of the Jordan who had been defeated by then. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh were allowed to return to their land east of Jordan, having fulfilled their pledge to aid their brethren. The land west of Jordan was allotted by portion to the other tribes. Many Canaanites remained in the land and the western tribes were charged to take possession of their portions and to drive out the heathen inhabitants. The Lord had said I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. (Exodus 23:28-30) Chapters 13 through 17 of Joshua mention some of the Canaanite peoples who were not dispossessed at that writing, including: the Geshurites and Maacathites, the Jebusites at Jerusalem, the inhabitants of Gezer, and others, though some of these peoples were eventually put under tribute. The first two chapters of Judges lists some of the Israelites’ successes and failures in subduing the land.

As long as Joshua lived he was leader of the Israelites. He was around 90 years old when his initial campaign drew to a close and the tribes were assigned their lands. Joshua would live about 20 more years. Not much is recorded in scripture of that time period. However, the ferocity of the Hebrews’ campaign to make Canaan their own is apparently attested to in an extra-biblical source, the Amarna letters. This collection of clay tablets was discovered in the nineteenth century in Egypt. Among other things, these tablets contain letters from vassal Canaanite city states to the Pharaoh asking for help defending against the “Habiri”. One of these letters is from Er-Heba, the ruler of Jerusalem, who fears his land will fall to these invaders. The Amarna documents depict the Habiri as a ruthless and rebellious people. https://www.israel-a-history-of.com/amarna-letters.html. That should not be surprising to us, for after all, they were under orders. (See Deuteronomy Chapter 7.)

Toward the end of his life Joshua again called all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem, including the elders, the heads of houses, their judges and officers. At that assembly he reiterated the events of their history. Beginning with Abraham, and continuing through Isaac, Jacob and Esau, and Moses and Aaron, he named their ancestors and spoke of the miraculous help of the Lord . . . about the plagues he put upon the Egyptians and their mighty deliverance from the hand of Pharaoh, how he had fought their battles and provided for them . . . a land for which you did not labor, cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat. (Joshua 24:13) He warned the people against forsaking the Lord and serving strange gods, and they agreed they would serve the Lord. We read that Joshua made a covenant with the people that day. Then he took a great stone and set it up and said, Behold this stone shall be a witness unto us for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall therefore be a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. (Joshua 24:27) Should we doubt that stones can hear? The whole of creation is silent witness to what we are, or are not.

So, Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance. And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. (Joshua 24:29)

Today Israel possesses only a part of their original promised land. The Canaanites were never totally driven out; but again, many of the promises of God to the Hebrews were conditional upon the obedience of the Hebrews to God’s instructions. It would be three to four hundred years before the Jebusites at Jerusalem would yield their stronghold to David, and another generation before the magnificent temple of Solomon would be built there.

Joseph’s Tomb – public domain

The last chapter of the book of Joshua records that the bones of Joseph which were brought up from Egypt were buried at Shechem, in a parcel of ground Jacob his father had bought during his sojourn there. Here is a photo of Joseph’s tomb in the early 1900’s.

 

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My belief that the rapture or “catching away” of the born again believers in Jesus will occur at the end of this age, rather than at the beginning of the tribulation period or at some other time during the reign of the antichrist is based on three sections of the Bible.

First: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Here are the words of Paul describing the rapture. Note that the dead in Christ rise and then the living believers rise. Note that Paul says we will ever be with the Lord.

Second: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5.

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, or by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Paul here is reiterating that when he was with the people at the church at Thessalonica that he told them Christ would not come and gather them unto himself until after the man of sin would be revealed.

From the description of the man of sin, he is the antichrist.

So, from this it can be deduced that the antichrist is coming before Jesus comes to gather the church to himself.

Third: Revelation 19: 6-21 followed by Revelation 20:1-6.

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

In Revelation 19 we are told about the marriage supper of the Lamb which is about to occur. Then we are given a glimpse of Jesus in the final battle against his enemies.

The narrative continues with Revelation 20: 

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Here we see that after the devil is bound and cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years those individuals who were martyrs for the witness of Jesus are going to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. Here it is stated: This is the first resurrection. 

The summation is: First we are told there is going to be a rapture of believers, dead and living. Next we are told it will be after the antichrist is revealed. Then we are told that the FIRST resurrection includes the martyrs who refused to take the mark of the beast during the tribulation. 

No other resurrection besides this FIRST resurrection is mentioned in the Bible. All we are told is that there is a second death, and we can surmise from Revelation 20:5 that it is for the rest of the dead who do not live again until the thousand years are finished.

I base my belief on the fact that there is only one resurrection, the FIRST. That one resurrection must include the dead and living born again believers, including the martyrs from all time.Thus it must be at the end as set forth in Revelation 19 and 20.

What I have set forth here is my opinion. There are lots of opinions. But there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ. He said very plainly I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. (John 14:6) There are going to be differences of opinion as long as we are on this planet. But when we leave this planet, we need to know one thing: Jesus. We need to know him personally, by experience. To know about him will never be enough. Seek him with your whole heart and you will find him. I did.

 

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Hills of Gilead, territory east of Jordan chosen by tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh

As the Hebrews continued toward the border of their promised land they fought and subdued the people who occupied the land where they were traveling. As a result a large part of what is now Jordan became the territory of the tribes of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh. Moses allowed those tribes to have their inheritance there in exchange for their promise to assist the other tribes in subduing the occupants of the land on the other side (west) of the Jordan river.

Prior to their entering into the promised land Moses spent time teaching the people and giving the law. He wanted them to thrive in the land of their inheritance, and to do so they would have to obey God and adhere to his instructions. For, as they had seen, strict adherence to the Ten Commandments was the only thing that satisfied God. In Deuteronomy is recorded the word of God given to the Israelites before their entry into their land. Basically he told them they would be blessed if they obeyed God and they would be cursed if they didn’t. The word is quite extensive and specific. Here is some of it:

….if thou shalt hearken…. to do all his commandments….God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:…Blessed shalt thou be in the city and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body…the fruit of thy ground;;;;the fruit of thy cattle…Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies…to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways……And the Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail….But it shall come to pass, if thou shall not hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shall thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke….The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land….The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far…..And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates…..and thou shalt eat the….. flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters…in the siege. (from Deuteronomy 28:1-53)

Friends, if you think this is gross, you need to know that it really came to pass eventually, for the Hebrews, the Israelites, the chosen people of God turned their backs on him. Their blessings went away and the curses came upon them, exactly as said.  Jeremiah records: They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger:….the hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people. (Lamentations 4:9-10)

Further, the Lord told them: And ye shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude….And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people…And among these nations shalt thou find no ease….(Deuteronomy 28: 62,64-65) And so it has been. The Jews have been scattered over the face of the planet, and continue to be persecuted. Anti Semitism is everywhere, even in the U.S.

But, God is not finished with his people the Hebrews: And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations. But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him…When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God…he will not forsake, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. (Deuteronomy 4:27,29-31)

Repentance was the key to restoring the Israelites to right relationship with God. It still is, not only for Israel, but for us who are not Israel. God is not mean, but his laws can not be set aside or ignored, for there are consequences for sin. He has provided the way for us all, through Jesus, to be forgiven and set on the right path, toward heaven, and not toward hell.

As the people drew near to Canaan, the promised land, the time came for Moses to die. The Bible tells us his eye was not dim, nor his strength abated. But God had already told him he would not go in, due to an incident in the wilderness where he had struck a rock for water instead of speaking to it as God had told him to do. Just one example of the immutability of the laws of God.

View From Mt. Nebo/Wikimedia Commons/Vyacheslav Argenberg

Moses’ brother Aaron and sister Miriam had already died. Joshua, one of the twelve original scouts who spied out the land of Canaan 40 years earlier had been named leader in Moses’ place. As God had said, only Joshua and Caleb remained of those twelve. God led Moses to the top of a high mountain (Nebo, Pisgah) where he could see the promised land stretched out before him, all the way to the Mediterranean sea. There he died and the Bible says God buried him in a nearby valley, but no one knows where.

After that God told Joshua to proceed into the promised land. They were encamped on the east side of the Jordan River. Just across the river lay the  Canaanite city of Jericho and their land. At this point you need to know that although God had promised to give the Hebrews the promised land, He did not mean it was to be handed to them on a silver platter. Indeed, they were to go in and take possession of it, by force.

Right away Joshua sent two spies into Jericho. Immediately they encountered Rahab, a harlot, who made them a bargain. She hid them from the officers of Jericho who, having discovered the two spies were in town, came seeking them. In exchange she extracted from the spies a promise that when the Hebrews attacked Jericho, she and her household would be saved. Rahab’s house was built into the city wall, and from a window of her house she let the spies down to the outside with a scarlet rope. She bound the scarlet rope in the window as a signal to the Israelites that her household was to be saved.

In a few days the children of Israel made ready to cross over Jordan. The Ark of the Covenant, borne by the priests, went before. As soon as the priests’ feet touched the waters of the river, the waters congealed into a heap and flowed no more until the last person had crossed over on dry ground. The first order of business after that was the circumcision of all the males who had not been circumcised. Those who had come out of Egypt were circumcised already, but those who were born after that had not been circumcised. Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with his people.

They celebrated Passover while camped at Gilgal in the plains of Jericho. The day after the Passover they ate corn from the promised land. Then, after forty years, the manna ceased and after that they ate the produce of the land of Canaan.

Next on the agenda was Jericho, their first battle in Canaan land. The city of Jericho was pretty impregnable. The walls were around six feet thick and somewhere between twelve and seventeen feet high. and at this point the gates are barred; no one is going in or out. What to do? The Angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua and gave him the strategy for defeating Jericho.

Once a day for six days the army of Israel in complete silence, with no one speaking a word, walked in a circle around Jericho, the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant. The only sound to be heard was the fall of their feet and the wail of seven ram’s horns, blown by seven priests. Don’t you know the people in Jericho crouched in fear at the sound of those trumpets, and wondered what was going to happen next?

Old image in primitive style showing Jericho compassed by soldiers blowing horns, while Rahab lets the spies down from her window/Wikimedia Commons

On the seventh day they marched around the walls of Jericho, again in silence, not once, but six times and then one more. The people had been instructed that on the seventh go around they were to break their silence and shout when the priests began to blow 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. (Joshua 6:20)

Rahab the harlot, who bound the scarlet rope in her window, was saved, along with her entire family. You will find her in the lineage of King David and Jesus our Lord. Bible Gateway.com has an interesting article about her.

We have only scratched the surface of the marvelous story of God’s interactions with his people, the  descendants of Abraham. It is a never ending supernatural saga that will capture your heart and your interest once you begin to delve into the rich treasures so readily available to us today–the ages old scriptures, historical references, and current events. What God began with Abraham is coming to fruition right before our eyes. Pay attention.

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1641 map of the wanderings in the wilderness/Educ. Center, National Library of Israel

Hardly anything is known about the 40 years the Hebrews (Israelites) were wandering in the wilderness. Recent archaeogical finds give some idea of where they were for part of that time, but there are few writings that tell us yes, so and so happened right here. Only toward the end of their 40 years of wandering do we get much detail about places and connected events. Here is a wonderful old map that you can click on and enlarge. Unfortunately it is not in English, and it might or might not be accurate. But it is very beautiful, and you probably can identify some of the places.

Last time we looked at the disaster instigated by Korah.  Somewhat south of the Red Sea crossing there was actually a place named Korah. Admittedly Korah is a fairly common name in the middle east. However, besides Korah, other Jewish place names were recently found on an ancient map of Saudi Arabia. These Jewish place names appear outside the boundaries of what we thought was the route of the Hebrews’ wanderings. I believe the Bible gives us a hint. When God was discussing with Moses the 40 year penalty he said to Moses: Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. (Numbers 14:25) He was sending them back in the direction they had come, toward the Red Sea and the country of Arabia. A couple of chapters later the Korah incident is recorded. Were the children of Israel that far into Arabia when this took place? We can only guess for real information is scarce. An American couple, Jim and Penny Caldwell, did a lot of exploring in Saudi Arabia some years ago and their findings shed some light on the Hebrews and their experiences in the Arabian desert. You can find them on You Tube.  Forty years, during which Moses and the Hebrew children had to be somewhere…. Some folks would have us think they walked round and round Mt. Seir for 40 years………that is really difficult for me to believe.

There is an interesting incident recorded in Numbers very soon after the command to go by way of the Red Sea and that is the attack by the fiery serpents. Again, the group was complaining of hardship and wishing they had never come to this land. The text says God sent fiery serpents among them and the serpents bit them and they died. Moses prayed for the people and God gave him the remedy: make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole. Whoever is bitten will be healed upon looking at the brazen serpent on the pole. Here is an illustration of the Greek rod of Asclepius,  the god of medicine and healing. Where do you think the Greeks got their symbol? Where were the fiery serpents? Probably near the head of the Gulf of Acaba (the Red Sea). Poisonous snakes bearing red spots have been found there.

Rembrant painting of Balaam and his donkey/Wikipedia

Toward the end of their 40 year exile the record becomes clearer and we find Moses in the land of Moab. Balak the king of Moab had heard of the Israelites (Hebrews) and feared them so he sent his friends the Midianites, with a goodly amount of money, to fetch the prophet Balaam to prophesy (the modern equivalent of casting a spell) against the Hebrews. (Besides the Midian in Saudi Arabia, there was  a territory of Midian east of the Jordan river.)

Balaam bid the Midianites to stay overnight, saying he would let them know in the morning what he would do. That night the Lord spoke to Balaam and told him not to go and not to curse Israel because he (God) had blessed them. The next morning Balaam told his visitors he would not go with them so they went back alone.

But King Balak was undaunted. Soon he sent men more honorable than the first to persuade Balaam to come and curse the Hebrews. Balaam told these that if the king gave his house full of silver and gold he could not say more than the Lord allowed him to say. That night the Lord told Balaam that if the men came for him to rise up and go with them. Nevertheless, he was to prophesy only that which the Lord gave him.

The next thing we know is that Balaam has saddled his donkey as is on his way. Did Balaam set out before the men came for him? We don’t know, but we do know the Lord was angry about something because he sent an angel (the Angel of the Lord) to stop Balaam in the way. The little donkey saw the angel and began behaving strangely and finally refused to go another step, though Balaam beat her. Then the donkey spoke to Balaam and asked him why he had beaten her and had she not always been obedient before. When she said this Balaam realized something was amis. His eyes were then opened to see the Angel of the Lord, with a great sword drawn, who said to him, “If your donkey hadn’t turned from me three times, by now I would have killed you!” (Numbers 22:33 paraphrase) Balaam was about to go back home, but the Angel told him to go, but to speak only what he Lord told him to say.

When Balaam arrived in Moab King Balak was ready for him. He took him to one of the high places of Baal (a false god) where the camp of the Hebrews could be seen below. There Balak the king offered seven sacrifices to God, after which Balaam withdrew to see what God would speak to him. When Balaam returned he gave the word that God had given him:

Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him……. Who can count the dust of Jacob? and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! (Numbers 23:7-10)

King Balak was not very pleased of course, for Balaam had only spoken favorably concerning the Hebrews, but he did not give up. He wanted Balaam to go to another place, where only a small portion of the Hebrews could be seen. There, he reasoned to himself, Balaam might be more amenable to cursing them. There he offered his seven sacrifices, and the Lord gave Balaam another word of blessing upon the Israelites.

The king was very frustrated by now, but he figured it was worth another try, so they did it again at another place, with the same results. King Balak was quite angry by this time, but Balaam stood his ground, explaining that from the beginning he had told him that he could say only what the Lord allowed him to say, and “furthermore,” he said, “let me tell you what the Lord says these people (the Hebrews/Israelites) will do to your people in the latter days.” (Numbers 24:14 paraphrase)

Balaam the son of Beor……which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see him but not now: I shall behold him but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth…. (Numbers 24:15-17)

The Star and the Sceptre pertain to Jesus, the Messiah, and events in connection with his return in the latter days (which days we are in presently.)

After this Balaam went back home and the Hebrews continued their encampment. Balaam had done what the Lord told him. He had given the word exactly as it was given to him. But, Balaam goes down in history as a false prophet. Why? if he was obedient to do what God told him? The best answer is given in Revelation 2 where is recorded the letter that Jesus dictated to John to be sent to the church at Pergamos.

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14)

Balaam was not able to curse Israel, but he was aware that their blessings stemmed from their obedience to God. Though from time to time there had been much disobedience, Moses had always reined in the troublemakers and meted out discipline. The thing that Balaam did was to suggest to King Balak that if he could get Israel to sin and become disobedient to God, then Israel’s blessings would cease and trouble would come upon them.

Stele of the god Baal. Note the horns/Wikipedia

Soon enough this very thing happened. The people of Israel began to join the people of Moab in the worship of Baal and began commiting  whoredoms with the daughters of Moab. No doubt King Balak was behind this. We already know the Hebrews could be drawn into sin with very little provocation. It probably wasn’t too hard for the Moabite women to entice the men of Israel to participate in their heathen rituals in honor of their god Baal. In retaliation for this God sent a plague on the Hebrew people. Then one of the Hebrew men had the nerve to bring a Midianite (Moabite) woman into the camp. The two were promptly killed and that ended the plague. Altogether 24,000 people died as a result of this disobedience.

There is too much left of the story of the Hebrews’ journey to the promised land to finish here.  We are up into the region of present day Jordan now. One more post and we will be into the promised land!

 

 

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Wilderness of Paran

In the second year after their exodus from Egypt the Lord lifted the pillar of cloud from Sinai where the Hebrews (Israelites) had long been encamped and led them north toward the wilderness of Paran. Paran was the area where Ishmael the son of Abraham by the servant woman had settled about four hundred years earlier. Their journey was in a very orderly fashion, tribe by tribe in their procession, with those whose duty it was carrying the ark of the covenant with staves thrust through rings attached to the ark. Photo credit http://BiblePlaces.com

The people began to complain as they had done before and God sent a fire among them and consumed some of them until Moses interceded for them. But before long the complaining began again, instigated to some extent it appears by the strangers (non-Jewish people) who were traveling with them. Some of the Egyptians, having witnessed the miracles that God worked through Moses left town when the Hebrews did and were accepted by the Hebrews. These people were called the “mixed multitude.” The Bible says the mixed multitude fell a lusting and the Hebrews joined them complaining that they missed the fare of Egypt, the cucumbers, melons, onions, garlic, and that they had nothing to eat but manna. God sent a passel of quails, so many that they were in great piles, enough to eat for a whole month. But at the same time His wrath was kindled against them and he smote them with a great plague so that a number died. The Bible says they buried the people that lusted.  (Numbers 11:34)

Kadesh “I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.” Numbers 32:8. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority

As they drew near the promised land of Canaan the Lord spoke to Moses to send out a secret scouting expedition to spy out the land, to determine what sort of country it was and what people lived there. Twelve spies were sent and were gone for 40 days, and when they returned they brought back a cluster of grapes so large it had to be carried by two people on a pole between them. The land was indeed a good land they said, but there was no way they could take it for the inhabitants of it were men of great stature, and not only that, there were fierce giants among them before whom the Hebrews were as grasshoppers. Only two of the twelve spies (Joshua and Caleb) offered any hope for overcoming the inhabitants and taking the land. Caleb wanted to go up at once and possess the land, for we are well able to overcome it. (Numbers 13:30)

But the people believed the word of the majority and wept and blamed God for bringing them into the wilderness only to send them out to be defeated in battle with the Canaanites. They didn’t believe God would help them take the land so they decided to appoint themselves a captain and return to Egypt and slavery, a plan which came to naught. Joshua did his best to assure them that God would fight their battles for them, but the people did not believe him and were about to stone him to death. Meanwhile God got mad and told Moses he was going to disinherit the Hebrews and start over with Moses. Moses told God that wouldn’t be a good idea, for the Egyptians would hear of it and say that God was not able to fulfill his promise of bringing the Hebrews into their promised land. So God backed off from that plan and settled on another:

Instead of enjoying all the benefits of Canaan that God intended to give them, the Hebrews would be destined to wander in the wilderness (deserts) one year for every day the spies were inspecting Canaan. As for the ten spies who had returned with the evil report concerning the inhabitants of Canaan, and who could not be convinced that God would give them victory in battle, they died immediately of a plague from the Lord. During the ensuing 40 years of wandering those who murmured in unbelief would die, for they had said, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us into this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? (Numbers 14:2-3)

God spoke to Moses and Aaron and told them I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel…say unto them…your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, from 20 years old and upward which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh  and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. (Numbers 14:27, 29-31)

Oh, oh, oh, what a pronouncement. What a price to pay! They would get what they said, they would die in the wilderness, never to see the promised land.  Watch what comes out of your mouth. The spoken word has power.

The morning after these disastrous events the pillar of cloud lifted and God led the Hebrews back into the wilderness by the way of the Red. Sea. It would be 40 years before they would be back to the promised land.

People read these stories in the Old Testament and they see this strict and judgmental side of God and think he is unfair, or cruel. You have heard about folks who have a method in their madness. They do something that looks stupid or wrong, but when it is all said and done you can see those actions that did not make sense accomplished a purpose in the end. God is like that. First of all, God is just. It is his justice that holds the universe in place. We don’t understand what he does because we do not see what he sees, or know what he knows.

You might think it is unfair of God to give the land of Canaan to the Hebrews, when it was already owned by another people. But, who were the inhabitants of Canaan? How did they happen to be there? Why did God intend to destroy them?  He had a reason. As a matter of fact he had more than one reason. I am not going to tell you the reasons, for that is another subject altogether. But, you can find out if you want to. And then you will begin to appreciate the God of the Old Testament.

An illustration of the garments of the high priest, from Leviticus chapter 8/Wikimedia Commons

Not all the adventures of Moses and the Hebrew children can be covered in this short space. Already it has drawn into three sections and will go to four, but now there is one more important incident to know about. Some of the people  began to resent Moses’ leadership, and led by Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On they began to declare presumptuously that they were just as important as Moses and Aaron. Moses fell on his face before God when he heard this, and when he got up he put the dissenters, 250 people, to a test. Korah, the leader of this faction was of the lineage of Levi, as was Moses and Aaron, and already was in a high position of ministry. Moses asked Korah if he was not satisfied being chosen as a minister of God, and accused him of seeking the priesthood also.

Then Dathan and Abiram accused Moses of trying to be a prince over them and blamed him because they did not get to enter the promised land, when in fact it was their own fault because they would not join Joshua and Caleb and fight the inhabitants of Canaan for the land. Moses told Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their whole company to each bring a censer and incense and fire tomorrow. The next day the whole congregation of the Hebrews was there to watch as all 250 dissenters lit their censers at the door of the tabernacle. The glory of God appeared, but God was very angry and told Moses and Aaron to step aside, he was going to kill the whole bunch including the spectators. Again Moses interceded for the people and God relented somewhat.

In the end the entire households of Korah, Dathan and Abiram were called out and the ground opened up beneath them and swallowed them alive. In another location we are told Korah’s children did not die; presumably the other children involved did not. And then a fire from the Lord consumed the 250 dissenters.

All you people out there who think God is a wimp because you are getting by, don’t be fooled. He is not a wimp, but he is not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9) The Hebrews exhausted his patience. Don’t let that be you.

 

 

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The Hebrews and the Pillar of Cloud by Phillip De Vere/Wikimedia Commons

The Bible is the greatest book ever written, thousands of years old, yet fresh and alive as the morning news. Indeed some of it is the morning news right now. The land of the Hebrews (Israel) is always a hot topic any day. When God called Abraham he made him a promise that his offspring would be innumerable, and that all nations through him would be blessed. Well, what is that blessing that God promised? Jesus, God in the flesh, and the things that pertain to Jesus. The innumerable offspring: the Jews. And in the future? Food – Israel is right now producing some of the best citrus to be had anywhere. Oil – a deposit of oil estimated at seven million barrels near the Dead Sea and within the boundaries of Israel was in the news in 2016. There is also oil in the Golan Heights. Who knows what may yet be discovered. God said it was a good land, flowing with milk and honey was the way it was described. His word is true, right down to the last jot and tittle.

Nowadays almost everyone believes in the supernatural – spirits, ghosts, extra-terrestrials, bigfoot, angels, demons, fairies – the list could get to be quite long. But those same people have difficulty believing that the father of Jesus was not Joseph, but God himself. And that Mary was a virgin until she gave birth to the son of God. The Gospel of Matthew gives two geneaologies for Jesus. One comes down to Joseph, who was the legal father; the other comes down to Mary, the mother. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham. He is the redeemer promised to fallen man, exiles from the garden of Eden, and to their posterity. Jesus is/was a Jew, a Hebrew.

When God announced the tenth plague – the death of the firstborn – the Hebrews were instructed to kill an unblemished lamb and to apply its blood to the doors of their houses. By so doing they were to be spared and none of their firstborn would die when God passed through the land on that fateful night. The lamb was to be eaten that evening and its remains burned in the fire. Here is the origin of the Jewish Passover. Here also is a picture of Christ, bleeding on the cross, the sinless lamb, sacrificed that we might live and not die.

But, like the Hebrews, we must eat the lamb. People get offended when they hear that. Some of Jesus’ disciples left him when he said they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Of course, he did not mean that literally. Just goes to show you how shallow their thinking was. Jesus meant they must commune with him, stay with him long enough to learn something, become educated in the ways of God. If you love him you will want to do that.

Moses was their leader, but it was God who led the Hebrews on their journey to the promised land. They followed a supernatural pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire by night. When these moved the people followed; and when they stayed, the people stayed. Their first camp was at Succoth. From there God led them through the wilderness to the Red Sea. Meanwhile, Pharoah had changed his mind again, and the Egyptians set out in pursuit of the Hebrews. They hemmed them in at the edge of the Red Sea, but then God moved the supernatural cloud between the Hebrews and their pursuers while he opened the Red Sea with a strong wind. Through a trough between the waters the Hebrews passed to the other side. And just in time, for the Egyptians followed close on them in the trough of dry ground. When the last of the Hebrews had crossed God quickly closed the waters and drowned the entire army of the Egyptians.

These posts would be way too long if we covered all the things that the Bible tells us about what happened to the Hebrews and what they did and how they lived. It is a fascinating story recorded in the first five books of the Bible. Basically, God paved the way for these his chosen people. He provided food for their journey which he spread upon the ground every day but the Sabbath for forty years. He provided water in the desert, first by cleansing the bitter waters at Marah and soon afterwards by bringing forth water from a rock at Horeb when there was no water for the people at their camp at Rephidim. When the Amalekites attacked them at Rephidim they were defeated with supernatural help from God. Moses stood on a mountain overlooking the battle and as long as he held up his hands the Hebrews prevailed, but when he let them down the Amalekites prevailed. When Moses grew too tired to hold up his hands, Aaron and Hur held them up and at the end of the day the Amalekites were defeated. The Biblical record shows that during the entirety of their journey their clothes and shoes did wear out. In short, God provided for their needs. Their wants got them into trouble with God, as we shall see.

Sinai

Three months into their journey, the Hebrews were encamped on the east side of Mt. Sinai, the place where the ten commandments were given. God told Moses to tell the people to keep away and to keep their cattle away from the mountain. Then God came down upon the top of Mt. Sinai in a fire and smoke, lightning and thunder. The sound of a trumpet was heard and the mountain shook and trembled. The people were very fearful and said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (Exodus 20:19) Moses calmed their fears, then he left them and went up on the mountain with God. The top of this mountain (Jabel el Laws in Saudi Arabia) is blackened from burning to this day.

Regarding Mt. Sinai, the traditional site at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Egyptian peninsula (also named Sinai)  looses all credibility, when compared to recent historic and archaelogical findings at Jabel el laws in Saudi Arabia.

The Hebrew people were slow learners, so much so that today we just shake our heads at the things they did and wonder how they could be so dumb, and how they underestimated God. This is still happening today, and not just among the Jews. While Moses was up on the mountain with God he left Aaron, his brother and second in command, in charge of things. Days drew into weeks, and the Hebrews got restless. They decided Moses wasn’t coming back and they could do as they pleased. In short order they had enlisted Aaron’s help in making unto themselves a golden calf which they worshipped and frolicked around naked. The Bible doesn’t say what else they did, as they addressed the golden calf saying, These be the gods that brought us up from Egypt. (Exodus 32: 8 paraphrased)  They picked the wrong time for their party, because as they were singing and dancing around the image of the calf, Moses returned from 40 days of communing with God. Uh oh!

In his great anger Moses cast down and broke two stone tablets he was carrying whereon God had written the ten commandments. His people had already broken the first commandment worshiping an image! When Moses confronted Aaron about it, Aaron gave the lamest excuse possible saying, Now, don’t get mad. You know these people are always into mischief. You were gone so long they didn’t think you were ever coming back so they asked me to make gods to lead them. They gave me their gold jewelry and I threw it into the fire and out came this calf. (Exodus 32:22-24 paraphrased) At Moses’ commandment, more than 3,000 men were killed that day for the sin of idol worship. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Aaron’s punishment was, or if he was punished separately at that time, or at all. Moses said later on that he prayed for Aaron at that time. So, lest we presume to read the Almighty’s thoughts and to know his motives let us forebear to criticize him. For he is just to the nth degree. He simply doesn’t tell us everything. The Bible says the Lord plagued the people for this sin. He threatened to “consume” them, but Moses interceded for them and God relented in his judgement.

Model of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness in Timna Valley Park, Israel/Wikipedia

The Hebrews camped in Sinai about a year before continuing on to the promised land. At Sinai God gave Moses laws and regulations covering almost every aspect of living, right down to cleanliness and food preparation. He also gave him detailed plans for a portable temple, including all the furnishings and instruments for sacrifice and worship, including the ark of the covenant, which was a large box overlaid and decorated with gold. This portable temple is spoken of today as the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. This was not a simple tent; it was a work of art and craftsmanship, as anyone who has read the book of Exodus can tell you. When it was completed and set up the pillar of cloud and fire came and rested upon it thereafter.

Eventually the pillar of cloud lifted and the Hebrews continued their journey toward the promised land. One might wonder why it was taking so long for this trip. Going the short way one could get from Egypt to Canaan in about eleven days. God gave one of his reasons: he didn’t want the Hebrews to travel the short route because it led through the land of the Philistines. He believed they would become discouraged and return to Egypt since they would have to fight the Philistines. (Exodus 13:17) Well, many times, especially at the first when they were hungry or thirsty, they murmured and complained and wished out loud that they were back in Egypt. So, God was right in his assessment of them.

Next time we will travel to Kadesh, on the border of the promised land and find out what happened after that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Excavated ruins at Ur (in modern Iraq) believed to be the birthplace of Abraham

Moses is given credit for authoring the first five books of the Old Testament. These books cover the history of the Hebrew people, spanning from their earliest ancestor Adam, down through their experiences as slaves in Egypt, their exodus from Goshen, and their wanderings during the 40 years before they entered Canaan, the promised land. In actuality, the Hebrews as a people originate with Abraham, who with his father Terah and their households left their home in Ur of the Chaldees and settled in upper Mesopotamia at Haran. After the death of Terah, God spoke to Abraham and told him to leave Haran and to go where he (God) would send him. Abraham obeyed, taking his household and leaving his father and relatives behind. God led him from place to place, and during his wanderings Abraham received the promise from God that his posterity would become a great nation, and that through him all families of the earth would be blessed.

Abraham and his wife had no children and the wife was past the age of childbearing, so this was surely hard to believe, but Abraham had faith. He trusted God implicitly. His wife lacked the faith that her husband had. She knew she couldn’t have a child at her age, so she thought, “Well, I’ll just give my servant woman to my husband to have a son, and I’ll take her son for my own, and that way the plan of God can proceed.” This type of polygamous arrangement was common in those times; Abraham agreed; the servant woman did indeed bear a child, a son named Ishmael. The Muslims are descendants of Abraham and this servant woman. If that is shocking to you, look it up. It is a fact that Muslims claim descent from Abraham through Ishmael.

Eventually an entourage from heaven visited Abraham and Sara, and told them God’s promise was about to be fulfilled; they were going to have the son God had promised long ago. Sara, ever the skeptic, laughed at the idea. However, within a year Sara herself bore Isaac. Fast forward, and Isaac has two sons, twins: Esau, the firstborn and Jacob, the usurper.

Though Esau, being first, would normally have inherited at his father’s death the best of his father’s goods and his deathbed blessings, which carried tremendous import for good, Esau obtained neither. This was partly his fault, for in a rash moment he had earlier granted his birthright to his brother Jacob. It was partly Jacob’s doing since shortly before his father’s death, he disguised himself as Esau and tricked his blind and aged father into pronouncing upon him the blessing reserved for the firstborn.

Jacob eventually got it right, and God prospered him. He had twelve sons. One of these was Joseph whose eleven brothers for jealousy sold into slavery and then led their father to believe a wild animal had killed him. Joseph rose from slavery to become prime minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. During a time of famine, when there was no food in the land, Jacob sent some of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. There to their surprise they found Joseph and were reunited with him, who had already forgiven them. Due to the famine, Jacob and his entire household, flocks, goods, and everything relocated to the land of Goshen in Egypt. Because of Joseph’s high position they were treated very well by the Egyptians.

For four hundred years the sons of Jacob lived in Egypt. The favor they had known gradually eroded away as new rulers took their places. Time came when Joseph was forgotten, and the Hebrews began to be hated. They eventually became slaves and were treated very harshly by the Egyptians who apparently believed subjugation was the preventive for insurrection. The Egyptians felt threatened by the Hebrews, for they had multiplied to be a vast horde of individuals.

Moses and the Burning Bush–by Gebhard Fugel

 

The plight of the Hebrews did not go unnoticed by God. He brought up one of their own, Moses, to be their deliverer. Moses had been adopted by the Egyptians as an infant and raised in Pharaoh’s palace.  But he knew who he was, and eventually he took the side of his people. He killed an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew, and for that was forced to flee Egypt. He ended up in the land of Midian where he lived until he was eighty years old. He was out on the mountain tending sheep when God appeared to him by fire, in a bush that blazed but was not consumed.  There God commissioned the aging Moses to go down to Egypt and to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”

Moses and his brother Aaron went to Egypt as God directed and petitioned Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go free, but Pharaoh was not of a mind to do so. Over a period of time Moses continued to press Pharaoh for his people’s freedom, but repeatedly Pharaoh stubbornly rejected his pleas. In retaliation God struck the Egyptians with plagues ten times. The afflictions, increasing in intensity from first to tenth,  began when God had Aaron to raise his staff over the Nile River, turning it to blood for a week. The next was a plague of frogs which came up out of the river and overran the country. The women even found them in their bread bowls! Pharaoh was so distressed by the frogs that he begged Moses to send them away and promised to let the Hebrews go. The frogs had no sooner gone than Pharaoh changed his mind, as he was to do in several succeeding instances.

Lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, all were endured by the Egyptians while their Hebrew neighbors in Goshen were not affected. After the ninth plague, which consisted of three days of intense darkness in Egypt Pharaoh told Moses that if the Hebrews left behind their cattle, they could go. Moses refused to negotiate. It was now that God purposed to deal with the Egyptians with a heavy hand. The tenth and final plague would be the death of the firstborn of both people and cattle. This time the Hebrews had to do something to prevent the Lord from killing the firstborn in their households. An unblemished lamb was to be killed and its blood applied to the doorpost and lintel of each house, its flesh roasted and eaten and its bones and any uneaten portions burned in the fire. The blood on the doorposts was the sign for the Lord to pass over that house so the firstborn within would be spared. Here is the origin of the Jewish Passover.

The night of the tenth plague a great wailing was heard in Egypt as the firstborn in every Egyptian family had died. It has been suggested that perhaps some of the Egyptians escaped the tenth and final plague by following the instructions God had given the Hebrews. They certainly had seen the hand of God move nine times already and had noticed the Hebrews had not suffered from the plagues. Just a thought, someone else’s, that I am repeating.

During the night of the Lord’s pass over Pharaoh sent for Moses and told him to take his people and “Go!” This time he meant it, for the Egyptians now feared for their lives. Before the Hebrews departed the Egyptians gave them valuable articles of silver, gold, and clothing.

Route of the Exodus

The route of the exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt has been a controversial subject in the past because the route suggested by many scholars just did not match up with the Biblical narrative. Today, more than ever before, we are finding that the Biblical narrative, not just in the case of the exodus, but in every case, is accurate, and it is our perception that needs to be adjusted. We need just a bit more information, a little archaeological discovery, and the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. For an accurate description of the route the Hebrews took to the Red Sea crossing check out the fairly recent discoveries of Ron Wyatt. The evidence uncovered by Mr. Wyatt is astonishing and proves the Biblical narrative beyond doubt. Here is a map from the website: arkdiscovery.com where you can get additional information. This is Part One of what I expect will be a two part article.

 

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