the other Bethlehem

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the other Bethlehem

Joshua 19:10-16 (JDV)

Joshua 19:10 The third lot came up for Zebulun’s descendants by their clans. The territory of their inheritance stretched as far as Sarid;
Joshua 19:11 their border went up westward to Maralah, reached Dabbesheth, and met the brook east of Jokneam.
Joshua 19:12 From Sarid, it turned due east along the border of Chisloth-tabor, went to Daberath, and went up to Japhia.
Joshua 19:13 From there, it went due east to Gath-hepher and to Eth-kazin; it extended to Rimmon, curving around to Neah.
Joshua 19:14 The border then circled around Neah on the north to Hannathon and ended at Iphtah-el Valley,
Joshua 19:15 along with Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem – twelve cities, with their settlements.
Joshua 19:16 This was the inheritance of Zebulun’s descendants by their clans, these cities, with their settlements.

the other Bethlehem

The Bethlehem listed in verse 15 is not the Bethlehem in Judah’s territory (see Judges 17:7).

I heard recently of a company that produces nativity scenes for people to put on their lawns during Christmas, and that the company displays prominently that their product is “made in Bethlehem.” I don’t think that it is the “real” Bethlehem. But what matters is that our faith in Christ is authentic.

Coming King, make us the real deal. May people never doubt our authenticity.

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protecting those less blessed

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protecting those less blessed

Joshua 19:1-9 (JDV)

Joshua 19:1 The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of his descendants by their clans, but their inheritance was within the inheritance given to Judah’s descendants.
Joshua 19:2 Their inheritance included Beer-sheba (or Sheba), Moladah,
Joshua 19:3 Hazar-shual, Balah, Ezem,
Joshua 19:4 Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah,
Joshua 19:5 Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susah,
Joshua 19:6 Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen – thirteen cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 19:7 Ain, Rimmon, Ether, and Ashan – four cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 19:8 and all the settlements surrounding these cities as far as Baalath-beer (Ramah in the south). This was the inheritance of the tribe of Simeon’s descendants by their clans.
Joshua 19:9 The inheritance of Simeon’s descendants was within the territory of Judah’s descendants, because the share for Judah’s descendants was too large. So Simeon’s descendants received an inheritance within Judah’s portion.

protecting those less blessed

This appears to be another example of partnering for protection. Simeon’s small tribe was given a territory within the portion allotted to Judah. This enabled them to thrive under the protection of their brother tribe.

If the Lord blesses us, it is for the blessing and protection of those less blessed.

Coming King, show us how we can partner with others, for our protection, or theirs.

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partnering to protect

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partnering to protect

Joshua 18:11-28 (JDV)

Joshua 18:11 The lot came up for the tribe of Benjamin’s descendants by their clans, and their allotted territory lay between Judah’s descendants and Joseph’s descendants.
Joshua 18:12 Their border on the north side began at the Jordan, went up to the slope of Jericho on the north, through the hill country westward, and ended at the wilderness around Beth-aven.
Joshua 18:13 From there the border went toward Luz, to the southern slope of Luz (that is, Bethel); it then went down by Ataroth-addar, over the hill south of Lower Beth-horon.
Joshua 18:14 On the west side, from the hill facing Beth-horon on the south, the border curved, turning southward, and ended at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city of the descendants of Judah. This was the west side of their border.
Joshua 18:15 The south side began at the edge of Kiriath-jearim, and the border extended westward; it went to the spring at the Waters of Nephtoah.
Joshua 18:16 The border descended to the foot of the hill that faces Ben Hinnom Valley at the northern end of Rephaim Valley. It ran down Hinnom Valley toward the south Jebusite slope and went down to En-rogel.
Joshua 18:17 It curved northward and went to En-shemesh and on to Geliloth, which is opposite the Ascent of Adummim, and continued down to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben.
Joshua 18:18 Then it went north to the slope opposite the Arabah and proceeded into the plains.
Joshua 18:19 The border continued to the north slope of Beth-hoglah and ended at the northern bay of the Dead Sea, at the southern end of the Jordan. This was the southern border.
Joshua 18:20 The Jordan formed the border on the east side. This was the inheritance of Benjamin’s descendants, by their clans, according to its surrounding borders.
Joshua 18:21 These were the cities of the tribe of Benjamin’s descendants by their clans: Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz,
Joshua 18:22 Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel,
Joshua 18:23 Avvites, Parah, Ophrah,
Joshua 18:24 Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, and Geba– twelve cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 18:25 Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth,
Joshua 18:26 Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah,
Joshua 18:27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah,
Joshua 18:28 Zela, Haeleph, Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah, and Kiriath– fourteen cities, with their settlements. This was the inheritance for Benjamin’s descendants by their clans.

partnering to protect

What struck me as I read this is that the land which would eventually contain the holy city was allotted here to Benjamin. Apparently both Judah and Benjamin had responsibility for this land. It would take a powerful partnership to protect that place, that would become the nation’s capital.

Lord, show us how to partner for the protection and prosperity of the territory you call us to reach with the gospel.

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jump start

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jump start

Joshua 18:1-10 (JDV)

Joshua 18:1 The whole Israelite congregation assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land had been subdued before them,
Joshua 18:2 but seven tribes among the Israelites were left who had not divided up their inheritance.
Joshua 18:3 So Joshua asked the Israelites, “How long will you be lax about taking possession of the land that Yahveh, the God of your fathers, gave you?
Joshua 18:4 Appoint for yourselves three men from each tribe, and I will send them out. They are to go and survey the land, write a description of it for the purpose of their inheritance, and return to me.
Joshua 18:5 Then they are to divide it into seven portions. Judah is to remain in its territory in the south and Joseph’s family in their territory in the north.
Joshua 18:6 When you have written a description of the seven portions of land and brought it to me, I will cast lots for you here in front of Yahveh our God.
Joshua 18:7 But the Levites among you do not get a portion, because their inheritance is the priesthood of Yahveh. Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have taken their inheritance beyond the Jordan to the east, which Moses Yahveh’s servant gave them.”
Joshua 18:8 As the men prepared to go, Joshua commanded them to write down a description of the land, saying, “Go and survey the land, write a description of it, and return to me. I will then cast lots for you here in Shiloh in front of Yahveh.”
Joshua 18:9 So the men left, went through the land, and described it by towns in a document of seven sections. They returned to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh.
Joshua 18:10 Joshua cast lots for them at Shiloh in front of Yahveh where he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their divisions.

jump start

There were seven tribes that had not yet started occupying their land. Joshua had to jump start their work, because they seem to be just waiting for somebody else to do something.

Our witnessing for Christ can be like that also. We can wait for the people to come to us, or we can divide up the territory and begin occupying the land. We get nowhere by just waiting for someone else to do something.

Coming King, jump start our hearts. Lead us to the territory you wish to reclaim.

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keep trying

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keep trying

Joshua 17:14-18 (JDV)

Joshua 17:14 Joseph’s descendants said to Joshua, “Why did you give us only one tribal allotment as an inheritance? We have many people, because Yahveh has been blessing us greatly.”
Joshua 17:15 “If you have so many people,” Joshua replied to them, “go to the forest and clear an area for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, because Ephraim’s hill country is too small for you.”
Joshua 17:16 But the descendants of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who inhabit the valley area have iron chariots, both at Beth-shean with its surrounding villages and in the Jezreel Valley.”
Joshua 17:17 So Joshua replied to Joseph’s family (that is, Ephraim and Manasseh), “You have many people and great strength. You will not have just one allotment,
Joshua 17:18 because the hill country will be yours also. It is a forest; clear it and its outlying areas will be yours. You can also drive out the Canaanites, even though they have iron chariots and are strong.”

keep trying

Perhaps the descendants of Joseph were expecting Joshua to reallocate land already allotted to one of the other tribes. Joshua was not going to do that. Instead, he encouraged them to use their strength and numbers to clear the land in the hill country, and to drive out the Canaanites. He assures them that even though the Canaanites have iron chariots, God would give them the victory. But they had to make the effort.

As I read this, Jesus seems to be telling me that I need to try harder, and not just expect victory to be handed to me because I ask for it. The same God who answers prayer because of his love will sometimes say no because he wants me to keep trying, and trust that the things I need are already within my reach.

Coming King, give me the wisdom to pray hard, and to keep trying.

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a fair allotment

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a fair allotment

Joshua 17:1-13 (JDV)

Joshua 17:1 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn. Gilead and Bashan were given to Machir, the firstborn of Manasseh and the father of Gilead, because he was a man of war.
Joshua 17:2 So the allotment was for the rest of Manasseh’s descendants by their clans, for the sons of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida. These are the male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, by their clans.
Joshua 17:3 Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters. These are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
Joshua 17:4 They came in front of the priest Eleazar, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders, saying, “Yahveh commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our male relatives.” So they gave them an inheritance among their father’s brothers, in keeping with Yahveh’s instruction.
Joshua 17:5 As a result, ten tracts fell to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which are beyond the Jordan,
Joshua 17:6 because Manasseh’s daughters received an inheritance among his sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of Manasseh’s sons.
Joshua 17:7 The border of Manasseh went from Asher to Michmethath near Shechem. It then went southward toward the inhabitants of En-tappuah.
Joshua 17:8 The region of Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, but Tappuah itself on Manasseh’s border belonged to the descendants of Ephraim.
Joshua 17:9 From there the border went down to the Brook of Kanah; south of the brook, cities belonged to Ephraim among Manasseh’s cities. Manasseh’s border was on the north side of the brook and ended at the Mediterranean Sea.
Joshua 17:10 Ephraim’s territory was to the south and Manasseh’s to the north, with the Sea as its border. They reached Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.
Joshua 17:11 Beth-shean, Ibleam, and the inhabitants of Dor with their surrounding villages; the inhabitants of En-dor, Taanach, and Megiddo – the three cities of Naphath – with their surrounding villages.
Joshua 17:12 The descendants of Manasseh were not able to possess these cities, because the Canaanites were determined to stay in this land.
Joshua 17:13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they imposed forced labor on the Canaanites but did not drive them out completely.

a fair allotment

Two groups pled for a fair allotment among the lands divvied out after the conquest. The daughters of Zelophehad sought the land promised by the LORD during the time of Moses. The sons of Joseph needed more land because of their number. Behind these requests was more than a mere collective selfishness. Possession and protection of the land was a divine responsibility and mission.

As the church of the living God, we each have been gifted with special abilities which enable us to carry out our responsibilities. It is only fair that those gifted with certain gifts should have more responsibilities, and those gifted in other areas should have less. In some churches, leadership and responsibility is passed along on another basis. Popularity and doctrinal agreement are two criteria often used to bypass fair allotment.

LORD, help us to keep your mission in mind when choosing those who lead us.

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did not drive out

did not drive out

Joshua 16:1-10 (JDV)

Joshua 16:1 The allotment for the descendants of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the Waters of Jericho on the east, through the open country ascending from Jericho into the hill country of Bethel.
Joshua 16:2 From Bethel it went to Luz and proceeded to the border of the Archites by Ataroth.
Joshua 16:3 It then went down westward to the border of the Japhletites as far as the border of lower Beth-horon, then to Gezer, and ended at the Mediterranean Sea.
Joshua 16:4 So Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, received their inheritance.
Joshua 16:5 This was the territory of the descendants of Ephraim by their clans: The border of their inheritance went from Ataroth-addar on the east to Upper Beth-horon.
Joshua 16:6 In the north the border went westward from Michmethath; it turned eastward from Taanath-shiloh and passed it east of Janoah.
Joshua 16:7 From Janoah it went down to Ataroth and Naarah, and then reached Jericho and went to the Jordan.
Joshua 16:8 From Tappuah the border went westward along the Brook of Kanah and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the descendants of Ephraim by their clans, together with
Joshua 16:9 the cities set apart for the descendants of Ephraim within the inheritance of the descendants of Manasseh – all these cities with their settlements.
Joshua 16:10 However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer. So the Canaanites still live in Ephraim today, but they are forced laborers.

did not drive out

Those words “did not drive out” keep ringing in our ears. They are a reminder of a failure to completely follow God. It is not about the Canaanites in Gezer as much as it is about integrity. The sons of Joseph should have been more diligent.

Thankfully, under the new covenant with Christ we are not tasked with conquering a land and dispossessing its inhabitants. But we are tasked with reaching all lands and all nations with the gospel. Let it not be said that we failed in that task.

Lord, make us gospel proclaimers with integrity, who get the job done.

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Judah could not

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Judah could not

Joshua 15:20-63 (JDV)

Joshua 15:20 This was the inheritance of the tribe of the descendants of Judah by their clans.
Joshua 15:21 These were the outermost cities of the tribe of the descendants of Judah toward the border of Edom in the Negev: Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur,
Joshua 15:22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah,
Joshua 15:23 Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan,
Joshua 15:24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth,
Joshua 15:25 Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor),
Joshua 15:26 Amam, Shema, Moladah,
Joshua 15:27 Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet,
Joshua 15:28 Hazar-shual, Beer-sheba, Biziothiah,
Joshua 15:29 Baalah, Iim, Ezem,
Joshua 15:30 Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah,
Joshua 15:31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah,
Joshua 15:32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon– twenty-nine cities in all, with their settlements.
Joshua 15:33 In the Judean foothills: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah,
Joshua 15:34 Zanoah, En-gannim, Tappuah, Enam,
Joshua 15:35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah,
Joshua 15:36 Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, and Gederothaim– fourteen cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad,
Joshua 15:38 Dilan, Mizpeh, Jokthe-el,
Joshua 15:39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon,
Joshua 15:40 Cabbon, Lahmam, Chitlish,
Joshua 15:41 Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah– sixteen cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan,
Joshua 15:43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib,
Joshua 15:44 Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah– nine cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:45 Ekron, with its surrounding villages and settlements;
Joshua 15:46 from Ekron to the sea, all the cities near Ashdod, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:47 Ashdod, with its surrounding villages and settlements; Gaza, with its surrounding villages and settlements, to the Brook of Egypt and the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.
Joshua 15:48 In the hill country: Shamir, Jattir, Socoh,
Joshua 15:49 Dannah, Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir),
Joshua 15:50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim,
Joshua 15:51 Goshen, Holon, and Giloh – eleven cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan,
Joshua 15:53 Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah,
Joshua 15:54 Humtah, Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior– nine cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah,
Joshua 15:56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah,
Joshua 15:57 Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah– ten cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:58 Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor,
Joshua 15:59 Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon– six cities, with their settlements;
Joshua 15:60 Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah– two cities, with their settlements.
Joshua 15:61 In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah,
Joshua 15:62 Nibshan, the City of Salt, and En-gedi – six cities, with their settlements.
Joshua 15:63 But the descendants of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. So the Jebusites still live in Jerusalem among the descendants of Judah today.

Judah could not

The final verse of today’s text is evidence of the integrity of the historians who compiled Joshua’s story, and the scribes who kept the record free from edits in the centuries that followed. It was an embarrassing truth that the most prominent tribe of Israel could not rid itself of those pesky Jebusites. But that fact is recorded in holy Scripture as evidence that truth is more important than image.

Lord, thank you for the integrity of your word.

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Achsah’s blessing

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Achsah’s blessing

Joshua 15:13-19 (JDV)

Joshua 15:13 He gave Caleb son of Jephunneh the following portion among the descendants of Judah based on Yahveh’s instruction to Joshua: Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron; Arba was the father of Anak).
Joshua 15:14 Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, descendants of Anak.
Joshua 15:15 From there he marched against the inhabitants of Debir, which used to be called Kiriath-sepher,
Joshua 15:16 and Caleb had said, “Whoever attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher, I will give my daughter Achsah to him as a wife.”
Joshua 15:17 So Othniel son of Caleb’s brother, Kenaz, captured it, and Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to him as a wife.
Joshua 15:18 When she arrived, she persuaded Othniel to ask her father for a field. As she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”
Joshua 15:19 She replied, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me the springs also.” So he gave her the upper and lower springs.

Achsah’s blessing

Achsah was not going to sit back and let her husband lose out on the blessing. She spoke up and asked not only for the land, but also for the springs to water it.

Thank you, Lord, for wise wives, who are not only a blessing themselves, but pursue blessings by their wisdom.

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hell and the holy city

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hell and the holy city

Joshua 15:1-12 (JDV)

Joshua 15:1 Now the allotment for the tribe of the descendants of Judah by their clans was in the southernmost region, south to the Wilderness of Zin and over to the border of Edom.
Joshua 15:2 Their southern border began at the tip of the Dead Sea on the south bay
Joshua 15:3 and went south of the Scorpions’ Ascent, proceeded to Zin, ascended to the south of Kadesh-barnea, passed Hezron, ascended to Addar, and turned to Karka.
Joshua 15:4 It proceeded to Azmon and to the Brook of Egypt and so the border ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This is your southern border.
Joshua 15:5 Now the eastern border was along the Dead Sea to the mouth of the Jordan. The border on the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan.
Joshua 15:6 It ascended to Beth-hoglah, proceeded north of Beth-arabah, and ascended to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben.
Joshua 15:7 Then the border went up to Debir from the Valley of Achor, turning north to the Gilgal that is opposite the Ascent of Adummim, which is south of the ravine. The border proceeded to the Waters of En-shemesh and ended at En-rogel.
Joshua 15:8 From there the border went up Ben Hinnom Valley to the southern Jebusite slope (that is, Jerusalem) and ascended to the top of the hill that faces Hinnom Valley on the west, at the northern end of Rephaim Valley.
Joshua 15:9 From the top of the hill the border curved to the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah, went to the cities of Mount Ephron, and then curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim).
Joshua 15:10 The border turned westward from Baalah to Mount Seir, went to the northern slope of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon), went down to Beth-shemesh, and proceeded to Timnah.
Joshua 15:11 Then the border reached to the slope north of Ekron, curved to Shikkeron, proceeded to Mount Baalah, went to Jabneel, and ended at the Mediterranean Sea.
Joshua 15:12 Now the western border was the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. This was the boundary of the descendants of Judah around their clans.

hell and the holy city

Verse 8 mentions, in passing, two places that would become very significant spiritually and eschatologically. The Ben Hinnom valley would become so attached to the idea of destruction and mortality that the Greek translation (Gehenna) would become one of the New Testament words for final punishment. Then, there is “the southern Jebusite slope” which would become the place for the holy city, Jerusalem.

I think it is significant that these two places are so close to each other that they can be mentioned in the same sentence.

We look forward to the holy city — New Jerusalem, which will come down from the sky after all things defiled and destructible will have been destroyed in Gehenna.

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