Recently, I have picked up to resume where I stopped reading – right after the first 5 books of the Tanakh. I felt I need to re-read the Tanakh to see if my view of the scriptures has changed whatsoever – or maybe I can bring more clarity now by reading as someone less doctrinated – with simple eyes.
I just finished reading Joshua and 9 chapters of Judges – and my view on those books is quite simple – they are ‘war books’ (in a nutshell). They seem to be Jewish history about war for the land of Canaan framed within the promises to Moses (and the law) – but mainly describe the people, territories, and situations they are found ‘fighting’ in.
It’s a fun read and all (I’ll try to finish Judges today or tomorrow) but I have found very little ‘teachings’ within the 2 books thus far. For Joshua it seems like a recant of the victories on way to taking all of Canaan (which does not happen by the end of the book). Then Judges starts with that premise (chapter 1 is a re-hash of Joshua) and the Israelites having ‘mini battles’ for the rest of the land. The story usually goes (in Judges) the Israelites worshipped idols, they got ruled by another one of the people groups around them, then a ‘judge’ stood up for the people and freed them (from this bondage), and the land had peace again.
I just don’t find the need to base teachings out of these books to be perfectly honest – there seems to be very little of that being done. It seems more Jewish writing about history and the wars they fought within that land. If you think about it – Jesus does not mention any of these stories in his teachings (or characters). Were these books that mentioned in the synagogue or were they plainly known to be a Jewish historical (of sorts) recant of those battles alone? I have to lean to the latter from some simple reading of it.
Joshua has some excellent teachings in Chapter 1. Of particular interest to me was the way Israel was weened from the mana as they were given the land of milk and honey.
There are special things to take note of about the battle of Jericho. Things I believe God has to say to all of us.
Along those lines, the Gideon story is edifying. Hebrews 11 takes the time to mention the lives of Gideon and Rahab whose accounts are described in Judges and Joshua.
As you say, there’s a lot of fighting going on in these books. In a sense I think we all do a lot of “fighting”. The message isn’t in “what” happens, but the way it happens. There’s a lot going on between the lines … a lot of room for life application.
When I read those old books, I see Jesus in my life. He has helped me kill many giants as He has led me away from the captivity of my sin and prepares me to enter the promised land.:0) Everything in the Old Testament is a precursor to Jesus and to understand it better is to know Him better.
Just as your heratage is important to you so is the heratage of Jesus important to understanding better Who He is and God’s purpose for us all.
Oddly I felt compelled to read the book of Judges this past week as well. BB is right that Gideon and Rahab’s stories are edifying. These two being good illustration of how faith can be applied. Samson and Jephthah seem to me to be more tragic characters. Samson puts off what he has to do until he must sacrifice his own life to do it. Jephthah makes a deal in poor judgment, my opinion, that costs him his only child. I’m looking forward to reading what you drew from these characters. Take care.
Cool, I have just read through the first five and just read Joshua and Judges the last few days also. My reaction to Joshua & Judges is more like Society’s in that I am left with questions. Yes you can glean some good life lessons from them but does that make the tale inspiring? Why did God become a God of War for this one segment in time? Did God really command them to kill and plunder? Is this an example of how we can convince ourselves that we are hearing from God when we are only acting out of fear and greed? I am all for knowing the fear of God, but when I read these books I just have a hard time believing that God would use command us to kill for any reason. He even backed down on his demand for Abraham to kill Isaac.
That all being said, I do not discount that God has the right to ask anything of anyone of us, it just seems to me this is totally against everything else taught in the Bible. If God really did command all this killing then how can we be sure that the guy that goes on a prostitute killing spree isn’t just doing the will of God?
Your question, “Did God really command them to kill and plunder?” Reminds me of another question:
“Indeed, has God said, `You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”.
“Yes you can glean some good life lessons from them but does that make the tale inspiring?” BrotherKen
Unless one seeks to imitate aspects of the story, inspiration is -at best- a pleasant arrangment of smoke and mirrors.
If you like the smoke and mirrors that’s your call, but please don’t call on anyone to take it seriously.
“it just seems to me this is totally against everything else taught in the Bible. If God really did command all this killing then how can we be sure that the guy that goes on a prostitute killing spree isn’t just doing the will of God?” BrotherKen
In the Old Testament God forbid certain foods, and in the New Testament He allowed them. The point has nothing to do with what acts or food is “bad”. The point is to obey God.
The only way we can know a prostitute killer is not doing the will of God is if we can know he or she is not doing it in love.
How would you know if Abraham was a murderer if you watched him raise the knife on his own son? You wouldn’t!
Be careful about what you are writing, BrotherKen. God does not take kindly to the practice of questioning His commands. The only question to be asked is whether or not we are ready to obey Him.
the_burning_bush, Thanks, I here you about the watching what we say. That is a key understanding that drives me to write. I see so much stuff being taught that is contradictory nowadays that sometimes I get a bit hurried and just blurt out stuff. Your responses have previously been, and will continue to be considered, but for now I don’t see any reason to defend any of it.
I feel that much of the stuff that we have been taught by mainstream theology is wrong, and I am on the watch for anything that seems out of place. It really isn’t a huge jump from what mainstream teaches about the wars of the chosen people to what I am suggesting, is it?
Then again, maybe I should just back down on this one 🙂
I read those books and I think there are lessons there to be had – but that’s something to be gleaned within the actual context of the people(s) mentioned (the reality of those stories) – they were actual warriors in Israel’s wars with the surroundng nations (ex: Ammonites, Moabites, or Phillistines). One must remember these characters are within a warrior context – in Judges and Joshua. I am guessing as I move on into more books in this section – Chronicles and Samuel – a lot of the same war themes will be mentioned.
That being said I have no problem with those books when context is considered – not overlooked. There is definite relation to the law (upholding it) and not following the ways of the other peoples of the lands – but these are war books also.
I find it fairly odd these books are not used by the disciples nor Jesus as a backdrop for their teachings (only the first 5 books – the actual Law itself are used – wisdom writingss – and the prophets) – I have to wonder the actual use of these books in Jewish culture at the time (and even now). I imagine these same ideals from these books brought about the revolutonary messiahs of that time (since these books read like mini-revolutions). I never see in the disciples stories these same ideas of a warrior mentality – as in bloodshed of the Romans. I see the opposite as a teaching – going back to the essence of the law and challenges to it (ex: the sermon on the mount idea about vows compared with the Jephthah story).
Just raising the obvious with un-doctrinated readings – maybe the people that read these books for morals need to re-evaluate the Jewish history of these books and how Gentiles are treated within them – not quite the same values we see in Pauline epistles (quite the opposite and some could make an arguement – Paul is challenging this un-inclusion). I take those books (Joshua and Judges) as war books for the history of Israel – so they relate to any of us in any way?
I am going to peruse the Jewisg rabbinica mind on this one – I am thinking about getting a true Jewish perspective on these books and what they mean to them as a collective whole. I am not saying they are ‘bad’ but that I do not understand their use outside re-telling of a historical struggle for the land (Canaan).
I think you’ve embarked upon a worthwhile journey.:0)
My view of all of that is that the Jews were to be a separate people for through them God’s plan for the redemption of the entire Creation from the curse of sin and death would be worked. They could not become like the nations around them and serve the purposes of God.
As Christians, we are a bit different. We are to be in the world but not of it. We too are set apart from the world to be sanctified in Christ but our separation is spiritual and not physical. This too is a part in the plan of God for all.
Many people confuse all of this because they try to interpret scripture and by doing so, they twist it to their own understanding and never learn what the Bible actually says. Scripture interprets scripture and we must trade in our world view for a Biblical worldview if we are to grasp it. Scripture is also spiritually discerned and the only way that is possible is if the Holy Spirit is living in us and teaching us what the scriptures say.
We know we are on the right track if the things we learn incite love in us; first of all, for God and then others.
Thanks Pam – I am just trying to keep my faith grounded in honesty to the texts we have been given as the ‘bible’. I really like the bible and actually enjoyed the read of Joshua and Judges – very nice stories in there and very adventerous – like watching a war epic on tv.