Tuesday 07 September 2021

Bible Book:

I gave you a land on which you had not laboured, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant. (v. 13)

Joshua 24:9-13 Tuesday 7 September 2021

Psalm 63:1-18


Today’s passage starts, slightly strangely, in the middle of a longer story. If you did not read Joshua 24:1-8 yesterday, you might want to do so now. We continue today with the theme that God has helped the Israelites drive others out of the land, so that the Israelites could possess it.

 There is a reference to the story of Balaam which you can find in Numbers 22-24. King Balak, in his desperation when faced with the invading Israelites, tries to get a local prophet to curse them. The prophet Balaam, after a story with many twists and turns, including a talking donkey, ends up blessing them instead.

 There is also a very strange reference to God sending 'the hornet' in verse 12. The word is difficult to translate but comes from the same root as the word ‘wasp’. The only other times the word is used in the Bible it has roughly the same meaning. In Exodus 23:28 and in Deuteronomy 7:20, at a point in the story when the Israelites are looking forward to the battles for the Promised Land, they are assured that God will send hornets in front of them. We could therefore say that this statement as a reminder that God has done what was promised. Not only did the Israelites fight, but some natural phenomenon (some have tried to suggest that the word is similar to that for leprosy, so this might mean some kind of plague) also helped them out. Whatever 'the hornet’ was, apparently it could defeat two kings.

The conclusion is clear – the Israelites are reminded that they were up against enemies who seemed to be stronger than they were and yet God brought them victory. The question for us is how we read this alongside other biblical passages that stress God’s care for the stranger. Does the last verse hint that the Israelites should remember that they do not own the land? There is still a sense in which they are strangers in the land themselves.


To Ponder:

  • How do you read verse 13? Is it a reminder of the generosity of God, or a reminder that the Israelites took the land from others, by force?
  • Is there an equivalent situation in your life, where you want to remember that you are benefitting from the work of others?
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