THE ISRAELITES have crossed the Jordan and defeated the giant clans in two separate campaigns through the hill countries of Judah and Israel. Today we look at the division of Canaan among the 9-1/2 tribes still waiting to occupy their inheritance. (Remember, Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh took their shares east of the Jordan.)
We struggle through long lists of Hebrew names as we read the catalog of cities and kings that would be subject to the Israelites. We also discuss the faith of Caleb in asking for Hebron, a city owned by the Anakim (descendants of the Nephilim), as his family’s portion, and contrast that with the complaints of the tribe of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who were apparently unhappy with their allotment because the Canaanites in the lowlands had iron chariots and the hill country was full of trees.
WE ALL remember the song: Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down.
Today, we study the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, revisiting the concept of kherem (sanctioning persons or things because they are forbidden–either cursed or due to Yahweh’s exclusive ownership or use), and examining what appears to be military campaigns through the hill countries of Judah and Israel specifically targeted at the giant clans known as the Anakim–descendants of the Nephilim who were in the land before the Flood.
THE CONCEPT of holy war is developed in the passages we read today (specifically Deut. 20:16-18), where the Hebrew verb kharam is translated “devote to complete destruction”. The concept is broader than warfare; it is a sanction of someone or something because it is accursed or due to Yahweh’s exclusive ownership, and it is used to describe the Israelites’ treatment of cities in Canaan. It relates to the coming war between Israel and enemies who served — and were spawned by — lesser gods. We will visit this again when we get into the Book of Joshua.