PORTALS AND contact with the spirit realm are at the heart of this week’s Bible study.
First, we discuss Jacob’s dream during his journey from the Negev to Haran in northern Mesopotamia. We’ve heard the term “Jacob’s ladder,” but the underlying Hebrew word reveals that what he saw was more likely a ziggurat—the ancient Mesopotamian pyramid that represented a stairway to heaven. Continue reading
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THE DIVISION of the kingdom of Israel is the focus of our Old Testament study this week. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, gets some bad advice from his young friends, not just rejecting the request of the northern tribes for tax relief, but doing so with a rather crude euphemism.
That didn’t work out well. And it didn’t go well for the people of the new kingdoms of Israel or Judah. Jeroboam quickly led the northern kingdom into apostasy, setting up high places to worship golden calves at Bethel and Dan and appointing priests who were not from the tribe of Levi to offer sacrifices to these pagan idols.
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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.
For great maps to help visualize the locations described in the Bible, see this collection of maps in the public domain and these high-resolution Bible study maps.