Final Preparations for Canaan In Numbers 26:55, God says that the land the people will inhabit, the land of Canaan, should be divided by lot, and that each family would receive their inheritance according to the names of the tribes of their fathers.
By 26:64, there had been a new census, and among the numbered men there was not a single one (excluding the Levites) who had been present at the first numbering except Joshua, Caleb, and Moses. Verse 65 points out that this fulfilled the judgment God had pronounced at Kadesh-bamea that only Joshua and Caleb, of the numbered men, would survive the wilderness experience and enter the land.
From this point on, the activity is increasingly military in nature. With the end of the forty years in sight, they circled around the south end of the Dead Sea and began to move through the land of their near relatives the Moabites, the Edomites, and the Ammonites. Their military activities began to result in conquered land east of the Jordan River. They defeated the Midianites, and among those slain in the battle was Balaam, They conquered two kings, Sihon and Og, who controlled major geographic areas in the Trans-Jordan, in the southern and northern areas.
When Israel established control over this Trans-Jordan area, chapter 32 records that Reuben and Gad saw the land that it was good, and they asked to have their inheritance east of the Jordan River. In addition, half the tribe of Manasseh also wanted to settle there. As a result, that area, including Gilead, became the inheritance of those 2 1/2 tribes.
In the balance of chapter 32, we read that Moses instructed the
two and one-half tribes that they could occupy the Trans-Jordan area,
but they could not stay there until their fighting men had crossed into
the Cis-Jordan with the remaining nine and one-half tribes and helped
them to occupy the land. Only then would they be allowed to return
into the Trans-Jordan and settle permanently with their families.
Chapter 33 contains Moses’ written record of the route of the forty years of wandering. Verse 52 records God’s command that they must drive out the inhabitants of the land and destroy their idols, images, and high places. If they are not driven out, verse 55 says, they “shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides. “ This command includes a solemn warning. If they do not obey it, God said in verse 56, “I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them”. Israel did not drive out the inhabitants. In fact, they adopted their religious practices to the extent that God later said they were worse than the Canaanites. As a result, He eventually drove out His own people from their land into dispersion and captivity.
XI IS OUR OLD TESTAMENT CREDIBLE?
Numbers 33:2 states, “And Moses wrote their goings out according
to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord”. Through the years,
the Old Testament has been under attack from external critics and
from internal scholars. Some of the most serious attacks against the
integrity of the Old Testament have been under the guise of Christian
scholarship. We are accustomed to such terms as “higher criticism,
“ “reconstruction,” or “documentary hypothesis.” Many of these
fine sounding theories have led conservatives to believe that these
positions were built and developed on solid exegesis and scholarship.
Unfortunately, such is not the case.
I believe it is mandatory that we know for certain whether or
not the Old Testament is what it claims to be. Are the works credited
to Moses and the prophets just a collection of documents written by
anonymous individuals, or are they, as they claim, the work of Moses
himself and of the prophets whose names are attached to their books?
Evidences for Authenticity There are two lines of evidence which we can use to establish the credibility of the Old Testament. They are labeled “internal evidence” and “external evidence. “ One example of internal evidence is that the Pentateuch claims to have been written by Moses. We have just read in Numbers 33:2 that Moses recorded the journeying of the children of Israel and that he did so by the commandment of the Lord. After the battle against Amalek we read in Exodus 17:14, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book. “ Deuteronomy 31:22 records, “Moses therefore wrote this song. “
As one of his last acts we read in Deuteronomy
And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the
words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses
commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the
Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the
ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a
witness against thee.
All these passages provide written testimony, within the Pentateuch,
that it was written personally by Moses. The remainder of the Old Testament provides additional testimony In Judges 3:4 we read about “the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. “ II Kings 21:8 reminds Judah of its responsibility to “observe to do according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. And Malachi 4:4 commands, “Remember ye the law of Moses.
In addition, the New Testament writers, and the Lord Jesus, concur with and support the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. The
Pharisees questioning Jesus in Matthew 19:7 asked, “Why did Moses then command?” In His response (19:8) Jesus agreed, “Moses ...
suffered you. “ Both Mark 12:19 and Luke 20:28 employ the phrase, “Moses wrote. “In Acts 3:22 we find, “Moses truly said. . , “ and in Romans 10:5, “For Moses describeth . Many more examples could be cited. It is absolutely impossible to overcome such testimony.
Especially is this true in the case of the Lord Jesus for otherwise we
would have to believe either that He did not know that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, which would be a reflection on His divine omniscience; or else that He accommodated Himself to the ignorance of the people of His time, in which case we have an assault upon His integrity. I believe we can state that the one who denies Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch denies to Christ the divine attributes that are His as the Son of God. Evidence for the authenticity of the remainder of the Old Testament is equally clear and convincing. In Matthew 24:15, Christ mentions the historicity of Daniel. He also gives us the reality of Jonah in Matthew 12:39-40. By quoting from Isaiah 42, in Matthew 12:17-21, He convinces us of the unity of the book of Isaiah. This destroys the deutero-Isaiah theory which teaches that chapters 1-39 were written by Isaiah, and chapters 40-66 were the work of some pious forger or unknown author. In addition to this, the knowledge was shared by the Jews, the apostles, and later church tradition. The line of external evidence is too extensive to follow here, but as we continue our study of the Old Testament, I will occasionally mention archaeology and the various discoveries which underpin the accuracy of the dating, historicity, and various authors in the Old Testament.
Preservation and Transmission Following the completion of the Hebrew canon, the Old Testament was translated into various languages. As the years passed, the original manuscripts of Moses, the various historians, and prophets, were used and copied many times, until they eventually disappeared.
But, we can read in Jeremiah 36, an example of the meticulous care
which was involved in successfully transmitting these sacred
Scriptures. The prophet commanded his scribe, Baruch, to duplicate
the copy of the book he had written, which the evil king Jehoiakim had destroyed in a fire.
This reverence for the Word of God did not diminish with the
passing of the centuries. If anything, it increased with every generation. Hundreds of years later, scribes would use ingenious means to guarantee the accuracy of the scroll. Each scroll contained a count of the number of letters, the number of words, the number of lines, even such insignificant facts as the middle word or letter. When a copy was made, the letters, words, and lines would be counted and double checked against the original. If a difference existed, the entire copy would be checked until the error was located and immediately corrected. If a scroll contained more than a prescribed minimum of errors it would be destroyed.
Until just a few years ago, the oldest Hebrew manuscript dated
from the ninth century A.D. There were many others dated a little later, but the present Hebrew Bible is based primarily on texts from the medieval period in the ninth century. Although most Bible scholars believed them to be accurate, there was no way to demonstrate that they had been transcribed accurately over a one thousand to fifteen hundred year period.
Then in 1947, a revolutionary discovery was made. The Dead Sea
scrolls, in the caves at Qumran, were discovered by a shepherd lad.
Eventually, this find would yield over 40,000 fragments representing
hundreds of scrolls and including every book of the Old Testament except Esther. Many of these have been examined with great anticipation and care because some of the fragments represented scrolls that had been written 150 years before Christ. Manuscripts more than a thousand years older than any previously known are now available for study.
Careful examination and comparison of the Qumran scrolls, with
existing medieval manuscripts, revealed a consistency in textual
integrity which was unbelievable. There was very little noticeable
difference between the texts written in 150 B.C. and those written in
A.D. 800-900. This demonstrates the accurate preservation of the text.
Also, the scroll of Isaiah shows no noticeable division between
chapters 39 and 40. It is safe to say, without any hesitation, that in our present Bibles, we possess the original Words of God as they were faithfully preserved by godly and exacting scribes down through the centuries.
XII MOSES SAYS GOODBYE
DEUTERONOMY The book of Deuteronomy is a sermonic review given by Moses just prior to his death. The name Deuteronomy comes from two Greek words which were used to form the Septuagint title; deuteros, meaning “second,” and nomos, meaning “law. “ So, the word really means “second law.” In effect, it was the second giving of the law.
Setting for the Sermons After the Israelites arrived in the Trans-Jordan, in the year 1406 B.C., Moses recounted to the new generation all the past events of the previous forty years. In Deuteronomy 1:1 we read: “These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea Verse 5 gives further clarification of the locale, “On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law.
This is the setting throughout the book. Deuteronomy 34:1 says,
“Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo. “ In
34:5ff - “Moses ... died there in the land of Moab.... And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old ... And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.
Promises to Be Kept As the entire host of Israelites remained on the east side or Trans-Jordan area, preparations were being made for a military move across the Jordan to occupy the land in the Cis-Jordan. Almost seven hundred years before, this entire area had been promised to Abraham and his descendants.
In his day, the cup of “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full “
(Gen. 15:16). By now it was. The period of grace had come to an end
and the children of Israel were ready to occupy the land.
This occupation was necessary in order to fulfill the promise to
Abraham that “I will make of thee a great nation” (Gen. 12:2). The people who left the land of Egypt were a people, but they were not yet a nation. It takes three things to be a nation and one of these three is that there must be a people. Then, there must be a constitution. On Mount Sinai, when God gave the ten commandments and the ordinances for worship, government, and daily life, the constitution was provided. So, for forty years in the wilderness they were a people with a constitution.
All that remained for national identity was the land. Once they had
crossed over the Jordan and began to occupy the territory, they were a nation. Just as when the Jews occupied the land in 1948 A.D., they
became a nation. There was a second purpose for the occupation. It was to serve as God’s holy war against the inhabitants of Canaan. We read in Deuteronomy 9:4:
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast
them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord
hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of
these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
The Religion of Canaan Until the discovery of the Ugarit tablets in the early part of this century, we had no idea of the extent to which the religious system in the land of Canaan had corrupted itself. But because of the tablets, we can see the demonic, licentious worship system which had evolved. It was this worship system that the Israelites were warned over and over again, throughout the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, to guard themselves against.
It was because of the prevalence of this worship system in the
land that the Israelites were commanded to kill every single inhabitant. If even one remained alive, that one person could corrupt the nation of Israel, and the program that they were to use to promote the true religion of Jehovah would also be corrupted.
We had a brief example of what was involved in the worship of
Baal in the Baal-peor encounter related in the book of Numbers. Briefly, Baal worship was a combination of sexual activity and human sacrifice. The inhabitants of that area of the world were farmers and herdsmen. Their income and livelihood were tied to the land, whether they were Canaanites or Israelites. So, the most important thing to all the people was fertility. They wanted the land to be fertile, they wanted the cattle and sheep to be fertile, and they wanted their wives to be fertile. To the Canaanites, fertility was the key issue in life and their entire worship system revolved around it. As we examine the artifacts from that era, we can see that the human figures used in their idolatrous worship were designed to suggest fertility.
The word Baal means lord and Baalim means lords. Baal was the
god of storm and the god of fertility. One of the primary Baals was
Hadad, the storm god. He was often pictured riding on a bull, one of
the Canaanite symbols of fertility. One way in which the Canaanites
sought to pacify Baal, was to offer their children as sacrifices. The children were to be offered without any display of emotion. Should such a display be made, then the sacrifice was worthless.
In the Baal temples there were both male and female cult prostitutes.
These were the priests and priestesses of Baal. If a man wanted to worship Baal, he would go into the temple and join himself to a priestess. If a woman wanted to worship, she would go in and join herself to a priest. Later, in the Old Testament, these male prostitutes were called dogs. Through sexual relations with the priest or priestess, the worshiper was saying: “Just as fertility is taking place during this act, may Baal make my crops fertile; may Baal make my cattle fertile; may Baal make my spouse fertile. “ In this way, all the outward physical manifestations of fertility were worshiped.
It was because of this corrupt system that God was offended to
the point of commanding the total extermination of the inhabitants of
the land of Canaan. In His holy war, the Israelites were to function as
the military operational invasion force. Because of this, I can state with assurance that if the Israelites had functioned with total obedience to God’s commands and ordinances, they could have fought all the battles in the land of Canaan, completely occupied the land, and never have lost a man in battle. Back in Numbers 31:49, following a battle in which the Israelites were completely obedient, the Bible records the report given to Moses, “Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us. “
This was God’s war and He was not going to suffer the loss of any of His warriors if they fought according to His ordinances and His commandments. We will find later in the book of Joshua that this divine protection ceased.
Finally, in regard to the religion of the land, Deuteronomy 11:16-
17 gave the Israelites advance warning of what would happen. Moses
said: Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye
turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them, And then the
Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven,
that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit, and lest
ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.
Chapter 11 reaffirms the fact that it is God, the Lord Jehovah, and not
Baal, who is responsible for fertility in all of creation.
Manual of Occupation In addition to the sermonic and historic review reported in Deuteronomy, Moses also gave God’s instructions for the occupation of the land. He announced these directives well within the hearing of Joshua who, as the second in command, would use them in his conquest of the land.
Deuteronomy 20 contains the Military Manual for the occupation
of the land. As Moses prepared the people for what would follow, he
said in verse 8:
And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall
say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go
and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as
He was saying, if any of you are afraid, if any of you are cowards, go
back now. Do not go out to battle with us because if you get out there
and decide that it is too much for you, and you want to turn and run,
chances are that when others see you running they will turn aside as
well. Make up your mind now. If you are going out to fight, be a man. If you are afraid to go, stay home. Deuteronomy 20:10-14 describes the criteria for approaching the kind of city described in verse 15, which says, “Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations “ “These nations” refers to the nations which God had instructed the Israelites to completely exterminate.
But, around the peripheral areas of the land of Canaan, there were
cities ‘far off’ that were not specifically designated for extinction. Beginning in verse 10, God gave instructions for dealing with those cities “far off. When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace,
and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found
therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against
thee, then thou shalt besiege it. And when the Lord thy God hath
given it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with
the edge of the sword: But the women and the little ones, and the
cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, thou
shalt take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies,
which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
Simply put, phase one is this: When you go to a city far off, it is
not designated for extinction, offer peace to it. If they come out and say, “we surrender,” take them and let them serve you. If they say, “no, we will fight you,” then the Lord will give you the city. You will kill all the men, but you will take the women and children and all the cattle and keep them for yourselves. However, according to verses 16 and 17: Phase two is this: But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the
jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.
Why, Lord? This seems rather extreme. The answer is found in verse18:
That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which
they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord
God knew that once the people began to practice those abominations of Baalism, that their sons and daughters, their husbands and wives, would get involved in the formal worship system of the land, and that even Israelite men and women would become prostitutes in the houses of Baal. Chapter 23:17-18 has this warning:
There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a Sodomite
of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not being the hire of a whore, or the
price of a dog, [that is, the male cult prostitute] into the house of
the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination
unto the Lord thy God.
You will remember, how that shortly after the exodus, some forty
years prior to Deuteronomy 25, Israel encountered Amalek in battle
under the leadership of Joshua. At that time God warned them that
there would be battle with Amalek from generation to generation.
Now, in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, Moses reminded the people once again of what happened so they would not forget their involvement with Amalek or the promise of God to eventually judge Amalek for what he did.
Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when you were
come forth out of Egypt; How he met you by the way, and smote
the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when
thou wast faint and weary, and he feared not God. Therefore it
shall be, when the Lord hath given thee rest from all thine enemies
round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an
inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance
of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.
Forty years after the first attack, the promised judgment against Amalek was reaffirmed. It would not be carried out for another 350 years.
Song of Moses One thing that seems to be rooted in our sinful human nature is that the younger generation forgets or ignores what the previous generation learned. We know it was Adam’s job to pass on the truth of God to his descendants, and he failed. It was Noah’s job to pass on the truth to his descendants, and he failed. It was the job of Abraham to pass on the knowledge of God to his descendants, and he failed. Moses likewise was instructed very plainly to pass these truths on to the sons and the sons’ sons, and by this word-of-mouth method, the truth of God was to be transmitted from generation to generation (Deut.6:7; 31:12-13).
But imagine if you will, what the response was to those individuals
who were five and six generations removed from Adam. When Adam tried to explain to them that he had been created by God and walked in the cool of the day with God, I am sure that wicked generation laughed and thought he was insane. When Noah tried to explain to his descendants, several generations removed, that he had experienced the flood; and when his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth attempted to explain to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren that at one time the entire earth had been covered by water and that they had lived in the pre-flood era, I am sure they were also thought to be insane. We know how after several generations, the truth
that is attempted to be passed on is mocked and scoffed at and assumed to be worthless, mythical information.
Because of this, the omniscient God told Moses that He knew
what was going to happen. He described in 31:16 that soon after they
were settled in the land they would play the harlot with strange gods
“and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.“ In return (vs. 17): “I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them.
In an attempt to prevent this, He commanded Moses to compose
a song so that generations and centuries later they would remember
that they had been warned about their sinful behavior. Though many
things might pass away, a song or an epic poem would be learned and sung and passed down from one generation to another. It was designed to make them remember back to the time when God first gave it and its title could be “Against Forgetfulness.”
The purpose of this song (epic poem) was to remind the people
that God had anticipated their failure, and that there was still hope if
they would repent and turn back to Him.
The poem requires forty-three verses in chapter 32. In this marvelous
piece of poetry, God reminds them that He made them drink
honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock, but that they
decided to serve idols and other demons that claimed to be gods. God warned them in the song that He would heap misfortune upon them, and assured them in the end of His vengeance, and that blood would be avenged which had been shed by the enemies of His servants.