THE days of Moses were 120 years. He was born in 2433 A.H. and died in 2552 A.H.near the end of that year.
The great lawgiver was followed by Joshua who was indeed the man of the hour, and who could cope with the problems connected with entering the Land. When the Lord informed Moses that he could not enter the Land, He told him that Joshua would become his successor (Numbers 27:15-23). In Deuteronomy 31:14-23 we see an account of the commissioning of Joshua. Whereas Moses was a great executive, scholar, and lawgiver, Joshua was a young man with administrative ability but especially a warrior by nature, a great military strategist. God had His man for every emergency prepared ahead of time. The case of Joshua is no exception to that rule.
When Moses died, God spoke to Joshua, made certain promises to him, and urged him to take courage in order that he might do successfully the task which lay before him.
Under the leadership of Joshua, Israel was led across the Jordan into the Promised Land. They pitched camp at Gilgal, which was in the plains near Jericho. There they observed the passover on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan. This was exactly forty years to a day after they left Egypt. The date of the Exodus was 2513 A.H. The year of entering into Canaan was 2553 A.H.
Though Joshua is not, strictly speaking, one of the judges, yet his functions were similar to those of the judges, who followed after him. It is proper and fitting therefore that he should be listed as the first of the judges. Viewed from this angle, the period of the judges began with 2553 A.H. and ended in 3022 A.H. The historical account is found in the Books of Joshua, Judges, and the first seven chapters of I Samuel. The Book of Ruth, however, gives us a sidelight into the simplicity of the home life of the pious during the turbulent days of the judges.
Everyone should read the introduction to the Book of Joshua, 1:1-9. This has a message for the man of God today. The first main division of this book is 1:10-5:15. Here we find an account of the stopping of the Jordan in order that the Israelites might pass over. A reference to this event as well as to the crossing of the Red Sea is found in Psalm 114. The God who created the universe, and who sustains it, could and did stop the flow of the water in order that this nation of destiny might cross over into the Land given to them for a very definite, specific purpose.
The record of the conquests of the Land by the Israelites is found in chapters 6:1-12:23. By our taking all the chronological data into consideration, we come to the conclusion that the war of conquest lasted six years, ending in 2559 A.H.
Joshua made Gilgal the base of his operations. From it he marched according to divine orders around Jericho and captured it. After one failure, which was caused by sin in the camp, Joshua took Ai, about two miles southeast of Bethel in the plateau region north of Jerusalem. The men of Gibeon entered into an alliance with Joshua. The kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Lachish, Jarmuth, and Eglon formed an alliance known as the Amorite League. Joshua led his forces against them to battle, on the high tableland north of Jerusalem. In answer to the petition of Joshua, the day of battle was prolonged; the enemy was hotly pursued; he was completely routed. Thus Joshua gained a signal victory on that memorable occasion.
The kings of northern Palestine, knowing of the conquest of Trans-Jordan and the Amorite League by the Hebrews, hastily formed a Canaanite League with the king of Hazor as the leader. At the proper time Joshua led his forces against this second confederacy and won a decisive victory. All organized effort and resistance to the Hebrew people were crushed. The account of the conquest of the Land is found in 6:1-12:23.
UPON the completion of the conquest in the north and the capture and burning of Hazor, capital of Jabin, the most formidable opponent, Joshua divided the Land among the nine and one-half tribes west of the Jordan, since the two and one-half tribes had already received their inheritance east of that river. The account of this allotment is found in Joshua 13:1-22:34.
"14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which Jehovah your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof." (Josh. 23:14.)
At the conclusion of his life's work, Joshua called the elders of the children of Israel and delivered to them two farewell speeches. There is reflected in each of these the consciousness of a man who had done his best, who had given his all on behalf of the people for whom he had a passionate love. In the latter address he urged the people to serve God in sincerity and in truth, forsaking their evil and putting away all their foreign gods. He reinforced his appeal by declaring that, if they thought it was evil to serve Jehovah, they could choose their own way; but, as for him and his house, they would serve Jehovah. The result of this appeal was that the people renewed their covenant, promising to be faithful to Jehovah and to serve Him. It seems from the record that this great man of God soon passed to his reward. With this account the Book of Joshua ends. There is no storybook that is filled with greater adventures, heroism, or patriotism, together with loyalty and action, than the Book of Joshua. It is most interesting and profitable. In order to obtain the greatest results from one's study of this book, one should have a good map of Palestine of Joshua's day before him.
THERE is a gap of fourteen years between the Books of Joshua and Judges. This information is arrived at by a mathematical deduction which takes into consideration all of the chronological data found in the two books. For a full discussion of this point see the volume, Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled, in which the various phases of the different elements entering into this calculation are discussed thoroughly.
IN THE first chapter of Judges we have the account of certain tribes of Israel which entered into their inheritance and took possession of their territory. Rationalistic critics have endeavored to point out discrepancies between this chapter and the Book of Joshua. They tell us that Joshua gives one account of the entrance into the Land and the conquest of the same whereas Judges, coming from another source, tells a different story. This view is indeed superficial. Furthermore, it refuses to face the facts. In the Joshua account, as we have seen, there was a united Israel consisting of the twelve tribes which entered the Land and waged two major campaigns after taking Jerichoone in the south and the other in the north. Thus the backbone of resistance to the Hebrews was broken by the wars of conquest which, as we have seen, continued for six years. During this time there were, of course, various developments. In the Book of Joshua we see at the end of the wars of conquest the allotment of the territory to the various tribes. In the first chapter of Judges we observe certain tribes and individuals going in to take possession of their possessions. May not the account in Judges 1 be a second versiontheir entering into full possession of their territory at the end of the wars of conquest? There is nothing in either or both records to render this view impossible or unlikely. In fact, the data tends to confirm such an interpretation. We do well to take this first chapter of Judges as a supplemental account, giving detailed information in regard to such tribes and individuals as entered in upon their possessions after the major wars were over.
During the period of the judges every man in Israel did that which was right in his own eyes. Her history moved in cycles consisting of apostasies from God, His delivering her into the hands of her enemies, her cry to God for deliverance, and His giving the desired deliverance by raising up a judge who led her to throw off the galling yoke of bondage. Those turbulent times, as we learn from Paul's statement in Acts 13:19, continued for 450 years. If one will notice that verse, one sees that God gave her judges for "about four hundred and fifty years." Notice the word "about" introducing this number. When we add the actual figures found in the book of Judges and the first seven chapters of Samuel which deal with this period, we see that there were exactly 450 years. The preposition "about" takes care of the gap of fourteen years from the death of Joshua and the elders who outlived him to the beginning of the Book of Judges. The Word of God is exact and can be relied upon in every detail.
The movement of the various cycles of the period may be seen in the second chapter of the book. This should be studied most carefully.
The various divisions into which the book falls is indicated in the chart above, where sufficient information is given the student in order that he might get a working knowledge of this book.
We reach the end of the history with the judgeship of Samson (13:116:31). The last chapters of the book constitute two appendices, which give us a clear conception of the moral bankruptcy of the nation and the barbarous conditions which existed among the people.
THE Book of Ruth properly considered is a third appendix to Judges. It shows the beautiful side of Hebrew home life at that time. The great lesson which it has for us is to show that, although the environment in which one lives may be the very worst, there are true noble souls who know God, who are faithful to Him, and who will by no means nor under any conditions drift with the current or the tide. On the contrary, they stand aloof from the corruption and vice with which they are surrounded and live clean exemplary lives for the glory of God and for the benefit of those to whom they bear testimony.
Ruth was an exceptional character, though a Gentile, she had an appreciation for spiritual things. She realized that the Hebrews had the knowledge of the true God, whereas her people did not. Putting spiritual things first, she chose rather to remain with her mother-in-law and those who knew God's Word than to return to her former environment. Ruth's words to her mother-in-law have become immortal. They have inspired many a person to do likewise. May these words grip the heart of every reader of this book. "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16,17).
ELI and Samuel were the last of the judges. The former administered his office for forty years, whereas the latter served for twenty years. The history of their administration is found in the first seven chapters of I Samuel. Eli was a good man but failed to discipline his children. His boys went astray, going from bad to worse. The Lord held him responsible for his failure in his duty. Samuel, on the other hand, was a faithful servant of God. He corrected his boys and disciplined them. Notwithstanding his efforts to rear them correctly, they, like the sons of Eli, became evil and wicked. The Lord did not, however, reprimand him for failure of duty. He did, however, punish his sons.
Although Samuel did administer the affairs of state properly and wisely, the people began to clamor for a king, for they wanted to be like the nations round about them. This demand was heartbreaking to Samuel, for he realized that their attitude was indicative of apostasy from the true and the living God. Samuel warned the people against taking this step and showed them what lay ahead of them. Notwithstanding the clear, straightforward statement of Samuel, the people would not listen but insisted that they be given a king who should go out before them.
Since they would not listen to Samuel's advice but insisted upon having a king, the Lord granted their request. This is one of the principles upon which God deals with His people. When they will not take His first and best plan, He will at their insistence give them a second or third bestor even a fourth best. God never forces upon people His will. He always shows them the danger and pleads with them to choose that which is best for their good both in time and eternity. But Israel, like many people today, insisted upon having her way. God gave her a king in His anger and took him away in His wrath. Self-will inevitably brings chastisement and punishment. Surrendering to the will of God and doing it always brings blessing. Thus the period of the Judges was brought to a conclusion in the year 3023 A.H.