Tag Archives: Joshua

Joshua 13-24:

Dividing up the Land:
For many years the Israelites had still not yet conquered all of the land that the Lord had promised them.  “When Joshua was old and advanced in years, the Lord said to him: “Though now you are old and advanced in years, a very large part of the land still remains to be conquered.”” (Josh. 13:1)  This unconquered land included lands of the Philistines in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.  As noted earlier, Gath is where David will later have to fight a remnant of the Amorites, the giant Goliath.  Caleb notes that even though he is now 85 years old, he is “still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me forth..” (Josh.14:11)  Caleb vows even in his advanced years to drive out the Anakim from the territory promised to him.  Joshua gives Caleb “Kiriath-arba” or “Arba,” which is also known as Hebron.  From Hebron, “Caleb drove out from there the three Anakim, the descendants of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.” (Josh. 15:14)  Caleb is still driving out the giant Anakim from the land.  Joshua further designates all the different regions and lands for each tribe of Israel. They are to go forth and settle the land, and drive out the Canaanites from it, any that remain there.  “Jebus” the name used of Jerusalem at the time, is listed as still being occupied by the Canaanites.

Conquering the Land:
The ancient Near East writers often employed hyperbole to exaggerate their military victories and conquests.  Joshua seems to have done so here since all of the Canaanites were not totally driven out from the land.  But, any organized resistance to the Israelites presence is eventually eliminated.

Archeological Evidence, the Merneptah Stele, and Pig Bones:
There are generally two timeframes suggested for when Joshua and the Israelites conquered the land: (1) an early 15th century BC (1400’s BC); or (2) a late 13th century BC (1200’s BC) time of conquest.  Archeological evidence, including the “Merneptah Stele,” shows the presence of Israel in the land of Canaan by at least 1209 BC.  It shows a rapid growth of population and villages which could be explained by the Israelite migration there. [The Merneptah Stele is an Egyptian stele detailing their military conquests from the Egyptian King Merneptah from 1213 to 1203 BC, and it directly mentions the nation “Israel.”]  The archeological evidence of the towns from that time period significantly show little to no evidence of “pig bones,” which would be highly suggestive in distinguishing the Israelite settlements from the pagan Canaanite settlements.

Joshua Sets up the Meeting Tent in Shiloh:
“After they had subdued the land, the whole community of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh, where they set up the meeting tent.” (Josh. 18:1)  Shiloh becomes the new location for the Tabernacle and the Meeting Tent with the Lord.  Seven tribes of Israel had still not received their land heritage and settled the land, so Joshua instructed them to do so.  The Lord also instructs them to set up the “asylum cities” for those accused of unintentional homicide, so they can find refuge there.

The Promised Land Finally Settled:
“And so the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to their fathers he would give them. Once they had conquered and occupied it, the Lord gave them peace on every side, just as he had promised their fathers.  Not one of their enemies could withstand them; the Lord brought all their enemies under their power.  Not a single promise that the Lord made to the house of Israel was broken; every one was fulfilled.” (Josh. 21:43-45)

Joshua’s Final Plea and Covenant Renewal:
“Many years later, after the Lord had given the Israelites rest from all their enemies round about them, and when Joshua was old and advanced in years, he summoned all Israel . .  said to them: “I am old and advanced in years. . .  Therefore strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way, or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  You must not invoke their gods, or swear by them, or serve them, or worship them, but you must remain loyal to the Lord, your God, as you have been to this day.” (Josh. 23:1-2, 6-8)

As for Me and My Household, We will Serve the Lord:
Joshua tells the Israelites they must choose who they serve. Do they want to serve “the gods your fathers served” or do they want to serve the Lord?  “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:14-15)  This is the famous final saying from Joshua often quoted by Christians “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Covenant Renewal at Shechem:
Then, Joshua leads Israel in a Covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem.  “Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was in the sanctuary of the Lord.  And Joshua said to all the people, “This stone shall be our witness, for it has heard all the words which the Lord spoke to us.  It shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your God.” (Josh. 24:26-28)  The whole object of the Exodus was to occupy the Promised Land, and to use “the land” for the worship of the one true God, Yahweh. Now, that the land is settled, the Israelites can move on to the next stage of their Exodus, that is, to worship God. The purpose of the land is to worship God.  The land is to be a sanctuary of God, a theocracy, if you will.

The Death of Joshua:
Finally, at the age of 110 years old, Joshua died.  He was buried at “Timnath-serah in the mountain region of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.” (Josh. 24:30)  This is most probably the modern Palestinian village of “Kefr Haris” in the West Bank.  With that, the Book of Joshua, an epilogue to the Pentateuch (or, the five Books of Moses), comes to an end.

Joshua 7-12:

Israel under the Ban and Conquering Ai:
Israel is immediately placed under “the Ban” (or “herem”) for destruction because Achan from their camp had violated the Lord’s commands by taking goods from Jericho that were under the ban.  The Israelites are subsequently defeated by the Amorites at Ai.  Joshua then inquires who disobeyed the Lord’s commands and took goods under the ban from Jericho.  Achan confesses to having taken the goods in his greed.  Achan is then taken outside the camp and stoned to death, then “..the anger of the Lord relented.”  (Josh. 7:26)  Once Achan is removed then Israel is able to conquer Ai with the Lord’s blessing. “Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will deliver it into your power.”  (Josh. 8:18)  Israel then ambushed Ai, captured it and burnt it to the ground, destroying the entire population of the city.

Renewal of the Covenant at Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal:
Once Jericho and Ai are conquered, Joshua and the Israelites head north to Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerezim, the locations where Moses had directed them to do the Covenant-Renewal ceremony once they were in the Promised Land (Deut. 27:1-26).  They are to erect twelve stones with a copy of the Law that Moses has given them.  Half shall stand on Mt. Gerezim to bless the people and the other half shall stand on Mt. Ebal for the curse.  There the Israelites “read aloud all the words of the Las, the blessings and the curses..” (Josh. 8:34)

The Gibeonites Spared:
A people called the Gibeonites, apparently part of the Hivites community, came to Joshua and offered to be their slaves if they would only not kill them, like they did Jericho and Ai.  Joshua and the Israelites’ fame had spread all across the land and the Canaanites were in fear of God and the Israelites’ attacking them.  Joshua decides to enter into an oath with them to spare them but they are made to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” for the Israelites. (Josh. 9:27)  Just like Rahab, they are a pagan people who were shown mercy because they feared God and entered into covenant with his people.

Joshua’s Miraculous Victory over Gibeon:
From their base-camp at Gilgal, Joshua and the Israelites attacked the city of Gibeon, as five Amorite kings (of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon) united against Israel.  Yet, the Lord delivered them into Israel’s hands, and inflicted “a great slaughter on them at Gibeon..”  (Josh. 10:10) As the Amorites fled, Joshua and his troops pursued them.  At this point a miraculous divine intervention of hailstones are rained down of the Amorites killing many of them.  “..the Lord hurled great stones from the sky above them all the way to Azekah, killing many.  More died from these hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword.” (Josh. 10:11)  Joshua then prayed to God that the day last longer, the sun and moon would miraculously not move, so he could pursue his total victory.  “The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.” (Josh. 10:13) The miraculous halting of the sun in the sky let daylight persist indefinitely while the Israelites pursued and destroyed the Amorites and Gibeonites.  Joshua eventually finds in a cave, and kills the five Amorite kings as well.  Thus, the miraculous hailstorm and halting of the sun helped Joshua and the Israelites to victory.

Joshua Conquers the Entire Countryside:
“So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.” (Josh. 10:40)  From there, all the lands and kings of Canaan were captured by Joshua in a single campaign, as “the God of Israel, fought for Israel.” (Josh. 10:42)  The Israelites then return to Gilgal, which remains their basecamp of operations for all their military campaigns in the Promised Land.

Conquering the Northern Confederacy:
After hearing of the Israelites’ victories, the northern Canaanite peoples formed a confederacy and attempted to attack Joshua and the Israelites. “And they came out, with all their troops, a great host, in number like the sand that is upon the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces, and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.” (Josh. 11:4-5)  Yet, in another surprise attack, Joshua and the Israelites “struck them all down, leaving no survivors.” (Josh. 11:8)

Ongoing Conquest of Canaan:
“So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he took all their kings, and smote them, and put them to death. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; they took all in battle. For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be utterly destroyed, and should receive no mercy but be exterminated, as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Josh. 11:16-20)  The Lord had placed all of the Canaanites under the ban (“herem”) for total destruction.  The reasons for this are multifaceted.  One of the reasons was that they were pagan idolaters who offered human and child sacrifice to demon-gods.

Destruction of the Anakim:
Another reason for the herem, total-destruction of the Canaanites was the presence of the giant Anakim and Rephaim, who were tall people opposed to the will of God.  Who they were is not exactly known, but may be by-products of the fallen angels (Gen. 6:1-4).  “And Joshua came at that time, and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, did some remain.” (Josh. 11:21-22)  Joshua and the Israelites completely wiped-out the Anakim, as the Lord had commanded them.  Yet, only a few are left in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod.  Gath is where David in the future will end up fighting the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:4), perhaps one of these Anakim remnants that Joshua failed to kill.

Joshua Conquers All of Canaan, and there is Peace in the Land:
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 11:23) When sin (allegorically symbolized by the Canaanites and Anakim) is conquered, then you will have peace.

Joshua 1-6:

Joshua leads the Israelites over the Jordan River:
If Deuteronomy was Moses’ summary of the Law, then Joshua is the epilogue to Moses’ Pentateuch (the five Books of Moses). Joshua takes over from Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Joshua is one of seven figures in the Bible who has their names changed to correspond with their specific role in salvation history.  (Others, for example, are Abraham, Sarah, and Peter). Joshua’s original name was “Hosea” (meaning “salvation”; see Num. 13:8) but Moses changed it to “Joshua” (meaning “the Lord saves.”)  Joshua is a type of Jesus.  Interestingly, Joshua and Jesus are the same names in Hebrew, ישוע (“Yeshua”).  Joshua bears the name of the Messiah, Yeshua, or in English, Jesus.  In effect, “Jesus” is leading the chosen people of God into the “Promised Land.”  In the New Testament, Jesus does, in fact, lead Christians into the promised land of Heaven.  As Joshua prepares Israel to cross over into the Promised Land, they first prepare their provisions “for three days.”

Joshua Sends Spies to Jericho, and They Meet Rahab:
Joshua’s first conquest in the Promised Land will be Jericho, so he sends two spies to the city to reconnaissance it.  They end up going “into the house of a harlot named Rahab, where they lodged.” (Josh. 2:1)  Rahab conveys to them that tales of the Israelites and the Red Sea drying up have reached them, and the city of Jericho is terrified to fight the Israelites. So, Rahab tries to help them, and save her family’s lives.  She says, “Now then, swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign, and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (Josh. 2:12-13) The two spies answer her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.” (Josh. 2:13)  Rahab is a sinner (prostitute) and a Gentile (non-Jew).  Yet, the Israelites agree to save her if she helps them.  Rahab is saved by making a covenant with the people of God.  Rahab has been defined by the Church Fathers as a type for the Church and Christians. She is a sinner, a Gentile, non-Jew, yet she is saved.  Rahab also conspicuously shows up in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt. 1:5).  Jesus’ lineage is not just to save the Jews.  He has come with a universal mission to save all people.  Rahab reflects this part of his ancestry.  She is a symbol and a type of Church that will be saved by Jesus Christ. In this instance, she will be saved from the destruction wrought by Joshua on the city of Jericho.

Rahab’s Scarlet Cord:
Rahab then let the two Israelite spies down with a rope over the city wall.  She tells them to go up into the hill country and “hide there for three days, until they return.” (Josh. 2:16)  Again, as so many other times in the Old Testament, we see this motif of “three days.”  This has Christological significance as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ three days in the tomb and death, where He was hidden. The spies tell her to: “Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down; and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.” (Josh. 2:18) By the scarlet cord, the Israelites will know not to attack her house, so as to save Rahab and her whole family. Similarly, by the scarlet blood of Jesus are we (as spiritual descendants of Rahab) spared from death and destruction.  By the “scarlet cord” of Jesus’ blood, much like the blood of the Passover Lamb on the Israelites’ doors, are we saved.  The blood of the Passover lamb on the door equates to the scarlet cord on Rahab’s window equates to the blood of Christ on the Cross applied to our souls. Then, the spies departed into the hills where they stayed for “three days.”

Preparations to Cross the River Jordan:
Joshua moves the Israelites to Shittim before crossing over the Jordan River.  There they waited for “three days,” and Joshua tells them to: “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform wonders among you.” (Josh. 3:5)

The Miraculous Crossing of the Jordan River:
Now, just as Moses had led the Israelites miraculously through the Red Sea as on dry land, so now too, Joshua, the new Moses, was going to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River as if on dry land. Just as the Israelites’ were “baptized” through the Red Sea, now too, they will pass-over the veil into the Promised Land.  The Baptism of water leads to the entering the Promised Land.  The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went into the Jordan River first and the waters miraculously dried up:

“priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho. And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.” (Josh. 3:14-17)

The whole nation of Israel crossed over the Jordan River while the waters had stopped flowing while the priests holding the Ark of the Covenant stood in the midst of the riverbed.  Once they were all across, Joshua told them to set up twelve stones there as a “perpetual memorial to the Israelites.”  (Josh. 4:7)  This miraculous event exalted Joshua in the eyes of all the Israelites, to “know there is a living God in your midst.” (Josh. 3:10)  And, when the priests carrying the Ark left the riverbed, as “the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.” (Josh. 4:18)

The Hill of Foreskins:
At this point, we learn that the second wilderness generation under the leadership of Moses had never been circumcised.  So, the Lord tells Joshua: “Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. (“Hill of Foreskins”)  And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.” (Josh. 5:2-5) Moses had neglected his spiritual duty as part of the Covenant, perhaps this was another reason why God was angry with him and did not let him into the Promised Land.

They Celebrate the Passover:
Just as the crossing of the Red Sea is recapitulated by Joshua, so too now, they recapitulate the Passover celebration. The Passover is eaten before Israel embarks on their next miraculous stage, just as it was originally eaten on the night of Passover in Egypt, and again on Mt. Sinai after with the Covenant. The striking parallels continue between Joshua, the second wilderness generation, with Moses, and the first Exodus generation.  The Passover is the feast par excellence.  It is the ultimate Jewish feast that precedes the miraculous and the saving.  It is the Passover that foreshadowed Jesus’ death on the Cross.  This is what Passover predicted in word and action, and where it drew its ultimate symbology and power.  The Passover Lamb of Christ, through His sacrifice of Body and Blood, that we are miraculously saved.

The End of the Manna:
As soon as the Israelites passed over into the Promised Land the miraculous manna ceased.  The Israelites had lived off of and eaten the miraculous manna in the wilderness for forty years.  But now, as soon as they step into the Promised Land, the manna stops.  “And on the morrow after the passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” (Josh. 5:11-12)  The manna is our Holy Eucharist.  It is our food for the journey in this life.  As soon as we cross over into the Promised Land of Heaven, we no longer have or need the Eucharist to sustain us.  The Eucharist is the bread from Heaven that feeds us on our wilderness journey on the earth.  Now, the Israelites no longer need the manna, as they will live off the fruit of the land of Canaan.

Joshua’s Vision Before Jericho:
“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”  And he said, “No; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, “What does my lord bid his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Josh. 5:13-15)  Here too, just like the Angel of Death before the Passover in Egypt, the Angel of the Lord’s army stands ready to slay the pagans at Jericho.  So often, it seems, we are predisposed to believe in Jesus and God as a milquetoast figure, but clearly the Lord in the Exodus years is a warrior God of fierce strength and justice.

The Conquest of Jericho:
The Lord tells Joshua that He has delivered Jericho into his hands.  He instructs them to encircle the city and walk six times around it, with the priests and the Ark of the Covenant and ram’s horns.  “On the seventh day march around the city seven times, and have the priests blow the horns.  When they give a long blast on the ram’s horns and you hear the signal, all the people shall shout aloud.  The wall of the city will collapse, and they will be able to make a frontal attack.” (Josh. 6:4-5)  Then, Joshua commanded the people to follow the Lord’s instructions.  Troops marched in front of the Ark.  Then, the seven Levite priests carried the Ark with the ram’s horns.  And behind the Ark marched picked troops.  “The blowing of horns was kept up continually as they marched.” (Josh. 6:9)  The people were to remain silent until Joshua gave the signal.  They did this for six days.

The Seven Day Siege of Jericho:
Seven is the sacred number of the Covenant, and it is the day of the Sabbath, when Israel shall rest. The whole Exodus is geared towards “rest” and worship of God in the Temple in the Promised Land. The whole Exodus from the beginning is oriented towards worship. (Ex. 4:23; 5:3) The siege of Jericho is presented as an offering dedicated to God as part of a liturgical ceremony. “On the seventh day they rose early at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times: it was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout; for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers that we sent. . . . So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses, with the edge of the sword.” (Josh. 6:15-21)  As they marched around the city 7 times on the 7th day, the priests blew their trumpets, and the people shouted.  When they had done all of that, the walls of the city collapsed, and the Israelites conquered Jericho.  Joshua was faithful to his promise though and commanded Rahab and her family to be saved.  It is through Rahab’s line that the Messiah would later come to be born.

The Liturgical Conquest of Jericho:
The conquest of Jericho is more liturgical in nature than strategic and military.  The Israelites are led by the Levite priests in processions around the city.  They do this procession each day for six days. Then, they do the liturgical procession seven times on the seventh day.  The priests are in the procession carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest object in the Old Testament.  The priests are also carrying the ram’s horns, sacred objects, which herald the destruction of the pagan town of Jericho.  If the Israelites’ celebrated Passover before the siege of Jericho, then they seven days of circumambulation around the city of Jericho coincided with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The siege of Jericho began with the ritual Feast of the Passover, and continued with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  On the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the walls of Jericho come collapsing down.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are prefigurements to Jesus’ death and Crucifixion, and to the Holy Mass and Eucharist respectively.  By way of typology then, by Jesus’ Body and Blood through His death, and the Holy Eucharist of the Mass, we will conquer sin and evil in the world.  The Israelites show us physically how we are to conquer spiritually through religious ritual and liturgical worship.

The Fall of Jericho, Trumpet Blasts, and the End of the World:
The fall of Jericho has long been understood by the Fathers of the Church as a prefigurement of the end of the world.  Just as the world will be full of evil-doers under the control of the Antichrist, so too, was Jericho under the control of pagan idolatry.  Only the harlot Rahab and her family renounced Jericho and pledged allegiance to the Israelites.  In the end of the world, only a remnant of the people, the Church, will renounce the Antichrist and pagan idolatry, and cling to the faith (ie, Christianity).  But, it is through their faith, and the blood of Christ (ie, the scarlet cord) that they will be saved.  Just as Rahab was saved from Jericho, so too, will the Christian remnant gain salvation from the Antichrist, the world, and death.  Salvation will come liturgically through the foreshadowed feasts of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (ie, through Jesus’ Cross and holy sacrifice of the Mass in the Eucharist).  The Levite priests are blowing the trumpets throughout the procession. The trumpet (“shofar”) is associated with the Feast of Trumpets (or “Yom Teruah” the Feast of Blowing ‘Trumpets’).  This is to symbolize the end of the world.  The ram’s horn (the “shofar”) is a reminder of the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of Isaac.  The ram was the substitute sacrifice for Isaac, just as Christ, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed in our place, as our substitute.  Trumpets signaled Yahweh’s descent upon Mt. Sinai to the camp of Israel, amidst fire and darkness, thunder and lightning, and trumpet blasts, a foreshadowing of God’s return at the Second Coming of Christ.  The Book of Revelation reveals the end of the world and Jesus’ Second Coming all amidst trumpet blasts.  At the final trumpet blast, the walls of the Antichrist will come crashing down, and the New Joshua, Jesus, will return to destroy the evildoers (Jericho), and save the Christian remnant (Rahab).

Deuteronomy 15-34:

Moses’ Deuteronomic Code / The “Second Law”:
This section of Deuteronomy (chapters 12-26) is part of what is called “The Deuteronomic Code.” This is part of what scholars call “The Second Law.”  It is an expansion and application of the original Law, the Ten Commandments. This expanded Decalogue of the Deuteronomic Code actually follows the layout of the Ten Commandments in order from chapters 12-26.  So, the Second Law is actually an expansion and application of the original Law of the Ten Commandments.  Deuteronomy 12-26 (Second Law) parallels Deuteronomy 5 (Original Law).  The Code is specifically concerned with the centralization and consolidation of worship.  Sacrifice and worship is to be centralized to one place, the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant, regulated by the Law, and under the watchful eye of the Levitical priesthood.  As the Israelites are conquering and settling the land of Canaan, much of Deuteronomy is also concerned with conquest and settlement issues.  The Mosaic Second Law Covenant is fashioned after a typical Hittite covenant document from the late second millennium B.C. period in the Near East. 

This new king-vassal type of covenant is with Moses, and not directly to God Himself.  In Deuteronomy 29 we read, “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.” (Deut. 29:1) God commands Moses to make the Covenant with Israel.  Similarly, in Deuteronomy 4, Moses says these are the statutes and ordinances “which I teach you” and “which I command you.” (Deut. 4)  The Deuteronomic Code or Second Law is more a Mosaic Covenant with the Israelites, and not a direct Covenant with God now.  Moses is acting on behalf of God as His lawgiver, teacher, and commander.  Yet, certain Mosaic laws like the “herem” (total warfare on the Canaanites) did not represent the highest will of God for His people, but was an accommodation by Moses to account for the sinfulness of the Israelites. There is some distance between certain Mosaic Laws and the ideal divine will found elsewhere in Scripture.

Seven-Year Sabbath Laws and Social Justice for the Poor:
God declared that every seventh year is a Sabbath Year, meaning the Israelites were obligated to forgive debts and offer restitution of money and property.  They were also prohibited from usury and giving loans with interest.  This Jubilee forgiveness of debts every seven years is a foundational social teaching for Judaism and Christianity regarding social justice and love for the poor.  “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it; but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release.  But there will be no poor among you.” (Deut. 15:1-4)  God commands that Israel be charitable to the poor. In the New Dispensation of the Gospel this would be akin to corporeal works of mercy, or caring for the poor.  “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.” (Deut. 15:11)  Hebrew slaves will likewise be set free from bondage or indentured servitude on the seventh year.

A Review of the Feasts and Festivals – Passover and Unleavened Bread:
God instructs the Israelites that they must appear before God three times a year, first at the Tabernacle, but later, at the Temple, to offer sacrifice and worship Him.  “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place which he will choose: at the feast of unleavened bread, at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you.” (Deut. 16:16-17)

God tells the Israelites to remember the Passover Feast and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “And you shall offer the passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place which the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there.  You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in hurried flight..” (Deut. 16:2-3)

The Festival of Weeks:
“You shall count seven weeks; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the feast of weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand..” (Deut. 16:9-10)

 The Feast of Booths:
“You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press;  you shall rejoice in your feast..” (Deut. 16:13-14)

Forbidden Forms of Worship:
Any person who offers pagan worship or sacrifice is to be stoned by the community.  There shall not be any worship of false gods or idolatry, or the worship of the sun, moon or stars, as was common among the pagans.  Moses instructions are blunt and harsh to purge them from your midst: “If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones.” (Deut. 17:2-5)  One of Moses’ main concern here is to protect the fledgling nation in their worship of the one true God and to avoid them falling back into the pagan worship of demons.

No Occult or Pagan Practices:
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” (Deut. 18:9-12)

Raise Up a Prophet Like Me / The Messiah will be the New Moses:
This is one of the great Messianic prophecies of Moses pointing towards Jesus, as the New Moses, who the Lord will raise up to Israel.  A Messiah will come who is the “New Moses.”  This new Moses, of course, is Jesus.  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They have rightly said all that they have spoken.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.  And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deut. 18:15-19)

Jesus as the New Moses:
Indeed, there are many striking parallels to Jesus and Moses, too many to list here. But, Jesus is the new Moses leading His people on a new Exodus to the Promised Land, with new manna from Heaven, and bringing them into a New Covenant, not written on stones but upon their hearts.  Jesus Himself alludes to this verse in a debate with the Jews: “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:45-47)  St. Peter also quotes these lines (Deut. 18:18) from Deuteronomy, saying: “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’” (Acts 19:22-23)

Seeing God “Face-to-Face:
One of the main requirements of the prophet like Moses, ie, the Messiah, is that he shall speak to God “face-to-face” just as Moses did. Jesus fulfills this perfectly as He alone speaks to the Father, as He retreats alone into deserted places to pray. No other prophet speaks to God “face-to-face” as Jesus did, exceeding Moses’ interaction, as he was not allowed to behold the face of God directly. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (John 1:18) And, “Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father.” (John 6:46)

Three Cities of Refuge:
These are three cities Israel is to set aside as refuges for people who unintentionally kill someone else. These are cities they can flee to in order to avoid revenge from another person.  “You shall set apart three cities for you in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess. . This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If any one kills his neighbor unintentionally without having been at enmity with him in time past.” (Deut. 19:2, 4)  What is the purpose of this?  To prevent innocent blood from being shed on the land, and thus, polluting it: “lest innocent blood be shed in your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.” (Deut. 19:10)

Two or Three Witnesses Necessary:
For every accusation or court case, there must be at least two to three witnesses to convict someone. “A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained.” (Deut. 19:15)  And, if one is found guilty, then they are to act with pure justice with the person, meaning giving him exactly what he or she deserves: “then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. And the rest shall hear, and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.  Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deut. 19:19-21)

Herem: Utterly Destroy Paganism in Canaan:
“But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded; that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the Lord your God.” (Deut. 20:16-18)  The point here is Moses’ injunction of the “herem” (total warfare) command to utterly destroy the pagans of Canaan is to prevent them from influencing the Israelites with paganism and corrupt their monotheistic worship of Yahweh alone.  Earlier in Exodus and Numbers, God never says to totally wipeout the native Canaanites in the land.  It is only after the mass apostasy of the Israelites on the plains of Moab and the worship of Baal, that Moses calls for the “ban” or the herem (total warfare) against the indigenous populations.  This is to protect the Israelites from being tempted and slipping back into paganism and idolatry, as the Israelites have repeatedly done.  Yet, certain Mosaic laws like this do not represent the ideal of God’s highest will for His people.

Moses’ Laws for the Israelites:
Many of the laws that come out from Moses in Deuteronomy is exactly that, laws from Moses, that Moses permitted because the Israelites were “a stubborn people.”  In much of the Book of Deuteronomy God is not speaking in the first-person, in fact, for much of the book it is Moses speaking in the first-person to the Israelites.  God does not speak first-hand in Deuteronomy until near the end of the book (Deut. 31:16-23) Moses, in fact, took responsibility for promulgating these laws “which I command” and “I have taught you.” (Deut. 4)  And so, we find many instances where Moses permits the Israelites to do certain things and certain actions, which God Himself had not permitted them to do.  As Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees when they asked him if it is permissible for a husband to divorce his wife, Jesus responds “from the beginning it was not so.”  But rather, Moses permitted your ancestors to do it because of the hardness of their hearts.” “They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mt. 19:7-8) And so, Jesus is saying some of the things that Moses permitted was not the original intention of God.  Rather, it was a temporary “fix” allowed by Moses at a particular instance in time, to assuage the rebelliousness of the Israelites.  This must be taken in this context when considering some of the more morally questionable actions that Moses permitted the Israelites to do.  This is a hermeneutical key that Jesus gives for unlocking the mystery of Deuteronomy.  These are amendments Moses made for the Israelites at that moment in time.

Female Captives:
For example, Moses addresses the Israelites about when they win in battle and they take the women as spoils of victory.  If they find “a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife,” then you must basically shave her clean and let her mourn her father and mother for thirty days.  At that point, “you may go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” (Deut. 21:13)  Many would find this morally objectionable, if not downright repugnant.  Or, like the next line: “If a man has two wives..”  Again, this is an area where the Israelites were still shaking off the pagan culture, in this case – polygamy – from where they grew out of, but have not yet fully accomplished it.  As Jesus said, Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, but “from the beginning it was not so.”  In short, the Israelites were a work-in-progress.  Moses made accommodations for the Israelites, but his accommodations, like this, often fell short of the more ideal, divine will of God.

Crucifixion, Hung on a Tree, and Jesus:
This is another line from Deuteronomy foreshadowing and prophesying about Jesus and His crucifixion on the Cross, or “a tree.”  It reads: “and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.” (Deut. 21:22-23)  In fact, Jesus was crucified on the “tree” of a cross, where He died and was buried that same day.  Even in death, Jesus fulfilled the Law.

No Cross-Dressing:
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 22:5)

Adulterers are to be Stoned:
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Deut. 22:22)

Rapist Punished with Death:
“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But to the young woman you shall do nothing.” (Deut. 22:25-26)

No Incest:
“A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor shall he uncover her who is his father’s.” (Deut. 22:30)  This language of “uncovering his father’s nakedness” hearkens back to Ham uncovering the nakedness of his father, or in other words, he raped his mother. This is why the line of Ham was cursed, through the product of the incestuous union, who of course was Canaan.

Those Restricted from the Assembly of the Lord:
-“He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.”
-“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” (Deut. 23:1,3)
-“There shall be no cult prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, or the wages of a dog, into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow; for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 23:17-18)

The Israelites about to Passover into the Promised Land:
“Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. And on the day you pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall set up large stones, and plaster them with plaster; and you shall write upon them all the words of this law, when you pass over to enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.” (Deut. 27:1-3)  Moses is still exhorting the Israelites to obey all the Commandments that the Lord has given them.  And he commands the Israelites to build an altar to the Lord God when they cross over into the Promised Land.  “You shall build an altar to the Lord your God of unhewnstones; and you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God; and you shall sacrifice peace offerings, and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deut. 27:6-8)  The Israelites are to honor God for the great gift He has given them with the land flowing with milk and honey.  Moses then offers twelve curses for the anyone who breaks twelve different aspects of the Law.

The Blessings:
However, if the Israelites obey the Commandments of the Lord they will be exceedingly blessed among the nations. “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deut. 28:2)

The Curses:
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” (Deut. 28:15) And more curses: “A nation which you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors; and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually; so that you shall be driven mad by the sight which your eyes shall see.” (Deut. 28:33-34)  “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you, till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you. They shall be upon you as a sign and a wonder, and upon your descendants for ever.” (Deut. 28:45-46)  “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.” (Deut. 28:54)

A New Mosaic Covenant at Moab:
“These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he had made with them at Horeb.”  (Deut. 29:1)  This is a good reminder that this is a different Covenant at Moab, than the original Covenant at Mt. Sinai.  The Sinai Covenant was a familial one, but the Moab covenant was a vassal, suzerainty treaty.  God is binding them in a king-servant type of treaty to bind their rebelliousness.  It is almost as if God has stepped-aside and commanded Moses to make the Covenant with the Israelites.  God even says, “.. the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people Israel.”  God has essentially deputized Moses to stand in for Him and make the Covenant with the people.  Thus, many of the laws and statutes were promulgated by Moses, as God’s deputy, and not directly from God.

Future Restoration:
Now, even if Israel should falter and fail, and break the Covenant (which obviously we know they did repeatedly, and were conquered and dispersed by the Babylonians and the Persians, and the Romans), God will still remember His Covenant with Israel and gather them back together from the nations. “If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will fetch you; and the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, that you may possess it; and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deut. 30:4-6)  And, God promises His word is neither far away or difficult.  But rather, “But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”  (Deut. 30:14) “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.” (v.15)

Joshua Becomes Moses’ Successor:
“And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will go over before you; he will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them; and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken.” (Deut. 31:2-3)  “Then Moses summoned Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall put them in possession of it.  It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:7-8) “And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” (Deut. 31:14) “And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to give them: I will be with you.” (Deut. 31:23)

Moses’ Book of the Law on “the Side” of the Ark:
“When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book, to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are; behold, while I am yet alive with you, today you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more after my death!” (Deut. 31:24-27)  There is some symbolic significance here.  The Law written by Moses is not inside the Ark, but is only put “by the side of the ark of the covenant.”  That is, what is inside the Ark of the Covenant is written by God Himself (The Ten Commandments) and is holiest of the holies.  But, the Mosaic Law is written by Moses, and made to accommodate and try to restrict sinfulness.  It is not as holy, and so, it is only on the side of the Ark, but not in the Ark itself. St. Paul discusses this later in his Epistles, where he says the Law was written because of sinfulness: “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions..” (Gal. 3:19)  But,it was surpassed and superseded by the grace of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  Moses’ Law was not as it was intended “from the beginning.”  Jesus’ covenantal bond of friendship and adopted-sons and daughters brings us back to how it was meant to be in the beginning. The Deuteronomic Law seems to be disharmonious with the ideals expressed elsewhere in Scripture, but these are accommodations by Moses towards the sinfulness of Israel.

The Song of Moses:
Here are a few highlights from Moses’ Song:
-“The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice.”
-“Is not he your father, who created you,who made you and established you?”
-“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.”
-“You were unmindful of the Rock that begotyou, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
-“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.”
-“Where are their gods..”
-“Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun.”

The Death of Moses Foretold:
“And the Lord said to Moses that very day,  “Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho; and view the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel for a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meri-bath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the people of Israel.” (Deut. 32:48-52)

The Final Blessing of Moses Upon Israel:
Deuteronomy is Moses’ last will and testament to his people, Israel.  It has become a “constitution” of sorts for Israel, as a synopsis almost of the whole Old Testament.  It was to be read and represented to the whole nation of Israel every seven years, and as such, it serves as a liturgical document, calling Israel to ritually renew its covenant with God.  Yet, here before his death, Moses offers individual blessings for each of the tribes of Israel.  This is a parallel to Jacob’s deathbed blessings of his twelve sons and the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:1-27) Moses says, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places.” (Deut. 33:29)

Moses Ascends Mt. Nebo and Dies in Moab:
“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.  And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.”

“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him; so the people of Israel obeyed him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.  And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,  none like him for all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel.”  (Deut. 34)

Deuteronomy ends on a somewhat melancholy note that Moses is dead and that a prophet “like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” has not yet arisen. Deuteronomy ends on a note of longing for the Messiah, Messianic expectation. The Messiah will be a prophet like Moses, who knows the Lord “face to face.” Moses and the Israelites are longing for the emergence of the Messiah. It is Jesus alone, who comes some 1,500 years later, who is the New Moses, a prophet like him, who knows the Lord, God the Father, face to face. It is because Jesus is the Son of God and knows the Father face-to-face, that He speaks with authority, for “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46)

Numbers 22-35:

Balak, King of Moab, Seeks to Curse Israel:
Israel is now camped out in Moab near the city of Jericho.  Balak, the king of Moab, summons Balam, a pagan gentile divinizer, to divinize and place a curse upon Israel.  God came to Balam and told him not to curse Israel for “they are blessed.”  Yet, in the morning Balam got up, rode on his ass to go see the king Balam, against the will of the Lord.  This angered God, so the “Angel of the Lord” stood in the road to block his way.

Balam’s Talking Donkey:
“Then the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the ass, “Because you have made sport of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” (Num. 22:28-29)  “Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed his head, and fell on his face.  And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your ass these three times? Behold, I have come forth to withstand you, because your way is perverse before me..” (Num. 22:31-32)  Balam then repents “I have sinned.”  Then, Balam went back to Balak to prophesy.

Balam’s First Oracle:
“And God met Balam.”  And, Balam offered seven bulls and seven rams to the Lord.  Balam spoke: “How can I curse whom God has not cursed?”  And, King Balak complained to him: “And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” (Num. 23:11)

Balam’s Second Oracle:
“The Lord their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them. God brings them out of Egypt; they have as it were the horns of the wild ox; For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel;” (Num. 23:21-23)

Balam’s Third Oracle:
As Balam, the pagan Gentile, begins his third oracle, “And the Spirit of God came upon him.”  God does not abandon anyone who calls upon His name, even a gentile pagan. “Blessed be every one who blesses you, and cursed be every one who curses you.” (Num. 24:9)

Balam’s Fourth Oracle:
Now, Balam gives one of the most famous prophecies in the Old Testament.  “I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”  Here is the prophesy:

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Be′or,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down, but having his eyes uncovered:
 I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not nigh:
a star shall come forth out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the foreheadof Moab,
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
Edom shall be dispossessed,
Se′ir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed,
while Israel does valiantly.
 By Jacob shall dominion be exercised,
and the survivors of cities be destroyed!”

Then he looked on Am′alek, and took up his discourse, and said, “Am′alek was the first of the nations, but in the end he shall come to destruction.” And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse, and said,

“Enduring is your dwelling place,
and your nest is set in the rock;
nevertheless Kain shall be wasted.
How long shall Asshur take you away captive?” And he took up his discourse, and said, “Alas, who shall live when God does this? But ships shall come from Kittim
and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
and he also shall come to destruction.”  (Num. 24:15-24)

Balam as a “Magi from the East:”
Here, Balam prophesies about the coming of the Messiah, “a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”  After this, Balam and Balak went their separate ways. Balam is a kind-of “magus” from the East paralleling the Magi who come from the East to offer worship of the new Christ child (Mt. 2). Here, Balam, a precursor to the Magi, also prophesies about the future Magi who will come worship Christ.

The Israelites Worship Baal at Peor:
The picture of the “wilderness generation” of the Israelites is basically how not to walk with God.  It is a negative example to us of how we should not model our behavior.  This is a warning to future Christian generations to not fall into the same types of sins of unbelief, immorality and idolatry lest we be judged not to enter into the true Promised Land of Heaven.  The wilderness years are a disaster for the Israelites, and a nadir in their relationship with God.  With that in mind, back at Peor, the Israelites began to worship the Moabite false-god, Baal.  “While Israel dwelt in Shittim the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Ba′al of Pe′or. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” (Num. 25:1-3)  In the Lord’s anger, He instructs Moses: “Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them in the sun before the Lord, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.”

Sexual Immorality and Spiritual Apostasy Link:
After the plague is finally stayed, 24,000 Israelites have been killed! (Num. 25:9)  Intermingling and intermarrying with the Midianites led to their worshiping of Baal. So God tells Moses, “Harass the Mid′ianites, and smite them; for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Pe′or..” (Num. 25:16-17)  Sexual immorality again is linked with spiritual apostasy.  This is the same as what happened with the Golden Calf incident, spiritual apostasy and sexual immorality.  What the Golden Calf incident was to the Exodus (1st) generation, so too, was the Idolatry of Baal at Pe’or for the Wilderness (2nd) generation. But again, we see the link between spiritual apostasy and sexual immorality.

Phineas, son of Eleazar, Assuages God’s Anger:
“And the Lord said to Moses, “Phineas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace; and it shall be to him, and to his descendants after him, the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the people of Israel.’” (Num. 25:10-13)

Another Census, the Second Wilderness Generation:
The Lord calls for a new census to find out “all in Israel who are able to go forth to war.”  After the census is complete, it is determined: “This was the number of the people of Israel, six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty.”(Num. 26:51)  That is, 601,730 Israelite men of fighting age.  And, “The Lord said to Moses: “To these the land shall be divided for inheritance according to the number of names.” (Num. 26:52-53)  The Promised Land is to be divided among this second generation and divided up according the size of each tribes’ population.  Only Joshua and Caleb are left of the first generation of the Exodus, and will be permitted to enter into the Promised Land.

Appointing Joshua the Successor to Moses:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Ab′arim, and see the land which I have given to the people of Israel.  And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was gathered, because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin during the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the waters before their eyes.” (Num. 27:12-14) At this point, Joshua is commissioned to take over the leadership of the Israelites and lead them into the Promised Land.  Then, God told Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand upon him; cause him to stand before Elea′zar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight.  You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey.” (Num. 27:18-20)  Allegorically, it is not Moses (“the Old Testament”) that leads us to the Promised Land (“Heaven”), but it is Joshua (Greek for “Jesus”) and His Gospel of the New Covenant to the Promised Land of Heaven.

The Two Daily Offerings: Morning and Evening:
“This is the offering by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a continual offering.  The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening.”  Along with the offerings of the two lambs, one in the morning and one in the evening, they are to offer a grain offering and a wine offering. (Num. 28:3-8)  The same offering is to be made every Sabbath as well, and a monthly offering.

Further Feast Offerings Described:
The Lord then described the proscriptions of offerings for the Passover Festival and the other holy Feasts and Festivals.  This includes the Feast of Weeks, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Booths.  Also, one interesting note about the offerings of the Feast of Booths, over the seven day festival the Israelites were to offer 70 bulls.  The 70 bulls are offered for the “70 gentile nations” of the world. Israel, the first-born son, is offering and interceding for the gentile nations of the world.

 War Against Midian:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Avenge the people of Israel on the Mid′ianites; afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” (Num. 31:1-2)  The Israelites then conquer the Midianites, and bring all the spoils and booty of war to present it all before Moses and Aaron.

The Beginning Conquests of Jordan and Canaan:
“We will pass over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan.” (Num. 32:32)  “And the Lord said to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho,  “Say to the people of Israel, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan,  then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places;  and you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it.” (Num. 33:50-53)

The Lord Sets the Boundaries of the Promised Land:
Here the Lord sets the boundaries of the Promised Land to the north, the south, the west, and the east. “Moses commanded the people of Israel, saying, “This is the land which you shall inherit by lot..” (Num. 34:13)

Ordinance Against Murder:
“And these things shall be for a statute and ordinance to you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  If any one kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses; but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” (Num. 35:29-30)

Numbers 11-14:

The Israelites Complaining:
The Israelites complained in hearing the Lord and “when he heard it his wrath flared up so that the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp.” (Num. 11:1)  But, Moses prayed and the fire died out.  The “foreign elements among them were so greedy for meat that even the Israelites lamented again, ‘Would that we had meat for food!'” (Num. 11:4)  The Israelites complained, “we see nothing before us but his manna.”

The Manna and the Complaining for Meat:
“Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium.  The people went about and gathered it, and ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil.  When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.” (Num. 11:7-9)  The manna fell like the dewfall, just as we hear in the liturgy of the Eucharist as Mass.  Moses likewise complained to the Lord, “Where can I get meat to give to all this people?  For they are crying to me, ‘Give us meat for our food.’  I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me.'” (Num. 11:13-14)  Moses takes his complaining to the Lord to the extreme saying, “If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress.” (Num. 11:15)  Moses is ready for death rather than face the Israelites’ complaining any more.

The 70 Elders:
The Lord then tells Moses that He will bestow some of His Spirit upon the Elders so that Moses will not have to bear the Israelites alone.  The Lord tells the Moses to tell the people: “Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, when you shall have meat to eat.” (Num. 11:18)  Further, He says: “Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you..” (Num. 11:19-20)  The Lord promises to provide meat for them, reminiscent of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse that His flesh is “meat indeed.” It is of particular importance too that the spirit if conferred upon the 70 Elders through the laying on of hands. The ordination rite is passed, like today in the Christian dispensation for Holy Orders, through the bishops’ laying-on of hands of the priests and bishops. So too, was it in the days of Moses and the 70 Elders.

The Quail:
“And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and it brought quails from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth.” (Num. 11:31) The Lord provided flesh and meat for the Israelites to eat.

Aaron and Miriam Complain against Moses:
Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ sister, complain against the intimacy that Moses enjoys with the Lord.  They use the pretext of him marrying a “Cushite woman” to complain against him.  Yet, Moses was the “meekest man on the face of the earth.”  The Lord addresses Aaron and Miriam directly saying He speaks “face to face” with Moses. “Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?” (Num. 12:8)  In the Lord’s anger, He afflicts Miriam with leprosy. Moses again intercedes for her, and the Lord let her be afflicted for 7 days, and to stay outside the camp with the affliction, “only then may she be brought back.”

The Twelve Scouts and the “Bad Report”:
The Lord tells them to send one scout from each tribe to the land of Canaan. The scouts reported back: “We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Yet the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anakim there.” (Num. 13:27-28)  The large, giant people live there.  Most of the scouts are intimidated and advise against taking the land that the Lord has promised.  So, they “spread discouraging reports among the Israelites.”  They said, “And all the people we saw there are huge men, veritable giants [the Anakim were a race of giants]; we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.” (Num. 13:32-33)

The Israelites Panic and Joshua Responds:
The Israelites panicked and said, “Let us appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”  Yet, Joshua tore his garments saying, “If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us in and give us that land, a land flowing with milk and honey. But do not rebel against the Lord!  You need not be afraid of the people of that land; they are but food for us!” (Num. 14:8-9)

The Ten Complaints, and None shall enter the Promised Land:
Despite all of the signs and wonders the Lord worked for them in releasing them from bondage in Egypt, yet the Israelites “have put me to the test ten times already and have failed to heed My voice, not one shall see the land which I promised on oath to their fathers.  None of these who have spurned Me shall see it.”  (Num. 14: 22-23)  The Israelites’ grumbling and testing of the Lord leads Yahweh to declare that no one of that generation shall enter the Promised Land.  The Lord declares that, “Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.”  “Forty days you spent in scouting the land; forty years shall you suffer for your crimes: one year for each day.” (Num. 14:34)  Thus, the Lord condemns the Israelites to wander the desert for 40 years.

The Ten Tests Against the Lord by the Israelites:
1. Rejection of Moses and message (Ex. 5:15-6:9)
2. Complains and loses faith at the shores of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:10-12)
3. Murmurs at the bitter waters of Marah (Ex. 15:22-25)
4. Murmurs against hunger, so God provides manna (Ex. 16:1-36)
5. Murmurs and tests the Lord at Massah; God provides water from the rock (Ex. 17:1-19)
6. The Golden Calf Incident (Ex. 32:1-35)
7. Complaints against God at Taberah (Num. 11:1-3)
8. Demanding meat, so God provides quail (Num. 11:4-35)
9. Miriam and Aaron question and rebel against Moses (Num. 12:1-16)
10. Revolt after the bad report from the spies (Num. 14:1-38)

Only Caleb and Joshua Shall Enter the Promised Land:
Caleb and Joshua believed in the Lord and in the Promised Land, so they alone of this ‘wicked generation’ shall enter the Promised Land.  The people felt “great remorse,” yet they still tried to seize the Promised Land.  Moses advised against it as they had disobeyed the Lord. And so, “the Amalekites and Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country came down and defeated them..”