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"Land On Which You Had Not Labored"

The Perizzites were one of the Canaanite nations who occupied the God-designated land of Israel prior to the time that God set for the Israelites to possess it themselves. The Perizzites, along with the other Canaanites, developed the land to its agricultural potential, hence God's statement to the Israelites just prior to their entry that it was "a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you dwell therein; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant." (Joshua 11:13 RSV). While some have regarded this as "unfair" to the Perizzites and other Canaanites, it was not, when one considers that they were, in effect, tenants on God's land, and when one realizes and appreciates the ultimate meaning and purpose of "Israel" (see Physical and Spiritual Israel). "Promised land" ultimately refers to salvation that is open to all nations (see Fact Finder question below).

God's Land

Wheat All the earth belongs to the Creator, it always has, it always will. That is how and why God legally made His enforceable promise to Abraham, that the land would belong to Abraham's descendants, through Isaac (see also Isaac and Ishmael):

"On that day The Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites." (Genesis 15:18-21 RSV)

Hundreds of years after the promise was made to Abraham, the time was ripe for the Israelites to take possession of the land that they were being made responsible for:

"And He said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then The Lord said, "I have seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites." (Exodus 3:3-8 RSV)

The Israelites were given to possess the land of Israel for a purpose, a physical purpose for themselves at first, but with an ultimate spiritual purpose for all humanity in due time (see the Fact Finder question below)

"you shall be My own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is Mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6 RSV)

"So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." (Galatians 3:7-8 RSV)

The land had been cared for by the Canaanites prior to the time the Israelites returned from Egypt, so when they did, they found fertile, tended land and cities ready to be resided in. The Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, had to fight their way in because the Canaanites would not peacefully end their tenancy on God's land even though they were warned by the knowledge (e.g. Joshua 2:9-11) that the Israelites under God's command were an approaching, unstoppable force:

"And you went over the Jordan [i.e. The Jordan River] and came to Jericho, and the men of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I gave them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you dwell therein; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant." (Joshua 24:11-13 RSV)

Regarding "fairness" to the Canaanites, the Biblical principle of someone successively laboring to prepare the way for someone else is not limited to Canaanites doing so for Israelites. Israelite people also served God's Purpose and Will by preparing the way for other Israelite people who would do their part in their time:

"David [i.e. King David] prepared abundantly before his death" (1 Chronicles 22:5 KJV) ... For David, after he had served the counsel of God [i.e. "served God's purpose" NIV] in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers (Acts 13:36 RSV)

"John [i.e. John The Baptist] answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease." He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all." (John 3:27-31 RSV)

Even this Daily Bible Study is the fruit of the labor of the teacher's teachers:

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it." (1 Corinthians 3:6-10 RSV)

Fact Finder: How has the meaning of "Zion" changed so that all people of all nations may be recipients of the blessing of "the Promised Land"?
See Who, What or Where Is Zion? and Salvation For All Nations


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