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Tuesday, March 6 2012

On The Brink Of Civil War

The crossing of the Jordan River in the time of Joshua is usually regarded as the defining moment of the entry of the Israelites into the "Promised Land" (see also Milk and Honey). Territorially however, it actually began, for two and a half of the tribes of Israel, while yet in the time of Moses.

First, Moses knew that he was not going to cross the Jordan River: "the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan."

"31:1 And Moses [see The River Of Moses and Moses Of Midian] went and spake these words unto all Israel. 31:2 And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 31:3 The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said. 31:4 And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed. 31:5 And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you." (Deuteronomy 31:1-5 KJV)

Nevertheless, no where does it say in the Holy Scriptures that Moses would not, or did not, enter the whole area defined as the Promised Land. Moses died east of the Jordan River, but within the land that was given to the Israelite tribes of "the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh."

The Jordan River

"29:2 And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them,

Ye have seen all that the LORD [see The First Christian Church] did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 29:3 The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 29:4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. 29:5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. 29:6 Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.

29:7 And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them: 29:8 And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh." (Deuteronomy 29:2-8 KJV)

As shown on the map below, the eastern tribal lands included a narrow corridor all the way to the far-north area of the Euphrates River (which, as the map also correctly shows, did not include the territory that the LORD had assigned to the other children of Abraham - see Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates). Moses died and was buried somewhere near Mount Nebo, which became included within the Israelite tribal territory of Reuben. Some may wonder why Moses, as a Levite, wasn't buried in Levite tribal territory, but the Levites, as later set apart for their service to the LORD (see The Origin Of The Levite Priesthood), had no territory of their own - they were assigned towns and lands throughout all of the other tribes; Moses' burial in Reuben is in itself in accordance with that principle.

"1:1 Now after the death [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?] of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, 1:2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 1:4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." (Joshua 1:1-5 KJV)

The other tribes had fought to establish the eastern tribes in their territory, so the fighting men of the eastern tribes were then required to do their part in establishing the western tribes in their territory. For that reason, warriors of the eastern tribes crossed the Jordan River with the general population of the to-be western tribes i.e. "your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them."

"1:10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 1:11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

1:12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 1:14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; 1:15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD's servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising." (Joshua 1:10-15 KJV)

"God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD"

When "the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh" had fulfilled their military obligation ("Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God"), Joshua released them to return to their families across the Jordan (without doubt, a sufficient defense force had remained east of the Jordan to defend the general population there). While the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant had crossed the Jordan, Moses, to whom the LORD had given it, was buried with the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan. Joshua reminded them of that with his departing statement, "But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul."

Tribal Map

"22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 22:2 And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you: 22:3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God. 22:4 And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan. 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Joshua 22:1-5 KJV)

Perhaps the reason that the tribe of Manasseh was given territory on both sides of the Jordan was to serve as another everyday reminder that, for the Israelites, the Jordan River was a tribal border (equivalent to a provincial border today), not an international border. Notice the statement "the LORD hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad" does not include Manasseh on both sides of the river.

"22:6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents. 22:7 Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them, 22:8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

22:9 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses." (Joshua 22:6-9 KJV)

As they were about to cross the Jordan on their return, the men of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh built an altar as a monument of both their unity with the other tribes and their faithfulness to the LORD. Unfortunately, the other tribes were very quick to misunderstand its meaning and purpose; they leaped to the wrong conclusion and threatened the eastern tribes with "rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us."

"22:10 And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to. 22:11 And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel. 22:12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.

22:13 And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, 22:14 And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.

22:15 And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying, 22:16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD? 22:17 Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, 22:18 But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel. 22:19 Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God. 22:20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity." (Joshua 22:10-20 KJV)

With Israel on the brink of civil war, which would have started from completely false charges, the men of the eastern tribes then proclaimed their loyalty to the LORD and their unity with Israel.

Crossing The Jordan River

"22:21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel, 22:22 The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,) 22:23 That we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;

22:24 And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel? 22:25 For the LORD hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the LORD: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.

22:26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice: 22:27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.

22:28 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you. 22:29 God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle." (Joshua 22:21-29 KJV)

The situation was then calmed. The eastern tribal lands thereafter existed until the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to Assyria (see Israelite Monarchy - The Northern Kingdom, The Galilee Captivity and Kings of Israel and Judah). With their eastern border already touching on Assyria, the eastern tribes were the first to go - but the northern tribes west of the Jordan also soon fell to the Assyrians, after which they all became known as "the lost ten tribes of Israel."

"22:30 And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them. 22:31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.

22:32 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again. 22:33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.

22:34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God." (Joshua 22:30-34 KJV)

Fact Finder: As we've read, Israel avoided civil war in the time of Joshua. (a) Did they later have a civil war in the time of King David? (b) Did Israel and Judah fight an Israelite civil war after the time of King Solomon? Did Israel and Judah fight wars against each other throughout the existence of the northern and southern kingdoms?
(a) See The Civil War Kings
(b) See Rehoboam's Answer


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This Day In History, March 6

12 BC: Roman Emperor Augustus was named Pontifex Maximus, thereby incorporating the position into that of the Emperor. Augustus was the Emperor at the time of the birth the Jesus Christ (see Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate? and A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).

1521: Ferdinand Magellan discovered Guam.

1617: Louis Hebert signed an agreement that entitled him to become the first farmer in New France (North America).

1629: In Germany, the Edict of Restitution ordered that all church property seized since 1552 be returned to the Roman Catholic Church.

1820: The Missouri Compromise was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed by President James Monroe. It provided for the admission of Missouri into the Union as a "slave state," but prohibited slavery in the rest of the northern Louisiana Purchase territory.

1834: The city of York was officially renamed Toronto. The city had a population of 10,000 (the population of the "Greater Toronto Area" today is 6 million).

1836: The 13-day siege of the Alamo ended when Mexican troops under Santa Anna captured the mission fort.

1857: The U.S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision ruled that slaves were property, not citizens.

1899: Bayer registered "Aspirin" as a trademark of its brand of acetylsalicylic acid.

1900: Gottfried Daimler, engineer who built the first motorcycle, died.

1933: All U.S. banks were closed by a proclamation from Franklin Roosevelt. The closings were considered necessary after a series of major bank failures and runs on banks (in the 8 days preceding March 4, $1,500,000,000 had been withdrawn by depositors) and the closing of banks by a number of states beginning with Michigan in mid-February. Following passage by Congress of the Emergency Banking Act 3 days later, "sound" banks were permitted to reopen.

1944: 658 U.S. bombers began a daylight attack on Berlin from bases in Britain and dropped 2,000 tons of bombs.

1946: France stated that it would recognize Vietnam as a "free state" within the French Union, with French troops stationed there (which hardly made it a "free state"), but the final confirmation of the accord never came. French imperialism in southeast Asia resulted in the ancient nation of Vietnam being divided into North and South Vietnam, a foreign-imposed partition of the Vietnamese people that did not end until the early 1970s after the U.S. had involved itself in the Vietnamese civil conflict for over a decade.

1964: King Constantine II of Greece succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, Paul I.

1964: "The Nation of Islam" officially gave boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.

1987: A Townsend Thoreson ferry, Herald of Free Enterprise, capsized on its way out of Zeebrugge harbor in Belgium drowning 193 people.





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