This is Chapter 7 of the book titled The Destiny of Israel and the Twilight of Christianity: In Quest of the Meaning and Significance of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, by John Saggio.







Table of Contents

          Saul's Rejection as King






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With the death of Moses, the command is given by Yahweh to cross over the Jordan River into the land He had promised to give to the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joshua is told by Yahweh, “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” (Josh. 1:2 KJV). The authority and power of Joshua comes from Yahweh. As Yahweh had been with Moses, so He would be with Joshua, “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” (Josh. 1:5 KJV). This authority and power would not be challenged by any Israelite, as the authority and power of Moses had been challenged. Joshua will triumph over his enemies, but will experience no opposition to his authority and power from within the covenant community. Yahweh encourages him, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8 KJV). Joshua would be faithful to the end:“As Yahweh commanded Moses His servant so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did, he set aside nothing of all that Yahweh commanded Moses” (Josh. 11:15 EB).

With the entrance of the people into the land, the record of the view from Mount Sinai is completed. The nation has been instructed as to the past out of which it had been generated and now has a knowledge concerning the significance of its own contemporary experience (in Egypt and in the wilderness) and its ultimate purpose. The record provided by the Book of Joshua is an interpretation of past events for the benefit of a generation of readers that came after the events described in this structured, theological account of the conquering of the land. This book does not provide a detailed account of all that occurred during this period. It consists of literary selections organized according to a literary purpose.

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The Primary Message

The primary message of the Book of Joshua concerns Yahweh’s faithful provision of both possession of and rest in the Land of Promise for the sons of Israel, as promised to the forefathers and Moses. To miss this message is to misunderstand the continuing historical purpose of the nation. The text records, “Joshua took all this land . . .” (11:16a EB); “So Joshua took the whole land according to all that Yahweh had spoken to Moses . . .” (11:23a EB); “And Yahweh gave them rest round about, according to all that he had sworn unto their fathers,─and there stood not a man before them of all their enemies, all their enemies did Yahweh deliver into their hand. There failed not a thing, out of all the good things, whereof Yahweh had spoken unto the house of Israel,—the whole came to pass” (Josh. 21:44-45 EB). Prior to Joshua’s death, he testifies, “But lo! I am going to-day, in the way of all the earth,─ye must acknowledge, therefore with all your heart and with all your soul that there hath not failed a single thing out of all the good things which Yahweh your Elohim spake concerning you, the whole hath come to pass to you, there hath not failed thereof a single thing” (Josh. 23:14 EB). The nation possesses the land and is said to experience rest in the land. The promise to Abraham, concerning his seed becoming a nation and possessing the land Abraham would walk through but not possess is fulfilled.

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The Dethronement of the Powers

However, this does not mean Israel has driven out all her enemies in the land. For the text also states that the Jebusites could not be driven out (Josh. 15:63), the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh could not drive out the Canaanites but put them under tributary service (Josh. 16:10; 17:12). Yahweh had previously declared, “I shall not drive them out from before you in one year lest the land should become desolate, and the field animal be many against you. Little by little shall I drive them out from before you until you are fruitful and you are allotted the land” (Ex. 23:29-30 CV). This had been written in the Book of Deuteronomy: “Yahweh your Elohim will ease these nations out before your face, little by little. You shall not be able to finish them quickly, lest the land become a wilderness and the animals of the field multiply against you” (7:22 CV).

The initial conquest is sudden and overwhelming. The powers in the land are dethroned. The political, military, and religious aristocracies are denied dominance. The political, military, and religious systems of Israel hold sway over the land as a whole. The powers of the Canaanite nations, though dethroned, remain in existence. Thus, the enemy is not to be removed completely, since that would cause the wild beasts to multiply profusely and threaten human settlement. Rapid removal of the Canaanite inhabitants would result in a return to a primitive state of the dominance of nature, wild growth of trees and plants and overpopulation of animal life. Both posed a threat to Israelite occupation and settlement of the land.

When Israel crosses the Jordan into the land, the nation finds itself in opposition to numerous city-states ruled by kings in cooperation with a noble aristocracy. These elite people maintain their wealth and position by oppressing the members of the lower castes. Thus, the inhabitants of the land are not united. All are not satisfied with the condition of their lives. Many perceive the invading army as possible liberation from the tyranny of their kings and nobles. Canaan is, thus, in a state of social turmoil.

Added to this is the disastrous effect of Canaanite religion. Yahweh had waited to judge the social and religious structures of Canaan until these structures had produced iniquities, injustices, and moral depravity necessitating divine judgment (Gen. 15:16). The time had become ripe for the overthrow of the wicked powers of Canaanite society. Such powers would be replaced by Yahweh’s powers: High Priest, Aaronic Priesthood, Levitical Priesthood, judges, elders, and princes of the sons of Israel. All these powers are to be subjected to the statutes and judgments of Yahweh, all are to carry out that which is right in the eyes of Yahweh. This meant justice, mercy, and compassion to the weak as well as the strong, to the sojourner as well as the citizen, to the servant or slave as well as the master.

The occupation and settlement of this land by Israel meant liberation, freedom, security, and opportunity for the oppressed of the land. Many of the oppressed were victims of Canaanite religion. Those committed to this religious system would resist Israel. These were in the majority. But a minority perceived themselves as victims of this religious system. Such people eagerly awaited the deliverance which Israel would bring.

Israel’s dominance over the land of Canaan and its various institutions meant the rule of the One and Only Living Elohim, Yahweh our Elohim, instead of the many crude and capricious gods (elohim) of Canaan; it meant the unity of one nation, one people instead of a conglomeration of city-states ruled by various kings at times in competition with one another and at times in allegiance with one another when facing a common superior enemy. Israel represented a society based upon the idea of might for right in contrast to Canaanite society based upon the idea of might makes right. Israel’s law was based upon the justice of Yahweh in contrast with Canaanite law which was based upon the capricious justice of privileged men seeking their own benefit and welfare, dishonorably justifying the oppression of others.

Israelite religion was free from the worship of astrological bodies and the myth and superstition connected with the gods of the Canaanites. Israelite religion was centered in the one Tabernacle of Yahweh in contrast to the multiple Canaanite places of worship which were spread throughout the land and which demanded human sacrifice in addition to animal sacrifice.

Israel’s priesthood had no national allotment. It was not permitted secular occupation as a means of livelihood. The Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods were Yahweh’s allotment, and they shared in Yahweh’s sacrificial allotment (gifts, tithes, sacrifices) coming from the secular tribes. The Aaronic Priesthood represented the Supreme Court of the land. The Levitical Priesthood spread throughout the twelve tribes was responsible for administering education in the Law of Yahweh and administering Yahweh’s justice in the tribal territories throughout the land.

The Canaanite priesthood belonged to the aristocracy and was subservient to the king and powerful nobles. Its wealth and power were dependent upon the wealth and power of the king and nobles. These priests and priestesses were members of the elite society of oppressors. They sought the status quo, and thus opposed change. The Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods were responsible to bring about change whenever discovering unjust, illegal activities among the various institutions and classes within society. These priesthoods were directly responsible to Yahweh and His justice, mercy, and compassion. Their interest and welfare were based upon the interest and welfare of all the people. If the nation failed to provide for the priesthoods, it was failing to obey Yahweh. Such failure would be a sign of covenantal corruption. The actuality of such corruption would eventually lead to the rise of the prophets.

Thus, when Israel enters the land, she attracts the discontented, oppressed, persecuted, enslaved, disenfranchised, and honorable just men and women of the land who assist Israel in the overthrow, the dethronement of the powers ruling the land. It should be understood that these powers reside in the cities and the suburbs of the city. They are, on the whole, urbanites, rather than ruralites. This is why the success of conquering the land is dependent upon the defeat and destruction of the city-states wherein lie the powers, the intricate, central web of organizational authority.

Yahweh had liberated Israel from the bondage and oppression of Egypt. Now He will extend that liberation to the honorable just men and women of Canaan who also have been enslaved and oppressed by an evil system of gods, kings, priests, and nobles. Such a person is described in the second chapter of Joshua. Rahab is discovered as anxiously awaiting her liberation as a result of Israel’s triumphant defeat of the powers ruling in the city of Jericho. She has rejected the gods of Canaan and has placed her trust in the Elohim of Israel. She is ready to assist the people of this mighty Elohim Who is so different from the gods of Canaan.

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The Fulfillment of Possession and Rest

Immediately after the command to cross over the Jordan and just prior to the attack against Jericho, Joshua confronts the tribes of Ruben, Gad, and Half Manasseh. He reminds them of the “rest” that Yahweh has already accomplished for them on the east side of the Jordan. These tribes will cross over the Jordan and fight alongside their brothers until Yahweh has given “rest” to them also. Thus, as “rest” had already been provided the eastern tribes, so this is to assure the western tribes of the rest” to be accomplished on their behalf.

That “rest” is fulfilled during the days of Joshua is clearly evident when Joshua honorably dismisses the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Half Manasseh, “As for you, you have kept all that Moses the servant of Yahweh enjoined on you, and have hearkened to my voice in all that I enjoined on you. You have not forsaken your brothers these many days, until this day, and you have kept the charge of the instruction of Yahweh your Elohim. Now Yahweh has given rest to your brothers, just as He promised them. So now, turn around and go; . . . to the land of your holding . . .” (Josh. 22:2-4a CV). This occurs in the text immediately after the writer declares, “Thus Yahweh gave to Israel the entire land which He had sworn to give their fathers; and they took it over and dwelt in it. Yahweh gave rest to them round about, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers” (Josh. 21:43-44a CV). The text unequivocally states that Yahweh’s promise to Abraham concerning possession of the land and rest in the land had been completely fulfilled by the time Joshua and Eleazar the priest had surveyed the land, distributed the allotments designated for each tribe, and by the time each tribe had conquered and dwelt in a portion of its allotment. This is as Yahweh intended.

The task remaining to each tribe is the increasing occupation of its allotted territory. This is to test their faithfulness. As each tribe increases in population and wealth, it is to extend its occupation and power over its allotted territory and the Canaanite inhabitants remaining unconquered or free from tributary service. Faithful obedience to Yahweh’s voice, Yahweh’s oracles, Yahweh’s Ten Words, and His statutes and judgments would result in complete occupation and rule over the entire allotted land and people. Yahweh’s justice and peace would be extended to all inhabitants. The worship of foreign gods would be eliminated, thereby manifesting Yahweh’s glory and greatness.

Israel would then be honorably reflecting the light of Yahweh’s word upon all the nations round about them. This, however, is not to ideally come about until the last generation living during the course of the Mosaic Eon under the Mosaic Covenant. For Yahweh knows the bent of the nation’s heart. He knows its rebellious, stubborn, and stiffed-necked character. He knows it is a Cainish nation within which is an Abelite remnant of faithful ones. All the warnings and encouragements addressed to the nation will only be received and acted upon by the members of this faithful remnant continuing through each generation to the glory and vindication of Yahweh their Elohim.

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The Faith and Assistance of Rahab

Israel is given the task (a privilege) to possess the land. Yahweh is the owner of all land. He has given each nation its own designated portion. Thus, each nation tenants its given land and each is and remains responsible for its development, its cultivation. The people of the land also require social structure, the proper ordering of society. When such order becomes corrupt and destructive, Yahweh’s judgment becomes a threat. Thus, to possess, to tenant, to keep, to cultivate land and society includes the obligation to control and properly order society.

The nations in Canaan had failed to perform their responsibility. Yahweh’s threatened judgment now becomes a reality. Israel is sent to dispossess, take control of the land in order to set up an order designed by Yahweh. Canaanite society had become corrupt and wicked. Thus, Israel is to bring about a change in the power structure of society in the land of Canaan.

This did not call for the wiping out of entire populations. It did necessitate the destruction of the corrupt and wicked rulers and the infrastructure of their power used to implement injustice and moral depravity. This meant dethroning these powers and those populations contributing to and supporting these powers and their organizational infrastructures.

Israel is to possess the nations inhabiting Canaan by implementing a new social order which transforms the population by instituting Yahweh’s Law (Torah), instructions, and justice. All inhabitants are to equally come under the rights and responsibilities of Yahweh’s covenant relationship with Israel.

This did not require the non-Israelite to become a member of the covenantal people. It did require their obedience to Yahweh’s laws pertaining to them. This meant the prohibition of the worship and service of other elohim. Such ignorant worship and service is based upon myth, superstition, and a disqualified, distorted mind. The nations in Canaan are to be delivered, liberated from such false and destructive illusions.

When Israel implements this stewardship over the land, she receives rest, security from internal disruption or external attack. This “rest” becomes a reality during the lifetime of Joshua, Eleazar, and all the elders who served under the leadership of Joshua and Eleazar. This does not imply that Israel at this time conquered every part of the territory allotted to each tribe. It does mean Israel broke, destroyed the infrastructure of power and the rulers wielding this power. Israel became the dominant cultural and religious power in the land. She organized a new infrastructure of power, setting up a new social and religious order. Her task from this point in time would be to extend and increase that infrastructure of power. This would incorporate the effective operation of the new social and religious order into all the territories allotted to the tribes by Yahweh and all the populations inhabiting the territories.

With this task firmly in mind, Joshua sends two men to secretly explore Jericho and its surrounding suburbs. These men, seeking to remain unobtrusive, find lodging in the house of a harlot named Rahab. Here is a member of Canaanite society living at the circumference of social life. She has learned to play the game by the rules of the power-elite. By this means, she maintains a relatively acceptable place in society and an economic means for providing an acceptable living.

But Rahab perceives herself as oppressed. She seeks liberation from the Canaanite power structure. She comes to the assistance of these two Israelites when the king of Jericho learns of their presence. She hides them and then confesses, “I know that Yahweh has given the land to you and that the dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the dwellers of the area are dissolved because of your presence; for we have heard how Yahweh dried up the waters of the Sea of Weeds before your face when you came forth from Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorite who were in Transjordan, to Sihon and to Og, whom you doomed. When we heard, our heart was melted, and no more spirit arose in anyone because of your presence, for Yahweh your Elohim, He is Elohim in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Josh. 2:9-11 CV). Here is the confession of some inhabitants of Canaan, but not all. These, Yahweh will liberate.

This woman represents a discontent portion of Canaanite society. These people have become disillusioned with the gods of Canaan. Thus, she is not alone in her disillusionment. She seeks the preservation, the deliverance, the liberation of her father’s house and all those associated with that house. Since she has shown these Israelites kindness, she seeks kindness in return, a reliable sign that Israel will “rescue our souls from death [social death as well as physical death] (Josh. 2:13 CV).

The two men take an oath agreeing to her request: “Our souls are to die instead of you and yours! If you do not tell of this matter of ours, then it will come to be, when Yahweh gives this land to us, that we will deal with you in kindness and truth” (Josh. 2:14 CV modified). Israel will show her entire family, not only kindness, but also, more importantly, Israel will deal with them in accord with the truth of Yahweh’s Law.

The requirement is that Rahab and her family remain faithful to the cause of Yahweh against Jericho and its aristocratic power-elite as well as those supporting this system with mind and heart. The new order is to be based upon Yahweh’s truth. Rahab and her family are assured her request on the basis of her faith in Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel, Who is the Elohim of truth and justice. Yahweh is not capricious like the gods of Canaan. He gives His word and keeps His word. He is interested in the welfare of all those committed to truth, honor, and justice. He calls upon every individual to act as his brother’s keeper.

Instead of giving Rahab a sign of assurance, the men command that she provide Israel a sign by which Yahweh’s army will be enabled to keep Yahweh’s oath. This she agrees to do. The sign is agreed upon and during the destruction of the city the sign is recognized and the oath kept. Rahab and her family are liberated. Yahweh deals with such inhabitants of Canaan in kindness and truth.

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The Transgression of Achan

As Yahweh is a merciful Elohim, He is also a just Elohim. Rahab and her family are shown mercy on the basis of faithfulness to Yahweh’s cause. Achan and his family are confronted with the anger of Yahweh’s justness. In the victorious battle against Jericho, Achan had taken for himself from the spoils consecrated to Yahweh. It had been declared, “keep yourselves from the accursed [devoted] thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse [accursed], and trouble it” (Josh. 6:18 KJV).

In the battle against Ai, Israel is chased by the warriors of Ai. Joshua is stunned! He concludes Yahweh has failed Israel. In despair, he goes before Yahweh Who rebukes him, “Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed [devoted] thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, . . . because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (Josh. 7:10-12 KJV). Achan’s transgression is accounted as Israel’s transgression. The sin of the one man has affected the nation as a whole. Both Achan and the nation are held accountable. His transgression has made the entire camp of Israel accursed. His individual act has troubled the entire people. Israel’s warriors had been humiliated in battle; Yahweh’s honor shamed.

Yahweh orders the use of the holy lot by which He would designate the guilty party. He informs Joshua, “he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord [Yahweh], and because he hath wrought folly in Israel (Josh. 7:15 KJV). Each individual Israelite can contribute to the destruction of the corporate whole. The nation is held accountable for the acts of its members. Therefore, it behooves the nation to be alert to any individual activity which transgresses Yahweh’s covenant. The nation will be as strong as its weakest link. The institutions of justice throughout the nation are responsible for acquitting the innocent and indicting the guilty, swiftly executing just judgment against such threats to the welfare of the nation.

Achan is revealed to be the guilty party. He had buried the holy loot in the midst of his tent. He had transgressed the tenth word (commandment) of Yahweh’s covenant, “Thou shall not covet.” The text records, “And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord [Yahweh] shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones” (Josh. 7:25 KJV). Achan is stoned to death and then burned. The “them” also stoned to death and burned included Achan’s sons, daughters, oxen, asses, and sheep (Josh. 7:24). His tent and “all that he had” are also burned with fire. To be a member of the covenant community has great advantages as well as great responsibility and accountability. Achan’s irresponsible act brings death upon his children and animals. Covenant loyalty is first and foremost to Yahweh, and then to the community. The individual is responsible to report any transgression or injustice that will bring down Yahweh’s judgment upon the nation. In Achan’s case, the nation has eradicated the evil from its midst. Ai is, then, again attacked, but this time is defeated handily. In obedience to Yahweh’s laws of battle (Deut. 20:11-18), “Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai” (Josh. 8:26 KJV).

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The Ingenuity of the Gibeonites

While Israel is encamped in Gilgal, a coalition of kings ruling over city-states in the southern portion of the land of Canaan gathers together to fight against Joshua and Israel. However, the Gibeonites, hearing of Joshua’s triumph over Jericho and Ai, refrain from joining this coalition. These people choose to act cunningly, craftily. Later, from the perspective of Israel, this cunning is understood negatively. But from the perspective of the Gibeonites, this cunning is a sign of their intelligence, ingenuity, wise counsel in resolving a difficult problem.

For these people believe the report concerning the greatness of the Elohim of Israel. They had heard that Yahweh Elohim of Israel had commanded Moses to give the entire land of Canaan to Israel and to destroy all the inhabitants. This, they believe, Yahweh will do.

Yahweh had instructed Israel through Moses to offer peace to those cities at a great distance from them, but to destroy completely the inhabitants of those cities nearby (Deut. 20:10-18), those cities within the territory allotted to the twelve tribes. The Gibeonites devise a scheme whereby they appear to be from a city at a great distance from Israel’s allotment. The princes of Israel accept their word without consulting Yahweh their King. Israel thus enters into a covenant with the Gibeonites, finding out three days later that these people are their neighbors.

Israel is, however, bound by oath to the Gibeonites. Joshua declares, “Wherefore have ye beguiled us . . .? Now therefore ye are cursed, . . .” (Josh. 9:22-23a KJV). From Israel’s perspective, the cunning of the Gibeonites is evil. They had deceived Israel. But such cunning results in life and liberation for the Gibeonites. Joshua curses them to become bondmen, hewers of wood, and drawers of water for the house of Yahweh. What to Joshua represents curse, to the Gibeonites represents blessing.

This is analogous to Saul’s judgment upon David’s “cunning” (1 Sam. 23:22 NASB). Saul perceives it as evil while Yahweh perceives it as good. In the case of the Gibeonites, Yahweh uses the disobedience of Israel’s princes in neglecting to consult Him in order to bless the faith of the Gibeonites, thereby using the evil flaw of the princes in order to sovereignly initiate an exception to the rule of the applicable law, bringing good out of evil. For the Gibeonites are content to eat from the crumbs falling from Israel’s table, thus acknowledging Israel’s supremacy over them. The Gibeonites answer Joshua, “It had been told, yea told to your servants how Yahweh your Elohim had instructed Moses His servant, to give to you the entire land and to exterminate all the dwellers of the land from before you. So we feared exceedingly for our souls in view of you and did this thing. And now behold, we are in your hand. Do as it is good and upright in your eyes to do to us” (Josh. 9:24-25 CV).

The Gibeonite power-elite are wise enough to understand it is better to be cursed and come under what is good and upright in the eyes of Yahweh’s people than to come under the judgment of total destruction demanded by the war ban. This indicates they believe it is futile to attempt to wage war against Israel, Yahweh’s people. The account concludes, “On that day Joshua made them wood choppers and water bailers for the congregation and for the altar of Yahweh until this day, to serve the place which He [Yahweh] would choose” (Josh. 9:27 CV). This will become significant in relation to Israel’s future failure to properly maintain, secure, and worship Yahweh at the Tabernacle built by Moses and at the place designated by Yahweh for the Tabernacle. The last place in which the Tabernacle is set up is Gibeon (1 Chr. 21:29; 2 Chr. 1:3).

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The Southern Campaign of Joshua and Israel

After hearing that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel, the coalition of southern kings gathering together to wage war against Israel turns its attention to the Gibeonites. The stated reason is “they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty” (Josh. 10:2 KJV). The five kings of the Amorites, therefore, decide to first wage war against Gibeon. This strategy assumes Israel will not interfere, since the warring parties are all inhabitants of the land. To first defeat the Gibeonites is essential in order to avoid the Gibeonites joining forces with the Israelites.

The Gibeonites, now servants of Joshua and Israel, petition Joshua to come to their rescue, invoking their covenantal rights. Israel, under Joshua’s command, surprise the Amorite kings, destroying them on the battlefield at Gibeon and hunting them down on the chase.

Joshua’s southern campaign continues as he moves south to destroy Makkedah. He then proceeds to destroy Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir. All these cities, together with their kings and surrounding villages, Joshua and Israel destroy. The text sums up this triumphant campaign as follows: “Thus Joshua smote the whole area, the hill country, the Neger, the low foothills, the slopes and all their kings; he let no survivor remain. He doomed all who had breath, just as Yahweh Elohim of Israel had given instructions. Joshua smote them from Kadesh-Barnea as far as Gaza, all the area of Goshen as far as Gibeon. Joshua seized all these kings and their land at one time; for Yahweh Elohim of Israel was fighting for Israel. Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal” (Josh. 10:40-43 CV).

Joshua destroys all their cities and their kings, leaving not one soul alive. He also captures, takes control of, the surrounding unwalled villages. He does not destroy the villages, nor does he kill all the inhabitants. The central city-state is to be completely burned and all the residents killed. This destroys, dethrones the power-elite (king and aristocratic nobles) and completely wipes out its military force.

However, it must be noted that some of this territory is regained by the Anakites left residing in the villages of the Philistines (Josh. 11:21-22). Later, Caleb, after Judah receives its allotment, drives out the three sons of Anak from Debir (Josh. 15:14-15) which had been conquered and destroyed by Joshua in his southern campaign. Thus, during the coming northern campaign, some of the conquered cities are rebuilt and reinhabited by the inhabitants of the land and, so, need to be reconquered by the tribes allotted these cities. But the power-elite and its military arm have been sufficiently depleted so as to eliminate them as competitors with Israel for control of the land. The southern campaign of Joshua establishes Israel’s enthronement over this territory.

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The Northern Campaign of Joshua and Israel

When Jabin king of Hazor, a northern city within the allotment of the tribe of Naphtali, hears of Israel’s victories in the south, he organizes a coalition of kings in the north. Their numbers are “as the sand that is upon the seashore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many” (Josh. 11:4b KJV). They gather together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel. Again, Joshua attacks suddenly, surprising the enemy forces. The northern coalition is defeated as mightily as had been the southern coalition: “Then Yahweh delivered them into the hand of Israel, and they smote them. They pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and as far as the valley of Mizpeh eastward. They smote them until no survivor at all remained for them. Joshua did to them just as Yahweh had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire” (Josh. 11:8-9 CV).

Joshua then marches north to the city-state of Hazor which ruled over all the kingdoms of that territory. He completely destroys the city with fire and kills all the inhabitants. The remaining cities under the rule of Hazor are not destroyed by fire. Joshua smites these cities with the edge of the sword. He has already defeated their kings and warriors in battle.

Apparently, Joshua perceives no reason to burn the cities. The power-elite may have previously abandoned these cities having heard of the defeat of its warriors. Thus, the powers have already been destroyed, scattered, their infrastructure of implementation abolished. Joshua’s decision must be understood to be in accord with Yahweh’s will, since the text concludes, “As Yahweh commanded Moses his servant, so, Moses commanded Joshua, and, so, Joshua, did, he set aside nothing of all that Yahweh commanded Moses” (Josh. 11:15 EB). The text sums up this northern campaign as follows: “So Joshua took all this land—the hill country, and all the south, and all the land of Goshen, and the lowland, and the waste plain,—and the hill country of Israel, and the lowland thereof: from Mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even as far as Baal-gad, in the valley of the Lebanon, under Mount Hermon,—and, all their kings, he captured, and smote them, and put them to death” (Josh. 11:16-17 EB).

According to the text, “Joshua made war a long time with those kings” (Josh. 11:18 KJV). During this period of conquest, the only city to make peace with Israel is Gibeon. Yahweh had emboldened the hearts of all other cities (Josh. 11:20 EB). The iniquities of the Amorites had become full (Gen. 15:16). The time for showing favor is over. The time for executing judgment has arrived. They had hardened their hearts, and Yahweh no longer would give them time to melt their hearts and repent from their evil ways.

The exception is the people of Gibeon. For they had melted their own hearts, repented of their evil ways, and submitted themselves to the rule of Yahweh, Elohim of righteous Israel. According to the law of warfare in the land (Deut. 20:10-18), no city within the allotted land of promise is to be offered peace. The cunning of the Gibeonites avoids the willful breaking of this law by Israel. For Israel does not initiate an offer of peace. The Gibeonites deceptively initiate a request for peace.

The flaw, the weakness, the negligence, the self-assurance, the assumption of the princes of Israel is utilized by Yahweh to make an exception of the Gibeonites. Their importunity awakens His compassion. This very compassion shown to the Gibeonites stimulates the kings of the south to harden themselves even further against both the Gibeonites and Israel. This is an illustration of how Yahweh contributes to the fortification of the attitude or disposition (Josh. 11:20 CV) of the power-elite ruling in the land of Canaan. The Gibeonite power-elite are perceived by their neighboring power-elite kings as traitors, heating up their anger against Israel and Yahweh her Elohim.

During this same period of time, the biblical writer notes that Joshua destroys and drives out the Anakim, a physically tall and strong people occupying the mountain regions around Hebron, Debir, Anab, and the mountain regions of Judah and Israel. Yahweh had promised to destroy them (Deut. 9:1-3). These mighty men had filled the hearts of the ten spies with fear, causing them to give an evil report to Moses and the people, resulting in the 40-year wilderness wandering. The writer records, “There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained” (Josh. 11:22 KJV). Thus, the Anakim are driven out, but those remaining retreat to the land of the Philistines. By the time Joshua and Eleazar allot Judah its allotment in the land, the Anakim have returned and are then driven out again by Caleb (Josh. 15:14). The inhabitants of the land had also rebuilt the city of Debir, and Othniel, the brother of Caleb, took it in battle. This time it is not burned, but becomes part of the allotment of the tribe of Judah.

The text then sums up and confirms the conquest of the whole land of promise under the leadership of Joshua:

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that Yahweh had spoken unto Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel, according to their portions by their tribes,—and, the land, had rest from war. (Joshua 11:23 EB)

The promise to Abraham concerning the land is fulfilled. The faithfulness of each of the tribes of Israel will determine how much of each tribe’s allotment will be conquered, settled, and ruled. Their tenancy is determined by their faithfulness to Yahweh and His law. The covenantal lease is for the duration of the Mosaic Eon. Any tenancy beyond this period is to be based upon, not the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, but Yahweh’s covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Yahweh’s creation of the nation out of the soil of Egypt; Yahweh’s generation of the nation out of the womb of Egypt; Yahweh’s election of Jacob as His portion when distributing territorial allotments to the nations (Lev. 26:42; Deut. 32:7-10 CV). Yahweh’s promise to give all Israel rest (Deut. 3:20) is fulfilled. Joshua conquered the whole land and “the land rested from war.”

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The Allotment of the Land

Chapters 13-19, forming the central member of the literary structure of the book, provides an account of Yahweh’s allotment of the land after the land as a whole has been subdued before Israel. The time had arrived to assign each tribe its promised allotment: “When Joshua was old and was advanced in days, Yahweh said to him: You are old and are advanced in days, and very much of the land still remains for enjoying its tenancy. . . . And now apportion this land by allotment to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh” (Josh. 13:1-7 CV). The tribe of Judah is the first to receive his allotment. As successful as Judah is in settling and controlling his allotted territory, the text records, “As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out” (Josh. 15:63a KJV). Ephraim then receives his allotment. He successfully settles and rules his allotted territory but is not able to drive out the Canaanites dwelling in Gezer. These Canaanites continue to dwell among the Ephraimites, serving under tribute (Josh. 16:10). The third tribe to receive his allotment is West Manasseh. He settles in his allotment and dominates the territory, but the Canaanites continue to dwell within the land. The biblical writer, however, testifies that when the nation as a whole became strong, it put the Canaanites under tribute, “but did not utterly drive them out” (Josh. 17:13 KJV).

Before the distribution of allotments is completed, Yahweh instructs the sons of Israel to remove the camp from Gilgal and encamp at Shiloh. In Hebrew, Shiloh means rest, peace. The land has been conquered and is at rest. This qualifies Shiloh as a suitable resting-place for the Tabernacle of Yahweh which is now set up in Shiloh. The Tabernacle would remain at Shiloh until the time of Samuel when it would be abandoned by Yahweh (Ps. 78:60 CV), being robbed of its soul (the glory of Yahweh being departed) and becoming a mere shadow of a sanctuary.

Shiloh is also located in the center of the land. It had just been allotted to the tribe of Ephraim. Worship of Yahweh is now centrally located in the land. Gilgal had been the location of the Tabernacle and the encampment of the nation for the duration of the conquest. The conquest, now being completed, demands the withdrawal from Gilgal, associated with war and conquest of the land, and encampment at Shiloh, associated with rest, peace, possession of the land by the nation. From Shiloh the peoples of the tribes would enter into, occupy, settle, and, thus, take possession of their allotments in the conquered land.

The distribution of allotments continues and is completed in Shiloh. Of the remaining seven tribes, each receives his allotment as determined by Yahweh and distributed by Joshua and Eleazar the High Priest before Yahweh. Joshua is then assigned his allotment in the territory of Ephraim. The writer then concludes,

Those are the allotments which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the patriarchal heads of the stocks of the sons of Israel allotted by lot at Shiloh before Yahweh at the opening of the tent of appointment. So they finished apportioning the land. (Joshua 19:51 CV)

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Appointment of Cities of Refuge and Levitical Cities

The tribes now settled in their territories, the Tabernacle now set up for the worship and service of Yahweh in the Promised Land, Yahweh reminds Joshua of the need to appoint cities of refuge to protect from the avenger of blood the person accidentally killing a neighbor. The sons of Israel appoint six cities of refuge. On the west side of the Jordan , Kedesh in Naphtali, Schechem in Ephraim, and Hebron in Judah are chosen. On the east side of the Jordan, Beza in Reuben, Ramoth in Gad, and Golan in east Manasseh are chosen. It is vital that the land remain unpolluted from blood-guilt.

The welfare of the land and the people is dependent on the Aaronic Priesthood and the Levitical Priesthood. Religious education in the Torah and civil and economic justice are founded upon the holy service of these priests. The Levites must dwell in cities throughout the land. The tribe of Levi is not allotted a territory in the land. The Levites are Yahweh’s portion, Yahweh’s allotment. They are to remain as free as possible from conflict of interest. Thus, economically, the Levites seek not secular endeavors aimed at securing economic needs. They serve Yahweh by rendering service to the people. Their economic needs are provided by the sacrifices to Yahweh and the various tithes mandated upon the people by the law. If and when Yahweh is abandoned, the treatment of the Levites will usually reflect this abandonment. The Levites, therefore, need to be assigned cities in which to dwell throughout the land.

Now the patriarchal heads of the Levites came close to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua son of Nun, and to the patriarchal heads of the stocks of the sons of Israel. They spoke to them at Shiloh, in the land of Canaan, saying, Yahweh has given instructions by means of Moses to give to us cities to dwell in, along with their common pasture lands for our domestic beasts. (Joshua 21:1-2 CV)

The sons of Israel give to the Levites 48 cities within the possessions or holdings of the twelve tribes, including the surrounding common pastures for domestic animals (Josh. 21:41-42). Yahweh has fulfilled the word of His promise. He has led them in battle, destroying the enemy and giving the sons of Israel their land. The text sums up Yahweh’s faithfulness as follows:

Thus Yahweh gave to Israel the entire land which He had sworn to give to their fathers; and they took it over and dwelt in it. Yahweh gave rest to them round about, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not one man of all their enemies withstood their presence: Yahweh delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not one thing fell out of all the good things that Yahweh had promised to the house of Israel. All came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45 CV)

Though enemies remain in the land dwelling among the Israelites, not a single enemy is able to withstand or effectively challenge the rule, the power, the order, the law, the Elohim of Israel. Israel has been given supremacy over the nations. She is the head, they are the tail. Israels continued faithfulness to Yahweh will determine the further expansion, extension, occupation, settlement, rule of the land, territory by territory, allotment by allotment. As Yahweh blesses Israel with increased numbers making up her population, the tribes, clans, families will need to more completely inhabit their allotments. Yahweh had shown each tribe what territory each could expect to control under His Kingship.

However, each tribe is made aware of the fact that the full allotment is not a guaranteed gift. Implementation of Yahweh’s Law in all its details is mandatory for further occupation and control of the allotted territory of each tribe. Obedience to Yahweh’s voice in all matters and trust in Yahweh’s faithfulness and power to defeat the enemy in the land are a must. The whole of Yahweh’s Law must determine life in the land and among the tribes. The nation must always implement what is right in the eyes of Yahweh her King.

At the death of Joshua, there shall be no successor. Yahweh alone is King in Yeshurun. Israel is to be unique among the nations. She shall not have a king after the order (fashion, scheme) of the nations. Yahweh her Elohim is her King. His presence will be at their head against the enemy as the nation proceeds to increase and spreads out through Yahweh’s allotted land of tenancy.

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The Honorable Discharge

The confirmation of Yahweh’s faithfulness is now enhanced as the literary craftsman of the Book of Joshua relates the story of Joshua’s honorable discharge of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh from holy duty. These tribes had already received their allotment on the east side of the Jordan River. They had been given rest. They had crossed over the Jordan to contribute to the warfare necessary to conquer the allotments of the land promised to the remaining tribes. They had been promised an honorable discharge from this covenantal duty when Yahweh’s promise of rest for the remaining tribes was fulfilled.

That time had now arrived. Joshua calls the Reubenites, the Gadites, and East Manassehites. He declares,

As for you, you have kept all that Moses the servant of Yahweh enjoined on you, and have hearkened to my voice in all that I enjoined on you. You have not forsaken your brothers these many days, until this day, and you have kept the charge of the instruction of Yahweh your Elohim. Now Yahweh your Elohim has given rest to your brothers, just as He promised them. So now turn around and go; get yourselves to your tents, to the land of your holding that Moses the servant of Yahweh gave to you in Transjordan. (Joshua 22:2-4 CV)

Yahweh had now given the remaining tribes rest in the land. Conquest of the land had been achieved. The enemy had been placed beneath the feet of this exalted nation. These tribes had fulfilled their covenantal obligations to the nation. They had fought Yahweh’s wars on the west side of the Jordan River. They had fought alongside the warriors of Yahweh from among all the tribes of the sons of Israel. Thus, the nation is not considered to be a loose alliance among twelve independent tribes. The tribes are in essence one covenantally organic whole people. Each is an intricate member of the covenantal body of Yahweh. The people is one. The nation is one. Yahweh is the One Living Elohim of the one living nation having been given covenantal breath of life at Sinai.

Joshua then charges these tribes, “But observe meticulously to keep the instruction and the law that Moses the servant of Yahweh enjoined on you: to love Yahweh your Elohim and to walk in all His ways, to observe His instructions, to cling to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Josh. 22:5 CV). This charge is the obligation of all Israel. It is to be carried out from a heart loving Yahweh. It is not meant to be obeyed grudgingly, hesitantly, as though forced as a result of objective necessity due to one’s arm being twisted.

“Then Joshua blessed them and dismissed them, and they went to their tents” (Josh. 22:6 CV). These tribes return to their allotment fully understanding that there is One Elohim, one covenant, one nation, one people, one law, one love—the love of Yahweh designed to burn hot within the hearts of His covenantally living people. Such is the magnificent, awe-inspiring, gracious potential made accessible to this one people, to this singularly distinct nation of nations. Yahweh has exalted Israel. He has given this holy nation supremacy over the nations of the land of Canaan.

Continued faithfulness guarantees continued supremacy. Unfaithfulness will result in defeat, prostration at the feet of the nations, debasement, humiliation before Yahweh and the nations. Moses has already predicted such unfaithfulness and failure. This awe-inspiring potentially gracious gift will not be actualized by the nation until the coming of THE ONE like unto Moses (Deut. 18:18), “until Shiloh come” (Gen. 49:10 KJV).

Yet, through this unfaithful Cainish nation, Yahweh will contrive His intended purpose. Though Cain will continue to strive against Abel, Yahweh will reconcile the two through the transcendence of Good and Evil. Out of evil will come good and out of the good will come evil. That which is good in the eyes of Yahweh will generate evil, and that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh will generate good. Out of death will come life; out of life will come death. Out of Cain will come Abel; out of Abel will come Cain. Out of Cain came the death of Abel; out of the death of Abel comes the life of Cain. Out of Cain will come the death of Jesus; out of the death of Jesus will come the life of Cain. Out of the failure of Israel will come the death of Jesus; out of the death of Jesus will come the life of Israel; out of the sin of Adam will come the death of Jesus; out of the death of Jesus will come the life of Adam; out of the sin of Adam will come the death of humanity; out of the righteous act of Jesus will come the life of humanity; out of the sin of Israel comes the death of the nation; out of the death of the nation will come the life of the nations; out of the failure of the nations comes the promises to Abram; out of the promises to Abram will come the blessing of the nations.

What was yet future for triumphant Israel under Joshua is present for us today. For the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled, completed. We in the present are beneficiaries of the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Yahweh the Elohim of the nations has been creatively contriving on behalf of the nations for over 2,000 years. Yahweh the Elohim of humanity is now in the process of creatively contriving to exalt humanity as a race to the higher dimension designed for him from the beginning.

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The Construction of a Memorial Altar

To stress once again the faithfulness of Yahweh and the faithfulness of Israel under Joshua, the text provides an account of trouble in the camp. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh construct a towering altar on the border of the Jordan River. The tribes residing on the west side of the Jordan, hearing of this altar, become troubled, construing this altar as a sign of the worship and service of a foreign el. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathers at Shiloh in preparation for holy war. The only sanctioned altar of Yahweh is that at Shiloh located in the court of the one and only Tabernacle of Yahweh.

Before engaging too hastily in battle, the sons of Israel appoint Phinehas and ten princes of the western tribes of Israel to enquire concerning the meaning of this altar. Such arbitration of disputes is in accord with the Law of Yahweh. The eastern tribes are given an opportunity to explain their actions. The issue at stake is the breaking of the first and second words (commandments) of the Ten Words of covenantal life (Ex. 20:3-5). The unity of the nation and the purity of the worship and service of Yahweh are threatened. Phinehas reminds the eastern tribes that the nation as a whole is threatened with destruction as a result of rebellion by even one person or group.

The eastern tribes explain that the altar has been constructed as a memorial establishing the unity of the eastern and western tribes. The altar is to remind the present and future generations that the eastern tribes are one with the western tribes. The eastern tribes worship and serve only Yahweh Elohim of Israel. The altar constructed is a memorial, not an altar upon which to burn sacrifices. There is only one sacrificial altar in Israel, the altar associated with the holy Tabernacle of Yahweh: “Far be it from us that we should revolt against Yahweh to turn back today from following Yahweh to build an altar for ascent offerings, for approach presents and for sacrifices aside from the altar of Yahweh our Elohim that is before His Tabernacle” (Josh. 22:29 CV).

The eastern tribes desire to make clear their identification with the corporate entity of the nation Israel. These eastern tribes are members of the covenantally organic body of Yahweh. This testimony is a conclusive illustration of the faithfulness and unity of Israel as a twelve-tribe people of Yahweh—twelve tribes forming one corporate, covenantal body, entity, nation, people, under one life-giving law and the One Living Elohim. Such is the message conveyed by the inclusion of this incident in the literary content of the Book of Joshua.

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Joshua’s Final Exhortation to Israel

After many days since the conquering of the land, Joshua calls together all Israel (her elders, heads, judges, and clerks; Josh. 23:2 CV). He is old and nearing his death. He reminds them that he has allotted to each of the tribes the areas in which the nations still remain and those areas from which he, in battle, had evicted the nations. Concerning those nations still exerting power in the land, he assures them, “Yahweh your Elohim Himself shall thrust them from your face; He will evict them from before you, and you will tenant their land, just as Yahweh your Elohim promised you” (Josh. 23:5 CV), if they “observe and . . . do everything written in the scroll of the law of Moses” (Josh. 23:6a CV).

They are not to become entangled with the nations remaining in the land. They are not to worship and serve the gods of these nations. Within the areas of actual settlement, the nations had been defeated, evicted, and their places of worship destroyed. This must be Israel’s continual policy. The people of Israel are to “cleave unto Yahweh your Elohim” (Josh. 23:8 KJV modified) and “love Yahweh your Elohim” (Deut. 30:16).

Intermarriage with the nations is prohibited. Mixture is contaminating to the holy. The holy must not be mixed with the unholy. If the people of Israel fail to remain faithful to Yahweh, “know, yea know, that Yahweh your Elohim shall not continue to evict these nations from before you. So they will become a snare to you and a trap, and a scourge against your sides, and pricks in your eyes until you perish off this good ground that Yahweh your Elohim has given you” (Josh. 23:13 CV). Further conquest, settlement, and supremacy are dependent on faithfulness to Yahweh’s Law and Yahweh’s voice. Yahweh’s Law must be implemented in all aspects of life. Justice must be practiced in all social, economic, political, and religious relationships. I am my brother’s keeper must be the attitude of all Israelites.

Joshua reminds the representatives of the people that all Yahweh’s promises had been fulfilled: “not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God [Yahweh your Elohim] spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” (Josh. 23:14b KJV). As Yahweh is faithful in bringing good, He will be just as faithful in bringing evil. Yahweh is a jealous Elohim. The elohim of the Canaanites are jealous among themselves. They are not jealous of those who worship them. Yahweh is unique in that He is jealous in relation to His people. He will not share them with any other elohim. His anger will be directed at His people, not their foreign elohim. As He is loyal to His elect people, so He expects His elect people to be loyal to Him.

When they go after other elohim, Yahweh will, in love, faithfully bring upon them “all evil things” (Josh. 23:15 KJV) until they are removed from the land. Joshua does not use the word “if.” He intentionally uses the word “When” (Josh. 23:16). For Israel will turn to other elohim, and Israel will be removed from the land. Yahweh knows the bent of her heart. She has much to learn before her time of metamorphosis. She shall freely spin her cocoon of entombment before bursting forth from her coffin to new life.

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The Renewal of the Covenant

As Joshua’s death draws nearer, he assembles the representatives of all the twelve tribes of Israel at Shechem. It was at Shechem that Yahweh first appeared to Abram after his entrance into the land of Canaan. It is there that He promised to give Abram’s seed the land. Abram there built an altar to Yahweh and called on His name (Gen. 12:6-8). It was in Shechem that Jacob purified his house from the foreign elohim among them. There he gathered and buried all their idols under the oak (Terebinth) at Shechem (Gen. 35:1-4). Thus, Shechem had been consecrated by both Abram and Jacob as a sanctuary (a holy place) where Yahweh Elohim’s presence had been experienced, and they had called on His name. Here in Shechem, Joshua is to renew the covenant with Israel, preparing them to follow Yahweh alone after he has died. For there is to be no successor of Joshua.

In this holy place associated with the promise of the land and the burying of all idols, the sons of Israel station themselves before the One Elohim. Joshua reminds them that their fathers in a distant eon (age, eon of old) dwelt in an unenlightened culture among people worshiping and serving foreign elohim. Abram was called by Yahweh to remove himself from this contaminated culture and proceed to a land Yahweh would show him. The sons of Israel are Abraham’s seed, and they now possess the land into which Abram had been called by Yahweh.

Israel is an enlightened people. She has in her possession the light of Yahweh’s Law, His Ten Words, His statutes and judgments, and His instruction. She has been given access to His presence. She does not worship and serve a god of wood or stone, a capricious god acting capriciously among many other capricious gods. She does not worship and serve an illusion. She has seen with her own eyes the mighty activity of Yahweh Elohim on her behalf. She has heard with her own ears the sound, the words of His voice. It is this Living Elohim Who has given His people “a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat” (Josh. 24:13 KJV). Yahweh has given Israel the cities which the Canaanites had built, the vineyards and olive trees which they had planted. The Canaanites have been evicted, leaving behind the possessions of their own diligent labor. Israel has moved in, taking possession of all this wealth left behind. Such is Yahweh’s love; such is Yahweh’s faithfulness; such is Yahweh’s gift!

Therefore, declares Joshua, “Now fear Yahweh and serve Him in sincerity and in truth. Put away the elohim that your fathers had served across the Stream and in Egypt, and serve Yahweh” (Josh. 24:14 CV). The fathers of Terah’s ancestry had indulged in the worship of many gods, among whom was the Living and True Elohim. Again, it is a mixture which has darkened the intelligence of the nations. Nevertheless, many knew, remembered, and worshiped the One True and Living Elohim. But even among Terah’s sons was to be found the superstitious worship of idols. This led Jacob to gather and burn all such idols which had crept in through the household of Laban, his uncle.

Joshua testifies, “yet I and my house, we shall serve Yahweh” (Josh. 24:15b CV). The people respond, “Far be it from us to forsake Yahweh to serve other elohim” (Josh. 24:16a CV). Astonishingly, Joshua answers this commitment with the unexpected: “You shall not be able to serve Yahweh, for He is a holy Elohim, He is a jealous El. He shall not bear with your transgressions and with your sins” (Josh. 24:19 CV). As a jealous El, Yahweh will righteously discipline for correction and destroy from among the people that which and those who contaminate, pollute the nation. Yahweh has separated Himself to Israel His people—He is holy. He will remain loyal, and His anger will come upon His own people. He will not allow any other elohim to possess His people, His allotment.

Israel will turn to worship and serve other elohim. She will break her oath of allegiance. She will contaminate her holy status before Yahweh her Elohim. Though longsuffering and compassionate, Yahweh will bring down judgment upon an unfaithful covenantal partner. The faithful remnant will take heed to Joshua’s words. They will take seriously the implication of his declarative statement. They will carefully guard themselves, full well knowing their weakness and their proneness to depart from the truth, the wisdom, the knowledge, the understanding conveyed by Yahweh’s Law. They will guard themselves against presumptuous oaths and behavior.

In contrast, the people overconfidently respond to Joshua’s warning prediction, “Not so, for we shall serve Yahweh” (Josh. 24:21 CV). Joshua replies, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen Yahweh for yourselves to serve Him” (Josh. 24:22a CV). Yahweh has not tyrannized them into covenantal commitment. They are free to choose not to serve Yahweh. However, once freely choosing to serve Yahweh and with an oath entering into covenantal relationship with Yahweh, they will be held responsible for any departure from the covenantal agreement. The people boldly acknowledge the responsibility and the consequences for disloyalty, “We are witnesses” (Josh. 24:22b CV).

Joshua then commands, “put away the foreign elohim that you have among you, and stretch out your heart to Yahweh Elohim of Israel (Josh. 24:23 CV). Any foreign elohim found among the foreigners dwelling within their allotments must be destroyed, any places of worship, any idolatrous images. More importantly, they must destroy any inclination in the heart to worship and serve other elohim. They are to enlarge their heart for Yahweh’s progressive occupation and indwelling. Joshua demands that there be no room made for idols in the hearts of the people. Yahweh, and Yahweh alone, has the right of occupancy in the hearts of the sons of Israel. The elders, heads, judges, and officials answer Joshua’s command by repeating their oath of allegiance, “We shall serve Yahweh our Elohim and hearken to His voice” (Josh. 24:24 CV). The text concludes that on that day at Shechem Joshua “contracted a covenant with the people” (Josh. 24:25a CV). Israel, once again, renews her allegiance and loyalty to Yahweh her Elohim. All well and good. But apart from an attitude of caution, care, discretion, circumspection, prudence, and especially vigilance, such avowals become empty, hollow, lifeless words, words powerless to achieve acts of corresponding obedience. Such will shortly become these advocations of Israel as a corporate entity.

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The Death and Entombment of Joshua

Joshua dies at the age of 110. This is the same age as that of Joseph his forefather (Gen. 50:26) whose bones had been carried from Egypt and entombed at Shechem in the field purchased by Jacob (Joshua 24:32). Again, the text exemplifies the faithfulness of Yahweh and Israel. A promise had been made to Joseph who had requested that his bones be removed from Egypt and buried in the Land of Promise. Joseph had believed Yahweh’s promise concerning the land of Canaan. As a result of Yahweh’s faithfulness in giving Israel the land, Israel is able to fulfill her promise to Joseph.

Joshua, echoing Moses, had earlier referred to his death as “going . . . the way of all the earth” (Josh. 23:14 CV). By so doing, he also confirms the nature of the death brought into the race by Adam. Moses had referred to this same death as “the common death of all humanity” (Num. 16:20 CV). Biological death is the death that came into the world as a result of Adam’s sin. Paul assumes this understanding of death in Romans 5:12. He is well aware of the meaning of the metaphors used by Moses and Joshua to refer to physical, biological death.

As the Book of Deuteronomy concludes with a reference to the entombment of Moses (Deut. 34:6), so also the Book of Joshua concludes with a reference to the entombment of Joshua, Joseph, and Eleazar. In both books, entombment symbolically points to the nature of the Mosaic Covenant. It is a covenant whose telos (end, goal) is death. It is a ministry of death pointing to the death and entombment of Jesus necessitated by the nature of this covenant necessitating a new covenant. Entombment signifies the faithful awaiting of the hope of Israel—resurrection out from the tomb of death. This is the theme of the writings of the Greek Scriptures.

Contemplating the account recorded in the following Book of Judges, the literary craftsman of the Book of Joshua provides a crucial transition. He informs his readers that Israel served Yahweh all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua . . .” (Josh. 24:31a CV). The implication is clear. Israel’s departure from Yahweh does not take long. The overconfident, bold, imprudent, presumptuous avowals of allegiance, upon being tested, prove empty and hollow.

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The Book of Judges continues the covenantal history of Israel in the land as it develops after the death of Joshua. The reader has already been informed in the previous book that the sons of Israel remained faithful to Yahweh during the days of Joshua and the elders that served with him. However, the reader is prepared for the failure of the following generation by the development of the events occurring after the death of Joshua. With the death of Joshua come the seeds of covenantal departure.

The sons of Israel inquire of Yahweh concerning the continuing warfare necessary to spread out in the land (Judg. 1:1). Each of the tribes has been allotted a territory. The people of each tribe have occupied and settled in specific cities and villages. They have possessed and enjoyed the fruits of the enemy’s vineyards, olive groves, and other agricultural crops: “Thus I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you are dwelling in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive trees that you had not planted” (Josh. 24:13 CV). The manna had long since ceased.

As the population of the sons of Israel increases, the necessity to expand occupation and settlement of the allotted territories demands further warfare and eviction of the inhabitants of the land. Israel had conquered the land militarily. The nation had defeated the military forces of the nations in the land and thus had attained military control. The enemy could not stand before Israel militarily.

In the cities, villages, and farm lands they had actually taken as a possession, the sons of Israel had conquered religiously, politically, socially, and economically. But there were many cities, villages, farms and uninhabitable land not yet conquered. The nations would be evicted slowly, as Israel increased her population, strengthened her national unity and military forces, and established the administration of her legal and religious institutions.

Her first and foremost obligation is to destroy completely the worship places and the idols of the nations. Yahweh alone is to be worshiped. All the elohim of the nations are to be annihilated. All the religious statutes, judgments, and practices of these nations are to be prohibited. Yahweh alone is to reign over Israel, and Yahweh’s statutes, judgments, and cultic practices are to administer Yahweh’s justice to all the inhabitants of the land.

Thus, Israel has much work cut out for her. This holy nation has much to conquer religiously, politically, socially, and economically. Such dominance meant further military endeavor. After consulting Yahweh, Judah is chosen to continue the eviction of the nations still in the land (Jug. 1:2). Judah bids Simeon to join him in the battle to expand their allotments. Yahweh delivers the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands. Judah is successful.

Othniel conquers the city of Kirjathsepher. Caleb then gives Achsah his daughter to Othniel for wife. Thus, Israel is depicted as obeying Yahweh’s voice concerning the prohibition of marriage with the Canaanites. Marriage is not to be a mixture of holy and common. Israel is holy. The nations of the land are common. Those like Rahab who repudiate the elohim of the land of Canaan and give their allegiance to Yahweh the One Living Elohim of Israel become citizens of the commonwealth of Israel. Males converting their allegiance from the elohim of the land to Yahweh must submit to the covenantal rite of circumcision.

Though Yahweh is stated to be with Judah, she is unable to evict the dwellers of the coastal plain, for these inhabitants “had chariots of iron” (Judg. 1:19 CV). Thus, Judah is not yet ready, not yet strong enough, to take this area. She is not yet in need of this area. Her insufficient increase in population makes settlement of this area impractical.

In battle, Judah had taken Jerusalem and set this city on fire. Later, Jerusalem is rebuilt by the Jebusites, and the sons of Benjamin “did not evict them, so the Jebusite dwell with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem until this day” (Judg. 1:21b CV). The sons of Benjamin, though not evicting the Jebusites, maintain control over the area within which the Jebusites reside, for the Jebusites dwell “with” the Benjaminites. Success continues, but much work remains in order to complete the conquest and settlement of the allotted territories.

The house of Joseph is chosen next by Yahweh to enter into further warfare. The text declares, “Yahweh was with them” (Judg. 1:22 CV). Then follows an account of the conquest of the city of Bethel, which at that time was named Luz. Within the house of Joseph, consisting of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the text foreshadows the coming failure of Israel. Upon exploring the city of Bethel, the spies encounter a man of the city. They enter into an agreement with the man. In return for his aid in procuring entrance into the city, the house of Joseph promises to show the man and his family mercy. The man is not described as one who repudiates the elohim of the land. He does not enter into an allegiance with Yahweh the Elohim of Israel. Upon keeping his end of the agreement and Joseph’s conquest of the city, the man and his family are shown mercy. He and his family are not slain. They are allowed to go into the land of the Hittites, which is within the allotted land given to Israel by Yahweh, where the man builds a city and names it Luz.

Such an agreement amounts to a covenant with a group of local inhabitants of the land. This is prohibited. The text records, “they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man go with his whole family” (Judg. 1:25b CV). The conjunction “but” implies an act of disobedience. These people should have been slain. But they are spared.

This act of disobedience by the house of Joseph is associated with the name Luz. Originally, the Canaanite city of Luz had been renamed Bethel by Jacob. It was there that Yahweh revealed Himself to Jacob. He blessed Jacob and renewed His promise of the land to Jacob’s descendants (Gen. 28:10-19). Jacob erected there a holy pillar and worshiped Yahweh Elohim Who had there revealed to him the ladder binding the earth to the heaven. For upon this ladder he had seen celestial messengers ascending and descending. Thus, he renamed the city Bethel, the house of El, for in this place, in this house was “the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:16-19). This gate or ladder would join the terrestrial realm to the celestial, bringing blessing to all the families of the terrestrial realm, and ultimately bringing blessing to the entire terrestrial race of humanity, making it one with the celestial family.

The seed of departure from Yahweh is thereby presented as being planted by the house of Joseph. Bethel, the house of El, the gateway to heaven becomes the locale within which the house of Joseph plants the seed of covenantal transgression. For it is at Bethel that Jeroboam is to lead the northern tribes into the worship of Yahweh at the foreign altars erected first in Bethel and then in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-29).

Yahweh is with the house of Joseph. Bethel is destroyed. Manasseh is unable to evict the Canaanites from many of her cities, but in time becomes strong enough to make them serve as tributaries. Ephraim also places the Canaanites under her power, for “Neither did Ephraim evict the Canaanite dwelling in Geser; so the Canaanite dwelt among them in Geser” (Judg. 1:29 CV). The same is said of Zebulon. Asher and Naphtali are not able to evict the Canaanites and are said to dwell among the Canaanites, indicating the dominance of the Canaanites. But in time, they also come to make the Canaanites serve as tributaries (Judg. 1:31-33). The Amorites force the sons of Dan into the mountain terrain, but “the hand of the house of Joseph was heavy, and they came under tributary service” (Judg. 1:35 CV). Of all the tribes, Dan is the weakest, reflecting his spiritual lethargy. Conquest is based upon faith in Yahweh, Israel’s conquering King. Dan refuses to follow faithfully and courageously the leadership of Yahweh. This covenantal lethargy foreshadows the dishonorable and rebellious activity of the tribe of Dan described in chapters 17-18 of Judges, depicting specific faithless deeds of a nation immersed in covenantal contamination. How quickly Israel forgets Yahweh her Elohim.

Thus, chapter 1 of Judges describes the general faithfulness of Israel after the death of Joshua but before the death of all the elders who served under Joshua. During this period, the seeds of unfaithfulness are planted by the house of Joseph and the tribe of Dan, foreshadowing the failure of the nation to follow Yahweh her King and obey His law in the land He gave her. Yahweh is shown faithful, while Israel’s faithless character is anticipated. Israel is presented as covenantally successful under Joshua and the elders serving with him.

Chapter 2, verses 1-5 of Judges, carry the reader forward to the generation following the death of Joshua and the elders outliving him. This generation is described as not knowing “Yahweh or the deeds that He had done for Israel (Judg. 2:10 CV). A messenger of Yahweh rebukes the nation for breaking Yahweh’s eonian covenant. In spite of Israel’s covenantal lethargy, Yahweh declares, “I shall not annul My covenant with you for the eon” (Judg. 2:1b CV). Israel is accused of making a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and failing to destroy their altars (2:2). Thus, Israel has contaminated her holy status by intermingling socially and culticly with the enemy. Yahweh chides the nation, “What is this you have done?” (Judg. 2:2b CV). Then He judges, “So I now say: I shall not drive them out from before you, and they will become a scourge against your sides. As for their elohim, they shall be a trap to you” (Judg. 2:3 CV). In response, the people lift up their voice and weep. A deaf ear to the voice of Yahweh results in a voice of weeping. This weeping, however, is short lived. The Cainish character of the nation prevails. The Abelites remain a faithful remnant, struggling against the rebellious heart of the Cainite nation.

Chapter 2, verses 6-10 of Judges, return the reader to the generation of Joshua and the elders. Verse 7 repeats the testimony of Joshua 24:31: the people served Yahweh all the days of Joshua and the elders who had outlived him. But this section ends with a very different testimony: “However, when that whole generation was gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them, who did not know Yahweh or the deeds that He had done for Israel (Judg. 2:10 CV).

The remainder of the Book of Judges is a covenantal history depicting the outcome of the verdict of chapter 2, verse 11: “Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh and served the Baalim” (CV). Israel deviates from the way of Yahweh revealed in His law. The nation turns from the knowledge and wisdom contained in Yahweh’s statutes and judgments, turning from the path illuminated by His word to the path of darkness hacked out by the nations in their midst. Israel “forsook Yahweh Elohim of their fathers, . . . went after other elohim, from among the elohim of the peoples round about them, and they bowed themselves down to them and provoked Yahweh to vexation” (Judg. 2:12 CV).

The anger of Yahweh becomes hot against Israel. He sells them into the hands of their enemies, delivering them up to evil. To do what is evil in the eyes of Yahweh is to receive evil from the hand of Yahweh. Yahweh faithfully acts in accord with His word to this holy nation: “no longer were they able to withstand before their enemies. Wherever they went forth, the hand of Yahweh was against them for their evil, just as Yahweh had spoken and just as Yahweh has sworn to them; and it was exceedingly distressing to them” (Judg. 2:14b-15 CV).

Yet, Yahweh continues to extend gracious mercy to this ungracious people. “Nevertheless the LORD [Yahweh] raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them” (Judg. 2:16 KJV). But the inspired writer adds, “Yet even to their judges they did not hearken, for they prostituted after other elohim and bowed down to them. They withdrew quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked who had hearkened to the instructions of Yahweh” (Judg. 2:17 CV). They do not walk along the way of the Torah, the path illuminated by Yahweh’s word of covenantal life. They alone had been given access to this “way,” this path illuminated by Yahweh’s Ten Words, His statutes and judgments, His instructions. They turn from the path of light to the path of darkness.

The pattern of their covenantal history during this era of the judges is succinctly set forth: “When Yahweh raised up judges for them, then Yahweh was with the judge and saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge, for Yahweh would be merciful on their moaning at the presence of their oppressors and their jostlers. Yet at the death of the judge it occurred that they backslid and became even more corrupt than their fathers, going after other elohim, serving them, and bowing down to them; they did not discard any of their practices or their obstinate ways” (Judg. 2:18-19 CV). Because the nation transgresses Yahweh’s covenant, refusing to hearken to His voice, Yahweh refuses to evict the remaining nations in the land. These nations are to be Yahweh’s means of probing Israel, testing to see whether or not the covenantal nation will observe the way of His covenant. But the holy text again reveals Yahweh’s foreknowledge concerning the character of this people. Yahweh had not delivered all the nations into the hand of Joshua for this very reason—He knew the bent of their heart: “Yahweh left those nations so as not to evict them quickly, and had not delivered them into the hand of Joshua” (Judg. 2:23 CV).

When Israel turns away from Yahweh to serve other elohim, Yahweh gives her up to oppression at the hands of her enemies. When the sons of Israel cry out to Yahweh, He delivers them by sending them a judge who leads them in military victory over the enemy, thereby liberating them from the oppressor. The judge continues as military commander and carries out executive justice against domestic lawlessness and foreign intrigue. Upon the death of the commissioned judge, the people return exceedingly to their corrupt ways. Once again, Yahweh delivers them up to their enemies, and the cycle begins anew.

When Israel commits herself to intermarriage with the inhabitants of the land (her enemies) and to serve the elohim of these inhabitants, the holy text describes the sons of Israel as dwelling “among” the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite (Judg. 3:5-6), instead of these peoples dwelling among Israel. Israel loses her headship, her supremacy, when she conforms to the ways of the nations around her, thereby becoming the tail rather than her intended status as head.

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The Judgeship of Othniel

After the death of the elders outliving Joshua, the sons of Israel are described as dwelling “among” the inhabitants of the land (Judg. 3:5). They take the daughters of the land of Canaan as wives and give their daughters in marriage to the sons of the land. Consequently, the sons of Israel begin serving the elohim (gods) of these peoples (Judg. 3:6). This is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. The holy nation is given into the hands of the Mesopotamians for a period of eight years. When the sons of Israel cry out to Yahweh for relief, He commissions, raises up, “a savior for the sons of Israel who brought them salvation: . . .” (Judg. 3:9 CV). The first of these savior judges is Othniel, the conqueror of the city of Debir (Judg. 1:12‑13).

In the covenantal history of Israel salvation and savior are to be understood covenantally within the context of the corporate condition of Israel. These words very rarely refer to the salvation, the deliverance of individuals apart from their relationship to the corporate whole. They never refer to the individual’s eternal destiny. This understanding of these words must be applied to their use in the Greek Scriptures. This is especially true of Jesus Who before His death is described to Joseph as the one who “shall be saving His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21b CV). These sins are associated with the nation’s covenantal relationship with Yahweh.

Othniel delivers, saves the sons of Israel from the oppression of the Mesopotamians: “The spirit of Yahweh came to be upon him; and he judged Israel. When he went forth to war, Yahweh delivered Cushan-rishathaim king of Aram into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. So the land had quietness for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died” (Judg. 3:10-11 CV). The sealing with the spirit of Yahweh is the sign of Yahweh’s commission, Yahweh’s authorization, His empowerment. This spiritual anointment empowers the hand of Othniel to prevail over the foreign hand of the Mesopotamians. As a result, the land is once again under the rule of Israel and experiences rest for 40 years. However, after the death of Othniel, the sons of Israel “did again what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh” (Judg. 3:12 CV). The cycle begins again: apostasy, oppression under the hand of the enemy, a groaning cry for relief, Yahweh’s compassion, the commissioning of a savior-judge, and a period of rest.

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The Judgeship of Deborah and Barak

The judgeship of Deborah and Barak is significant for two reasons. First, this is the only time in this book that Yahweh uses a woman to judge Israel. Second, the enemy who has oppressed Israel for 20 years is described as possessing “nine hundred chariots of iron” (Judg. 4:3 CV). Earlier (1:19), Judah is described as being unable to evict the inhabitants of the coastal plain because they “had chariots of iron.” Such chariots are no obstacle for Yahweh, as the story of Deborah and Barak clearly reveals. Judah could not evict the inhabitants of the coastal plain because it was not Yahweh’s will to evict them at that time. However, there were other tribes unable to evict the enemy because of their fear of the enemy’s iron chariots. This indicates a lack of trust in Yahweh. If Yahweh wills eviction, iron chariots are no excuse for disobeying His will.

The judgeship of Deborah is unusual in that the text does not state that Yahweh raised her up as a judge in Israel. The text simply records, “There was a woman, Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth; she was judging Israel at that time. . . . in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel would come up to her for judgment” (Judg. 4:4-5 CV). From this account, Deborah is apparently designated a judge by the sons of Israel due to her gift and role as prophetess. She is not raised up and commissioned by Yahweh. She is appointed by the sons of Israel after the death of the previous judge Ehud, and during a period in which Israel once again begins doing that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh.

Deborah has been judging Israel during the time “Yahweh sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan who reigned in Hazor” (Judg. 4:2 CV). The implication is that Israel’s legal apparatus as designed by the Mosaic Law is ineffectual due to unrighteousness. Civil, judicial, and economic injustice lead to the abandonment of Levitical rights, resulting in cultic and national prostitution as depicted in chapters 17-21. Yahweh chooses to honor her appointment by the sons of Israel in order to humble this disobedient people and remind them of their dishonorable behavior.

Thus, Yahweh instructs Deborah to appoint Barak, son of Abinoam of Kedesh in Naphtali, commander over ten thousand men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon. Yahweh declares, “I will draw Sisera, Jabin’s chief of the military host with his chariots and throng toward you to the Wadi Kishon. And I will deliver him into your hand” (Judg. 4:7 CV). Barak accepts the appointment, but only if Deborah joins him. Deborah agrees, but warns him, “Only know that there shall be no beauteous glory for you on the road you follow, for Yahweh shall dispose of Sisera by the hand of a woman” (Judg. 4:9 CV). Not only does Yahweh honor a woman as judge, but He will also honor a woman with the glory associated with killing the enemy’s military commander.

Barak does defeat Jabin’s army of iron chariots, just as Yahweh promised. Sisera flees on foot and enters the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. The Kenites, as a result of Israel’s departure from the Mosaic Covenant, deserted their association with Israel through Moses’ father-in-law, seeking the protection and security offered by Jabin. However, Heber remained faithful to Yahweh “having parted from the Kenite” (Judg. 4:11 CV). Thus, Jael is a covenant loyalist committed to Yahweh’s people. Sisera, believing her to be a political friend, accepts her invitation to hide within her tent. Having drugged the milk she offers him, “while he was stupefied” (Judg. 4:21 CV), while asleep, she executes him by hammering a peg through his temple (Judg. 4:21).

So Yahweh delivers Israel from her oppressor possessing 900 iron chariots by means of two faithfully honorable women—to the shame of the sons of Israel. The land had rest for the next 40 years. But once again, Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and, once again, Yahweh delivers the sons of Israel into the hands of another oppressor—Midian.

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The Judgeship of Gideon

The text continues, Israel was exceedingly impoverished because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried out to Yahweh” (Judg. 6:6 CV). Yahweh responds by sending a prophet to the sons of Israel. This prophet reminds them of Yahweh’s mighty deeds in delivering them out of Egyptian bondage and in defeating the inhabitants of the land of Canaan so that Israel could receive her allotment of the land from the hand of Yahweh her Elohim (Judg. 6:7-9). This prophet, speaking on behalf of Yahweh, declares, “I, Yahweh, am your Elohim. You should not fear the elohim of the Amorite in whose land you are dwelling. Yet you did not hearken to My voice” (Judg. 6:10 CV). Israel’s impoverishment is due to her unfaithfulness. She has not hearkened to Yahweh’s voice!

In spite of this, Yahweh has not abandoned His unfaithful people, as Gideon is to claim when a messenger of Yahweh is sent to him declaring, “Yahweh is with you, master of valor” (Judg. 6:12 CV). Gideon, like Israel, is still in denial concerning his abandonment of trust in Yahweh. For Yahweh has not abandoned Gideon/Israel; it is Gideon/Israel who has abandoned Yahweh. Gideon is commanded by Yahweh to “save Israel from the clutches of Midian! Have I not sent you?” (Judg. 6:14b CV). Gideon responds with a series of excuses. Yahweh responds, “But I shall come to be with you, and you will smite Midian as one man” (Judg. 6:16 CV). Gideon then proceeds to request a series of signs from Yahweh. In all this, Yahweh remains patient, granting Gideon his requests.

Finally, Gideon yields to Yahweh’s commission. He gathers an army. But Yahweh, knowing the bent of Israel’s heart, is determined to avoid Jacob/Israel’s taking credit for the victory over Midian. Speaking to Gideon, He commands, “The people with you are too many for Me to deliver Midian into their hand, lest Israel might vaunt himself against Me, saying, My own hand has saved me. So now call out into the ears of the people, saying, Anyone fearful and trembling may return and scurry from Mount Gilead(Judg. 7:2-3a CV). In the end, Yahweh reduces Gideon’s militia to 300 men. Israel must learn his success is not dependent upon his own strength after the likeness of the nations, but on the strength of Yahweh alone. His responsibility is to keep Yahweh’s Law and continually hearken to His voice. Yahweh’s responsibility is to deliver Israel from his enemies even though his enemies outnumber him and possess superior weapons of war.

With a mere 300 men, Yahweh defeats the outnumbering Midian army which possesses superior weapons of war. But what is Israel’s response? Does she turn back from covenantal prostitution and glorify Yahweh her Elohim, graciously thanking and praising Him for this great deliverance?! Not so! “Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule over us, both you and your son, and your son’s son, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian” (Judg. 8:22 CV).

To Gideon’s credit, he quickly replies, “I shall not rule over you myself, nor shall my son rule over you; Yahweh alone, He shall rule over you” (Judg. 8:23 CV). Gideon has learned Who rules over Israel—Yahweh alone rules over Israel, an allusion back to Deuteronomy 33:5: “So He [Yahweh] became King in Yeshurun [Israel].” But to his discredit, he makes an ephod after which “all Israel prostituted themselves” (Judg. 8:27 CV).

But again, Yahweh’s mercy, compassion, patience, and longsuffering toward this stiff-necked and rebellious people is revealed in the fact that “the land had quietness for forty years in the days of Gideon” (Judg. 8:28b CV). In spite of Israel’s continued prostitution and disloyalty to Yahweh her King, Yahweh remains faithful, granting the rebellious nation a 40-year period of rest. This account is a foreshadowing of the future official rejection of Yahweh as King over Yeshurun.

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The Judgeship of Samson

Samson is the only judge chosen by Yahweh from his mother’s womb. He is a solitary figure providing sporadic relief from Philistine dominion over Israel. He confounds and frustrates the Philistines as a single man having no military following. He is called by Yahweh to live as a Nazarite. He does not choose this for himself. Since his dedication to Yahweh is imposed upon him from his mother’s womb, the power of Yahweh’s spirit will remain with him as long as he remains faithful to this Nazarite vow imposed upon him by Yahweh.

Samson does not deliver Israel from the Philistines: “He shall start off with saving Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judg. 13:5 CV). Samson prepares the way for Samuel, Saul, and David. During his judgeship, Israel is not recorded as experiencing rest. In fact, Samson causes unrest and is perceived by his own people as a threat to their welfare while under the rule of the Philistines.

Thus, Samson is not a typical judge as presented in the Book of Judges. He is the last of the judges and is perceived as a wild and rebellious prodigal son. He does not lead an army; he does not gain the favor of the people; he does not win the affection of the nation; he does not set a moral or cultic example for Israel. Samson is a man shaped and affected by the Israelite culture of his time—the era of the generations after Joshua—the age in which Israel did that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. Though he is wild, rebellious, and unconventional, he typifies the faithful remnant in its struggle to remain faithful to Yahweh’s voice in the midst of religious, economic, social, and political corruption, in the midst of the collapse of the theocratic rule of Yahweh as encoded in the Mosaic Law.

During this era, Yahweh graciously makes concessions in His dealings with His people. He extends His mercy, compassion, and longsuffering; understanding the disastrous situation in which the faithful must attempt to both survive and remain obedient to His law. In such societal chaos (from the perspective of Yahweh’s Law), it is most difficult to remain unaffected, untouched by the deluge of covenantal pollution. Corrupt times impose corrupt values, corrupt morals, corrupt traditions, corrupt laws, corrupt situations, all of which contribute to compromised choices. Israel had contaminated her worship of Yahweh by mixing it with the worship practices of Baal and Astarte, thereby culticly prostituting herself. This had resulted in a corruption of Mosaic justice and a splintering of the unity of the tribes as one covenantal congregation. Each of the tribes had followed its own separate, selfish interests to the detriment of the nation as a corporate, covenantal whole. The lower and higher courts throughout the tribes had become dissolute. The Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods had defiled their Mosaic functions due to lack of covenantal support. This led to bribery, licentious practices, retrogressive instruction, and greed, characteristics of the spirit of this age in the then short history of Israel.

The record of Samson’s judgeship begins, “Again the sons of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh; so Yahweh delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years” (Judg. 13:1 CV). The nation has sunk to its all-time low, as the writer will exemplify in chapters 17-21. The Philistines now rule over Israel. Samson is uniquely qualified to judge Israel during this transitional period. The nation has hit bottom. Samson mirrors, reflects, the characteristics of this defiled generation.

In his prodigalness is reflected the natural Cainish character of the nation—her consistent rebellious disposition to fraternize with the disqualified nations around her. Samson’s intrigues with the daughters of the Philistines typify Israel’s covenantal prostitution with the gods of the nations. He thus reflects the flaws of his nation, short of abandoning Yahweh completely. Samson will pay a price for his arrogant, neglectful, prodigal ways, but he will learn the error of his ways and faithfully achieve the will and goal of Yahweh his Elohim, as also will be true of the faithful remnant of Israel. Thus, Samson, like the faithful remnant throughout the history of Israel, is faithful to Yahweh’s election and commission in accord with his own personal choice.

But the text records that Yahweh delivered the nation into the hand of the Philistines for a period of 40 years, making Samson a contemporary of Samuel who will reflect the integrity of Yahweh’s election of Israel. Samson judges Israel for 20 years. This means Samson’s activities overlap the early years of Samuel who is a mirror image of Samson. Samuel is the reverse side of the same coin. Together, they reflect the elective essence of Israel. They complement one another.

Samson portrays the unclean faithful ones; Samuel portrays the clean faithful ones. Samson is immersed in the defilement of the law; Samuel is immersed in the purity of the law. The accomplishment of Samson makes possible the accomplishment of Samuel. Samson is the strong one, the daring one, the devastating one; Samuel is the hearing one, the heeding one, the building one. Samson is the wild one, a prodigal son; Samuel is the harnessed one, a like-minded son. Samson is the man of the flesh; Samuel is the man of the spirit. The flesh must be harnessed before the spirit can become master. Samson endures the consequences of his wildness, but through these consequences he learns to discipline, harness, master himself, cleansing himself from covenantal defilement and fulfilling his elective obligation to Yahweh his Elohim.

Yahweh’s election of Samson is intended to display His power which Israel should have been experiencing if she had obeyed Yahweh’s Law. Samson represents Yahweh’s mercy, compassion, and longsuffering toward a disobedient, ungrateful, arrogant, and prodigal nation. The display of this power through Samson is designed to encourage Israel to repent and turn back to her Elohim by perceiving her condition mirrored in Samson and to warn the Philistines against attributing their subjugation of Yahweh’s people to the power of their gods. Thus, Samson does not deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines, nor does he bring rest to the land. He brings a sword which divides his people, immersing them in the unrest, the disturbance caused by his brash intrigues with the daughters of the Philistines.

In spite of Samson’s unruly character, “the lad grew up and Yahweh blessed him” (Judg. 13:24 CV). Yahweh remains graciously faithful to Israel as demonstrated in His blessing of Samson. Yahweh’s spirit “started to agitate him in the encampment of Dan, . . .” (Judg. 13:25 CV). Immediately following this statement, the text takes up the selected significant account of Samson’s relationship to the Philistines. He sees a woman among the daughters of the Philistines. He commands his parents, “Take her for me as my wife” (Judg. 14:2b CV). They attempt to persuade him to choose from one of the daughters of Israel. He refuses; declaring, “she is upright in my eyes” (Judg. 14:3b CV). Samson seeks that which is upright in his own eyes instead of seeking that which is upright in the eyes of Yahweh.

This ungratefully arrogant attitude is precisely what Yahweh has chosen to use in order to disturb both Israel and the Philistines. Yahweh’s spirit has agitated Samson, compelling him to engage the Philistines. Yahweh uses the very flaws of Samson to display His power against the Philistines. What is upright to Samson’s eyes is contrary to what is upright in the eyes of Yahweh. Nevertheless, Yahweh uses this shallow insubordination, this blindness to covenantal righteousness to prepare His people for the deliverance from the dark age of the judges He shall mercifully provide. Yahweh will not surrender His elect people to darkness and destruction. He will patiently endure their ignorance and rebellion, always maintaining and protecting the faithful remnant from the rebellious practices of the Cainish nation.

As Samson is covenantally blind, so is the nation. For the writer, in relation to what is upright in the eyes of Samson, twice declares, “Each man did what was upright in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6b; 21:25 CV). The writer also testifies, “As for his father and his mother, they did not realize that this [the demand of a Philistine bride, what is upright in Samson’s eyes] was from Yahweh: He was seeking a pretext against the Philistines, for at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel (Judg. 14:4 CV). Israel must learn to do what is right in the eyes of Yahweh, while the Philistines must learn to fear Yahweh Elohim of Israel.

This marriage leads to a Philistine savage threat to a family of their own (“Entice your husband [Samson] to unravel for us the enigma; otherwise we shall burn you and your father’s house with fire,” 14:15 CV); the disloyalty of Samson’s Philistine bride (“she unraveled the enigma for the sons of her people,” 14:17); Samson’s slaying of 30 rich Philistines to provide payment for his lost bet, and the giving of Samson’s bride to another man (“Her father said, I thought, yea thought that you disliked, yea disliked her, so I gave her to your associate,” 15:2 CV). Upon hearing that his wife has been given to another, Samson declares, “This time I will be blameless regarding the Philistines, though I am dealing out evil to them” (Judg. 15:3 CV).

Samson was certainly not blameless in the slaying of 30 Philistines. This is murder, a breaking of the sixth commandment of the Mosaic Covenant. Yet it is a reflection of Yahweh’s judgment against the unjust and savage ways of the Philistines. Samson sins against Yahweh’s Law and will not be able to escape its consequences. Though he is not blameless for the murder of 30 Philistines, he declares himself blameless for the evil he is about to perform against the Philistines for violating the marriage contract. Such violation is indicative of Philistine lawlessness and dishonor.

Samson sets their fields on fire. The Philistines, in retaliation, burn the house of Samson’s father-in-law, most likely including all the occupants, an act of barbarity and cruelty characterizing the Philistine nation. Yahweh uses Samson’s evil as judgment against the Philistines, but Samson is not blameless in the eyes of Yahweh’s Law. In an age of such evil, Yahweh uses the evil of men to accomplish His purpose. However, the consequences of committing such evil cannot be escaped. Many innocent, as well as the guilty, suffer the consequences of such evil.

In the present case, the welfare of the sons of Judah is threatened by the Philistines as a result of Samson’s activities. In order to avoid Philistine wrath, the sons of Judah agree to deliver Samson into the hands of the Philistines. Their own judge, elected by Yahweh from his mother’s womb and upon whom the spirit of Yahweh worked mightily on their behalf, is to their dishonor and shame to be delivered up to the enemy of Israel and Yahweh.

Such behavior characterizes the nation’s lack of trust in Yahweh their King. The nation does not believe in the word of Yahweh concerning His promise to lead them in victory against their enemies. The people have lost confidence in the power of Yahweh to overcome the overwhelming strength of the enemy. Yahweh is King, but the nation thinks and acts as though she has no King. Thus, the writer of the Book of Judges repeatedly declares, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Each man did what was upright in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6b; 21:25 CV). From the writer’s historical point of view, there had been no king in Israel during the days of the Judges as there is in his own time. But, more importantly, from his covenantally theological point of view, there has been no king in Israel during the age of the Judges because Israel denied the rule and power of her reigning King. Israel had forsaken her King by forsaking His covenantal law.

Yahweh had been King in Yeshurun from the inception of the covenant entered into at Sinai. Yahweh her King had often displayed His power and authority through the judges He raised up to deliver them from the oppression of the enemy. But the people continually abandoned Yahweh their King, thinking and acting disloyally. And now, for the first time, they have become so low as to deliver up to the Philistines the very deliverer raised up by Yahweh to deliver them out of the hands of the Philistines. In delivering up Samson, they indirectly deny the Kingship of Yahweh. Later, when before the face of Samuel they request a king like the nations, the sons of Israel reject outright the Kingship of Yahweh.

The text reports the deliverance of Samson into the hands of the Philistines by the sons of Israel as follows:

Do you not know that the Philistines are ruling over us? What then is this you have done to us? He replied to them, Just as they did to me, so I did to them. They told him, we have come down to bind you and to deliver you into the hand of the Philistines. Then Samson said to them, Swear fealty to me, lest you too come upon me. They replied to him, saying, we will not, for we shall only bind, yea bind you, and we will give you into their hand; yet to death, we shall not put you to death. (Judg. 15:11b-13a CV)

The sons of Israel rebuke Samson for bringing the threatening wrath of the ruling Philistines against them. After all, Samson has not acted as the previous judges. He has not led a militia against the Philistines, defeating them in battle and bringing honor to Israel. He has acted against the Philistines only in relation to his own grievances. He has acted only privately, not publicly. His actions, his triumphs have not brought Israel deliverance or honor.

Thus, Israel is not able to perceive her own characteristics in the intrigues of Samson. Israel is covenantally blind to her own condition and the mercy, compassion, and longsuffering of Yahweh displayed through the actions of Samson. The judgeship of Samson is designed to end the dark age of the Judges. Samson is not commissioned to do as the previous Judges had done. He is the end of the line. He represents the end of an era. His death will not lead to another time described as “Again, the sons of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh” (Judg. 13:1 CV).

Such was the judgment after the death of each of the major Judges. During the rule of each Judge, the people had been delivered from the oppression of the enemy and the land had rest. After the death of each Judge, the people had returned to doing what is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. During the judgeship of Samson, the people are not delivered from Philistine oppression, and the land is not given rest. After the death of Samson, a new era would begin. Israel would be given a king like the nations. No more would it be said of Israel, “Each man did what was upright in his own eyes.” For Israel would be placed under the authority of a human king, like the nations, and she would be made to do what is upright in the eyes of the king.

In answer to the rebuke of the sons of Israel, Samson explains that what the Philistines did to him, he did to them. This is the essence of Israel’s attitude. Like Samson, she is selfish and unconcerned about covenantal faithfulness to Yahweh. She is merely concerned with her own demand for personal justice in relation to her oppressor. If she could, as a nation she would do to the Philistines as Samson had been doing. This is precisely why Samson’s judgeship is not to be like the judgeship of the previous Judges. The victories of the previous Judges all ended in the descent into further evil after the death of the Judge. The chastisement and deliverance of Israel by Yahweh had not culminated in covenantal correction. It merely hardened her to commit more grievous evil: “Yet at the death of the judge it occurred that they backslid and became even more corrupt than their fathers, . . .” (Judg. 2:19a CV).

Like Samson, Israel is covenantally blind, possessing a heart of stone. Like Samson, Israel’s eyes would have to be put out by the oppressor before being restored to covenantal sight. As Samson’s sight would be destroyed by the Philistines, so also Israel’s evil sight would be destroyed by the Philistines when they would capture and defile the Ark of the Covenant. Covenantal sight for Israel would be restored by the life and activities of Samuel, the complement of Samson.

To Samson’s credit, he yields to the sons of Israel. He agrees to allow them to bind him. He asks only that they swear as brothers and fellow-citizens of the commonwealth of Israel that they will not shed his blood. Samson is aware of the fact that he is his brother’s keeper. He understands the covenantal relationship of all Israelites. He is concerned that his blood will not be on their hands. They are concerned, not with his blood, but with their own safety. There is no need for them to kill Samson. The Philistines will accomplish that. They need not get their hands dirty. The Philistines will perform the dirty work. This would appease the Philistine rulers, while at the same time ridding Israel of a thorn in her flesh.

Samson is bound and delivered to the Philistines. As they triumphantly raise their voices over their prize, the spirit of Yahweh comes upon Samson empowering him to destroy his bonds. He proceeds to slay a thousand Philistines with a jawbone of a donkey. Both the Philistines and the sons of Israel are reminded of the power of Yahweh, Elohim of Israel. Yahweh is still King in Yeshurun, though Yeshurun continues to deny Him His due worship and service. The reader, of course, is to take account of the Cainish character of Israel and the faithfulness of Yahweh in accomplishing His intended purpose for Israel, in spite of her shameful character.

The final episode in the account of Samson’s judgeship describes how he falls in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah. Again, the law is clear about intimate involvement with the daughters of those peoples worshiping and serving other elohim. Israel is not to pollute herself through intermarriage with the daughters and sons of the Canaanites. Samson disregards this prohibition for the third and final time. He reveals to Delilah the secret of his great strength. She then betrays him to the Philistine chieftains for a price, having the hair of his head shaved while he sleeps.

His Nazarite condition now defiled, Samson’s great strength withdraws from him. He had told Delilah, “If I were shaved, then my vigor would withdraw from me; I would become powerless; I would become like any other man” (Judg. 16:17b CV). When his hair is shaved, the text records, “Yahweh had withdrawn from him” (Judg. 16:20b CV). Samson’s great strength did not reside in his unshaven hair, but with his being dedicated to Yahweh, which the unshaven hair had represented. When the sign of his dedication to Yahweh is destroyed by removal, Yahweh withdraws from him, reducing him to the likeness of any other man. He becomes powerless because Yahweh, his great strength, has withdrawn His special elective presence.

Samson had maintained his unshaven hair to the honor of Yahweh his Elohim. As long as he had maintained his Nazarite condition imposed on him by Yahweh, he had displayed his faithfulness, his obedience to Yahweh. He had remained Yahweh’s faithful servant and had been the beneficiary of Yahweh’s blessing. Yahweh, thus, graciously had elected to overlook Samson’s sins, his flaws, his foolishness, his juvenile behavior, because Yahweh sees into a man’s heart; He does not merely look at his outward appearance or behavior (1 Sam. 16:7 CV).

Samson’s heart is upright with Yahweh. He is a man affected and influenced by the corrupt conditions of his time. His prodigal behavior and juvenile attitude are the product of an evil age, an evil and ungrateful people, a degraded culture. But his heart belongs to Yahweh. He freely chooses to be obedient to the Nazarite condition imposed upon him. He could have denied this calling. He could have renounced it, arguing he was not obligated to follow the path of a Nazarite because it was unjustly imposed upon him without his consent. But Samson obeys his Nazarite calling voluntarily. He does not despise it, but rather values it as a privileged gift of Yahweh his Elohim. He honors Yahweh by honoring his dedication to Yahweh as a Nazarite.

Having dishonored his Nazarite dedication, Samson becomes like other men. He no longer has power over his enemies. The Philistine chieftains bind him and gouge out his eyes (Judg. 16:21 CV). He is brought down to Gaza and sentenced to grind corn in the house of the prisoners. His eyes now blind to the world of appearances, Samson begins to perceive the error of his ways. His covenantal eyes are opened to the ways of Yahweh. He has sinned against Yahweh, and Yahweh has delivered him into the hand of his enemy.

However, though Yahweh has withdrawn from Samson, He has not abandoned him. For now Samson’s outward appearance and behavior are prepared to complement his upright heart. His hair begins to grow back; the sign of his Nazarite condition is restored. In solemn obedience to Yahweh his Elohim, Samson readies himself for the death which will restore Yahweh’s honor in the eyes of the Philistines and in the eyes of His people Israel.

The captivity and humiliation of this famed and dreaded Israelite opponent is regarded by the Philistine chieftains as an enormous triumph for themselves and their gods over the Israelites and their Elohim, Yahweh. To celebrate this victory, the Philistines prepare a great and joyous sacrificial festival in honor of their god Dagon. In the course of this festival, the chieftains, seeking to further humiliate and make sport of Samson and his Elohim, have Samson brought into the temple and placed between the pillars upon which the temple structure is supported.

Samson, calling upon Yahweh, makes a last request, “My Lord Yahweh, remember me, I pray, and fortify me now, only this once. O You, the One Elohim! Let me avenge myself on the Philistines with one vengeance for my two eyes” (Judg. 16:28 CV). Having thus prayed, Samson “thrust against the two middle columns on which the house was established and by which it was supported, one at his right and one at his left. Then Samson said, May my soul die with the Philistines! And he stretched out with vigor, and the house fell on the chieftains and on all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he put to death at his death were more than those whom he had put to death in his life” (Judg. 16:29-30 CV). Samson had been Yahweh’s executioner of the tried and sentenced Philistines. In his death, he is Yahweh’s instrument of judgment against the Philistines. Through his death, Samson executes more Philistines than he had executed through his life. Yahweh’s honor is restored, and the people of Dagon, god of the Philistines, are destroyed, and Dagon is shamed, humiliated, and demonstrated powerless before Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel.

Samson the man of the flesh, typifying the nation Israel during the dark, evil era of the Judges, must be blinded physically before he is enabled to see covenantally. It is Yahweh who gouges out Samson’s eyes. He executes judgment through the hands of the Philistines. This execution is necessitated due to Samson’s complacent, presumptuous disregard for Yahweh’s Law and the defiling of his Nazarite condition.

Such chastisement is administered by Yahweh against His own sons in order to bring about correction. Samson represents the faithful remnant. Yahweh’s chastisement results in his correction. Samson’s external eyes are blinded in order to direct him to the use of his internal eyes, resulting in covenantal sight. Obtaining this new sight, Samson dedicates himself to Yahweh as a voluntary Nazarite. No longer is this imposed upon him from his mother’s womb. He wills it in accord with the will of Yahweh his Elohim in order to remove his personal shame and the shame he brought on Yahweh. He becomes one with Yahweh Elohim—like Father, like son.

As Samson’s eyes are gouged out making him blind and aware of his loss of power, so also Israel’s eyes are gouged out making her blind and aware of her loss of power. This will lead to Israel’s correction through the ministry of Samuel. The shock brought about by the Philistine capture of the Ark of the Covenant gouges out Israel’s presumptuous eyes, leaving her powerless due to Yahweh’s withdrawal. But, like Samson, Yahweh does not abandon Israel. He sends her Samuel who teaches her to see with covenantal sight: “The things being concealed are Yahweh our Elohim’s, yet the things being revealed are ours and our sons’ until the eon, so that we might keep all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29 CV). Samuel restores to Israel the sight of the fathers under Joshua. However, her vision is not twenty-twenty, as a consequence of her sins. She is delivered out of the dark age of the Judges, but is still a lengthy distance from the future age of total enlightenment spoken of by Moses: “Yet until this day Yahweh has not given to you a heart to realize and eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4 CV).

As well as being a type of faithful Israel, Samson is also a type of Jesus the Christ. As Samson is dedicated to Yahweh from his mother’s womb, so is Jesus. As Samson is to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, so Jesus is to begin to deliver Israel from her enemies (Lk. 1:71). As Samson is commissioned a Judge over Israel, so is Jesus. As the spirit of Yahweh comes upon Samson to agitate him against the Philistines, so the spirit of Yahweh comes upon Jesus, driving, ejecting him into the wilderness to be tried by The Adversary so as to prepare Him for the destruction of the enemy of Israel (see Matt. 4:1; Mk. 1:12; Lk. 4:1-2 CV). As Samson judges as a solitary individual apart from leading a militia in battle against the enemy, so Jesus judges as a solitary individual apart from military or political activity. As Samson demonstrates acts of great strength beyond the normal, so Jesus demonstrates great strength in the performance of miracles. As Samson upsets, disturbs, and alienates the sons of Israel, so Jesus upsets, disturbs, and alienates the rulers of Israel. As Samson is delivered up to the Philistines by the sons of Israel, so Jesus is delivered up to the Romans by the rulers of Israel. As the death of Samson effectively destroys a great number of the Philistines and leads to the deliverance of Israel, so the death of Jesus effectively triumphs over His enemies and leads to the deliverance of the Israel of Yahweh. As the death of Samson begins to close the age of the Judges, so the death of Jesus begins to close the age of Moses.

Samson’s sacrifice of himself is an act of a faithful servant of Yahweh. He perceives the necessity of his being given over to his enemies so that in their midst, through the inevitable certainty of his death, he could effect their defeat and the deliverance of his people. Though the blindness of his eyes is a mark of his unfaithfulness, his sacrificial death (his obedience unto death) removes the shame of his unfaithfulness and the triumph of the Philistines over him, his people, and his Elohim. In the moment of his own death, Samson gains the greatest victory over his enemies to the glory of Yahweh his Elohim. Though he is a terror to the Philistines while living, while dying he becomes a destroyer of their temple and their idolatrous god. In his death, he vindicates the honor and glory of Yahweh the Elohim of Israel. Dagon, the idol of the Philistines, is dishonored and humiliated.

The destruction of the Philistine temple and the worship of Dagon made a powerful impression upon the Philistines. The death of their chieftains and so many of their fellow-worshipers resulted in deep mourning. The destruction of the temple of Dagon by one Israelite slave filled them with fear and terror of the power of the Living Elohim. Yet, Yahweh was not through using them as instruments to discipline Israel through corrective chastisement, as Eli the High Priest and his sons were to shortly experience.

Samson’s judgeship begins the deliverance of Israel out of the evil age of the Judges through the necessary means of blindness and death. Samuel’s judgeship concludes the deliverance of Israel out of the evil age of the Judges through the necessary means of restored covenantal sight with its accompanying resurrection to covenantal life.

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Micah, the Danites, and the Inhabitants of Gibeah: The Extreme Decadence of the Evil Age of the Judges

The concluding chapters (17-21) of the Book of Judges paint a detailed portrait of the decadence of Israelite society which provides the background upon which the previous accounts of the Judges are to be understood. In the first account of Micah and the Danites, the writer portrays the decadent condition of both the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods. The worship of Yahweh has been distorted by the introduction of molten images, private houses of elohim, and private production of ephods (a cultic vestment) and teraphim (images of household gods). The Mosaic Law prohibits the making of images, sanctions only one central house or Tabernacle of Yahweh, authorizes only the Aaronic Priesthood to serve the Tabernacle and the Levitical Priesthood to serve both the Aaronic Priesthood and the instructional needs of the people throughout the tribes, and legitimizes only one ephod worn and used only by the High Priest chosen only from the family of Aaron.

All sacrifice to Yahweh is to take place in the Tabernacle and conducted by the Aaronic Priesthood. Only the Levitical priests geographically located throughout the territories of the tribes are to guide and instruct the people of Israel in the teaching of Yahweh’s Law. This is the purpose for excluding the tribe of Levi from receiving an allotment in the land. The Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods are to be supported from the sacrifices and tithes offered to Yahweh. In this way, a conflict of interest is avoided and the priesthoods can remain neutral in relation to tribal interests and faithful in relation to cultic, civil, and instructional responsibilities as Yahweh’s holy ones, separated ones, sanctified ones.

Micah, an Ephraimite, admits to having stolen the eleven hundred shekels of silver from his mother. Thus, he has broken the fifth as well as the eighth commandment of the Mosaic Covenant. Both he and his mother worship Yahweh. His mother takes the returned shekels of silver saying, “I will sanctify, yea sanctify the silver to Yahweh from my hand for my son to make a carving and molten image” (Judg. 17:3b CV). She then takes 200 silver shekels and has a refiner mold them into a molten image for worship of Yahweh. This molten elohim came to be placed in Micah’s house, making his house “a house of elohim,” a place of worship, a sanctuary in competition with the one Tabernacle of Yahweh designated for the worship of Yahweh.

In addition to this unauthorized sanctuary and forbidden image, Micah had made for himself an ephod and teraphim and had consecrated one of his sons to officiate at this sanctuary as a priest. This implies a national departure from and corruption of the function intended only for the Aaronic Priesthood. With this departure from central worship at the one Tabernacle of Yahweh came the disintegration of the covenantal unity of the tribes. Decentralization weakened the nation in its task to evict the nations. With the establishment of individual and local sanctuaries and priests ordained from among the twelve common tribes, the statutes and judgments of Yahweh given only to Israel were distorted and corrupted, transformed into conformity with the statutes and judgments of the disqualified nations around them. Thus, cultic, civil, social, political, economic, and moral integrity and justice evaporated, making genuine cultic and moral life difficult for those remaining faithful to Yahweh’s Law.

Having presented the deviance of Micah and his family, the writer comments, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Each man did what was upright in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6 CV). This is his covenantal evaluation of this dark, evil age of the Judges. There is no king in Israel, during this era, as existed among the nations. However, there is a King in Israel during this era. Yahweh is King in Yeshurun. The sons of Israel have ignored, forgotten, dishonored, and rebelled against His rule. The central authority of Yahweh represented by the Aaronic High Priest and located in the Tabernacle of Yahweh residing in Shiloh had been forsaken, favoring instead the god of pseudo-freedom (chaos), the god of lawlessness: each man did what was upright in his own eyes. The integrity and corporate covenantal unity of Israel as one unified nation and brotherhood under the kingship of Yahweh had disintegrated.

The story of Micah continues by introducing a wandering Levite. The Levitical Priesthood tradition still existed, but in a lawless fashion. This young Levite had departed from the city of Bethlehem in the territory of Judah. He is seeking a place of service. Micah invites him to dwell in his household and take on the duties of a priest. Having a Levitical priest to serve in his house of elohim is a cultural honor, though not a necessity, adding cultic prestige to his household. Micah agrees to pay the Levite for his service. The Levite accepts the offer, becoming like one of his sons, ordained by Micah to his private priesthood. Micah concludes, “Now I know that Yahweh shall bring good to me, for the Levite has become a priest for me” (Judg. 17:13 CV). The worship of Yahweh has been converted into myth and superstition in conformity with the worship of the gods of the nations. Yahweh is to be bought, manipulated, appeased, fawned upon, flattered in order to obtain favor.

According to the Mosaic Law, the Levitical priests are not to receive wages as personal employees. They are holy, belonging to Yahweh and are to be supported from the sacrifices and the tithes offered to Yahweh. In this case, not only is the Levitical priest hired as a household priest for agreed-upon wages, but he is ordained by an unauthorized, common Israelite to serve in his private sanctuary before a molten image and teraphim, each of which is a defilement of the Levite’s own priestly calling as well as a defilement of Yahweh Himself. Such is the contaminated state of the Levitical Priesthood during this evil era. Yahweh has been reduced to merely one of the many gods in the land. This is one aspect of the environment in which Samson carried out his Nazarite calling, his cultic, civic, economic, and moral obligations, and his judgeship.

The 18th chapter, which introduces the Danites, begins with the author’s repetition of his commentary concerning the lack of a king in Israel. The purpose is to remind the reader, once again, of the dark, evil condition of this era in Israelite history. It is a warning later forgotten by the generation following that of the writer. For Israel would yet again descend into such degradation.

The sons of Dan, according to this account, seek more territory. They appoint five men of valor to spy out and investigate an allotment located in the far north, just beyond the allotment of the tribe of Naphtali. This became a necessity for the tribe of Dan because it had failed to drive out the Canaanites from the allotment assigned to it by Joshua and Eleazar the High Priest. The Danites feared the inhabitants of the land. They mistrusted the word and mighty leadership of Yahweh. The very land within which they had settled had been conquered by the tribe of Ephraim. As a result of the tribe of Dan’s faithlessness, the Danites resolve to seek an allotment elsewhere. Thus, they reject the allotment assigned them by Yahweh. As a tribe, they do what is upright in their own eyes.

In the course of their journey, the five men of valor come to the hill country of Ephraim where Micah’s house is located. They decide to lodge in the area. Coming upon Micah’s Levite priest, they enquire concerning his present location and service. The Levite informs them of his encounter with Micah and the agreement entered into. The five explorers request that the Levite inquire of Yahweh concerning their mission. Using the ephod of Micah, the Levite assures them of Yahweh’s prosperity.

Having reached their destination, the men proceed to investigate the chief city in the area and the territory surrounding it. Returning to the conquered portion of Dan’s allotment, the five men report, “Do arise and let us go up against them for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And you are hesitant! Do not be slothful! . . . you shall come to an unsuspecting people; and the land is wide in expanse. Yea, Elohim has delivered it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything on earth” (Judg. 18:9-10 CV). The land is worthy of their occupation and settlement. The inhabitants can be easily defeated. There is much territory available for future expansion. But again, the Danites are hesitant. However, when informed that Elohim has guaranteed their success, this group of Danites removes itself “from the family seat of the Danite” (Judg. 18:11 CV) which had been allotted by Yahweh. They had refused to follow Yahweh into war against the inhabitants of the land allotted them, but now they choose to follow the word of a prostituted Yahweh worshiped through an imitation ephod, a molten image, teraphim, and a compromised Levitical priest.

On their journey to make war against Laish and the surrounding territory, these sons of Dan become thieves, tyrannically stealing Micah’s ephod, molten image, teraphim, and Levitical priest. When the priest questions the action of these Danites, he is told, “Keep silent! Put your hand on your mouth! Come with us and become a father and a priest for us! Is it better for you to be priest for one man’s household, or for you to become priest for a tribe and a family in Israel?” (Judg. 18:19 CV). The writer informs the reader, “The heart of the priest felt good, so he took the ephod, the teraphim and the carving and came to be among the people” (Judg. 18:20 CV). The Levitical priest is merely a hireling, selling his services to the highest bidder. “The heart of the priest felt good” is another way of saying he does what is upright in his own eyes. In all this, the kingship of Yahweh, the Law of Yahweh, and the glory of Yahweh have been disregarded, having been exchanged for the idolatrous worship of a denigrated Yahweh, making these Israelites worshipers of a foreign elohim.

After these Danites destroy the people of Laish by the sword, denying them an offer of peace according to the Law of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 20:10-12, they burn the city with fire. The city is thereafter rebuilt, inhabited, and renamed Dan. The name is to be associated from that time on with idolatry and injustice. The writer then adds in confirmation, “The sons of Dan set up the carving for themselves, and Jonathan son of Gershon, son of Moses, he and his sons, they became priests for the tribe of the Danite until the day of deportation from the land. They kept the carving of Micah, that he had made, set up for themselves all the days while the House of the One, Elohim, was in Shiloh” (Judg. 18:30-31 CV). This Jonathan son of Gershon son of Moses must refer to the Levitical priest taken away from Micah. He and his sons served as priests for the tribe of Dan in the north until the deportation executed by Assyria in 722 BC. However, the use of the carving of Micah (including the ephod, the molten image, and the teraphim) ceased sometime after the Tabernacle of Yahweh was removed from Shiloh. This most likely means during the latter part of Samuel’s ministry under the reign of king Saul, for in Saul’s time the holy Hebrew text locates the Tabernacle of Yahweh in Nob (cf. 1 Sam. 21:1-9).

The final episode in the Book of Judges begins, again, with the covenantal judgment: “It came to be in those days when there was no king in Israel, . . .” (Judg. 19:1a CV). Again, a Levite is a central character in the degrading events about to be reported. It should be noted, also, that this final episode (together with the previous episode concerning Micah and Dan) takes the reader back to the generation immediately following the death of the elders who served with Joshua and Eleazar. In chapter 2, the writer had described this generation as “another generation arose after them, who did not know Yahweh or the deeds that He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh and served the Baalim” (Judg. 2:10b-11 CV). This generation initiated the evil ways of Israel which were to characterize the nation for the duration of the age of the Judges. From the writer’s covenantal evaluation of this era, doing what is evil in the eyes of Yahweh is equivalent to each man doing what is upright in his own eyes.

The sons of Israel begin to do that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh, not during a time of oppression, but during a period of prosperity. Yahweh has blessed the nation in the land, and this prosperity and security causes the nation as one man to become overconfident, complacent, forgetful, taking for granted what has become ordinary, daily expectation. Yahweh had predicted this in His song dictated to Moses:


When Yeshurun grew stout and kicked

(You will be stout, thick and burly),

Then he abandoned Eloah Who had made him

And disgraced the Rock of his salvation. (Deuteronomy 32:15 CV).


Thus, Yahweh spurns (Deut. 32:19 CV) His people, concealing His face from them (Deut. 32:20 CV) until they cry out to Him for deliverance. But their evil ways would continually worsen. As one man, Israel contaminates himself by incorporating the evil ways of the inhabitants of the land into his own cultic, social, political, economic, and moral practices.

This generation imitating these evil ways had been sent a messenger of Yahweh who had declared, “But you have not harkened to My voice. What is this you have done? So I now say: I shall not drive them out from before you, and they will become a scourge against your sides. As for their elohim, they shall be a trap to you” (Judg. 2:2b-3 CV). In response, the sons of Israel had lifted up their voices in lamentation and sacrificed to Yahweh. But they continued their evil ways: “The sons of Israel did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh” (Judg. 3:7a CV).

Such lamentation and sacrifice are displayed again in this final episode reported in chapters 19-21. Concerning the abomination of the Benjaminites, the sons of Israel lament before Yahweh, having just been defeated twice in battle by the sons of Benjamin. They inquire as to whether they should go into battle against Benjamin a third time. The High Priest at this time is Phinehas the son of Eleazar (Judg. 20:27-28), indicating the identity of this generation as that generation following the death of Joshua, Eleazar, and the elders serving with them.

Thus, the generation represented in this final episode ending the Book of Judges is the generation initiating the evil ways of Israel as one man. It is the same generation addressed in chapter 2, verses 1-5 and 10-15, and chapter 3, verses 1-7. This final episode depicts the lowest moral point in the history of Israel up to that time. Its implication is that as shocking as is this moral depravity, conditions (as already described in the body of this book presently in the process of being concluded) were to become continually worse.

Though the text here describes this generation as lamenting before Yahweh, worse lamenting is still to come. After the tribe of Benjamin is wiped out completely, with the exception of 600 warriors, the people “lifted up their voice and lamented with a great lamentation; and they said, Why, O Yahweh Elohim of Israel, has this happened in Israel, that one tribe is missing today from Israel?” (Judg. 21:2b-3 CV). In spite of the fact that they then offer up ascent and peace offerings to Yahweh (as in the earlier account of lamentation in chapter 2:1-5), their question implies that Yahweh is at fault when, in fact, the cause of these tragic events is their own evil ways, as the writer confirms in his concluding words to the entire book: “In those days there was no king in Israel; each man did what was upright in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25 CV).

The Levite presented in this final episode is a man of considerable wealth. He journeys to Bethlehem in Judah having a team of saddled donkeys, a servant, and abundant provisions for the duration of the round trip (Judg. 19:3-4, 19). He is from the hill country of Ephraim and apparently is serving his term at the House of Yahweh in Shiloh (Judg. 19:18). Upon arriving at the house of his father-in-law, he is welcomed and treated with great respect and honor. He is a priest of Yahweh. The priest has knowledge of the rules for intercourse with Yahweh. He has access to Yahweh and His law and can be a means of obtaining favor from Yahweh, as previously depicted in the relation between Micah and his hired Levitical priest.

Thus, this Levite typifies the role and prestige of the priest who is the guardian of covenantal knowledge. He alone is recognized as a master, a scholar of the legal code which he exercises on behalf of the members of the holy community. He exerts enormous influence on the practice of law, politics, art, economics, and morality. In this evil era, however, the covenantal teachings of Yahweh have been distorted and compromised, being conformed to the worship and service of the foreign gods of the nations amongst them: “As for you, you shall not contract a covenant with the dwellers of this land; and you will break down their altars. But you have not hearkened to My voice. . . . As for their elohim, they shall be a trap to you” (Judg. 2:2-3 CV).

This man, a Levite, has journeyed from Shiloh in Ephraim to Bethlehem in Judah in order to restore to himself his concubine who has “prostituted against him,” returning to her father’s house (Judg. 19:2 CV). The text records, “Then her husband got up and went after her, to speak to her heart and to bring her back” (Judg. 19:3a CV). This Levite’s reputation is presented as questionable. The writer implies he has abused his concubine/wife. She, in response, has “prostituted against him” by leaving him illegally, returning to her father’s house. Under the Mosaic Law women had legal rights. They were not to be abused or mistreated as objects or possessions. However, they did not have the right to initiate a divorce. Justice for them must be mediated by righteous men (husbands, fathers, brothers), civil courts, and the Levitical Priesthood. If these sources of justice become corrupt, an abused woman had no other recourse than to endure the unjust treatment or escape to her father’s house. The Levite in the present account seeks her return by speaking “to her heart,” indicating he is the offender, not the one offended.

Returning to Shiloh with his reconciled wife and his servant, the Levite chooses to lodge in the city of Gibeah inhabited by the sons of Benjamin, rather than Jebus, inhabited by foreigners. The writer in the introductory chapters has already provided the reader with information foreshadowing the significance of this choice: “As for the Jebusite dwelling in Jerusalem, the sons of Benjamin did not evict them, so the Jebusite dwell with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem until this day” (Judg. 1:21 CV). This implies a condition which endured prior to David’s defeat of the city of Jerusalem (formerly Jebus). It also foreshadows the debased condition of the sons of Benjamin due to their mingling with the Jebusites.

It seems the sons of Benjamin dwelling in Gibeah, just a few miles northeast of Jebus, had descended further into depravity than the Jebusites. The servant of the Levite recommends lodging in Jebus. But the Levite arrogantly protests, “We shall not withdraw to a city of foreigners who are not sons of Israel; but we will pass on to Gibeah” (Judg. 19:12 CV). In this arrogant protest is a denial of the decadent condition of Israel, a condition confirmed later by the people of Israel gathered at Bethel, after the extermination of the tribe of Benjamin, when they ask, “Why, O Yahweh Elohim of Israel, has this happened in Israel?” (Judg. 21:3 CV). What an arrogant, ignorant, and insulting question to put before Yahweh Elohim, King in Yeshurun! Israel’s vision of Yahweh, His law, and His society had been quickly perverted by the unwarranted presence of the Canaanites and their evil worship and service of idolatrous elohim.

Entering the city square of Gibeah, these sojourners, rightfully expecting the honorable offer of hospitality, are ignored by the Benjaminite inhabitants. Hospitality is finally offered by an old man, also from the hill country of Ephraim and also a sojourner in Gibeah. Ominously warning them not to spend the night in the city square, he invites them to spend the night in his house at his expense, even though the Levite explains he has his own sufficient provisions. Yahweh still maintains a faithful remnant in Israel.

During the night, a group of decadent men from the city surround the house demanding the Levite be delivered up to them. These Israelites are the extreme examples of the people described as a “wayward generation, Sons with no faithfulness in them” (Deut. 32:20b CV). The present text refers to them as “sons of decadence” surrounding the house and “shoving themselves against the door” (Judg. 19:22 CV). Deuteronomy, chapter 13, foretold of such men: “In case you hear it said of one of your cities which Yahweh your Elohim is giving to you to dwell there, that men, sons of decadence, have gone forth from among you and induced the dwellers of the city, saying: Let us go, and let us serve other elohim . . . then you will inquire, . . . And behold, if the truth of the matter is being established that this abhorrence was done among you, then you shall smite . . . the dwellers of that city with the edge of the sword” (Deut. 13:12-15a CV). These men seek to sexually abuse the Levite. Their intention is both evil (Judg. 19:23a) and decadent (19:23b), violating the holy state of the Levite as belonging to Yahweh (Num. 3:11-13), violating Yahweh’s Law concerning the just treatment of strangers and sojourners (Lev. 19:33-34), and violating Yahweh’s Law against homosexuality (Lev. 20:13).

The host refuses to deliver the Levite into their hands, and eventually the decadent mob accepts the Levite’s concubine/wife. This woman is taken away and is sexually abused throughout the night. She is abandoned just before dawn and manages to struggle back to the house of her host. She collapses at the entrance of the house. In the morning, after her husband woke up from a night’s rest, leaving the house of his host to continue his journey, he discovers her lying at the entrance. He orders her to get up and accompany him on the journey home, assuming she had been sleeping. Such is the care, concern, and love of this Levite man for his concubine/wife whom he had just recently wooed with tender, compassionate words of kindness and affection. Did he really believe she was sleeping?! How callous can this man be?! Receiving no response from the terribly abused woman, he discovers she is dead.

Outraged, he returns home, “took a knife, took fast hold of his concubine and cut her in pieces, according to her bones, into twelve pieces” (Judg. 19:29 CV). He sends one piece to each of the twelve tribes. The nation as one man responds, “Then all the sons of Israel marched forth, from Dan to Beer-sheba and the land of Gilead; and the congregation was assembled as one man before Yahweh at Mizpah” (Judg. 20:1 CV). Inquiring of the Levite in order to determine the truth of his charges, he describes the horror in detail, concluding, “for they had committed lewdness and decadence in Israel. Now all of you are sons of Israel; grant your plan and counsel here” (Judg. 20:6b-7 CV).

All the tribes had convened at Mizpah except Benjamin who had heard of the assembling, but neglected to participate. Again the text records, “Now all the people arose as one man, . . .” (Judg. 20:8 CV). They call upon the tribe of Benjamin to deliver up the sons of decadence in Gibeah in order to put them to death according to the Law of Yahweh. Benjamin refuses to “hearken to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel (Judg. 20:13b CV). Israel is now faced with civil war, brother against brother; however, not Abel against Cain or Cain against Abel, but rather Cain against Cain! The entire nation as one man is guilty before Yahweh. The entire nation as one man is immersed in that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. As one man, Israel does what is upright in his own eyes.

The confederation of tribes now proceeds to Bethel in order to inquire of Elohim. The Ark of the Covenant had been brought down to Bethel from Shiloh under the officiation of Phineas (the son of Eleazar who had been the High Priest under Joshua) who was now the High Priest of the Aaronic Priesthood. Phineas is a faithful servant of Yahweh destined to serve as High Priest on behalf of a generation not knowing Yahweh or His deeds on its behalf and a generation committed to doing what is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. This generation inquires of Elohim at Bethel, presumptuously assuming its innocence and righteousness before Yahweh. This generation offers no ascent or peace offering. This generation does not humble itself before Yahweh. It merely asks, “Who shall go up for us at the start to the battle with the sons of Benjamin?” (Judg. 20:18 CV). Yahweh replies, Judah at the start.” The confederation of Israel neglects to inquire whether Yahweh will lead them to victory. Yahweh answers their inquiry, strictly limiting His response to their specific question. The confederation is soundly defeated in battle by the sons of Benjamin.

Humiliated and bewildered, Israel returns to Bethel lamenting before Yahweh. Again the confederation inquires of Yahweh, and, again, they ask should they go against Benjamin their brother a second time. Yahweh replies, “Go up against him” (Judg. 20:23b CV). A second time Benjamin handily defeats his confederate brothers. Humiliated, bewildered, and discouraged, confederate Israel, for the third time, goes to Bethel. However, this time “all the sons of Israel, the whole force” (Judg. 20:26 CV) gathers at Bethel, not just a group of commanders.

The entire Israelite militia sits before Yahweh lamenting and fasting. No longer are they assured of victory due to superior numbers or weapons. Though their cause is just, Yahweh has chastised them. Finally, they present to Yahweh ascent offerings and peace offerings. Now their lamenting, fasting, and offerings display a sincere and legitimate humiliation before Yahweh. Their presumptuousness and overconfidence gone, they inquire of Yahweh a third time. Yahweh replies, “Go up, for tomorrow I shall deliver him into your hand” (Judg. 20:28b CV). This time Yahweh promises victory.

The Israelite confederacy overwhelmingly destroys the militia of the sons of Benjamin. The text makes clear who is responsible: “Yahweh struck down Benjamin before Israel (Judg. 20:35a CV). Yahweh judges Benjamin, but spares 600 warriors. Israel, in contrast, seeks personal vengeance for the two previous defeats: “The Israelite men then turned about against the sons of Benjamin and smote them with the edge of the sword, from everything in the city to domestic beasts, to all that was found. Moreover, all the cities they came upon, they sent up in fire” (Judg. 20:48 CV). In addition, the men of Israel, while at Mizpah, had vowed not to give any daughter of Israel to a Benjaminite. This now comes back to haunt them, for they had just put to death, in the heat of personal vengeance, all the women belonging to the tribe of Benjamin. In essence, their rash vow had now consigned the entire tribe of Benjamin to annihilation. The people of the confederacy “came to Bethel and sat there until evening before the One, Elohim, they lifted up their voice and lamented with a great lamentation; and they said, Why, O Yahweh Elohim of Israel, has this happened in Israel, that one tribe is missing today from Israel?” (Judg. 21:2-3 CV).

The cause of this tragic situation cannot be attributed to Yahweh. Yet these people still refuse to acknowledge their rebellious character and their evil ways in the eyes of Yahweh. They mourn the consequence of their own undisciplined action and seek to place the responsibility for this disaster on the faithlessness of Yahweh their Elohim. Their evil hearts immerse them in a bath of self-pity, bemoaning their unjustified calamity, “The people were feeling regret about Benjamin, for Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel (Judg. 21:15 CV). This breach is the result of their own behavior. Yahweh had not dictated the severity of Israel’s vengeance on Benjamin. Only the guilty were to be put to death. The hands of all Israel are covered with blood. The nation is unclean before Yahweh.

The potential disaster is resolved, not by inquiring of Yahweh, but by inquiring among themselves whether any city in Israel had not come to Mizpah. It is discovered that Jabesh-gilead had not come to the assembly. The verdict is to treat this city as an ally of Benjamin and destroy it and all its inhabitants, except those women who have not had sexual relations with men. This is carried out. Four hundred virgins are spared and given to the surviving 600 warriors of Benjamin for wives.

They are still short 200 women. This is resolved by a crafty, deceptive scheme. The remaining sons of Benjamin are told to kidnap from the daughters of Shiloh wives for themselves at the next annual festival of Yahweh. When the father and brothers of these women make complaint, the elders of Israel will persuade them to overlook the loss on behalf of Israel. Since the women were kidnapped, the men of Shiloh would not be guilty of breaking their vow. In this way all Israel would obtain peace.

The problem is resolved, but certainly not in an honorable manner. The nation continues to do that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. It continues in its uncleanness. The writer concludes the book with a final announcement of his covenantal evaluation of this evil age: “In those days there was no king in Israel; each man did what was upright in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25 CV). With the judgeship of Samson, the evil and uncleanness of this age has reached its climax. Samson has paved the way for the cleansing ministry of Samuel. Yahweh mercifully and compassionately begins to deliver His people from the darkness and terror of this evil age. Jacob/Israel does not warrant such a deliverance on the basis of his own actions. Yahweh’s gracious purpose and intent for the election of Jacob/Israel will continue in spite of the rebellious character of the nation. Samuel will begin the cleansing process. The age of the Judges will give way to the age of the Kings. Jacob/Israel will continue his rebellious ways. The faithful remnant will survive to Yahweh’s glory and will carry forward His purpose to the era of its fulfillment.

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Samuel and Samson are covenantal complements. Both are born to women who had been barren. This theme has already been played out in the barrenness of Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel. In each case, Yahweh is responsible for the woman’s barrenness and her conception, indicating Yahweh’s power over life and death.

The sons concerned, after long years of barrenness, are Yahweh’s gifts, associated with His elective purpose. Each of these sons is significant to the progressive development of Yahweh’s elective design. Yahweh’s election overrides the consequences of human failure.

The birth of Isaac overrides the failure of the nations after the flood. Isaac is the seed through whom the nations would be blessed. The birth of Joseph overrides the failure of his brothers, the ten sons of Jacob. Joseph is the son through whom the sons of Israel are preserved and blessed, in spite of their failure to become their brother’s keeper. They fail both Joseph, their brother, and Yahweh, their gracious Elohim. Their failure should have led to the failure of Jacob as the seed through whom the nations would be blessed. But the conception, birth, and special character of Joseph override the failure of the sons of Israel. Yahweh’s word will not return to Him void.

Samson’s conception, birth, and untamed, fierce, intemperate and impetuous character reflect and override the rebellious character of his people, his brothers; mercifully cutting short the evil era of the Judges by paving the way for Samuel, his complement. Samuel’s conception, birth, and harnessed, pious, temperate, and patient character reflect Yahweh’s ideal (what is upright in the eyes of Yahweh) and override the failure of Samson and the sons of Israel, building upon the final faithful act of Samson culminating in his death and the death of a vast number of Philistines.

The death of Samson is the death of the evil era of the Judges. Samuel’s rise complements Samson’s downfall, culminating in Israel’s deliverance from the rule of the Philistines. Samson’s death symbolically marks the departure of the glory of Yahweh from the Mosaic Tabernacle. Israel had failed to worship and serve Yahweh, King in Yeshurun, as He reigned upon His throne located in the Tabernacle. Yahweh is about to initiate a new era within the Mosaic Eon. The era of the rule of the king is about to begin. Once again, however, it is Yahweh’s elective override which preserves the nation and the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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The Birth of Samuel: A Woman Pressed in Spirit

The Book of Samuel begins with the introduction of Elkanah, a Levite from the hill country of Ephraim. He has two wives, Hannah his beloved and Peninnah. The text declares, “And Penninah came to have children; but Hannah had no children” (1 Sam. 1:2b CV). In spite of Elkanah’s love for Hannah, “Yahweh had closed her womb” (1 Sam. 1:5b CV). This is no accident. It is part of Yahweh’s design. Hannah is made to endure the ridicule and abuse of Peninnah who continually vexes Hannah because of her barrenness.

Thus, Hannah becomes a type of faithful Israel enduring the consequences of unfaithful Israel. The faithful remnant is deprived of justice. Eli, the High Priest, is compelled to struggle sorrowfully in the midst of a rebellious people. In an era in which the nation does what is upright in her own eyes, the faithful remnant, striving to do what is upright in the eyes of Yahweh, bears the burden of the evil around it.

These faithful ones are persecuted, ridiculed, and estranged from their brethren. They become aliens in a strange land. Their sorrow weighs heavily upon them. Like Hannah, this faithful remnant figuratively “lamented and would not eat” (1 Sam. 1:7b CV) the sacrificial meal. As Hannah could not be consoled, so also the faithful in Israel could not be consoled.

In bitterness of soul, Hannah stands before Yahweh at the Tabernacle in Shiloh and prays for relief from her humiliation. The continual gloating of her adversary because “Yahweh had tightly closed up her womb” (1 Sam. 6b CV) had cruelly disheartened Hannah. Appearance seems to indicate Yahweh’s displeasure with Hannah in contrast to His pleasure with Peninnah. This certainly seems to be the conclusion the author, by way of implication, attributes to Peninnah.

The rebellious nation has continued to delude herself into believing that Yahweh is pleased with her ways, as depicted in the closing chapters of the Book of Judges. Yahweh is not pleased with sacrifices and burnt offerings when not accompanied by obedience to His voice: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22b KJV). However, the Book of Samuel will make clear the deceptive nature of appearance.

Though in appearance Yahweh seems to be displeased with Hannah, in reality, she is favored of Yahweh. For Hannah’s heart seeks to do what is upright in the eyes of Yahweh. In the evil age of the Judges, Hannah is persecuted for her righteousness. In the eyes of the unfaithful ones, she appears cursed, being barren. But in the eyes of Yahweh, she is blessed and will be made fruitful, bearing a child divinely prepared to cleanse the nation from her iniquity and deliver the nation from her enemies.

Hannah’s personal humiliation, lamentation, and request of Yahweh reflect her love of Yahweh and her love of Yahweh’s people. She vows, saying, “O Yahweh of hosts, if You will look, yea look upon the humiliation of Your maidservant and will remember me and not forget Your maidservant, and if You will grant Your maidservant a male descendant, then I will dedicate him to Yahweh for all the days of his life; he shall not drink wine or intoxicant, and no razor-blade shall come upon his head” (1 Sam. 1:11 CV). Hannah vows to dedicate her son to Yahweh as a Nazarite on behalf of her people. She asks to be remembered.

The Levites have forgotten to carry out their responsibilities to the nation. The Aaronic Priesthood has forgotten to mediate on behalf of the nation. The nation herself has forgotten Yahweh, committing cultic prostitution by the worship of other elohim. Hannah cries out to Yahweh on behalf of the nation unable to cry out on its own behalf.

As she prays to Yahweh in her heart, Eli the High Priest observes the movement of her lips, but hears no sounds. He concludes she is drunk and a daughter of worthlessness. Such, in fact, had become the condition of the Sanctuary under the administration of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas. The expression “daughters of worthlessness” (1 Sam. 1:16) refers to Israelite women who had become cultic prostitutes, having sacred sexual relations with the priests in a cultic attempt to manipulate Yahweh into granting national fertility and success against national enemies.

Hannah responds by declaring she is “a woman who is hard pressed in spirit” (1 Sam. 1:15a CV). This typifies all those making up the faithful remnant. She tells Eli she has been pouring out her soul before Yahweh. She is not a daughter of worthlessness. She has spoken to Yahweh “out of the magnitude of my concern and my vexation” (1 Sam. 1:16b CV). Here is a worthy woman, in the midst of an unworthy nation. Eli, realizing his hasty and unjustified judgment and speaking as Yahweh’s anointed High Priest, answers, “Go in peace! May the Elohim of Israel grant your request that you have asked of Him” (1 Sam. 1:17 CV). Hannah has “asked” Yahweh for a male descendant, a son whom she has vowed to dedicate to Yahweh King in Yeshurun. She has “asked” for that which is upright in the eyes of Yahweh. This is soon to be contrasted with the nation’s request for a king like the nations, a request reflecting that which is upright in the nation’s own eyes.

Hannah “went her way and came to her booth where she ate and drank with her husband; and her face was no longer sad for herself” (1 Sam. 1:18b CV). No longer does Hannah lament. She is consoled, hope being restored to her. She now partakes of the sacrificial meal. Early the next morning, Hannah and her husband “worshiped before Yahweh, . . . and Yahweh remembered her” (1 Sam. 1:19 CV). Hannah gives birth to a son. She names him Samuel, “for it was of Yahweh Elohim of hosts that I have asked for him” (1 Sam. 1:20b CV).

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The Dedication of Samuel: A Son Sauled of El

In Hebrew, Samuel means asked of El. The Hebrew word for asked is sauled. Samuel is sauled of El. Yahweh views this request (saul) as honorable. His granting of this request results in the consolation and salvation of Hannah/Israel.

Later, when the sons of Israel request of Yahweh a king like the nations, Yahweh views the request as dishonorable. His granting of this request results in the discomfort and affliction of Israel under a psychologically/spiritually sick Saul. Yahweh gives the nation the king the sons of Israel desire. He gives them Saul. By playing on the word “saul” in the naming of Samuel and the appointing of a king, the inspired author makes clear the essence of the nation’s request for a king. The nation has offended the honor of Yahweh.

In asking for a king, the sons of Israel reject the kingship of Yahweh. In granting this dishonorable request, Yahweh graciously bears this insult, incorporating the evil act of the sons of Israel into His elective design, thereby producing out of their evil His good. He gives the nation up to her disqualified mind. He gives the nation what she desires—Saul the Benjaminite (alluding to the last episode in the Book of Judges, the abhorrent act of the tribe of Benjamin and the defilement of all Israel).

Saul will reflect this disqualified mind, causing Israel discomfort and affliction, though defeating the Philistines on the battlefield under the ministry of Samuel. As Israel’s disqualified mind rejects Yahweh as King, proving herself dissatisfied with Yahweh’s choice of Samuel as His instrument of salvation, so also Yahweh rejects Saul as king, revealing His dissatisfaction with the nation’s and Saul’s choice of a disqualified mind.

Samuel is Yahweh’s gracious replacement of Eli and his sons. Samuel is a Levite, but not an Aaronite. He does not become the High Priest. Though as a child he is associated with the Sanctuary, his ministry will not be associated with the Tabernacle. He will serve Yahweh and Israel as a Levitical priest, a prophet, and a judge. His ministry will represent the transition from Judgeship to Kingship. His ministry will end the eon/age of the Judges and will encompass the appointment of Saul as king, Saul’s failure and rejection, and the anointing of David, Yahweh’s choice as king.

Hannah had dedicated Samuel to Yahweh for “all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:11 CV). After weaning him, she declares, “I will bring him; for he must appear before the face of Yahweh and abide there for the eon” (1 Sam. 1:22 CV). Samuel will serve before the face of Yahweh all the days of his life, which is equivalent to the termination of the eon of the Judges. During his ministry, serving “before the face of Yahweh” will no longer be primarily associated with the Tabernacle. As will be seen, the glory of Yahweh will depart from the Mosaic Tabernacle and will not return until the completed construction of the Solomonic Temple.

When Hannah delivers Samuel to Eli at the Tabernacle in Shiloh, she explains, “For this lad I had prayed, and Yahweh has granted to me my request that I had asked of Him. Therefore I have given him as a loan to Yahweh. All the days that he lives, he is one requested for Yahweh” (1 Sam. 1:27-28a CV). Hannah’s prayer request had been acceptable in the eyes of Yahweh. Her request (saul) had been granted and blessed, in contrast to the nation’s request (Saul), which had been granted but cursed. In return, Hannah keeps her vow, giving Samuel in loan to Yahweh for the duration of his life.

Hannah had asked for a son (not a king) and had requested this son for Yahweh. A son had been requested from Yahweh for Yahweh’s service. A son to serve Yahweh King in Yeshurun is upright in the eyes of Yahweh and a gesture granting Yahweh the honor due Him. Hannah’s request displays her faithfulness to Yahweh. The request soon to be asked of Yahweh by the sons of Israel displays their unfaithfulness to Yahweh. Such a request will be tantamount to rejecting the royal reign of Yahweh as King in Yeshurun.

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The Purpose of Yahweh

Yahweh’s purpose for closing Hannah’s womb is now clear. The sons of Israel had done that which is evil in the eyes of Yahweh. Israel was then delivered into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years (Judg. 13:1 CV). The womb of Samson's mother (Manoah's wife) had been closed. Now her womb is opened, and she bears a son, Samson. He is to begin delivering the sons of Israel. This occurs during the 40 years of Philistine rule, under which Eli is High Priest (1 Sam. 4:18 CV). During this time, Eli becomes too old to perform the duties of the High Priest. His sons take up his duties, profaning the Tabernacle of Yahweh by their abominable conduct.

Samson commences his activities which are used by Yahweh against the Philistines. Contemporaneously, Samuel, consecrated, like Samson, as a Nazarite from his mother’s womb, begins his apprenticeship before Yahweh in the Sanctuary at Shiloh under the tutelage of Eli. Yahweh gives Samuel to Israel at the request of Hannah. Samuel is Yahweh’s choice to guide Israel under Yahweh’s kingship. Samuel will complete what Samson initiates, the deliverance of the sons of Israel from the rule of the Philistines. However, he will accomplish this not by physical might, but by the covenantal power of his word and prayer. Samuel obeys the voice of Yahweh. In contrast to Hannah’s request and Yahweh’s choice, the sons of Israel will request a king “to judge us like all the other nations” (1 Sam. 8:5 CV), and Yahweh will give them a man characterizing their choice.

Thus, Samuel remains “in the ministry to Yahweh in the presence of Eli the priest” (1 Sam. 2:11 CV), in contrast with the sons of Eli who “were sons of worthlessness, who did not acknowledge Yahweh . . .” (1 Sam. 2:12 CV). Eli, aware of the activities of his sons, reprimands them, but they refuse to obey his voice. But Samuel “was going on and growing greater in goodness both with Yahweh and with men” (1 Sam. 2:26 CV).

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Eli and His Sons: Depravity of the Aaronic Priesthood

However, Eli is not innocent. Yahweh, accusing him, asks, “Why are you showing disrespect for My sacrifice and for My approach present that I have determined for My habitation? Why are you glorifying your sons more than Me, to make yourselves plump with the first portion of every approach present by My people Israel?” (1 Sam. 2:29 CV). Judgment is issued against Eli and his house, “I said, . . . Your house and your father’s house shall walk about before Me for the eon. Yet now, . . . Far be it from Me! For those glorifying Me shall I glorify, yet those despising Me shall be dishonored. Behold the days are coming . . . when I will hack down your seed and the seed of your father’s house, to keep them from becoming old in your house. . . . all the increase of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this is the sign for you that shall befall your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: On the same day shall both of them die” (1 Sam. 2:30-34 CV).

This is confirmed by Yahweh in His first appearance to Samuel, who “had not yet come to know Yahweh” (1 Sam. 3:7 CV). The writer earlier records, “In those days the word of Yahweh had become rare; there was no vision being unfolded” (1 Samuel 3:1b CV), thus indicating a significant change is about to occur. Eli instructs Samuel as to how to respond to Yahweh’s call. “Then Yahweh came and stood by and called out as He had done the times before: Samuel! Samuel! And Samuel answered, Speak, for Your servant is hearing” (1 Sam. 3:10 CV). Yahweh declares of Eli, “I told him that I shall judge his house for the eon for the depravity, because he knew that his sons were dishonoring Elohim, and he did not remonstrate with them” (1 Sam. 3:13 CV). Eli and his sons would be sentenced to death during the last days of the eon of the Judges. Having despised Yahweh by not glorifying Him, they would now be dishonorably removed. Samuel would occupy their place, for Samuel’s response to Yahweh’s first call would remain true of him all the days of his life, “Your servant is hearing.”

The writer, before going on to provide an account of the fulfillment of Yahweh’s judgment against the house of Eli, states, “As Samuel grew up, Yahweh was with him, and He let none of all His promises fall to the earth. From Dan to Beersheba, all Israel realized that Samuel was authenticated as a prophet of Yahweh” (1 Sam. 3:19-20 CV). Thus, Yahweh is to be with Samuel as He had not been with any Israelite since Moses and Joshua. He would leave no word unfulfilled which He spoke through Samuel. The authority of Samuel is recognized and acknowledged by all Israel throughout the territories of the land. Yahweh is to continue to appear at Shiloh, revealing Himself to Samuel and speaking His word for Israel through Samuel, “And the word of Samuel came to all Israel (1 Sam. 4:1a CV).

It is during these days, the last days of the eon of the Judges, that the Philistines convene for war against Israel. The first engagement between the two forces is devastating for Israel. The elders decide the defeat is due to the lack of Yahweh’s presence. The nation had not consulted Yahweh, nor had she requested His presence associated with the Ark of the Covenant. The sons of Eli are charged to carry up the Ark of the Covenant to the camp of the militia.

As the Ark of the Covenant enters the midst of the camp, “all Israel shouted with a loud shouting, so that the earth rumbled” (1 Sam. 4:5b CV). The Philistines became fearful, concluding, “Woe to us! Who shall rescue us from the hand of these noble elohim? These are those elohim who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of smiting and disease! Show yourselves steadfast and arise like men, . . . and you must fight” (1 Sam. 4:8-9 CV). Though the Philistines are fearful because of what they conceive as Israel’s elohim (gods), they know they must fight or become the slaves of these Hebrews.

Apparently, the Philistines had heard the reports concerning the powerful gods of Israel which had delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage through mighty deeds and the affliction of disease. The Philistine attribution of that past deliverance to elohim (gods) is indicative of Israel’s turning from Yahweh her Elohim to the worship and service of alien elohim/gods. This false conception of the One Living Elohim of Israel is soon to be corrected as a result of the Philistine capture of the Ark of the Covenant.

The second and final engagement between the two armies results in an even greater humiliation of Israel. The sons of Israel not only endure the death of 20,000 warriors, but also the death of their most prestigious priests, Hophni and Phinehas, and, even more devastating, the loss of the most holy Ark of the Covenant. Upon hearing of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant and the death of his two sons, Eli falls off his judgment seat and, breaking his neck, dies.

Eli had lived into his 98th year and had become blind. His blindness is typical of the nation as a whole. Samson’s blindness had led to his covenantal sight, leading to obedient performance of the task Yahweh had destined for him. Eli’s blindness ends in his death, typologically representing the continued blindness of Israel and her covenantal death at the conclusion of the eon of the kings, the eon about to be entered. Samson’s blindness leading to covenantal sight and obedient performance of the task destined by Yahweh for Israel will have to wait for its future typological fulfillment by the Israel of Yahweh, the Abelite, faithful remnant under the authority and rule of the son of David, the son of Yahweh, the Davidic King through Whom Yahweh would resume His face-to-face Kingship in Yeshurun.

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The Departure of the Shekinah Glory

About to give birth, Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, hearing of the loss of the Ark of the Covenant and the death of her father-in-law and husband, gives birth to a son, naming him Ichabod, meaning the glory has departed from Israel. Nearing her own death through childbearing, she realizes that the loss of the holy ark signifies the departure of the glory of Yahweh from the midst of His people: “As she was now about to die, the woman standing by over her said, do not fear, for you have borne a son. But she did not respond and did not set her heart on it. Yet she called the lad Ichabod, meaning, The glory has departed from Israel, because of the coffer [ark] of Elohim being taken and because of the death of her husband’s father and her husband. So she said, The glory has departed from Israel, for the coffer of Elohim was taken” (1 Sam. 4:20-22 CV).

The writer in recording the deaths of Eli and his daughter-in-law significantly mentions the loss of the Ark of the Covenant first. He also ends the account with a reference to the loss of the ark. This loss marks a momentous change in the covenantal history of Israel, foreshadowing the fateful transition into the era of the kings.

This is highlighted by the writer in his explanation of the response of Eli’s daughter-in-law. The glory has departed from Israel, first, because the Ark of the Covenant has been taken; second, because of the death of her father-in-law Eli, High Priest over the Aaronic Priesthood; and finally, because of the death of her husband. The Mosaic order of rule and government had already been abandoned by Israel through cultic and moral contamination. The nation has now forfeited the covenantal right to Yahweh’s glory in her midst, which had been a privilege given to her alone among the nations.

Though His glory is removed, Yahweh does not abandon His people. He graciously gives them Samuel. The function of the Tabernacle as the central and only sanctuary (Deut. 12:13-14; Josh. 9:27) in which the glory of Yahweh dwelt in the midst of His people is terminated. In her heart, Israel has already rejected Yahweh as her King. The nation has failed to implement the Mosaic order (see Deut. 12:19; Num. 18:21-24). Yahweh proceeds to adapt the system to the current reality. Samuel will provide a transition into the modified mode of rule and order. Yahweh will graciously elect to tolerate activities which, under the Mosaic order, had been unacceptable.

Thus, Samuel will offer sacrifices at a variety of places other than the Sanctuary, and Israel will worship at various places. The system of worship centered around and associated with the Tabernacle will no longer dominate Israelite culture. It will continue to exist, but on the periphery of Israelite life. The rule and service of the High Priesthood (the Aaronic Priesthood) and Levitical Priesthood will become subordinate to the rule of the king. Distribution of the priestly rights (tithes, land grants, victuals, payments, etc.) would now depend on the supervision of the king and his administration. The order dictated by the Mosaic Law had become compromised. It would now be modified to accommodate monarchy and would be conditionally applied within the altered cultic, social, political, economic, and judicial structures.

In contrast to Hannah the mother of Samuel, the daughter-in-law of Eli, upon hearing that she has given birth to a son, does not rejoice. Her heart cannot be consoled. The birth of Samuel signifies the deliverance of Israel; the birth of Ichabod signifies the depravation of Israel. The birth of Samuel foreshadows the temporary covenantal health of Israel; the birth of Ichabod foreshadows the long-term covenantal sickness of Israel. Eli’s daughter-in-law perceives clearly the significance of the present event. It appears she also is an innocent victim of the depravity of her husband, her brother-in-law, and her people. She mournfully grieves the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, recognizing the great evil this event would unleash upon the nation.

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The Loss of the Ark of the Covenant

Although the glory of Yahweh departs from Israel, the presence of the Ark of the Covenant among the Philistines results in much evil against this enemy of Yahweh and His people. The ark is taken to the city of Ashdod where it is placed in the house of the Philistine god, Dagon. In the morning, the Ashdodites discover the image of Dagon lying on its face before the ark of Yahweh. The image is restored to its place. The next morning, the image of Dagon is discovered prostrated before the ark of Yahweh, its head and hands severed from its body. The Ashdodites were also smitten with piles. The men of Ashdod conclude, “The coffer of Israel’s Elohim should not remain with us; for His hand is harsh against us and against Dagon, our elohim” (1 Sam. 5:7 CV).

Earlier, the Philistines had referred to the elohim, the gods of Israel. Now they recognize the One Living Elohim of Israel. His (singular) hand is “harsh against us.” Dagon is no match for Yahweh Elohim of Israel. The Philistines cannot boast in their victory over Israel. Yahweh has delivered His people into the hands of the Philistines. The victory can no longer be attributed to Dagon, for their god has been seen and perceived as inferior to Yahweh Elohim of Israel. Thus, the Philistines begin to fear Yahweh the Elohim of Israel, Yahweh of hosts (see 1 Sam. 6:6, 20). This title is first used in the Book of Samuel. It indicates that Yahweh the Elohim of Israel is also the Elohim of the hosts in both the celestial and terrestrial realms. He is the Elohim over all nations.

The ark of Yahweh remains in the midst of the Philistines seven months, during which time Yahweh plagues them with evil. Finally, the priests, diviners, and sacred scribes advise the Philistines, “You must make images of your piles and images of the mice which bring the land down to ruin. Thus you will give glory to Israel’s Elohim; perhaps He may lighten His hand from upon you and from upon your elohim and from upon your land. Why should you harden your heart, just as the Egyptians and Pharaoh had hardened their heart? Was it not when He dealt severely with them that they sent them away, and they departed?” (1 Sam. 6:5-6 CV). The Philistines devise a scheme to return the ark to Israel. This scheme will determine whether the evil that comes upon them is the work of Yahweh Elohim of Israel or merely a work of chance. The test establishes the evil as coming from the hand of Yahweh Elohim of Israel. The Philistines give glory to Yahweh, Israel’s Elohim, while the glory of Yahweh departs from Israel. Yahweh begins to distance Himself from His people, though He does not abandon them.

The return of the ark to Israel is due to the operation of Yahweh among the Philistines. It is Yahweh who directs the cows to Bethshemesh. The people of Bethshemesh rejoice at the sight of the returning ark. They split the wood of the cart and offer up the cows as an ascent offering, the Ark of the Covenant being placed upon the stone beside which the cows drawing the ark had stopped. The Levites had removed the ark from the cart and administered the sacrifice before the presence of Yahweh represented by the Ark of the Covenant. The Tabernacle would no longer have the prominence authorized by the Mosaic Law. This would also be true of the Ark of the Covenant.

As the ark had brought evil upon the Philistines, so it brings evil upon the sons of Jeconiah. Seventy of these priests, looking upon, staring at, the ark in such a manner as to treat it as a common object, rather than as the holy object of Yahweh’s holy presence, are slain by Yahweh. The priests had stood before the ark of Yahweh’s presence without the proper fear and regard for Yahweh’s presence. Each man’s eyes had scanned the holy ark through the lens of a covenantal heart turned to stone. These unholy priests had audaciously thought they could stand before the ark of Yahweh’s presence with unprostrated hearts. Disregarding Yahweh’s holiness, distinguishing themselves, on the basis of their holy lineage, as superior to the uncircumcised and unholy Philistines, these Levitical priests conceived themselves as immune from Yahweh’s castigation of those inappropriately associated with the holy ark of Israel (1 Sam. 6:19-21).

The men of Bethshemesh, responding to this destructive manifestation of Yahweh’s holy presence against even His own holy priests, trembling, ask rhetorically, “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy Elohim?” (1 Sam. 6:20a CV). They then seriously ask, “And to whom shall the coffer [ark] of Yahweh go up from us?” (1 Sam. 6:20b CV). The ark represents the holy presence of Yahweh. It is a dangerous thing for this ark to remain in the midst of an unholy, unworthy covenantal people. Israel must be taught to remember Yahweh’s holiness and to remember her obligation to keep His law, to obey His voice in all things and to remember the consequences associated with failure to do so.

The ark is then taken by the men of Kirjath-jearim who bring it to the house of the priest Abinadab. His son Eleazar is hallowed to take charge of the ark of Yahweh. The ark is meant to reside in the Tabernacle within the holy of holies. But the Sanctuary had been desecrated by the abominable conduct of the sons of Eli. Thus, the Tabernacle is not to function as it had been intended to function according to the Mosaic instruction (Deut. 12:4-14). The covenant had been broken once again. The glory of Yahweh had been withdrawn. The tolerance of Yahweh is now to be displayed throughout the era of Saul and David. Not until the construction of the Temple by Solomon does the glory of Yahweh return.

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The Judgeship of Samuel

The glory of Yahweh has departed. The Ark of the Covenant is not returned to the Sanctuary at Shiloh. The writer notes, “It came to be, from the day the coffer [ark] had its seat at Kirjath-jearim, after many days had passed, that they amounted to twenty years; and all the house of Israel were plaintive after Yahweh” (1 Sam. 7:2 CV). Twenty years pass from the time the ark is moved to Kirjath-jearim. During this time, the house of Israel mourns sorrowfully after Yahweh. Under the instructional ministry and judgeship of Samuel, the people lament the consequences of their faithlessness. The Tabernacle is eventually removed from Shiloh and placed in Nob (1 Sam. 21:1-6). A turning point has been reached. The ministry of Samuel has been effective. The people have been properly prepared for Yahweh’s mercy.

The people, as a result of their 20-year earnest solicitations after Yahweh, finally gain Yahweh’s attentive assent. Yahweh turns His face back to His people. He instructs Samuel, who says, “If it is with all your heart that you are returning to Yahweh, then put away the foreign elohim and the Ashtaroth from your midst and prepare your heart for Yahweh and serve Him, Him alone. Then He shall rescue you from the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam. 7:3 CV). For 20 years Samuel had been working on the hearts of his people. His efforts had not been in vain. The people must now outwardly manifest the inward change that had been developing over this 20-year period. Yahweh is now prepared to deliver them from the Philistines. Samuel calls for them to put away the foreign elohim in their midst and prepare their hearts to serve only Yahweh. The nation obeys, “And the sons of Israel put away the Baalim and the Ashtaroth and served Yahweh, Him alone” (1 Sam. 7:4 CV).

The time for turning the tables has arrived. Samuel convenes all Israel at Mizpah. There, he prays to Yahweh on their behalf. There, they confess they have sinned against Yahweh. There, Samuel judges the sons of Israel. As the Philistines march against Israel, Samuel offers up an ascent sacrifice to Yahweh. He cries out to Yahweh on behalf of the nation. Yahweh answers him.

As Samuel is offering up the sacrifice, the Philistine’s militia approaches the camp at Mizpah. The Philistines draw close for battle. But Yahweh arises on behalf of His people. He “thundered with a loud thunderclap over the Philistines on that day and discomfited them, so that they were struck down before Israel (1 Sam. 7:10b CV). Yahweh acts on His people’s behalf, destroying the Philistine militia by directing the elements of nature against them. The prayer and sacrificial ministry of Samuel awakens Yahweh to the deliverance of His people. Victory is achieved, not by might, numbers, or sophisticated weapons, but by the mighty intervention of Yahweh, the Living Elohim of Israel.

Obedience to and trust in Yahweh alone assures Israel victory over her enemies, in spite of her conventional disadvantages. How slow Israel had been and would be in remembering this truth. Covenantal obedience and trust guarantees the victorious intervention of Yahweh on behalf of His covenantal partner. Yahweh has bound Himself by covenantal contract to act on Israel’s behalf if the sons of Israel remain faithful to their covenantal agreement.

The extent of this present victorious intervention by Yahweh is recorded as follows: “Thus the Philistines were made submissive, and they did not come anymore into Israel’s territory; for the hand of Yahweh was on the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The cities between Ekron and Gath, that the Philistines had taken from Israel, returned to Israel; and Israel reclaimed their territory from the hand of the Philistines. And then was peace between Israel and the Amorite” (1 Sam. 7:13-14 CV). This condition prevails during the days of Samuel’s sole judgeship. It would terminate at the installation of Saul as king. This is another indication that the request for a king like the nations is an act of unfaithfulness, a lack of trust in Yahweh as King.

Samuel judges Israel all the days of his life (1 Sam. 7:15). But only during his sole judgeship prior to the installation of Saul as king are the Philistine submissive and the Amorite at peace with Israel. The Tabernacle, no longer functioning as the one central Sanctuary at which Israel is to worship Yahweh through sacrificial offerings, is overshadowed by the legal and priestly ministries of Samuel at Ramah, at Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, which become “holy places” (1 Sam. 7:16). Samuel establishes a circuit between these holy places at which he renders legal judgments and priestly service.

Sacrifices are also offered at various high places in the land, indicating Yahweh’s tolerant indulgence of such places prohibited by Mosaic legislation. The intended model, being altered by Israel’s weakness, is now tolerated by Yahweh in accord with His mercy and compassion. This tolerance would last until the dedication of the Solomonic Temple. Disobedience after the dedication of the Temple and the return of the glory of Yahweh would lead to national judgment resulting in removal from the land. That Yahweh temporarily accepts this alteration is affirmed when the writer notes, “Then his [Samuel’s] return would be to Ramah, for there was his house; there he would judge Israel, and there he built an altar to Yahweh” (1 Sam. 7:17 CV).

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The Rejection of Yahweh as King in Yeshurun

In Samuel’s old age, he appoints his sons as judges. He assigns them to Beer-sheba. However, his sons do not walk in his ways: “they stretched their hands out after gain, took bribes, and turned right judgment aside” (1 Sam. 8:3 CV). The elders of Israel exploit the situation, complaining to Samuel, “Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now do appoint for us a king, to judge us like all the other nations” (1 Sam. 8:5 CV). The elders do not request Samuel to seek out Yahweh’s solution. The sinful activities of Samuel’s sons are merely an excuse to seek a king to judge the nation in imitation of the nations around them.

The matter is “displeasing in the eyes of Samuel” (1 Sam. 8:6 CV). The “eyes of Samuel” is equivalent to the eyes of Yahweh. Samuel has continually acted in accord with what is right in the eyes of Yahweh. His faithfulness recognizes immediately the unfaithfulness of the request. He prays to Yahweh Who answers, “Hearken to the voice of the people, to all that they are saying to you; for it is not you they have rejected; it is Me Whom they have rejected from being King over them” (1 Sam. 8:7 CV).

The request of the elders amounts to a rejection of Yahweh as King in Yeshurun. Yahweh declares the nation has been characteristically disobedient from the very first day He brought them up from Egypt. He testifies, “they have forsaken Me and have served other elohim, so also they are doing to you” (1 Sam. 8:8b CV). The request for a king like the nations is equivalent to the worship and service of foreign elohim. Whereas Israel is to worship and serve Yahweh alone, she is now adding to His worship and service the worship and service of foreign kings, as she had previously added to the worship and service of Yahweh the worship and service of foreign gods.

He commands Samuel to hearken to their request. However, in doing so, Samuel is to testify concerning the rights of such a king. Samuel warns the people of the bondage they will incur under the rule of such a king: he will draft their sons and daughters for all manner of royal service; he will appoint officers and ministers of state; he will select some to plan and reap royal harvests; he will conscript workers to forge implements of war; he will assign their daughters to serve as cooks and bakers; he will confiscate their fields, vineyards, and groves and give them to his courtiers; he will take a tenth of their flock, and, as a result, they will become his slaves (1 Sam. 8:11-17). Samuel then concludes, “You will cry out on that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves; yet Yahweh shall not answer you on that day” (1 Sam. 8:18 CV).

He makes it clear that the choice of a king like the nations is not Yahweh’s choice, but their own. This choice is not right in the eyes of Yahweh. They are choosing what is right in their own eyes. The ultimate consequence of this choice is revealed in advance: (1) They will become slaves of the king; (2) they will cry out for deliverance from this king, but Yahweh shall close His ears as they have closed their ears to Yahweh’s voice in this matter of requesting a king.

In spite of this calamitous prophetic analysis, the people refuse to hearken to the voice of Samuel. They respond, “No, for there should be a king over us, that we too would become like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and go forth before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam. 8:19b-20 CV). Clearly, the people reject Yahweh as Judge and King. How quickly they forget Yahweh their King thundering against the Philistines as He leads His warriors into battle.

The prayer of Samuel and the thundering elements under the control of Yahweh are not satisfactory for Israel. She would rather be led by a finite and flawed human king after the likeness of the nations. She rejects the security and success guaranteed by Yahweh in exchange for the insecurity and failure guaranteed under a king like the nations. She rejects the voice and testimony of Yahweh in exchange for the voice and testimony of the nations around her. Yahweh gives Israel the desire of her heart. He gives her up to her disqualified mind, though He does not give her up covenantally. He refuses to abandon her for the sake of His great name and the elective purpose associated with that name. He orders Samuel to “Hearken to their voice, and give them a king to reign for them” (1 Sam. 8:22 CV).

Yahweh’s kingship is rejected. The Kingdom of Yahweh is officially abandoned, lost. In its place is the Saulite kingdom. This is the key to understanding the proclamation of John the Baptist and Jesus: “Repent! for near is the kingdom of the heavens!” (Matt. 3:2 CV); “Jesus came into Galilee, heralding the evangel of the kingdom of God, saying that ‘Fulfilled is the era, and near is the kingdom of God! Repent, and believe in the evangel!” (Mk. 1:14-15 CV).

The Kingdom of Yahweh is abandoned when the nation requests a king like the nations. John the Baptist and Jesus announce the need to repent of the sin committed by the nation in asking for a king like the nations. Jesus is the son of Yahweh, the son of David Who will ascend the throne of David in order to defeat Yahweh’s enemies (those who seek to worship and serve a foreign king, and serve a king like the nations) and restore the kingship to Yahweh on behalf of the faithful remnant, the Israel of Yahweh (those who seek to worship and serve Yahweh alone, those who seek first the Kingdom of God, Matt. 6:33 KJV).

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The Selection and Transformation of Saul by Yahweh

Having granted the nation the desire of her heart, Yahweh selects a man bearing the attributes of a foreign king. The sons of Israel asked (Heb. = sauled) for a king like the nations. Yahweh gives them the king they ask for, Saul the Benjaminite. Saul’s qualifications consist of his handsomeness and his physical size. Saul is described as “a choice youth and good looking; there was no man of the sons of Israel better looking than he; from his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people” (1 Sam. 9:2 CV).

Israel, like the nations around her, gives much credence to outward appearance. Whereas Yahweh sees into the heart, the nations and the sons of Israel see the outward appearance, admiring and exalting facial handsomeness and great physical stature. Saul suits such an objective taste. He will be a king like the nations. Yahweh selects a man after Israel’s heart. Saul is that man. He is not Yahweh’s choice. He is Israel’s choice. Yahweh will elect a man after His own heart.

The selection of Saul is in accord with Israel’s standard and expectation. She asks for a king like the nations, Yahweh gives her a handsome man of gigantic physical proportion. He gives her a Benjaminite from the city of Gibeah, the very tribe and city guilty of gross immorality and lawlessness resulting in civil war. First, He gives Israel her choice: a king like the nations. Later, He will give Israel His choice: a king after His own heart.

Saul is anointed king by Samuel. He pours oil on his head and kisses him saying, “Has not Yahweh anointed you as governor over His people, over Israel?” (1 Sam. 10:1a CV). Saul is the first king to be made a christ (an anointed one). However, being the choice of Israel, not Yahweh, Saul is also the first king to be made a type of antichrist. He is anointed king over Israel in opposition to the ideal intention of Yahweh’s covenant. He fulfills the desire of the nation whose heart is set on a king like the nations, resulting in the nation’s rejection of Yahweh as her King. This attitude is antichrist.

As anointed king, Yahweh also pours out His spirit upon Saul who prophesies in the midst of a group of prophets. The people, hearing Saul prophesy in the midst of the prophets, recognize and acknowledge this change in outward appearance, giving Saul even more credence as a suitable and acceptable king in the eyes of the nation. Elohim transforms his heart into another man, equipping him with the necessary power to rule. All Saul now needs in order to succeed is obedience to Yahweh’s voice. He has been anointed with oil, anointed with the spirit of Yahweh, and supplied with the power of a changed heart to become another man, a man empowered to rule successfully.

Yahweh, however, has selected Saul precisely because he is a man after the heart of the nations. He possesses a tragic flaw referred to by the Greeks as hubris, excessive pride, insolence, or arrogance resulting from too much prosperity from the gods. The very favor of Yahweh bestowed on Saul, which should have been a blessing, is turned into a curse by Saul’s development of excessive pride and arrogance causing insolent disobedience to Yahweh’s voice.

Saul, at first, is a king like the nations only in outward appearance. He is handsome and taller than any other man in Israel. This impresses Israel. But in temperament and character, Saul is not suited for kingship. Therefore, Yahweh endows him with His spirit, transforming him into another man. Saul had been a timid man, as demonstrated when he had been chosen by lot. He had been hiding. He trembled at the thought of being king. He had been a weak man.

Yahweh favors him by gifting him with His spirit. Saul is “transformed into another man” (1 Sam. 10:6 CV). At first, he is confused and fearful. He hides, seeking to avoid kingship. But once found, seized by the sons of Israel and made king, Saul begins to change. Yahweh’s favor has endowed him with power and strength to act as a king.

Saul will act as a king, a king like the nations. This is foreshadowed in the use of the lot to select him. Samuel had said to Israel, “You have today rejected your Elohim” (1 Sam. 10:19a CV). He then proceeds to select the appropriate man by the use of the lot. In the Hebrew Scriptures, there are only two other passages depicting the use of the lot in relation to an individual man. In both cases the lot is used to single out some kind of covenantal transgression. In Joshua, chapter 7, Joshua uses the lot to uncover the transgression of Achan who had stolen some of the devoted things of Jericho. In 1 Samuel, chapter 14, Saul’s evil oath leads to the use of the lot to discover Jonathan’s innocent transgression of the oath. In the end, it is Saul who is revealed to be the real transgressor against Yahweh and His people.

Thus, the use of the lot to select Saul as king in the presence of the people is Yahweh’s means to point out the covenantal transgression of Israel in requesting a king like the nations. He gives them a king after their own hearts. He gives them a king who acts like the kings of the nations. Samuel ironically declares, “Do you see whom Yahweh has chosen? Indeed, there is no one like him among all the people” (1 Sam. 10:24a CV). The people respond by shouting as one man, “Long live the king!” (1 Sam. 10:24b).

Long live the king of their choice, Saul, a king like the nations. They choose to worship and serve Saul, preferring Saul to Yahweh. But Saul and his dynasty will not live long. Yahweh, the True King, however, will live long! The anointed nation speaks prophetically. Though Israel is Yahweh’s anointed nation, she acts as antichrist, anti-anointed. Yahweh gives her up to her antichrist ways by giving her up to her antichrist king, but He will not abandon His people! Saul and his dynasty will be rejected in favor of the man after Yahweh’s own heart, the true anointed one of Yahweh, David and the ultimate son of his dynasty.

Under the rule of Samuel, the Philistines were made submissive, no longer coming into the territory of Israel, and there was peace between Israel and the Amorite. This condition changes with the anointing of Saul as king. When Samuel summons the people to Yahweh at Mizpah, he declares, “Yet you have today rejected your Elohim Who has been bringing salvation to you from all your evils and your distresses” (1 Sam. 10:19a CV). At this convening of the people, Yahweh, by lot, selects Saul as the king they requested, “Now Samuel said to all the people, Do you see whom Yahweh has chosen? Indeed, there is no one like him among all the people. At that all the people shouted, saying, Long live the king!” (1 Sam. 10:24 CV).

After Samuel reminds the people about the customary rights of the kingship, writing these in a scroll, he places the scroll before Yahweh, and dismisses the people. These “customary rights of kingship” (1 Sam. 8:11 CV) are to be distinguished from the “rights of the king” listed in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. The customary rights of the king describe the prerogatives of a despotic king, a king like the nations. The rights of kingship listed in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 regulate the attitude of the terrestrial king over Israel, restricting him from operating in accord with the customary rights practiced by the kings of the nations. The “rights of kingship” are the regulations provided by Moses in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Kingship in Israel is to be modified by Yahweh’s restrictions hindering all excesses of despotic kingship.

After Samuel dismisses the people, a group of sons of worthlessness refuse to submit to Saul’s kingship, signaling trouble at the very outset of Saul’s kingship. This threat is followed in the text by an act of aggression at the hand of Nahash, king of the Ammonites. Saul, being prospered by the spirit of Yahweh, defeats the Ammonites in battle, terminating the aggression. The people, impressed with such success, call for the death of the rebellious sons of worthlessness. Saul, however, wisely counsels, “No man shall be put to death on this day! For today Yahweh has given a victory in Israel (1 Sam. 11:13 CV).

Samuel, calling for a renewal of the kingship, gathers the people at Gilgal where Saul is confirmed as king before Yahweh. Samuel reminds the people that he has hearkened to their request for a king. He reminds them to “give thought and see that your evil deed which you have done, is too great in the eyes of Yahweh, when you requested a king for yourselves” (1 Sam. 12:17b CV). Thus, it is clearly the intent of the text to affirm as evil the request for a king. This is supported by the response of the people, “Pray about your servants to Yahweh your Elohim that we must not die, for we have added to all our sins the evil deed of requesting a king for ourselves” (1 Sam. 12:19 CV). In Israel’s heart, Yahweh is no longer King in Yeshurun. Samuel’s rule is over, though he continues to judge Israel in moral and cultic matters.

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The Kingship of Saul

The Philistines now prepare to enter the territory of Israel, and the peace between Israel and the Amorites is on the verge of being broken. Saul is king and will be used by Yahweh to defeat the resurrecting enemies of Israel. Samuel declares, “Do not fear! You yourselves have done all this evil; only do not withdraw from following Yahweh; rather you must serve Yahweh with all your heart . . . For the sake of His great Name, Yahweh shall not abandon His people; for Yahweh is disposed to make you His people” (1 Sam. 12:20-22 CV).

Though Israel has sinned in requesting a king, rejecting the kingship of Yahweh, He will not abandon His people. Samuel will continue to pray for the people and direct them in the good and upright way (1 Sam. 12:23). Yahweh will prosper their king and bless the nation if she serves Him faithfully with all her heart. However, if they “do evil, yea evil, both you and your king shall be swept away” (1 Sam. 12:25 CV). Yahweh has given the nation up to her disqualified mind, yielding to her request for a king like the nations, but He has promised to bless them if they obey His voice and worship and serve Him alone. Both Saul and the nation will fail in spite of the favorable gifts and prosperity coming from Yahweh.

Saul, the anointed one, the Christ of Yahweh, will manifest the true color of his heart and mind, becoming in his disobedience an antichrist. Though equipped by Yahweh to succeed as the anointed king, Saul turns against Yahweh’s instruction and, later, against Yahweh’s election of David as His personal choice for the role of anointed king (Yahweh’s Christ). Saul neglects his access to the spirit of Yahweh, thus quenching Yahweh’s spirit while becoming enslaved to his own warped, debilitated spirit. In order to rightly understand the spirit of antichrist in the Greek Scriptures, one must read closely the accounts of Saul in the Hebrew Scriptures.

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Saul’s First Victory Over the Philistines: Hubristic Faithlessness

Saul’s first victory over the Philistines is revealing. In contrast to Samuel’s victory over the Philistines recorded in chapter 7, Saul’s victory is ominous. It sets the tone for the entire kingship of Saul. Jonathan, his son, commanding 1,000 warriors, smites a garrison of the Philistines at Geba. At the head of 2,000 warriors, Saul smites another Philistine garrison. The anger of the Philistines is aroused. They gather to make war with Israel. The text describes their implements of war as consisting of “three thousand chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (1 Sam. 13:5b CV).

This display of power installs fear in the people of Israel. They proceed to hide in caves, in holes, in crags, in tunnels, and in cisterns. Saul remains at Gilgal, and his militia of 2,000 warriors are “trembling behind him” (1 Sam. 13:7b CV). He is awaiting the arrival of Samuel who had set the appointed time of his arrival at seven days. On the seventh day, Samuel had not yet arrived. The militia becomes disheartened. Saul fears he is losing sway over his army. His troops are on the verge of scattering. Waiting no longer for Samuel, Saul takes it upon himself to offer the ascent and the peace offerings. He had no sooner completed the ascent offering, when Samuel arrives.

Samuel rebukes Saul, “What have you done?” (1 Sam. 13:11a CV). Saul explains he feared the attack of the Philistines would occur before he had “beseeched the face of Yahweh” (1 Sam. 13:12b CV). Saul as king had no right to take upon himself the charge of the priest Samuel. His fear overcame his trust in Yahweh and Samuel, Yahweh’s prophet/priest.

Samuel replies, “You acted unwisely! O that you had observed the instruction of Yahweh your Elohim that He enjoined on you! Then Yahweh would now have established your dynasty over Israel for the eon. Yet now your dynasty shall not be confirmed. Yahweh has sought out for Himself a man in accord with His own heart; and Yahweh shall commission him as governor over His people, for you have not observed what Yahweh enjoined on you” (1 Sam. 13:13-14 CV). Saul is weighed in the balances and found wanting. His heart is not right with Yahweh. His actions reveal his faithless heart. His trust in Yahweh comes up short. He allows his fears to overrule his faith in Yahweh’s faithfulness.

Thus, he arrogantly exalts his kingship, believing the people and the kingdom are his. His concern for the people is assumed greater than the concern of Yahweh Who had appointed him king. He had acted unwisely. He had acted after the likeness of the kings of the nations. He had acted as a foreign king and, thus, had been responsible for the scattering of the majority of his militia. Yahweh rejects him and his dynasty.

In spite of being the choice of a disobedient and faithless people, Yahweh had equipped Saul with the means to reign successfully. Although outwardly appearing to be a suitable king, Yahweh’s internal gaze detected the weakness of Saul’s heart. Saul is not a wicked or evil man. He is merely a weak man, a flawed man. The very means given him by Yahweh to succeed feed his pride, producing his personal hubris. His hubris is not predetermined by Yahweh. It is the product of Saul’s character, Saul’s personal choices.

Yahweh, however, gazing into his heart, understands his weakness. He chooses Saul specifically because of his weakness. It is this weakness that makes him the very candidate desired by the people. They had requested a king like the nations. Yahweh had given them precisely that.

However, in spite of his weakness, if Saul would have remained faithful, if he would have subjected his heart to what his mind understood to be the truth, Yahweh would have established his dynasty for the eon, that is, the age of the Kings. For Jonathan, son of Saul, heir to Saul’s dynasty, is a man after Yahweh’s heart. It is through Jonathan’s faithfulness to Yahweh that the overwhelmingly powerful Philistine war-machine is defeated.

Saul instills fear and faithlessness. Jonathan instills courage and faithfulness. While Saul is encamped in Gibeah with his remaining 600 warriors, Jonathan and his armor-bearer are approaching a garrison of Philistines. While Saul is encamped with the priests of the lineage of Eli (Samuel having gone his own way and these priests having been rejected by Yahweh), Jonathan is declaring to his armor-bearer, “Do come, let us cross over to the detachment of those uncircumcised. Perhaps Yahweh shall act for us, for there is not restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by a few” (1 Sam. 14:6 CV).

Jonathan trusts in Yahweh the Elohim of Israel, the Elohim of the covenant. He refers to the Philistines as “uncircumcised,” alluding to Yahweh’s covenant with Israel. The sign of the covenant is circumcision. The Philistines have no access to Yahweh’s intervention on their behalf. Only the sons of Israel, the circumcised ones, have a covenant relationship with Yahweh, obligating Yahweh to come to their rescue.

Jonathan is committed to worship and serve only Yahweh. He trusts Yahweh to be faithful to the word of His covenant. Later, he will reveal how committed he is to only Yahweh his King, his sovereign, when he disobeys his father the king in order to remain, first and foremost, faithful to Yahweh. He will neither worship and serve foreign gods, nor foreign kings, as his father, king Saul, has already done.

Jonathan is one of the greatest heroes of the Hebrew Scriptures. He is to be ranked with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and Daniel. There is no stronger bond between two men in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures than that between Jonathan and David. What a testimony to and model of the righteousness of the principle represented by the words I am my brother’s keeper. The bond binding the hearts of Jonathan and David is each man’s total commitment to the worship and service of Yahweh alone.

Amazingly, Jonathan’s attitude is matched by his armor-bearer: “Do all, whatever is in your heart, what you intend to do! For I am with you; my heart is like your heart!” (1 Sam. 14:7 CV). There is a faithful remnant in Israel! Such men and women are rare and precious! Oh, that there were more of such men and women in our time! Oh, how blessed the day when all humanity shall consist of such men and women!

As a result of the faithfulness of Jonathan and his armor-bearer, Yahweh arises on behalf of Israel. Jonathan and his armor-bearer smite 20 Philistine warriors. This causes trembling in the Philistine camp. Earlier, under Saul, there was trembling in the Israelite camp. Now that Yahweh has come forth to deliver Israel, under Jonathan trembling spreads like a plague throughout the military forces of the Philistines.

The text states further, “The earth was disturbed, and it became a trembling from Elohim” (1 Sam. 14:15b CV), reflecting the similar activity of Yahweh manifested under Samuel. Yahweh’s arousal is not due to the activity of Saul, but rather to the activity of his son Jonathan. The text describes this sudden reversal in favor of Israel as follows: “And those Hebrews who had been with the Philistines . . . turned back; they too came to be with Israel, with Saul and Jonathan. When all the men of Israel, who were hiding themselves in the hill country of Ephraim, heard that the Philistines had fled, then they too followed hard after them in the fighting. Thus, Yahweh saved Israel on that day” (1 Sam. 14:21-23a CV).

Saul is depicted in the text as antichrist. As a result of this turn of events, Saul “erred in a great error on that day, when Saul invoked the people, saying, Cursed be the man who eats nourishment before the evening, before I am avenged on my enemies” (1 Sam. 14:24 CV). He issues an oath revealing his hubris, his excessive and unwarranted arrogance. He is concerned not with Yahweh’s glory, but with his own glory. It is he who is to be avenged of his enemies.

On behalf of his cause, the warriors are not to nourish themselves with any kind of food for the remainder of the day. This rash, selfish oath becomes a threat to faithful Jonathan, the one who obeys from an anointed (christ, messiah) heart, the initiator of the turn of events. Not having heard the oath of his father, Jonathan partakes of some honey dripping from a honeycomb, thus, coming under the curse of his father’s oath.

Upon learning of the oath, Jonathan announces, “My father has brought trouble on the land. See now how my eyes had lit up when I tasted a little of this honey. How much more so the soldiers; O that they would have eaten, yea eaten today of the loot of their enemies when they found it! For now the smiting among the Philistines would have been greater” (1 Sam. 14:29-30 CV). In these words is reflected the judgment of Yahweh. Saul’s actions have consistently hindered the work of Yahweh on behalf of His people.

When Saul discovers the act of Jonathan, he issues his judgment, “You shall surely die, yea die today” (1 Sam. 14:44b CV). But the troops intervene on Jonathan’s behalf, questioning the anointed king of Yahweh, “Should Jonathan die today who has brought this great victory to Israel? Far be it, as Yahweh lives, that even a hair from his head should fall to the earth, for he has acted with Elohim this day” (1 Sam. 14:45a CV). Thus, the militia ransoms Jonathan, judging the action of the king as antichrist, as against the will and intention of Yahweh Elohim as uncontrovertibly evidenced by the actual events of Yahweh’s activity. Saul himself cannot fail to recognize, in the face of such evidence, that it is not Jonathan who has sinned, but he himself. Through his arbitrary and despotic command, he had brought guilt and an unnecessary burden. Saul is, thus, again depicted by the writer of the text as antichrist. Though he is the anointed of Yahweh, he is Israel’s sinful choice, the product of “the evil deed of requesting a king for ourselves” (1 Sam. 12:19b CV).

In all this, Jonathan remains righteous, faithfully honoring Yahweh and Yahweh’s Law. He is characterized by the text as being the authentic anointed one (christ) of Yahweh, for Yahweh sees into the heart as well as upon the outward appearance. Jonathan’s anointed heart and behavior display before the eyes of all Israel the authentic anointed one of Yahweh.

Unlike the rule of Samuel, during which the Philistines were made submissive and did not come anymore into the territory of Israel due to the hand of Yahweh against the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:13), during the entire reign of Saul, “The war against the Philistines was unyielding . . .” (1 Sam. 14:52a CV). Saul’s disobedience hinders the activity of Yahweh on behalf of His people. The sons of Israel would have to bear the burden of the error of their evil request throughout the 40-year reign of Saul. The only relief from this burden would come from the activity of Jonathan. The only hope for deliverance from this burden would come from the activity of David.

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Saul’s Rejection as King

Shortly into his reign, Saul had failed to obey Yahweh’s voice. Samuel at that time had announced Yahweh’s rejection of Saul’s dynasty: “Yet now your dynasty shall not be confirmed. Yahweh has sought out for Himself a man in accord with His own heart; and Yahweh shall commission him as governor over His people, for you have not observed what Yahweh enjoined on you” (1 Sam. 13:14 CV). Samuel then “arose . . . and went his own way” (1 Sam. 13:15 CV). From that time on, Saul’s activity as king becomes increasingly antichrist. His failure to obey Yahweh’s instructions in regard to the Amalekites results in a further judgment. Previously, disobedience had cost him the continuance of his dynasty. Now, his disobedience results in his rejection as king.

After his victory over the Amalakites, Saul declares to Samuel, “I have carried out the command of Yahweh” (1 Sam. 15:13b CV). Samuel reveals the falsehood of this claim by pointing out the bleating of the flock and the lowing of the herd. These animals should have been destroyed. Saul explains that the best of the flock and herd have been spared in order to sacrifice to Yahweh. He reveals his rebellious heart by referring to Yahweh as Samuel’s Elohim (1 Sam. 15:15).

Samuel then announces Yahweh’s judgment:


Does Yahweh have as much delight

        in ascent offerings and sacrifices

As in hearkening to the voice of Yahweh?

Behold to hearken is better than sacrifice,

To pay attention than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination,

Insubordination, like the lawlessness of teraphim.

Because you rejected the command of Yahweh,

He has also rejected you from being king over Israel. (1 Samuel 15:22-23 CV)


Saul is charged with rebellion and insubordination. In his foolish pride, he had claimed the glory of victory for himself, “he erected a monument as a signpost to himself” (1 Sam. 15:12 CV). In the presence of Samuel, he seeks to cover up the vain glory of his heart. But Yahweh who sees into the heart had already spoken to Samuel concerning Saul’s real motive for not dooming the king of the Amalekites and all the loot. Thus, Saul’s attempt to repent is rejected by Yahweh. His repentance is insincere, temporary, reflecting his rebellious heart.

In desperation, Saul reaches out to grab the hem of Samuel’s robe, tearing it. Samuel pronounces Yahweh’s final verdict, “Yahweh has torn the kingship over Israel away from you today and has given it to an associate of yours who is better than you” (1 Sam. 15:28 CV). From that day on, Saul is antichrist. As for Samuel, he “did not come again to see Saul until the day of his death, . . .” (1 Sam. 15:35a CV).

Samuel does not come to see Saul again until Saul, unable to receive a word from Yahweh, in desperation seeks out a medium through whom Samuel is conjured up from the dead. Samuel, for the last time, pronounces Yahweh’s verdict: “Why are you asking me when Yahweh has withdrawn from you and is with your associate? Yahweh is doing to you just as He spoke by means of me. Yahweh is tearing the kingship from your hand and is giving it to your associate, to David, . . . Yahweh shall also give Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons with you shall fall” (1 Sam. 28:16-19 CV).

As the Book of 1 Samuel opens with the deaths of Eli and his sons, so it ends with the deaths of Saul and his sons. The deaths of Eli and his sons signify the pollution of the Tabernacle and the departure of the glory of Yahweh. The deaths of Saul and his sons signify the pollution of kingship and its inevitable failure in its continuing history. The request of a king like the nations is judged by the holy writer as “evil in the eyes of Yahweh.” Israel would bear the consequences of this evil act until the coming of the ultimate Anointed One of Yahweh.

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Saul’s Enmity Against Yahweh’s Messiah

In the meantime, Yahweh sends Samuel to the household of Jesse and chooses for Himself a king after His own heart: “I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected among his sons a king for Myself” (1 Sam. 16:1b CV). The youngest son of Jesse, David the shepherd, is selected. Samuel anoints David with oil while in the midst of his brothers, and the spirit of Yahweh comes upon David from that day onward (1 Sam. 16:13). David is now the favored anointed one of Yahweh. Saul continues as the unfavored, rejected anointed one of Yahweh.

As the spirit of Yahweh comes upon David, the spirit of Yahweh withdraws from Saul. In its place, Yahweh anoints Saul with an evil spirit. Thus, Yahweh gives Saul up to his rebellious heart. He impels him, empowers him, to manifest the evil of his heart in antichrist deeds. From this time to the day of his death, Saul persecutes David, continually seeking his death. He opposes Yahweh and Yahweh’s anointed-one. He becomes the adversary of David who is the elected messiah of Yahweh. He becomes an antichrist. His mental processes and behavior become increasingly deranged. He becomes psychologically/spiritually/covenantally demented.

As a result of the affect of this evil spirit sent from Yahweh, David is conscripted to become Saul’s personal musician, relieving Saul’s disordered mind with the soothing sounds from his harp. The anointed one of Yahweh is now placed in close proximity to the anti-anointed one of Yahweh. David now becomes the protagonist of the story line, while Saul becomes his antagonist.

David is described by one of Saul’s attendants as one who “knows how to play [on the harp]. He is master of valor, a man of war, proficient in speech, a handsome man, and Yahweh is with him” (1 Sam. 16:18 CV). He later would become Saul’s armor-bearer in addition to being his personal musician. He finds favor in Saul’s eyes. “Whenever it occurred that an evil spirit from Elohim came over Saul then David took the harp and played with his hand. It inspirited Saul, and it was well with him. Then the evil spirit would withdraw from him” (1 Sam. 16:23 CV).

Saul’s declining mental state begins to reveal itself when Goliath, the Philistine champion, challenges any Israelite champion to a fight. The loser and his people would become slaves to the winner and his people. The text states, “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistines, they were dismayed and exceedingly fearful” (1 Sam. 17:11 CV).

During these days, David “would go and return from attendance on Saul to graze the flock of his father at Bethlehem (1 Sam. 17:15 CV). Jesse sends him to the military encampment with supplies for his brothers. David hears the challenge. He is embarrassed when “All the men of Israel . . . fled before him [Goliath] and were exceedingly fearful” (1 Sam. 17:24 CV). In his zeal for Yahweh, he declares, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he challenges the arrays [ranks] of the living Elohim?” (1 Sam. 17:26b CV).

This word is reported to Saul who sends for David. The youthful David encourages Saul, declaring, “The heart of my lord must not fall because of him [Goliath]. Your servant, he shall go, and he will fight with this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:32 CV). David is told he is not qualified to fight this mighty warrior of much battle experience. In David’s response, the holy writer makes clear why David is a man after Yahweh’s heart in contrast to Saul: “Your servant has smitten both lion and bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will become like one of them, for he has reproached the arrays of the living Elohim . . . Yahweh Who rescued me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He shall rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:36-37 CV). Echoed in this declaration are the words of Jonathan to his armor-bearer, “for there is not restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6b CV). Here are two men each of whom loves Yahweh his Elohim with all his heart. Such are the anointed ones of Yahweh.

Saul seems impressed. He consents to David’s offer, supplying him with the armaments of battle. David concludes these armaments are not suitable for him. He sets them aside and proceeds to the battlefield. As David goes forth to meet the Philistine, Saul ironically asks Abner, “Whose son is this lad, Abner?” (1 Sam. 17:55a CV). Saul very well knows whose son David is. He ironically concludes David a mad man.

Saul, whose mental state is declining steadily as a result of his rejection of Yahweh due to his evil heart, perceives the heart of David, which reflects the glory of Yahweh, as deranged. David the mad man goes forth and slays the tall, gigantic son of the Philistines, while Saul the tallest of the sons of the Israelites cowers before the uncircumcised Philistine. David is the son of circumcised Isaac; Saul is a son of uncircumcised Israel. David trusts in Yahweh; Saul mistrusts Yahweh. David is the king Yahweh chose for Himself; Saul is the king Yahweh chose for uncircumcised Israel. Saul’s repetitious question to Abner, and later to David himself, is meant to reveal his attitude of derision toward the faithful servant of Yahweh. In this derision is reflected the jealousy that will haunt Saul to his death.

Abner’s reply to Saul’s question, “As your soul lives, O king, how should I know?” (1 Sam. 17:55b CV), also indicates the derogatory tone of Saul’s question. Abner responds in like manner. His answer “How should I know?” indicates his agreement with the king. He knows who David is. As the king’s right-hand man and warrior of valor, he sides with the king. The king is not to be contradicted. Abner, therefore, confirms the king’s mockery of this naïve, arrogant youth.

However, after David slays the Philistine champion, standing before Saul with Goliath’s head hanging from his hand, Saul again asks, “Whose son are you, young man?” (1 Sam. 17:58 CV). To conclude that Saul still does not recognize David is to insult the integrity of the holy author who has meticulously arranged the material of his text. As Saul had mocked this naïve young man by asking Abner whose son he was, so now, after David’s triumph, Saul asks the same question of David, expressing his genuine amazement. The question now takes on new significance.

David had been dividing his time between his father’s flock and Saul’s court. Now Saul calls upon David to give him his full allegiance by renouncing the paternal rights of his father. Saul is calling for the youth to devote himself completely to the king’s service as a loyal son of the king, even as Saul is later to call David “my son David” (1 Sam. 24:16 CV). David’s innocent reply to Saul’s ironically reversed question quoted above seems to deny Saul’s implied request, “The son of your servant Jesse, the Bethlehemite” (1 Sam. 17:58b CV). But the king modeled after the likeness of the nations will not be denied. Samuel had warned the sons of Israel, “He shall take your sons for himself . . .” (1 Sam. 8:11 CV). To confirm this warning, the holy author further records, “On that day Saul took him and would not allow him to return to his father’s house” (1 Sam. 18:2 CV).

The guileless righteousness of David’s faithful trust in Yahweh binds him irrevocably to Jonathan, Saul’s son. For after David’s courageous act on behalf of Yahweh’s honor and his unaffected interview with Saul, “Jonathan’s soul was tied [knit] to David’s soul; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:1 CV). David’s righteousness, like Jonathan’s, will endanger his life in relation to Saul. As Jonathan’s righteous behavior jeopardized his life in relation to Saul’s unwise oath, barely being delivered from death by the militia; so also, David’s righteous behavior in the service of the king, the anointed of Yahweh, will endanger his life in relation to Saul, barely being delivered from death by the intervention of Jonathan on his behalf.

Saul, though Yahweh’s anointed king, seeks the life of David, Yahweh’s anointed man after His own heart, Yahweh’s choice of a king for Himself. Thus, Saul becomes the chief adversary of David; his policy, administration, decision-making, and activity take on the character of an antichrist. Though he is Yahweh’s anointed king, he is such only after the fashion of the nations and only as the choice of the sons of Israel. As such, Saul opposes Yahweh, bringing death and destruction to his innocent and righteous son, Jonathan, and to his people, both the righteous and the unrighteous. He is rejected by Yahweh, but allowed to reign for a period of forty years, during which David, Yahweh’s faithful anointed one, is a persecuted outcast, continually running from the evil hand of Saul, Yahweh’s antichrist.

In the end, Saul sinks so low as to seek the service of a forbidden medium in order to receive advice from a dead Samuel. He is defeated by the Philistines, taking his own life after being wounded in battle. David is then anointed king over the house of Judah in Hebron. He reigns over Judah for a period of seven years and six months.

Thereupon, the elders of Israel (representing the northern tribes) anoint David king over Israel as well, fulfilling Yahweh’s promise to David, “You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall become governor over Israel (2 Sam. 5:2b CV). Israel is now unified under one king, the king chosen by Yahweh for Himself, the anointed one of Yahweh, the man after Yahweh’s own heart. The antichrist (Saul) has been destroyed by Yahweh; the christ (messiah David) has been rescued from the persecution of his enemy, raised to be seated upon the throne of Israel, and readied to deliver his people from their enemies in fulfillment of the promises made by Yahweh.

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As king over Israel, David conquers Jerusalem and establishes it as his capital, “Thus David went on getting greater, and Yahweh Elohim of hosts was with him” (2 Sam. 5:10 CV). When Hiram, king of Tyre, in recognition of David’s kingship, sends David materials and skilled labor to construct a palace worthy of this great king, David realizes, “Yahweh had established him as king over Israel and had uplifted his kingship for the sake of His people Israel” (2 Sam. 5:12 CV). Unlike Saul, David acknowledges that his kingship is secured by Yahweh for the sake of Israel His people. David is not to glory in himself, but is to glory in Yahweh. He is Yahweh’s servant king. He worships and serves Yahweh on behalf of the welfare of Yahweh’s holy nation. He loves Yahweh with all his heart, soul, and intensity (Deut. 6:5). Having his heart right with Yahweh, David seeks to reign in accord with Yahweh’s instructions, recorded in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, regulating the rights of the king.

Having heard of David’s anointing as king over Israel, the Philistines gather to make war against David, realizing the potential threat to their rule. David inquires of Yahweh, Who declares, “Go up, for I will give, yea give the Philistines into your hand” (2 Sam. 5:19b CV). David obeys Yahweh and defeats the Philistines. Later, the Philistines gather again for war against David. Again, David inquires of Yahweh, and again David obeys Yahweh, placing his confidence, not in horses, chariots, armor, weapons, or number of warriors (Deut. 17:16), but in the mighty arm of Yahweh’s intervention.

The text records, “Let it come to be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the aspens, then make your decisive move, for by then Yahweh will have gone forth before you to smite the army camp of the Philistines” (2 Sam. 5:24 CV). David waits for the initial blow of Yahweh against the Philistines and then proceeds to mount his attack. For a second time, the Philistines are defeated. Israel triumphs over her enemy as Yahweh, at the head of His militia, leads His personally chosen king and David’s committed warriors into battle.

David’s kingship, however, though superior to Saul’s, is still flawed. It, also, testifies to the evil of Israel’s request for a king. Appended to the account of the construction of a palace for David’s kingly abode is the record of David’s multiplication of wives and concubines (2 Sam. 5:13-16). In this, David flagrantly disregarded the instruction of Deuteronomy 17:17, “He [the king] shall neither increase wives for himself, that his heart may not withdraw, . . .” (CV). David succumbed to the traditional oriental court custom of possessing a large harem. He would painfully suffer the consequences of this sin in both his private and public life. In spite of this offense, Yahweh tolerated David’s deviation in this matter, for David’s heart belonged to Yahweh.

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The Restoration of the Mosaic System of Worship and Service

With the establishment of David’s kingdom and Jerusalem as the capital city of David, the time had come to begin the restoration of the Mosaic system of worship and service which had been eroded since the departure of the glory of Yahweh, the death of Eli, the removal of the ark from the Sanctuary at Shiloh, and the reign of Saul. This meant the return of the Ark of the Covenant to the center of covenantal worship and service. Jerusalem would become the central place of worship. Worship would be carried out in accordance with the instructions of the Mosaic Law.

Thus, David determines to fetch the Ark of the Covenant from Kirjath-jearim where it had been residing for the past 70 years (20 years to the victory at Ebenezer, 1 Samuel 7:1; 40 years under Samuel and Saul; and about 10 years under David). In transporting the ark, a new cart is provided. A short distance from Jerusalem, the oxen stumble, causing the ark to tip. Uzzah reaches out with his hands, keeping the ark from falling over. Yahweh’s anger is kindled against Uzzah, slaying him instantly. David becomes greatly distressed in relation to this calamity. He becomes fearful of Yahweh, tracing the cause of Uzzah’s death to some flaw in his plan to bring the ark to Jerusalem. David now fears bringing the ark up to Jerusalem. He leaves the ark in the house of Obed-edom.

In the course of the next three months, the house of Obed-edom is blessed by Yahweh. David is now confident in bringing the ark into Jerusalem. This time, however, he proceeds according to the instruction in the Mosaic Law (Ex. 25:13-15; Num. chap. 4). The ark is moved only by Levites, and it is to be carried on the shoulders, not in a cart. The disregard of these instructions in the law led to the death of Uzzah, “the sons of Kohath shall come to carry it. Yet they shall not touch the holy things, lest they die” (Num. 4:15 CV).

The ark is placed in a tent prepared by David. The Mosaic Tabernacle, which had been residing in Nob until Saul put to death all the priests except Abiathar, is now residing in Gibeon (1 Chr. 16:39). The Mosaic Sanctuary is no longer the focus of cultic worship and service. The glory of Yahweh had departed from it. Israel had failed to faithfully worship and serve Yahweh in the presence of His glory residing in the Mosaic Tabernacle. During the entire reign of Saul, worship and service in relation to the Ark of the Covenant and the Mosaic Tabernacle had been neglected. Saul’s daughter Michal even possessed teraphim (1 Sam. 19:13 CV). Worship and service during Saul’s reign had been primarily carried out under the ministry of Samuel as Yahweh’s priest, prophet, and judge.

David restores the Ark of the Covenant to its central place in cultic worship and service, but apart from the Mosaic Tabernacle. He “appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord [Yahweh], and to record [celebrate, NASB; commemorate, CV], and to thank and praise the Lord God [Yahweh Elohim] of Israel (1 Chr. 16:4 KJV). He “left there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord [Yahweh] Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required” (1 Chr. 16:37 KJV). At the same time, he left “Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the Tabernacle of the Lord [Yahweh] in the high place that was at Gibeon, to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the Lord, which he commanded Israel” (1 Chr. 16:39-40 KJV). Thus, David also restores, temporarily and fragmentarily, the function of the Mosaic Tabernacle. The glory of Yahweh had not yet returned, either to the Mosaic Tabernacle (lacking the Ark of the Covenant) or to the tent of David housing the Ark of the Covenant (separated from the Mosaic Tabernacle). That return would await the construction of a temple for the living Elohim of Israel.

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David’s Desire to Build a House for Yahweh

Aware of this deficiency, David seeks to build Yahweh a house. The inspired author writes, “It came to be when the king was settled in his palace, and Yahweh Himself had granted him rest from all his enemies round about, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, See now, I am dwelling in a palace of cedars, while the coffer [ark] of the One, Elohim, is dwelling inside a sheet-tent” (2 Sam. 7:1-2 CV). David, realizing Yahweh is the one responsible for his success against his foreign and domestic enemies, desires to build Yahweh a suitable house for such a great Elohim. David now dwells in a palace of cedars, how shall Yahweh remain dwelling in a tent! If the inferior one dwells in a palace, the Superior One should dwell in an even greater palace. In this, David reveals his humble and appreciative heart. He seeks to grant Yahweh the exaltation due His glory and His graciousness bestowed upon both himself and Israel.

At first, Nathan encourages David in this endeavor. However, Yahweh reveals to Nathan the prophet that David is not to build Him a house to dwell in. Yahweh had never asked for such a house. He chose to dwell in the Tabernacle and move from place to place in the midst of His people. His people have rejected Him as King. Yet He has mercifully granted them their request. He has given Israel His permission to have a king like the nations, but in accordance with His words to Moses (Deut. 17:14-20). Saul failed to obey these words. David succeeds, in spite of his flaws. His heart is right with Yahweh.

As a result, Yahweh promises to make David a great name, alluding to the same promise made to Abraham. He declares He will provide a place for His people. He will plant them so that they can dwell undisturbed by either foreign enemies or domestic enemies: “I will provide . . . I will plant them so that they can tabernacle by themselves and should no longer be disturbed; the sons of iniquity shall not continue to humiliate them just as at the first, ever since the day when I commissioned judges over My people Israel” (2 Sam. 7:10-11a CV).

Yahweh had given David rest from his enemies and would continue to give him rest from his enemies as David continued to obey His voice. David has desired to build Yahweh a house, but Yahweh intends to build a house for David: “Yahweh shall establish a royal house for you: . . . I will raise up a seed after you that shall come forth from your internal parts; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a House for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for the eon. I Myself shall become for him like a father; and he shall become for Me like a son” (2 Sam. 7:11b-14a CV). Yahweh’s initial place and planting for Israel had been in Canaan, the Land of Promise. David would plant Israel in her place in the land by means of his military victories over the nations still dwelling in the land. Solomon his son would nurture the planted people to fruitful growth.

The kingdom of David would flourish in peace and security under the benevolent rule of Solomon. But Solomon’s “sins out of depravity” would result in Yahweh’s judgment upon his kingdom: “When he sins out of depravity, then I will correct him with the club of men and with the contagions of the sons of humanity” (2 Sam. 7:14b CV). In spite of Solomon’s failure, Yahweh assures David He “shall not withdraw from him [Solomon and the continuing line of royal sons] as I withdrew it [His kindness] from Saul . . . Your house and your kingship will be authenticated before Me for the eon; your throne, it shall become established for the [Mosaic] eon” (2 Sam. 7:15-16 CV). Yahweh’s mercy would not depart from David. His kingdom would be established for the eon.

Solomon would build Yahweh a terrestrial house made by human hands. He would also extend the greatness of David’s name. But his kingdom would become divided and his people taken into foreign captivity. The house built for Yahweh with the hands of men would be destroyed by the hands of other men. Yet, in the latter days, before the end of the Mosaic Eon, a son of David would ascend the throne of David. This faithful son would build Yahweh a Celestial House not made with the hands of men. He would “rebuild the tabernacle of David” (Acts 15:16 CV; Amos 9:11), that is, He would unify the divided kingdom and gather together the scattered sheep of David’s flock.

This covenantal promise given to David by Yahweh is initially fulfilled by Solomon in the terrestrial realm. But the ultimate fulfillment is accomplished by Jesus the Anointed One, the son of David, in the Celestial Realm (Jn. 3:12 CV). His kingdom would not be of the Mosaic order (world, see Jn. 18:36). He would prepare a “place” for His sheep in the Celestial Realm: “In My Father’s house are many abodes; . . . I am going to make ready a place for you [plural]. And if I should be going and making ready a place for you [plural], I am coming again and I will be taking you [plural] along to Myself, that where I am, you [plural] also may be” (Jn. 14:2-3 CV). The appointed place for Yahweh’s people would be in His Celestial House. They would occupy a place in this Celestial House as a result of becoming “planted together in the likeness of His [Christ’s] death” (Rom. 6:5 CV). Being “planted” in the likeness of Christ’s death meant sharing in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. In Christ, the people of Yahweh would occupy a place in Yahweh’s Celestial House where they would “dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness affect them anymore, as beforetime” (2 Sam. 7:10 KJV).

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The Ultimate Fulfillment of Yahweh’s Promise to David

For the past 2,000 years, Christ has been in the Celestial House of Yahweh. With Him have been His sheep gathered together in the last days of the Mosaic Eon, approximately around 70 a.d. He has been faithful to His promise: “I am coming again and I will be taking you along to Myself, that where I am, you [plural] also may be” (Jn. 14:3b CV). He who denies this makes Jesus Christ a liar and a false prophet.

Jesus the Anointed One, the son of David, declared He would be building His Ecclesia, His called out ones (Matt. 16:18). These called out ones would make up the Celestial House of Yahweh not made with hands (Heb. 9:11). This is the ultimate fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise made in 2 Sam. 7:13: “He shall build a House for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for the eon” (CV). Jesus the Anointed One, the son of David, also declared that His Father has covenanted Him a kingdom. That kingdom was the kingdom of David: “I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Sam. 7:12b KJV). Jesus declares to His apostles, "Now you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I am covenanting a covenant with you, according as My Father covenanted a kingdom to Me, that you may be eating and drinking at My table in My kingdom. And you will be seated on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Lk. 22:28-30 CV).

The kingdom covenanted Him by His Father is the kingdom of David. He ascends the throne of David after His resurrection and ascension to His Father. At Pentecost, He begins to build His ecclesia, the fallen house, tabernacle of David, the House of Yahweh not made with hands. Each of His Apostles metaphorically ascends a judgment throne giving each one authority to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Yahweh’s son, the son of David, with Yahweh’s authority, ascends David’s throne and appoints twelve judges to assist Him in His rule over Israel. The duration of this rule of Christ as the son of David spans approximately 40 years, accomplishing its purpose and achieving its consummation around 70 a.d. Having defeated Yahweh’s enemies and completed the building of Yahweh’s Celestial House, Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, gives up the kingdom to His God and Father, Yahweh Elohim, Who is restored as King over Israel. Israel will have fulfilled her task on behalf of the nations and enters the Celestial Realm as Christ’s complement. Yahweh once again becomes the Elohim of the nations, no longer making a distinction between Israel, the circumcised, and the nations, the uncircumcised. The Law and the Prophets will then have been fulfilled (see 1 Cor. 15:22-28). This is the significance of the covenantal promise given to David by Yahweh at the time David sought to build a house for Yahweh. Solomon initially fulfills this promise of Yahweh to David, but he in no way could establish its ultimate intended fulfillment which would remain concealed until the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the final and ultimate Son of David.

David understands the implication of Yahweh’s covenantal promise. The promise speaks of David’s house over an extended period of time: “yet You are speaking also about Your servant’s house for the far future; . . .” (2 Sam. 7:19b CV). Solomon represents the near future. He will be David’s first heir to the throne. He will build a terrestrial house in which Yahweh will dwell in the midst of His people. Solomon will be “like” a son to Yahweh, and Yahweh will be “like” a father to Solomon (2 Sam. 7:14).

In contrast, the last son of David, the last heir to the throne will literally be a “son” to Yahweh, and Yahweh will literally be a “Father” to this man. David declares, “and this is the law of that man” (2 Sam. 7:19c my translation of the literal Hebrew). The “law of that man” refers to the last son and heir of David who will carry out Yahweh’s promise to the letter, for he shall also be The Son and The Heir of Yahweh. In the eyes of that man, Yahweh’s promise to David will be his law, that is, will be to him the law that directs his life and service to Yahweh. “That man” will treat as legally binding the obligation to make David a great name, to establish a royal house for David, and to build a House for Yahweh in accord with Yahweh’s celestial purpose.

“That man” would begin his work as a soulish man, but would complete his work as the spiritual man, the Celestial Man. Adam began his work as a soulish man and became a soilish man when he sinned by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Jesus began His work as a soulish man and became the spiritual man when he obeyed the command of His Father to endure a crucifixion death (see 1 Cor. 15:45-49 CV).

Later, David confirms that Yahweh’s promise concerning his seed cannot ultimately refer to Solomon and must be associated with a new covenant. In chapter 23 of 2 Samuel, the inspired writer, referring to David’s last words, records,


Now these are the last words of David:

The averring of David son of Jesse,

The averring of the master whom El raised up,

The anointed of the Elohim of Jacob,

And the pleasant one of the psalms of Israel. (v. 1)


The spirit of Yahweh has spoken by me,

And His declarations have been on my tongue. (v. 2)


The Elohim of Israel has said,

To me the Rock of Israel has spoken:

When the one ruling over humanity is righteous

And is ruling in the fear of Elohim, (v. 3)


Then it is like the light of the morning,

When the sun rises,

A morning without thick clouds,

Like the brightness after rain

Bringing verdure [green growth] from the earth. (v. 4)


Indeed, is not my house thus with El?

For He has made an eonian covenant with me,

Arranged forth in every respect and safeguarded.

Indeed, shall He not cause all my salvation

And my every desire to sprout? (v. 5)


Yet the worthless, they are like thorns,

All of them isolated away,

For they should not be taken by hand. (v. 6)


When a man touched them, he must be fully armed

With iron and the shaft of a spear.

And with fire shall they be burned,

        yea burned in their shame. (v. 7 CV)


The last words of David, inspired by the spirit of Yahweh, refer to the future time (“You are speaking also about Your servant’s house for the far future,” 2 Sam. 7:19 CV) when the righteous seed of David arrives bringing salvation and the ultimate fulfillment of the promise made by Yahweh to David recorded in 2 Samuel 7:12-13. The time of His arrival is described as the shining forth of the light of dawn after a night of rain. The new morning is cloudless and reveals the fresh growth of green life. The sun has not yet risen. Its brightness and full warmth have not yet been felt. But the sun’s appearance is guaranteed to follow shortly.

Such is the assurance of Yahweh’s eonian covenant made with David. The future righteous seed of David, He who fears Elohim and has no flaws, He will build a House for Yahweh. He will accomplish the salvation of Israel and the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets:


Indeed, shall He not cause all my salvation

And my every desire to sprout? (2 Samuel 23:5b CV).


When this son of David arrives on the horizon, he will begin His work of salvation and judgment. The worthless, like thorns, will be gathered not with the bare hands of men, but by those messengers provided with protective tools safeguarding them from the sharpness of the thorns. These worthless ones, the ungodly, the unfaithful ones, will be burned with fire, that is, burned in their shame.

The writers of the Greek Scriptures understood these inspired words of David to refer to John the Baptist and Jesus. The Baptist arrives at the first light of dawn. He directs Israel to the light of the law currently being manifested in the dawn of this new day and about to be fully manifested in the soon arrival of the promised son of David, Jesus, “The Ruler Who shall shepherd My people Israel” (Matt. 2:6b CV); “you shall be calling His name Jesus, for He shall be saving His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21b CV); “He shall be great, and Son of the Most High shall He be called. And the Lord God shall be giving Him the throne of David, His father, . . .” (Lk. 1:32 CV).

The Baptist precedes the arrival of the promised son of David. He arrives proclaiming “a baptism of repentance for the pardon of sins” (Lk. 3:3 CV) and an “impending indignation” (Lk. 3:7 CV). He declares, “coming is the One stronger than I, . . . He will be baptizing you in holy spirit and fire, . . . He will be scouring His threshingfloor and be gathering the grain into His barn, yet the chaff shall He burn up with unextinguished fire” (Lk. 3:16b-17 CV).

Concerning the Baptist, the writer of the Gospel of John declares, “There came to be a man, commissioned by God. His name was John. This one came for a testimony, that he should be testifying concerning the light, . . .” (Jn. 1:6-7 CV). The Baptist has a commission. He is to be


The voice of one imploring:

“In the wilderness make ready the road of the Lord!

Straight . . . be making the highways” of Him! (Matthew 3:3 CV).


In preparing the way for the arrival of the promised son of David, the Baptist is authorized to remit the sins of his people Israel, allowing them to return to their rightful place as Yahweh’s covenantal children: “Whoever received him [John], to them he gave the right to be making themselves children of Yahweh, to the ones believing into his name [John, Hebrew = Yahweh is gracious] (Jn 1:12 my translation). The Baptist directs his people Israel back to the light of the law, back to their covenantal relationship to Yahweh, by forgiving their sins, thus reinstating them to their rightful place under Yahweh’s Law. Having their covenantal relationship restored, they are once again called upon to begin afresh the keeping of Yahweh’s Law in anticipation of the arrival of the son of David, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

The writer of the Gospel of John, referring to the arrival of Jesus the promised son of David, records, “And the word became flesh and tabernacled among us, . . .” (Jn. 1:14a CV). Thereupon, this same author has the Baptist testify that this Jesus is “He of Whom I said, He Who is coming after me, has come to be in front of me” (Jn. 1:15a CV). As such, this Jesus, the word of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant made flesh, will baptize in holy spirit (salvation) and in fire (judgment, the impending indignation). He will gather His grain, His faithful ones, into His barn and burn the chaff, the worthless ones, in their shame.

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The Election of Solomon

When David was told by Nathan the prophet that he was not to build a house for Yahweh, he learns that this task would be accomplished by his son Solomon. According to the record in 1 Chronicles 22:9, Solomon is revealed to be the seed Yahweh promises to raise up for David. This seed is to build a house for Yahweh. Thus, Solomon is chosen by Yahweh to be heir to David’s throne: “Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days” (1 Chr. 22:9 KJV).

At this time, according to the record in Chronicles, David is informed, by a word from Yahweh, “Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight” (1 Chr. 22:8 KJV). David is a man of war, having shed much blood. A man of war with blood on his hands is not to build Yahweh a house. It would be a man of peace, a philosopher king, a sage, not a warrior, who would build a house for Yahweh. Solomon is declared to be that man, even before his birth. David later declares,

I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord [Yahweh], and for the footstool of our God [Elohim], . . . but God [Elohim] said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. . . . and of all my sons, (for the Lord [Yahweh] hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord [Yahweh] over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever [for the eon], if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, . . . (1 Chronicles 28:2b-7 KJV)

Solomon would be covenanted David’s kingdom. Solomon would build a house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant, thus indicating Yahweh could not be limited to any one house or place. The house built for Yahweh would house the Ark of the Covenant (not Yahweh Himself), representing His covenantal presence and commitment to Israel. The Ark of the Covenant metaphorically represents the footstool of Yahweh’s throne, before which His people obediently submit themselves in service. It is therefore clear that Solomon is to ascend the throne of David, for Yahweh establishes this before his birth, names him, and personally chooses him from among the many sons He gives to David.

But where is this house to be built? The answer to this question comes as a result of David’s decision to number Israel. According to 2 Sam. 24:1, “the anger of the LORD [Yahweh] was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah (KJV). However, the record in 1 Chronicles 21:1 declares, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (KJV). Yahweh’s anger against Israel results in His moving David to number the people. Satan, The Adversary, is assigned to carry out Yahweh’s decision against Israel. Satan provokes David to issue the command to number the people. Numbering the people is an act revealing a lack of trust in Yahweh. This displeases Yahweh, justly bringing about His judgment: “So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men” (1 Chr. 21:14 KJV).

This plague is carried out by a celestial messenger of Yahweh. This messenger of Yahweh administers the plague throughout the land, stopping at the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite in Jerusalem: “And God [Elohim] sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord [Yahweh] beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand” (1 Chr. 21:15 KJV). David is then instructed by Yahweh to set up an altar at the threshingfloor of Ornan, “And David built there an altar unto the Lord [Yahweh], and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord [Yahweh]; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering” (1 Chr. 21:26 KJV). When David beholds the devouring fire of Yahweh, he realizes that Yahweh has chosen this location for His altar and the future house that Solomon would construct to house the Ark of the Covenant and the glory of Yahweh:“Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chr. 22:1 KJV). This house would replace the Mosaic Tabernacle which at that time was located at Gibeon. The Ark of the Covenant, which had been brought up to Jerusalem and housed in a tent David had constructed for its dwelling place, would be relocated to the house Solomon would build. This would mark a new beginning for Israel. The Mosaic system would be fully restored, and the glory of Yahweh that had departed the Tabernacle would return to fill the new dedicated Temple.

In David’s old age, he appoints Solomon king over Israel. He exhorts Solomon, “Now, my son, the Lord be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the Lord thy God, as he hath said of thee. Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God” (1 Chr. 22:11-12 KJV). The writer of 1 Kings records, “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” (1 Kings 3:3 KJV). Solomon loves Yahweh and walks in His statutes. His only fault at this time is his sacrificing in high places. But this is before the building of the Temple. This fault is also true of the people, a practice which had begun developing after the death of Samuel. Such sacrificial worship is displeasing to Yahweh, contradicting His command recorded in Deuteronomy 12:1-14. After the completion of the Temple, such sacrificial worship is discontinued, though resumed at a later time.

Though David is not to build the Temple, he does make preparations for the building of the Temple. He begins the gathering of materials necessary for the construction of an awe-inspiring house for the Ark of the Covenant and the glory of Yahweh (1 Chr. 22:1-5; 29:1-9). Solomon is to use this material when he begins construction of the Temple. However, prior to his taking up this task, while sacrificing to Yahweh at the Tabernacle of Moses located at Gibeon, Yahweh appears to Solomon in a dream at night. He says, “Ask what I shall give to you” (1 Kings 3:5 CV). Solomon replies, “Will You give to Your servant a hearkening heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil; for who can judge this burdensome people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9 CV). His request is pleasing in the eyes of Yahweh. It reveals Solomon’s righteous concern for the welfare of the people. Solomon is well aware of the “burdensome” character of this rebellious people. Yahweh declares He will give Solomon a wise and discerning heart. He adds, “Moreover, what you have not asked, I will give you: both riches and glory all your days, so that there will be no man like you among kings” (1 Kings 3:13 CV).

Yahweh faithfully keeps His word. Solomon is given a wise and discerning heart by which he judges Israel for 40 years. During his reign, he accumulates great wealth and glory: “As for Solomon, he came to be ruler over all the kingdoms from the Stream [the Euphrates River] as far as the land of the Philistines unto the boundary of Egypt; they brought close approach presents and were serving Solomon all the days of his life” (1 Kings 4:21 CV), thus, also fulfilling Yahweh’s promise to Abram recorded in Genesis 15:18, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (KJV).

Solomon builds the House for Yahweh. At its completion, the Ark of the Covenant is set in its proper place in the Holy of Holies of Yahweh’s House, the Temple Solomon has constructed in fulfillment of Yahweh’s word. This setting up of the Holy Place is accomplished by the Aaronic priests, thus, according to Yahweh’s instructions. As these priests exit the Holy Place, the glory of Yahweh which had earlier departed the Mosaic Tabernacle returns to fill the House of Yahweh: “It came to be when the priests came forth from the holy place, that the glory itself filled the House of Yahweh. . . . for the glory of Yahweh filled the House of Yahweh” (1 Kings 8:10-11 CV). Once again, Israel is restored to her covenantal relationship with Yahweh. The nation is given a fresh start to obey Yahweh’s Law. Yahweh is once again in the midst of His people. The glory of His presence has returned under the administration of Solomon. The Mosaic Law is restored under the righteous and wise rule of Solomon, son of David. Worship in the high places is terminated. All cultic worship henceforth takes place in the Temple in Jerusalem.

After the completion of the House of Yahweh and the house of King Solomon, Yahweh appears a second time to Solomon. He declares, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication with which you supplicated before Me. I have done for you according to all your prayer. I have sanctified this House that you have built by placing My Name there unto the eon; and My eyes and My heart will be there all the days” (1 Kings 9:3 CV). This is contingent upon Israel’s obeying Yahweh’s statutes and judgments. If Solomon or his sons should ever depart from Yahweh’s instructions and statutes and serve other elohim, “then I will cut Israel off the surface of the ground that I have given to them, and I shall cast out from My face this House that I have sanctified for My Name; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all the peoples. This House, it shall become rubbish heaps” (1 Kings 9:7-8a CV). Yahweh here reiterates the words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy, chapters 28-30.

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The Failure of Solomon

In spite of all Solomon’s advantages, he fails to honor Yahweh as his father David had honored Him. The decline and disintegration of Solomon and Israel is gradual. The “burdensome” character of the nation becomes the characteristic of Solomon. He begins by loving Yahweh and walking in His statutes. He requests and receives of Yahweh the wisdom to govern this difficult people. He builds the Temple and understands its significance for both Israel and the nations:

Behold, the heavens and the heavens of the heavens themselves cannot contain You; how much less, indeed, this House that I have built! . . . O that your eyes be open toward this House night and day, toward the place of which You promised: My Name shall be there, to hearken to the prayer that Your servant is praying toward this place. You will hearken to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; and You Yourself shall hearken from Your dwelling place from the heavens; and when You hearken, You will pardon. . . . And also to the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, he who came from a far country on account of Your Name—for they shall hear of Your great Name and Your steadfast hand and Your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this House, to him may You Yourself hearken from the heavens, the site of Your dwelling, and You will act according to all for which the foreigner calls to You; in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name so as to fear You as do Your own people Israel, and know that Your Name has been called over this House that I have built. (1 Kings 8:27-30, 41-43 CV)

But in his old age he turns aside from Yahweh. The inspired writer records, “As for king Solomon, he loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian and Hittite women, from the nations of which Yahweh had said to the sons of Israel, You shall not enter among them, and they shall not enter among you. Surely they will turn aside your heart after their elohim. To those women Solomon clung in love” (1 Kings 11:1-2 CV). Over time, in Solomon’s old age, his foreign wives turn his heart aside after other elohim: “and he was not as wholehearted with Yahweh his Elohim as his father David had been in his heart” (1 Kings 11:4b CV). Whereas Solomon should have clung in love only to Yahweh his Elohim according to the instructions of Moses, “Yet you who were clinging to Yahweh your Elohim, all of you are alive today” (Deut. 4:4 CV); “Now choose life that you may live, you and your seed, by loving Yahweh your Elohim, hearkening to His voice and clinging to Him . . .” (Deut. 30:19b-20a CV), he chose to cling in love to his foreign wives. This love for these women opened the gate which eventually would inundate Jerusalem and the land with idolatry.

As a result, Yahweh becomes angry with Solomon. For Solomon should have known better. He had been instructed personally by Yahweh “Who had appeared twice to him, and had instructed him in this matter, so as not to go after other elohim, . . .” (1 Kings 11:9b-10a CV). Instead, “Solomon went after Ashtoreth, elohim of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. Thus Solomon did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh and did not fully follow after Yahweh like his father David” (1 Kings 11:5-6 CV). He built high places for all his foreign wives. Upon these high places they offered sacrifices to their elohim, polluting Jerusalem and the land.

Thus, Solomon reintroduces cultic worship on high places, dishonoring the Name and Presence of Yahweh dwelling in the only sanctioned place of cultic worship, the Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon is not faithful to the end. His former righteousness is negated. He has shown himself ungrateful for the advantages and privileges granted him by Yahweh his Elohim. This tragic flaw, this hubris, due to excessive prosperity breeding arrogance, results in Solomon’s rejection by Yahweh and forfeiture of covenantal life and blessing. He falls under the judgment of Ezekiel 18:23-24:


Am I really delighting in the death of the wicked

        (averring is my Lord Ieue [Yahweh])

And not rather in his return from his evil way

        so that he will live?

Yet when the righteous turns back from

        his righteousness

And does iniquity according to all the abhorrences

        which the wicked does,

Shall he do so and live?

All his righteous acts which he did

        shall not be remembered;

In his offense with which he offends,

And in his sin which he sins,

In them shall he die. (CV)


Yahweh declares to Solomon,

Because this has occurred with you, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes that I enjoined on you, I shall tear, yea tear the kingdom away from your hand and will give it to your servant. However, I shall not do it in your days on account of your father David. I shall tear it away from the hand of your son. But I shall not tear away the entire kingdom; I shall give one tribe to your son on account of David My servant and on account of Jerusalem that I have chosen. (1 Kings 11:11-13 CV)

David had sinned against Yahweh, but had never worshiped other elohim in his heart. David loved and clung to Yahweh wholeheartedly from beginning to end. Thus, Yahweh remembers David and remains faithful to His covenant made with David. Solomon is not to be remembered. Yahweh’s covenant is not extended to Solomon. For David’s sake, Yahweh will not tear the kingdom from Solomon in his lifetime. He will tear it from the hand of Solomon’s son, but again, for the sake of David and Yahweh’s eonian covenant with David, one tribe will be given to Solomon’s son. The kingdom of Judah will remain and be acknowledged by Yahweh. For Yahweh’s presence will remain in the Temple in His chosen city Jerusalem. All cultic worship will take place only in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Yahweh then begins to raise up adversaries against Solomon. The united, exalted, blessed, and enlarged kingdom of Solomon begins to gradually degenerate. The “burdensome” people again turn away from Yahweh as Solomon fails to rule righteously in his old age. His failure to uphold the exclusive worship of Yahweh and to uphold His law in the administration of justice and mercy will culminate in the division of the kingdom and the worship and service of other elohim. A new era is about to begin. An era in which the divided nation will bear the burden of the prophetic cry of alarm, the era of Yahweh’s commissioning of the foreboding prophets. Yahweh’s patience and longsuffering will be incredibly tried for an extended period, during which He will compassionately, lovingly, mercifully seek to draw His people back to His covenantal blessings.