Joshua
Introduction 1-6 The Kings of the Wilderness Side of the Jordan 7-24 The kings of the Land
Introduction

Joshua 12 mentions the kings defeated by Joshua and the Israelites. The kings are the captains of the hostile armies. The kings represent the evil powers in the heavenly places. These evil powers are the leaders in the spiritual struggle that is being waged against us and that we must fight. Therefore it says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]” (Eph 6:1212For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].).

If people want to do us harm, mock us for our faith or lie about us, we should first of all not look at those people, but at those evil powers. Thus the Lord Jesus says to Peter, if he wants to pull Him off the way of obedience to his Father: “Get behind Me, Satan” (Mt 16:2323But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”). Peter lets himself be used as an instrument of satan.


The Kings of the Wilderness Side of the Jordan

1Now these are the kings of the land whom the sons of Israel defeated, and whose land they possessed beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the valley of the Arnon as far as Mount Hermon, and all the Arabah to the east: 2Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, [and] ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, both the middle of the valley and half of Gilead, even as far as the brook Jabbok, the border of the sons of Ammon; 3and the Arabah as far as the Sea of Chinneroth toward the east, and as far as the sea of the Arabah, [even] the Salt Sea, eastward toward Beth-jeshimoth, and on the south, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah; 4and the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, 5and ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and half of Gilead, [as far as] the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. 6Moses the servant of the LORD and the sons of Israel defeated them; and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh as a possession.

The Holy Spirit not only gives us the victory over our enemies, from whom a list is given here, but also teaches us to know and understand the whole vastness of the land. We learn the distinction between what God gives and the enjoyment of it. After the battle we learn to know the extent and value of the blessings. During the battle, the Christian is not busy with a list of his victories. He must be busy with his purpose. But when the battle has been fought, he may look back to measure the vastness of the grace of God that has worked for him.

For encouragement, now comes a list of the conquered kings. This summing-up begins with the defeating of Sihon and Og. The total number of kings, thirty-one (verse 2424the king of Tirzah, one: in all, thirty-one kings.), does not include them. These two kings have ruled over territories that are not in the land; they are territories for which one did not have to go through the Jordan.

Yet these kings have been defeated (Num 21:21-3521Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying,22“Let me pass through your land. We will not turn off into field or vineyard; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the king’s highway until we have passed through your border.”23But Sihon would not permit Israel to pass through his border. So Sihon gathered all his people and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel.24Then Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon [was] Jazer.25Israel took all these cities and Israel lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all her villages.26For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon.27Therefore those who use proverbs say,
“Come to Heshbon! Let it be built!
So let the city of Sihon be established.
28“For a fire went forth from Heshbon,
A flame from the town of Sihon;
It devoured Ar of Moab,
The dominant heights of the Arnon.
29“Woe to you, O Moab!
You are ruined, O people of Chemosh!
He has given his sons as fugitives,
And his daughters into captivity,
To an Amorite king, Sihon.
30“But we have cast them down,
Heshbon is ruined as far as Dibon,
Then we have laid waste even to Nophah,
Which [reaches] to Medeba.”
31Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites.32Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who [were] there.33Then they turned and went up by the way of Bashan, and Og the king of Bashan went out with all his people, for battle at Edrei.34But the LORD said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.”35So they killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was no remnant left him; and they possessed his land.
) and their territories conquered and referred to as possessions (verse 66Moses the servant of the LORD and the sons of Israel defeated them; and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh as a possession.). They speak of our earthly blessings, not of our heavenly blessings. We should not despise them, they are a blessing, but they are not specifically Christian. Believers share earthly blessings with the people of the world. We can think of things like health, children, work. The distinction between the world and the believer is that the world does not thank God for it, while the believer does.

We can possess and enjoy earthly blessings in three ways:
1. as they are enjoyed in the kingdom of peace,
2. like Sihon and Og enjoy them and
3. like Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh enjoy them.

In Ezekiel 48 it is written how the people possess the wilderness side of the Jordan in the kingdom of peace. There the land is divided into strips from north to south and each tribe gets one strip. Each tribe gets a large part in the land and a small part in the wilderness side of the Jordan. As far as we are concerned, God wants us not to possess most of our blessings in the land, but to possess all our blessings in the land.

Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh represent Christians to whom the earthly victories suffice. All the blessing for them consists of the earthly blessings. They don’t think of the heavenly ones. The two and a half tribe have no part in the land. Unfortunately, this applies to many Christians. They rejoice about the earthly blessings. They thank warmly for their food and drink and prosperity, and that is good. However, they do not know their true blessings and do not thank God for them, which is a pity, because God desires precisely that.

Unlike the two and a half tribe, Sihon and Og have done everything only for themselves, in pride. With them there is no thought of God, no feeling of gratitude. Why should they. They have considered their possessions as the result or merit of their own effort. Why should you thank God for what you have earned yourself?


The kings of the Land

7Now these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the sons of Israel defeated beyond the Jordan toward the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even as far as Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir; and Joshua gave it to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions, 8in the hill country, in the lowland, in the Arabah, on the slopes, and in the wilderness, and in the Negev; the Hittite, the Amorite and the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite: 9the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; 10the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; 11the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; 12the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; 13the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; 14the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; 15the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; 16the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; 17the king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; 18the king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; 19the king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; 20the king of Shimron-meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; 21the king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; 22the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one; 23the king of Dor in the heights of Dor, one; the king of Goiim in Gilgal, one; 24the king of Tirzah, one: in all, thirty-one kings.

It is said of the two and a half tribe that they have got their inheritance from Moses (verse 66Moses the servant of the LORD and the sons of Israel defeated them; and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh as a possession.). The nine and a half tribe get their property from Joshua. Each tribe has an own task, where one complements the other.

It is encouraging that the LORD Himself gives this list. It shows that He does not forget any victory we have achieved in His power. Each individual victory is noted, as we see in the recurring “one”. It should encourage us to fight “the good fight” (2Tim 4:77I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;), so that we will receive the reward of every victory (Rev 2:7,11,17,267He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give [some] of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’26He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations;; 3:5,12,215He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.12He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.21He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.).

The list shows how good God is to Israel by giving them the victory over all these kings and the possession of all their kingdoms. God “gave them also the lands of the nations, That they might take possession of [the fruit of] the peoples’ labor, So that they might keep His statutes And observe His laws, Praise the LORD! (Psa 105:44-4544He gave them also the lands of the nations,
That they might take possession of [the fruit of] the peoples’ labor,
45So that they might keep His statutes
And observe His laws,
Praise the LORD!
). These thirty-one kingdoms or glories will be divided among nine and a half tribe.

First the sixteen kings in the south of Canaan are mentioned (verses 9-169the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;10the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;11the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;12the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;13the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;14the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;15the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;16the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;), then the fifteen kings in the north of Canaan. In the previous chapters (Joshua 6-10), the conquest of the cities mentioned here (verses 9-139the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;10the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;11the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;12the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;13the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;) is described in detail. It indicates the nature of the battle. By the enumeration here we see the enmity that has housed in every kingdom.

The defeat of all the kings is reason to sing the praises about the lovingkindness of the LORD in Psalm 136:
“To Him who smote great kings,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And slew mighty kings,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And Og, king of Bashan,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psa 136:17-2017To Him who smote great kings,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
18And slew mighty kings,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
19Sihon, king of the Amorites,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
20And Og, king of Bashan,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
).

We read further in Psalm 136 that there were great and mighty kings among them. The greater and more violent the hostile king, the greater is the proof of God’s lovingkindness in defeating and killing that king. The land of the conquered kings He has given His people as inheritance. That too is reason to sing the praise of the LORD’s lovingkindness:
“And gave their land as a heritage,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
Even a heritage to Israel His servant,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psa 136:21-2221And gave their land as a heritage,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
22Even a heritage to Israel His servant,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
).


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