Exodus: You Can’t Go Home Again

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In the book of Exodus, the pharaoh finally relents.  He acknowledges that Yahweh has bested him and has powers he cannot match.  He tells Moses they can go.  The Hebrews, following instructions, leave — along with the treasures of their Egyptian neighbors.  Leviticus 18:24-30 tells us that THE LORD was ready to judge the Canaanites and give their land away to the Hebrews.  They set out for this land — the promise before them.

Exodus 12 numbers the crowd as 600,000 men plus women and children.  It was a mixed group; some historians say that the crowd contained not only the Hebrews, but others who had found themselves in Egypt:  Greeks, Nubians, prisoners of earlier wars, inter-mixed families of Hebrews and Egyptians.  All of them heading out to their new future.  This leaves Moses with the task of looking after the entire group — the children, the elderly, the infirm, injured and the sick.  They must look after their daily survival — how and what are they to eat?  What about their livestock?  What are they to drink?

Once they leave Egypt, they are crossing through local tribal lands in the wilderness.  Their food and water supplies are finite.  In the day it is scorching, at night it is cold.  They must be watchful for snakes, scorpions, gnats and mosquitoes.  But most disturbing to them — the new normal was sinking in.  They were no longer living under or able to rely upon Egyptians laws and rules.  After hundreds of years of living in a foreign culture they have forgotten their own.  Their task now is to forge a new identity, new rules and government and acquaint themselves again with THE LORD in order to receive the promise given to Abraham, a long distant ancestor of legend.  They must adopt new laws and learn to worship without temples and Egyptian rituals.  As the Bible stated:  it is a 3-day trek to Canaan but it took them 40 years.  Yahweh started out on the journey with them but soon decided he had to leave or he would kill them.  In his place he gave them the unquenchable fire to follow.  It is clear this task will take some time.

The complaining is loud:  why are we here?  Why did THE LORD bring us out here to die?  Egypt wasn’t so bad.  Really.  Yes, maybe they had complained about their lot in Egypt, but they didn’t know the alternative.  This was worse.  THE LORD sent quail and manna.  More complaints after the first burst of joy.  Clearly divine dining was boring.  Moses had a lot of work on his hands.  40 years worth of work.  But finally, they were ready to take possession of the land.

oasis at hazeroth*Invasion of Canaan & early conquests*

 When you read Deuteronomy 7:1-5 and 9:4-5, God is clear that the nations of Canaan are being judged and punished for their wickedness; Yahweh had decided to take what they had and give it to the Hebrews.  It was not because of Israel’s righteousness.  Read also Joshua 1:8-14 – Rahab’s testimony:  the Canaanites knew they were being judged by the Hebrew’s God and because of this, Rahab wanted to go over to the winning side.

The fortified walled cities in Canaan were Jericho > (abundant water sources here), Ai, Shechem, Jebus, Megiddo, Hazor etc.  It is too much to tell the complete story of invasion but understanding Jericho’s destruction explains the whole.  For further reading on the archaeological evidence of Jerica’s destruction see “The Walls of Jericho.

“Ancient Jericho is located at Tell es-Sultan, next to a copious spring on the western edge of the Jordan Valley, just north of the Dead Sea. The site’s excellent water supply and favorable climate (especially in winter) have made it a desirable place to live from the beginning of settled habitation. A Neolithic settlement at the site goes back to about 8000 B.C.E.,* thus giving Jericho the distinction of being the world’s oldest city. At 670 feet below sea level, it is also the lowest city in the world.

The site is strategically located. From Jericho one has access to the heartland of Canaan.1 Any military force attempting to penetrate the central hill country from the east would, by necessity, first have to capture Jericho. And that is exactly what the Bible (Joshua 3:16) says the Israelites did.

After wandering in the Sinai desert for 40 years, the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land from opposite Jericho. Before making the crossing, however, Joshua, the Israelite commander, dispatched two spies to reconnoiter the city. Narrowly escaping capture, the spies brought back valuable intelligence collected from Rahab, a harlot who lived within the city wall. Although the Jordan was in flood at the time the Israelites crossed, the waters were miraculously stopped and the Israelites were able to cross “on dry ground.” They then marched around the heavily fortified city daily for seven days. On the seventh day, to the blast of the ram’s horn, the walls came tumbling down. The Israelites rushed into the city and put it to the torch.”  EXCERPTED FROM Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence by Bryant G. Wood, Ph.D.

Destroying a major fortified city with its impressive walls and fortifications sends a message well in advance of other battles.  After a miracle crossing of the Jordan River, much like the crossing years earlier with Moses on dry land, to see a city whose massive walls collapse “outward” is an ominous sign just as Rahab foresaw.

Life for Canaanites has worsened. The region is older now and their culture and security have weakened.  In the larger picture, they are afflicted the constant threat of invasion from the Hittites, Mycenaean’s/Minoan Greeks, and the Mesopotamian powers.

God, over time watched Canaanite practices until his judgment fell upon them like the Egyptians.  Their carnal religious practices in worship including the worst, child sacrifice, offended him greatly and now they condemned for expulsion.

Back in Egypt, the Egyptians have now turned inward under Thutmose IV & his son Amenhotep III. After huge deposits of gold mines are found in Nubia/Cush/Sudan, the newest god-king Pharaoh will start a tremendous building program inside Egypt’s borders and deploy a non-violent diplomatic policy toward their old vassals & adversaries who crave good, peaceful relations with an Egypt bursting with gold. (Refer to Détente’ in the 70’s)

Canaan lies vulnerable to invasions as the old land now will have a new rising power in the people of Israel as testified by Rahab.

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