Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 12

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-6


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]” (Ephesians 6:12).

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” (Matthew 16:23). Peter lets himself be used as an instrument of satan.

The Kings of the Wilderness Side of the Jordan

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 (Joshua 12:24), 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 (Numbers 21:21-Habakkuk :) and their territories conquered and referred to as possessions (Joshua 12:6). 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 tribes 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 tribes, 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?

Verses 7-24

The Kings of the Land

It is said of the two and a half tribes that they have got their inheritance from Moses (Joshua 12:6). The nine and a half tribes get their property from Joshua. Each tribe has their 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” (2 Timothy 4:7), so that we will receive the reward of every victory (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:26Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:12Revelation 3:21).

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! (Psalms 105:44-Romans :). These thirty-one kingdoms or glories will be divided among nine and a half tribes.

First the sixteen kings in the south of Canaan are mentioned (Joshua 12:9-Nehemiah :), then the fifteen kings in the north of Canaan. In the previous chapters (Joshua 6-10), the conquest of the cities mentioned here (Joshua 12:9-1 Chronicles :) is described in detail. It indicates the nature of the battle. By the enumeration here we see the enmity that has been 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” (Psalms 136:17-Proverbs :).

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” (Psalms 136:21-Song of Solomon :).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Joshua 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/joshua-12.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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