Tag Archives: Joshua

The Oak of Joshua

Quercus calliprinos (2)Read Joshua chapter 24, particularly verses 25 and 26.

God gave Joshua leadership of the Israelites on the west side of the Jordan River (1406 BC).  He was from the tribe of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph. Joshua was their military commander as the Israelites conquered all the land that the Lord swore to give their forefathers (Joshua 21: 43). Joshua administered the division of the land on both sides of the Jordan to the 12 tribes of Israel. He asked for only one town in the division of land. That town was Timnath Serah, located in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash (Genesis 19:50; 24:30). Joshua died when he was 110 years old and was buried at Timnath Serah (Genesis 24:29). To ancient peoples particularly the Egyptians, 110 years was considered an ideal life span.

Near the end of his life, Joshua assembled the elders, leaders, judges, and officials of the tribes of Israel at Shechem (Joshua chapter 24). Joshua reviewed for the assembly how God a) led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, b) was with them in the wilderness of Sinai, c) delivered them out of the hand of the Amorite king Balik, d) and gave them victory over their enemies in the Promised Land. Then, Joshua asked the assembly to choose which god they would serve. Would they serve the gods of their forefathers beyond the river or the gods of the land in which they were living or would they serve the Lord? Joshua ended his inquiry with the words that many Christians have memorized or have as mottos in their homes, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Firmly, the assembled Israelites averred to Joshua that they “will serve the Lord our God and obey him” (Joshua 24:24). In response Joshua made a covenant for the Israelites at Shechem. The covenant consisted of a pledge the Israelites made to serve God and follow his decrees and laws. Joshua recorded the Israelite’s pledges and God’s laws and decrees in a book called “The Book of the Law of God.” Then, Joshua took a large stone and set it up under an oak tree and told the assembly, “See this stone… will be witness against you if you are untrue to God” (Joshua 24:26-27).

The Palestinian Oak Tree

Quercus calliprinos with Bruce

The tree associated with Joshua is the Palestine oak (Quercus calliprinos) also called the Kermes Oak. Quercus calliprinos is the most common tree found in the wildlife of Israel. A Palestinian oak near Hebron, called Abraham’s Oak, is thought to be 850 + years old.  At one time in Israel, oaks were an important source of hard wood. Oak trunks and branches were used to build ships and make shanks for plough, yoke for oxen, and canes for elderly. In times of famine, acorns were roasted and eaten by the very poor. Oak trees were and are a source of tannin, a substance used for tanning hides and leather.

Symbolism: Providence

In the Bible, oaks were associated with strength and long life. At times, oak groves were places were pagan gods were worshiped (Ezekiel 6:3). The Hebrew name for oak is derived from the word “providence” meaning divine guidance.  Providence is an attribute of God and frequently associated with God’s ability to see ahead. For Jewish people, providence meant that God directed every detail of creation including the life of the Jewish nation and the lives of individual Jews. God expected that Jewish leaders would consult him before they acted. II Kings 16:15 reads that Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord’s decrees and laws and consulted a medium for guidance rather than God.

Providence is the opposite of “chance,” “fortune,” or “luck.” Christians believe in God’s special providence and his extraordinary interventions into their lives. Blessings provided by others to Christians, e.g., the church, government, employer and families, are directed by God and provided only thorough him. God’s divine guidance directs Christian’s selection of vocation and participation in activities, e.g., church activities. As such, Christians shouldn’t evaluate one job, vocation, or role in the church more or less important than another. Rather, Christians acknowledge God’s divine foresight and guidance in the development of diverse skills and talents both in themselves and in the body of Christ.

Thought: Isn’t it amazing that our Abba, or Daddy, who calls each star in the universe by name, also calls each one of us by name? God cares about us to the extent that he knows the number of hairs on each of our heads (Matthew 10:30). To God, nothing is large or small.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: June, 2014, Carolyn A. Roth

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Joshua & the Henbane

Hyoscyamus aureus

Read Joshua chapter 15.

While in Israel and Jordan, I became aware of the number of regions and cities that were named after plants. As a result, I am adding an additional plant – the golden henbane to the list of Plants and the Promised Land.  The Hebrew word for henbane is shikkeron (or less often shikrona).  Shikkeron is identified in the Bible only in the book of Joshua (Joshua 15:11).

The distribution of the Promised Land on the west side of the Jordan was determined by lot. The tribe of Judah received the first allocation of land. The size of each tribe’s territory was according to the tribe’s population. The largest tribe among the 12 tribes of Israel, Judah numbered over 76,000 warriors. God set the boundaries for the Promised Land lands that each tribe was to conquer and retain.

When Joshua described the borders of Judah, the detailed description of the northern border (Joshua 14:5 -11), included that it “went to the northern slope of Ekron, turned toward (or bent around) to Shikkeron, passed along to Mount Baalah and reached Jabneel.” The northern boundary ended at the Mediterranean Sea on the east.  Shikkeron was not identified as one of the towns or cities that Judah was to occupy (Judah 15: 20 – 63); consequently, it may have been a small village or an identifiable site rather than a town.  A map of Judah showed that Shikkeron was located on an arc that connected two hills (Ekron and Baalah) which were about 6 – 8 miles apart.

God wanted Shikkeron to be part of Judah rather than the tribe of Dan which was allocated land on the northwest border of Judah (Joshua 19:40–48). The Books of Joshua and Judges revealed that the Danites had difficulty taking possession of their territory from the Amorites (Joshua 19:47; Judges 1: 34). Eventually, many Danites abandoned their assigned land northwest of Judah. They moved to the far northern portion of Canaan near the tributaries of the Jordan River (Judges Chapter 18).  There they rapidly turned to idolatry. Overall it was better for Shikkeron to belong to Judah than to Dan. Judah maintained itself as an intact kingdom for  approximate 900 years.

Golden Henbane

Five species of Hyoscyamus grow in Israel; however, the Shikkeron sited in Joshua 15:11 referred to Hyoscyamus aureus, known as yellow or golden henbane.  Henbane is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean regions of Asia Minor. Henbane is wide-spread in Israel. When we were in Jerusalem, we saw clumps of henbane growing out from between stone cracks on the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem. Henbane is a non-woody perennial that can grow 2 – 3 feet tall.  Both stems and leaves are gray-green and covered with sticky hairs. Flowers are yellow with a darker (almost black) throat). Henbane self-sows and can be grown in uncultivated areas of a garden. When propagating, sow seeds as soon as they are ripe as henbane seeds lose their viability rapidly. Maturing henbane produce a long taproot; consequently established plants do not respond well to attempts to move them from place to place.

Symbolism: Obedience

Although the Book of Joshua detailed (chapters 13 – 21) tribal boundaries and identified towns within each boundary, today it is almost impossible to trace the exact boundaries of tribal lands. Many of us who read Joshua just skim these chapters, asking why this degree of detail was included in a book as important as the Bible.  I think God was giving His people an example of obedience when He said that mighty Judah should occupy and retain a site as small as Shikkeron.  If Judah was obedient to God in the small details, likely Judah would be obedient in larger activities.

God expects obedience from His people. When Joshua became leader of the Israelites, God told him to a) be strong and courageous and b) to obey all the laws that Moses gave to Joshua (Joshua 1: 7). In turn, Joshua told the Israelites to obey God, to walk in His ways, and to serve Him (Joshua 22:5). As I read the descriptions (Joshua, Judges, and Ruth) of the Israelites conquering and occupying the Promised Land, one fact was clear: obedience was central to Israel’s success.  When the Israelites disregarded and disobeyed God’s commandments and laws, their enemies overcame them. The result was destruction in Israelite lands and loss of Israelite lives.

Obedience is not an ancient Israelite concept that today’s Christian can ignore. There are about 124 verses in the New International Version Study Bible (2002) that contain the word obey or one of its derivatives. These verses are divided almost equally between the Old (n = 61) and New (N = 63) Testaments.  In the New Testament Christ told his followers that if they want to enter life, they need to obey the commandments (Matthew 19:17) and “if anyone loves me (Christ) he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23).

Thought:  God’s people are called to obey His Word; but, surely we get a pass for disobeying specifics of God’s Word when we don’t know them.  I mean, well, gosh, I can’t know everything, can I? Whose fault is it if I don’t know what God wants me to do?  Shouldn’t the preacher — or even my parents –have told me how to do things right? It’s not my fault……..is it?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright June 11, 2011, Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.

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Joshua and an Oak Tree

Quercus calliprinos with BruceRead Joshua chapter 24, particularly verses 25 and 26.

Joshua is the first individual who is described under Plants and the Promised Land. Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph. God gave Joshua leadership of the Israelites on the west side of the Jordan River (1406 B.C.). He was their military commander as the Israelites conquered all the land that the Lord swore to give their forefathers (Joshua 21: 43). Joshua administered the division of the land on both sides of the Jordan to the 12 tribes of Israel. Joshua asked for only one town in the division of land. That town was Timnath Serah, located in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash (Genesis 19:50; 24:30). Joshua died when he was 110 years old and was buried at Timnath Serah (Genesis 24:29). To ancient peoples particularly the Egyptians, 110 years was considered an ideal life span (Genesis 50:26 study note, NIV Study Bible, 2002)

Near the end of his life, Joshua assembled the elders, leaders, judges, and officials of the tribes of Israel at Shechem (Joshua chapter 24). Joshua reviewed for the assembly how God a) lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, b) was with them in the wilderness of Sinai, c) delivered them out of the hand of the Amorite king Balik, d) and gave them victory over their enemies in the Promised Land. Then, Joshua asked the Israelite assembly to choose which god they would serve. Would they serve the gods of their forefathers beyond the river or the gods of the land in which they were living or would they serve the Lord? Joshua ended his inquiry with the words that many Christians have memorized or have as mottos in their home, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Firmly, the assembled Israelites averred to Joshua that they “will serve the Lord our God and obey him” (Joshua 24:24). In response Joshua made a covenant for the Israelites at Shechem. The covenant consisted of a pledge the Israelites made to serve God and follow his decrees and laws. Joshua recorded the Israelite’s pledges and God’s laws and decrees in a book called “The Book of the Law of God.” Then, Joshua took a large stone and set it up under an oak tree and told the assembly, “See this stone… will be witness against you if you are untrue to God” (Joshua 24:26-27).

The Palestinian Oak Tree

The tree associated with Joshua is the Palestine oak (Quercus calliprinos) also called the Kermes Oak. Some Bibles  translated oak as terebinth; however, the oak is a distinctly different tree from the terebinth. The Hebrew word used to identify the tree in Joshua 24:26 is allâh , translated as oak. Quercus calliprinos is the most common tree found in the wildlife of Israel. A Palestinian oaknear Hebron, called Abraham’s Oak, is thought to be 850 + years old.  At one time in Israel, oaks were an important source of hard wood. Oak trunks and branches were used to build ships and make shanks for plows, yoke for oxen, and canes for elderly. In times of famine, acorns were roasted and eaten by the very poor. Oak trees were and are a source of tannin, a substance used for tanning hides and leather.

Symbolism: Providence

In the Bible, oaks were associated with strength and long life. At times, oak groves were places were pagan gods were worshiped (Ezekiel 6:3). The Hebrew name for oak is derived from the word providence meaning divine guidance.  Providence is an attribute of God and frequently associated with God’s ability to see ahead. For Jewish people, Providence meant that God directed every detail of creation including the life of the Jewish nation and the lives of individual Jews. God expected that Jewish leaders would consult him before they acted. II Kings 16:15 reads that Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord’s decrees and laws and consulted a medium for guidance rather than God.

Providence is the opposite of “chance,” “fortune,” or “luck.” Christians believe in God’s special Providences and his extraordinary interventions into their lives. Blessings provided by others to Christians, e.g., the church, government, employer and families, are directed by God and provided only thorough him. God’s divine guidance directs Christian’s selection of vocation and participation in activities, e.g., church activities. As such, Christians should not esteem one vocation or one role in the church more or less important than another. Rather, Christians acknowledge God’s divine foresight and guidance in the development of diverse skills and talents both in themselves and in the body of Christ.

Thought: Isn’t it amazing that our Abba, or Daddy, who calls each star in the universe by name, also calls each one of us by name? God cares about us to the extent that he knows the number of hairs on each of our heads (Matthew 10:30). To God, nothing is large or small.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright May 9, 2011, Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.

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