The Promised Land: From Joshua to Judges (Journey the Word 5)

Joshua, one of the two spies with a good report about Canaan, challenged the Israelites to have courage, but the Israelites did not want to enter the Promised Land. About forty years later, Joshua stood on the outlying areas of the Promised Land, for God had given His People another chance at entering.

The Canaan conquest

Joshua 1-24

Joshua was Moses’ successor to lead the Israelites into Canaan. God promised to never leave him nor forsake him. God parted the Jordan river so the people could enter across dry land, which was similar to the Red Sea being parted for Moses and the Israelites as they left Egypt. The conquest for Canaan would begin with breaking down the walls of Jericho.

When Jericho fell, Rahab and her family were spared because of their faith and assistance to Israel. Soon, Joshua and his army would move through central Canaan. When they were near Shechem, which was between Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, Joshua and His People assembled to worship God. Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal, and the priests presented offerings to the Lord while Joshua would read the Law of Moses. Reading the Law reminds people of the Mosaic Covenant.

Soon, Joshua would conquer cities in southern Canaan, and have many victories in the north as well. The Israelites quickly settled in Canaan, and different territories they were able to annex throughout the land to specific tribes of Israel. Lastly, Joshua would bid farewell as he died at age 110 and buried in the Promised Land.

The Time of the Judges

Judges 1-21

Since Joshua died, the tribes were without a central leader, and even though the Lord was their King, they needed someone to rule the people on the earth. Now, the book of Judges notes there was much sin and deliverance. To rule the people, Judges were needed over the tribes.

Idolatry was rampant during this time, as people believed in different deities that ruled over many facets of life. Especially prominent was Baal and Ashtaroth during this era. The Israelites turned to these other gods, instead of our One True God. Therefore, God sent oppression because of Israel’s sins. During their time of desperation, they cried out to God, and eventually God raised up a leader to deliver Israel from the oppression.

The most notable judges included Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. Deborah helped lead Israel to defeat King Jabin, Gideon led extraordinary military victories, and Samson helped accomplish God’s purpose of breaking the dominance of the Philistines over Israel.

With the success of each judge, Israel had experienced times of peace; however, Israel eventually went back to idolatrous ways, which caused more wars and oppression.

We see this cycle happen to Israel in the book of Judges, which occurs throughout human history interestingly:

Sin and disobedience => Oppression => Repentance => Deliverance => Peace (and it restarts after this).

List of Judges

#JudgeYearsCaptivity/Servitude
1Othniel40The children of Ammon and Amalek served Eglon for 18 years.
2Ehud18none
3ShamgarN/Anone
4DeborahAbout 40Shortly after the 40 years of peace after her reign, the Israelites were allowed to be oppressed by the Midianites, Amalekites, and children of the East. God chose Gideon to free the people and condemn their idolatry.
5Gideon40none
6Abimelech3none
7Tolah23none
8Jair22none
9Jephthah18none
10Ibzan7none
11Elon10none
12Abdon8none
13Samson20none

Ruth’s story

The book of Ruth seems to be set during the latter part of the judges’ reign. The story begins with a famine, which caused Naomi and family to move from Bethlehem to Moab. Naomi’s husband and two sons died in Moab. Naomi needed to return to Bethlehem, and therefore, Ruth joined her.

While in Bethlehem, Ruth worked among the poor, and obtained leftovers in grain fields. Boaz heard of Ruth’s unwavering dedication to Naomi, and had compassion for Ruth. By the end, Boaz married Ruth, which was neat to see God’s Love shining through this story.

Timelines of events during Joshua and Judges

  • 1406 BC – Joshua succeeds Moses as Israel’s leader (Joshua 1).

  • Israelites spy the Promised Land, Rahab hid them (Joshua 2). Rahab was a hero of faith and righteousness (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

  • God parts the Jordan and lets the Israelites walk on dry land (Joshua 3-5).

  • Israelites march around Jericho for 7 days, and the walls fall down, and they conquer the city. Rahab and family are spared (Joshua 6).

  • Israel renews their covenant at Mounts Gerizim and Ebal (Joshua 8:30-35).

  • Gibeonites tricked Joshua into a peace treaty (Joshua 9).

  • Joshua divided the land among the Tribes of Israel (Joshua 13-22).

  • Israel renews the covenant and Joshua dies (Joshua 23-24).

  • 1300 BC – Israel forsook God. Soon, Othniel, Ehub, and Shamgar would be judges to lead Israel (Judges 1-3).

  • Deborah was a judge who partnered with Barak to defeat oppressors (Judges 4-5).

  • Gideon defeats the Midianites (Judges 6-8). Barak and Gideon are listed as heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

  • 1200 BC – Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon lead Israel (Judges 10-12). Samson fought the Philistines with incredible strength (Judges 13-16). Jephthah and Samson are heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

  • About 1100 BC – Idolatry, violence, and war happened among the Tribes of Israel (Judges 17-21). Ruth married Boaz and has a child that is the ancestor of King David (Ruth 1-4).

The redemption of the people from Egypt to the Wilderness (Journey the Word 4)

We see now in the journey that we travel to the exodus story, where God redeemed His People from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land. This was part of the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God wanted people to trust Him, and we will see the results of that.

Moses and the Exodus

Exodus 1-18

We see the book open up to the descendants of Jacob. God blessed them, but Egyptian rulers saw that success as a threat and were suspicious. To prevent further population growth, Pharaoh ordered every Hebrew newborn boy to be thrown in the the Nile. Moses was born around this time, and he was to be thrown in the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the river, and rescued and raised him. Moses would grow up a member of Pharaoh’s household.

Moses’ life would be unexpectedly interrupted when he was older, as he fled Egypt as a fugitive. He became a shepherd in Midian after this. God called to him in a burning bush, in which Moses was instructed to go back to Egypt to confront Pharaoh and demand he release God’s People. Therefore, Moses and Aaron (his brother) went back to Egypt to confront Pharaoh.

God sent nine terrible plagues upon Egypt, but after each, Pharaoh still refused to release God’s People. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart to prove He is God Alone. The tenth and final plague was the worst one, where the death of the firstborn sons occurred. Pharaoh had killed the newborn sons of Israel, so God wanted to lay to rest the newborn sons of Egypt. Only households with the blood of the perfect lamb across their door posts would be freed of this destruction. God’s Spirit came and took out the sons of Egypt. Finally, when Pharaoh’s own son died in this plague, Pharaoh relented to let God’s People leave.

From Egypt to Mount Sinai, we see God had continued to demonstrate His care for the people, as He guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Imagine that!). When they were pursued by the Egyptian army, God parted the sea miraculously for the Israelites to pass on dry ground, and then destroying Pharaoh’s army with the walls of water. God provided them with manna and quail for food, which was enough for each day they were there. After about three months of travel in the wilderness, God led them to Mount Sinai.

The Ten Plagues

PlagueDescription
Water to blood (Exodus 7:14-25)The Nile turned into blood.
Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15)Frogs invaded everywhere, and when they died, they let off foul odors across the land. Truly disgusting.
Gnats/Lice (Exodus 8:16-19)Dust turned into small insects like maybe gnats, lice, etc.
Flies/mosquitoes (Exodus 8:20-32)These were flying insects of some kind. Psalm 78:45 referenced that they may have fed on the Egyptian people.
Death of livestock (Exodus 9:1-7)A plague was sent on the Egyptian livestock in the fields. However, the Israelites’ livestock was unharmed.
Boils (Exodus 9:8-12)Boils appeared on both Egyptians and their animals. Egyptians priests and healers could not be of service for them.
Hail (Exodus 9:13-35)A hailstorm had struck Egyptian lands, and some of Pharaoh’s officials left his side to be with Moses and Aaron.
Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20)Locusts had eaten every plant that was not destroyed in the recent hailstorm. The officials pleaded with Pharaoh just to listen to Moses and Aaron.
Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)Intense darkness would descend upon the land for three total days (see a connection here?). It was so dark, it was described as palpable.
Death of the firstborn of Egyptians (Exodus 11:1-12:30)God’s Spirit would strike dead all of the firstborn males including Pharaoh’s son; however, those with the blood of the lamb on their door post would be spared (Passover).

Mount Sinai experience

Recorded in Exodus 19-40; Leviticus 1-27; Numbers 1-9

Moses alongside the Israelites spent two years camping at the foot of the Mount Sinai. At this mount, God called Moses up the mountain to meet with him, and Moses would become the mediator of the covenant between God and Israel. Moses represented Israel to God, and God to Israel. By Moses, God had given the Ten Commandments. Along with that, He gave the instructions for building the tabernacle and its furnishings, which included the Ark of the Covenant. Laws were given to govern people’s lives, worship, practices, priesthood, and society.

The Israelites needed to learn how to live with God in their midst, and observing the divine laws made it possible for sinful people to dwell with a Holy God. After two years in the desert of Sinai, Moses and the Israelites began the journey to the Promised Land, Canaan.

Wanderings in the wilderness

Numbers 10-36; Deuteronomy 1-34

The Israelites are continuing their journey through the wilderness “wandering”. Leaving lives of slavery in Egypt, these confident people journeyed to the Promised Land. Moses sent twelve spies to Canaan to explore the land. When the spies returned, they reported about not letting the Israelites go in, because it would be too dangerous. Caleb and Joshua urged the people to just trust in God and go anyway. Sadly, the people only listened to the ten spies who reported instead of Caleb and Joshua.

Soon, the Lord would declare to Moses that they would not be allowed in the Promised Land; therefore, the Israelites lived as nomadic as possible in the wilderness for forty years with many of them dying or growing very old. God miraculously fed them and gave them water along with victory over enemies. But also, judgment, plagues, and other consequences for sin came upon them. Once they repented, God healed and restored them.

Moses continued to urge them through the years to remain faithful to God and stay repentant, and to never forget the Lord. God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land due to sin; however, He gave Moses a view of the Promised Land from Mount Nebo just before Moses died.

The Ark of the Covenant chronology

  • 1446 BC – At Mount Sinai, Moses and the Israelites had built the ark and placed it in the tabernacle (Exodus 25; 40:1-33).

  • The Israelites took the ark with them and set up the tabernacle and ark at Shiloh (Numbers 4 and 10 and 14; Deuteronomy 10; Joshua 18:1).

  • 1406 BC – The priests carry the ark across the Jordan as the Israelites entered Canaan (Joshua 3 and 6).

  • The ark ends up in Bethel (Judges 20:26-27).

  • 1100 BC – During the time of Samuel, the ark is returned to Shiloh (1 Samuel 3:3).

  • Philistines captured the ark, but then are forced to return it (1 Samuel 4-6; 7:2).

  • The ark is taken to Kiriath Jearim, and stays for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:2).

  • Saul takes the ark in battle against the Philistines )1 Samuel 14:18).

  • 1004 BC – The ark remained in the house of Obed Edom for about three months (2 Samuel 6:10-11; 1 Chronicles 13:6).

  • King David brought the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1-15).

  • 960 BC – King Solomon built the temple and placed the ark in the Most Holy Place (1 Kings 8:1-9; 2 Chronicles 5:2-10).

  • 623 BC – During King Josiah’s reign, the ark was not in the temple, but once the book of the law was discovered, the ark was placed back in the temple.

  • Jeremiah prophesied that the ark of the covenant will not be a key in people’s minds anymore (Jeremiah 3:16).

  • 586 BC – Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and burned down the temple. The ark was likely destroyed or carried away into Babylon with other sacred items of the temple (2 Kings 25:13-17).

  • 516 BC – The exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, but the ark is unmentioned (Ezra 4:11-12; 6:15).

  • At the time of Jesus Christ, there is no ark in the temple. The last mention is in John’s vision of the temple of God in Heaven (Revelation 11:19).

Timeline of Biblical events from Egypt to the wilderness

  • 1800 BC – Jacob’s descendants live in Egypt for 430 years – some of that time was slavery (Exodus 1).

  • 1526 BC – Approximate date Moses is born (Exodus 2:1-10).

  • Moses fled to Midian. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush (Exodus 2-4).

  • Moses confronted Pharaoh in Egypt with Aaron (Exodus 5-6).

  • God sent 10 plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-12).

  • First Passover (Exodus 12:1-30).

  • 1446 BC – The Exodus – Israelites left Egypt (Exodus 12:31-42).

  • God led Israelites with pillars of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21-22).

  • God parts the Red Sea (Exodus 14).

  • God turned bitter water into drinking water (Exodus 15:22-27).

  • God provided the people with manna and quail (Exodus 16).

  • Moses struck a rock and water had flown (Exodus 17:1-7).

  • The Israelites defeated the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16).

  • Mosaic Covenant: God gave the Ten Commandments, law, and tabernacle instructions to Moses while at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-31). Just as the giving of the Law marked the beginning of Mosaic Covenant, the giving of the Holy Spirit to believers was the sign of the New Covenant initiated by Jesus Christ (Acts 2).

  • Aaron constructed the golden calf idol (Exodus 32).

  • The Tabernacle and the ark of the covenant are built (Exodus 35-40). (See above for the timeline of the tabernacle and ark’s journey.)

  • First census occurs (Numbers 1).

  • Instructions are given for holy living (Leviticus 1-27; Numbers 2-9).

  • 1444 BC – Israelites left Mount Sinai (Numbers 10).

  • God sent fire, quail, and then plague (Numbers 11).

  • Miriam was punished with leprosy, but then restored (Numbers 12).

  • Twelve spies explored Canaan, and then the Israelites refused to enter at their warning (Numbers 13-14).

  • Rebellion and death happened in the camp (Numbers 16). Instructions are given for Aaron, priests, and the Levites (Numbers 17-19).

  • Moses struck a rock instead of speaking to it, which was in disobedience to God (Numbers 20).

  • People were healed by looking up to a bronze snake (Numbers 21).

  • The Israelites had victories (Numbers 21); Israelites camped at Moab and received Balaam’s blessings (Numbers 22).

  • Second Census occurs (Numbers 26).

  • The Tribes of Israel instructions were given (Numbers 27-36).

  • 1406 BC – Moses viewed the Promised Land from Mount Nebo before dying at 120 (Deuteronomy 34:1-12).