Day 362 (Dec. 28): 144,000 Israelites get seal of God, a crowd comes who survived the great tribulation and serve God, breaking seventh seal causes earthquake, angels blowing trumpets set off destruction on earth, fifth trumpet brings stinging locusts for five months, sixth trumpet blown releases angels who kill one-third of all people, the mighty angel with small scroll says to keep a secret and ate it, scroll was sweet but became sour in stomach

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Revelation 7-10:11

Questions & Observations

Q. So, this is all still John’s vision?  Why is this so crazy compared to everything we have read before … except for some of those wild monsters we read about in the OT.

A. This is John’s vision, but it is written in a particular type of genre of writing called apocalyptic.  It would have been a commonly used form for writing in this era, but since the Bible does not contain much of this type of literature (though parts of Zechariah, as we read yesterday, and Daniel 7-12 are examples we do have from the OT.  Note how similar the visions in the second half of Daniel are to what we are reading).

Apocalyptic literature hit its “peak” in the intertestament period, when Jewish oppression drove writers to create visions of God avenging their deaths at the hands of cruel pagans.  John, a Jew, is very familiar with this type of literature.  The key characteristics of this type of writing are vivid use of symbols, animals, numbers, and colors; but it is also characterized by its contrast to what we would call prophetic writing.  In prophetic writing (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, etc.), the situation is dire, but it is not too late for the people to repent — the common call of the prophet.  But this is not the case in apocalyptic literature: it IS too late in this case to repent, God Himself must intervene to avenge what has been done to His faithful children, something we see over and over again.  The wrath that is being poured out in these visions is to avenge those who have suffered at the hands of the unjust — something Christians had heavily experienced during the era of the Roman Emperors Nero and Domitian.

Q. (Revelation 7:1-8): Where does the 144,000 come from?  Are these Israelites alive or passed?

A. I’m going to assume you mean what is significant about it, because to me, the math is not in question (12 tribes, 12,000 sealed from each tribe).  There are numerous theories about it: some say it is a symbolic number.  One scholar I read noted that the number signifies completeness in two ways: by squaring the number of tribes (12×12) and multiplied by 1,000, which would have been understood to the original hearers as a sign of completeness.  Others view it as a literal number of Jews saved (Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that ONLY 144,000 PEOPLE will be saved in total!)  But there is not a lot of consensus.  I tend to see it as a symbolic number, since it is from a book that deals in symbolic numbers, not literal headcounts.  As to whether these Jews are alive or dead, that questions is impossible to answer, and is irrelevant anyway: they have completed their trial, so there is no longer a distinction between alive and dead- all are alive in Christ.

Q. (Revelation 7:14): Does the “crowd” refer to the rest of us — non-Israelites?  I thought Israelites were put on a level playing field with everyone else.  What is the great tribulation?

A. The common understanding is that the Jewish group is first seen by John as being a subsection of the great multitude, so that removes any notion of being the “special” section of the saved.  The Jews are still God’s chosen people, and His plan of salvation for the entire world had its origins with them.  But salvation is now for everyone.  The crowd is the survivors of the great tribulation, which the rest of the book will be showing to us.  Symbolically, this does describe all Christians from every nation and people, who ALL must pass through some form of trial and tribulation, either great or small.  That’s the way that I read what John has written here: it is a victory celebration for those, Jew and Gentile throughout all time, have come to salvation in Christ.

Q. (Revelation 8:6-13): Why is the significance of the star’s name — Bitterness?  How about the eagle?

A. The star has a few interpretations.  Those who hold to a more literal, “this represents this” interpretation argue that the language of Rev. 8 represents events of great leaders who have fallen (a “falling star”) in the history of our world.  I, frankly, don’t buy that, because there is no indication that this is what John means, and it requires too much pure speculation about who this is.  I think that takes too much away from what John is doing — writing symbolically — in this work.  I believe that the name, which refers to a type of plant, represents the coming bitterness that will befall the inhabitants of the earth in the midst of the coming tribulation.  The eagle is sometimes seen as a symbol of pending destruction, as in Deuteronomy 28:49, Jeremiah 4:13, and Hosea 8:1 — note that in Jeremiah the warning is followed by a declaration of “woe to us” and in Hosea there are trumpets that precede the warning.

Q. (Revelation 9:1-12): Ouch.  I don’t want to be in that crowd.  Locusts are a popular pest in the Bible.  Who is the Destroyer?

A. Most likely a symbolic personification of destruction, though some think that there is a powerful demon, a fallen angel, who is lord of the Abyss.

Q. (Revelation 9:13-21): Horses are popular in Revelation.  And, colors are pointed out when they are mentioned — here, the riders.  Why all the mutations of animals?  These visions can’t be actual — like back with Joseph’s visions when the wheat symbolized his brothers.

A. Yes, they are visions.  Horses are powerful symbols in this story because at the time, a warhorse would have been the most powerful weapon of war in existence.  They symbolized power, control, and conquest, and to a certain degree, they still do today.  Other animals — including some non-real ones coming up — are used because they often carry with them double meanings, the same reason that various colors are used.  The images of wild beasts and vivid colors drive our imagination, exactly as John desires.

Q. (Revelation 10:1-11): Is the mighty angel Jesus?  Can you point us back to the scripture that v.7 talks about when God revealed His plan to the prophets?  And, what is being symbolized when John ate the small scroll and it tasted sweet and then bitter?

A. No, Jesus is NEVER referred to as an angel.  It most likely refers to an archangel, one of the “high” classes of angels.  There is no Scripture that tells the exact spot where God revealed His plan to the prophets: it simply didn’t work that way.  God revealed pieces of His vision to the various men and women who were faithful to Him in the OT, and those visions, put together, and viewed through the “lens” of Jesus’ earthly ministry, gives us the vision for God’s plan.  The sweet/bitter of the scroll harkens back to Ezekiel, who was also ordered to consume a bitter message.  The sweetness is the inevitability of God’s victory, the good news.  The bitterness/sour is that this victory will involve the suffering of many or the bad news.  John must proclaim both messages, telling of Christ’s victory will be sweet, telling of suffering and persecution will be painful.

Day 249 (Sept. 6): The ‘man’ shows Ezekiel the life in the river that flows from the Temple to the Dead Sea, land boundaries for tribes, tribes’ division of land, special allotment for Temple, public use are for gardens, homes and pastures, new city’s name is “The Lord is There,” God to reward Nebuchadnezzar and his army for their hard work defeating Tyre, proud Egypt and her allies will be destroyed, new Babylonian King Evilmerodach is kind to exiled King Jehoichin

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Ezekiel 47-48:35

Ezekiel 29:17-21

Ezekiel 30:1-19

2 Kings 25:27-30

Jeremiah 52:31-34

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 47:1-12): I assume that the river symbolizes God and from Him, comes life?

A. You got it.  Even the Dead Sea, a symbol of death if ever there was one, comes alive by God’s power.  I see this as another instance of resurrection imagery in this story: God can even bring dead seas back to life.

Q. (Ezekiel 47:21-23): Aren’t the Israelites still in Canaan?  Why don’t they just use the same distribution of territory that they had before the destruction of Israel and Judah?

A. I honestly don’t have a good answer for that, but it probably comes from God’s desire to do something new.

Q. (2 Kings 25:27): What happened to Nebuchadnezzar?

A. As we read in Daniel (Babylonian historians don’t mention the years in question for Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, which could imply the loss of his sanity as the Bible suggests), he loses his mind, but is restored according to the story.  He is not mentioned in the Bible again.

Day 245 (Sept. 2): Tribes east of Jordan, Aaron’s descendants, descendants of Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Asher, Benjamin

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Chronicles 5:18-26

1 Chronicles 6:3

1 Chronicles 6:49

1 Chronicles 6:4-15

1 Chronicles 7:1-40

1 Chronicles 8:1-28

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Chronicles 5:26): On a “free will” argument note.  It bugs me a little bit that God empowers enemy leaders to overtake Israel as punishment.  But, I’m starting to understand.  He is just “setting the bar” to show the Israelites (and I would think us too) how to have a good, fulfilling life — whether it’s all filled with glory or not just depends on the surrounding circumstances — and then a ticket to live with Him.  If we CHOOSE not to accept the rules — which are made for our betterment — then there will be major consequences, either immediate or in the future, but they are certain.  So, no matter if He goes against His people, He is watching over them like we do as parents.  If they make mistakes, they need to be punished so they will know right from wrong and that only bad comes from evil choices.  So, the fact that God gave the Assyrian king no choice in His actions, the king had already made bad choices.  By God empowering him too gives the king a chance to see His might and possibly change His loyalties.

A. I think you’ve touched on a pretty clear understanding of the issues at play here.  God gave the people many (many, many, many) chances to repent of their sin, even over many generations, but they would not yield to Him.  Back in Exodus, God’s solution to this problem was to basically let the older generation die in the dessert and start over with their children.  The solution is not unlike what He is doing here: it is the children and grandchildren of the unfaithful nation that will return to the Promised Land and reestablish the nation that was last for many more generations.  Don’t lose sight of the endgame at work here as well: God has setup the nation of Israel to “give birth” if you will to His chosen Messiah.  It is through God’s chosen one that He will bring about the redemption of the entire world, not merely His chosen children.  So when we consider free will decisions and following God, we must always have in mind that God has a plan of His own, and He will carry it out.  Whether we are able to participate in His plan comes down to a matter of obedience.

Q. Is there any significance in the rest of the listings of the tribes and their ancestral clans?  Is this just to trace ancestral lines and see where they settled?

A. The Chronicler is telling the story of his people, even the ones that have been lost along the way.  That is why all tribes are included.

Day 244 (Sept. 1): God sends a once-glorious Egypt to it’s grave alongside others destroyed by God’s sword, God charges Ezekiel to be Israel’s watchman, 4,700 captives in Babylon, descendants of Simeon, descendants of Reuben, descendants of Gad

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Ezekiel 32:17-33:20

Jeremiah 52:28-30

Psalm 137

1 Chronicles 4:24-43

1 Chronicles 5:1-17

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 32:18): The pit just means the grave?  I get more and more feelings like God is talking about hell.  As a child, I pictured heaven and hell so vividly that I keep looking for references to them.

A. Patience.  Visions of heaven and hell come from the NT, not the Old (a point of contention between Christians and Jews- many Jews do not believe in hell).  Terms like “pit” and “Sheol” refer to the realm of the dead.  Which leads me to…

Q. (32:27a): I have seen tons footnotes that say “Sheol” for grave or pit.  What does that mean?

A. In contrast to the more what we might call “familiar” versions of the afterlife — basically, heaven and hell — Jewish thought at this time would appear to point towards a lack of an afterlife as we would recognize it anyway.  The closest comparison I can give you is that realm of Hades from Greek mythos.  It was the realm of the dead, but it was not a place of punishment.  This goes a long way in examining the way that God has addressed judgment in the OT books we have read: the reward of righteous living at this point is long temporal life, and the punishment is an early death: eternal consequences are not yet coming into play.  But for reasons that are not entirely clear (there’s debate about the origins of afterlife thought in this era for Jews), in the later writings and especially among the Prophets, we see a thread of new awareness and emphasis on the afterlife and resurrection enter into Jewish thinking.  This is an ongoing issue, and it was not even settled by the time of the NT.  We will see this issue come up in the Gospels, for obvious reasons.  So the Jewish understanding of the afterlife at this time is that death is a place of rest where everyone is destined to go, this is what we call Sheol.  But that idea is changing, and will continue to evolve over the next few hundred years.

Q. (33:1-9): Why does God put such heavy responsibilities — burdens — on Ezekiel?

A. Honestly, this isn’t a new burden of Ezekiel.  We saw God put this burden on him back in chapter 3.  His call was to declare God’s word faithfully, and allow the people to decide if they would repent or not.  Now if you are asking why did God make this burden his to begin with, I don’t have a great answer to that.  God calls many people to many different paths, including many that are lined with suffering and difficulty.  But our job is not to decide if we are being treated “fairly,” but instead to decide if we are willing to submit to God’s desires, as we understand them, or not.

O. (33:10-20): This passage comes into play in two different stories, one personal.  My neighbor’s father died a year or so ago.  Her father got married not long before he died.  In fact, I think it was a known fact that he didn’t have long to live.  His new wife was a “black widow.”  She didn’t kill him, but my neighbor’s dad isn’t the first of her victims.  She finds men who are terminally ill and has them sign over wills, life insurance policies, etc. to them before they die.  My neighbor said that she hopes she will get what’s coming to her, but maybe it won’t be on earth. She said her stepmother has angels all over her house.  Whether she things she is holy or the angels will protect her.  It appears she lives in fear.  I can only pray that the smiling angelic statues may prompt her to seek a more peaceful life with the Lord.

My other story is from a little over a year ago.  We moved and I sold a really nice swingset to my good friend for about one-third of what it cost us.  My husband was in the process of staining it and cleaning it up.  There was a black growth, like mildew, on the rungs and slides.  I told her that we would work on it and it would look a lot better.  Well, if you have ever moved, you know how everything happens in the last 48 hours.  We didn’t get the swing set the way I thought it should be — not to mention it was going to an very upscale neighborhood — the playset movers came and it left with black-marked rungs and a slide and a little staining that was not finished.  I felt bad and told her I would try to get over there to finish cleaning it.  That didn’t happen, so we paid the playset movers to finish staining it (they did this for a living).  Needless to say, according to my friend, they didn’t do a good job and she wasn’t happy with them.  But, I’m sure she was upset with me to because it wasn’t how I promised it.  My husband said that I shouldn’t worry about it.  It’s a used set and she got a good deal.  So, I used that rationale to try to get rid of the guilt I had.  It momentarily worked, painting over the shame.  But, I figured out it was just a fog that settled.  Now that God has blessed my husband with more work, I want to take that money and start looking on Craig’s List for some furniture that we “need” and a used swingset.  But, then, I read this and think that I still owe my friend an apology — which I’ve done in writing — in the form of cash.  I won’t feel right until that happens.  As long as I have shame in my heart, that feels like sin and it doesn’t feel good.  I refer to this scripture because it says that if righteous people do what’s wrong, they will die.  I don’t think I’ll die from this, but it would be a sin to buy something for myself when I have not righted my friend.

Q. (1 Chronicles 4:24-43, 5:1-10): Anything we should take note of in these genealogical lists?  Why is Simeon listed first?

A. There is nothing particularly important as I read it.  Chronicles puts an emphasis on the tribe of Judah as its leader, and tells the history of Israel from their perspective (being the tribe of the kings).  Technically, we’ve already read that Judah is “first” in this listing — we read their lineage several months ago, but the exact date escapes me.  Simeon (the second of Jacob’s sons, Reuben was first, Judah third) is listed “first” in this section because his tribe settled within Judah’s land as part of their inheritance, and as such, the tribes apparently became fairly intertwined such that it became difficult to tell one’s story without the other.  After listing the group that was “closest” with Judah, the Chronicler moves back into birth order with Reuben.

Day 223 (Aug. 11): God’s destruction of Ammon, terror in Edom, fear in Damascus, Nebuchadnezzar sets sites on Kedar and Hazor, Jehoiachin reigns after Jeoiakim dies, Reign of David’s descendants ends with Jehoiachin, God tells of righteous descendant coming, Lord gives warning against false prophets

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Jeremiah 49:1-33

2 Kings 24:5-7 / 597 BC

2 Chronicles 36:6-8

2 Kings 24:8-9

2 Chronicles 36:9

Jeremiah 22:24-23:32

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 49:1-33): What are we supposed to take from this scripture other than God is cleansing the earth?  I can see why he chose a flood the first time.  I think it would be easier and a lot less to orchestrate, but, probably harder to rebuild.  And, do we know why God chose Nebuchadnezzar to do a lot of the fighting?

A. God is not cleansing the whole earth, but all of the nations spoken of here (including Judah) are in the path of the Babylonian army, who is conquering this area on their way to Egypt, as the writing eludes to.  Why God chose Nebuchadnezzar specifically is something of a mystery, but perhaps some further readings from Daniel might help spell it out: the story of Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 4 is one of my favorite OT scriptures.

Q. (22:30): Does God really halt the lineage of David as king?

A. Yes.  For their sins, David’s descendants will no longer serve as king — the nation has no king anyway, they will be in exile under a foreign ruler — but there is a loophole that we will come to much later.

O. (23:12): I really like when God says, “I, the Lord, have spoken!”  It feels like he is a judge and putting his stamp on it.

Q. (23:14): Why are Sodom and Gomorrah brought up fairly often?  I know what happened and that the townspeople were horribly wicked, but I wouldn’t have thought that this was a story that was handed down near as much as the Flood, Joseph and Pharaoh, and the Exodus.

A. Because they are (ok, were…) in this area of the Middle East and much closer than Egypt.  At least that would be my guess.

Q. (23:17): I find that the last two lines of this verse is a subject that has been on my mind.  Are all of our actions supposed to coincide with God’s desires?  I don’t know anyone who has that strong of a relationship with God that He will guide them through their every move.  But, let’s just talk about our important desires, mainly the thing that we do, like what work, volunteering, starting a new business, joining a new group, getting deeply involved in a hobby.  Are the things that we spend most of our time doing supposed to glorify God?  Here are some specific examples: training for a marathon, decorating our house, surfing or other water sports, watching sports, crafts, etc.  Basically, we can spend hours doing things we enjoy, but do they glorify God?  There are millions of people out there that need to be saved, so how can we justify spending hours on ourselves?  I question some big projects that I want to do.  This blog is the start of one.  I want to expand it.  I felt God’s guidance when the ideas popped into my head.  But, I haven’t heard that affirmation in a long time.  Does God just need to say it once, like the above observation says, “I, the Lord, have spoken,” and he doesn’t need to say anymore?  Then, there are all of those desires that God has not directed me on.  How am I supposed to view those?

A. The further we walk with God, and the closer we grow to Him, I think, we will find the answer to your questions, though probably not with 100% certainty.  Think of it as a relationship with a human friend: the more time you spend with that friend, the more you know that person’s desires, and at a certain point (say with a spouse), you can probably guess with a fair degree of accuracy what that person would do or would ask YOU to do in a certain situation.  It is the same with God: as we grow to be more like Him in the person of Jesus, we will come to know the ways that God is glorified by our actions.  I believe that God is most glorified by us being the people that He designed us to be.  If God has given you a head for business ventures, then He is glorified in you when you do so well, though only if you give Him the credit for what you accomplish.  God certainly desires us to be healthy, so training for a marathon or other event is surely God-honoring.  So part of our mission in our walk is to figure out what exactly God has given to us in terms of spiritual gifts (a NT topic we will walk through later) and natural abilities.  With this information, and the Spirit as our guide, I believe that we will be able to act in ways that give God glory, even if we never hear Him directly speak to us.  We do not necessarily need to hear from Him in order to know what He desires, that is one of the main functions of reading scripture.  I hope that helps.

Day 122 (May 2): David’s census angers God, Plague is served as punishment, David builds altar the right way, David makes preparations for temple

We are now 1/3 of the way through the Bible.  Congrats!  And, look how much we have learned.  There is a lot more to come!  If you are new to BibleBum, welcome!  BibleBum’s mission is to explore the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Samuel 24

1 Chronicles 21:1-6

2 Samuel 24:10-17

1 Chronicles 21:7-17

2 Samuel 24:18-25

1 Chronicles 21:18-22:1

1 Chronicles 22:2-19

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 24:1,9: 1 Chronicles 21:1, 5): The 2 Samuel version says that David ordered the census.  1 Chronicles says it was Satan.  There is also a difference in the census numbers between the two books.  Why would God’s anger against Israel make David want to take a census?  And, why was God angry anyway?

A. It is interesting to me the way that this version of the reading so clearly identifies variations in the text.  You could say that both Satan and David were involved in the sin because Satan could have easily tempted David to do it, but David is ultimately responsible.  This is also, to me, just one more way the author of Chronicles portrays David in a more positive light: rather than the census being just “his” idea, Chronicles tells us that the devil put the idea in his head.  I do not know why the numbers are different in the two versions of the census.

Regarding God’s anger, we also don’t know what it is about Israel’s actions that prompted God’s wrath.  But what appears to have made God angry about the census itself is a bit easier to understand.  The census was a military one: David is measuring the size of his army.  This is a customary action of a king who is preparing to go to war.  So that’s one possibility about what angered God: that David was planning to march his armies in (presumed) defiance of God’s command to be at peace.  The other possibility is that this is a vanity/pride move for David.  The king wants to know how many troops he has so that he can either brag about it.  A third possibility is that the census revealed that David was trusting a bit too much in his armies, and not in God.  That’s about all we’ve got here.

Q. (2 Samuel 24:10-17, 1 Chronicles 21:1-17): I like the 1 Chronicles version better.  It is more descriptive.  Three years is a long time.  I think I would have chosen Door #3 also, but if I would have realized that it would cost 70,000 lives, I may have chosen another option.  David probably didn’t realize the plague would cause so much death?

A. A famine could have killed many more: three years of poor crop growth can cripple a nation TODAY!  And who knows what they would have lost (perhaps Jerusalem itself) if he chose losing to his enemies.  I suspect David took what he knew to be the more immediately painful path, and just “have it done with.”

Q. (2 Samuel 24:24): It’s interesting that David respected God when building an altar to Him to stop the plague.  Usually, free is good.  Araunah obviously wanted to give it as a gift.

A. He did, but as we studied in the Law, God desired not what we get for free or cheap, but rather for us to sacrifice the best of what we have for Him.  This is a big part of the reason that lame or otherwise affected animals were not acceptable as sacrifices: it was the cheap and easy way out, and missed the point of what God desired.

Q. (1 Chronicles 22:14-16): I’m just trying to picture how they moved so much building materials around then, especially the cedar.  Also, it would be interesting to know how someone back then became skilled at something, like the goldsmiths, silversmiths, carpenters and stonemasons.

A. There are a variety of answers to movement of massive material in the ancient world.  We know that the Egyptians used flat sleds or logs — with lots of slave labor! — to move things like massive stones around (for building the base of the pyramids).  Materials could also be transported by caravan using burden animals like horses and donkeys, which could probably drag a considerable amount of weight behind it.

But there’s other ways too: the nations that supplied the cedar were north of Israel, so it is possible they could have used the waterways like the Jordan river or even the Mediterranean Sea to move massive trees around — wood like cedar almost always floats.  The Phoenicians and Greeks were building massive ships in this era (maybe a little later) called Triremes that were massive and could have clearly carried a lot of people or other things as well (read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trireme).  I think that gives you and idea of how it was done.  It was most likely a combination of many factors.

Like almost all professions in the ancient world, craftsmanship was handed down from generation to generation in family lines.  If your family fished for a living — as several of the apostles — you learned to fish.  If your family worked with bronze or, later, steel, or jewels or other crafting materials, you would have most likely learned from them.  In this era, there was no currency, so survival would have depended upon people’s ability to barter goods and services to meet their needs.  You can think of this as “pressure” to be good at your family craft: If someone else in your village was better at making jewelry than you were, you were in trouble.  But the family who was the best at it would have likely passed important trade skills down to the next generation.  Additionally, there were no formal schools in this part of the world at this time — though they would be what we would call “Bible” education in Jesus’ era, we’ll talk about that in due time — so you very likely could not count on anyone but your community to provide you with a “trade.”

Day 106 (April 16): David excapes to a cave with 400 men, David cries out to God to protect him from enemies lurking, David calls God ‘his refuge,’ Gad warriors join David, David protects his parents, Saul asks for loyalty, Saul orders guards to kill priest and family, David proclaims loyalty to God, David protects the town Keilah

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Samuel 22:1-2

Psalm 57

Psalm 142

1 Chronicles 12:8-18

1 Samuel 22:3-4

1 Samuel 22:5-10

1 Samuel 22:11-23

Psalm 52

1 Samuel 23:1-12

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 57:1-11): David is crying out for protection from the evil that lurks around him.  I like the chronological Bible in that it puts each of the Psalms with the story that it’s talking about.  Why don’t most versions of the Bible group them together?

A. Because of the way that the different books are classified if you will in the OT.  The Psalms were compiled into one volume (150 in all) and commemorate various important points in the life of its writers (some are from David, but others from other sources as we will see as they come up).  Since 1 Samuel is a history volume, and Psalms is a poetic volume (in Jewish literature, Psalms is classified as a “writing”), they are not found together.  They were written to serve different purposes.  Psalms has its own ebbs and flows as the reader moves through the various poems, which surely was the intent of the editor/editors that compiled them.  The Psalms were put together in a way that would only be recognized if you read them straight through (there are five volumes or “books” of the poems within the book of Psalms itself).  So there are pros and cons to reading the Psalms in this way: we gain an emotional connection to the story, but we also miss out on being able to see the way that the creator of the book, not the individual writers, desired to move his audience through the various emotions and highs and lows of the nation’s walk with God.

Q. (1 Samuel 22:3-4): I guess Israel and Moab are on good terms now?

A. Not necessarily.  Don’t forget that David, and therefore his father, are related to the Moabite Ruth.  The king might be allowing David’s family to stay only because of their family connection.  It may have nothing to do with how the king feels about Saul and Israel at the moment.

Q. (22:16-19): So, the priesthood can be a dangerous choice of careers.  I am surprised that God didn’t provide some protection for the priests.  Is this a coincidence that Saul asked an Edomite to kill the priests and he did it?  Rob, you told us at the reunion of Jacob and Esau and then the parting that their descendants would be enemies.

A. This is certainly an example of the animosity between Israel and Edom, and this will be an event that David remembers.  We don’t really have any information on why God chose not to spare His priests.  But no doubt that those who died in faithful service to Him were surely welcomed into His Kingdom.  This certainly seems unjust, but don’t forget that life is not always just on this side of death.  God never promises to prevent all hardship — quite the opposite, John 16:33 — but rather that we can trust in Him to make things right in the end.  This is a big reason that belief in an afterlife is such a huge part of the writings of scripture: without an afterlife, there is too often injustice.

Q. (23:10-12): So God’s protection of David in this story isn’t a miraculous one, but instead, is just foresight of what Saul and the people of Keilah will do.  And thus, David and his men will leave, as we see in the next day’s reading?

A. Yep.  Don’t forget that it specifically says that David sought the Lord on the matter, and God was free to respond how He pleased.  In this case, we will see that God will continue to delay a battle between Saul and David, for reasons that, I promise, are coming.

Day 85 (March 26): 31 kings defeated, Lands east and west of Jordan divided, Caleb gets Hebron,

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Joshua 12:7

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 13:1, 14:10): From reading about these battles, the text makes me feel like the battles happened real fast, but I guess that wasn’t the case if Joshua is getting old.  So, we can tell from Caleb that the Israelites have been battling for 45 years.  When God told the Israelites that they would receive the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I didn’t have a feeling that they would have to fight for it.  I thought after all that misery of slavery, escaping from Egypt and wandering in the desert for 40 years, that the land of milk and honey would be ready and waiting for them to relax.  Why did they have to work so hard for the land?

A. The events described in the first 12 or so chapters do appear to take place quickly, but what Joshua is doing is establishing a beachhead of sorts in the land.  From here, the long process of taking the entire land happens over a generation or more – 45 years according to the verse you point to.  I don’t know exactly why it takes so long, but I guess it has to do with settling in new towns and taking over the old ones, which is probably not a fast job.  The central victories that are won in the first few chapters do tell the story though: Israel established itself as the dominant power in the region by destroying Jericho and Ai (along with the other battles mentioned), and from there, the battle is already won, they simply have to complete the task.

Q. Is there any significance to how the territories are laid out?

A. Honestly, not as far as I can tell.  There will “be” significance, if you will.  That is, the territories will become important for future direction of the story, but this is really an establishing moment, and I don’t think there is much significance to the locations at this point.  Here’s just one example: some of the tribes that border other regions (Dan in the north for example) will be more susceptible to the corruption of other tribes because Israel fails to drive out all the people that God tells them to.  We’ll see how this plays out.

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Day 69 (March 10): Gad and Reuben choose land east of Jordan River, Moses warns of countering God, Moses recounts Israel’s journey through desert, God instructs Israelites to drive out everyone living in Canaan, Land allotment begins

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Numbers 32-33

Questions & Observations

Q. (Numbers 32:4): It does appear that God had intended for this land to belong to the Israelites.  Why else would he have conquered it, unless it was on their way to Canaan and there was no way around it?  But, you would think that the Gad and Reuben clans would want to see what God had set aside for them.

A. They appear to feel that the land they had was as good as anything in the Promised Land, in the spirit of “one in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

O. (32:6-30): I like how Moses reminds the tribes of Gad and Reuben — and essentially probably all of Israel — the history of this sort of thing happening and it going bad.  This memory is fresh enough that the Israelites still remember it.  Apparently, the lesson has been learned this time.  We’ll see for how long.

Q. (32:34-42): Life back then seemed so uncertain.  From these verses, I can picture non-Israelites being forced out of their villages.  It seems that the only certain thing was God.  If I were these other villages, I would think hard about finding out about the Israelites God and/or ask to join them.  Is there any information about if non-Israelites could join the Israelites?  The Midianite girls were spared (Numbers 31:18).  Do we know if they became Israelites?

A. There are regulations spread throughout these first five books, including Exodus 12, which says that foreigners who want to join in Passover celebrations must have all males circumcised, and various similar instructions — some of which will come from our next book, Deuteronomy, so watch for those.  Numbers does not tell us the fate of the girls, but we can assume that they grew up in Israelite households and perhaps some of them married into the tribes.  It appears that if the right steps (i.e. circumcision) took place, the Israelites had a fairly “open door” policy on joining up with God’s people.

O. (33:3-48): I guess this is a wrap-up of their journey.  Let’s view a good map of the Israelites’ 40-year journey in the desert.  Try: www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010411.htm

Q. (Numbers 33:4): What is God talking about here when he says, “ the gods of Egypt.”

A. As we looked at back in Exodus, the victory in the Passover would have been seen as God conquering the gods of Egypt.  Obviously if the gods of Egypt had won, then the firstborn of Egypt would not have died.

Q. (33:55): God is forewarning the Israelites to clear out all of those people who are occupying the land He is given to the Israelites.  I wonder if we are getting a little picture of some conflict to come, or if the Israelites will obey?

A. This will indeed be something to watch for, and the answer is no.

Thanks for reading.  Hope to see you tomorrow!