Understanding the Old Testament

A New Generation Arises

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

As we have noted before, a few pockets of resistance remained after the Israelites’ victories over the southern and northern Canaanite armies. But the Israelites did not drive out or destroy these remaining Canaanites—especially in the territories of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. (Joshua 17:11-13 and Judges 1:27-34)

The Bible does not explain this failure. The most obvious—that the Israelites were unable to do so—seems unlikely. Joshua 17:13 tells us that “when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.” (Judges 1:28 is similar. And see Joshua 16:10.) This implies that the Israelites’ made a choice to let the Canaanites stay.

Furthermore, Joshua reminded the people that God had fulfilled His promise to bring them victory over the Canaanites (Joshua 23:9-10 and 23:14), and he assured them of future victories if they remained faithful (Joshua 23:5). (Judges 1:1-26 describes some of those victories.)

If the Israelites were capable of driving out the Canaanite, why didn’t they?

Perhaps they grew tired of fighting. Maybe they felt sorry for the Canaanites, or simply became friends with them. We don’t know. But we do know that God had repeatedly warned His people not to associate with the Canaanites, or intermarry with them, lest they become “a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes.” (Joshua 23:13; see also Exodus 23:33 and 34:12, and Deuteronomy 7:16)

And that is exactly what happened.

After Joshua and his generation had died off, Judges 2:10 tells us that “there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” That generation worshiped the false gods of the Canaanites and adopted their evil practices. (Judges 2:11-13)

And because of the Israelites' idolatry and wickedness, they lost the Lord’s favor.

They suffered defeats. Their enemies plundered and oppressed them. Each time the people drifted into idolatry, God allowed them to suffer until they came to their senses, repented, and sought His help. Then He would send a “judge” to deliver them from their enemies.

The Israelites repeated this pattern over and over in the book of Judges: idolatry, oppression and defeat, repentance, deliverance, and a return to idolatry. (See Judges 2:16-19.)

The first judge to provide such deliverance was our old friend, Othniel, the nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, and the conqueror of Debir.

Questions to ponder or discuss: Why do you think young people so often reject their parents’ values and beliefs? Why do you think idolatry appealed to young Israelites who had not experienced the victories, defeats, and miracles that Joshua’s generation had lived through?

.Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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I am a member of Trinity Arts Writers Workshop, in Bedford, Texas.