The Book of Joshua: Study Three

The people of God spent years in the difficult regions of the land. The desert, the rocky mountains, and hills. They did without. They went hungry. They had to rely upon God to take care of them. We run the same route.

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We have discussed the change of leadership and the basis behind it. How God promoted Joshua and the way he publicly and properly assumed the role laid before him. Let’s continue…

God begins the new team with instructions and promises. As we mentioned before, the first thing Joshua is told to do is lead the Children of Israel to cross the Jordan River. God then lays out how the land will become theirs.

The Giants

Now the Land of Canaan was a place flowing with milk and honey. A land already full of bounty and goodness. And a very large group of people (Num. 14).

Depending upon your understanding, it seems that the Canaanites themselves were great and powerful, but the “descendants of Anak” also existed there. We learn later that Anak was the son of Arba (Josh. 15) and that Arba was the greatest of the *Anakims/Anakites (Josh. 14). All of which were descendants of the Nephilium, which are talked about in Genesis, chapter 6.

While the understanding of the Nephilium is limited, the word means the “fallen.” The Bible says these were the offspring of the **“sons of God” and the “daughters of men” (Gen. 6:1-4). It’s not entirely clear, but they seem to have been wiped out by the Great Flood.

We can assume, therefore, that the “sons of God” were not finished with the “daughters of men” as they show up again post-flood.

Which is an interesting thing. It’s quite possible that Noah had something to do with their return. In Genesis 9, we read of a strange incident that occurred between Noah and one of his sons. Apparently, celebrating something (likely farming success), Noah had a bit too much of the wine he’d made from his new vineyard. He got pretty drunk and stumbled around his tent, divesting himself of clothing. What ensued was a matter of dishonor at the very least.


The Servants

Ham, one of his sons, found him drunk and naked in the tent. He went and told his brothers. It’s not detailed, but we are left to think that he likely made fun of his father. Scholars differ on that point. The culture of the time might have a lot to do with it as well. But his brothers honored their father by walking backward to place a garment upon him and cover him without seeing anything.

When Noah awoke, he became angry after realizing what had happened. He then cursed the son of Ham. Who was Canaan. It lends to thought that the great land that was prepared for the Children of Israel all those years later (hundreds) would fall into the curse quite nicely. Here is what the curse said:

Then he said:
“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.”
And he said:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.
May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant”
(Gen. 9:25-27, NKJV).

Interesting how he repeated it three times. That last part, Canaan will be a servant to the other members of the family. Which, indeed, that is what Canaan became: a servant to the others. Or, in reality, Ham’s descendants became a servant to the descendants of his brothers.

Canaan and his family went forth and (unbeknownst to them) spent hundreds of years preparing the Promised Land for the Israelites. If you follow the story of Canaan, you will find that his people are all throughout the story of Israel.

In the book we study, Joshua, Canaan, again, surfaces many times. Amazingly enough, the curse carried all through until Israel gains its independence. In Joshua, chapter 16, we find that, indeed, not only did Israel not drive all the Canaanites from the land they were occupying, but the descendants of Canaan became the servants of the descendants of Shem and Japheth:

“And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers” (Josh. 16:10, NKJV).

One wonders if in the debauchery that was part of the life there in Canaan could be the reason that the “sons of God” returned for more. Thus, the Nephilium propagated again and affected the Children of Israel ongoing until the defeat of Goliath. Possibly on from there.

Much of this can be seen as speculation as there is inconclusive evidence on the matter.


The Parallels

In essence, there were many things to consider on the journey across Jordan and into the Land of Canaan. The abundant supplies (milk and honey) were the least among these.

It’s a great revelation to us, however, that the Promised Land had to be fought for. Let that soak in. God had promised this place to the Children of Israel since the time that they had left Egypt. As much of the travails of Israel point to, this action is a parallel to our walk with Christ.

Freedom from the bondage under Pharaoh lines up with our freedom from sin. From the tyranny of the enemy’s control. Moses represents Jesus as the great Emancipator.

And though they knew full well of the beauty and wonder of the Land of Promise, it was not time for them to enter it. Indeed, though we know that Heaven waits for us, it’s not the “Promised Land” we often point to. After all, we don’t have to fight once we enter Heaven as the Israelites have to fight and continue to fight to gain the Land of Canaan. No, I believe the allegory here is that place where our relationship with God is one of glorious wonder. Truly a place worth fighting for.

Could I be wrong? Could that parallel be Heaven itself? It’s very possible.

The people of God spent years in the difficult regions of the land. The desert, the rocky mountains, and hills. They did without. They went hungry. They had to rely upon God to take care of them. We run the same route. Spiritually, we struggle. As Israel did, we have to develop a heart to lean upon God. We grow and mature in Him as He refines us and brings us close to Him.

When it is all said and done, we are trimmed of the many things that are in the way of a real relationship with God. The Israelites had left many who fought against the will of God behind. Some even “swallowed up” by the ground.

And by the time they arrived at Canaan, they were a mighty force to be reckoned with. Our ripening to become a “vigorous” fighting machine helps the Kingdom of God to bring down the machinations of the enemy.

The time came for them to take charge of the promise. They did so by physical force, we do so by “violent” spiritual force. (Mat. 11:12, Eph. 6:12)



* Though the giants were sometimes called Anakims/Anakites after Anak, he does not appear to be the first of his kind. As much as Israelites are called such after Israel/Jacob, we know that they had many great men prior to being called such.

** Most scholars and old interpretations of the Bible put this term as “angels.” Because of a number of different opinions and specific scholarly rejections, the term has never had a definitive explanation. Many think it refers to powerful men and their philanderings. Some believe them to be the offspring of Seth, a child of Adam and Eve. Regardless of the origins, the “sons of God” were clearly more than human as their children showed.



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About the Author

Sapphire Arts is Matt and Nancy Davenport. Matt writes books of adventure, blogs of wonder, and crafts wooden cups, bowls and carvings. Nancy makes scrap handbags and bunnies. Together, they bring love into everything they do!