Monday, December 31, 2012

No excuses

I'm way behind in this year's reading and I can list reasons for it but there are no excuses -- merely my personal prioritizing has run askew since mid-October!  I've come up with a strategy to get back on track and pray that my intentions will reach fruition.  At church yesterday morning in the weekly bulletin was an item that must have been placed there just for me -- it reads, "As we approach the coming New Year of 2013, perhaps you might consider the option of reading the Bible all the way through from Genesis to Revelation.  It is a challenging, but achievable goal."  God continues to knock on my (hard) head and I'm committed to completion -- I'm in the midst of the various Kings and Chronicles, so I suppose I'm "ahead" of people starting out fresh.  However, my Wednesday Bible Study is currently reading Leviticus and moving onto Numbers, so I hope to include some of those learnings here as well.

In any event, by the end of 2013 I will have completed my 4th (or 5th?) complete reading of the Bible.  That is my commitment and I hope you'll join me!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Accounts of Saul and David

While I'm beyond the historical account of Saul in this year's daily reading, I'm still in the midst of David.  Unfortunately, losing power for a week during Hurricane Isaac this year has had me playing catch-up with a variety of tasks, including this.  It's a brief message, but one I found helpful.  If you've read through or studied Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, you'll note that a lot of the information there contained seems to be in "duplicate" or, perhaps, contrary to one another.  While Chronicles is based on the earlier written Samuel and Kings (and often quotes directly from these), the two accounts (that in Samuel-Kings and that in Chronicles) tells the history from different perspectives.

The perspectives are often described as "prophetic" (Samuel-Kings) and "priestly" (Chronicles).  Samuel and Kings emphasize the prophets and prophecy while Chronicles is more concerned with the temple and its priests.  The scheduled reading of the Bible I followed last year ( had me reading these accounts in parallel.  The schedule used in my "new" Chronological Study Bible NKJV (copyright 2008 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.) instead divides the two accounts so that I've been reading the prophetic account now and will move into the priestly account soon.

Whatever labels you may put on the various books, whatever order you may read the books in matters less that reading for understanding and allowing God to move in your world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Note on Ruth

My chronological reading for this year has me just starting Samuel.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but for June 2012-May 2013 I'm reading through the "Chronological Study Bible (NKJV)" published in 2008 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  It's a different sequence than that I followed last year, but similar.  In any event, I just finished Ruth and wanted to share some notes that I found interesting.

Ruth follows Judges.  Judges presents the histories, most specifically the wars and battles of the people of Israel.  Ruth, on the other hand, presents a different sort of history -- that of the day-to-day life of the people and what their customs were when not engaged in war.  The society during the time of Ruth was stable with wise elders serving to govern the people.  The laws of the covenant were (for the most part, I'm certain -- even then men were tempted to and sinned) respected and kept.  One such law was that from Deut. 25:5-10 whereby a widow with no children shall be married to the nearest male relative and raise up an heir to the man who had died.  Under this law, Ruth is eventually married to Boaz.

Another curiosity of Ruth is that along with the relations between Israel and its neighboring lands fairly peaceful, Naomi moves back and forth between Israel and Moab, and her sons take Moabite wives (Ruth and Orpah).  Intermarriage was not encouraged nor common, but what is ultimately surprising is that Ruth and Boaz's union -- their first son was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, perhaps the finest king of Israel.

On a personal note, I have to admit to preferring histories such as Ruth (and Esther) in that I don't get engaged reading about how many men fought in this or that battle and what the various roles were.  As I move forward into Samuel I hope to write again soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The summer most definitely got away with me this year.  While I've managed to keep up to date with my reading (getting ahead some days, falling short others!), I've not been diligent about keeping this blog up to date.  The chronological Bible I'm reading this year has a somewhat different "schedule" than I followed last year.  I haven't looked in depth to see the differences, but assume (hope!) that most chronological readings are fairly similar - obviously Adam and Eve come before Moses comes before the Kings comes before Jesus.  In any event, I have just finished reading the book of Joshua.  Joshua is one of the Biblical characters that even many non-Christians know (ever sing "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho"?).  They may not know the details of his marches around Jericho or of the fact that only he and Caleb of his generation were permitted to enter the Promised Land, but there is at least some familiarity.  In any event, here is some information about Joshua that you may or may not recall from any reading or lessons you may have had in the past:

  • After Moses' death, Joshua was named the leader of the Israelites
  • Joshua is the man who allocated the land to the various tribes (see for a past posting about these)
  • The meaning of Joshua is "Yahweh is salvation".  Joshua is translated in Greek as the same name as "Jesus" and is commonly seen as a type of Christ
  • The waters of the Jordan River parted for Joshua during the battle for Canaan - reminding the Israelites of the waters parting in the Red Sea for Moses
  • God's instructions for conquering Jericho were for the army to march around the city for six days.  On the seventh day they marched seven times, shouted, and the walls fell down allowing them to swarm in
  • Key lessons from Joshua's life include the importance of patience, obedience, and dependence on God
  • Joshua was the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim.  He was born as a slave in Egypt
I'll be moving into Judges and with school starting again, I hope to be more regular in posting.  To finish today's post, why not give a listen to Mahalia Jackson singing "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho"?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

here we go again!

So I've started reading through the Bible again in a chronological fashion at the beginning of June.  This particular Bible has a slightly different "schedule" than that our church followed last year, although, as makes sense, Genesis comes first.  As of the 15th of the month, Genesis is completed and we're moving on to Exodus.  The particular Bible I'm using includes information about what else was occurring in the world (based on archeological and other evidence).  I admit that I've never really considered history outside the Bible itself during my readings of it, so this is somewhat interesting.  Our Ladies' Study of Joshua has included some historical information, and I'm thankful for the broadening of my personal thinking.

The book of Genesis contains many of the more widely known history of the Jews.  Even people who never set foot in a church or temple know many of these, although many people do not (unfortunately) consider them to be fact.  Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons are all featured prominently.  And who could forget the creation of the world and all it contains?

As for one of my personal favorite images from Genesis, look to 9:8-17.  Until 2 years ago I had missed the symbolism of the rainbow.  Now every time I see one I am reminded of God's covenant with Noah -- never again will there be world-wide flooding and destruction of the earth.  God is still a judging and righteous God, but we are confident we will never again be subjected to world-wide flooding.

Finally, a mind-picture that stuck with me from our VBS.  The children each took a frowny-faced sticker and mentally assigned one of their own sins onto it (lying to mom, failing to do a chore, speaking meanly to a sister/brother).  They then were instructed to place the sticker onto 2 of the three paper crosses attached to the walls.  The central cross represented that on which Jesus was placed, the other two of the 2 thieves with whom He was crucified.  As we know, Jesus was himself without sin (the frowny-faced free cross).  And during the crucifixion he was mocked not only by the crowds but also by one of the thieves.  The other thief, recognized that while he himself "deserved" his punishment that Jesus did not.  In Luke 23:40-43 we read the following -- "Bu the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.' The he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"  To help the children visualize Jesus taking on the sins of the world, the frowny-faces from one of the thieves' crosses were moved to Jesus' -- just as the repentant thief who recognized Jesus' position, when we recognize Him for who He is, all our sin is forgiven.

Enjoy and continue in your reading.  Every time we delve into God's word we are rewarded.

Friday, June 1, 2012


If you started reading the Bible chronologically on June 1, 2011, theoretically you finished it yesterday, May 31, 2012.  If you haven't quite gotten there, keep on with it.  If you haven't started, why not today?

I bought myself a new Bible to read thru this year and I'm excited about it.  I ordered it off Amazon and it's a Chronological Study Bible.  It includes "transition" paragraphs from day to day providing some historical context (what else was going on in the world) as well as other information, much as any other study Bible provides.  I've read thru the introduction and look forward to beginning today (I tend to do my reading in the evening, right after dinner).

I'll be keeping up with this blog page (accessible from but, unless you want them, I'll stop with the regular e-mails.  You can follow the blog and receive notifications when there's an update.  If you have any questions for me, please let me know!  In any event, keep your eye and mind in His word.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


For me, Revelation is definitely the most challenging book in the entire Bible and I believe I'm not alone in this.  The events described therein haven't happened yet and, therefore, are subject to innumerable interpretations by both renowned scholars and "hacks" alike.  I'm also challenged by the various descriptions of the "characters" in this book.  If you google "revelation images" and look at the images that are returned, I think you'll be overwhelmed as I am.  Nonetheless, I'm keeping up with completing this reading, praying that someday it'll all be clear to me.

In the meanwhile, here's some historic context to this book:

  • the author of the book is the apostle John who is also credited with the gospel bearing his name and three of the epistles
  • it is agreed that this is not only the final book in the Bible but also the final book written
  • Revelation portrays the "final" end to God's plan
  • John "simply" reports all that is revealed to him
  • the number seven is prevalent in the book -- seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven scrolls, seven thunders, etc.   Seven is considered to represent fullness or completion (think way back to Genesis and how God created the world in seven days)
Whether you are passionate about prophecy or extremely hesitant and challenged by it (as I am!), I trust you will at least read through it.  God works in many ways and I hope that each time I read through Revelation I begin to learn and hopefully understand more.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Home Stretch!

For those of us who started reading through the Bible chronologically last June, we're in the home stretch!  Just one more month.  We're into what is perhaps more familiar to you than some of the Old Testament books -- Paul's Epistles.  What I'm finding interesting this time around in reading them is that the problems of the "old" church are so similar to the problems we see in today's church -- different denominations convinced they're doctrine is the "right" one, churches competing for membership, and, unfortunately, even sometimes fighting within a single church building.  It's discouraging to think that as simple as Jesus' command to "love your neighbor" that we're not so good at it.  I am thankful for the promises in the Bible which give me hope for the future -- either here on earth or home in heaven.

I have read through the entire Bible before, Genesis through Revelation.  This is the first time I've read it chronologically according to the "schedule" that was distributed in our church.  I'm planning to read through it again, starting anew in June.  Each time I read the book, something new is made clear to me.  So I'm looking forward another year!

Friday, April 13, 2012


We're quickly moving through the New Testament, into Acts.  This book is accepted to be authored by Luke (of the Gospel of Luke) and details the earliest history of the church.  Imagine if you will, a church made of of (first) predominately former Jews, many of whom continued observing the laws and customs of that group.  Add into this the newly "christianized" gentiles who were outside the "law" and without a history of its customs.  All led by the 12 original disciples (Judas having been replaced by Matthias early in the book) and then adding other leaders including perhaps the most "famous" one for today's Christians, Paul.  Must have been a bit similar to today's denominational "differences" that often surface when we get so focused on being "right" that we forget that most important command -- love your neighbor as yourself.  Sounds simple in theory, but then as today, it's much more difficult in practice (at least for me!).
So here's some interesting facts/information about Acts (written perhaps around 60AD):
From an historical standpoint, Acts provides us a wonderful description of the early church.  Without it there'd be less of a starting point to understand how it developed.  It also allows the "leaders" to be human -- they have questions, they sin, they are not perfect -- they are just as we are.
A good deal of the book details Paul's ministry -- we see this in our chronological reading in that we switch to/from Paul's epistles to/from Acts.  However, we note that the author did not seem to have access to the letters themselves -- no where are they quoted within Acts.  In the days before copy machines, this makes sense!
Another aspect that I find particularly comforting is the assurance within the book that Jesus came for both Jew and Gentile.  Yes, the Jews are God's chosen people, but our God is so loving that he sent his son for the non-Jew as well.
The Holy Spirit is also a primary focus of the book -- it resides within the believer.  It is a comfort to me to know that the Holy Spirit is with me always both for comfort and as a reminder when I am tempted to fall to sinfulness.
In any event, I hope you continue to journey through the Bible and that what little information I can share will help in a small way!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's All Coming Together

I've been awfully quiet for the past little bit, since offering some information on the authors of the 4 Gospels. This part of the Bible reading has been particularly humbling to me and I've shied away from sharing my reflections with you.  In addition to this reading, my Wednesday Bible study group is studying Matthew this year in depth, and thus Matthew will be the main focus of this installment.  As one of the books we are currently reading it's helping me with any of my naive interpretations of the other 3.  Be that as it may, here goes nothing.
What I'm finding personally difficult is the chastising I'm feeling along with the overwhelming love of God.  Reading Jesus's teachings to the crowds and the disciples is both loving and chastising to me at the same time.  The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) includes both of these traits, at least for me.  Jesus starts with the beatitudes -- blessed are the meek, blessed are the humble, etc.  While I am no where near able to claim that I am overwhelmingly meek or humble, at times I do see myself this way.  Further on in this sermon Jesus starts talking about murder.  I've never physically murdered a person, nor have I truly felt that I even wanted to murder anyone.  But I'm certainly convicted of being anger and holding grudges which Jesus equates with murder.  He continues to talk about adultery and divorce.  Guilty.  In Matthew 6 Jesus continues with boasting of our righteousness.  Making a big deal out of fasting or tithing or giving thanks before a meal when I can simply accept that God knows my actions and I should not care what the world sees/thinks of me.  Jesus continues with talking about our earthly "treasures" and their worthlessness in terms of eternity.  I admit that I like nice "stuff" -- I want to have it, I'll save money to buy it, or I'll love getting it as a gift.  And I also love having things that were my grandparents' at one time -- again, it's just "stuff" but I cherish it.  We live in an area where hurricane evacuations are relatively common -- what do you take with you?  When Katrina hit, I brought my jewelry box.  More "stuff".  In Matthew 7 Jesus continues to talk about judging others.  I know I do this and I believe it's endemic in our culture -- we compare ourselves to others -- is his salary higher than mine?  is her dress nicer?  are their children better/worse behaved than mine.  We so want to "fit in" when our model, Jesus, was one who so drastically "stuck out" during his time of ministry.  Jumping ahead to Matthew 23 Jesus goes full out on the Pharisees.  He talks about hypocrisy -- I know that I am often guilty of this -- I teach my children what they should do but often don't follow that advice myself.  I succumb to gossip even though in my mind I don't like it.  I rationalize these behaviors -- I'm only spreading "good" news, she wanted me to share her story, whatever.  So I am justly convicted of my sin.
But I am so thankful for forgiveness!  It is not easy to follow Jesus, despite the "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Jesus teaches in 11:30.  And he challenges the Pharisess (and my!) self-righteousness.  One of the homework assignments for our Saturday Ladies' Bible Study asked a question that brought this home to me.  This study is on Daniel, but I find that the lesson here was similar to that of the ones in Matthew (and the other gospels).  The question was around the topic of have you (the student) ever found yourself turning something "good" into something "bad" -- such as how the Pharisees would fast (a "good" thing) but "parade" around the villages as though they were suffering so woefully, anticipating attention from others (the "bad" part).  Like the Pharisees, I become "self-righteous" in my own behavior -- in particular, for me, it's self-discipline.  Our "world" sees this as a good trait and, as with many things, I take it to the extreme.  Just ask my family!  And I often wonder why others don't just live this way -- for me it's easier and simpler this way and gives me comfort.  Yet I know I become prideful and selfish within this trait.  Sigh.  It truly is a lifelong journey, one day at a time, no?  Let's be thankful that we are able to come to God, repent of our sin, and be forgiven.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Gospels

I attempted to write a column about fulfilled prophecies regarding Jesus, but was overwhelmed by the data available to research.  And there are wonderful books available by respected scholars who really know what they are talking about.  I am humbly out-classed with regards to any expertise in this area.  So I’ve chosen another topic – the 4 Gospels.  We’re moving into the New Testament and skipping back and forth between these four books as we read about the life of Jesus.  My ponderings today are about the 4 men who wrote these books as well as a bit of background information.  Here we go!


Nowhere in this book does Matthew specifically identify himself as its author, yet it is a uniformly accepted tradition that he, one of the first 12 disciples did in fact write it.  He’d been a tax collector before following Christ – at this time, tax collectors were considered one of the most sinful people – they were often quite greedy and would overcharge people and pocket the extra money themselves for personal profit.  He was a disciple of John the Baptist before following Jesus.  Mark referred to Matthew also by the name “Levi”, but when he lists the 12 together, Matthew is the name given (Mark 3:18).  Matthew’s book is directed towards the Jews, including many citations from our Old Testament.  More than the others, Matthew uses Old Testament prophecy to verify Jesus as Messiah.  Matthew wrote this sometime after the resurrection but before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD (uttered by Jesus himself in Matthew 24:2).  There is some discussion whether Matthew or Mark wrote his Gospel first, but Matthew has always been the first book in the New Testament.


As with Matthew, nowhere in Mark’s Gospel is the author confirmed.  However, the evangelist John Mark (a companion and disciple of Peter, one of the 12 original disciples) has the universally accepted as the author by all but a few scholars.  Mark accompanied both Paul and Barnabas for a bit of time on their first missionary journey.  His mother (named Mary) was apparently the owner of the “upper room” where Jesus met with the disciples prior to his arrest for the “last supper”.  Thus it is likely he may have known Jesus, though only his other associations (Peter, Paul, Barnabas among others) is confirmed.  This gospel was also written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, though exact timing is unknown.  It is traditionally believed to be directed at Roman believers, focusing on the actions of Jesus which would appeal to the action-oriented Romans.


Luke also never mentions himself by name in either this book or Acts with which he is also credited with authoring.  Again, it is universally accepted that he authored both books.  Luke was a contemporary of the apostle Paul who mentions him by name in his epistles a few times (I believe it is 3 times – once as a “beloved physician” in Colossians, and in Philemon and 2 Timothy).  Luke is believed to be the only Gentile author in the entire Bible, although there are a few who believe he may have been a Jew of the dispersion.  Luke travelled with Paul on some of his missionary journeys, and he completed his writings before Paul was executed.  The best-guess estimate of the time Luke wrote his book is around 60AD.  Luke addressed his book to a man named “Theophilus” who was evidently a man of some culture and influence, though nothing else is known of him.  This fact also provides some evidence that the book, written mostly in Greek, was written for the Greeks, stressing the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ.  Research confirms that Luke was an historian which is evident in this book.  His primary focus is to focus on Jesus’ mission to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).


John’s Gospel is quite different from the other 3.  It was written probably 30 years after the others, directed at a different audience and with a different purpose.  At the time he wrote it, John was the only one of the original apostles (including Paul, who was not one of the “12”) still living.  John’s purpose in writing was evangelistic and his message is directed at “whosoever believeth” (John 3:16).  With regards to the evangelistic purpose, the familiar words “believe”, “life”, “love”, “truth”, and “grace” abound in this book.  Again, as in the other 3 gospels, John does not identify himself as its author, but the early church believed it to be written by him and this belief continues today.  John emphasizes that Jesus is God – the creator, the judge, and the rewarder – was well as confirming his true and perfect humanity.  John’s book contains what are frequently called the seven great “I am” statements made by Jesus. 

I hope this brief information helps you in your reading, to enable better understanding of why things are often recorded differently – just as we speak differently to children versus educated adults, so each of the Gospel writers seeks to teach his readers according to who they are.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Order of Books in the Bible

Yesterday as I was doing the day’s reading, I was noting how the same story was being told in several places scattered throughout various books – Chronicles, Kings, and the prophetical books.  I’d seen this before in reading the Gospels in the New Testament, but hadn’t recognized it (aside from Chronicles and Kings) in previous readings through the Old Testament.  As an aside, I’m a structured person.  The times I’ve read the Bible through before had me start at page 1 and work my way through to Revelation.  Reading it in the chronological manner we’ve been following since June is a challenge for me in the sense that it’s not pages 1 – the end.  But, it has shown me to a greater degree the time-line and pathway leading to Jesus.  In any event, it raised the question of why the Bible is organized as it is – why not in a chronological order or something like that.  So I brought the question to Google and found these answers.
First, I learned that the Hebrew Bible isn’t organized as our Old Testament is.  Instead of 39 books, there are only 24.  However, the same information is included, just arranged differently.  Their structure is as follows:

The Law of Moses:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers
The Prophets
                The Former Prophets:  Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings
                The Latter Prophets:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, “The Twelve” (minor prophets)
The Writings
                Poetical Books:  Psalms, Proverbs, Job
                The Five Scrolls:  Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther
                The Historical Books:  Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles

Our Christian Bibles divide the Old Testament into the following structure and order:

The Pentateuch:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers
Historical Books:  Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles,
2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
Poetical Books:  Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
Prophetical Books:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos,
             Obadiah,Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Our New Testament Is also grouped by subject manner.  The early church adopted the current order of the Gospels (although Matthew and Luke were sometimes interchanged).  It also arranged the order of the epistles with the Pauline ones first divided by those to churches and then those to individuals, according to length.  The other epistles follow, again in order of longest to shortest.  Finally the writings by various men concluding with Revelation. 

Historical Books:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts
Pauline Epistles:  Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy,
Titus, Philemon
Other Writings:  Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation

I recognize that our chronological reading has us “skipping around” to read the events in chronological order.  It is also possible (not really surprising!) to order the books of the Bible in order by which they were written.  There are variations based on the scholars who have determined these timelines, but here’s one:

1440-1400BC:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
1400-1000BC:  Joshua, Judges
1000-586BC (pre-exile thru mid-exile):  Psalms, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Job, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
931-686BC (Rehoboam to Hezekiah):  Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah,
686-586BC (Hezekiah to the exile):  Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 1 Kings, 2 Kings,
                1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
516-400BC (post-exile):  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
40-45AD:  Matthew
45-50AD:  1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Luke
50-55AD:  Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Acts, 1 Timothy,
2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews
55-60AD:  1 Peter, 2 Peter, Mark, James, Jude
60-68AD:  John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation

In any event, hope this holds some interest for you!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

12 Tribes of Israel – locations in modern times

I received a request to show where, in modern times, the 12 tribes of Israel are located.  I was hoping to find a present-day map of Israel and its surrounding areas with the tribal areas superimposed on it, but no such luck.  I’ve taken the following two maps from Wikipedia – the one on top obviously shows the tribes, the one on bottom is present-day.  With words, I’ll try to further describe.

Reuben was the first-born son.  His land allotment was to the east of the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.  It included Mount Nebo, where Moses was given a view of the promised land --  "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho." (Deuteronomy 34:1), although there is apparently some dispute among scholars of whether this is, in fact, the “same” Mount Nebo.
Simeon, the second-born son, had his allotment fully enclosed within his brother Judah’s to the west and heading south of the Dead Sea.  Simeon is seen as one of the lesser tribes.  However, the fairly well-known city of Beersheba is located within the territory.  Today, Russian and Ethiopian Jews immigrate there, making it the 7th largest city in Israel.
The tribe of Levi was not allocated a specific territory as they were not allowed to own land due to their status of serving in the priesthood.  The Jewish Encyclopedia includes the following cities as being those allocated to the Levites:   Hebron, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ain, Juttah, and Beth-shemesh within Judah’s land; in the territory of Benjamin their cities were Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon; from Ephraim they took Shechem, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth-horon; from Dan, Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath-rimmon; from the tribe of Manasseh, Tanach, Gath-rimmon, Golan, and Beeshterah; from Issachar, Kishon, Dabareh, Jarmuth, and En-gannim; from Asher, Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob; from Naphtali, Kedesh, Hammoth-dor, and Kartan; from Zebulun, Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah, and Nahalal; from Reuben, Bezer, Jahazah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath; and from Gad, Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer.
Judah received a large portion of land in southern Israel, west of the Dead Sea.  Bethlehem and Hebron are perhaps the most familiar city-names for us today.
The tribe of Dan received land in southern Israel along the Mediterranean Sea.  The city of Jaffa (today incorporated into the city of Tel Aviv) is an ancient port associate with the story of Jonah.  The port was also that in which the cedars for Solomon’s Temple were delivered.
Naphtali was allotted land in northern Israel, immediately west of the Sea of Galilee (not marked on either map, but the smaller blue body north of the Dead Sea).  Today this area is known as the Upper and Lower Galilee.  The most important city was Hazor (currently called “Tel Hazor” or “Tell el-Qedah”) which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 as one of the Biblical Tells (a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries).
Gad was allocated the land east of the River Jordan just north of the Dead Sea.  The borders between Gad and Reuben were tenuous at best, but the cities of Ramoth, Jaezer, Aroer, and Dibon are usually associated with Gad.  Today this area is located in the country of Jordan.  Modern-day Dhibon is chiefly Islamic and a fairly prosperous Jordanian city.
Asher’s allotment was just west of Gad, in northern Israel along the Mediterranean Sea.  The climate was such that the land was fertile and produced olives in such quantities that the tribe of Asher was fairly prosperous.  The cities of Tyre and Sidon are today in Lebanon.  They are perhaps best-known to us as being locations where Jesus went and healed a Gentile (Matthew 15:21 and Mark 7:24). 
The tribe of Issachar was allotted land just south of the Sea of Galilee and west of the Jordan River.  According to the books of Kings, the royal palace of King Ahab was located in the city of Jezreel, part of this territory.  In modern times, this location is an archaeological site, having been excavated in 1987 when ruins were first discovered.
Zebulun’s land lies just west of Issachar and surrounded by his brothers’ Manassah, Naphtali, and Asher’s allotments.  It is possible that the city of Nazareth was located within this area, although I’m certain others would claim it elsewhere.  Nazareth is visited by many Christians today as Jesus resided there during his life.
Joseph, the allotter of the land, isn’t traditionally attributed with having a portion.  Rather, the portions of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.  These lands are west of the Jordan River and go west to the Mediterranean Sea.  Ephraim’s portion was the southern part.  Tel Aviv is probably the most-well-known current-day city in this region.  It is the second largest city in Israel and is often considered the capital by foreign countries as Jerusalem is (sadly) in dispute.
Benjamin, the youngest son of Israel, received a portion of the land between Ephraim and Judah, just west of the Jordan.  Within its small boundaries lie both Bethlehem and Jericho, with which we are quite familiar.  Jericho is the lowest permanently inhabited site in the world and may be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world.  Bethlehem, of course, is where Jesus was born.  Today the population is mostly Islamic, although it is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities.  Tourists flock to the area at Christmas and Jews and Christians alike visit Rachel’s tomb which is located at the northern entrance to Bethlehem.
I would personally love to visit Israel some day and am certain that I would be overwhelmed both with awe and the amount of history surrounding me.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


In our reading-through-the-Bible-in-one-year process, I’m currently in the book of Jeremiah.  Given that he also wrote the book Lamentations (as well as usually being credited with authoring I and II Kings), I don’t always find joy reading his words.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all of God’s word, but I personally find some parts more enjoyable to read than others.  Jeremiah offers Israel some hope for the coming Messiah (particularly "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Jeremiah 23:5-6)).  For the most part, however, it seems to me that he’s predicting (correctly!) bad event upon bad event for Israel due to their unrighteousness and the fact that they keep turning away from God.  Personally, I find it quite comforting that God is called “Father” – as a parent, I know that I will always love my children, and I thus believe God will always love me.  As a parent, I am disappointed and punish my children when they misbehave and appreciate that my Father also can and will and does discipline me.  I suppose what’s so difficult for me to read in Jeremiah is that Israel doesn’t learn from their mistakes – when I discipline my children, they most often don’t repeat the behavior for which they’ve been reprimanded.  However, Israel (and, I have to admit I) keep sinning.  Which brings us to a head – since I hate my own sin and am helpless without God to stop, I feel as I am Israel, only subject to God’s wrath and punishment.  Like many (most?) people, I most hate to be confronted by that which I am most ashamed.
In any event, to help myself appreciate Jeremiah more, I’ve done a bit of investigating to see what is known or believed about him as a person.  Anyone who has such a direct line to God deserves respect in my belief, so here are some facts:
·          Jeremiah was a Jewish priest and came from a landowning family
·         His father was named Hilkiah and believed to be the prophet and High Priest Hilkiah (Hilkijah) noted in scriptures
·         His God-given purpose was to turn the Israelites towards repentance from the widespread idolatrous practices
·         Jeremiah’s people and even his family rejected his prophesies
·         Jeremiah was called to prophesy in around 626BC, at around the age of 20, roughly 100 years after Isaiah
·         Jeremiah wasn’t an entirely willing prophet – similar to Moses he told God he was unable to speak.  God touched his lips and enabled him to prophesy
·         Naysayers sought to kill Jeremiah – he was continually persecuted, which seems to have resulted in the Lamentations
·         During his time, there were a great number of false prophets. God had Jeremiah speak against these
·         Similar to Jesus, Jeremiah’s teachings often come through the use of parables – linen belts, wineskins, a potter, and fields all play part in his instruction
·         Besides the various messianic quotes, another known one in Jeremiah is "Thus saith the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord Who exercises mercy, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23)
·         Jeremiah, understandably, was quite discouraged at times during his prophesying.  The people were so far away from God that they didn’t want to hear anyone talk to them about it.  Yet God gave him the strength and courage to keep on going. 
After completing this, I have a greater appreciation for Jeremiah.  It is often difficult to do as God wishes, yet he persevered against a lot of hardship and persecution (reminds me a bit of Paul).  Personally, I need to remember Luke 12:48 “For everyone to whom much is given, of him much shall be required.”  I’m now seeing Jeremiah as an example to aspire to as opposed to merely a doomsayer I wish to avoid.
One resource I personally enjoyed as a challenge for myself can be found at  May you find it helpful as well.
Have a blessed week.