6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermons

Summary: They attacked the city of Bethel, formerly called Luz, and destroyed it. Excavations at the site of Bethel reveal burned brick; ash filled earth, and charred debris, evidence of the thorough devastation of this Canaanite city by the Israelites.

Chapter 3

Failure of Joseph [Judges 1:22–29]

Scripture

22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.

23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)

24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.

25 And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family.

26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.

27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

Commentary

22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.

And the house of Joseph,

The house of Joseph refers to the tribes of Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh, who dwelt beyond the Jordan. Beth-el was twelve miles north of Jerusalem. It was strategically located on the north-south trade route, and was a junction for traffic from the Mediterranean seacoast on the west and from the Jordan valley via Jericho on the east. Bethel has been commonly identified with modern Beitin, about twelve miles north of Jerusalem, though some evidence favors El-Bireh two miles further south. Beth-el means “house of God,” a name given to it by Jacob in [1]Genesis 28:19, where it is also noted that its original name was Luz. Beth-el remained a very important city in and throughout biblical history. Originally, it was evidently a strong Canaanite cult-center. It later became a prominent city in Israel; and finally, it lapsed into a center of idolatry.

In addition to Judah and Simeon, only the two tribes of Joseph are credited with military victories. (These verses perhaps refer to the conquest of Bethel while Joshua was still living [2][Jos. 12:16 ], just as the previous verses concerning Hebron and Kirjath Sepher go back to the days of that great general.)

They attacked the city of Bethel, formerly called Luz, and destroyed it. Excavations at the site of Bethel reveal burned brick; ash filled earth, and charred debris, evidence of the thorough devastation of this Canaanite city by the Israelites. But their mistake was in promising safety to a collaborator. He promptly started building another city by the name of Luz in the land of the Hittites. Keep this bit of information in mind, because it will show later that unjudged sin survives and has to be met later.

As we have said earlier, the city of Bethel is mentioned many times in the Bible. The Ephraimites, at one time, went all-out to gain total control of that city. Bethel is mentioned in the tribe of Benjamin, [3]Jos. 18:21, 22. It is spoken of in [4]Joshua 18.13 as a city within the borders of that tribe, but, it seems that the border line went through it, so that one half of it only belonged to Benjamin, the other half to Ephraim; and perhaps the actions of the Ephraimites at this time, to recapture it from the Canaanites, secured it entirely for them henceforth, or at least the greatest part of it, because afterwards we find it under the power of the ten tribes (and Benjamin was not one of them). Jeroboam, one of the kings of the ten northern tribes set up one of his calves in it.

they also went up against Bethel:

Bethel was a well-known city and holy place in central Palestine, about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. Observe these details about the city,

If we are to accept the precise report of [5]Genesis 12:8, the name of Bethel would appear to have existed at this spot even before the arrival of Abram in Canaan.

Genesis13:3 and 4 says that Abraham returned to Bethel to worship God after he returned from Egypt. [“And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD”]

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