Daily Bible Reading for December 31, 2013: Joshua 1-5.
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Approximate Date: Exact dates, as we understand them today, are difficult to determine. Records in ancient history were not always kept, and those that were, often only survive in fragments. Additionally, records generally referred to the reigning year of a ruler and ruler’s names were often repeated, which leads to confusion over what events took place under which ruler. Based on the evidence provided by the Bible, the book of Joshua takes place approximately between the years 1400 BC and 1100 BC.
Context and Meaning: Joshua is the first book in the books of history in the Bible. Joshua picks up where the Jewish Torah ends, with the death or Moses and Joshua being called to lead the Israelites out of the desert and into the Promised Land. Today, we look at history from a linear viewpoint. Beginning in Joshua and continuing throughout all the books of history, we see that the history of the Israelites is often circular. Look for this theme while reading. The first five chapters of Joshua focus on the spiritual preparations of the Israelites for taking Jericho. Before the Israelites can have the Promised Land, they must make themselves pure before the Lord.
World History: Due to the dating problems mentioned above, it is difficult to determine what else was going on throughout the world during the time of Joshua. Scholars struggle to line up Biblical history with secular history, due to discrepancies within secular historical texts. Based on the dates given for the book of Joshua, Egypt was still under the rule of pharaohs and had little interest in foreign affairs, as they were facing internal problems. King Tutankhamen (King Tut) was believed to have ruled, briefly, around this time. In China, the first dynasty, the Shang Dynasty came to power around the time of Joshua.