Fall Of The Moon City -- By: David Livingston

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 24:2 (Spring 2011)
Article: Fall Of The Moon City
Author: David Livingston

Fall Of The Moon City

David Livingston

ABR file photo

Looking through Kathleen Kenyon's trench on the west side of Jericho toward the cliffs where the spies hid. The cliffside, barely two miles away, is full of caves.

During the conquest of Jericho, have you ever wondered why God told Joshua and Israel to do so many unusual things? Why march around six times? And why seven times on the last day? Why march in a certain order? Why keep quiet, then shout to make the walls fall down? And so on. Various explanations have been offered. We have a new suggestion. We do not say it is the answer. But it may provoke some thought.

Jehovah Versus The Gods Of Canaan

Our proposed explanation is this. Many of Israel’s actions were commanded by Jehovah as a parody, a mockery of a ritual or pageant known to the Canaanites living in Jericho. It possibly was related to the marriage festival of a “divine” king, or had some connection with an annual fertility festival. If so, it should have occurred at the turn of the year—in the spring, possibly April, just when the overthrow of Jericho took place.

The Bible is not a synthesis of other religions. It is in controversy with them. This was the battle of Jericho! And it was not just men fighting men. It was a spiritual battle. There was spiritual wickedness in heavenly places and the “Lord of Hosts” had come to be the Leader (Jos 5:14).

Divine Kingship And Religion

First, a little background. The kings of the ancient Near East were tyrannical god-kings. (See the Spring 2009 issue of Bible and Spade.) “A tyrant was roughly what we would call a dictator, a man who obtained sole power in the state… (He) is not necessarily a wicked ruler, but he is an autocrat…” (A. Andrewes, The Greek Tyrants, NY: Harper, p. 7).

In every place the sons of Ham went, “divine kingship” was established. In Mesopotamia, Cush (or Kish) was the founder; in Egypt, Mizraim. In Canaan, named for one of Ham’s sons, it follows that “divine” kings controlled the city-states. On an unpublished king-list from Ugarit, described by Virolleaud, each of the kings is designated as il, “the god” (A. Rainey, Biblical Archaeologist Reader #3, p. 92.). And, as Rainey points out, the legendary king Keret is also called bn il, “son of god.”

The prince, the eldest son of Krt, is one “Who sucks the milk of Atherat, Who sucks the breasts of the Virgin Anat.” This conception is familiar in Mesopotamian and Egyptian royal ideology, and is expressed in the ivory relief from the ro...

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