Chapter 20: Samuel and Saul

I really do wonder about how Oursler portrays the characters in this book. Some of his portrayals make sense, but on others, I can’t see the line of logic that led him to assume certain aspects of their personalities. Saul did seem like a fairly messed-up guy in some ways, but we have to remember that God chose him, and He wouldn’t have picked a king who wasn’t suited for the throne, right?

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Chapter 15: the Conquest of Canaan

This is one of the most exciting parts of the Bible, I think, full of action and war and supernatural intervention. How long must it have taken for everyone to realize Joshua’s prayer had come true and the sun was actually standing still? It’s one of those really cool moments when God intervenes, but He does it silently, and His silent acts almost seem more world-rending than His loud ones.

In the past couple months I heard a sermon on why Moses was such a great man. I know Moses is dead by this time, but the connection I’m drawing is to Joshua, and why he isn’t considered as great as Moses was even though he led the conquest that established Israel in its Promised Land. Joshua did amazing things, too, so why is Moses considered the better leader?

The answer the sermon gave was that Moses trained a successor. He had an apprentice ~ Joshua himself ~ to whom he taught the fundamentals of leadership and to whom he left the leadership of Israel after he died. Joshua seemed to be a great leader in every other regard except for this one ~ he did not train someone to take his place when he died. That is the mark of a great leader.

Chapter 14: the Red Thread at the Window

Is that really how “thread” is spelled? It looks odd somehow.

I had never thought of it extensively before, but I wonder where Rahab’s family lived? Clearly they were in Jericho, but did they live with her? I always assumed she lived alone. But she did ask the spies to promise that she and her family would be spared. She was obviously the leader of her household, which in those days would mean she must have had no husband, but maybe she had children living with her?

The spies told Rahab about the mighty army of the Israelites and how God had led them to victory many times before. How appalling it must have been for Rahab to look out her window and watch the “mighty” army walk around her city for seven days! They weren’t even attacking! Not a single arrow was fired over the wall. Just a lot of marching and trumpeting. It probably looked more like a marching band than an army. I wonder if Rahab laughed within herself like Sarah did at how God was choosing to do things. The whole city of Jericho was probably laughing by the end of the week.

But then suddenly the walls began to crumble, and the Israelites rushed in, and the entire city was overtaken.

Dang.

They did not see that coming.

Chapter 12: the Golden Calf

I have always wondered what must have come over Aaron that he would do what the people asked and construct an image to call god. And why, of all things, a calf? Oursler says that it was a symbol used in Canaanite worship. Perhaps Aaron was afraid the people would do something to him if he didn’t make them a god. Or maybe he thought he wouldn’t be able to control the people in Moses’ absence if he didn’t do what they asked.

And what was Moses thinking when, in his angered frenzy, he forced the people to drink gold? Surely that must have done bizarre things to their systems.

I knew that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years after this, but it had never occurred to me that it wasn’t because God kept leading them around aimlessly for so long, it was because He simply removed His pillar of cloud and of fire and let them navigate on their own.

Chapter 8: the Story of Joseph

I never noticed it before, but Joseph seemed like an innocent and somewhat oblivious kid. He always told his brothers about the weird dreams he had and it seemed like he had no reason to believe that they didn’t love him as much as he undoubtedly loved them. Their betrayal of him must have taken him entirely by surprise.

It’s an odd picture to think of Joseph’s slavery. Usually we see black people enslaved and oppressed by whites, but here we have a white guy, a Hebrew, enslaved in Egypt, a country of colored people. He stood out because his skin was so pale. Only they also had religious segregation in the situation – Joseph believed in Israel’s God, while Egypt had their own masses of gods and goddesses that they worshiped. What a strange thing to think about! The only difference here is that the Pharaoh looked beyond Joseph’s race and promoted him to a high position as ruler over all Egypt during the years of plenty and of famine. He entrusted to him Egypt’s health and wellbeing despite his skin color, which was something America took years and years to begin to understand.

Because of his race, his brothers would have known that Joseph was not an Egyptian, and it must have been a comfort to them to be able to speak to one of their own kind, who didn’t need a translator. But of course they didn’t recognize the thirty-year-old Joseph from the seventeen-year-old brother they’d betrayed and sold into slavery years ago. It’s interesting that they didn’t recognize him, but he could have done many things to change his appearance ~ he may have grown facial hair, and probably had a good deal of adornment. What’s interesting is that he was absolutely confident when speaking to them, as if he knew they wouldn’t recognize him.