Yeah, so...I completely fell off the wagon with posting last week, only posting twice, and neither having to do with my reading. Let's see if I can do better this week.
Since my last actual reading post, I have read another 39 chapters, finished Deuteronomy, and almost finished Joshua. There is a lot of interesting, odd, and thought provoking material in all of that, too much for me to boil down into a single post. So, here are a few random musings from my reading.
I find it interesting that God commands the Israelites to marry the captive women they find beautiful, and then wait a year before having sex with them. Considering that the commonly acceptable practice would have been to rape them and leave them, this probably would have seemed like an extravagantly strange law to all the nations Israel moved into. Not only that, if after a year it became obvious the marriage wouldn't work, the man was to set the woman free. No shame would be placed on the woman, and she was free to marry whoever she wanted. Again, in our day and age this seems barbaric, but in the bronze age this would have been quite a victory for women's rights.
God gets a bad rap for the Deuteromistic covenant (do good and I'll bless you. Worship other gods and I'll destroy you). For many modern readers it seems overly simplistic, if not callous. However, if we keep reading, the warning ends by saying that if the Israelites betray God and they are taken off into foreign lands, when they search for him again he will come to them and bring them home from the four corners of the earth. Nothing, in the end, can separate them from the love of God. In the end, God desires his last words to be words of love, not judgment.
Toward the end of Deuteronomy, God tells Moses a few final things before his death. One of them is that God knows the Israelites will betray him once he brings them into the land promised to their ancestors (technically God says they will "prostitute themselves to the foreign gods"). The surprise: God gives them a home anyway.
Well, sort of. After the initial conquest (which lasted at least 5 years), the Israelites lose steam. I don't know if it's the fact that they're tired of fighting or if they lose trust in God, but either way, they stop kicking the Canaanites out of Palestine. They stop expanding to take all the territory God intended for them to have. In the end, the only thing that keeps God from giving Israel all he hoped to give them was...Israel. How often is it the case that the only thing in our way is us.
So, there's 39 chapters in a nut shell. Sorry for getting sidetracked from the posting. Here's to staying diligent!
Stopping point: Joshua 18