Listen to the Land (Historical Geography) - Lesson 14

The Hill Country of Joseph

The hill country of Joseph has abundant resources and nearby roads for commerce. Shiloh was a religious center and the place where Joshua met with representatives from each tribe to determine their tribal allotment. The women of Shiloh also were instrumental in saving the tribe of Benjamin. Shechem was important as far back as Abraham. Every time people would see Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, it was a reminder of the blessings and curses of their covenant with God.

Cyndi Parker
Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)
Lesson 14
Watching Now
The Hill Country of Joseph

I. Roads

II. Early Days

A. Shiloh

B. Abraham’s journey

C. Open countryside

D. Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal

E. Shechem stories

III. Chosen Place

IV. Tirzah

  • The Historical Geography of the Land of the Bible is a course that aims to explore the secrets of the land of the Bible by learning how to pay attention to details like rocks, water, and roads, and how they have a dramatic impact on the people living in that context and will change our theology.

  • The land influences the people that are living on it by affecting their stories. Learning to listen to the land helps you understand the details that are hiding in the background so that when you read the Bible, it’s like you see the narrative in living color and 3 dimensions.

  • Major rivers in the Ancient Near East provided the resources necessary for empires like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia to grow and flourish. Israel is on a couple of the major trade routes that connects these cultures. The location of mountains, hills and valleys in Israel affects the lifestyle and travel patterns of the people who live there and the people travelling through.

  • Wind patterns and the shape of the land determine where more rain falls. Finding and managing sources of water is a critical aspect of survival. The feasts coincide with the agricultural calendar. Biblical passages containing references to water and the feasts had profound meaning to the original audience.

  • Of the granite, sandstone and limestone layers of rock, the limestone layer is what controls much of the lifestyle of the people. The layers of limestone that are common throughout Israel and the surrounding areas are Cenomanian, Senonian and Eocene. It is a good land because there are enough resources to survive and thrive, but it is not an easy land. It has been referred to by different names throughout the years and the political boundaries have been fluid.

  • Bashan is in the north and has enough rainfall and arable soil to support crops and large animals like cattle. The Dome of Gilead provides connection points for international and local travel. Ammon and Moab are neighbors and descendants of Lot’s daughters. Edom is south and are descendants of Esau.

  • The people that migrated to live in the coastal plain were known as the Philistines. Because of the location and terrain, the roads were sources of international travel and trade. Cities were built for commerce and control. The Negev was an important area to control for travel.

  • The Rift Valley is valuable because of its location and resources. Bitumen and Balsam were sought after. It was a popular trade route but it was important to know where to get water. Jericho was at crossroads and was near some major springs. Connecting events in biblical history to the event and location of the baptism of Jesus adds weight and significance to it.

  • The hill country of Judah has enough rain to grow grapes and other crops. Hebron was first given to Caleb and then was the city that David ruled from when he first became king. It was a connecting point for local roads. Bethlehem and Tekoa are also cities in this area.

  • Jerusalem is framed by the hills and valleys that are near it. The Sorek Wadi System is to the west and the Mount of Olives is to the east. David built a palace and Solomon later built a temple. Jerusalem was important in Jewish history and also has a place in eschatology.

  • By the beginning of the first century, Jerusalem was the site of a magnificent Jewish temple built by Herod the great. He also built an impressive palace and a Roman fort which overlooked the temple. The events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus take on added layers of meaning when you understand how the geography of the events reminded people of Messianic prophecies.

  • Benjamin has the smallest tribal allotment but it is one of the most significant areas in the nation of Israel. The geographical features, the cities located there and the roads that run through it make it a region of national and international importance.

  • The Shephelah is between the hill country and the coastal plain and has unique geographical features. When you know the location of the roads, valleys and cities in this area, you can see their significance in the stories. When you understand where Micah and Isaiah came from and their historical context, you can understand why there is a difference in their message and tone.

  • The rocks and roads will give you valuable information about the Sharon Plain and Mt. Carmel. The international road took different paths around Mt. Carmel depending on your final destination. The harbor and palace that Herod built in Caesarea were impressive.

  • The hill country of Joseph has abundant resources and nearby roads for commerce. Shiloh was a religious center and the place where Joshua met with representatives from each tribe to determine their tribal allotment. The women of Shiloh also were instrumental in saving the tribe of Benjamin. Shechem was important as far back as Abraham. Every time people would see Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, it was a reminder of the blessings and curses of their covenant with God.

  • Who was Omri, and why was he significant in making Samaria an important city? When the people of Judah returned from Persia, there was a conflict with the people of Samaria. The animosity that was still present during the ministry of Jesus set the stage for an encounter he had with a woman that was at a well near the city.  

  • Upper and Lower Galilee have the climate soil that is conducive to widespread agriculture. Lower Galilee also has some valleys that became major roads. Major empires of the fertile crescent exerted their influence here as they expanded. When the Greeks took control with their military, they also spread their cultural influence.

  • The Jezreel Valley is the center of activity for many of the biblical narratives. Not only was it an important economic and strategic location for Israel, but also for the Canaanites, Egyptians, Arameans and Assyrians. It is also a place where significant events took place in the lives of the prophets and Jesus.

  • This body of water is often referred to as a, “sea” even though it is fresh water, not salt water. There are not many stories in the Hebrew Bible that take place in this area, but it is a center of activity for Jesus during his ministry. Many of the parables are illustrations taken from local culture and geography.

  • The Huleh basin has an abundance of water from several sources. The soil is also good, but the conditions for growing crops in some areas presents some challenges. Dan is a strategic city in the north as a gateway to the region and a religious center under Jeroboam. Caesarea Phillippi was built by Herod and was a place that Jesus used to teach his disciples about his role as Messiah and their future as leaders of the church.  

  • The Gospel of Luke traces the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, and the book of Acts traces the journey of the gospel going out from Jerusalem. The events in Pentecost have a connection to the events at Mt. Sinai. The gospel is for the world but the events that made it possible are anchored in Israel. (Don't forget the Epilogue, Lesson 21!)

  • There are two different stories in the Gospels of Jesus feeding large groups of people. One account is in John 6 and another account is in Mark 8. The message is similar but the geography gives you some clues to help you understand why the details are different.

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the stories of the Bible in living color. 

Your location affects your lifestyle, relationships, worldview, occupation, diet and travel. In ancient Israel, you depended on the resources around you to survive. People often lived near springs or rivers, but it was possible in some places to collect rain water and ration it through the year. The terrain and the type of soil would determine what crops you could grow, or what animals you could raise. Living near a road would give you opportunities to sell what you produced or buy what you needed. Your location would determine the amount of risk you would face from people in neighboring countries. By living in the hill country, you would develop a different mindset than if you lived on an open plain.

Once you begin to have an understanding of the, "rocks and roads" of Israel, reading your Bible with a good map next to you will help you get a 3 dimensional perspective. When the characters and the scenery become life-like in your mind, you will find yourself being inspired and motivated in your understanding of your relationship with God and how you can apply it in your interactions with others. Take this opportunity to learn from Dr. Parker to "Listen to the Land!"

Don't forget the Epilogue, Lesson 21!


Recommended Books

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the...

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study
Satellite Bible Atlas

Satellite Bible Atlas

A comprehensive guide to biblical geography, The Satellite Bible Atlas by William Schlegel provides historical context and insightful maps to help readers better understand the world of the Bible.
Satellite Bible Atlas

Dr. Cyndi Parker

Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)


The Hill Country of Joseph

Lesson Transcript


So we are starting a new section, although we're still in the central arena. So the previous lessons took us along the Sharon plane and the plane of door, and then we swooped around and we looked at the Rift Valley, the Jordan River Valley, with the different textures that it has and the places where you can cross easily between the CIS Jordan and the Trans Jordan. Now we're going to head up into the hill country, focusing again on the house of Joseph, which is primarily Ephraim and Manasa. And all of the land we're going to be looking at is Ephraim's land and half the tribe of Manasa, because we already talked about how the other half of Manasa is up in the area of Bashan. So over in the Transjordan. So when we're looking at I mean, there's not a whole lot of reference points on this map except I wanted to draw in some of the local roads that come in and out of Joseph's territory. So there's, as you can see, especially if we're just going to do big picture comparisons between the House of Joseph and the House of Judah down in the South. Joseph has an awful lot more connections east, west, north, south, all around. We find that because we're heading further north, we also have quite a bit more rainfall. So every time we inch our way to the north, we pick up more and more inches of rain. So the house of Joseph has great land, cinnamon, mainly in limestone that goes from the Rift Valley all the way out to the Sharon plane. So as long as there's rain, you can turn the whole thing into an agricultural area. So it is just a wealthier place. It's a it's a land that gives more. Resources to the inhabitants who are living there, which is also very interesting because it's the house of Joseph, it's Ephraim, a manassas territory that actually holds the heart of a lot of the Israelites story when they first go into the land. So we'll have to rehearse some of those stories. But the earliest of the Israelite stories are focused here, and this is kind of the best of the hill country land. So just to show more pictures, because I always love showing pictures, some of the textures of the hills are really steep, but we see that deep green that is always evidence for us of the agriculture that is possible in this land. Sometimes the agriculture dropping into the fields and into the valleys. One of the thing that is also quite different about the house of Joseph from the Hill country that is further south is to the south. We almost didn't have any big, wide open valleys at all unless we dropped down into this fella up in the house of Joseph, very Ephraim in Manassas, territory. There are several areas all throughout the hills where the rock pulls away from each other and we end up with some really nice open valleys. So they have a lot more options available to them as to where they can plant their agriculture. Okay. So let's talk about some of those early days of the Israelites going in. So we are accustomed to our north south road, our patriarchal highway that runs the spine of the hill country. We're just getting further north than we've been before. We're going to be focusing here on Shiloh, but we're going to come all the way up. SCCM is going to be a significant city for us and we're going to spend quite a bit of time looking at Shaquem and we've already like heading north. We've talked about the Far Valley very, very briefly, so we're going to come back and touch on these two east west connecting points. But let's go to Shiloh because Shiloh is the first resting place of the tabernacle once the Israelites come into the land. And so it's interesting to look at where Shiloh is located and in a very fun way. This doesn't happen very often, but the biblical text is actually giving us a road map of how to get to Shiloh. And so it's fun to look at the biblical text and then pull out the maps and kind of see what's going on. So the directions that are given to us in the Book of Judges, it says, Behold, there is a feast of the Lord from year to year is Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel. Indeed it is right. It is on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Chicago. MM okay. So this is our patriarchal highway and it is off the road a little bit like how Jerusalem was just off. Shiloh is the same as kind of protected. You're not just going to run into it, which is probably why we have the directions that are given to us here. And it's on the south side of Lebanon now. Lebanon is actually right here. So this is an interesting thing. And this is something actually that I learned from Dr. Paul Wright, who taught me a lot of the geography that I know. And as we were discussing Lebanon and Shiloh, which actually look more east, west, and so to call it on this south side of Lebanon, it's kind of one of those. No, it's not like that doesn't quite make sense until we realized the way that directions were given to people during the ancient times. It wasn't just exactly east or exactly north. It was where does the road go that will take you there? And the road that branches off the patriarchal highway to go around the hill to get to Shiloh is south of Lebanon. And so for the traveler who's going up from Bethel, they're heading towards Chicago. They know they have to get off the road. They're going to take the turn off south of Lebanon, and then they can get to Shiloh. Okay. So we're going to keep our eye on that a little bit. Let me show you, Shiloh, the ancient site of Shiloh. Looks like this would be from the direction just we're looking to the east at the ancient site. So behind us and over the hill would be the patriarchal highway. So here's the ancient site and we can see a little bit like Jerusalem, too. We're kind of seeing a pattern of where people like to settle, where they feel protected. Shiloh also has hills that go all the way around it. It's a little bit hidden off the road. One of the things I really like about Shiloh is it's at Shiloh, where Joshua and the leaders of the Israelites get together and they divide out the land between the tribes. And there's something about this landscape that lends itself towards the imagination of the tribes sitting in this arena. You can almost imagine, like some of them sitting on the hills surrounding Shiloh as they're waiting for where is their allotment going to be? Now there's some interesting Bible trivia I'm going to throw out at you and just see if you know it has something to do with the directions that were given to us of how to get to Shiloh, which came from the Book of Judges. And this is at the very end of the Book of Judges and the Book of Judges, which offers for us the counternarrative to Joshua, where the Israelites are very successful in all things. We saw this at the very, very beginning of our courses. Judges comes along and says, Well, okay, but maybe not here, maybe not here. You didn't quite do it here. The book of judges is like watching the downward spiral of Israelite society. And one of the ways you can map that is how the women are treated. The Israelite women in the beginning, it's great. And we get people like Debra and Yael, leaders, fighters, lawyers. They're leading the community. And then as we go through each level of judge, after that, the women are treated worse and worse and worse and worse. And it's kind of showing one of the ways in which Israelite society is coming apart. So the incidents that has to do with Shiloh, in which we need directions of how to get to Shiloh. So at the end of the Book of Judges, so it's for no good reason. We're going to Shiloh, but it's also connected. So I want to just see if you know this Bible trivia. So this is where putting the the historical timeline and the geography together is going to pay off. And just as a hint for later, you want to remember the answers to this Bible trivia. Okay. So what is the connection between jibia? Remember Jibia from a previous lesson jibia of sole jibia on the Central Benjamin Plateau? That's right. They were Gideon Jibia. It's all very confusing because there's also Garba. That's all right there. So there's good reason to get confused. So Jibia of Sahil is what we're paying attention to. Shiloh and Jabez Gilliard, which we haven't interacted with yet. But given the name Jabez Gilliard, you should be thinking in the Dome of Gilead, which is where it's located. These seem like very strange cities for me to put all together. But does anyone happen to know? I'm getting strange looks, so I'm going to assume no. Which is fine, because I almost never get a response. So you are among the majority of people. So this is why I put it in the Bible trivia category. We might remember when we were looking at another story from the Book of Judges, and it was the Levite whose concubine went to her father's house in Bethlehem. And this is when we were studying Jerusalem, and we said, Jerusalem is off the road. And so in telling this story, we were just looking at how this Levite didn't spend the night in the foreign city of Jerusalem. He wanted to go on to Jibia. Which belongs to Benjamin's territory. And when they get to Libya and they're among their own people, it's his concubine who gets raped by the entire community. And then we get a very I mean, it's a little it's a extremely disturbing story all the way around, as all the stories are here at the end of the Book of Judges, it's showing us how like in what bad shape we're in if we follow that story right after jibia we go, okay, so Benjamin, it's the Benjamin's who basically are the ones who are responsible for what just happened. The other tribes of Israel are rightfully horrified by what happened and what the Benjamin's allowed to happen. And the tribes gathered together and they say, we have to get rid of the tribe of Benjamin, and they go after them. They all make a covenant together saying We're going to fight them until all of them are extinguished. Right. We're not going to intermarry with them like we're wiping them off the map, basically. So they do this until they get there's only about 500 Benjamin men who are left who are hiding and the Israelites. The Book of Judges says They get to a point where they're like. They are a tribe of God. God. Maybe we shouldn't completely wipe them out. But we've already taken an oath together that we will not let our daughters marry these men. So who are they going to marry? We're not supposed to marry Canaanites. And they're like, Well, did anyone not show up to the meeting? Her job at Gilead. They did not show up. They did not promise anything. And so they go to Jarvis, Gilead, take all the women who are of marriageable age, and they take them, capture them and by force, bring them to the tribal allotment of Benjamin and tell those men, Hey, you can marry these guys, these girls. Now, there weren't enough girls to go around. So now what do we do? Oh, you know what? There's a festival every year. Shiloh. Do you want to know how to get to Shiloh? Let me just tell you, just in case you don't know how to get to Shiloh. Directions are given and they say now in the maidens are out harvesting grapes. August ish. And they're dancing and celebrating because we harvest the grapes and then we crush the grapes. And it's song and joy and dance. Just go take any one that you want and force her to be your wife. So the fact that the tribal allotment of Benjamin or the tribe of Benjamin actually survives after this time is because of the women from Jabez Gilbert that were taken against their will and the women of Shiloh taken against their will. And then out of the tribe of Benjamin, we get our first King Saul of Jibia, which when we start learning all these things, when we're putting all of these things together, by the time we get to Samuel and we see Saul and Samuel is anointing Saul as king, we should be thinking that that can't be right, which is exactly part of the foreshadowing of He may look like the king everyone wants, but he's not going to be the king they really need, which is then going to make way for David. So now you will win Bible trivia because you know, weird and obscure data points. Okay. So all of this goes back to Chapter 21. We're moving north along the patriarchal highway. We're going to focus a little bit on Siakam, which is now way down here. And I shifted the way that we're looking at the map because I wanted to ask this question. We're since we're we're really focusing on early Israelite history. How did Abraham come into the country? The very first place Abraham goes to after he leaves his hometown in Mesopotamia. We don't hear anything about his journey, which certainly took several months to go, especially with sheep and goats and family and servants and everything else. All of a sudden we have him ashcombe. It's the first place he goes to. How did he get there? We don't actually know. We sometimes guess maybe he came down in the Transjordan area. Maybe he crossed over here at Beit Shon and he enters the system in the hills over here by taking this road all the way down here to them. So that could be or it could be that he took the other connecting point, which we've talked about a couple of times now, where he came down in the Transjordan, into the Jobbik River, down along the Jabir River. And then remember, there's this little zigzag that takes us to the Far Valley and then here to check them. So we don't really know. There's two really good, viable ways for him to enter the land. Okay. Now, just to give us a little bit of a reminder of some of the rocks and some of the roads. I know we covered some of this when we were looking at the Sharon plane, but we're looking at the landmass down here. So I want to put it all together. So we have the snowman in of Mount Carmel. We have the shayla of Carmel. Right, the Eocene. We have the Sinfonia in pass there that is going to show up in between. We have another snow manian block with the snow knee and trough again in between the Eocene and snow Manian we get another pretty wide section of Sinfonia in, but because we're west and because we're further north, this area does not look nearly as chalky as the Judean wilderness that we've we've seen so many pictures of. So it's not going to have the same like blondish light tan look to it. We can remember resinous soil. If it's flat enough and the water doesn't run off, you can get a little bit of agriculture. So actually in this part of Manassas territory, we do actually see a little bit of greenery. It's not completely barren. Then we have a very large section of Eocene hill and it looks nothing like the Eocene that we saw down in this fella. It looks much more like regular mountainous rock units. It comes right from the heart of Manassas territory. It pushes to the north. And then there's this elbow bend and like a finger or an arm that turns and hooks and points towards the Mediterranean Sea. This is Mount Gilboa. The top part of this Eocene rock is Mt. Gilboa. And then in just a little bit, we're going to meet up with Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Iball, which are down here. So all of these are three very famous mountains. So we're going to keep our eye on those and how they're shaping and pointing us to different areas of the land. And then off to the Far East. As we start dropping down into the Jordan River Valley, we have another very huge, large block of snow, mainly in limestone. So again, we we saw this a little bit earlier during the introduction, but of this is Jordan. So again, remember the six Jordan is everything on the western side of the Rift Valley as opposed to the trans Jordan on this side. So of the hills of the CIS, Jordan, this is the most open to outside influence. We've not seen anything this open yet. Everything we've looked at down to further south as we traveled along the hill country, everything was closed off. It was hemmed in. There's difficult travel. You had to fight for open passageways. So even just as we look at the geography up here at MANASA, we're already seeing their geography is going to influence these tribes in a way the southern tribes don't have. Positive or negative. So being open is great. There's more possibilities of wealth. There's more possibility of easy agriculture because you don't have the same, like, wilderness fighting the farming territory. You don't you don't have that battle going on to the same extent up here. But it also means you're opening several different doors for outside influence to come in and influence you. Now. Right. There's the good part of that in the bad part. There's the economic benefit of that. And to a certain extent, we want to be getting out. But this could be an element of why the Northern Tribes had such a difficult time, all the time with idolatry. There was constantly a synchronistic temptation that they kept falling to. And part of that isn't just the history and just the random choices of people. Some of that is their geography lends itself to that, or it's that kind of temptation that they are going to have to learn how to deal with. Okay. Let's look at them. We need to spend a little bit of time here. Shekel is most easily defined. The city of Szechuan, most easily defined by our two mountains, Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Iball. These are some of the first mountains in the CIS, Jordan, that are named because we have in the book a Deuteronomy. Of course, it hasn't taken me that long to bring in the Book of Deuteronomy during this lesson in the Book of Deuteronomy, both in Chapter 11 of Deuteronomy, and then later again in 27 chapters 27 and 28, there are instructions that are given to the Israelite people. When you go into the land, go to the mountains of Mt. Gerizim and Mount Ebo. And now that you are in the land, ratify the covenant you have with God. Now you could very logically ask the question, why do they need to ratify the the covenant? I mean, once you've agreed to it, isn't that it isn't that all you have to do? And maybe I would say that there's a very sophisticated understanding of place from the Book of Deuteronomy and Deuteronomy. One of its favorite words is Remember, remember who God is, remember who you are, remember what God has done, right? We've talked about this in one of the previous courses. So if Deuteronomy is always saying, remember, remember, remember, remember. Deuteronomy is also very familiar with the fact that humans forget, forget, forget, forget, forget, right? So we need things that are going to help us remember. So Deuteronomy says, put God's words, for instance, on your heart, on your forehead, between your eyes, which is your perception of the outside world on your hand, which is your interaction with the outside world right on the door posts of your house, on your city gates. Like as you move from your most private individual area into your household, from household into your community, from the community into the nation, at each of these transition points, there's something there physically going, Oh, and just remember, just remember as you go shopping today, like you're living life according to God's laws. There's another thing Deuteronomy says on top of all of that. Mount Sinai, where you created this covenant with God to begin with. Mount Sinai is very far away, out of sight, out of mind. You're not going to just randomly run across it. That mountain in particular is not standing on your horizon reminding you of those events. And it was the previous generation who did that anyway. So you're remembering something far away experienced by someone else. There's something really brilliant about go into the land. And the first thing you do is you have the same experience as your forefathers. Go stand on a mountain and you in the land. You have now received not just a future promise, but you've actually received the land. Now go in. Ratify the covenant. Now, the beautiful thing about that is Iball and Gerizim are right on that patriarchal highway. It's an important local road, local road for sure, but significant one that everyone is traveling all the time for trade, which means the chances of you being a local Israelite and needing to go north to travel means you might just end up in this area and maybe you're thinking about your caravan. What is your donkey like? Who? What kind of price are you going to get for the wheat when you get to the next town? But the idea is you wander into this scenery and you go, Oh, right. And also there's a mountain of blessings. There's a mountain representing curses. All of this is the covenant of the God that we serve. There is something physically in their land reminding them of the same thing that their forefathers experienced at Mt. Sinai. But now we have it present with us at all times. Remember, remember. Remember. Nestled in between those two mountains. So now let's stand on Mount Gerizim, where I took this picture. So looking into the fields, which is where I was standing, just the previous picture, looking in this direction. So we've just switched our view around down here. Nestled exactly between the two mountains is the ancient site of Shechem. So, of course, it's huge. Now, this is modern day Nablus, so massively built up all the way around. But we're going to focus in on this ancient site that would have been guarding the passageway between those two mountains and sitting quite prominently on the local international North-South road, not international the local road. Okay. What stories happened here? I already mentioned one. It's the very first place Abraham came. When he entered the land. It's the very first place Abraham builds an altar to God once he gets in the land. Which is rather significant, I would say. Jacob when he leaves and gets married. And then he when he's fleeing from his brother Esau, he comes back. And in that case, we actually do know how Esau came into the land, because Isa comes to the Jarvik River and down to the mouth of the JAMBECK River, and the very next place he comes when he enters the Jordan is Shechem. And then we get the rape of DNA. That also happens here. Joseph We've told this story before when we were looking at roads. Joseph goes and looks for his brothers when he is at them. Shechem is designated really significantly as a city of refuge for people when all of the tribes of the Israelites were down in Egypt. Joseph said, Make sure I don't get buried in Egypt. So he's married to an Egyptian, but he says, Embalm me, which they embalm him according to Egyptian fashion, but make sure you take my bones back up into the land. And so Joseph is brought up brought back his bones are he's buried in the area of Shaka there. So that's rather significant to have one of the patriarchs there. It's the home of Abimelech. He's one of our judges. And in the book of judges, that is not all that well known, but he's like midway down the downward spiral is Abimelech. So there's quite a few significant stories, even just in the early days of the Israelites that have to do with the area of them. And then, of course, it is the place that the Israelis are told go ratify the covenant. And at the end of the book of Joshua, it is again the place where Joshua takes the people and says, do not forget. In fact, choose right now. Choose this day the God you will serve. Right? And so then the people say, we will serve the Lord. You're like, okay, don't forget that. But this open land lends itself towards easily forgetting that. There's so many rich stories and so many patriarchal stories and so many stories of early, early Israelite history of even receiving the land as an inheritance from God that is anchored deep into this soil. If you ever need an alternative to Jerusalem, if you need an alternative focal point, this is a good one to choose. Which is exactly what Jeroboam does. So we have to fast forward several years. But once we get to the point where there's a rift because of Solomon and because of Solomon's actions, God several different times is going to Solomon saying, Stop doing what you're doing, stop doing what you're doing. I'm going to take you. I'm going to take your kingdom away from you. Stop doing what you're doing. And Solomon doesn't stop. And so God says, okay, I'm going to raise up Jeroboam and Jeroboam can have the Northern Tribes. And so there's a promise to Jeroboam that he can have the Northern Tribes, although a portion will always be saved for David's house because of the covenant that God made with David. In First Kings 12, it says, then Jeroboam. As soon as the people turned and made him king, Jeroboam, who is in Ephraim, might write. So we're in his tribal a lot and we're in the area. He is very much at home. He would be a little bit further to the south is Ephraim. But Ephraim Manasa are brothers, remember? And he needs a capital city. So where is he going to choose? So then Jeroboam built them in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. And he went out from there and built panel. Well. Where is Penny? Well. Panel is over here in the Jarvik, we can almost see how Jeroboam understands this connection. He understands that this is the best place to anchor his government because he's actually reaching into the thick soil of Siakam and sticking his hand down to say, I'm going to hold on to all of these layers of history and then pretty much tell people, see, we are the right people of God because we're in the location. God has been many times with His people. But we can also see how he understands this is an easy connection and he might just need a little hideaway just in case in these early days when there's conflict between Joseph and Judah. Down a little bit further to the south. Okay. Now, this is very nerdy. I'll just forewarn you. It is something I am completely fascinated by. When we think about Jeroboam, because from here on out he is known infamous throughout all the the records of first and second kings of Will not only like breaking away, being the first king of the Northern Tribe of Israel, but it keeps saying with every king who comes after him, it's. And this king also walked in the sin of jeroboam. And this king also walked in the sin of Jeroboam. This is a really big theological conversation, which I think is really fun to have. I'm going to focus on it's a geography, but it's also a theology of place concept. So take a deep breath and dove in with me. We need to start with Deuteronomy. Of course, this is not a surprise. And again, a very basic graphic. In the book of Deuteronomy when Deuteronomy is casting vision said The way Deuteronomy is written really is like a coach pulling his team together at halftime and being like, You sucked that first half right? Like you made a lot of mistakes and it's been a rough go. Okay, so let's pull it together. We have another chance of going in. And so remember and do this and like it's casting vision for how good it really can be when you go into this place. Right? It's just like this really great pep talk. We get a a series of sermons given by Moses to encourage the people. Part of it, very famously, is Deuteronomy, chapter 12. Deuteronomy never names the place, the chosen place, where the Israelites are supposed to go, but says there will only be one place, this place where God is going to choose to put His name, and that place is always going to be the center of your attention. Right. So I represented it with the star. So wherever this place is, this is where the tabernacle is going to be. This is where God's presence is. This is where you come for your pilgrimages. This is where you come to sit and feast and eat at God's table. This is where you remember who God is, what he how he's provided for you. Right. This is the focal point of everyone. But no one can live here permanently. People have to live all throughout the land. And so there's cities that are everywhere else, maybe super tiny ones, maybe just little villages. Some of them are going to be very close to the place God chose. Some of them are going to be very far away. And there's constantly throughout Deuteronomy, this movement back and forth. So between our city gates and then between the chosen place that God has moving back and forth. And so everyone, even if you live in a great big urban area, you just as much as the people in the small villages are leaving your own identity and place behind to remember your true identity in the presence of God. And then to take that back with you to your home. Now, if we were to be super nerdy, which we're not going to spend a whole lot of time doing now, we're already quite nerdy enough. We could read Deuteronomy 12. We could read 26. We could even get into the leadership structure that is identified for us in Chapter 16 through 18, and we could just make a list of things. What activities have to happen at the chosen place and then what activities happen in all of your cities and villages that are distributed throughout the land? And we would come up with a list a bit like this. And you can almost look from one side to the other and go, Oh, that's similar. There are some offerings you have to give to God, but there are some things you can offer at your city gate. In your city gate. There's judgments that happen only at the chosen place, but there are judgments made in your own city gates. There are leaders who are present only at the chosen place, but they're also in your city gates. Right. And there's. Once we start looking at how is Deuteronomy organizing the land, there's a commonality. The chosen place is always going to be special because God's presence is there. This is the only place of God's presence. But the time we spend here is to influence how we live here. And it's because we live here according to the covenant in the way God has told us to live. We're taking God's image into a greater number of places, and this is identifying the land. That is a beautiful vision that God is casting for His people in the Book of Deuteronomy. We are going to then just say everyone is invited into the center, into God's presence, but everyone lives out the holiness that is found at the center in their own cities and villages. So before we take this back to Jeroboam, you have a question. 


Speaker 2 [00:37:01] Does not go along with the covenant that God made first with Abraham? 


Dr. Parker [00:37:06] Oh, yes. 


Speaker 2 [00:37:07] The same idea in a more of a micro context within the country. But then also Abraham's covenant was to the nations also. 


Dr. Parker [00:37:19] Yeah, I love it because you're pulling from what we saw in Genesis 12 when we were looking at the big map of the Middle East or the ancient Near East, and we were looking at the big trade routes and we're like, Oh, it's almost like Deuteronomy knew what God meant. Because he's like, and this is how you're going to actually do that. Yeah, it's that connection is so important and so brilliant. I love that you pointed that out. 


Speaker 2 [00:37:46] Maybe you're going to get to that. But if we have the phrase about Jeroboam's sins and all those kinds of things, he's establishing those right in the place where they're supposed to remember God. So that's seems like kind of a disconnect that, you know, here they're doing this right where they're supposed to be honoring God. 


Dr. Parker [00:38:09] Interesting. Almost like you read my mind or first King, Chapter 12, Turn with me to First Kings. Chapter 12. I think we're going to end up reading because of the comment that you mean. I actually want to read a few more verses than what I have appeared. Let's start with 25. We already saw this one, but let's just start there. Let's just keep in mind that God gave the Northern Kingdom to Jeroboam and said, You can have it like there's a promise and a gifting there. But you know what? That promise comes with a responsibility that came with every king. Just stay. Loyal to me. So Jeroboam was given. The kingdom could have had the Northern Kingdom. No problem. If only he stayed loyal to God. That was his one task, his one big responsibility. But we're going to think of all the things we've already been learning. They're always in danger of falling to someone else. There's always an outside influence. There's always like they're always trying to negotiate an existence. And Jeroboam the first thing he does is he listens to the fear in his own heart, and then he makes decisions based on that fear, not necessarily on the promises God had given him. Okay. So in verse 25, then Jeroboam built SCCM in the hill country of Ephraim. So check them is going to be here at the Red Star. And lived there and he went out from there and built panel. So over in the Transjordan. Jeroboam said in his heart. Now the kingdom will return to the House of David. If this people go to offer sacrifices in the House of the Lord at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will return to their Lord, even to Rehoboam King of Judah. And Rehoboam is kind of a jerk. If you read earlier in Chapter 12, I mean, he's. He's not one to really love. But Jeroboam knows if the people continue to follow God's directions and go to Jerusalem to worship in God's presence in Jerusalem, they're going to be swayed politically. So he has to fix that. Okay. So in verse 28, so the King consulted and made two golden calves, and he said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods o Israel that brought you up from the land of Egypt. Now, for someone familiar with scripture, you read that verse and you go, Huh? Is that a quote? From some. I think I've heard this before. Have you heard this before? Behold. Oh, Israel, behold your gods. Oh, Israel. That brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it is exactly what Aaron said. When Moses is up getting the covenant and the people are pressuring Aaron for some sort of representation of this invisible God that they're following. And so it's interesting because Jeroboam is almost also tapping back into their history and going, Oh, like I'll be an Aaron figure. Now we might say, Well, that didn't turn out very well for you, but there is at least a I'm giving you a representation of the God that you serve. It's just not going to be in Jerusalem anymore. Right. But what's curious is there's two of them. Yeah. And so he's set to one in Bethel. This is verse 29. And the other he put in Dan. Now, this thing became a sin for the people. Went to worship before the one as far as Dan. Okay. Now we're going to keep reading. Let's let's keep reading first and then we're going to come back to that theology, a place idea. So now look at all the other things. In addition that Jeroboam does, he made houses on high places, made priests from among all the people who are not the sons of Levi. Levi Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the 15th day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah. And he went up to the altar, thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the Cavs, which he had made, and he stationed in Bethel, the priests of the high place, which he had made. Then he went up to the altar, which he had made in Bethel on the 15th day in the eighth month. Even in the month which he had devised in his own heart, and he instituted a feast for the Sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense. Okay. When we look at what is the sin of Jeroboam, everyone goes, Oh, he made two calves and that looks like Canaanite worship. And I would say you are correct to an extent, but look at all the other things he did, like name other things. What else did he do? Well, the two instead of the one place to go, that's going to be huge. We're going to come back to that one. We have people serving as priests, but they're not Levites, and that's messing with God's order. That is showing who God is and how He's providing for his people, and he creates a feast. Now, this is interesting because we could go back to our calendar and say we saw pilgrimage feasts. Three of them in particular. When people are all supposed to go and sit at the table of God and celebrate and rejoice, and we could go, Well, which one is in the eighth month? None of those. So Jeroboam is creating a brand new feast and adding it on to the calendar. Okay, so what is the purpose of those feasts? All of the ones God appointed are reminding the people of what God did to provide for them what their history is, how God has been consistent throughout time. Jeroboam now is tweaking that and saying and also this other thing. Razor. There's a little bit. We can actually see how Jeroboam is going. Israelites I'm going to speak Israelite language according to our history and how we're accustomed to it. But we've been going in this direction. How about if we just go in this direction? It's a small pivot, but it puts us off course. So when people talk about what is the sin of Jeroboam, I kind of go, it's a whole bunch of things. And it looks similar enough that the people don't balk at the changes he's made. And so then they keep going off and following him, which at the end of the day takes them way off course from where God is. So let's go back to our super nerdy stuff. Here is Jeroboam. This is his political capital. One calf goes in Bethel, one calf goes to Dan. Now there's an ancient Near Eastern logic to this in that you mark the edges of your territory with the God that you serve, and these are the edges of his territory, so that maybe that's what he's doing. But in terms of a theology of place, in terms of what Deuteronomy said is the right structure to you only have one place to go. Remember your one God and the holiness and the sanctity at that one God. And then go back out to your distributed places and live out that holiness who's in the center of Jeroboam's Kingdom. He is. Where is God? In Jeroboam's kingdom. He's out here. Or nowhere. But, you know, the sacred places now have been moved out of the way. Jeroboam and every king who follows him is at the center, which is. Just suggestive enough for me to be enticed to chew on that like a kernel like spice and just see what kind of flavor pops out of that a little bit. And to see maybe there's something more we can learn about the sin of jeroboam. Where's the focus of our attention? Right. There's something interesting there. Okay. The capital doesn't stay at home very long, actually at the very, very end of Jeroboam's life. He goes up to Theresa, which is here, and builds a new capital at Theresa, and then he dies. And then we get another king who is here. Basia ends up living here only for about a year, and then he's going to die, too. A lot of things happen in between them. Now we could say, why would Jeroboam move from shacking up to Theresa? Is there any strategy behind that? Seccombe is where all the history is, so it seems valuable to like keep your hand down into the soil, holding on to patriarchal stories. Maybe, maybe. And this is only conjecture. But based on geography, Teresa is more open. There might be a where might start seeing a focus that Jeroboam has of getting over into the Transjordan and making this Transjordan connection stronger. Maybe we're all just guessing, but this is tiered set. So according to this picture, if we were to look a little bit more like swivel our head a bit this way, kind of over to our left, we would see them in between eyeball and jersey to the south. But now we're just looking this way. Tiered says sit here and if we continue to swivel our heads like closer to me, we would see the Far Valley. Do you see how wide open that it does? So inviting. We didn't see anything close to this in Judah or in any of the other areas of the south, in the hill country, and then in the haze in the far back. This is the Dome of Gilead. So again, you can see like we feel close. It's like easy eyesight. You think this is just a day's journey, afternoon journey, maybe even in this big, wide open valley. And Tirtzu is sitting there at the head of that valley guarding this and the connections to be made.