Joseph goes to Galilee (Mt 2:22-2:22)

“But when Joseph heard

That Archelaus

Was ruling over Judea,

In place of his father,

King Herod,

He was afraid

To go there.

After being warned

In a dream,

He went away

To the district of Galilee.”

 

ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας

 

Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream (χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ), without the explicit mention of the angel of the Lord. Joseph found out that the son of King Herod (ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου), Archelaus, (23 BCE-16 CE) was now in charge in Judea (ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας). He was afraid to go back there (ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν) to Judea, since maybe King Herod’s son would be after his child just like his father. Actually, Herod Archelaus only lasted about 10 years before the Romans took the title away from him in 6 CE. Thus, Joseph decided to withdraw to the district of Galilee (ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας), without explicitly being told to do so. Galilee was a rocky terrain region in northern Israel. Originally, it was part of the tribal regions of Naphtali, Dan, and Asher, but later it was part of the northern kingdom of Israel, with a Phoenician presence and influence. In the Roman times, Galilee was clearly separate from Judea. Many of the events in the life of Jesus would take place there, even though Herod Antipas, the other son of King Herod, ruled Galilee from 4 BCE-39 CE.

The three gates on the east side (Ezek 48:32-48:32)

“On the east side,

It shall be  

Four thousand five hundred cubits.

The three gates are

The gate of Joseph,

The gate of Benjamin,

The gate of Dan.”

There were 3 gates on the east side, 4,500 cubits from the center. It is interesting to note that Manasseh and Ephraim are no longer mentioned but merely their father, Joseph, as if it was only one tribe. The sons clearly had land given to them. The gate of Joseph would have been the most popular, since Benjamin and Dan were smaller tribes.

The tribe of Asher (Ezek 48:2-48:2)

“Adjoining the territory of Dan,

From the east side

To the west side,

Asher,

Was one portion.”

Although it is not mentioned, the Mediterranean Sea might have been Asher’s western border. Here it seems to be on both sides of Dan. Asher in Joshua, chapter 19, was west of Naphtali and Zebulun, but here it is mentioned before them. The Israelites never had control of the seacoast towns anyway.

Tracing the coming enemy (Jer 4:15-4:17)

“A voice declares

From Dan.

It proclaims disaster

From Mount Ephraim.

Tell the nations!

‘Here they are!’

Announce to Jerusalem.

‘Besiegers come from a distant land!

They shout against the cities of Judah!

They have closed in around her

Like watchers of a field.”

Jeremiah has a little play by play of how the invading destroyers were coming to Jerusalem. First, they were in the far northern territory of Dan near the Syrian border. Then the second disaster warning comes from Mount Ephraim, just north of Benjamin, in the central area. Finally, they are besieging and surrounding the cities of Judah, the heartland, where Jerusalem is on the border with Benjamin. They were in fields watching as the attack was imminent.

 

The apostasy in Naphtali (Tob 1:3-1:5)

“I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life. I performed many acts of charity to my kindred and my people who had gone with me in exile to Nineveh in the land of the Assyrians. When I was in my own country, in the land of Israel, while I was still a young man, the whole tribe of my ancestor Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. This city had been chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. All the tribes of Israel should sacrifice there. The temple was the dwelling of God that had been consecrated and established for all generations forever. All my kindred and our ancestral house of Naphtali sacrificed to the calf that King Jeroboam of Israel had erected in Dan and on the mountains of Galilee.”

After the preceding 3rd person introduction of Tobit, this now is a 1st person singular account of what happened. Tobit explained that he was a man of truth and righteousness. He was kind to his associates who were exiled in Nineveh, which was the northern capital of Assyria, east of the Tigris River. When Tobit was in his own country as a young man, the tribe of Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. Naphtali was, in fact, 1 of the sons of Jacob, 1 or the 12 tribes of Israel. Asher, Naphtali, and Dan were the northern most tribes of Israel. They were a long way from Jerusalem. As explained in 1 Kings, chapters 12 and 13, King Jeroboam (931-910 BCE), the first king of Israel, set up a golden calf in the territory of Dan and Bethel so that people could worship there instead of Jerusalem. Tobit on the other hand worshiped in Jerusalem.

 

The dispute with King Baasha of Israel (2 Chr 16:1-16:6)

“In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of King Asa, King Baasha of Israel went up against Judah. He built Ramah to prevent anyone from going out or coming into the territory of King Asa of Judah. Then King Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Yahweh and the king’s house. He sent them to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who resided in Damascus, saying. ‘Let there be an alliance between me and you, like between my father and your father. I am sending to you silver and gold. Go! Break your alliance with King Baasha of Israel that he may withdraw from me.’ King Ben-hadad listened to King Asa. He sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store-cities of Naphtali. When Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah, and let his work cease. Then King Asa brought all Judah together. They carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which King Baasha had been building. With them he built Geba and Mizpah.”

Once again, this is almost based word for word like 1 Kings, chapter 15. King Baasha (909-886 BCE) was the contemporary king of Israel. Instead of a continual war with Kings Asa and King Baasha, here the war begins in the 36th year of the rule of King Asa. King Baasha set up some kind of barricade in Ramah, which was about 6 miles north of Jerusalem that kept King Asa from coming and going into Jerusalem. King Asa of Judah had an idea to get the Aramean King Ben-hadad of Damascus on his side against King Baasha of Israel. He sent envoys to Damascus with gold and silver from the temple and palace treasuries. He wanted King Ben-hadad to break his alliance with King Baasha and invade the northern territories. King Ben-hadad took the gold and silver. Then he sent his armies to take over the northern area around Dan and Naphtali. Here there is no mention of Galilee. When this happened, King Baasha stopped his work at Ramah and went to defend his cities. There is no mention of Tirzah here. Meanwhile, King Asa sent all his people out from Jerusalem to Ramah to take all the stones and timbers. Then they rebuilt the cities of Geba, 6 miles northeast of Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory, and Mizpah, about 4 miles northwest of Jerusalem. These towns had existed before, but now they were refortified. Mizpah was a common name for many towns.

 

Various tribal leaders (1 Chr 27:16-27:22)

“Over the tribes of Israel,

For the Reubenites Eliezer son of Zichri was chief officer.

For the Simeonites, Shephatiah son of Maacah was chief officer.

For Levi, Hashabiah son of Kemuel was chief officer.

For Aaron, Zadok was chief officer.

For Judah, Elihu, one of David’s brothers was chief officer.

For Issachar, Omri son of Michael was chief officer.

For Zebulun, Ishmaiah son of Obadiah was chief officer.

For Naphtali, Jeremoth son of Azriel was chief officer.

For the Ephraimites, Hoshea son of Azaziah was chief officer.

For the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel son of Pedaiah was chief officer.

For the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo son of Zechariah was chief officer.

For Benjamin, Jaasiel son of Abner was chief officer.

For Dan, Azarel son of Jeroham was chief officer.

These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel.”

Notice first, that there is no leader for Gad or Asher. Aaron also had a separate leader. Although there are 10 different people with the name of (1) Eliezer, this son of Zichri is only mentioned here. Even though there are 7 different people with the name of (2) Shephatiah, this son of Maacah is only mentioned here. This (3) Hashabiah son of Kemuel may be the same as the Levite mentioned earlier in this book, but there were a lot of Levites with this name. (4) Zadok was the high priest. (5) Elihu was not really a blood brother of King David. There were 3 others with the name of (6) Omri, but this Omri was not a king. (7) Ishmaiah son of Obadiah may have been one of the “Thirty” warriors of David. (8) Jeremoth son of Azriel may have been one of the warriors mentioned in chapter 25. There were 3 other people with the name of Hoshea, including a king, but not this (9) Hoshea son of Azaziah. Although Joel was a popular name of over 14 people, including a prophet, this (10) Joel son of Pedaiah only appears here. 6 different biblical people have the name of Iddo, but this (11) Iddo son of Zechariah only appears here. There is only 1 other Jaasiel besides this (12) Jaasiel son of Abner. This (13) Azarel son of Jeroham may be the same one mentioned in chapter 25.