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Great Discoveries of the Bible

— A Landmarks of Faith Seminar —

Great Discoveries Seminar

Joshua and the Judges

Booklet  See notes below.

Lecture #4b:

Or click here for more listening options at Internet Archive.

Great Discoveries of the Bible Lecture #5a ⇨
⇦ Great Discoveries of the Bible Lecture #4a


Lecture #4b Notes



Though Shiloh was the worship center of Israel for many years, it’s hardly ever mentioned in the Bible. The first clear picture of worship there appears in 1 Samuel 1-4. (When Shiloh is mentioned in the book of Judges, the Benjaminites had to be given directions to find it: There is a feast of the Lord from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah... (Judg. 21:19).


Ugarit: Ancient Canaanite city in Lebanon (Ras Shamra; 14th/13th cent. BC). Thousands of clay tablets have been discovered.

Baal: The Canaanite storm god.

Yamm: The Canaanite god of the sea.

Asherah: The mother of the gods, a personification of fertility, symbolized by wooden Asherah poles, some of which were probably living trees. The wife of El.

Anat: The goddess of love and war.

El: The Canaanite Creator God, whose position of authority was taken by Baal. Often called Bull El.

1 Kings 18:28: So they [the prophets of Baal] cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them...

Gen. 15:16: ...the iniquity of the Amorite

Mt. Zaphon: The northern mountain of God where El rules over the sons of God.

Job 1:6: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord...

Psa. 82:1 (in Hebrew): God (Elohim) takes his stand in the congregation of El, he judges among the gods (See also Gen. 6:2,4; Psa. 136:2, 138:1.)

Ezek. 28:14: You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire...

Kothar wa-Khasis: The craftsman-god, with western associations probably related to the rich copper trade with Cyprus.

The battle of Baal and Yamm (the clouds battle the sea): Swoop down in the hand of Baal [the club of Baal], like an eagle between his fingers; strike the back of Prince Yamm, between the arms [i.e. on the back] of Judge Nahar... The club swoops in the hand of Baal, like an eagle between his fingers; it strikes the pate of Prince Yamm, between the eyes of Judge Nahar. Yamm collapses... He falls to the ground (James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, vol. 1, Princeton U. Press, pp. 96-97, lines 10-30).

A palace [a temple] is built for Baal (in the hope of guaranteeing that rain will fall): Now, too, the seasons of his rains will Baal observe, the seasons...with snow; and he will peal his thunder in the clouds, flashing his lightnings to the earth (Pritchard, p. 102).

The battle of Baal and Mot (the wet season battles the dry season and loses): One lip to earth and one to heaven, he [Mot, the god of death] stretches his tongue to the stars. Baal enters his mouth, descends into him like an olive-cake, like the yield of the earth and trees’ fruit [the fields and trees become barren] (Pritchard, p. 108).

El mourns Baal: Straightaway kindly El benign, descends from the throne...and sits on the ground, pours dust of mourning on his head, earth of mortification on his pate; and puts on sackcloth and loincloth [all signs of mourning]. He cuts a gash with a stone, incision with a rock [self-mutilation as the prophets of Baal did on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:28)]. He gashes his cheeks and his chin, he harrows the roll of his arm. He plows his chest like a garden, harrows his back like a plain. He lifts up his voice and cries... (Pritchard, p. 110).

Anat comes to the rescue of Baal (the season of sowing seed in dry ground): She [Anat] seizes the godly Mot [the god of death], with sword she cleaves him, with fan she winnows him, with fire she burns him [as chaff and straw], with hand-mill she grinds him. In the field she sows him. Birds eat his remains, consuming his portions, flitting from remnant to remnant (Pritchard, p. 112-3).

Baal is restored (the season of rain returns again): In a dream, kindly El benign, in a vision, Creator of creatures, the heavens fat did rain, the wadies flow with honey. So I knew that Baal the strong was alive (Pritchard, p. 113).

(Event #8 on the map)

The Jezreel Valley: A large, fertile valley on a major trade route through Israel (the Way of the Sea). One of the great battlefields of history. Previously part of the power base of the Hyksos civilization. A center of Canaanite resistance to Israel.

 MAP OF JOSHUA AND THE JUDGES  (opens in a new window)

Sisera: Army commander for King Jabin of Hazor. He led the alliance against Israel, with 900 iron chariots. He lived in Harosheth-hagoyim (Judg. 4:2).

Harosheth-hagoyim: Recently identified with a site known as el-Ahwat (towards the coast southwest of Megiddo on the map).

Shardana: One of the earliest of the Sea Peoples to invade the Eastern Mediterranean. Originally from Sardinia.

Mt. Tabor: Where the Israelite coalition under Deborah and Barak gathered together against the Canaanites.

Judg. 5:20-21: The stars fought from the heavens, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The torrent of Kishon swept them away.

Judg. 4:15: Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot

(Event #9 on the map)

 MAP OF JOSHUA AND THE JUDGES  (opens in a new window)

Judg. 8:21,26: So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.... besides the crescent ornaments...that were on the kings of Midian

Why was Gideon threshing grain in a wine press? (Judg. 6:11)

Judg. 7:12: The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

Ein Harod:  The spring and adjoining pool where Gideon chose the men who would fight with him against the Midianites (Judg. 7:1).

Shofar:  A ram’s horn trumpet. One shofar was usually used for a whole division of the army.


Judg. 13:1: Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.

Mycenaean Greeks:  Fought the battle for Troy, recorded in the Iliad and the Odyssey: the most famous Greek writings of all time. After the war at Troy, many came to the Eastern Mediterranean among the many different Sea Peoples groups.

Nostoi epics: Tell of Greeks who didn’t return home after the Trojan war, but sailed the eastern Mediterranean founding cities.

Dorian Greeks: Invaders from the north who expelled the Mycenaean Greeks. They are the ancestors of modern Greeks.

Ramses III:  Fought an epic battle against the Sea Peoples (1170 B.C.). The fighting just barely succeeded in pushing the Sea Peoples back. One group, the Peleset, settled instead on the southern coast of Canaan. These are the Philistines of the Bible. (Philistine cities are marked with squares on the map in the bottom left corner.)

Philistines:  Actually had a sophisticated culture, unlike the modern use of the word “Philistine” to imply someone without culture or intellectual interests. They also had iron technology.

Samson: The stories about him in the Bible read like a Greek epic. Samson is a Greek-style champion posing Greek-style riddles at a Greek-style banquet. This reflects the heavy Greek influence in the area where he grew up.

Judg. 13:22: So Manoah said to his wife, We will surely die, for we have seen God.

 MAP OF JOSHUA AND THE JUDGES  (opens in a new window)

In a battle near Aphek, the ark of the covenant was lost to the Philistines. (Event #11 on the map.)

Copyright © 2016, 2019, 2021 by Jeffrey J. Harrison.
Many of the Scripture verses quoted have been translated or modified by the author to bring out details of the original Greek or Hebrew text. Otherwise: Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright the Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.
Unattributed photos are by the author. All rights reserved.