Notes and Ideas based on my reading of
Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings of Both the New and the Old Testaments, An Argument of Their Veracity by John James Blunt
(published by Robert Carter & Brothers, New York, 1851)
Regarding Balaam of Pethor- you remember- the guy with the talking donkey who kept trying to curse Israel, then figured out God would punish them if they sinned so he had the king send a bunch of prostitutes into the Israelite’s camp… (Num 22-25)
Well… it seems he visited Midian just after this event, and got himself killed along with the five kings of Midian when the Israelites fought them. (Num 31:8)
It also seems, when looking at the next census, that it was primarily the tribe of Simeon that slept with the prostitutes as their numbers have decreased significantly after the plague, while the other tribes only decrease slightly. As a chief in the tribe of Simeon is the one Phineas puts his sword through while he is ‘in the act,’ during the plague no less, this makes sense. Simeon is also not blessed by Moses a short time later…. And, just to pick on the tribe of Simeon a bit more- they do not take the land in the Promised Land as they were supposed to and end up with a remnant of Judah’s land, since Judah, under the leadership of Caleb has taken more than they can take care of. (Remember Joshua and Caleb of the two spies story- the only guys who had faith they could take the land as God told them to? He is now in charge of the tribe of Judah, while Joshua takes Moses’ place.).
Caleb is an interesting dude too. He is obviously old, being one of the only two men who survived in his generation wandering in the desert. He goes into the Promised Land, kills giants and leads his tribe to take more land than they can handle. He then promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to the guy who can take a certain parcel of land with giants in it. (Likely this is a test for her suiter, since later she seems pretty happy with the arrangement….) So Othniel, who will become the first judge in Israel, takes the land, slays the giants and wins Caleb’s daughter’s hand. But, when it is discovered that there are no good watering sites on the land, Othniel makes his wife (Caleb’s daughter) ask her father for a stream. It seems he is not afraid of giants, but a little scared of his father-in-law. Caleb is one tough cookie! (Josh 15)
The tribe of Dan also screws up. They are supposed to take the land the Philistines live on. Since we hear a lot about the Philistines throughout the Old Testament it is obvious they don’t. Since the Philistines then become trapped between Israel and the ocean, it makes sense that the two are constantly at war, since the Philistines, due to their position, would otherwise be at Israel’s mercy. Then the tribe of Dan, needing more land, goes north and takes a peaceful city that they were not to bother whose only fault is that they were isolated and had no ‘friends’ to come to their aid. (Though judging from the behavior of their neighbors, ‘good’ friends were likely difficult to come by in that area.
It would be nice to say that the tribes of Simeon and Dan redeemed themselves, but the truth is that, other than the years of David and Solomon when the kingdom is united, the northern tribes (everyone but Judah and Benjamin- which is tiny due to its previous misbehavior…) have very few bright and shining moments until Israel is united again after captivity.
So what can we learn from this?
- Don’t sleep with prostitutes- just don’t. And don’t tempt others to do it either.
- When God tells you to do something, do it. Don’t take the seemingly easy way out, especially if it involves taking advantage of the weak or innocent. The unforeseen consequences of not doing it are just not worth it, and if God says He will help you do it, He will.
- People who listen to God and do what He says can be a little intimidating, even when they are old, in a good way- the way a Navy Seal is. Strive to be that person.