The Anakim and the Nephilim
After the people of Israel left Egypt, they came to the borders of Canaan, the land that Yahweh their God had promised to them. Before they entered the land, Moses sent 12 spies to investigate the land and its people (Num. 13). In a later passage Moses seems to place responsibility for the spies being sent on the people of Israel (Deut. 1:22). With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, the spies brought back a pessimistic report of their survey of Canaan. To 10 of the spies, the fortified walls of the Canaanite cities were an overwhelming obstacle for their conquest of the land (13:28). The spies also were terrified by the size of the inhabitants of Canaan. “They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13:32-33 NIV). In their exaggeration of the situation, the spies spoke to the assembly of the leaders of Israel of the terrible predicament awaiting the people of Israel. The spies added that, in addition of being people of gigantic stature, the Anakim were the Nephilim, the dreadful people who lived on earth in the days before the flood.
Ur and Haran: Abraham’s Background
The migration of the patriarchs from their place of origin into the land of Canaan is emphasized several times in the Old Testament as an integral ingredient of biblical history. In fact, the early life of Abraham is characterized by his migrations from Mesopotamia to Canaan, to Egypt, and back to Canaan. This emphasis is consistent with the biblical view that the patriarchs came from outside of Canaan. Joshua, in retelling the mighty acts of the God of Israel to the new generation of Israelites, reminded them of this important fact in the history of the young nation: “Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River” (Josh. 24:2 NIV). The river mentioned by Joshua was the Euphrates.
The Geographical Challenges of the Sinai
SINAI IS THE NAME of the mountain where God appeared to Moses while he was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. It is also the place where the Israelites stopped to worship God three months after they left the oppression in Egypt. At the foot of Mount Sinai, God established His covenant with Israel. The covenant made Israel God’s special people, a people set apart for the Lord’s service in the world.
Malachi: A Prophet for His Time
The Book of Malachi is small but important. This prophet spoke at a time when the people were unhappy with their condition, and ministered to a community that was spiritually disappointed and had practically lost faith in God (1:2). The people of Israel had returned to their land with high expectations and hopes of a glorious future, but the return from exile in Babylon had not restored the glories of the past and had not ushered in the messianic age as promised by the prophets.
Nebuchadnezzar: King of Babylon
Nebuchadnezzar II, the Neo-Babylonian Empire’s second king, was the most famous king of the Chaldeans, a people whom Jeremiah called “an ancient nation” (Jer. 5:15). As king, Nebuchadnezzar brought fame and prosperity to the Empire. Of all the foreign kings the Old Testament mentions, this Nebuchadnezzar is the most prominent and the one with which Bible students are most familiar. Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 605-562 B.C.
Establishing Weights and Measures in Ancient Israel
A STUDY OF THE SYSTEM OF WEIGHTS and measures of a nation (or “metrology”) provides the foundation for understanding some of the factors that shaped the social and economic development of that nation. The systems of weights, measures of length, and measures of capacity in ancient Israel were related to the ancient metrological systems common in Mesopotamia. The ideal condition for trade and commerce in Israel and among ancient Near Eastern nations required an accurate system of weights and measures.
Yahweh, The Breaker of Israel
The message of the oracle in 2:12-13 has been the source of much debate. The oracle is divided into two parts. The speaker of v. 12 is Yahweh who promises the restoration of the remnant of Israel that is scattered among the nations. The speaker of v. 13 is a different person since Yahweh is spoken of in the third person. The speaker of v. 13 declares that Yahweh will save his people from their confinement by breaking the walls that confine them and by leading them into freedom.