Crossing the Jordan River into Canaan
Crossing the Jordan River into Canaan
Jordan RiverThe Jordan River and the river valley are important locations in both the Old and New Testaments. It's especially important to the Jewish and Christian people.
Geography of the RiverThe river is a river in the Middle East that starts north, in the mountains of Lebanon. It flows into the Dead Sea. Bible writers talk about it many times. They report it in the story of Joshua, who led the Israelites across the Jordan into Canaan. John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan. The Jordan River valley is a lush green area that is surrounded by desert. It's famous for its fertile land and beautiful scenery. Bible writers called it the land of milk and honey. This is because God told Moses that he would lead the Israelites to a land "where milk and honey flow like rivers" (Exodus 3:8, Casual English Bible).
Jordan River scenes in the BibleThe Jordan River valley is home to other important biblical sites, including Jericho. That's the city famous for its walls that came tumbling down in Joshua's time. The northern river valley is also home to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. And in that same valley, on the Sea of Galilee, is where the Bible writers report that Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. The Casual English Bible describes the river as "the most famous river in the Bible." It says that when Joshua led the Israelites across the river and into the Promised Land "walking in the water of the Jordan River symbolized the people stepping out in faith and trusting God to keep his promise." The Bible says God stopped the Jordan River during flood sea, which allowed the Israelites to cross. Israelites are the ancient ancestors of today's Jewish people.
For more about the River, consider these bestselling Bible-background books: Complete Guide to the Bible, Who's Who & Where's Where in the Bible.
Map of Battle at Ai
3D map of Battle at Ai of the Israelites, led by Joshua during their invasion of Canaan.
Battle at Ai
Bible Map of Gibeon
Bible map of Gibeon, city that tricks Joshua into peace treaty. 3D map of Gibeon and Gilgal. Gibeon tricked Joshua into agreeing to a peace treaty when other cities were destroyed.
Gibeon tricks Joshua
Ramah to Bethlehem to anoint David king
Map of Ramah to Bethlehem to anoint David king of IsraelSamuel had a trip to make, from his hometown of Ramah, north of Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, a half-day's walk south. Here's part of the story, from 1 Samuel 16.
Story behind the mapThe LORD asked Samuel, “Why are you still mourning Saul? I fired him. He’s not the king anymore. What’s it going to take to get you past this? Put some olive oil in a container, an animal horn. Take it with you to Bethlehem. I want you to meet Jesse and his sons who live there. I have picked one of Jesse’s sons as king.” Samuel said, “If Saul hears about this, he’ll kill me.” But the LORD said, “Take a calf with you. Tell people you’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the LORD. Invite Jesse and his sons to the sacrificial meal. I’ll show you what to do. You’re going to use that olive oil to anoint the one I have chosen as king.” Samuel did what the LORD said. He went to Bethlehem. City leaders were afraid to ask why he came there. Shaking with fear they said, “Did you come in peace?” Samuel said, “Yes. I came to sacrifice this calf to the LORD. Ritually cleanse yourselves for worship and you can join me.” Samuel invited Jesse and his sons to the meal and led them through their cleansing rituals.
Sizing up Jesse's boysWhen Jesse and his boys arrived, Samuel was impressed by Jesse’s son Eliab. Samuel thought, “He has to be the one the LORD picked.” The LORD told Samuel, “Don’t judge this man by how good he looks or how tall he is. I didn’t pick him. I don’t judge people like humans do. They judge by what they can see on the outside. The LORD judges by what’s on the inside—the heart with its character, integrity, and courage."
Saul's hunt for lost donkeys
The good donkey herder Saul goes looking for his lost donkeys
1 SAMUEL 9
SAUL HUNTS DONKEY, FINDS PROPHET
Kish had some donkeys that strayed one day. So he told Saul, “Take a servant with you and round up the strays.”
They searched up and down Ephraim’s hills, and in the territories of Shalishah and Shaalim, and all over Benjamin’s tribal land. No luck. By the time they reached the territory of Zuph, Saul told the young man traveling with him, “We’d better get home. Before long, my dad’s going to start worrying about us instead of the donkeys.” But the young man said, “Before we go home, there’s a man in the nearby town you might want to see. He serves God. People respect him. Whenever he says something will happen, it happens. Let’s go see him. Maybe he’ll help us finish what we started.”
That man was the prophet Samuel. And he was looking for the man God has selected to become the first king of Israel. Saul was that man.
Saul never found the lost donkeys. They got home some other way. By the time Saul got home, he had become the king of Israel...a job he didn't seem to want.
Saul hunts for lost donkeys
Map of Samuel's route as a traveling judge
Map Samuel's circuitous court route
Judge of IsraelMapping the story of Samuel: “Samuel led Israel and settled legal disputes throughout his life. He judged cases in year-long cycles, traveling from Bethel, to Gilgal, to Mizpah. The fourth stop of the year was his hometown, Ramah.” (1 Samuel 7:15-17). The Bible's book of Judges reports the stories of heroic leaders of Israel rising up to meet a challenge, usually raiders. They include Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. It's surprising to many that Samuel is considered the last of Israel's "judges," even though he's not mentioned in the book of Judges. But he was one of the few leaders of Israel who was actually a court judge who adjudicated legal cases. He traveled a three-town circuit in central Israel before retreating to his nearby hometown. Philistines stopped invading Israel and attacking them. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, God kept the Philistines in check. Israel recaptured two Philistine cities and the surrounding land that the Philistines had taken from them: Ekron and Gath. Israelites lived peacefully alongside their Amorite neighbors in the land. The story continues with the Israelites asking Samuel to give them a king like other nations, 1 Samuel 8. For other Bible versions, see Bible Gateway.
Samuel's circuitous court route
Map Philistines capture Israel's Ark of Covenant
Philistines crush Israel’s army at the city of Ebenezer then steal the chest that holds the 10 Commandments, Israel’s most sacred object...the Ark of the Covenant. Philistines pass it around from city to city because people get sick wherever it goes. No one wants it. In the end, they give it back. By the time it reaches Jerusalem, it traveled 100 miles (160 km). The story appears in 1 Samuel 4-5.
Philistines capture Ark of the Covenant
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