Life in the ancient Near East was not easy. In order to survive, multiply, and prosper, people needed physical safety, water, food, and resources such as fertile land, fertile flocks, and families. Before they ever set foot in the Promised Land, God assured his people that he would provide these essentials – and give them abundantly – if they would be faithful to worship and obey him always (Deuteronomy 11). But the people came from another source: Baal and his mistress, Asherah. The ensuing clash of beliefs and values between the Canaanites and the Israelites was not only a battle for survival in their environments; it was a battle with far reaching spiritual implications: a battle for the hearts, minds, and souls of God’s people.
- What did King Solomon do at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer? (See I Kings 9:15-17)Why was it important for Solomon to build walls around the three main cities along the Via Maris in Israel?
Discuss the possible political, financial, cultural, and spiritual impact of these improvements.
- What measures did the people of Megiddo take to ensure their water supply? (See Follow the Rabbi “Water Systems”.) What benefits did a secure water supply provide for the people?
Discuss ways in which a secure water supply might have influenced the beliefs and values of the people.
- Ancient people tended to think of their gods in terms of a specific place or a specific aspect of life. That’s why people who were fishermen tended to worship gods of the sea, people who lived near a volcano tended to worship gods of fire, and people who raised crops tended worship gods of fertility or rain. So it is not surprising that the Canaanites attributed the fertility of their crops to their god, Baal. Discuss how the common perceptions ancient people had about their deities might have influenced or challenged how the Israelites thought about God when they began living in the Promised Land. What questions might they have had about their security and future when they worshiped a God who had faithfully fed, watered, and led them through the desert wilderness, but now found themselves living among people who settled in cities and depended more on their crops than on their flocks for survival?
Suggested memory verse: Micah 6:8
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” (ESV)