Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview

XV
THE FORCES THAT LED TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HEBREW KINGDOM

The Lack of Unity Among the Hebrew Tribes. The powerful influence of the peculiar physical contour of Palestine on its inhabitants was clearly illustrated during the latter part of the period of settlement. Although masters of Canaan, there was apparently no political unity between the different Hebrew tribes. Like the petty Canaanite kingdoms, which they had conquered, they were all intent upon their own problems and fought their battles independently. The story of Jephthah reveals the same conditions in the east-Jordan country. The result was that the Hebrews soon fell an easy prey to the invaders who pressed them on every side. The Ammonites on the east were ever eager to push their borders to the Jordan. It was only the energetic leadership of Jephthah, a local champion of the tribe of Manasseh, that delivered the Hebrews for a time from these invaders. The land of Tob, where Jephthah took refuge, was probably in northern Gilead. The name may be represented by that of the village and wady of Taiyibeh, across the Jordan east of Bethshean. Jephthah's success only aroused the enmity of the powerful tribe of Ephraim, west of the Jordan, and the story in Judges 12 reveals a state of inter-tribal warfare rather than of united action against their common foes.

The Scenes of Gideon's Exploits. As the event demonstrated, the only influence sufficient to overcome the physical forces working for disunion was a strong and prolonged attack from without. The attacks of the Midianites, recorded in the

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