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Today's Readings: Joshua 15 | Isaiah 20,21 | Philemon

Reading 1 - Jos 15

"Judah was the imperial tribe, and it was fitting that he should be planted in a conspicuous territory. Even if the republic had not been destined to give place to the monarchy, some preeminence was due to the tribe which had inherited the patriarchal blessing, and from which he was to come in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. Judah and the sons of Joseph seem to have obtained their settlements not only before the other tribes, but in a different manner. They did not obtain them by lot, but apparently by their own choice and by early possession. Judah was not planted in the heart of the country. That position was gained by Ephraim and Manasseh, the children of Joseph, while Judah obtained the southern section. In this position his influence was not so commanding at first as it would have been had he occupied the centre. The portion taken possession of by Judah had belonged to the first batch of kings that Joshua subdued, the kings that came up to take vengeance on the Gibeonites. What was first assigned to Judah was too large, and the tribe of Simeon got accommodation within his lot (Jos 19:9). Dan also obtained several cities that had first been given to Judah (compare Jos 15:21-62; 19:40-46). In point of fact, Judah ere long swallowed up a great part of Simeon and Dan, and Benjamin was so hemmed in between him and Ephraim that, while Jerusalem was situated within the limits of Benjamin, it was, for all practical purposes, a city of Judah" (Expositor's Bible).

Reading 2 - Isa 21

Isa 21 is a very difficult prophecy, but it appears to be about an especially significant Passover deliverance -- and this accords well with the great destruction of the Assyrian army (described in Isa 36; 37) which is at the heart of the whole prophecy.

"The twilight I longed for" (Isa 21:4), or "the night of my pleasure" (AV), looks like an allusion to Passover, the only holy observance kept at nighttime, and the time of the overthrow of Sennacherib's Assyrian army (Isa 31:5; 30:29; 29:1; 26:20; 33:20; 52:12).

In v 5, there are other Passover allusions: the setting of the tables, the eating and drinking. The command to "oil the shields" (or "anoint the shield": AV) MIGHT be translated, as does the Septuagint, "anoint the doorposts", referring to the smearing of the blood of the Lamb on the door frames of faithful Jews in Egypt (Exo 12:22). Likewise, t