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Dividing the spoils

Dividing the spoils after a war or battle was a very common practice. Livestock, precious metals, clothing, and even people could be taken as spoils. These things were considered gifts from the victor’s gods. In the case of the Israelites, they were considered gifts from the Lord. All gifts were to be shared with allies […]


A manslayer was a person who unintentionally took another person’s life. Such a person could flee to a “city of refuge” (20:1–6) for safety until his case was heard. The term “manslayer” corresponds to the modern use of the term “manslaughter” for unintentional killing.


Bethlehem? There are actually two places called Bethlehem in the Bible. The town where Ruth lived and where Jesus was born was about 5 miles (8 km) south of Jerusalem. The one mentioned in 19:15 was about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent his childhood years.


Megiddo was the site of many important OT battles. It was a walled city that guarded the main road that linked Egypt and Syria. Its setting made Megiddo a strategic military stronghold. In John’s visions in Revelation, Megiddo represents the global combat zone where the final battle between Christ and Satan will be fought. The […]


Anakim were apparently a race of very tall people, descended from Anak. After the Israelites conquered Canaan, many of the Anakim took up residence with the Philistines. Because of this, many assume that Goliath was descended from the Anakim.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon (13:5) represented the northern boundary of the Promised Land. At over 9,000 feet (2,743 m), its snowy peak and thick forests were home to leopards and lions.

Royal humiliation

Royal humiliation. In the ancient Near East, victors would often put their feet on the necks of defeated foes (10:24). This was usually done to people in positions of leadership. The act was meant to show dominance over the defeated foe.


Wineskins used for storing and pouring wine (9:13) were made from the skin of a goat or other animal. Jesus uses wineskins as a metaphor to contrast the outdated religious rules of the Pharisees and the new life that he brings (Matt. 9:17).


Ambush. Battles were sometimes won by deceptive military strategy rather than by brute strength. If an army had smaller numbers or was unfamiliar with the territory, an ambush (8:2) was a great way to “even the odds.”