“So he showed them the entrance to the city and they struck it with the edge of the sword. Yet the man and his extended family, they sent away.”
Having been given the covenantal promise of protection, the man revealed to the house of Joseph where the hidden entrance to the city was and the soldiers gained entrance. Once inside they put the city to the edge of the sword (literally, to “the mouth of the sword”). Much as we discussed above, with MårDj (charam — see verse 17), this language speaks of devoting to death everything living within the city. And, as we noted above, this only makes sense in light of a surprise attack upon the city and a surprise attack only makes sense if we understand the entrance to be a secondary, unguarded entrance of which only the inhabitants of the city knew.
In putting the city to the sword, they do provide safe passage for the man who betrayed Luz to the sons of Joseph…but not just to him alone. We discover here that it is his entire, extended family that is delivered. The Hebrew term for “family” that is found here is hDjDÚpVvIm (mishpachah), which refers not only to one’s immediate family, but also to one’s extended family as well — one could translate this even as “clan.” In the historical reading of the text, this only makes sense as the man moves the region of the Hittites (to the north) and establishes a city — a task that would have been all but impossible either alone or with just one’s immediate family. Yet, with an extended family, the result seems far more plausible.
While this deliverance is a reminder of the deliverance of Rahab and her family when Jericho fell, it is also a reminder of the principle of covenant headship. As the head of his family (and clearly, of his extended family), he has the right and privilege of negotiating on behalf of his family as a whole. The family suffers with him in failure but the whole family benefits when he does what is right.
What is fascinating is the change of direction that God providentially seems to give this man, for this account is not just about the deliverance of an individual, but of a family. The city has fortified itself as it soon will be under siege and this man sneaks out with no indication that any of his family is with him. Of course, we don’t know the motivation for this — perhaps he was seeing if this was a safe way to exit the city and would then go back for his family. At the same time, there is nothing to indicate he was trying to save anyone’s skin but his own. If this latter case is true, through his capture by the sons of Joseph and his betrayal of the city, not only was his family delivered…but he was delivered from his own sin of not caring for his family.
One of the plagues on the culture in the west is how often men seem to abdicate their responsibility and their role in their family. Many desert their children, leaving them to be raised by their mothers alone. Many choose to spend their money on themselves rather than sacrificing to provide for a family. But even when men do not desert their financial responsibilities to their families, they sadly abdicate their spiritual responsibility to lead their homes, once again, laying that burden on their wives.
Men, we have a covenant responsibility to lead our households in spiritual things. We must be the primary teachers of our family when it comes to the Bible, to theology, to spiritual living, and to covenant faithfulness. We teach in our actions, we teach in our lifestyle, but we also need to teach intentionally by opening up the Bible, reading it to our families, and instructing them in its meaning and application. And it also includes praying for and with our families as well as teaching them to pray. But how do you teach what you do not know? We must strive to be the “experts in our home” as we are the masters of our homes. That’s the heart of being a spiritual head. The question for those men who are reading this is will you? The question for those ladies who are reading this is, will you encourage your husbands to do so?