Bible Commentary Bible History General Theology

Joshua led the Israelites through the 7 years in the conquest

“And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” -Joshua 6:5

Joshua was 80 years old when he  took office, and he died at the age of 110. The command given to Joshua in 1:2 was, “Since Moses is now dead – arise, go over the Jordan with all the people; unto the land given unto you.” Joshua built Two Memorials unto God to show his appreciation at the crossing of the Jordan: one was Gilgal and the other stood in the Jordan River where the priests had stood.

Two spies were sent to look over Jericho, who were originally from Shittim, as we see in Joshua 2:1. Joshua was the one who sent the spies, and therefore, he had them hide in the house of the prostitute, who was called Rahab (Joshua 2:1). She was spared, because she did not know them or why they were at her house. When the feet of the priests touched the brim of the water, the River Jordan rose up in a heap (even at the flooding time of the year), as we see in the text and in Scripture 3:3,13,16. Joshua built Two Memorials unto God to show his appreciation at the crossing of the Jordan: one was Gilgal and the other stood in the Jordan River where the priests had stood.

According to the text, The Israelites sampled a victory by God’s supernatural power in the battle for Ai, however, they were not allowed to retain any spoils. This meant that no one was allowed to keep anything from Jericho, but rather to destroy it except the Vessel for the Treasury of the Lord’s House. Well, going into Ai in their first battle, 36 men had died because of sin in the camp: Achan, a soldier in the army had kept some of the spoils from Jericho (and he was the one who caused Israel to lose their first battle). (Thankfully, for them though, after destroying Achan and his household, The Israelites conquered Ai.)

Synopsis

Joshua wrote his own Book of Joshua, which was around 14th century BC. This book is normally served as a continuation of the Pentateuch (first five Books of the Bible written by Moses). The largest concern of this book has to do with Israel’s conquest of Canaan, as well as the division of land among the tribes. He writes about God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His covenant promises in Israel concerning Canaan.

The book starts out with the preparation for entering Canaan, to which Joshua is commissioned by God. This command is brief and upfront; which involved taking the land of Canaan. Though Israel would not win the land without a fight, the people had God’s assurance that they would gain possession where they trod. Joshua was given assurance that God was with him, but Joshua still needed courage and wisdom from God to endure. Anyway, they were given instructions to cross the Jordan River next.

The idea of crossing the Jordan River is to conquer the Western area. The first city to conquer was Jericho, for it blocks the passage through the mountain. Therefore, they work their way across the Jordan River, to come upon the camp at Gilgal, where some of the talk was about circumcision, and that through completion of it, people could celebrate the Passover. God had a special messenger come unto Joshua to remind him that God was the commander of Israel’s army; therefore, Joshua fell at his feet to worship him, because he believed it was God in human form.

Next, we see the conquering of the Promised Land, where the Israelites are in their conquest of Canaan. A division was created between the northern and southern regions so the Canaanite tribes would be prevented from joining forces. The idea is to destroy and conquer Canaan – first to conquer the South (as we see in chapter 10) and then the North (as we see in chapter 11). This was part of God’s plan, which had given the Canaanites time to repent. Their wickedness was so great that the time of judgment has now come.

God used His People, Israel, to complete the destruction of the Canaanites. So, we see the defeat of Jericho detailed in chapter 6. Over the next six days, the Israelites marched around Jericho once a day, and then returned unto the camp at Gilgal. On the seventh day, the Israelites were to march around the city seven times. When the walls of the city fell, they were to destroy all people except for Rahab and her household, and all of the good except for the precious metals. The Israelites were not to keep anything for themselves in this process.

God had planned that the victory in Jericho would bring glory unto Him, which was in response by faith from His People. God wanted Jericho to be left in ruins; a permanent monument of its destruction by His curse. If anyone were to rebuild the city, the curse would pass onto him, and he would suffer the loss of his own sons. After this, we see the defeat and victory at Ai, and then the worship and covenant renewal at Shechem. Then, Scripture details the conquest to Southern Canaan, where they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, and then the destruction of the Amorite Coalition.

Soon, we read about the victory in Southern Canaan, where it was Joshua’s biggest battle so far. God pressed assurance of victory on Joshua nonetheless, and so when the victory occurred, Joshua led his forces further into the southern regions of Canaan conquering the key cities. Therefore, the conquered cities would include Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, and Eglon, as well as other cities, such as Hebron and Debir. It reached as far South as Kadesh-barnea and as far West as Gaza. Israel had now conquered and controlled almost the entirety of Southern Canaan, as we see at the end of chapter 10.

The Southern conquer was difficult, but not as difficult as the Northern side of things appeared, for a large army had been prepared and equipped, which intimidated Joshua and his army. However, God continued to encourage Joshua in his lack of faith, and made sure that he had strength. All of northern Canaan then, was soon in the hands of Israel. So, then Joshua summarizes all of the conquest, because now Israel has controlled all of the territory that was to become its homeland. From receiving their inheritance, to gaining control of territory, and then listing the kings of the Canaanite city-states in whom the Israelites had defeated.

Now that the territory has been controlled by Israel, the leaders began the task of dividing the land among the tribes. Throughout the country, many areas were still occupied by the Canaanites, because either they had escaped the Israelites or it was just too difficult to conquer the area. With the people weary of battle, the Canaanites became big trouble for Israel. Anyway, the land conquered was divided among the tribes, and the plans were mapped out for the divisions in chapters 13-14. The largest portions of Canaan went to the chief tribes, which were Judah and Joseph. Judah received almost the entirety of Southern Canaan, and Joseph almost the entirety of Central Canaan. So, overall, Joshua detailed much of the division of the inheritance, whether sorting the tribes to the West or East of the Jordan River. After this, he details special allotments, which included six cities of refuge and the cities of the Levites.

Soon, we learn of the return of the Eastern Tribes, as we see in chapter 22. Now that the territory West of Jordan was conquered and divided among the nine and a half tribes, the other two and a half tribes were free to return to their inheritance that was east of the Jordan River. They were commended for being faithful to helping their brothers conquer Canaan and then warned them to remain true to God in their new home. Peace was also restored for the Western tribes, and the Eastern tribes gave the altar a special name. They were all bound to God, who was their covenant Lord. This was wonderful for them that they were able to finally get to Canaan and conquer, which moved God’s Will further.

Then, we see Joshua’s farewell messages, especially addressing Israel’s rulers and all of Israel. He noted some info on the covenant renewal at Shechem, before we finally see the conclusion. The conclusion involved the death and burial of Joshua, the burial of the bones of Joseph, and the death and burial of Eleazar. Three good men in the conquest to Canaan had passed away, but Israel had a hopeful future: Joshua helped them to a great inheritance and made a legacy that any man would want to leave – and that’s accomplishing God’s Will!

%d bloggers like this: