Course Hero. "Old Testament Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Apr. 2018. Web. 22 June 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/>.
Course Hero. (2018, April 27). Old Testament Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/
(Course Hero, 2018)
Course Hero. "Old Testament Study Guide." April 27, 2018. Accessed June 22, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/.
Course Hero, "Old Testament Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed June 22, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/.
Joshua leads the tribes of Israel in the conquest of Canaan.
The land of Canaan is divided among the tribes of Israel.
Joshua presents significant challenges for the reader, especially regarding its relationship to history and the ethics of its holy war narrative.
The historicity of the events portrayed in Joshua has long been debated. Problems with the story are evident within the book itself: the few battles narrated with any detail cover only a limited area of the region they are supposed to possess. A full list of 31 kings and their cities who have been conquered is given in Joshua 12, but fewer than half of these are mentioned elsewhere in Joshua. Joshua is also in tension with Judges, which narrates significant warfare between the Canaanites and Israelites continuing after Joshua's death, despite the impression that the whole land had already been conquered.
Archaeological study in Israel has further complicated the historicity of Joshua's conquest story. While the ruins of Hazor do show a fiery destruction from the approximate time of Joshua, other cities portrayed in Joshua, such as Jericho and Ai, seem to have been uninhabited ruins in this period. Archaeology does show shifting settlement trends in the region during the period, and an Israelite society did emerge in Canaan one way or another. But a dramatic conquest like that portrayed in Joshua may not have been the sole or primary cause.
Also challenging for readers of Joshua is the holy war portrayed in the book. Despite ancestral claims to a handful of places within Canaan, Joshua's Israelite armies could reasonably be perceived as hostile foreign invaders waging an unprovoked, violent campaign justified by claims of a divine mandate. Not only do they attack and raze cities without provocation, they are commanded by Yahweh to "devote to destruction" all the inhabitants of the cities they conquer, "men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys." This program of the so-called "ban" (Hebrew: herem) is paralleled in a 9th-century BCE Moabite inscription, which uses the same terminology and prescribes similar slaughter of enemy captives. This raises a key point for understanding Joshua: However shocking to modern sensibilities, its theology and politics must be understood in their ancient context, where they are not so unusual.