LIBERTY UNIVERSITY JOHN W. RAWLINGS SCHOOL OF DIVINTY Joshua: Strong and Courageous in the Chaos Submitted to Dr. Joseph Cathey in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of Prophets I (B01) OBST0830 B01 202330 by Richard Bristol June 26, 2023
LIBERTY UNIVERSITY JOHN W. RAWLINGS SCHOOL OF DIVINTY
Joshua: Strong and Courageous in the Chaos
Submitted to Dr. Joseph Cathey in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of
OBST0830 B01 202330 Prophets I (B01)
Richard Bristol Student Number L25569122
June 26, 2023
Introduction Elephant in the Text Historical Biblical Canonical Background The Failure of the Text Within the Text Assumption of Reliability Author, Compiler, Editor, Redactor Joshua’s Connection to the Bible The Good Guy Archeological Background A Different Kind of Conquest Ancient Near East Material Israelite Canaanite Egyptian Hittite Mesopotamian Applying the Archeology Biblical Theological Themes/Motifs God is Holy Saved by Grace Faith and Faithful Obedience A Different Kind of Kingdom The Land as a Holy Place for a Holy Purpose Critical-interpretive issues Evangelical Challenge to Mainstream Academia Diachronic Approaches to the Text Synchronic Approaches to the Text Historical Approaches to the Text Applying the Diverse Approaches Conclusion Bibliography
As the Torah declares, “The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is His name (Exodus 15:3).” This idea seems out of place in modern Christianity. Today, the religious debate is dominated by more nonconfrontational forms of religious expression, yet the consequence of that battle still has extreme and even dire results. Far from a simple record of an ancient holy war, the Book of Joshua is a complex look at the physical effects of hard-fought spiritual warfare. Joshua applies directly to a world where competing worldviews battle both in the spiritual and the physical realms. In Ephesians, Paul paints a similar picture when he exhorts followers of Jesus to be at war against “the rulers…the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places(Ephesians 6:12).” The book of Joshua is a text just as useful for the battle today as when it was first composed because we share similar struggles and even many of the same consequences.
The Elephant in the Text
Before I deployed to Afghanistan as a Navy chaplain, I was given a few hundred coins that I could give to my Marines and Sailors to remind them of their faith in difficult times. In addition to images of the cross, the coin contained Joshua’s verse, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).” Although the context ties to a distinctly different war, I agree with Smith’s assertion that a “Christian teacher does not err by suggesting comparisons between the present spiritual warfare and the ancient efforts of Israel to conquer Canaan.” I, therefore, gave these little reminders out to whoever would take them. I always carried one as a physical reminder of His presence, even in the darkest times. That verse from Joshua encouraged and inspired me. I also found that it was surrounded by a narrative that could be difficult for a modern audience. They look at the violence in the Old Testament and do not understand how this can match their loving and perhaps harmless view of Jesus. Howard describes this when he says, “Many people today are repelled by what they see as a bloodthirstiness displayed by the Israelites and the God who had demanded the annihilations” of those left in the land. Goetz argues “that ‘the book of Joshua is embarrassment enough, with its ferocity and its religious advocacy of mass murder.’” The struggle further intensifies when they view it in the light that Joshua and Jesus share the same name. English translators mask this by translation decisions made in modern Bibles. For example, the “name Joshua means ‘Yahweh is salvation.’ In the Greek language, the name Joshua becomes Jesus.” The shared meaning certainly has import. These thoughts inspired me to lead a study on this book while deployed. In our discussions around the book, those men and women with me found the narrative encouraging, challenging, and quite surprising. This book is more than a simple religious melodrama. The record is not a fairy tale but reflects real people reacting to a highly chaotic world. It has the complex smell of truth about it. This complexity corresponded well with the journey on which we found ourselves in Afghanistan. We sought to represent God in a place that desperately needed to see Him. In addition to this evangelistic drive, fear and uncertainty challenged our faith, as did witnessing the effects of evil people everywhere.
Historical Biblical Canonical Background
The Failure of the Text Within the Text
One way to minimize a perceived paradox is to discount the book’s authenticity or authority. A critic of the text could suggest that either there has been the incorporation of other less reliable texts into the Biblical corpus or a process of ongoing religious and theological development. Essentially this latter argument allows the dismissal of anything that does not match current theories as a primitive artifact of a time when people “did not know better.” Far from solving a complicated issue, this shortcut to harmonize current doctrine to the text begins a series of even greater challenges. Doubting the authority of later insertions and the search for the form of the text closest to the “original autographs” has led to the approach many modern scholars take with the text. For them, Biblical scholarship seeks to remove later additions to discover the earliest and, therefore, “most reliable” text. The first problem in this search for an authentic text within the Bible is that this method is similar to the Marcion Heresy, which “sprang from a radical emphasis upon the discontinuity between Christianity and Judaism.” Instead, another approach must allow both the Old and New Testaments to maintain their authority. It may sound reasonable to agree with this modern assumption that authority and reliability rest in the text’s original autographs. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that archaeologists can ever uncover such a document. Also, critical textual tools developed for examining other works rely on a certain amount of subjectivity and assumptions that might not apply to a work that may have a unique status, like the Bible. Additionally, when used to find a “true” text within the larger text, textual analysis as a process fails. Since the original texts are unlikely to be found, constructed texts can only be derived from deconstructing the text received. These fragments of texts are derived from critical methods and rely on many subjective assumptions for their existence. Many debates centering on textual criticism risk moving those studying the text into a perpetual state of hypothetical reductions. This action orphans these selections from context clues. Textual deconstruction is an unreliable process in another way as well. To find the original text underneath, the researcher must postulate an author to decide which part of the text is reliable and which is not. The researcher then must theorize what the author could have written and what he could not have written based on the researcher’s previous assumption. To do this, the researcher must theorize what happened during the theoretical author’s time to identify what he could have written. Next, the researcher has to consider what occasion inspired the book’s composition. At best, this process is fairly extensive eisegesis. The method also excludes all text that does not correspond to the researchers’ theories. It, therefore, resembles the classic example of circular reasoning: “My reason is my ultimate authority because it seems reasonable to me to make it so.” There is another approach available concerning the text.
Assumption of Reliability
Another approach has a beautiful simplicity that begins with the question, “What does the text say?” This question is superior to “Which text is authoritative” because it protects from endless subjective deconstruction. Both questions assume that the Bible has something valuable to say, and both may assume that God chose to influence humanity through the book. Reliability extends from the idea that God can and would interact with His creation to get His message to His community. Kenneth Kitchen correctly declares that “we must deal with the biblical record in the same way, using what we actually possess (objectively—we have nothing else!).” If the scholar begins with the assumption that he or she has access to the text’s version that God intended, then any seams or edits that appear in the text are intentional and ripe for exploration and not artifacts of the “real text” lost to time. Instead of viewing the text’s authority linked to the original author, a scholar could view the power tied to the current text form to which they have access. This theory does not require adherents to hold to an open canon. The approach only assumes that those who recognized the Biblical canon were also entrusted to include insertions to enable future generations to understand God’s message better. This approach is not inconsistent with more traditional or theologically conservative positions as they already assume multiple authors over an exceptionally long period. For example, Moses, Samuel, Solomon, Ezekiel, and Ezra’s Bibles were all necessarily different but contained the same authority. Presumed reliability assumes the same shared purpose of those entrusted with the work as those of the original author. This approach minimizes accusations that the trusted stewards of the texts would attempt to subvert the work of those who came before and would likely act to aid future generations. Those accused of being editors or redactors might be more like temporal translators. They may seek to pass on the institutional understanding of previous generations to their current generation by attempting to translate the ancient text they received to their contemporary audience. For example, they may insert new geographic names or author insertions to seek to clarify the text’s elements. These insertions would, therefore, not be attempts to improve the text.
Author, Compiler, Editor, Redactor
The book of Joshua “forms a bridge between the Pentateuch and that which follows.” The connection with Deuteronomy and Judges reveals the hand of others purposely weaving this bridge in place. The narrative of the Torah “depicts Israel moving toward Canaan [and] Joshua describes Israel entering into Canaan.” It is tightly connected with what goes before and afterward in the Bible. The weaver might be an author, compiler, editor, or redactor. Each term might complicate the discussion concerning the background of a book because each label brings a set of connotations. An author or editor might share a goal, but each person interacting with the text has their own historical and cultural context. These contexts shape their contributions to the Scriptures. The debates on what layer came from who or in which order texts link can devolve into the identical perpetual hypothetical reductions as the search for a text within a text does if not viewed with another important doctrinal idea. In the assumption of reliability, the observation is that God continues to use a faithful community of prophets, scribes, and other men and women of God as trusted conveyers of His message to their generation and those who will follow them. This assumption is the picture illustrated in the Bible with the passing of authority from Moses to Joshua and then to the judges and others who followed. This continual work of God through his people is an essential element of Joshua.
Joshua’s Connections to the Bible
Those who organized the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures that became the Old Testament, used Joshua to link the Torah and the Nevi’im. For this reason, McKenzie declares the book “has been aptly called a ‘canonical hinge.’” It connects thematically and narratively to both Deuteronomy and Judges. Concerning the composition of the book, there is considerable debate; but these vital links to the other Biblical works are apparent in the most cursory examination. This intentionality suggests to some that the book has had later compilers work in seaming this book into a more extensive series of connected books. For example, some scholars believe that Joshua is the final part of a Hexateuch. This six-book series would include the Torah in addition to Joshua. It is easy to see Joshua as the natural outflow of the promises for a new land sprinkled throughout the Pentateuch. Simply put, Joshua records the first steps in the occupation of the land promised by Moses. Furthermore, it foreshadows both the establishment of the nation of Israel and the Monarchy that promises a future Messiah. At the end of Joshua, the compilers also form a solid connection to Judges. The book of Judges following Joshua appears as “a book about apostasy.” This apostasy does not initially emerge in Judges. There are seeds of this rebellion introduced in the Books of Moses. In Joshua, the seeds sprout into acts of spiritual treason in accounts such as Achan’s sin and the defeat at Ai of Israel (Joshua 7). Further evidence of a connection to Judges jumps out of that book’s introduction. Therefore, Noth “argued that the division of the historical complex Deuteronomy—2 Kings into ‘books’ was a secondary development.” Noth and others assume the connectedness should result in Joshua being treated as “part of the ‘Deuteronomic History’ which includes the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings.” This point has a certain reasonableness, although there may be another reason for the connections. Joshua’s introduction contains substantial similarity to the end of Deuteronomy. There is a natural flow from Joshua into Judges and then again into Samuel. This textual evidence supports viewing these works’ connection as a deliberate Deuteronomistic History (DtrH) covering the period from Moses to the dawn of the monarchy. This structure means there are undoubtedly intentional contextual links between these works that can be used when examining any text within the more considerable work. However, initial overlap can be the product of either the original authors or later Biblical compilers. There may be no way to know who inserted what and when they did it, but the quest for understanding the means of composition is less important than the existence of a known intended connection. It is also essential to recognize the logic of valuing the “institutional endorsement which has guaranteed its preservation and brought it” to us. Rabbinic traditions such as those recorded in the Talmudic Mishnah may help shed light on a text. For example, the Talmudic Mishnah points to a prominent character within the Bible. That text suggests that Samuel was the Former Prophets’ compiler. There it is said, “‘Samuel wrote his [own] book, and Judges and Ruth’ (שמואל כתב ספרו ושפטים ורות).” Shared authorship does not require them to have been only one book, but it reinforces the importance of viewing these works with a specific shared contextual understanding. Even the most traditional view of the Scriptural formation of the Tanakh includes at least three formative iterations. The Scripture was viewed as the Torah or the Law, then the Law and the Prophets, and finally “the Law, Prophets, and the Writings.” It is reasonable to posit that in the organization of each of these variations, textual artifacts of the efforts might be encoded within the texts received by later generations. Scholars do not agree upon the authority these textual artifacts or insertions maintain. There are certainly context clues that the first audiences understood almost automatically because they come from the same culture and time as the author. A scribe might insert something to preserve this understanding. These assertions could protect earlier insights from being lost to time or cultural shifts. Textual tools which seek to identify these insights would therefore be essential for modern students for a similar reason. The devices could highlight specific context clues without losing anything. The study of Joshua illustrates this idea. As stated previously, Joshua purposefully links to the Pentateuch. This connection has been deliberate. These links throughout these books show signs of a compiler and make a case for a Hexateuch within the Old Testament. The debate could rage as to who the connector may have been. Could it have been Samuel, a Complier of the Former Prophets, the Compiler of Chronicles, or even Joshua himself? While the debate is interesting, the most critical context clue is the text’s connection with Deuteronomy. The link provides a lens through which to view the record of Joshua’s war and the division of the land. As McKenzie says, according to Deuteronomy 32, “Israel—people and land—is Yahweh’s own allotment and heritage. It is in this context that one of the most difficult themes for modern readers—that of “holy war”—must be understood.”  The land has a specific purpose, and the Canaanites were in the way of that purpose. The war functioned to purify the ground and move toward His purpose.
The Good Guys
As stated before, modern audiences are confused by God’s “apparent approval of cruelty and killing.” All of these violent acts are either commanded by God or at least tolerated by Him. These struggles for modern scholars reveal a double standard that complicates the discussion. If one judges Ancient Israel by Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age standards, then there is no reason to expect them to behave differently. In many ways, this idea even parallels the common desire recorded in the text that they wanted to be like the other nations. Believing that their behavior ought to be superior requires the idea that God would call them different and that these differences would result in more just or morally good outcomes. The latter view appears better reflected in the text than the former view. In the broadest sense, the more faithfully the Israelites seek to follow God, the more Holy they appear. The more they pursue their own pleasures or be like the other nations, the more disastrous the outcomes. However, the reader must not label things “good” and “evil” simply by how it benefits Israel’s nation. Instead, the reader must use another source, the Torah, to identify those things God would declare good and evil. In Joshua, the compiler does not seek to show the descendants of Israel in an overly optimistic light. At times, the recipients of the Instructions of Moses exhibit faithfulness, but at other points, they appear much more similar to those they were to replace. James Smith observes the “book traces the roots of that apostasy to the failures of the tribes to carry out the orders of God in their dealings with the Canaanites.” The Israelites begin their descent into apostasy early, and episodes with the Moabites and Midianites reveal this (Numbers 25:1-3). The story of the Israelites, the conquest of the land told in Joshua, does not end with the fairy tale’s “and they lived happily ever after ending.” Instead, we find an almost dystopian account of the descendants of those who made the Sinai Covenant in the book of Judges. Moses pleads with the Israelites to remain faithful, but they do not. In Joshua, the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:10-21) reveals this failure in the same light harsh light as the sin of Zimra. Joshua also pleads with the nation to remain faithful, yet they do not. This cycle continues through the accounts of the Judges. The story of Samson, for example, shows many of those same disappointing choices. Instead of a nation emerging through which the rest of the world would be blessed, the reader sees a people in perpetual disobedience. A spiral toward even worse apostasy moves from their time in the wilderness and climaxes in the closing of Judges, where the Israelites look politically, morally, and religiously like the Canaanites. Through the light of the Instructions of Moses, rebellion against the Creator and human sin is the center of the conflict. Howard correctly observes, “Sin is a harsh reality, but its absolute affront to the holy God is clearly taught in the Scriptures and too often ignored in the modern day.” According to the Torah, the Canaanites were to be displaced because of their sin. In Genesis, God tells Abraham that the land would not go to his descendants because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete (Genesis 15:16).” As Howard says, the Canaanites “engaged in incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexual activity, and bestiality.” These sins are affronts to God and often victimize the weakest in society. The destruction is, therefore, a punishment for the guilty and a protector for those who would be their victims. With the destruction of Jericho, Joshua instructed the people that Jericho and everything in it were ‘to be devoted to the Lord.’” Prominent within this narrative is Rahab. Firth observes that “foreigners can also be Yahweh’s means for achieving his purposes for Israel.”
Certain modern scholars reject the traditional view of the conquest of the land and instead believe that Israel was a “nation which had been welded together from a rabble of slaves and other diverse groups.” Often they point to the archaeological record, which shows many pagan altars, idols, and other religious artifacts. There seems to be an assumption that these prohibitions against graven images would result in the absence of those items in the archaeological record. However, a close look reveals a significant difference between what the Israelites were told to do and what they actually did. Furthermore, they never drove out competing religious ideas. For example, “References to altars dedicated to pagan gods other than the one true God appear throughout the Old Testament.” The archeological record shows this complex religious landscape and the violent interactions of various competing cultures. The issue of archeology and the Bible can be polarizing because of solid convictions on many sides of multiple debates.
A Different Kind of Conquest
Every artifact recovery offers glimpses into the past, but those glimpses require interpretations to give context. One such example is that one might expect that Joshua’s conquest of the land would leave archaeological evidence. Artifacts found at Hazor reveal it was rebuilt “after a destruction; in fact, they were continually restored and reconstructed throughout the Late Bronze Age,” which can correspond to the battle and sacking of the city recorded in Joshua 11. While the evidence and general expectation fit in this location, this is not the case at every site. The complication may not be with the historicity of the Bible but with either the wrong set or too narrow a set of expectations. Meir declares, “Recent research has, to all intents and purposes, negated the “conquest view.” This strong declaration is odd when compared to Mazer. Mazer says, “The archaeological surveys in Samaria and Ephraim have shown that the many small Middle Bronze Age agricultural settlements in these regions disappeared in the Late Bronze Age.” This observation might match the conquest and fleeing of Canaanites before the Israelites. Maeir might fall victim to the same circular reasoning discussed earlier. He assumes what the evidence of conquest would look like and then discounts the possibility of a conquest when he does not find his presumed evidence. Maeir seemed to theorize a war that destroyed every city. However, that destruction might have been the exception and not the rule. The Biblical Narrative notes that the Israelites received “a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them (Joshua 24:13).” If they took possession of Canaanite buildings, the ruins would look Canaanite, and the shift in archeology might be gradual. What is certain is that the period before Joshua’s conquest was a time of international trade and travel. The bronze used everywhere throughout the Ancient Near East (ANE) required international trade because its ingredients came from mines at different points of the compass. Scientists using modern metallurgical analysis show that the essential components needed were gathered from tin mines in modern-day Afghanistan and copper from islands in the Mediterranean, such as Cyprus. Early city-states and the subsequent emerging empires relied on this for over a thousand years. This condition leads to a general stability that precedes the Book of Joshua. The archeology reveals that by the Late Bronze, the region’s “towns do not seem to have been surrounded by fortifications. This may be due to Egyptian restrictions placed on their subjects.” This condition speaks to the relative security within the land, even if it resulted from being a client state. Then, the archeology suddenly changes. Mazer notes, “Many small Middle Bronze Age agricultural settlements in these regions disappeared in the Late Bronze Age.” That archeological record shows that everything broke down, but it was more than simply the technological development of iron. Empires and ancient cities which had stood for hundreds and, in some cases, a couple of thousand years disintegrated. They were not simply assimilated or conquered. These nations leave nothing but ruin behind. The abandoned ruins left by the sudden collapse have benefited modern archeologists by creating a form of time capsules left in the discarded artifacts. One example of this is the el‘Amarna letters. The el‘Amarna letters. describe “social unrest during the Amarna period (1391–1335 BC) is parallel to the social unrest described in Joshua-Judges (1250–1000 BC).” The destroyers of this city likely were the group labeled the “sea peoples” and not the Israelites. However, they are related to another group prominent in the Old Testament. These sea peoples’ descendants mix with Canaanites to produce the Philistines. The difference between the cities destroyed by the Sea People and what the archeology reveals in other areas of the Levant suggests that Joshua’s army engaged in a different type of conquest. If the armies of Israel tended to drive out the inhabitants and occupy the city, this would leave fewer artifacts than if a city was razed to the ground. Rahab’s quote recorded in Joshua points to this idea. There she declares, “I know that the Lord has given you the land and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you (Joshua 2:9).” The melting away described by Rahab more likely indicates Canaanites abandoning the land because this was before the Israelites battle at Jericho. Sala notes that a “series of destructions in the main centers of the Levant indicates that the political, economic, and social structures of the region—and the wider eastern Mediterranean—underwent a crisis.” This rapid “destruction at Hazor, Lachish, and elsewhere in the late thirteenth century BC” suggests that warfare had a hand in the change but was not the sole factor. Arnold notes that “additional factors contributed to the collapse of the Bronze Age sociopolitical system in the Levant.” Rainey and Notley say, “None can deny that these destruction levels represent outbreaks of unprecedented violence throughout the region.” This turmoil likely resulted from refugees, warring and marauding bands, and chaos. Historians often refer to this as the Late Bronze Age Collapse. Mumford notes that “excavations have yielded a mixture of contradictory and corroborative data for occupation strata, settlements, and ethnic populations affiliated with the Israelite conquest account.” What cannot be debated is that by the sword, famine, or, indeed, by the Hand of God, the ANE experienced a significant reshuffling that corresponds with the traditional dating of the conquest of the land and the tumultuous times that followed during the time of Israel’s judges. This speculation matches the narratives in Joshua and Judges. Additionally, the archeological record might also line up with a prophetic promise. During the period of Joshua and Judges, “settlement patterns shifted, and many urban centers were destroyed or abandoned throughout the area, including Egypt, Anatolia, and the Aegean.” Mumford says, “Archaeological evidence to date supports a more gradual emergence of small, agrarian settlements in the hill country.” The result would look like what had been promised in the Pentateuch, where the Israelites would take possession of houses they did not build and vineyards they did not plant (Deuteronomy 6:10). While it is reasonable to assume that this occurred, it would be difficult to see in the archeology. This difficulty is because the house built with a Canaanite floorplan would still look like a Canaanite dwelling to an archeologist even if the Israelites moved in and lived there for a few generations. Again Mumford points out that what came from these emerging Iron Age settlements was a mix of “semi-nomadic pastoralists, deurbanized Canaanites (refugees), and others.” This occurrence also was suggested by Joshua’s narratives and followed throughout the Judges. The Bible records that the Israelites assumed the buildings and artifacts of the Canaanites that they displaced and then began absorbing the practices of those who remained behind.
Ancient Near East Material
A potentially game-changing discovery from an archeological dig at Mount Ebal directly relates to the narrative found in Joshua. Archeologists discovered the artifact in 2019, but the initial findings were only recently published. This find looks at or near the estimated time of Joshua. It also contains the oldest proto-Hebrew text used in 200-400 years.  The discovery is a lead plate folded in half with a curse written on it. The curse appears to use both YHWH and EL as names for God. It is also a curse on the mountain that Joshua curses, Mount Ebal, near the altar built there (Deuteronomy 11:29, 27:4, Joshua 8:30-33). If these observations hold out to scrutiny, they could rewrite foundational presuppositions of the critical movement. If true, we now have both Yahweh and El sources in the Pentateuch as near contemporaries of Moses and not later insertions. This idea suggests at least a literate minority among the followers of Yahweh from near the traditional dating of the Pentateuch. It also could be used to justify followed of Yahweh to the late Bronze Age/ Early Iron Age. This time places it within the traditional dating of Joshua or the beginning of Judges.
Canaanites refer to several tribal groups geographically situated in Canaan. The Philistines ultimately function as the main opposition to God’s people in the land as the narrative moves from Joshua to Judges. They are a mix of Canaanite and other Mediterranean groups. They become the blanket group covering those Canaanites that remain in the land. Ramesses III calls them the Pu-l-śa-tá of the northern war. Ancient authors attribute “the wave of destruction… to the arrival and settlement of the so-called Sea Peoples.” Their culture is a mix of Canaanite and Greek ideas. In both groups, epic stories about their heroes like Jason or Ulysses, demigods like Hercules, or gods like Zeus or Apollo have certain parallels with the accounts of Joshua. Works such as the Egyptian Stories of Sinuhue and the Akkadian Annals of Idrimi also have an epic feeling similar to the stories of Joshua and the judges who would follow him. However, Joshua being similar or a Greek or Mesopotamian mythological hero is not the same thing as being mythologic. It is not clear how these other cultures understood their epic poems. They might view those other stories as akin to fairytales, moral plays, or parables. However, Joshua presents an accurate account of an authentic person.
The primary setting for Joshua is the bridge between three continents. The land benefits economically from its centrality. However, this centrality means it is the crossroads through which competing empires travel. Many would view the land as a coveted prize. The great nations surround it. Egypt, the Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and other ancient near east powers would battle for it as the Persians, Greeks, and Romans did hundreds of years after the writing of Joshua. The hill country offered a certain amount of protection to the early Israelites by a powerful ally sought after. Egypt was not simply the foil to Moses. Egypt’s connection to Israel is more profound than just the Exodus story. The connection explains the close relationship with Canaan, seen in the Bible and the Amarna Letters. Notley and Rainey point to these letters to show “events documented for the Levantine littoral during the fourteenth century BC are closely linked to the events in Egypt. It is unsurprising to find the earliest record of the name of Israel coming from Egypt sometime during the period of Joshua to the Judges. The Merneptah Stele is a carved monument that “commemorates a military campaign of Pharaoh Merneptah around 1209 BC.” Among those the Pharoah is said to conquer is a “people group named ‘Israel.’” Certainly, rulers are known to embellish their accomplishments, so the battle may or may not have gone the way recorded. The extra-biblical artifact testifies to the existence of the Israelites around 1200 BC. This time is within a generation or two of the Exodus. Egypt’s great military power and the fact that it had the shortest logistical path gave an advantage to Egypt. The Torah makes it a point to show Yahweh crushing the Egyptian army as the final movement for the freedom of the Israelites. The lesson is to teach that God is even stronger no matter how powerful the army looks.
In the period immediately before Joshua’s conquest, the Hittites were the neighbors to the north and even part-time occupiers of Canaan. They play prominent roles in the narratives of the Pentateuch. Still, they do not seem to be a significant player in Joshua and, by the time of Judges, are far overshadowed by the Philistines, Phoenicians, and Assyrians. This observation suggests the disintegration of this empire happened sometime around the time of Joshua. The Hittite Empire was on the decline. It was a minor player during Joshua’s conquest, but the Hittites were no more when Samuel heard God’s call. Their nation “collapsed around 1190 BC under Suppiluliuma II (1200–1182 BC.” Even so, the Hittites have an impact on Joshua as “Hittite Laws appear in the Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy 12–26) and the Holiness Code (Lev 17–26).” It has been pointed out that one reason that the Torah as a legal code can be so limited is that it assumes a preexisting legal code. Therefore, Moses needs only include things that need updating or emphasis. In such an update, Moses would note certain significant distinctives in the Torah, for example. The Hittite code promoted stability by slanting justice for the productive and powerful. It, therefore, relied on a strong caste-based system of government. The Torah included compassion and grace, especially for disadvantaged people, such as slaves, foreigners, and even women. Other Hittite writings provide evidence of a functioning legal system even before Moses and his Ten Commandments.
As pointed out, the Book of Joshua is similar to epic literature. Depending on its date of initial composition, it may predate many other stories from that part of the world. However, the element of his story ties to consistent themes in the region. Matthews and Benjamin point out that in the Akkadian Annals of Idrimi, the “Annals exaggerate the accomplishments of rulers to demonstrate their power to feed and protect the people assigned.” Joshua, whose name means Yahweh saves, is shown as a type of rescuer and provider for his people. Joshua is in line with the national origin stories or tales of divinely empowered men, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Enuma Elish stories. These epic stories closely link to elements within the Pentateuch and not Joshua specifically. There may not be a direct parallel to Joshua, but the apparent link of Joshua to the Torah elevates the importance of these parallels. In many ways, Joshua is similar to the heroes in these tales; however, Yahweh is distinctly different from the other deities. The difference in God drives how He interacts with His hero and His people. Therefore, texts such as the Code of Hammurabi, the Assyrian tale of the Annals Iduram, and the Code of Ur-Nammu and Shulgi all shed light on the background of the world in which the text came to be as well as provide a basis for the writer of Joshua to reveal Yahweh’s distinctives. The strength of Israel is not in its great general, great army, or even the divine artifacts such as the Ark of the Covenant. The power of the Israelites is their continual reliance on God.
Applying the Archeology
The archaeology associated with Joshua tells of a time of Chaos and confusion. Arnold notes that the chaos allowed “new settlements [to] fill the economic and political power vacuum and give rise to the Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah as well as other biblical nations.” The writer of Joshua was not simply seeking to record that pandemonium but to give way for its readers to look past the turmoil to the spiritual struggle behind it all by deliberately using important Biblical themes.
Biblical Theological Themes/Motifs
Reading Joshua and viewing the book as a record of conquest is possible. This observation is why Howard believes, “Many people today are repelled by what they see as a bloodthirstiness displayed by the Israelites and the God who had demanded the annihilations” of those remaining in the land. Scholars like Goetz even suggest “the book of Joshua is embarrassment enough, with its ferocity and its religious advocacy of mass murder.’” Digging past the surface and in light of the more significant contextual connections reveals that the book is far more than a brief history of conquest. As a text, Joshua reveals essential truths through the record of events and their interactions with major Biblical themes. McKenzie lists “land, obedience, leadership, and victory” as major themes within the book. The themes weave together with spiritual truths from both the Pentateuch and the Rest of the Nevi’im, such as faith, obedience, and God’s provision. These ideas ultimately incorporate illustrations of God’s grace and the material outcomes of a spiritual war.
God is Holy
Theology proper is the study of those things we know about God. The first theological message of Joshua is that God is Holy, and holiness matters for his followers. The story is told through the Former Prophets from Joshua through Samuel and follows the slow rebellion of those entrusted with the Instruction of Moses. It may seem odd that a work focused on God’s goodness follows a community of His followers descending into depravity. Yet, that is what the Biblical author does. The compilers of the Former Prophets work through the various narratives to “illustrate the apostasy, lawlessness, immorality, disunity, and legalism.”  The compiler of this section of the Bible includes Jewish folk heroes in Judges and Samuel, as was done with Joshua. In telling these events, Yahweh is the only character shared in every story throughout the books. The Lord is the protagonist found consistent and gracious even while the objects of his care continually reject Him. The Pattern in the Former Prophets tells the story of God’s faithfulness among a people who continue to make the same kind of sinful choice similar to the one made in the Garden. This critical pattern points to a promise of supernatural salvation based on an appeal to a merciful God and not on establishing one’s worthiness. The title “Joshua” means Yahweh Saves and can easily be applied to the whole work of the Former Prophets.
Saved by Grace
This work does not teach that God helps those who help themselves nor that it is through our strength that we get what we desire. Instead, the author focuses on God’s trustworthiness even while the rescuers and the rescued themselves look more and more like the nations they were living among, not the holy nation the covenant called them to be. A pattern that began in the Pentateuch and continued through Achan’s sin shows that more and more Israelites began adopting Canaanite customs “epitomized by their ultimate desire to have a royal structure like the nations that surround them.” It is evident in the narrative that, for God’s people, holiness matters. Firth points out that “Israelites act as Canaanites, and thus move away from Yahweh’s purposes for his people.” “Toleration of pagan ways led to accommodation, integration and finally apostasy.” Repeatedly God’s people are warned not to follow after other gods or copy the cultures of those within the land. They were called to be a blessing to the nations surrounding them. The rejection of their calling removes that blessing from those around them. Therefore, apostasy and syncretism are sins destructive to their people and the nations surrounding them. The book is named after Joshua. His name means “Yahweh saves/delivers.” This name is given to him by the Lord during his time in the wilderness. The name reminds the reader of the critical idea that while we may be reading about great events with which Joshua is connected. It is Yahweh who is saving in these moments. Again, Joshua is significant, but the main character is not Joshua but God, who works through him. Furthermore, even after the Israelites reveal their rebellion throughout their time in the wilderness, God continues to work through Joshua. Once in the promised land, under Joshua, there are places they stumble in their obedience. They covet things they were told to reject. At times they believe that their victories come from their own military prowess. Joshua does not hide the pridefulness at the heart of these sins because it reminds the reader that God was delivering them. God addresses these sins severely because if left untreated, the Israelites could lose their ability to understand the state of grace in which they exist and thereby become poor conduits of that grace to those around them. The story of Rahab is also a great example of God’s grace in action. Calvin says of Rahab, “We are furnished with a striking display of divine grace which could thus penetrate a place of shame.”  She does not enter the story from a virtuous background. Calvin notes that she was “a woman who had gained a shameful livelihood by prostitution”  The author of Joshua does not seek to mitigate her background. As Calvin observed, “Most assuredly, while the term זונה, almost invariably means harlot, there is nothing here to oblige us to depart from the received meaning.” The author’s deliberate inclusion of this background detail amplifies the importance of grace and faith in her story. In her statement to the spies, Rahab declares, “The Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath (Joshua 2:11).” She asks them to swear by this same Lord to be merciful to her and her father and the rest of her family (Joshua 2:11-12). Calvin notes her faith “She does not dream, according to the vulgar notion, that someone, out of a crowd of deities, is giving his assistance to the Israelites, but she acknowledges that He whose favour they were known to possess is the true and only God.” Despite this history, she is incorporated into the Israelite community. Even more critical is the observation that the author of Joshua intentionally tells her story because of her background. The author wants the reader to know that Yahweh saves Rahab through her faith because this is the same way the reader might be saved despite their own respective pasts.
Faith and Faithful Obedience
Faith plays a prominent role in Joshua. The faith demonstrated is more than a cognitive agreement to spiritual truth. Instead, faith is shown as choices that illustrate trust and obedience. McKenzie says, “The land is a tangible sign of Yahweh’s faithfulness and Israel’s obedience to Yahweh. The land’s conquest and retention depend on obedience, a theme that plays large in the DtrH.” The record in Joshua shows the Israelites’ and the Canaanites’ successes and failures. This point is made before the Joshua narrative and set up in the Pentateuch in Joshua’s own words. Joshua declares, “If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us.” (Numbers 14:8). He further warns the people, “Do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us (Numbers 14:9).” The theme is consistent throughout the Torah and the Nevi’im that all successes and failures are determined not by the strength of arms, in numbers or brilliant strategies. Joshua highlights this with the defeat at Ai and then their ultimate victory. Only in the faithful reliance on God and rejection of their pridefulness is success theirs. Wolf observes, “Israel’s spiritual condition determined its political and material situation.” This steadfast reliance had a supernaturally empowered impact on the land and its people. The author of Joshua makes this supernatural empowerment most apparent in the battle recorded in Chapter Ten. In that chapter, the hand of God is shown as more than good fortune. In the text, the sun supernaturally stands still. Joshua responds to God’s leading with an act of faith. Haroutunian and Smith note, “Joshua consults God and petitions him, and when he has been answered, he boldly orders the sun to do what he knows God approves.” They make a further connection to Christ’s teaching on faith. They correctly suggest that the moment in Joshua shows “the strength of the privilege of faith, praised by Christ, which subjugates mountains and seas to its power (Matt. 17:20; Luke 17:6).” God empowers biblical faith and aligns with God’s purposes and plans which points to the fulfillment of a prophecy. This event is not simply a supernatural outlier recorded in regular life. The supernatural element connects with the execution of the purpose of the holy land and the purpose the people placed within it.
A Different Kind of Kingdom
The Lord declares to the Israelites in the Torah that “You will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation (Exodus 19:6).” This is the understood purpose for the Israelites entering the land and the rejection of the Canaanites residing there. The land had a particular purpose, and the Canaanites were not fulfilling that purpose. Furthermore, the purpose had a spiritual element. This critical purpose is why the worship of foreign gods within the land was not simply the result of ignorance or individual preference. It was an attempt by other spiritual forces to take over the land God set aside on which to meet humanity. The narrative in Joshua is presented as a partial fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32: 16-17. Joshua also is a book that foreshadows the completed work of the Messiah promised in the Torah. The Messiah is more than a deliverer of the emerging nation. He is presented to end the spiritual rebellion of all nations on earth. This idea means destruction for those who wish to continue their rebellion against God and Adoption for those willing to bow their knee to the King of Kings. God’s kingdom is neither defined nor limited to a specific tribal group. In Including the Stranger, Firth notes, “a key theme running through Joshua was the fact that the people of God could not be reduced to something defined by ethnicity.” God’s kingdom is defined by those seeking to fulfill His purpose. Firth asks the question reader of Joshua should naturally make, “Rahab and her family can be saved, so what about the other Canaanites?” Wolf notes, “Israel was his own special people, and he did not abandon them,” but the message throughout the Former Prophet also shows something else. Beginning in Joshua and continuing throughout the biblical story, biological descent from the Patriarchs neither guarantees inclusion in the community of faith nor does being outside that family excludes you from Yahweh’s care. Firth notes, “Achan shows that an Israelite could be excluded, whereas Rahab shows that a Canaanite could be included.” Also, incorporation into God’s Kingdom even includes work assigned by Him. For example, Rahab is saved by her faith in God, but she is also shown as an instrument of grace for the spies she hides. God allows failure and, at times, actively works against the Israelites. This theme is further developed to illustrate both the disciplining of the Israelites and the inclusion of certain Canaanites. The compilers of the Former Prophets continue to develop the idea to demonstrate “that Yahweh wins battles for Israel through foreigners and not merely through Israelites” because this fulfills the King of Kings promises for the Messiah. The Messiah is supposed to end the rebellion for all those descended from Adam and not only those descendants of Jacob. Everyone in God’s kingdom is there because of His plans and work. They are adopted through the means of His grace which is another theme woven throughout the book. The Land as a Holy Place for a Holy Purpose The last theme addressed is the land and its holy purpose. McKenzie is correct in his observation: “A significant part of Israel’s success in the conquest is due to faithful leadership. Joshua is a worthy successor to Moses, whose work he duplicates in several particulars.” He follows Moses, not as merely a political or military leader. He is viewed as a religious leader who begins the book in communication with Yahweh. The worship element is not an additional element. It is the central element. The victory at Jericho is followed by the initial defeat at Ai and the examination of the Israelite commitment to worshiping Yahweh alone. In Joshua 8, Joshua refocuses the Israelites through a nationwide act of worship because the conquest of the land is subordinate to the restoration of proper worship in the ground. McKenzie says, “Since the land is Yahweh’s property, it is sacred. This is why it is conquered through ritual and retained by faithful obedience.” Furthermore, if God has set aside the land for a purpose, “as the owner of the land, Yahweh decides who lives on it.”
Tradition holds that the book’s authorship is “ascribed to Joshua himself.” However, a fair amount of the debate is an outgrowth of earlier arguments. The book of Joshua presupposes the existence of Moses and the Torah. Therefore, those who do not believe in Moses or his Pentateuch authorship must assign a later date and a different author to the book. Certain modern scholars assume later authorship of segments within the Torah. These scholars see “in Joshua a continuation of the sources or literary strands identified in the Pentateuch—especially J and P. These scholars spoke and wrote of a Hexateuch rather than a Pentateuch.” McKinion says of Critical scholars like McKenzie that the Evangelical reader would find his “approach to reading ancient historical books… somewhat disconcerting.”  While general, this seems close to accurate. Specifically, the ease at which he appears to dismiss a core evangelical tenant like infallibility of the Scriptures is disconcerting. For example, McKenzie declares, “Most biblical scholars and archaeologists believe that major events recounted in the Bible, such as the flood, the exodus from Egypt, and the conquest of Canaan, either never occurred or did not happen in the way the Bible describes them.”  In addition to dismissing evangelical challenges to these positions, he appeals to an external consensus. He then does not have to declare his belief overtly. When addressing the composition of Joshua, McKenzie believes that “Careful reading reveals plenty of evidence of literary unevenness suggesting that the book had a long and complicated compositional history.” He considers the unevenness is a sign of multiple authors. This observation may be a reasonable theory for perceived unevenness, although it is not the only explanation. It might also be a sign of the passage of time between the writing of different elements and the final organization of the book into its final form.
Evangelical Challenge to Mainstream Academia From an evangelical worldview, certain assumptions and presuppositions baked into what is considered more mainstream academic approaches stand out. For example, McKenzie boldly declares, “There is no single “right” understanding of a biblical book or passage.” Still, he believes this idea “is not to challenge the notion of the Bible’s truth or authority.”  There does seem to be a conflict with both of these statements. Essentially, he uses an appeal to his authority to reject further scrutiny. This argument is problematic, at the very least. The following concerning element is an anachronistic bias toward modern research and categorization. The cornerstone of current academic research is the idea that modern research stands on the shoulders of the giants of previous researchers. This image is undoubtedly appealing. Forward progress is obtained as later ideas supersede earlier ones. However, within this idea is a dangerous hidden bias because that progress does not factor in the existence of an objective truth. The approach is problematic because it contains the academic temptation to value the novel. If, instead, the objective truth is the goal, it cannot be further improved once understood. In specific fields like mathematics, this may be apparent. Within Biblical study, it is less obvious. The progress of modern scholarship may not always lead to a further refinement of our understanding of truth. For example, building on earlier research might also include building on the presuppositions made by earlier researchers. The result might become something more like stacking a table upon the table. Standing upon one table might provide you with the means to change a light bulb, but the more tables stacked upon one another increase the risk of catastrophic failure. Truth is the ground on which a concept must rest. The further from the truth, the wobblier it becomes. In a practical sense, this means observations made through modern textual analysis ought not to have the same weight as understandings of the texts advanced traditionally. There is another reason to favor earlier interpretations over later understandings. Context clues writers provide to audiences are strongest when they share a cultural or historical pool of experience. From this pool, the author draws his or her context clues. Anachronistic thinking and cultural ignorance are significant risks that increase the more disconnected a scholar is from the original author. The further a researcher moves from the time and culture of the text’s origin, the less likely they will understand the cultural clues woven within the work and the clues that should emerge from an understood genre and subgenre of the text.
Diachronic Approaches to the Text
McKenzie suggests the two general approaches are the diachronic and synchronic methods. McKenzie says the diachronic processes “are concerned with the relationship of the biblical materials to history.” This method places the greater authority in the historical or cultural record and recognizes less authority in the text. It may use literary tools to dissect the text, searching for the earliest fragments because it views these fragments as the most historical and, therefore, according to this system, the most accurate. In many circles, these critical approaches create a “hegemony of scientific and historical principles of interpretation that emphasize social and cultural backgrounds along with linguistic and philological concerns in pursuit of the precise meaning of the textual author.”  The result of this study “can seem to condemn the theological and spiritual exegesis of the early church to the scrap heap of the past.” Blaikie mentions this sort of approach that some modern scholars, “regards the historical books of the Hebrews in much the same light as we look on those of other nations.” For them, the text has no significant uniqueness; therefore, all tools used to dissect other works can offer the same functions as the Bible. As discussed earlier, the diachronic direction of inquiry has the potential for a continual deconstruction of the text. McKenzie says this deconstruction via textual criticism is needed “by the fact that we do not possess the original version (the “autograph”) of any of the books of the Bible.” The challenge is that once the deconstruction of the text begins, there is no bedrock or original autograph on which to land. It, therefore, can never agree on what text it is analyzing. The textual finish line continues to move. Further, the resultant fragments lose context clues from the text that are discarded through some subjection method or assumption. For example, a scribal insertion meant to record an understanding that may be passed on to the scribe’s generation could be discarded because of its lateness, even if accurate. Beyond these things that work against diachronic methods, these approaches significantly aid one area. The one area greatly aided by diachronic research methods is application. Studying historical parallels and researching cultural and historical elements can help understand how the text might relate to its original audience. A modern reader can build application bridges that transcend time by understanding this initial connection. For example, in the text, the descendants of Joshua complain, “All the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron (Joshua 17:16).” The complaint concerning iron can be better understood by knowing the historical context of the technological superiority of iron chariots. It would be similar to a modern reader fearing that modern tanks strengthened their opposition. What hope could a man have to stand up against a tank? The answer is: “No hope apart from God.” This answer is the same for the original and modern audiences. The synchronic methods approach the text differently.
Synchronic Approaches to the Text
McKenzie says, “Synchronic methods, by contrast, concentrate on the literature as such—the artistry and interrelationships within the biblical text as we have it, regardless of how it came to be.” This approach benefits from a solid starting point. The strength is knowing which text it is examining. It looks at the text as received. When linked with the assumption that the Bible received is the version intended by God, these synchronic methods offer the best chance of identifying authorial intent. Additionally, assuming that all is intentional allows the application of everything without needing to search for a text within the texts. Using synchronic methods to examine Joshua includes examining how it weaves within the Tanakh. Identifying these deliberate interconnections is a constructive way to view Scripture. The early church viewed the interconnections as inescapable. For example, church fathers like Irenaeus of Lyons believed that the whole text of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, “could be comprehended and summarized in the figures of Adam and Christ, who taken together narrate and represent the story of humanity.” A book that shares the name of the Messiah would naturally suggest the sort of connections Irenaeus is telling. The idea of intentionally organizing truth throughout the text beyond the surface read is an approach common throughout church history.
Historical Approaches to the Text
The Bible was “God’s progressive revelation of Himself made to the seed of Abraham,” but its purpose goes beyond this. Modern scholars who hold a more critical view of the scriptures are often labeled theologically liberal and sometimes take on a near adversarial approach to traditionally held understandings of the text. Waltke addresses this perceived bias in his work on the Psalms, saying that a “so-called scientific Enlightenment pitted the scientific method against this spiritual method.” To explain this statement, He quotes Ernesti’s denial of “the proposition ‘that the Scriptures cannot be properly explained without prayer and a pious simplicity of mind.’”  The counterpoint to this position has a surprising agreement on Joshua between two unexpected groups: Modern conservative evangelicals and the ancient church fathers. Franke notes, “Origen believed that this spiritual/mystical meaning, while often hidden, is always present in the text.” Origen’s approach to Joshua suggests “that the name rendered Jesu by Rufinus refers not only to Joshua but also typologically to Jesus of Nazareth.” As he does this, Origen connects “events concerning Israel and the conquest and division of the land narrated in the book of the Christian story of Jesus and the church.” Franke points out that this “typological interpretation went on to become standard practice in the exegesis of the early church.” Chrysostom further justified the typological use of Joshua. For the early church, the direct application of the typological and spiritualized sense of the text to contemporary Christian life was straightforward. Chrysostom says of Joshua, “he used to be called Hoshea. Therefore, the name was changed: for it was a prediction and a prophecy.” Chrysostom declares of Joshua that “He brought in the people into the promised land, as Jesus [does] into heaven.” This interpretation deserves continued consideration. This typological use is strengthened further when compared with Christ’s statement that he did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets… but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).” This use also fits with the high view of the Bible expressed by the conservative evangelicals. It may seem that the more literal hermeneutical principles of typical evangelical positions might be antithetical to the more ancient spiritual or typographical read. However, what unites them is that both groups share a high view of the Scripture. The ancient Church fathers and the modern evangelicals view that the Former Prophets were “given by inspiration of God, have for their main object not to tell the story or dwell on the fortunes of the Hebrew nation.”  Its truth is not focused primarily on memorializing the past. Its purpose is to be lived out in the present. Joshua calls the current audience to be strong and courageous not for some long past war but for an ever-present spiritual war.
Applying the Diverse Approaches
When comparing the traditional, biblically conservative, or evangelical positions with the modern, critical approaches from the more mainstream or biblically liberal schools of thought, the conservative positions have superior arguments based on their coherence with the historical views on Joshua and their logical consistency. The more liberal theories appear to fall victim to circular reasoning and eisegesis much more often. However, things of value can still be gained from the liberal position if they remain grounded in core evangelical positions such as Scriptural authority and inerrancy. When balanced correctly, specific critical tools help explore themes, authorial intent, and even modern applications.
Conclusion Joshua tells the story of the slow retaking of a land and a people, which results in restoring the purposes for both. The story of Joshua, understood through the Torah, explains that chaos in that land resulted from a spiritual rebellion enabled by the continual willful submission of the land’s inhabitants to spiritual rebels. Sin has consequences for all people, no matter their political affiliation. Israelites that worship foreign Gods are under the same punishment, which further points to the fact that the driving issue is not an ethnic but a spiritual division. The story of the destruction of Jericho is also the story of grace offered to Rahab. The land purposed to be a garden, a place for mankind to walk with and worship Yahweh had become something else. As Joshua entered the Promised Land, he was confronted by various people who defiantly resisted Yahweh (Joshua 2:9-11) and even sought power over others through supernatural means (Joshua 24:9)  , resulting in human sacrifice. The war described in Joshua is a spiritual one before it is a physical one. God then chooses to work through His people to restore the land and humanity. The author does not want us to view the restoring of the garden began in Joshua apart from Torah. Success is clearly linked to submitting to the Instructions of Moses and a continual faithful reliance on God. This is just as our own struggles involve ending our spiritual rebellion (Ephesians 2:2), and our own lives are to be lived through the instructions of Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10). Just like Joshua, being part of God’s kingdom is a measure of following the His instructions. This following is not in the ceremonial practice at the Tabernacle. The outcomes of obedience and rebellion have both physical and spiritual consequences. Chaos swirls around the people in the story like the chaos in our lives. The spiritual war rages on. Our sin can undoubtedly add to the Chaos, but the Book of Joshua promises that if we remain in Him, He will declare the same gracious promise to us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).”
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 Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000-586 B.C.E., 239–240.
 Anson F. Rainey, and R. Steven Notley, The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World, Second Emended & Enhanced Edition. (Jerusalem, Israel: Carta Jerusalem, 2014), 60.
 Tommas Pace, “Mining,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
 Anson F. Rainey, and R. Steven Notley, Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible (Jerusalem: Carta Jerusalem, 2015), 29.
 Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000-586 B.C.E., 239–240.
 Rainey and Notley, Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible., 29–30.
 Victor H. Matthews, and Don C. Benjamin, Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East, 4th ed. (New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2016), 156.
 Maura Sala, “Beit Mirsim, Tell,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
 Wolf, “Judges,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, ed., 376.
 Sala, “Beit Mirsim, Tell,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary.
 Rainey and Notley, Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible , 31.
 Gregory D. Mumford, “The Late Bronze Age Collapse and the Sea Peoples’ Migrations,” in Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, ed. Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2018), 267.
 Arnold, Elizabeth, “Climate and Environment of the Levant,” in Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, ed. Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2018), 26.
 Mumford, “The Late Bronze Age Collapse and the Sea Peoples’ Migrations,” in Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, ed. Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton, 267.
 McKinion, Randall L. "Introduction to the Historical Books: Strategies for Reading." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 53, no. 3 (09, 2010): 627-8https://go.openathens.net/redirector/liberty.edu?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/introduction-historical-books-strategies-reading/docview/759597537/se-2..
 McKenzie, Introduction to the Historical Books: Strategies for Reading, 7.
 William Garden Blaikie, The Book of Joshua, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll, Expositor’s Bible (Hartford, CT: S.S. Scranton Co., 1903), 633.
 McKenzie, Introduction to the Historical Books: Strategies for Reading, 27.
 McKenzie, Introduction to the Historical Books: Strategies for Reading, 26.
 Franke, Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, xviii.
 Blaikie, The Book of Joshua, Expositor’s Bible, 633.
 Bruce K. Waltke, “Biblical Theology of the Psalms Today: A Personal Perspective,” in The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul, ed. Andrew J. Schmutzer and David M. Howard Jr. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013), 24..
 J. A. Ernesti, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, trans. Charles H. Terrot (Edinburgh: Thomas Clark, 1832), 1:5.
 Franke, Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, xx.
 Chrysostom, John, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle to the Hebrews,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of St. John and Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. T. Keble and Frederic Gardiner, vol. 14, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 489.
 Blaikie, The Book of Joshua, Expositor’s Bible, 633.
 T. Michael Kennedy, “Rabbah,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
 E. E. Carpenter, “Sacrifice, Human,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 259.
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