The first chapters of Joshua tell some great stories of
They’re wonderful illustrations of how the Lord works & how we walk by faith in Him as we take possession of all the Lord has for us in the Christian life.
But as we see how these stories speak to us of the spiritual life, we mustn’t forget that this is historical narrative – these things really happened.
Archaeologist John Garstang excavated the site of
He established that
This would place the Exodus some
time around 1440-45 BC, a date which fits perfectly with what we know about
This was the period of the Amarna Age of
They neglected their empire
holdings outside their borders, including their interests in
The Amarna Letters show that during
this time, the Canaanites sent requests to
The Amarna Letters were written by the kings of the numerous Canaanite city-states to 2 of the Pharaohs of Egypt.
The picture these letters paint of
the situation in
The Stele of Pharaoh Merneptah dated to 1230 BC tells us his
The stele mentions that the Hebrews were then settled in the land.
So the conquest of Canaan by
Garstang found solid evidence of the destruction of
The city had been built on the mound formed by previous generations of occupation.
It was surrounded by a double wall.
The outer wall was 6 ft. thick, the inner was 12 ft. & there was a space of 15 ft. between them. They were 30 ft. high.
The city was so crowded they’d built homes between the walls, just as we read of Rahab’s house.
Garstang found evidence that the walls had fallen outward and tumbled down the sides of the mound the city was built on.
There was only one portion of this wall left standing, and in its side facing out was a window.
Garstang believed this was none other than the house of Rahab & that window the one she’d let the Jewish spies out through.
This layer of occupation had a burn layer which shows the city had been completely razed at that time.
But what’s remarkable is that massive food stores were found in the ruins of its destruction.
This was highly unusual because such stores would normally be the spoils of war.
Garstang saw this as further evidence of the destruction under Joshua.
After the initial chapters of Joshua, the book settles into
a more detailed review of the campaigns
We get lists of the cities & regions they conquered & how the land was divided up among the tribes.
Tonight, we begin with the southern campaign in Ch. 10 . . .
1Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it—as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king—and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” 5Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.
These 5 city-states were all in the south & they counted
But as we saw last week, the
Gibeonites decided fighting
The leaders of
Gibeon’s defection & treaty with
First of all, it took an important ally out of their confederacy.
6And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.” 7So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor.
“Ascended” is right – about 3,300 ft. up over a distance of
20 miles from Gilgal to
For armed men, this journey would take 8 to 9 hours.
the Lord said to Joshua, “Do
not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them
shall stand before you.” 9Joshua
therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. 10So the Lord routed them before
happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of
Beth Horon, that the Lord
cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they
died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the
God brought nature as an ally to
Since the Canaanites worshipped nature deities, having hailstones tossed at them from the sky would have seemed like their own gods were aiding their enemies.
Killing hail is not all that unusual a phenomenon.
On Feb 21, 2002, over 50 died in a Bolivian hailstorm.
In 1978 a hailstorm spewing
baseball sized hail killed more than 200 sheep in
In 1953 a hailstorm in
Joshua spoke to the Lord in
the day when the Lord delivered
up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of
V. 9 says the battle began in the morning at Gibeon, but as the Amorites retreated along the Road to Beth Horon, the day moved on & Joshua knew the only way to keep the Amorites from fleeing back to the safety of their cities to the south was to have more daylight.
So he asked God to lengthen the day. Sure enough – the sun halted in its passage through the sky.
There was a story some years ago about how NASA was doing computations in preparation for the moon shots, to make sure they knew where all the important celestial bodies would be.
In doing their computations supposedly they ran them backwards only to discover the heavenly bodies were out of their expected positions by a bit longer than a day.
Then, as the story goes, one of the Christians working for NASA told about this story in Joshua and how King Hezekiah asked that the sun go back 10 degrees.
So the missing time in NASA’s calculations was accounted for, thus verifying the Biblical record!
The guy who told that story created quite a stir and sold a lot of books.
Listen, we don’t know how the sun stood still, but it did.
There may have been some kind of change to the earth’s rotational rate due to any one of a number of cosmic events.
There might have been a polar shift as there’s plenty evidence from Geology.
The lengthened period of light may have been due to some strange refractive quality to the atmosphere that day.
The hailstones suggests something highly unusual with the environment was going on.
The point is – Joshua had been told before the battle began that God would give him victory.
When he saw the hailstones falling, he was emboldened to make a huge request of God – and God did it.
The lesson for us is this – When God has already given us the outcome, and we can see Him at work, the only rational response is to move out & join Him.
And you know what, God has told us the outcome – Heaven is our destiny.
No one can stand against us because God is with us, in us, before & behind us.
V. 13 mentions the Book of Jashar.
This was a collection of poetic songs written to honor
15Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
V. 15 tells of the end of the whole campaign. In chronology, it comes after vs. 16-42.
In fact, v. 43 is identical to v. 15.
16But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah.
Their fighting force in utter disarray, these 5 kings abandoned the whole campaign & tried to hide.
17And it was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. 19And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the Lord your God has delivered them into your hand.”
Joshua gave orders to trap the 5 kings in the cave, but not to give up the larger fight.
Men were to be set to guard the cave, but the rest needed to pursue the remaining combatants.
If what was left of the Canaanites were allowed to retreat to their cities, it would only drag things out.
Only a few managed to make it back to their cities.
happened, while Joshua and the children of
The hailstones & then the stopping of the sun &
moon, which were 2 of the chief deities worshipped by the Canaanites, caused the
people of the land to be in total awe of
Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me
from the cave.” 23And
they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of
This was a picture of total domination.
What could be more vulnerable that to lie on the ground and have someone place their foot on your neck?
All they have to do is step down hard and your life is over.
That’s exactly what Joshua wanted to get across to the men
These 5 guys were the mightiest men
And where are they now? Utterly
defeated and lying under
Now, flash back with me to 40 years before when Joshua &
Caleb had told the entire nation at Kadesh Barnea that these kings would prove
no match for
But the nation had refused to listen to them and had rebelled against God in refusing to go up and take the land.
40 years of aimless wandering were wasted.
This was a huge, “I told you so” moment for both Joshua & Caleb.
I wonder if they looked at each other here and signed a heavy one of regret over all the wasted years.
Whenever I read this story, I’m moved to stop & consider if I’m wasting precious time through unbelief.
Have I come to a stand still in my walk because there’s some new territory God wants me to conquer, but I’ve wimped out.
I don’t want to get to 60, or 70, or 80, and look back to realize I just wasted the last 10 years.
God, make me like Joshua. Put my enemies under my foot and don’t let my timidity hinder the work of Your Spirit.
25Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. 27So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.
In vs. 28-39 we read about
He took the cities of . . .
Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the
lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining,
but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded. 41And Joshua conquered them from Kadesh
Barnea as far as
The Southern region of
But we can’t really say it lies under Israelite control yet.
That’s because they haven’t been settled in the land yet.
They’re still staying at the camp of Gilgal.
It will be some time yet before the tribes are dispersed to their tribal borders.
Some of the cities they conquered will be inhabited by others and will need to be recaptured.
You’ll notice that the region of
It remained under the control of the Philistines.
1 And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor heard these things,
that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, 2 and to the kings who were from the north, in the mountains, in the plain south of Chinneroth, [Galilee] in the lowland, and in the heights of Dor on the west, 3 to the Canaanites in the east and in the west, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite in the mountains, and the Hivite below Hermon in the land of Mizpah.
This is the entire northern region of
The city of
When Jabin heard that the south had fallen to
4 So they went out, they and all their armies
with them, as many people as the sand that is on the
seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots. 5 And
when all these kings had met together, they came and camped together at the
waters of Merom to fight against
Merom is a few miles NW of Galilee which means
6 But the Lord
said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time
I will deliver all of them slain before
This is way up into modern day
9 So Joshua did to them as the Lord had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.
Question: Why not keep these prize spoils of war?
A horse was like a jet fighter and a chariot was like a tank.
Why not hang on to these and use
them to bolster the military might of
God had already told them they were not to amass horses – & the reason was precisely because He didn’t want them to start counting their strength by force of arms.
Their trust was not to be in their military technology, but in God Himself.
He would give them a victory that far surpassed anything conventional warfare could accomplish.
David understood this and wrote in Psalm 20:7
10 Joshua turned back at that time and took
Hazor, and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor was formerly the head of
all those kingdoms. 11 And they struck all the people who were
in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was
none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire. 12 So all the
cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took and struck with the
edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 But as
for the cities that stood on their mounds,
The only cities Joshua burned were
It’s interesting that both Jericho & Hazor show evidence of being destroyed and burned at this time, but not the other cities he find listed here as part of the conquest.
There was a significant occupation change shown in the other citi4es that took place at this time, but they were not destroyed or burned.
The archaeological evidence strongly supports the Biblical record.
Now, let me say this – there have been later excavations by people like Kathleen Kenyon & Yigal Yadin who propose other interpretations of these sites.
There’s a large amount of funding to be had by the enterprising archaeologist who can come up with a new theory.
So it’s been the fashion in archaeology for the last half century to reinterpret earlier conclusions – not based so much on the evidence as on a theory about history.
These new theories make headlines for a while, and amateurs pick them up and spout them.
But as time passes, the new theories are usually retired and the older conclusions based on the original excavations are agreed as being the correct view.
This was the case with both Yadin’s work at Hazor &
Kenyon’s work at
They both disagreed with Garstang’s conclusions and their views held the day for about 30 years.
But many, if not most archaeologists now understand Garstang’s conclusions to be correct.
It was Garstang himself who posed
Kenyon questions about
So, pulling all this together the point is this – The
evidence from archaeology stands solidly behind the fact that Jericho &
Hazor, the 2 main cities of
14 And all the spoil of these cities and the
livestock, the children of
And here it is -
the mountain country,
This was the central highlands.
all the South,
The Negev, that region to the south of
This was a pastoral region rising from the south up to the central highlands.
the lowland, and the
This speaks of the land from west to east; from the coastal
plain to the
He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them. 18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.
While the initial 3 campaigns; central, southern, then
northern, we concluded quickly, keep in mind these were just the conquests of
the major city-states that dominated
There were dozens of smaller cities and towns that had to be taken in order to make a full conquest of the land.
When it says that Joshua waged war
a long time with the kings, it means that though the main city states had been
defeated, carrying the war to it’s end took a lot longer – much like the War in
The main war was over quickly, with
a resounding victory on the part of the
But the after effects of the war go on & on as the defeated enemy refuses to give up.
19 There was not a city that made peace with the
God’s hardening of the hearts of the Canaanites needs to be understood the same way as the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh.
We read again & again in the
Only after he repeatedly hardened his heart, do we read that God hardened it.
All God did was stop striving by His Spirit with Pharaoh.
There came a point at which God accepted Pharaoh’s choice to resist Him.
And that is when Pharaoh became permanently hardened.
Listen – left to ourselves, no one wants God! No one seeks Him.
If there is any kind of spiritual interest, any sensitivity or tenderness toward God, it’s because His Spirit is at work to woo us.
But God forces NO ONE! He has given man the power to chose. What would be the point of making man a volitional being if God then forced his choices??
That’s not choice at all – it reduces human beings to robots.
So when a man or woman repeatedly resists the gracious wooing of God, there comes a point at which God finally says, “Okay – I accept your decision.” And He withdraws His Spirit.
That’s what the Bible means when it says God hardened someone’s heart.
The Canaanites had many opportunities to respond in an appropriate way to God but they chose to resist.
Rahab and the Gibeonites show us
that a proper fear of God was at work in
But the bulk of the Canaanites resisted God past the point of no return.
There is a point we know not when, a line we know not where.
That marks the destiny of men twist godly sorrow and despair.
There is a line, and once it’s crossed,
God has sworn in all His love, that all is lost.
21 And at that time Joshua came and cut off the
Anakim from the mountains: from
The Anakim were the giants of whom Goliath was a descendant.
As we read here, while Joshua
removed them from the
These verses are an overview of the conquest.
We’re not to think that Joshua personally went out & took on the Anakim single-handedly.
The use of his name here means he oversaw the conquest of these regions and these peoples.
As we’ll see, it was others who actually did the fighting.
23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to
all that the Lord had said to
Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to
In this chapter, we get a listing of the 31 kings and their
Now we get into the division of the land up among the tribes.
1 Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: “You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed. 2 This is the land that yet remains:
In the rest of vs. 2 thru 6 we’re told what land was yet to
be laid claim to by
It was the coastal area from
This was the region held by the
Philistines and Phoenicians – the ancient Sea Peoples who had settled on the
eastern coast of the
God promised that He would drive them out of this remaining territory – but only after Joshua had assigned the tribes to these regions.
There’s a picture there for us.
Just as all
There’s the universal battle with the flesh we all strive with.
There’s the struggle with greed & lust that are pretty much a part of the general human condition.
Being in regular fellowship with one another allows us to encourage one another & to pray together, battling these things side by side.
But there are some things each of us will battle that are our own unique struggle.
As we grow & mature in the Lord we realize there are some ways sin has marked use, wounded us, that have become a deep, deep scar.
And while we still need others to help us find victory, we realize they probably can’t really relate because this is something personal, a part of our past God wants to deliver us from -
Like an evil troll that’s camped out on a piece of spiritual ground God is calling us to go & take for His glory.
7 Now therefore, divide this land as an
inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.” 8 With
the other half-tribe the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance,
which Moses had given them, beyond the
In vs. 9-12 we get a list of the regions given to the eastern tribes.
13 Nevertheless the children of
Reuben, Gad, & the half tribe of Manasseh had not been successful in laying claim to their full territory.
14 Only to the tribe of Levi he had given no
inheritance; the sacrifices of the Lord
In vs. 15-23 we get a description of the territory of the tribe of Reuben.
There’s an interesting comment in this section – v. 22
22 The children of
In Numbers we read that Balaam was from farther north, but
after his time with King Balak in
In vs. 24-28 we get a description of the region given to the tribe of Gad.
Vs. 29-32 are the territory assigned to the half tribe of Manasseh.
33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance, as He had said to them.
1 These are the areas which the children
If you take Levi out of the division of the land, that leaves 11, not 12 tribes.
Yet the land was divided 12 ways; 2½ to the east of the Jordan, and 9½ on the west.
Where does the extra tribe come from?
Joseph was counted as 2 tribes – through his sons, Ephraim & Manasseh.
The assignment of the land was by lots.
Vs. 6-15 are my text for Sunday so I’ll leave till then.
Vs. 1-62 –
63 As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, the children of
This little note informs us this record had to have been
written well before the time of David because David conquered the city of
This chapter tells us about the Ephraim’s territory.
Now we come to the
12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive
out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined
to dwell in that land. 13 And it happened, when the children of
Instead of following through on the command to expel or eradicate the Canaanites, Ephraim & Manasseh just made servants out of them.
The problem with this was the Canaanites continued to follow their evil practices.
It wasn’t long before the Jews were joining them and the very thing God had said was the danger to them was realized.
14 Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now?”
The tribe of Ephraim, coupled with half of Manasseh were the largest group among the tribes.
But their territory was more than adequate to their numbers.
What they didn’t like was that the center of their region was still held by the Canaanites and clearing it would take some real work.
They didn’t want it – they wanted something easier.
15 So Joshua answered them, “If you are a great people, then go up to the forest country and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and the giants, since the mountains of Ephraim are too confined for you.”
Joshua’s answer is wise – if you’re large enough to need more lan, then you have plenty resources to take what’s already been given you.
Why should you get more when you’ve not taken possession of what you already have?
Then they give Joshua the real reason for their request . . .
16 But the children of Joseph said, “The mountain
country is not enough for us; and all the Canaanites who dwell in the land of
the valley have chariots of iron, both those who are of Beth
Shean and its towns and those who are of the
See, they’re making excuses for why they haven’t pressed into all of the promise – “It’s too hard!”
17 And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—saying, “You are a great people and have great power; you shall not have only one lot, 18 but the mountain country shall be yours. Although it is wooded, you shall cut it down, and its farthest extent shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots and are strong.”
Joshua encourages them at the same time he refuses their request.
They will not be given more when they haven’t even taken advatange of what’s already been given them.
That’s a lesson we should all learn – that before God gives us more, we need to be faithful with what we already have.
1 Now the whole congregation of the children of
The tabernacle was now settled in
Joshua then sent out a survey team to decide appropriate boundaries fro the remaining tribes.
8 Then the men arose to go away; and Joshua
charged those who went to survey the land, saying, “Go, walk through the land,
survey it, and come back to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” 9 So the
men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven
parts by cities; and they came to Joshua at the camp in
In vs. 11-27 we get the territory assigned to Benjamin.
Vs. 1-9 are Simeon’s territory.
Vs. 10-16 are Zebulun’s region.
Issachar is marked out in vs. 17-23; Asher in 24-31, Naphtali in 32-39, and last is Dan in vs. 40-48.
49 When they had made an end of dividing the land
as an inheritance according to their borders, the children of
Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim and that may help explain why they pressed him to give them more land in ch. 17.
51 These were the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country.
As the tribes went to their respective places, they still had to complete the task of ousting the last remnants of Canaanite presence.
Though they had such a promising start, their initial successes didn’t carry through to completion.
We’ll be taking a closer look at that this Sunday.