Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan

Moses dies in the land of Moab and is buried in a location known only to the LORD. After the death of Moses, the LORD begins to speak to Joshua and instruct him to cross the Jordan River and “every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses”.

Joshua 1:5,9

5 No one will be able to oppose you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not desert you nor abandon you.

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua - a new leader for Israel
Joshua a new Leader for Israel

Commissioning of a New Leader

Joshua proceeds to prepare the Israelites to cross the Jordan River and begin the conquest of the land of Canaan. He orders them to prepare their provisions, and reaffirms the promises of the Rubenites and the Gadites to send their warriors to help their fellow Israelites subdue the land. Moses had given them an inheritance on the east side of the Jordan, provided they help with the conquest of Canaan.

Interesting that the bible says: Moses gave them an inheritance, not the LORD. Don’t know if that is significant, but not what the LORD promised them, so maybe a cause for concern. Man’s will instead of God’s will. Usually ends badly for man.

Joshua sends two spies into Jericho. They end up in the house of Rahab the prostitute. She hides them and asks that she and her family be spared from Israel when they capture Jericho. She also, tells them that everyone has heard what the LORD has done for Israel. How he dried up the Red Sea when they came out of Egypt and what he did to the kings of the Amorites.

Joshua 2:9-11

9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have despaired because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard these reports, our hearts melted and no courage remained in anyone any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth below.

This is the same Rahab that we find in Matthew1:5, in the genealogy of Jesus. That’s right, the messiah, God among us, had a prostitute in his ancestry. The spies agree to spare her and her family provided she doesn’t tell anyone about them and she puts a crimson cord in her window to identify her house when the attack begins.

The spies return to Joshua and give him a report of all their activity: “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before us.”

Parting of the Jordan River

The command is given to prepare to cross the Jordan River. The Ark of the LORD will go ahead of the people. To lead them on the way they must go.

Joshua crossing the Jordan River

Joshua 3:7-8

7 Now the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they will know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. 8 So you shall command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’”

When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant enter the Jordan River, the waters stop flowing from up river and stand in a heap. The water down river flows on its way and the Israelites walk across the river on dry ground. Yes, the LORD parts the Jordan River, like he did the Red Sea.

When all the people cross, the priests with the ark come out of the river bed and the waters return to the Jordan. Joshua sets up 12 stones as a memorial to their miraculous river crossing.

Joshua 4:23-24

23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

The kings of the Canaanites hear about the LORD drying up the Jordan River for the Israelite and they become afraid of what’s coming. The Lord commands Joshua to circumcise all the Israelites since this generation had not been circumcised as yet. Once they are healed, they hold the Passover celebration. The next day they eat the produce of the promised land of Canaan. The manna ceased appearing on that day.

The Commander of the LORD’s Army

Joshua is by the city of Jericho and he sees a man standing in front of him with his sword drawn.

the commander of the LORD's army

Joshua 5:13-15

13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, he raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 And the captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Some consider this another pre incarnate appearance of Jesus. It is interesting that Joshua is told to remove his sandals as the place he is standing is holy. Very similar to Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:5). Also, interesting that when asked if he is for Israel or for their enemies, his answer is “neither”.

The Battle of Jericho

The City of Jericho is barricaded up and no one comes out of the city as they are afraid of and preparing for the coming Isrealites. The LORD tells Joshua that he has handed Jericho over to him, and gives Joshua some unusual battle plans.The entire army of Israel is to march around the city once per day for six days. Then on the seventh day, march around it seven times then the priests are to blow the trumpets and the warriors are to shout with a great shout.

Then the walls fall down and the Israelites charge forward into the city. They find the house with the crimson cord, and as they promised, they spare Rahab the prostitute and her family. They put to death everyone else and Joshua curses the city saying:

Joshua 6: 26-27“Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he will lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he will set up its gates.” 27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.

Joshua and the battle of Jerricho

Then, someone breaks the rules. Achan took some things from Jericho and hides them in his tent. Joshua sends some of the army to attack Ai. But the men of Ai defeat the Israelites and kill 36 of them. Joshua falls on his face before the ark of the LORD and the elders tear their clothes and put dust on their heads. Why did the LORD allow this to happen to them?

The LORD tells Joshua to get up. That Israel has sinned by taking things from Jericho that were supposed to be destroyed. That is why the LORD allowed Ai to defeat Israel. The offender is found out and he stoned to death by all Israel. An important lesson here is that your sin sometimes affects others as well. Thirty six Israelite soldiers are killed because of the sin of Achan.

Then the LORD turned from his anger and gives Joshua a battle plan for AI. They follow the LORD’s instructions and take the city and no one was left alive. Now everybody in Canaan has heard of what the Isrealites have done to Jericho and Ai, and they form an alliance to fight against Israel. One people have a different plan.

The Deceit of the Gibeonites

The Gibeonites decide to dress up in worn our clothes and take mold food and worn out wine skins and go to Israel and pretend to be from a far away land. They are going to trick the Israelites into making a treaty with them. Now, on its face that doesn’t seem too bad except the Isrealites were specifically commanded to not make covenants with the people of Canaan.

Deuteronomy 7:2

and when the Lord your God turns them over to you and you defeat them, you shall utterly destroy them. You shall not make a covenant with them nor be gracious to them.

Joshua and the Isrealites are less than pleased when they find out that the Gibeonites are in the land of Canaan. The five kings of Amorites attack Gibeon for making a treaty with Israel, and Israel is forced to protect them when they were supposed to destroy them along with everyone else in the land of Canaan.

The LORD tells Joshua not to fear the kings of the Amorites and proceeds to throw down huge hails stones on the army of the Amorites. So much hail that more were killed by the hail stones than by the sword. After the battle, Joshua asks that the sun be stopped in mid heaven for about a whole day, and the LORD does just that.

Joshua 10: 14

There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded a human voice: for the LORD fought for Israel.

Victory is at Hand

The kings of the Amorites are captured, their army is destroyed and Joshua puts all the kings to death and hangs them on five trees until the evening.

Joshua 10:40,42

40 So Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.

42 Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.

Then more kingdoms unite and come out for battle against Israel with an army so great in number like the sand on the seashore. The LORD reassures Joshua to not be afraid that he will hand them over to him for destruction. Israel defeats this vast army and puts everyone to death.

As they were commanded to do, Israel was to wipe out all the inhabitants of the promised land, not only because Israel had been promised the land, but because of the iniquity and sin of the nations inhabiting the land. The LORD had marked them for destruction and Israel was the instrument of that destruction.

A swift victory for Israel. Some hiccups along the way when they don’t follow the commands of the LORD. And they have more to do, but victory is indeed at hand. The moral of the story is the same: obedience brings blessing, disobedience brings a curse. A miraculous parting of the River Jordan and the miraculous stopping of the sun for a whole day and the odd battle plans for toppling the walls of Jericho. But in the end:

Joshua 11:16-20

16 So Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17 from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings, and struck them and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19 There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20 For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Some amazing feats and battles and yes lessons. Our sins can have far-reaching consequences even for others, and following the LORD’s instructions brings victory. Ignoring his instructions, on the other hand, can be disastrous.

The sinner in the mirror

Joshua 22:20

20 Did Achan the son of Zerah not act unfaithfully in the things designated for destruction, and wrath fall on the entire congregation of Israel? So that man did not perish alone in his guilt.’”

If you have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, ideas or comments, please leave them in the comment section below and I will get right back to you. Follow me on Facebook: The Sinner in the Mirror, Instagram: thesinnerinthemirror, and Twitter: @SinnerMirror.

May the Peace, Love and Grace of our LORD Jesus Christ bless and keep you always.

Rex McMahon

The Sinner in the Mirror

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