Bible Query from Joshua
August 2014 version. Copyright (c) Christian Debater(tm) 1997-2014. All rights reserved except as given in the copyright notice.
Q: In Josh, what is the main point of the book?
A: The book of Joshua is interesting in that it can be read on at least three levels.
1. The book of Joshua tells of God led the Israelites in the conquest of Palestine.
2. It serves as a climax of the Exodus, and a beginning to their living in Palestine.
3. This book primarily shows how choosing obedience brings victory and blessing, and secondarily how disobedience brings defeat. The book of Judges has similar lessons, but the order is reversed and Judges gives many additional lessons on types of disobedience. Finally, Joshua is useful for us to learn from the example of this godly leader.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.326-327, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.86,89, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.238, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 3 p.343-346 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Josh 1:4, how did God give the Israelites the land of the Hittites, since the Hittites lived up north of Israel in modern-day Turkey?
A: Joshua 1:4 does not refer to the land of modern-day Turkey. Rather, the Hittites had a colony in central Canaan, which included the city of Gibeon. For more on the Hittites in both Asia Minor and Canaan, see The New Bible Dictionary 1962 p.528-529.
Q: In Josh 1:4, what is the Great Sea?
A: The Great Sea was their term for the Mediterranean Sea. The Nelson Study Bible p.352, and footnotes in the NIV and NET say the same.
Q: In Josh 1:8, what kind of prosperity is promised?
A: God is promising Joshua military success. Joshua never became particularly wealthy himself. While God gives Christians success in many ways, we are to be careful not to be swayed by the evil of the love of money. All we can say about financial prosperity is that we might be as wealthy in this life as Jesus and Paul, and they did not own very much. See When Cultists Ask p.47 for more info.
Q: In Josh 1:11; 9:11,14 (KJV), what are victuals?
A: The word "victuals" is an old-fashioned word for food. The NKJV says "provisions" and the NIV and NET say "supplies".
Q: Was Josh 1:11 spoken before Josh 3:1 or after?
A: It could be either way. As The New Geneva Study Bible says p.297, the narrative is not arranged in strictly chronological order. In general, in the Bible one cannot assume someone has to be in chronological order except when it is stated as so.
Q: In Josh 1:15, why did they have to take possession of the land, since God had already given it to them in Josh 1:3?
A: There is an important point to learn here. God had already pronounced the land theirs. However, the hard work of possessing God's promise still lay ahead of them. Today, often to have victory, you have to partner with God to take possession of what God has given.
Q: In Josh 2:1, was Rahab really just an innkeeper?
A: She was not according to Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25. Outside of the Bible, 1 Clement (97/98 A.D.) ch.12 vol.1 p.8, written 97/98 A.D., also says the same. The Nelson Study Bible p.355 says the Hebrew word here implies a common one, not associated with a religious temple.
The NIV footnote says "Or possibly an innkeeper" but it is incorrect here.
Q: In Josh 2:1, why did godly men go to a house like Rahab’s?
A: Godly men should not do that today. Proverbs 5:8 says, in the context of temptation, men should not even go near the door of a loose woman. However, there are three points to consider in the answer.
1. Proverbs 5:8 was not written yet, and people were not expected to follow commands that had not yet been revealed.
2. The Bible neither approves nor condemns where they stayed.
3. The Hebrew word for innkeeper and prostitute are the same. Rahab was definitely the latter, as Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 show. However, there might be a cultural reason why there is only one word for both. Perhaps rooms in inns and other lodgings had dual use, and they were merely rooms for sleeping for moral people. In that case, if every inn doubled as a place of prostitution, godly men staying at an inn for godly reasons might be unavoidable.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.307 for more info.
Q: In Josh 2:4-9, did God reward Rahab for lying?
A: The Bible never said God rewarded Rahab for lying, but Hebrews 11:31 shows that God rewarded Rahab for her trusting Him. Beyond this, Christians disagree on this, with two answers.
1. Some say Rahab’s lying was righteous behavior. Lying to evil people is OK to save an innocent life and in times of war. The New Geneva Study Bible p.298 says, "Deception is a necessary tactic in war."
2. Others say Rahab’s lying was not righteous behavior. However, Rahab did not know of God’s Law, and God rewarded Rahab for following Him, despite her having imperfect knowledge. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.88 points out that God blesses sinners, despite their sin, because all human beings are sinners.
See also the discussion on Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.180-181, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.155-156, When Critics Ask p.135 and The Nelson Study Bible p.355 for more info.
Q: In Josh 2:7, what is a ford (with a lower case f)?
A: It is a shallow crossing in a river.
Q: In Josh 2:18-21 and Josh 6:22-23, what is significant about the scarlet thread?
A: For Rahab and the Israelites, it simply was a sign between them to keep her family alive.
The NIV Study Bible p.294, The Nelson Study Bible p.356, and Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in Against Heresies book 4 ch.20.12 p.492 mention that the scarlet thread hanging out the window is reminiscent of the blood of the Passover lamb the Israelites in Egypt put on their doors. We can also see it is reminiscent of the rose-red blood of Jesus that was shed for us. So, in a sense we too have a scarlet thread as a symbol of our protection from the wrath of God.
Q: In Josh 3:7, why did God want to "magnify" Joshua?
A: God wanted the people to look up to Joshua. They would be more likely to obey him and trust Joshua. Philippians 2:29 shows that says godly men should be recognized and honored.
Q: In Josh 3:9-16, why did Joshua attack from the middle of Canaan?
A: We can see that this made good sense militarily. An attack in the center separated the 1.1 million or so in the north from the 900,000 in the south. It is interesting that Joshua's strategy of first attacking Canaan in the center to divide the north and south was apparently known to British Field Marshall Edmund H. Allenby. He used the same strategy in World War I to free Palestine from the Turks, and he too was victorious.
Q: In Josh 3:9-13, did they have difficulty crossing the Jordan River?
A: It was no problem with God. According to The NIV Study Bible p.292, the Jordan River was 80-100 feet wide at Jericho most of the year, but during the spring flood it was as wide as a mile. The spies could cross at shallow, about 3 feet deep, fords, where only a few people can cross at a time. It would seem the Israelites would need a very large ford, or else make a long detour. However, God had a quicker way, which Joshua told the people in Joshua 3:9-13.
It was a miracle because the waters stopped "as soon as the priests feet touched the water" (Joshua 3:15-16) and they crossed on dry ground (Joshua 3:17). See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.88 for more info.
Q: In Josh 3:10, since God would drive out the Canaanites before them without fail, why did some of them remain even in the time of Judges?
A: God said not that He would drive out the Canaanites, but that He would drive out the Canaanites before them. In the cases where they stopped fighting against the Canaanites, they would not be driven out.
Even today, there are battles that God will be with us to win, but if we decline to fight the battle, we do not get the victory.
There is a theme in Christian songs of crossing the Jordan. The theme means dying and peacefully entering the Promised Land of heaven. However, this is not an accurate reflection of what the Jordan meant to the Israelites. Crossing the Jordan to them meant beginning to fight the battle to claim what God promised them for their own. It was going to be hard work! God told the Israelites they could possess the Promised Land, but obviously the Canaanites did not get the message. Likewise in our lives, God promises things that we want, but Satan does not seem willing to relinquish his hold. Just like the Israelites, we need to be bold and claim what has been promised. Like Joshua, we should not compromise, but by obedience and hard work we must conquer the difficulties ahead.
Q: In Josh 3:15-16, has the Jordan River ever stopped flowing since then?
A: Yes, since Joshua's crossing, the Jordan River has stopped its flow at other times too. In 1927 a landslide near the town of Adam blocked the river for 20 hours. However, for the Jordan River bed to be dry ground just after the priests stepped into the Jordan River is unexplainable without the power of God. It must have been amazing to be one of the Israelites watching the river suddenly dry up, and according to Joshua 4:18 just as suddenly return to their place.
Q: In Josh 3:17, did Israel cross the Jordan here, or in Josh 4:5,10-11?
A: Here is the sequence of events.
1. The priests carried the ark into the Middle of the Jordan River and remained there, as the first half of Joshua 3:17 states.
2. While the priests were there, the people crossed over, as the last half of Joshua 3:17 states.
3. Men took twelve stones, and carried them from the west (Canaan) bank of the river to the middle, and Joshua 4:5 says.
4. The priests who were standing in the middle of the Jordan with the ark all this time, finally came across after everything was done, as Joshua 4:10-11 says.
It is unclear whether the men carried the twelve stones after the last of the people crossed, or while some of the people were still crossing.
See When Critics Ask p.136 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.156 for more info.
Q: In Josh 4:5-9, why did they take out twelve stones?
A: This served as a memorial to them (Joshua 4:6) and one stone was for each tribe (Joshua 4:5).
One point to consider is that Joshua did not insist that the twelve tribes blend into one tribe, but rather be content in their distinctiveness, while insisting on unity of commitment to God and each other. As Christians, we do not have to pretend that different cultures should all be the same. Rather, our different cultures are a cause of rejoicing and wonder on one hand. On the other hand, our different cultures gives us different perspectives, which is valuable as we help guard each other from error and blind spots to sin.
Suppose you were one of the Israelites. When Joshua asked for twelve people to go back in the middle of the river to collect a stone, would you volunteer? Remember, the only security you had that the River would not flood back was seeing the priests and the ark in the middle of the riverbed.
Q: In Josh 4:13, how come all the men in the army from the Transjordan tribes numbered about 40,000, since Num 26:7,18,34 shows over twice that number able to serve in the army?
A: First three points that are not a part of the answer, and then the answer.
1. Numbers 1 give another census, but that was done 40 years before, so that is not relevant to this question.
2. There was a short period of time between the second census and the invasion, but that time interval was so small, the differences would not be more than a percent or so.
3. People from Manasseh lived on both sides of the Jordan River, so only a fraction of the 52,700 in Manasseh lived east of the Jordan. However, Gad and Reuben combined had 84,230, which is more than approximately 40,000.
The answer has two points to consider.
Not 100% of the men were in the army. Deuteronomy 20:5-8 commanded fighting men to stay home if they had just planted a vineyard, become engaged to be married, or is afraid. A certain percentage probably stayed behind to tend the flocks and herds and protect the women and children.
Draft-Dodgers? One might argue that perhaps the number currently serving in the army should have been higher. Perhaps the number was proper, or perhaps there were too many men who claimed to be fainthearted or went AWOL. People do not always do what they are supposed to do.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.87 for more info.
Q: In Josh 4:19, did the twelve stones have a pre-Israelite Canaanite significance, similar to Stonehenge in England, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.212 says is quite likely?
A: No, there is no archaeological evidence that there was any pre-Israelite significance of these stones. If the Israelites brought the stones themselves, there would not be any stone altar there prior to the Israelites.
Q: In Josh 4:19, did the Israelite religion assimilate Gilgal, somewhat as Muslims "assimilated the Ka’aba and the holiness of Mecca from the pagan past and Christianity assimilated the Christmas celebration from pagan rites centering about the winter solstice", as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.212 claims?
A: No. There are some false assumptions.
1. While the name Gilgal could mean many things, there is no proof it means circle of stones.
2. There is no evidence that Gilgal had Canaanite religious significance.
3. There is no evidence of similarity to Stonehenge.
The Muslim Bukhari Hadiths freely admit that the Quaraysh had 360 idols in the Ka’aba prior to Mohammed.
Christians celebrate Christmas for the birth of Christ. Saying this was taken over from a pagan solstice festival is not true. Of the 25 or so Roman festivals throughout the year, it was during Saturnalia (December 17-24) that slaves were temporarily freed. Many Christians were slaves, and it would make sense for them to celebrate at the time they were temporary free.
Q: In Josh 4:24, did all of the people of the earth know of this miracle?
A: While all the people of the land, and the Mideastern peoples undoubtedly heard about this, Joshua 4:24 does not say all the people on the planet heard about it at that time. On the other hand, given the number of Bibles that have been printed, and the number of Bible translations, we are getting close to 100% of the peoples of the world hearing about this.
Q: In Josh 5:2-5,7, why did the Israelites not circumcise their children before this?
A: Scripture does not say whether it was disobedience, neglect, or that circumcision would be difficult while traveling.
Q: In Josh 5:9, what was the "reproach of Egypt"?
A: Reproach means shame or rebuke. The reproach was not that the Israelites were slaves, but their disobedience after they left Egypt. As a historical note, roughly half to two-thirds of the Roman, Carthaginian, and Greek populations consisted of slaves.
Q: In Josh 5:13-15 was the unusual person Joshua saw on the Israelite side or the Canaanite side?
A: The Bible clearly says He was on neither side. Of course God was not on the Canaanite side, but since Joshua and the Israelites were not sinlessly perfect, He was not on their side either. Today, we might wonder if God is on our side, and if He will always do our bidding. God is not on our side; rather we should be on God’s side.
Q: In Josh 5:13-15, exactly who is the Commander?
A: Most Christians interpret this to be an appearance of Jesus Christ. Jesus also is in the role of a commander in Revelation 19:11-16.
Some Christians interpret this as Michael the archangel, who led the angels in fighting against Satan in Revelation 12:7-8.
When we compare this with appearances of angels, we can see that this is Jesus Christ for the following reasons:
1. When Joshua fell down in reverence, this might have been worship. The Commander did not stop this in Joshua 5:14.
2. The Commander ordered Joshua to take off Joshua’s shoes, for the ground on which he was standing was holy ground (Joshua 5:15). This is reminiscent of Moses having to take off his shoes when Moses talked to God in the burning bush in Exodus 3:3-5.
Q: In Josh 5:14, when Joshua figured out that this Commander was not an ordinary man, why did Joshua respond the way he did?
A: The order of Joshua’s responses is significant.
1. First, Joshua fell facedown to the ground before Him.
2. Second, Joshua asked if there were a message the Commander had for him.
3. When the Commander told him to take off his shoes on holy ground, Joshua obeyed.
Today, when we follow God, it is important that we not get the order of our responses mixed up. Worshipping God comes before learning facts about God, and we have to know God’s will before we can obey.
Q: In Josh 5:14, so what exactly was the message that Joshua received?
A: There was a clear message, though it was not in words, but rather the actual presence of the Commander. The message was that the Commander was with watching the Israelites, and that they had nothing to fear.
Q: In Josh 5:15, is the ground Joshua stood on still holy ground today?
A: Not necessarily. It is God that makes things holy, and holy places can be desecrated, and then be no longer holy.
Q: In Josh 6, why did God have the walls tumble down for Jericho, and not the other cities?
A: Perhaps for the same reason God does not do everything for everyone all the time. Not only does God gives us work to do on earth, one reason the elect were created was for doing good works according to Ephesians 2:10.
Q: In Josh 6, did the walls of Jericho fall because Israelite sappers dug under the walls while the Canaanites were distracted by the marching, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.213 says?
A: This might be a clever theory, but there are three problems with it.
1. They only marched around the walls for seven days, which would not have been enough time to tunnel under the walls. Remember, ancient peoples did not have explosive charges, so they would have to do extensive digging under the walls.
2. They would have required great precision in their digging, to go the correct depth up the hill and possibly under a ditch.
3. There is no record that the concept of digging under city walls to undermine them was even thought of at that time, 3,400 years ago. The first known use of trying to undermine a city wall was with Philip V of Macedon (220-205 B.C.) who dug a fake tunnel, and after the soldiers threw enough dust up in the air to make it look like the tunnel was almost complete, the citizens surrendered. The Romans undermined city walls at the siege of Ambracia, near Corinth in 189 B.C.
Q: Does Josh 6 show that we are saved by works as well as grace?
A: No, though some have tried to claim it does. Their argument is that though God by His grace gave Jericho to the Israelites without them working for it (Joshua 6:2), not only did they have to have faith that it would fall, but they still had to march around the city for seven days, 13 times, before the walls fell.
However, their marching did not cause the walls to fall; God supernaturally did. Obediently doing works does give us blessings, but Jericho’s walls, do not relate to their salvation, but to their conquering strongholds in their life as believers. It would be a false caricature of our position to say that we are against works, or that works have nothing to do with a saved person’s life. Works are an output of salvation, not an input.
Q: In Josh 6:1-5, did Joshua know why God had the Israelites march around the city?
A: Joshua was told that on the seventh day the wall would collapse in verse 6. However, Joshua had no idea why God chose to do things this way. We can theories of earthquakes, walls built on unsteady foundations etc., but ultimately we have to recognize that God does not always tell us the reasons why He wants to do things the way He does.
Some people will believe something, or obey God, only when they fully understand all of the hows and whys. All Joshua knew, which the Book of Joshua teaches us today, is that obedience brings blessing, and disobedience brings defeat. It is more obedient to obey even when we do not know all the whys or hows. The only qualification of this is that if we think God is telling us something that contradicts what He says in scripture, we can be sure it is not God who would tell us to do that.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.88-89 for more info.
Q: In Josh 6:4, how could the Israelites march around Jericho for seven days straight, since they were supposed to rest on the Sabbath?
A: They were to rest on the Sabbath from their own labor, not God’s explicit command. Tertullian (writing 207/208 A.D.) was one of the first to answer this objection in Against Marcion book 2 ch.21 p.313.
Q: In Josh 6:18-19, why could the Israelites not keep the plunder, since they could keep the plunder of the other cities?
A: God usually asks that the firstfruits of labor go to Him. In addition, the Israelites did not overthrow the walls of Jericho, God did. According to Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.32 one unusual thing archaeologists have found is untouched containers of grain. These are almost never found in cities that have been conquered. Either the defenders would eat them during a siege, or the conquerors would take them.
Q: In Josh 6:20, what do we know about Jericho from archaeology?
A: Jericho is one of the oldest known cities of the world. Archaeologists tell us Jericho was first built roughly 7000 B.C., abandoned about 4000 B.C., and rebuilt around 3200 B.C. It was one of many cities destroyed by Amorites circa 2300 B.C., rebuilt by them, and destroyed again about 1400 B.C. Jericho had a guard tower and two walls: an inner wall 12 feet thick and an outer wall 6 feet thick and 35 feet high. The inner wall was 5 to 10 feet inside of the outer one. Residents built houses on planks between the walls, and Rahab's house was likely that way. The spies then could climb out her window to flee the town. Jericho was a small to medium-sized city in Palestine on an 11-foot high hill 200 x 400 yards. The hill had a 35 degree slope, and thus battering rams could not break down the walls very well. Jericho occupied 8 acres; by contrast Megiddo occupied 14 acres, and Hazor, the largest city, was on 200 acres. At most, 10,000 people lived in Jericho. A spring inside the city supplied water, and Jericho was heavily fortified; it would be difficult to capture. These facts the two spies would have observed and reported to Joshua.
Q: In Josh 6:20, is there archaeological evidence of the walls supernaturally falling at Jericho?
A: Yes. In 1990, Bryant G. Wood found strong walls, large quantities of grain (meaning a short siege), and no plundering (since the grain was still there). John Garstang was the one who first found abundant carbonized grain. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.182-183 mentions some evidence for an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale, which could have left cracks in the walls. The inner mud-brick walls collapsed over the outer stone wall, forming a convenient ramp. -convenient for the Israelites, that is.
When did this capture take place? Ceramic pottery from Cyprus indicates a date between 1450 to 1400 B.C. Egyptian amulets, inscribed with the name of the current Pharaoh, up to Joshua’s time. Carbon-14 dating sets the destruction at 1410 B.C. +/- 40 years. In addition to Hard Sayings of the Bible p.182-183, information from this answer was taken from When Critics Ask p.136-137 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.156-157. The first two refer to the paper by Bryant G. Wood in Biblical Archaeology Review (March/April, 1990).
See also Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.299-308 for a non-Christian scholar’s view of why some scholars formerly used to consider Jericho as one of the biggest failures of Biblical archaeology, and how Rohl shows that subsequently Joshua’s record has been proved correct here.
Alfred Hoerth in his book Archeology and the Old Testament p. 209 and 210 says, "Archaeological evidence for the fall of Jericho has long been controversial. Beginning in 1907, Carl Watzinger excavated the site and concluded that it was unoccupied during the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200). In the 1930's John Garstang dug the site for several seasons, and he announced that he had found a collapsed double city wall and a residential area ("City IV") destroyed by fire - all dating to approximately 1400. From 1952 to 1958 Dame Kathleen Kenyon excavated Jericho. She agreed that Garstang had found tombs, some pottery, and possibly a building (Garstang's "Middle Building") all dating to Late Bronze Age IIA (1450/1400-1350/1300). But she herself found only a few Late Bronze Age wall fragments and one Late Bronze Age dipper juglet in situ. In addition, Kenyon's more sophisticated excavation techniques revealed that the double city wall Garstang dated to the time of Joshua really belonged to the much earlier Early Bronze Age. She put the destruction of City IV to the end of Middle Bronze Age II (approximately 1550). Kenyon concluded that there was no walled city for Joshua to conquer.
It was not until the early 1980s that final publications of Kenyon’s work became available for study. Such study led Bryant Wood (1990) to concur that the double wall was indeed from a much earlier period, but he also concluded that City IV had been destroyed at the end of Late Bronze Age I (approximately 1400) as Garstang had maintained. Basing his analysis of City IV on pottery, scarabs, and even radiocarbon dating, Wood found that Kenyon had largely based her conclusions on the absence of certain imported pottery and that she had ignored the considerable local pottery, some of which Wood found to be Late Bronze Age in date. If Wood is correct, then there is evidence at Jericho to support the early date of the exodus.
Footnote 9 p. 210: "There is no full agreement concerning the inner chronology or terminology of the Late Bronze Age. Depending on the chronology chosen, Late Bronze Age I ended at 1450 or 1400. The consequence of this variable is that evidence for the conquest could exist either in the transition from Late Bronze Age I to Late Bronze Age II or totally within Late Bronze Age II. To further complicate matters, the great deal of cultural continuity between these two periods sometimes makes it difficult to determine when Late Bronze Age I ended and Late Bronze Age II began. Perhaps, therefore the life of City IV could have extended into Late Bronze Age II before its destruction."
While most conservative Bible scholars put the exodus around 1450 B.C., there are some who speculate that it was around 1200. However, there are no traces of occupation of Jericho around 1200 B.C.
Q: In Josh 6:21 and so forth, why punish the Canaanites for human sacrifice and not others, such as the Aztecs and Mayas?
A: God did punish those cultures with conquest, the destruction of their civilization, and great loss of life. However, God does not give out sufficient punishment to all people and all cultures in this life. That does not occur until Judgment day. As Jesus showed in Mark 13:1-6, God does not yet give equal punishment in this life for equal sins.
Q: In Josh 6:21 and so forth, why did God command the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites instead of another people?
A: The Canaanites practiced idolatry, but other peoples practiced idolatry too. Scripture only says that the land was defiled because of its inhabitants in Leviticus 18:21-26. It does not say why, but we can see at least three reasons. There are three aspects of Canaanite religion that were especially evil in general, and tempting to the Israelites.
Child sacrifice: (Deuteronomy 12:30-31). Archaeological excavations at Gezer and other places also show infant sacrifice.
Religious prostitution: This was a common theme of Canaanite religion. Prostitution is one thing, but it is even worse when the priests tell you to engage in it if you want to be a good, religious person.
Homosexuality: The Canaanites practiced this because
1) Leviticus 18:22-24 says so, and
2) This was prevalent in Sodom and Gomorrah, and they were close to Canaan and shared the same culture.
As Gleason Archer says in A Survey of Old Testament Introduction Moody Press 1974 p.279-280, "…the subsequent history of Israel serves to illustrate very pointedly the grave danger that remained for Israel so long as the Canaanites were permitted to live in their midst."
However, it is unclear whether homosexuality was so widespread as child sacrifice and religious prostitution.
See Difficulties in the Bible p.67-74, When Critics Ask p.137-138, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.157-159 for more info. See the following two questions for how this destruction of the Canaanite culture can be justified.
Q: In Josh 6:21 and so forth, how can you justify God commanding the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites?
A: The answer is brief and simple to say, but it might require a paradigm shift before you can understand. The answer is simple: God can do whatever He wants. The following explanation (hopefully) will help you understand the answer. Regardless of whether you agree that God can do what He wants, or like the answer, at least you can fully understand all that is meant by this answer.
Answer Yes or No
(Yes/No) Would God be just if He made people’s lifespan longer?
(Yes/No) Would God be just if He made people’s lifespan shorter?
(Yes/No) When it was time for some one to die, would God be just to choose whatever means He wished?
(Yes/No) Would God be just if He let some people live longer than others?
If you answered No to any of the above, cite the relevant legal statute, if any, along with the authority behind that statute.
God can do what He wishes, and He can command what He wishes. Even if God was subject to our laws (which He is not), our laws do not try to legislate what God can do any more than they legislate what is permitted for tornadoes and hurricanes.
Since God’s character is good and what He has spoken is all true, an example could be shown to be unjust of God if and only if it was inconsistent with all He revealed about His character and ways.
Fortunately God is not like the extreme example. The Bible saying that God is loving does not "force" God to be loving. Rather, God was loving first, and freely desired to express to us that He was loving, along with being just, holy, and having wrath. God is asking you to follow Him, but He is not begging you. If you do not like this, you can go your own way and God will go His. But consider where your own way will lead….
Q: In Josh 6:21 and so forth, God does not seem very nice. Isn’t God supposed to always be nice?
A: Not always. Actually God is often extremely nice (though loving is a more accurate word). God is so loving, that God the Son came to earth to suffer and die, to shed His own blood on the cross for our sins. However, to those who reject God and to those who hurt others, God is not nice. In both the Old and New Testaments, God is less shy about His wrath than we often are. If you can see that while God is very loving, God is not always nice, nor is He required to be, you have seen past one of the biggest misconceptions about God in our culture.
Q: In Josh 6:25, when was Joshua written down, for it says "…even to this day"?
A: This indicates that Joshua was written down in Joshua’s time, within the lifetime of Rahab. Of course, copies have been made from them until the present time.
Q: In Josh 6:26, why did Joshua utter this curse against the rebuilder of Jericho?
A: Scripture does not say why Joshua uttered this curse, which came to pass. Some could say it was not a curse but only a warning from God of what would happen. However, instead of giving the curse, God could have just as easily not had this happen.
So why was this curse given? The human reasons and divine reasons are not necessarily the same. Here are two speculations.
Human reason: Joshua was feeling very emotional after defeating Jericho. Perhaps he did not want to see the town rebuilt, since it symbolized resistance against God and him.
Divine reason: Perhaps God did not want to see this city, which symbolized resistance to God’s people, rebuilt for centuries either. Sometimes God still allows people to do things that displease Him, but at a cost, such as rebuilding Jericho.
Q: In Josh 6:26, was this prophecy fulfilled?
A: This is an example of a conditional prophecy. In this case, the condition was fulfilled if and only if Jericho was rebuilt. According to 1 Kings 16:34, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. His firstborn son Abiram, and his youngest son Segub both died.
Q: In Josh 6:27 (KJV), what does "his fame was noised" mean?
A: This colorful King James Version expression means that Joshua’s fame spread.
Q: In Josh 7:1, did just Achan, or all of Israel sin?
A: Only Achan and his family sinned, but Israel’s defeat shows that others suffered the consequences of Achan’s sin, too.
The sin of one man and his family's involvement hurt the entire nation. The lesson, that Achan was not the only one who died for his sin, was not forgotten by the Israelites (Joshua 22:20). It is interesting to ponder other examples where the sin of one hurts many. But concerning Adam and Christ, while the sin of one hurt many, the righteousness of One saves any --who believe. Many times the conduct of one affects many. 1 Samuel 24 gives another example.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.184-185 for more info.
Q: In Josh 7:2-4, was this God’s punishment, or just a miscalculation on the Israelite leaders’ part?
A: The two are not mutually exclusive. The Israelites misjudged the number of soldiers packed into Bethel and Ai. However, God can augment or diminish our foresight and judgment as He wishes.
Q: In Josh 7:5-15, why did others suffer for Achan’s sin?
A: Unfortunately, others often suffer for a person’s sin in two ways.
1. They suffer punishment (really consequences) they were not guilty of, just as babies are born today addicted to the cocaine, heroin, or alcohol their mothers took.
2. They simply acquiesce in the sins of those they follow, and share the guilt as well as the punishment for those sins.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament has another interesting comment: just like the sins of Adam and Eve, and David, Achan saw, coveted, and took. Francis Schaeffer mentions that the things Achan took are the same kinds of things people would take today. The gold and silver are pure materialism, and the robe from Babylon would probably be very stylish. The Promised Land was not enough for Achan; he wanted more, because he was not content with God's providing. Are there times in your life when you are dissatisfied with God's care of you?
Another tragic aspect of Achan is that in the battle of Ai and all subsequent battles, the Israelites were allowed to keep the valuable goods! If only Achan had waited, he could have collected the treasure of many cities. Are there times you know of where you missed out on God's blessing because you would not wait and obey God?
See When Critics Ask p.138-139 for more info.
Q: In Josh 7:6, why was Joshua so concerned that 36 men of his entire army died in this skirmish?
A: It was not so much a matter of conquering Ai, a city with 10,000 warriors in it, as of conquering it without great loss of Israelite life, and doing so promptly before the armies of the other 140 or so cities and towns of Canaan combined together.
Even worse, this indicated that God was not helping them at this point. If God was not going to help them, then Joshua did not feel confident of victory in Canaan.
Q: In Josh 7:11-18, why did God not just tell Joshua who had sinned?
A: Apparently God is as much concerned with their process of finding out as with the result of them finding the correct people. Here is what occurred.
1. All the people were consecrated.
2. The time delay (one day) gave Achan and his family an opportunity to come forward on their own.
3. The casting of lots showed God’s ability to ferret out sin.
Perhaps this way the situation's seriousness was emphasized as the proceeding dragged on. Imagine yourself as Achan. How would you feel as the lots were cast? Perhaps you thought you might get away if you just acted normal? The reason for this lengthy process possibly might have been to give Achan a chance to repent, which he did not do. God is very patient, but be sure to repent, before destruction comes.
An interesting contrast to this is Jonathan being chosen by lot in 1 Samuel 14:37-45.
Q: In Josh 7:12, would Achan and his family have been spared if they had come forward and confessed on their own?
A: Scripture does not say. However, when Joshua 7:12 say to destroy whatever is devoted to destruction, that does not refer to Achan. However, when the one who has the devoted things is to be cut off as God commanded in Joshua 7:15, it was then too late for Achan.
Q: In Josh 7:18, why did Joshua have "his" family come forward?
A: "His" here refers to Zimri, not Joshua. Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim (Joshua 24:30).
Q: In Josh 7:19, what does "give glory to the Lord" mean?
A: This is a solemn charge to tell the truth.
Q: In Josh 7:24-26, why did the Israelites kill Achan’s family, too?
A: Look where the items were buried. There are seven points to consider in the answer.
1. They too heard the command.
2. They too lived in the tent where it was buried. It would have been impossible for it to have been buried in the dirt without them knowing about it.
3. They too failed to speak up when given the opportunity.
4. They too paid the price for the sin in which they acquiesced. Within American culture is the concept that whatever a child or teenager does, they can be excused from severe punishment most of the time if they are under 18. This is contrary to how God looks at things, though God does recognize an age of accountability, and the Bible does say that transgression is not counted as sin where there is no law (Romans 4:15; 5:12).
5. Joshua does not say the ages of the children.
6. God does not hold children guilty for the sins of their fathers (Ezekiel 18:4,19-20; Deuteronomy 24:16). However, they can be guilty for following their father’s wishes, when they know that their father wants them to disobey God.
7. While children do not share the guilt of their parents, God does "punish" people by their children suffering the consequences for their father’s sins, as Numbers 14:18 shows.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.89 for more info.
Q: In Josh 8, was it God’s power, or Joshua’s strategy that won the day at Ai?
A: The two are not mutually exclusive. The strategy was useful in letting the Israelites take Bethel and Ai without defenders, and it disheartened the Canaanite warriors when the cities were burned. A great strategy does not work if the soldiers do not fight well though, and God presumably helped the Israelite soldiers to fight well.
Q: In Josh 8, what lessons can we learn from the battle at Ai?
A: There are at least two lessons we can learn.
1. Even overpowering force does not guarantee victory for Christians, or for anyone else, if God does not want that side to win.
2. Success usually leaves a typical person open to failure, unless the person is prudent. Prudence involves seeing all sides of an issue and hold things in proper perspective.
Q: In Josh 8:14 (KJV), were some of the Israelites "liers"?
A: This does not mean they told lies as "liars", but they were "liers" (with an e) in that they were lying down concealed for the ambush.
Q: In Josh 8:17,25 and Gen 12:8, have archaeologists found the town of Ai?
A: No, and there is a good reason too. Ai was a small town that the book of Joshua claims was "totally" destroyed. Joshua 8:17,25 indicates that there were only 12,000 people in Bethel and Ai combined. In Joshua 7:3, the Israelites estimated they initially needed only 2,000 to 3,000 men to defeat them. (In battles today, invaders like to have at least a 2:1 advantage.)
735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.89-90 says that most archaeologists thought Ai was buried under the mound of Et Tell, even though the geography does not fit the Bible account. Digging at Et Tell shows a city there, but that city was destroyed in 2200 B.C., which is prior to Abraham. However, another mound close by, called Khirbet Nisya, is probably the site of Ai, and more excavation needs to be done.
However, do not forget that since Ai was small and was "totally destroyed", there might not be anything left for the archaeologists to find.
Q: In Josh 8:25, why was Joshua so concerned with victory at Ai?
A: There might have been two reasons: military and spiritual.
Military: Joshua was concerned both about high morale of his army, and that a lengthy siege of Ai would give the rest of the Canaanites a chance to come together.
Spiritual: However, his greatest worry was probably that the power that had caused the Jordan River to part and had caused the walls of Jericho to fall was no longer with them. God told them to take possession of the land, but there were many strong cities and without that power they themselves would be destroyed. Both the people and Joshua realized they were in deep trouble if God was not with them. Have you ever had difficulties trying to do God's will without God's power, only your own?
Q: In Josh 8:25, how could there be "12,000" in a small town like Ai?
A: -Two reasons. In Hebrew, "men" could possibly refer to the general population, and there were probably additional soldiers temporarily in the town.
Q: In Josh 8:25, does "12,000" indicate only men, or everyone?
A: The words are clear, but the meaning can be either way. It could have been that there were 12,000 male soldiers concentrated in this small town, because of reinforcements from the other Canaanites. Alternately, in Hebrew people, male and female, can be generically referred to as men.
Q: In Josh 8:29, why did Joshua hang the dead king of Ai on a tree?
A: See the answer to Joshua 10:24.
Q: In Josh 8:30, why did Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal, since 1 Ki 12:31 and 1 Ki 15:14 later forbade building high places?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
Time: Even if the altar in Joshua 8:30 violated the prohibitions in 1 Kings, Joshua’s altar on Mount Ebal was built before the commands were given. You cannot be responsible for breaking a future command, when you were unaware of the command. See Romans 4:15; 5:13.
Obedience: The altar on Mount Ebal was built for use before the centralized worship in Jerusalem. 1 Kings shows that God did not want any unauthorized altars built, and prior to that God authorized the altar on Mount Ebal.
Purpose: The altar on Mount Ebal, as well as the Temple in Jerusalem, were built to worship God. 1 Kings 12:32 shows that Jeroboam built the high places, not for the purposes of worshipping God, but for worshipping idols. Likewise 1 Kings 15:14 shows that the high places here were used for the worship of Asherah and other idols.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.159-160 and When Critics Ask p.139-140 for more info.
Q: In Josh 8:32-35, why did the Israelites pause in their conquest, and make the strategically useless move of going north and east to Mount Gerazim?
A: This shows us that spiritual preparation is more important here than military strategy. They went to Mt. Gerazim to circumcise themselves and rededicate themselves to the Lord. While Mt. Gerazim was an out of the way spot that was a good place for women and children, that was not the main reason, because leaving the women and children on the other side of the Jordan might have given them even more security.
Q: In Josh 9, why did God bless the Gibeonites, not only for deceiving God’s people, but for outright lying?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. How would the Gibeonites know not to lie? The Gibeonites did not have the teachings given through Moses.
2. Even if the Gibeonites hypothetically had Moses’ teaching, some Christians (such as R.C. Sproul), teach that there are certain circumstances, such as life and death situations, where believers should lie.
3. The "optimal" thing might have been for the Gibeonites to believe and trust in God and tell the complete truth to Joshua, since believers should not lie to each other (Ephesians 4:25), and rely on God to make known to the Israelite leaders His will. However, God does not hold people accountable for the truth they do not have, as Romans 4:15 and 5:12 show.
Q: In Josh 9, how could the Israelite leaders make the mistake of not asking God about the Gibeonites?
A: The Israelites were not careless; the thought did occur to them that the Gibeonites might be deceiving them (Joshua 9:7). Likewise, believers today sometimes tend to inquire of God about some things more readily than other things. Today as well as back then, it is unfortunately all too easy for believers to think a situation is so simple that they do not need God’s wisdom.
Of course, God knew they would make this mistake. God used even their mistake to spare the Gibeonites, who would serve Him later. See the discussion on Deuteronomy 20:17 for more info.
Q: In Josh 9:3, who were the Gibeonites, and what happened to them?
A: Gibeon was a major city founded circa (means about) 3100 B.C. Archaeologists tell us it was 20-25 miles (32-40 kilometers) west of Gilgal and 4,000 feet higher. There were numerous springs and pools inside the city, so it could withstand a long siege. Gibeon was the head of a league of cities including Kearoth-Jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth. The total population of the city and rural surroundings might be around 50,000. After seeing the destruction of Jericho and Ai, they decided to make peace with God's people.
The Gibeonites were known as good fighters (Joshua 10:2). It is remarkable that they would trust their lives completely to Joshua (Joshua 9:25). It is easy for people with no strength of their own to trust in God's power; it is more difficult for those who are strong to do so.
The Gibeonites prospered in later centuries. When the exiles returned from Babylon, some Gibeonites might have returned as gatekeepers (Nehemiah 7:45-56, 11:19, Ezra 2:42-54). Apparently by serving at the Temple, some descendents of the Gibeonites delighted in the worship of the Lord.
Isn't it wonderful that the Gibeonites’ salvation came even through the Israelites' mistake. God not only uses good things for His glory, He can even uses our mistakes too!
Q: In Josh 9:8-19, should the Israelites have kept their word when made under a false pretext?
A: If you make an agreement in the name of the Lord, and you did not pray about it, and the other party used fraud, sometimes you should honor it, and sometimes not, depending on the circumstances. In this case, God expected them to honor their treaty as 2 Samuel 21:1-6 shows.
Q: In Josh 9:8-19, why did the Israelites spare the Gibeonites?
A: There are two concurrent reasons.
Human: Once they made a treaty with the Gibeonites, and had sworn by the Lord, they had to keep their word.
Divine: God foreknew this would happen, and predestined the Gibeonites to be spared this way.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.185-186 also observes that this can seem difficult for modern people to understand, since the modern concept of "keeping one’s word" is not taken as seriously today as it was in ancient times. See When Critics Ask p.140, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.160-161 for more info.
Q: In Josh 9:14 (KJV), who were the Israelite "princes of the congregation"?
A: What the King James Version called "princes" were actually leaders. However, leadership was likely hereditary, so "princes" is not an inaccurate word.
Q: In Josh 10:3, is there any extra-Biblical, archaeological evidence for these kings?
A: No there is not. There are three points to consider in the answer.
1. Given the sudden destruction of the Canaanite population, there were not many Canaanites left to write, and fewer still who would want to write about these ignominiously defeated kings
2. Actually, the Canaanites did not leave much record of their kings in earlier generations either. Unlike the proud Egyptians, Sumerians, and Hittites, we have few names of any Canaanite kings preserved, outside of the Bible.
3. One might expect that the conquering people would at least keep a historical record of the conquered kings, and that is exactly what happened, -in the Book of Joshua.
Q: In Josh 10:10 (KJV), what does "discomfited" mean?
A: This Hebrew word is translated "threw them into confusion" in the NIV, "troubled" in Green’s literal translation, and "confounded" in the NASB. The NIV footnote says, "The Hebrew for this word implies terror or panic." The NET has "routed".
Q: In Josh 10:11, how could great stones fall on just the Canaanite army?
A: Two parts to the answer.
1. God Almighty can do what He want, and He has better aim than the best bowler or baseball pitcher.
2. Perhaps there was not a need for precise aiming. Both prior to the battle and when the Canaanites were fleeing, there was a distance between the two armies.
Q: In Josh 10:12-13, why would God choose to do a miracle with the sun and moon?
A: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.350 suggests that since the sun and moon were principle deities of the Canaanite religion, it was fitting that God would use these symbols in their defeat.
Q: In Josh 10:12-13, how did God make the sun stand still?
A: There is a short answer and the long answer. The short answer is that God Almighty could do it any way He wanted, and the means is not important. The long answer adds that God might have chosen to do it by stopping the earth’s rotation, slowing down the earth’s rotation, or an optical effect. Here are the pros and cons of each speculation.
Stopped the earth’s rotation: God would have the power to do this. God would also stop the catastrophic deceleration effects of the land, sea, and air.
Slowed the earth’s rotation: Similar to the first answer. The only advantage of this answer is that the need for a miracle to counteract the inertial effect would be more gradual, though the miracle would still be required.
Optical effect: The sun did not have to "stop", God could have created an optical effect that still gave sunlight for the extra time. This need not be a global effect, but could have been just a local effect in Canaan.
No sun for a day: The Hebrew word for what the sun did is unclear. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.186-188 says the Hebrew word dom can mean the sun simply "was silent", or hid itself for a day. This fits the context well, for how could the sun appear to stand still in the sky, if there were a great hailstorm? Also, the cooler temperature would favor the Israelite army after their long and rapid march.
Related to this, E.W. Maunders and Robert Dick Wilson advocated the theory that the sun "leave off its heat" for a day.
This answer and the previous one are the most plausible.
False Lead: It must be mentioned that there have been stories of an astronomy computer program that when run back in time, shows that a day was missing during Joshua’s time. However, this is highly implausible, because since there were no astronomical records for comparison back then, there would be no way for a computer simulation to tell if a day was lost or not. It is sort of like trying to calibrate something when there is no scale. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.186-188, in their extensive discussion of this question, mention that Charles Pickering of Harvard Observatory and Professor Totten of Yale were apparently the originators of this claim.
See Difficulties in the Bible p.77-81, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.186-188, When Critics Ask p.140-141, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.49, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.161-162, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.90-91, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.336, and Gleason Archer’s A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Moody Press 1974) p.278-279 for more info.
Q: In Josh 10:12, what were other theories of this miracle?
A: Here are two other theories.
1. Keil and Delitzsch speculated that it seemed like the sun stopped since the work of two days was done in one day. After all, if the sun stopped moving how could they measure how long it stopped?
2. Hugh J. Blair's speculated that since the original attack was in the early morning, Joshua's prayer was really to delay the darkness for the surprise attack, and God answered with a selective hailstorm.
Q: In Josh 10:12, was the sun standing still recorded in any other cultures?
A: No. It should be pointed out that if the sun standing still was an optical effect, or if the Hebrew meant the sun was not shining, this could have been a phenomenon local to Canaan. On the other hand, there is a simpler explanation. Many cultures at that time did not have writing, and most did not make astronomical observations.
They did not record many things back earlier than 1400 B.C. (Joshua’s time.) As an example, there was a huge volcanic explosion on Thera in the Aegean islands, and nobody recorded it (except possibly an Egyptian reference and maybe Greek legends of Atlantis sinking into the sea.) Here is what we have recorded by ancient astronomers.
Sumerians/Babylonians had a very ancient star catalog going back 1200 B.C. The Babylonians starting by 1800 B.C. used Sumerian names for stars, indicating they were interested in astronomy long before then. From 1800 on the Babylonians plotted the seasons with the sun and moon for knowing when to plant crops. Under Nabopolasser (747-733 B.C.) Babylonians discovered that lunar eclipses had a nineteen year cycle. But in Joshua’s time they were in a dark age. The Kassites conquered Babylon in 1570 B.C, and the Assyrians under Tikulti-Ninurta captured Babylon around 1225 B.C.
Phoenicians knew how to navigate using "the Phoenician star" (the north star) but they did not leave astronomical records.
In Egypt there is a circle of astronomical stones from 3,000 B.C.. Egyptians aligned their pyramids astronomically. But there are no written detailed astronomical records. There is one very interesting record of darkness a little after the time of Joshua though.
India: This might have been about the time of the battle loosely recorded in the Bhagavad-Gita, though the battle might also have been earlier. It is also thought that around 1390 B.C., at Takshasila, the Aryans defeated the West Nagas. The point of this being that they were very early times in the Aryan conquest of India when there were few historical records preserved. The first astronomical books we know of in India were a century or so prior to Christ.
China: China entered the Bronze Age, and the Shang Dynasty first came to power in China right after Joshua’s time. The first recorded solar eclipse was by Chinese astronomers 2136 B.C. They recorded star positions on oracle bones from 1339-1281 B.C. Apart from these, we have very few ancient Chinese astronomical records preserved. They are hard to come by because in 213 B.C. Emperor Shih Huang Ti ordered all books in the Empire to be burned.
Minoans of Crete had writing and they apparently practiced astronomy, but we do not know much about them, as their civilization was destroyed about 1450 B.C., prior to Joshua.
Mycenaean Greeks who conquered the Minoans were still very barbaric.
Dorian Greeks conquered the Aegean approximately 1200 B.C., over 200 years after Joshua. The first known Greek astronomer was Thales of Miletus (624-548 B.C.).
In Mexico the earliest known astronomers were the Olmecs (1200-400 B.C.) who probably invented the native Mesoamerican calendar.
In summary, recording astronomical events was non-existent or spotty. We know there would be darkness in the Mideast when the volcano Thera erupted, and yet we only have one possible reference in Egyptian writings. Thus, we would not expect to find references to a longer day, in an age when there were no clocks.
Q: In Josh 10:13 and 2 Sam 1:18, what is the book of Jasher?
A: Joshua 10:13 says more is written of this in the book of Jashar. The book of Jashar is not in the Bible; we have no copies today, and according to the New Bible Dictionary any modern "copies" are fabrications.
Q: In Josh 10:23 and 11:3, why did the Jebusites (people from Jerusalem) fight in both the northern and southern campaigns?
A: Joshua defeated all five of the southern kings, but they did not capture two of their cities: Jerusalem (or Jebus) and Jarmuth. Consequently, the Jebusites of Jerusalem were able to help the northern Canaanite kings.
There is a key point to learn here. Sometimes when we have victory in an area in our lives, but sin is not completely "mopped up" in an area of our lives, it can come back later to attack us again.
Q: In Josh 10:24, why did Joshua add insult to injury by having the Israelite leaders put their feet on the necks of the captured Canaanite kings?
A: In Old Testament times, Joshua likely did this to give demoralize the Canaanites who would hear about this, and give confidence to his army. These kings knew that God was with Joshua, and they still fought against him anyway.
However in New Testament times the standard is not the same. We are not to take revenge on our enemies but to love them as Jesus said in Luke 6:27-28 and Matthew 5:43-44.
Q: In Josh 10:26, since the Canaanite kings were already dead, why were they hung on trees?
A: Probably for the same reason discussed in the previous answer. There is also an additional, complementary possibility.
Some groves of trees were held as sacred by the Canaanites, and Joshua might have been showing what they thought of idol worship in groves of trees. See the discussion on Deuteronomy 12:3 and 16:21 for more on sacred trees.
Q: In Josh 10:28, why did God command the Israelites to destroy everyone?
A: See the third question on Joshua 6:21 for the answer.
Q: In Josh 10:28-42, is there any archaeological evidence of the destruction of these cities?
A: Yes. Here is the Biblical evidence, followed by the corroborating archaeological evidence.
Biblical Evidence: The book of Joshua does not claim every Canaanite city was destroyed. In the south, it only claims that Jericho, Ai, Makkadeh, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir were destroyed. Perhaps Bethel was also destroyed. In the south, many fortified cities remained according to Joshua 10:20.
In the north, no cities were burned except for Hazor, according to Joshua 11:13.
Archaeological Evidence: From Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995) p.306, here is the evidence of cities destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze Age IIB given by David M Rohl, a secular archaeologist. p.299 says that 1410 B.C. is within the MB IIB period.
Arad, Debir, Jericho, Lachish, and Hazor in the north all have evidence of being destroyed. There is some uncertainty of whether Bethel was at the modern site of Beitin or el-Bireh, but the city at Beitin was destroyed. There is some uncertainty as to whether Hebron was at the modern site of el-Khalil or Tell el-Rumeideh, but whatever city was at el-Khalil was destroyed. At Hormah, there is uncertainty if that was destroyed then or not. The city of Gibeon was abandoned. There was uncertainty whether Ai was at the modern site of et-Tell or Khirbet Nisya, but the city at Khirbet Nisya was abandoned, and the city at et-Tell was not destroyed.
Since the destruction of the small town of Ai was so complete, perhaps the true site of Ai will probably never be found.
Some have been confused because other cities were destroyed later by the Israelites and Egyptians during the time of Judges, and in the part there was the mistaken theory that the Exodus was around 1350 B.C. Hazor and Lachish were destroyed again about that time.
Q: In Josh 10:33, what do we know about Gezer apart from the Bible?
A: Gezer was one of the six most important cities in Palestine. It had a spring inside the city wall, which encompassed 30 acres. Around 1600 B.C., the inner wall was built, which was 50 feet wide, and the largest stone structure in Palestine. It had a 25-foot high rampart that sloped at 45 degrees. On the darker side, remains of sacrificed infants were found at Gezer.
See the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.154-155 for more info.
Q: In Josh 10:41, how could they smite the country of Goshen, since Goshen is in Egypt?
A: Goshen in Egypt is the region of the Nile Delta. This was a different Goshen, which was a town close to the Canaanite city of Debir. Goshen is listed in Joshua 15:51. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.352 for more info on some of the towns of Canaan.
Q: In Josh 11:1 why did the northern kings not help the southern kings fight?
A: Scripture does not say. However, looking on a map, these are primarily from northern Canaan, while the previous kings were from southern Canaan. The lack of coordination between north and south might be due to political rivalry, and the fact that the Israelite in between the two would cut not only Canaanite troop movements, but also communications between north and south. In addition, Joshua’s campaign was very quick, so the Canaanites had little time to plan a well-thought out strategy.
Q: In Josh 11:1, what about the northern campaign was different than the southern campaign?
A: There were three differences.
1. More kings united to fight against the Israelites. According to Josephus, the northern Canaanite army consisted of 20,000 chariots, 100,000 cavalry, and 300,000 foot soldiers. His estimate is probably a little high though, unless almost all the Canaanite men in all the region were assembled. If the population that had united was 810,000 to 1.1 million, the army might have been 240,000 total, unless old men and young boys also fought.
2. The northern Canaanites might have been more determined, after seeing what the Israelites defeated the southern kings.
3. The northern kingdoms probably had lower morale, for it was hard for the southern kings to fight against a hailstorm.
Q: In Josh 11:3, why did Jabin of Hazor invite the Hittites to fight against the Israel, since the Gibeonites made a treaty with the Israelites in Joshua 9:19?
A: Joshua 11:19 gives the answer. There were different cities of Hittites, and only the Hittites in and around Gibeon made a treaty with the Israelites.
Q: In Josh 11:6,9, why was Joshua specifically told to hamstring the horses and burn the chariots?
A: Hamstringing horses means to cut the "Achilles tendon" connecting the muscles in the back of the lower leg with the foot. The horses would still live, but they could not run and would be useless for war. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 shows that God did not want the Israelites to have many horses and chariots. There are a three of points for speculation.
1. Horses and chariots are very useful for fighting in the plains, much of Canaan was mountainous, so it would not be wise to trust in chariots and horses in their conquest.
2. Regardless of whether, naturally speaking, it was wise to trust in chariots and horses, God wanted them to trust in Him, not their weapons of war.
3. Chariots and horses enable a country to rapidly go to war against foes in distant lands. God never instructed the Israelites to go invade, Egypt, Syria, Assyria, or any other lands farther away.
Q: In Josh 11:7, why did Joshua attack the northern Canaanites at the waters of Merom?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can see a couple of reasons.
1. Joshua took them by surprise. The northern Canaanite army was still assembling, and Joshua attacked them suddenly before all the people had come and they had gotten organized.
2. Joshua 11:5 mentions that they had many chariots. In a mountainous region, crisscrossed by brooks and small rivers, the advantage of the chariots would be minimized.
Likewise, in our fight for God, sometimes it can be important for victory for us to choose the time and place.
Q: In Josh 11:10, is there any archaeological evidence of the destruction of Hazor?
A: Hazor actually was burned three times according to archaeologists: 1400 B.C., 1300 B.C. by Pharaoh Seti I, and 1230 B.C. Who might have burned Hazor the last time (Judges 14:2,15,16)? Today we actually still have a letter from I-eha-enu (Jabin?) of Hazor to the Pharaoh asking for aid at this time. (called King Ibni by David M. Rohl p.317) The Egyptians did not come: apparently fifty years earlier they had enough of trying to swim against the tide of God's will. See David M. Rohl Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995) p.314-317 for more info.
Q: In Josh 11:10-11, how could Hazor, which Joshua totally destroyed and burned, enslave Israel a few generations later in Jdg 4:3?
A: Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.236 points to this as an inaccuracy of Joshua. However, 170 years is plenty long for a city to be rebuilt. Archaeology actually tells use that the city of Hazor was burned 1400 B.C, 1300 B.C. by the Egyptians, and 1230 B.C. Regardless of the bias of critics of the Bible, archaeology tells the story very precisely. See the previous question and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.93 for more info on how Hazor was destroyed by Joshua and rebuilt 170 years later by the Canaanites to oppress the Israelites.
Q: In Josh 11:10, what do we know about the city of Hazor?
A: Archaeologists tell us Hazor was the largest city in all Canaan with an area of 175 to 200 acres and a maximum population of 40,000. Hazor had unusual shape. There was an inner bastion of around 14 acres, and a double wall on the far end with 100 feet between the two walls. It was 1542 feet (5 football fields) long, and 574 feet wide at its widest. In the time of Judges 4, Hazor again rose to power and oppressed the Israelites, until Barak and the Israelites defeated them.
Q: In Josh 11:18, was Canaan conquered gradually, or quickly as Josh 10:42 says?
A: The initial conquest of Canaan was a very rapid campaign. However, the Israelites stopped pressing the Canaanites once they had enough land to live on, and the rest of the conquest went very gradually. Also, it was more difficult for the Israelites to fight in the plains than the mountains, because the Philistines and others had chariots.
See When Critics Ask p.141 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.403-404 for more info. See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.394-398 for an extensive discussion of the complete picture.
Q: In Josh 11:20, why did God harden the hearts of the Canaanites?
A: See the discussion on Exodus 7:22 for the answer.
Q: In Josh 11:21 and Josh 14:15, who were the Anakim (= Anakites)?
A: This is a repeat of the answer on Deuteronomy 1:28.
The Anakites apparently claimed their descent from a man named Anak. The Anakites were a tribe whose men were fearsome warriors, probably because of their size and strength. Since bows were not that powerful back then, and a long reach and strength were valuable fighting qualities for people who fought with swords and clubs, they produced many feared warriors. See the discussion on Deuteronomy 31:3 for more info.
Q: In Josh 12:1-14, when were these kings defeated?
A: They were all defeated by Joshua. However, many of the cities were not captured until much later. As to which cities were captured, see the answer to the next question. See When Critics Ask p.141-142 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.404-406 for more info.
Q: In Josh 12:1-14, what do we know about these cities from archaeology?
A: There is a chart of each city or region.
|Heshbon: Amorite city captured before crossing the Jordan.|
|Bashan: Amorite city with very good cattle grazing nearby.|
|Jericho: A strongly fortified Amorite city of 10,000. Burned about 1400 B.C., and archaeological evidence indicates "a possible failure of the fortifications"|
|Ai: Amorite city by Bethel. The site has not been found, and probably never will be due to its total destruction|
|Jerusalem: This Jebusite (Amorite) city probably was the most strongest fortified city in Joshua's time and later. It occupied 14 acres then. It was not captured (Joshua 15:63) until some of David's men sneaked up the water supply tunnel.|
|Hebron: A captured Amorite city also called Kiriath Arba. Some Anakites lived here. It was either at the modern site of el-Khalil or Tell el-Rumeideh. The site of el-Khalil was burned about 1400 B.C.|
|Jarmuth: A small Amorite city: 7 acres.|
|Lachish: Impressive captured Amorite fort occupying 18 acres. Burned about 1400 B.C.|
|Eglon: An Amorite and later Philistine city.|
|Gezer: Defeated but not captured (Joshua 15:63) until Pharaoh sacked it and gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon's bride (1 Kings 9:16). Sacrificed infants' remains were found in buried jars there.|
|Debir: Probably Kenizzite. Caleb’s father, Jephunneh, was a Kenizzite. It was 9 acres in size and built c.2200 B.C. burned about 1400 B.C. W.F. Albright identified Debir with Tell Beit Mirsim, though other people advocate other sites, includes Khirbet er-Rabud. (Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.116)|
|Geder: Not much is known about this southern city.|
|Hormah: The Israelites were defeated here before they wandered for forty years. Captured under Joshua. The archaeological evidence for its burning is uncertain|
|Arad: Southern city. Burned about 1400 B.C.|
|Libnah: Captured in the southern campaign. It was thoroughly burned c.1230 B.C.|
|Adullam: Captured in the southern campaign.|
|Makkedah: Captured in the southern campaign.|
|Bethel: Important city captured in Judges 1:22-25. It is the Bible’s second most mentioned city. It is not certain whether it was at the modern site of Beitin or el-Bireh. The site at Beitin was burned about 1400 B.C.|
|Tappuah: There were two Tappuahs. The northern one is likely meant here; the one in Judah was a small village.|
|Hepher: Not much is known about this city.|
|Aphek: Large city of 40 acres founded 2000 B.C., just after Abraham.|
|Lasharon: Not much is known about this city.|
|Madon: Mentioned in the list of Canaanite cities of Pharaoh Thutmose III.|
|Hazor: Largest city of Canaan, it was 175 - 200 acres. Population <= 40,000. -burned 1400, 1300, and 1230 B.C.|
|Shimron Meron: Little known about this city.|
|Acshaph: Probably not captured by Joshua. This city later was allied with Hazor against Israel.|
|Taanach: Near Megiddo, this well-fortified city was not taken, though its army was defeated.|
|Megiddo: This city was never captured. It was a small, strong fort of 6 hectares with 6 feet wide walls.|
|Kedesh: Later became a city of refuge for the Levites.|
|Jokneam: In Carmel. Likely also mentioned in the list of Canaanite cities of Pharaoh Thutmose III.|
|Dor: City was not captured (Judges 1:27).|
|Goyim: Little is known about this city.|
|Tirzah: 600x300 ft mound (larger than Megiddo) not captured. It was first built circa 4000 B.C.|
Q: In Josh 13:1, Josh 23:1-2, and Josh 14:11, why does God allow some of His obedient servants to suffer from old age and not others?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. Joshua 24:29 says Joshua was almost 110 years old, while Caleb was about 87. So, in this case, Joshua was much older and suffered more from old age.
2. In general, God leads each of his children as He wishes. Some glorify him by remaining faithful to Him through fiery trials, and some glorify Him through old age, and some glorify God in other ways.
Q: In Josh 13:6, why did God promise to drive out the Sidonians, since they never were driven out?
A: God said in Joshua 13:6 that He himself would drive them out before the Israelites. This sounds slightly similar to the Battle of Gibeon in Joshua 10:11, where more Canaanites were killed by the hailstones than by the Israelites. The difference here is that the Israelites never bothered to assemble to fight the Sidonians, and thus God did not drive the Sidonians out "before the Israelites".
Q: In Josh 13:9-12, was the eastern boundary in Transjordan, or did it go all the way to the Euphrates River as Gen 15:18 and Dt 11:24 say?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
Joshua 13:9-12 was a statement of the current situation, that the eastern extent of their possession in the time of Moses and Joshua was in Transjordan, and it was assigned to the two and a half tribes.
Genesis 15:18 was an unconditional, future, prophetic promise. Abraham’s descendents would control the land up to the Euphrates River. This was fulfilled during the Monarchy of David and Solomon, as 2 Samuel 8:3 shows.
Deuteronomy 11:24 was a conditional, future, prophetic promise. It was conditioned on them carefully observing all the commands (Deuteronomy 11:22). They would possess all the land to the Euphrates River, as Genesis 15:18 said. However, in subsequent generations, they did not continue to keep the conditions, at least until the time of David.
See When Critics Ask p.142 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.374 for more info.
Q: In Josh 13:16 (KJV), what does the word "coast" mean here?
A: It means border, not sea coastline.
Q: In Josh 13:22, why did the Israelites kill Balaam, a prophet of God who spoke nothing but the truth?
A: Balaam spoke the truth to hurt the Israelites. If a particular temptation will hurt some one, you should not go around, even truthfully, telling their enemies how to tempt them, as Balaam did in Numbers 31:16. 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11 also mention Balaam’s error.
Q: In Josh 13:27, what is the Sea of Chinnereth?
A: This is an ancient name for the Sea of Galilee.
Q: In Josh 14:2, why did most of the tribes inherit by lot?
A: This was Joshua’s idea, not God’s. The book of Joshua never said that God approved of the idea, though God never expressed His disapproval either.
Q: In Josh 14:4 (KJV), what are the suburbs here?
A: This means the outlying villages.
Q: In Josh 14:7 (KJV), what does espy mean?
A: This means to spy out the land.
Q: In Josh 15-19, why were there twelve divisions of the land?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. There were twelve tribes, but one tribe, the Levites, were the priests and not given any division of the land. This would make for eleven divisions.
2. Instead, the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, were each given a portion. Typically the firstborn son received a double inheritance.
3. However, Joseph was not Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben was. However, in Genesis 49:3-4, Jacob’s speech implies that Reuben would not receive the "right of firstborn" because he slept with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah, in Genesis 35:22. Instead, Joseph, who saved the entire family from famine, would receive it. That might have been in part what was behind Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh in Genesis 48:1-2.
Q: In Josh 15-19, what lesson can we learn from the division of the land?
A: There are a number of lessons we can learn.
1. We cannot go through life always skipping the details. Sometimes we need to be very detailed. For example, if you are a supervisor giving employee reviews to those hard-working employees under you, they would want you to do so with the same seriousness and diligence that they have working for you.
2. It often works best for the people to be affected to have a major say in the decision. When the American colonists had the cry "no taxation without representation", it was not that they were trying to pay no taxes at all. Rather, they wanted to have a say in how they were taxed.
3. Fair and equitable are not the same thing. The division of the land was "fair" in that all the tribes participated, and all had an equal chance of getting proportionally more land per person. However, it was not equitable, in the sense that some tribes received more land per person than other tribes. Today, you might make less than another employee of the same company who is of nearly identical value to the company. Do not complain that the company is unfair. Both of you are being paid what the company agreed to pay each of you. However, you are free to remedy this inequitable situation by talking to your boss, or seeking employment elsewhere. However, be aware that when you perceive a situation as inequitable, it is possible that it might be you that are mistaken.
4. Even godly people can make mistakes and can distribute things inequitably.
Q: In Josh 15:13, was Arba the father of the Anakites, or just a great man among the Anakites as Josh 14:15 says?
A: We have no independent record or Arba, but there is no problem with Arba being both.
Q: In Josh 15:17 and Judges 1:12-13, was it right for Othniel to marry his father’s young brother’s daughter?
A: This was lawful according to the Old Testament marriage laws. A man could not marry his father’s brother’s wife, but he could marry his father’s brother’s daughter. See the discussion on Leviticus 18:1-17 for more info.
Q: In Josh 15:18-19 and Judges 1:14-15, was Othniel’s wife right to also ask for the springs of water?
A: She was perceptive to ask, because in that land it was the water that was the crucial resource. The Bible does not say whether or not it was fair for her to get the springs of water, too.
Q: In Josh 15:24 is Bealoth the same as Baalath Beer in Josh 19:8?
A: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 3 p.329-330 says that they might be. Note that Simeon’s allotment only went as far as Baalath Beer but did not include it.
Q: In Josh 15:33 why does it say there are 29 towns and villages, when the list gives 36?
A: This most likely is a copyist error. First two answers that are not correct, and then more on the correct answer.
Some are villages not included in the sum of towns (incorrect answer): This formula, of listing towns and then giving the sum, is found about 30 times in the book of Joshua. In 28½ of these the numbers add up perfectly. (The half case is Joshua 15:22 where the numbers add up if Gederothaim is a synonym for Gederah.) Thus saying the number refers to only the towns and not the outlying villages is probably not correct, because why would this list be different than the other 29?
Towns jointly given to Simeon were not counted (incorrect answer): Seven towns belonged to Simeon. The allotment of Simeon was entirely within Judah, and the tribes of Judah and Simeon later merged. Simeon’s 17 cities in Joshua 19:2-8. Of these, 11 are listed in Judah’s list of the Negev. They are: In Judah’s list, common cities are Ain, Balah (=Baalah), Beersheba, Eltodad, Ezem, Hazar Shual, Hormah, Moladah, Lebaoth (=Beth Lebaoth), Rimmon, Ziklag. Note that 36 – 11 does not equal 29. Furthermore two of Simeon’s cities are jointly with Judah in the western foothills: Ashan and Ether, yet the sum of the western foothill cities matches. Also note that four of Simeon’s cities are nowhere listed in Judah: Bethul, Beth Marcaboth, Hazar Susah, Sharuhen. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.251 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.359 hold to this view, with the seven common towns being Beersheba, Eltodad, Ezem, Hazar Shual, Hormah, Moladah, and Ziklag.
Copyist Error in the Masoretic text (correct answer): Both the Masoretic text and the Septuagint say there were 29 towns, but the Masoretic text gives only 30 towns. (Perhaps it had one addition or a copyist mistake too.)
|Masoretic Text||The Septuagint|
|Hazor||Asorionain (=Hazor + Ithanan?)|
|Hazor Hadattah||And their villages|
|Kerioth Hezron (Hazor)||Aseron (Asor)|
|Biziothiah||And their villages|
|Ain||Eromoth (=Ain + Rimmon?)|
Q: In Josh 16:1, why did Joseph, the son of Jacob get two shares, (one for Ephraim and one for Manasseh), while all the other sons of Jacob only got one share?
A: Typically the firstborn had a double share compared to the other sons. Now Joseph biologically was not the firstborn of Jacob. Probably because of his saving the family of Jacob, Joseph received the right of the firstborn. Jacob explicitly said that both Ephraim and Manasseh were to be counted as his in Genesis 48:5. Reuben, the biologically firstborn, lost that right when he defiled his father's bed in Genesis 49:3-4.
Q: In Josh 17:3 and Num 36:2-12, were Zelophehad’s daughters right to cause so much "trouble"?
A: While Scripture does not say, both the circumstance and God’s granting their appeal indicate that it was proper. Asking for what is fair is not troubling to God or to just people.
Q: In Josh 17:12-13 and Jdg 1:27-30,33, since they could not drive out the Canaanites, how could they make the Canaanites submit to forced labor?
A: Judges 1:28 answers this. Initially they could not defeat the Canaanites. However, after some time, the Israelites had the might but not the will to destroy the Canaanites, and made this agreement with the weakened Canaanites.
Q: In Josh 18:6, why did they cast lots for the land?
A: They cast lots because Joshua told them to do so. On one hand, the Bible is silent on whether God approved of this or not. On the other hand, this was not a bad method, as it gave every tribe that was involved an equal chance.
Today, flipping a coin, or some other pseudo-random process is Ok for Christians to use to make arbitrary decisions, when an intelligent decision is not required. However, just like in Joshua, we cannot say that whenever we decide something by a coin toss, that does not mean it is necessarily the best decision God desired.
See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.258 for more info.
Q: In Josh 18:8-10, was the distribution of the land fair?
A: It was totally fair, but not 100% equitable. It was fair because
1. The tribes did the surveying.
2. The tribes decided how big each portion would be.
3. They cast lots for who received which portion.
4. They recognized that Judah and the sons of Joseph had more people, so they gave larger pieces to the tribes with more people.
However, one could argue that it was not totally equitable, because in their surveying, apparently they thought the land of Palestine was more of a rectangle than it really is. Thus, the northern tribes had less land.
On the other hand, the northern portions did not have to contend with the Philistines, and had more rainfall, so perhaps it was equitable.
It is similar to the situation in which seven boys pick at random who gets seven bags of marbles. They do not know exactly how many marbles are in each bag, but they all think the bags have about the same number of marbles. If it turned out that one bag had more marbles, that is fair, because each boy had an equal chance to get that bag.
Q: In Josh 18:9 (KJV), did they have books back then?
A: No, a better translation than "book" is "scroll".
Q: In Josh 18:28, was Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin, or Judah as Josh 15:8 says?
A: It was on the border separating the two tribes. See When Critics Ask p.142 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.375 for more info.
Q: In Josh 19:2-7, were these cities in Simeon, or in Judah as Josh 15:26-32,36,42 says?
A: It was originally in Judah but later given to Simeon. This became a moot point though, when Judah and Simeon combined. Six points to consider in the answer.
1. Joshua 15 shows that these cities were a part of the allotment of Judah. (The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.327, for example, says Either in Joshua 15:42 is perhaps the same assigned to Simeon in Joshua 19:7,9).
2. Joshua 19:9 shows that Simeon was given their allotment from within the allotment of Judah, because it said Judah’s portion was more than they needed.
3. The division of the land was decided upon by godly men, but godly people can make errors, too.
4. When they realized that Judah was given too large a portion relative to their population, they corrected their error.
5. Note the attitudes here. The people of Judah did not complain that land was taken from them. The others did not complain of Judah’s motives when they first discovered the mistake.
6. Though the leaders made a mistake, and corrected it by assigning Simeon to live within Judah, God already knew that mistake and correction would be made. Their mistake and correction fulfilled the prophecy given in 49:7, that Simeon will be dispersed in Israel.
Q: In Josh 19:47, where is the city of "Leshem"?
A: This was a fairly large city, though archaeology shows it was smaller than Hazor. It was also called "Laish" and was in the very northern part of Canaan.
Q: In Josh 19:47, did the Danites conquer Leshem here, or in Judges 18:27-29?
A: Both are the same event. This section of Joshua tells what the Danites did later, after Joshua’s time.
Q: In Josh 19:47, was Joshua written after the Danites conquered Leshem?
A: Yes. While the book itself does not say explicitly when it was written, Joshua 19:47 shows that the book of Joshua was written after the Danites conquered Leshem.
Q: In Josh 20, how was this law concerning the high priest similar to Christ?
A: The person who had fled to a city of refuge for manslaughter was free once the high priest had died. Perhaps God had this "peculiar" law partly as a foreshadowing of our sins being forgiven when our high priest, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for our sins.
Q: In Josh 21, because ministers are given their money by others, and they are serving God, should a tithe be deducted automatically out of the minister's salary?
A: No. First of all, Christians are not limited to giving just ten percent, so how would they know how much to take out? However, this is a small point, compared to 2 Corinthians 9, which says that we are to give cheerfully, not under compulsion. Our giving is a practice of our obedience to God, and automatically deducting a tithe would go against 2 Corinthians 9 and take away from the minister an opportunity of choosing to obey God.
Q: Does Josh 21:43-45 show that all of God’s promises to Israel were fulfilled back then?
A: No, because most of the prophets came after Joshua.
Q: In Josh 22:10-12, why were the Israelites about to have a civil war?
A: The answer is found in Joshua 22:16-18. The 9 ½ tribes mistakenly thought the Transjordan tribes were making an idolatrous altar. They were prepared to go to war against their brothers, before letting their brothers lapse into idolatry.
Today, would we be prepared to stand against Christians who are involved in idolatry rather than complacently and silently acquiescing in their betrayal of their faith in God?
Q: In Josh 22:17, what was the iniquity of Peor?
A: This was the awful incident in Numbers 25:1-9 where the Moabite women had sex with the Israelite men to turn God’s favor away from them. God caused 24,000 Israelites to die of plague.
Q: In Josh 23:12-16 and Dt 31:16-17, did God give the Promised Land to the Israelites conditionally, or unconditionally as Gen 12-15, Gen 26, and Gen 46 show?
A: The land belonged to them unconditionally, but their occupation of the land was conditioned on their obedience to God. See When Critics Ask p.143-144 for two different answers.
Q: In Josh 24:3 (KJV), what was the "flood" here?
A: This was the mighty Euphrates River.
Q: In Josh 24:8,18, how were the Amorites different from the Canaanites?
A: Almost all the Canaanites were Amorites (Hivites/Hittites excluded). However, Amorites also lived outside of Canaan in Syria and northern Mesopotamia.
Q: In Josh 24:12, what were the hornets that drove out the Canaanites?
A: These were not mere insects but a metaphor for destroying angels. Just like a nest of hornets is effective is persuading a person not to stand somewhere, these angels aided the Israelites in driving out the Canaanites.
Q: In Josh 24:14,23, why were the Israelites told to put away their idols here?
A: It is not so much that they had lapsed into idolatry at this time, but Joshua was speaking to future generations here as well as the current one. Unfortunately, within a generation or two of Joshua, his advice was not followed.
Q: In Josh 24:21-24, do people have free will to make choices as the Israelites apparently did here?
A: Hard Calvinists say no. Other extremists think we have total freedom. Most Christians agree that we have free will when the term is correctly understood. Here is what R.C. Sproul says.
"I don’t see any problem in reconciling the sovereignty of God with man’s free will as long as we understand the biblical concept of freedom. … We are not absolutely free. … I have the power and the ability and the freedom to do those things that I can do, but my freedom can never override the power or the authority of God. My freedom is always limited by the higher freedom of God. What is a contradiction is God’s sovereignty and human autonomy. Autonomy means that man can do whatever he wants without being worried about judgment from on high. Obviously those two are incompatible, and we do not believe that man is autonomous. We says that he is free, but his freedom is within limits, and those limits are defined by the sovereignty of God. This is a simple analogy: In my house I have more freedom than my son. We both have freedom, but mine is greater."
I think the vast majority of Christians, both Calvinist and not, would agree with this.
Q: In Josh 24:26, why did the people make a covenant at Shechem, or was Shiloh the sanctuary as Josh 18:1; 1 Sam 1:3; 3:21; and 4:3 say?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. During the time of Joshua (about 1400 B.C.), all the tribes made a covenant and set up a large stone as a memorial at Shechem. This place of assembly had to be large to accommodate all the people. The Bible does not say sacrifices were made there, or that the Ark of the Covenant was there.
2. As the other verses show, Shiloh was the place where the ark resided, and the place where the people made sacrifices prior to David capturing Jerusalem. See When Critics Ask p.144 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.377-378 for more info.
Q: In Josh, what are some of the earliest manuscripts of this book that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) 2 separate copies. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438.
4Q47 (=4QJosh(a)) 22 fragments of parts of Joshua 5-10. It is similar to the Masoretic text, not the Septuagint, except in 5:2-7; 8:10-18; 8:34-35. The verses preserved are: 5:2-7; 6:5-10; 7:12-17; 8:3-14, 18?, 34-35; 10:2-5,8-11.
4Q48 (=4QJosh(b)) five fragments of Joshua 2-4 and 17. Preserved verses are: 2:11-12; 3:15-17; 4:1-3; 17:1-5, 11-15
Samaritan version of Joshua
At Masada, there was a copy of Joshua dated 169-93 B.C. by mass spectrometer radiocarbon dating. (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.18). It is a paraphrase of Joshua 23-24.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Masada are the following verses of Joshua: 2:11-12; 3:15-17; 4:1-3; 5:X,2-7; 6:5-10; 7:12-17; 8:3-14,18?,34-35; 10:2-5,8-11; 17:1-5,11-15, paraphrase of 23-24. See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.615 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more info.
The Greek Septuagint [LXX] was a translation of the entire Old Testament into Greek. The Codex Colberto Sarravianus (4th to 5th century A.D.) contains Genesis through Ruth. A photograph of a leaf of that, containing Joshua 11:9-16 is in Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.80-81. The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.1 p.431 says the Masoretic text and Septuagint versions of Joshua are rather different from each other.
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.) contains all of Joshua
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) has Joshua 12:2-14:4
Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) contains all of Joshua.
The Washington Codex (4th/5th century) contains Joshua.
Q: Which early writers referred to Joshua?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Joshua are:
Philo the Jew of Alexandria (20/15 B.C. to 50 A.D.) referred to Joshua 1:5: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." In On the Confusion of Tongues 32 (164) p.249.
Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.) alludes to Joshua when he relates the story of Rahab when the spies were sent by Joshua. 1 Clement ch.12 vol.1 p.8
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) refers to Joshua 5:13 and 6:1,2 in "the book of Joshua". Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.62 p.228
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) alludes to the angel appearing to Joshua Son of Nun. Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.61 p.227.
Meleto/Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) listed Joshua among the books of the Old Testament in his letter to Onesimus. On Pascha p.72. Preserved in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History book 4 ch.26.
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) speaks of the five Amorite kings Joshua shut up in a cave as "scripture". Irenaeus Against Heresies book 2 ch.24.4 p.395
Clement of Alexandria says, "As the book of Joshua relates", and later "as the book of Judges mentions" Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 1 ch.21 p.325
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) refers to Joshua Son of Nun 6:1-20 and the fall of Jericho. An Answer to the Jews ch.4 p.155
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) discusses when Joshua the son of Nun was fighting against the Amorites. Fragment of Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah ch.1 p.176
Origen (225-254 A.D.) has an entire work on Homilies in Joshua. He mentions Jesus [Joshua] by name.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "In Isaiah … in the 117th Psalm … Also in Zechariah … Also in Deuteronomy: … Also in Jesus [Joshua] the son of Nave" Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 section 2 ch.16 p.512
Cyprian (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes Joshua 5:2 "Also in Jesus the son of Nave: "And the Lord said unto Jesus, Make thee small knives of stone, very sharp, and set about to circumcise the children of Israel for the second time.’" Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 section 1 ch.8 p.510
Gregory Thaumaturgus (240-265 A.D.) alludes to Joshua 7 in Canonical Epistle Canon 3 p.19.
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.)
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the Old Testament in Paschal Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Augustine of Hippo (338-430 A.D.) mentions Joshua in The City of God book 18 ch.12 p.366
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) quotes Joshua 3:1 as by Jesus [Joshua] Son of Nave [Nun] in Lecture 10.11 p.60
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) alludes to Joshua 7 in Letter 3 ch.20.1 p.61
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) lists books of the Old Testament including Joshua. The Panarion
John Chrysostom (died 407 A.D.) alludes to Joshua 9 as by Joshua Commentary on Acts Homily 13 p.86
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (Historian) (363-420 A.D.) alludes to Joshua in History book 1 ch.22-23 p.81-82
There are others too.
Q: In Josh, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Here are a few of the translation differences. To get a sampling of Masoretic vs. Greek Septuagint variations, this part focuses on chapters 18 and 19.
Josh 2:14 "you (plural) tell" referring to Rahab and her family (Masoretic) vs. "you (singular) tell" referring to just Rahab (other Hebrew manuscripts)
Josh 3:3 "the priests, who are Levites" (Masoretic) vs. "the priests and the Levites (LXX)
Josh 3:16 "at [the town] of Adam in the vicinity/region of Zarethan" (Kethiv) vs. "from [the town of] Adam in the vicinity/region of Zarethan" (Qere) vs. "from every far off, as far as the vicinity/region of Kariathiarim"
Josh 5:1a "until we crossed/passed over" (Masoretic) vs. "until they crossed/passed over" (Qere, LXX)
Josh 5:1b "their was no spirit in them" (Kethiv) vs. "their courage failed" (Qere, some Masoretic manuscripts, LXX, Syriac, Targums, Vulgate)
Josh 6:1 "was tightly shut up" (Masoretic) vs. "was tightly shut up and fortified" (LXX)
Josh 7:1,17,18 "Zabdi" (Masoretic) vs. "Zimri" (Septuagint and 1 Chronicles 2:6)
Josh 7:2 "Beth Aven" (Masoretic) vs. absent (LXX)
Josh 7:17 "man by man" (Masoretic, LXX) vs. "family by family" (a few Hebrew manuscripts, Syriac)
Josh 8:11b-16 present in the Masoretic text, absent in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea scroll 4Q47.
Josh 9:1 "Jebusites" (Masoretic) vs. "Jebusites and Girgashites" (LXX)
Josh 9:4 "went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded" (Masoretic) vs. "They prepared provisions and loaded their donkeys" (Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac)
Josh 10:28 "destroyed them" (Masoretic, most Hebrew manuscripts) vs. "destroyed it" (many Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts, some Targums according to the NKJV)
Josh 13:26 "Lidebir" (a town in the Transjordan) (Masoretic) vs. "Debir" (a city in Canaan) (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Josh 15:18 "she urged him" (Masoretic, some Septuagint) vs. "he urged her" (other Septuagint)
Josh 16:2 "Bethel to Luz" (Hebrew) vs. "Bethel Luza" Septuagint.
Josh 18:1 "the land had been subdued before them" vs. "the land was subdued by them"
Josh 18:3 "fail" vs. "be slack"
Josh 18:3 "Jehovah the God of your fathers" vs. "the Lord our God"
Josh 18:4 "And I shall send them" vs. (absent)
Josh 18:4 "and then come to me." vs. "And they came to him:"
Josh 18:5 "And they shall divide it into seven parts" vs. "and he [Joshua] divided to them seven portions"
Josh 18:18 "slope / side opposite to the Arabah" (Masoretic) vs. "over behind Baetharaba northward" (LXX)
Josh 18:28 "the Jebusite" (Masoretic) vs. "Jebus" (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)
Josh 18:28 "Kiriath" (Masoretic) vs. "Kiriath-Jearim" (LXX)
Josh 19:2-8,11-15,18-22,24-30,33-38,41-46 some of the names are different. This would be expected as many of these Canaanite towns would have no direct correspondence to Greek.
Josh 19:28 "Ebron" (most Hebrew manuscripts, Targums, Vulgate) vs. "Abdon" (Septuagint, some Hebrew manuscripts and Joshua 21:30.)
Josh 19:34 "Asher on the west, and Judah, the Jordan" vs. "Aser will join it westward, and Jordan eastward." Septuagint.
Josh 19:51 "inheritances" vs. "divisions"
Josh 19:51 "door" vs. "doors"
Josh 21:36-37 these verses are present (LXX, Vulgate) vs. these verses are absent (Masoretic, Daniel Targums, Bomberg’s Hebrew Old Testament of 1524-1525)
Josh 22:33-34 [absent] (Masoretic) vs. "and the half-tribe of Manasseh" (LXX)
Josh 22:34 "called the altar" (Masoretic, LXX) vs. "called the altar Witness" (compare Syriac)
Josh 24:23 "children of Gad" (Masoretic) vs. "children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh" (LXX)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton’s translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.