The Conquest of Canaan
Crossing the Jordan
Fall of Jericho
Victories over Canaanites
Sun Made to Stand Still
Tribes Settled in the Land
The Man Joshua
He was of the tribe of Ephraim (Numbers 13:8). The Grecianized from of his name was "Jesus." In that he led his people into the Promised Land, he may have been a prototype of his Greater Successor, who is leading His own into the Promised Land of Heaven.
Joshua had been a personal attendant of Moses throughout the 40 years of wilderness wandering. Was with Moses in the Mount (Exodus 24:13). Was one of the Twelve Spies (Numbers 13:8,16). Josephus says he was 85 when he succeeded Moses. Is thought to have been about 6 years subduing the land; and the rest of his life, setting and governing the twelve tribes; his rule over Israel, in all, covering about 25 years. He died at 110, and was burred in Timnath-serah, in Ephraim. He was a great warrior, disciplined his forces, sent spies, but prayed, and trusted in God.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Joshua's Name. In the Amarna Tablets, written, at that time, from Palestine, to Pharaoh in Egypt, about the rout of the king of Pella, these words occur: "Ask Benjamin. Ask Tadua. Ask Joshua."
Chapter 1. the Book
A grand chapter. Israel had a Book. It was only a fraction of what we now have in God's Word. But, O how important! God's solemn warning to Joshua, on the threshold of a gigantic task, was to be very careful to keep close to the words of tat Book. Joshua gave heed, and God honored him with phenomenal success. What a lesson for Church Leaders!
Chapter 2. The Two Spies and Rahab
Rahab had heard of the miracles wrought on behalf of Israel, and had become convinced that Israel's God was the True God (10, 11). And when she met the spies, she decided, at the risk of her life, to cast her lot with Israel and their God.
She may not have been as bad as the word "harlot" now implies. She lived among people without morals. Priestesses of the Canaanite religion were public prostitutes. Her profession was considered by the people among whom she lived, as honorable, and not disgraceful, as it now is among us.
Rahab married an Israelite named Salmon (Matthew 1:5). Caleb had a son named Salmon (1 Chronicles 2:51). It may have been the same Salmon. If so, then she married into a leading family of Israel. She thus, became ancestress of Boaz, David and of Christ. She is named among the heroes of Faith (Hebrews 11:31).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Rahab,s House on the Wall (2:15). In Jericho they did build houses on the wall.
Chapter 3. They Cross the Jordan
When the Ark of the Lord stood in the water's edge, the river rose up in a great heap, at Adam (16). Adam was 16 miles to the north. Below that the water drained off, and left the pebbly river bottom dry enough to walk on. At Adam, the Jordan flows through clay banks 40 feet high, which are subject to landslides. In 1927 an earthquake caused these banks to collapse, so that no water flowed past them for 21 hours. God may have used some such means to make the waters "stand" for Joshua. At any rate, it was a mighty miracle, and terrified the already frightened Canaanites (5:1).
Jesus, 1400 years later, was baptized, in the Jordan, at the same
place where Joshua crossed.
Chapter 4. The Memorial Stones
There were two piles of them: one where the Ark stood in the east edge of the river (9); the other, where they lodged on the west side, at-Gilgal (4:20); placed there, so that generations to come would not forget the place of the gigantic miracle.
Chapter 5. They Keep the Passover
At long last, within the Promised Land, on the 4th day after they had crossed the Jordan, their first act was to keep the Passover (4:19; 5:10). Next day the Manna ceased (5:12). Then God sent His invisible Army, to encourage Joshua for the task ahead (5:13-15).
Chapter 6. The Fall of Jericho
Jericho was taken by the direct help of God, to inspire the Israelites with confidence, in beginning their conquest of more powerful peoples. Led by the Ark of the Lord, with trumpets blowing, they compassed the city 7 days. Hovering above were the invisible hosts of the Lord (5:14), waiting for the appointed hour; and, on the 7th day, at the blast of the trumpets, the walls fell.
In an amazing prophecy a curse was pronounced on anyone who would attempt to rebuild the city (26, see on 1 Kings 16:34).
Jericho was about 6 miles from the Jordan; Gilgal, Joshua's headquarters, being about halfway between.
The wall of Jericho enclosed about 7 acres. It was an inner fortress city for the thick population roundabout.
New Testament Jericho was about a mile south of the ruins of Old Testament Jericho. The modern village of Jericho is about a mile to the southeast.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTES: Dr. John Garstang, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and of the Department of Antiquities of the Palestine Government, excavated the ruins of Jericho (1929-36). He found pottery and scarab evidence that the city had been destroyed about 1400 B.C., coinciding with Joshua's date, and, in a number of details, dug up evidence confirming the Biblical account in a most remarkable way.
"The wall fell down flat" (20). Dr. Garstang found that the wall did actually "fall down flat." The wall was double, the two walls being 15 feet apart; the outer wall, 6 feet thick; the inner wall, 12 feet thick; both being about 30 feet high. They were built, not very substantially, on faulty uneven foundations, of brick 4 inches thick and 1 to 2 feet long, laid in mud mortar. The two walls were linked together by houses built across the top, as Rahab's house "on the wall." Dr.Garstang found that the outer wall fell outward, and down
the hillside, dragging the inner wall and houses with it, the streak of bricks gradually getting thinner down the slope. The foundation walls of the palace, 4 courses of stone high, remain, in situ, tilted outward. Dr. Garstang thinks there are indications that the wall was shaken down by an earthquake (of which traces may be seen), a method which God could have used as easily as any other.
"They burnt the city with fire"' (24). Signs of the conflagration and destruction were very marked. Garstang found great layers of charcoal and ashes and wall ruins reddened by fire. The outer wall suffered most. Houses alongside the wall were burned to the ground.
The stratum generally was covered with a deep layer of black burnt debris, under which there were pockets of white ash, overlaid with a layer of fallen reddish brick.
"Keep yourselves from the devoted thing" (18). Garstang found, under the ashes and fallen walls, in the ruins of storerooms, an abundance of food stuffs, wheat, barley, dates, lentils, and such, turned to charcoal by intense heat, untouched and uneaten: evidence that the conquerors refrained from appropriating the foods.
Chapters 7, 8. Fall of Ai and Bethel
At Ai, Israel, at first, met with a dreadful reverse, due to Achan's trespass. Coming right after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan, and the miraculous fall of Jericho, it was a terrible shock to Israel. It was a disciplinary lesson. God was with them, but he meant them to understand that He expected Obedience.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Bethel. The statements in 8:9, 12,17, indicate that it was a joint battle, both Ai and Bethel being included; 8:28; 12:9, 16, that both cities were destroyed. They were only 1 1/2 miles apart.
The mound of Bethel (Beitan) was excavated by the Kyle Memorial. Expedition under the joint auspices of the American School at Jerusalem and Xenia Theological Seminary of Pittsburgh (1934), under the leadership of W. F. Albright. They found that it had been
destroyed, at a time coinciding with Joshua's invasion, by a "tremendous conflagration," which "raged with peculiar violence." There was a solid mass, 5 feet thick, of "fallen brick, burned red, black ash-filled earth, and charred and splintered debris." Albright said he had seen nowhere in Palestine indications of a more destructive conflagration.
Chapter 8:30-35. The Law Recorded at Mt. Ebal
Moses had commanded that this be done (see on Deuteronomy 27). Shechem, in the center of the land, was between Alt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, in a vale of surpassing beauty. Here Abraham, 600 years before, had erected his first altar in the land. Here Joshua, in solemn ceremony, read the Book of the Law to the people.
Chapters 9,1O. Battle where the Sun Stood Still
Gibeon, about 10 miles northwest of Jerusalem, was one of the land's greatest cities (10:2). The Gibeonites, frightened at the fall of Jericho and Ai, made haste to enslave themselves to Israel. This enraged the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon; and they marched against Gibeon. Then Joshua came to the rescue of Gibeon. This led to the famous battle of Gibeon, Bethhoron and westward, where the Sun stood Still for a whole day. In what way the sun stood still we do not know. Some have calculated that the calendar lost a day about that time. At any rate, in some way or other,
daylight was miraculously prolonged, so that Joshua's victory might be made complete.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTES: Lachish, Debir are named among cities destroyed (10:32, 39).
Lachish. The Welcome Archaeological Expedition (1931- ), found there a great layer of ashes coinciding with Joshua's time.
Debir (Kiriath-sepher, Tel Beit Mirsim). Here, the Joint Expedition of Xenia Seminary and the American School at Jerusalem (1926-28), found a deep layer of ashes, charcoal and lime, with indications of a terrible fire, and cultural marks of Joshua's time; everything under it Canaanite; everything above it Israelite.
Chapter 11. Kings of the North Defeated
In the battle of Bethhoron, where the Sun Stood Still, Joshua had broken the power of the kings of the South. Now, his victory over the kings of the North, at Merom, gave him control of the whole land.
Three Stupendous Miracles, mainly, did the lob: Jordan Divided;
Jericho's Fall; and Staying of the Sun. GOD did it.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Hazor. Joshua "burnt Hazor with fire" (11:11) . Garstang found the ashes of this fire, with pottery evidence that it had occurred about 1400 B.C
Also: an Amarna Tablet, written to Pharaoh, 1380 B.C., by the Egyptian envoy in north Palestine, says, "Let my lord the king'recall what Hazor and its king have already had to endure."
Thus, Joshua's conquest of Palestine is testified by great layers of ashes, bearing marks of Joshua's time, in Jericho,' Bethel, Lachish, Debir and Hazor, exactly confirming Biblical statements.
Chapter 12. List of Destroyed Kings
31 are named. Generally speaking, the whole land was conquered (10:40; 11:23; 21:43). However, small groups of Canaanites remained (13:2-7; 15:63;23:4; Judges 1:2, 21, 27, 29, 30, 31, 13 , 35). After Joshua's death, these made trouble for Israel. Also, Philistine, Sidonian and Lebanon country was still unconquered.
Chapters 13 to 22. Division of the Land
Map on next page shows approximate location of Canaanite nations, and distribution of Twelve Tribes of Israel. There were 6 cities of Refuge (chapter 20, see on Deuteronomy 19); and 48 cities for Levites, including 13 for Priests (21:19,14). The Altar, by the Jordan (chapter 22), was intended as a token of National Unity for a nation divided by a great river.
Chapters 23,24. Joshua's Farewell Address
Joshua had received from Moses the Written Law of God (1:8). He now added to it his own book (24:26), Joshua made good use of "books," as Moses had done (see on Deuteronomy 31). He had the land surveyed with a "book" (18:9). He read to the people the "book" of Moses (8:34). At Mt. Ebal he "wrote on stones" a copy of the Law (8:32).
The main urge of Joshua's final address was against Idolatry. Canaanite idolatry was such an aesthetic combination of religion with free indulgence of fleshy desire that only persons of exceptional strength of character could withstand its allurements.
"Canaanites" was a general term for all the inhabitants of the land. In a more restricted sense, it applied to those dwelling in the plain of Esdraelon and adjoining plains. "Amorites" also was a general term sometimes applied to all the inhabitants, but more specifically to a tribe that dwelt west of the Dead Sea, and had conquered the country east of the Jordan, pushing back the Ammonites. "Perizzites" and "Jebusites" occupied the mountains of the south. "Hivites" and "Hittites," scattered groups from the powerful kingdom of the north that had its capital at Carchemish, occupied the Lebanon region. "Girgashites," it is thought, dwelt east of the Sea of Galilee. The boundaries of all these people were movable, and at different times they occupied different places.
Religion of the Canaanites
Baal was their principal god; Ashtoreth, Baal's wife, their principal goddess. She was the personification of the reproductive principle in nature. Ishtar was her Babylonian name; Astarte her Greek and Roman name. Baalim, the plural of Baal, were images of Baal. Ashtaroth, the plural of Ashtoreth. Ashera was a sacred pole, cone of stone, or a tree trunk, representing the goddess. Temples of Baal and Ashtoreth were usually together. Priestesses were temple prostitutes. Sodomites were male temple prostitutes. The worship of Baal, Ashtoreth, and other Canaanite gods consisted in the most extravagant orgies; their temples were centers of vice.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTES: Canaanite Religion. God's express command to Israel was to destroy or drive out the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:2,3). And Joshua went at the task in dead earnest, God himself helping with mighty miracles. In reality, GOD DID IT.
In excavations at Gezer, Macalister, of the Palestine Exploration Fund (1904-09), found, in the Canaanite stratum, which had preceded Israelite occupation, of about 1500 B.C., the ruins of a "High Place," which had been a temple in which they worshiped their god Baal and their goddess Ashtoreth (Astarte).
It was an enclosure 150 by 120 feet, surrounded by a wall, open to the sky, where the inhabitants held their religious festivals. Within the walls were 10 rude stone pillars, 5 to 11 feet high, before which the sacrifices were offered.
Under the debris, in this "High Place," Macalister found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal. The whole area proved to be a cemetery for new-born babes.
Another horrible practice was that they called "foundation sacrifices." When a house was to be built, , child would be sacrificed, and its body built into the wall, to bring good luck to the rest of the family. Many of these were found in Gezer. They have been found also at Megiddo, Jericho and other places.
Also, in this "High Place," under the rubbish, Macalister found enormous quantities of images and plaques of Ashtoreth with rudely exaggerated sex organs, designed to foster sensual feelings.
So, Canaanites worshiped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of'their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as e sacrifice to these same gods.
It seems that, in large measure, the land of Canaan had become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale.
Do we wonder any longer why God commanded Israel to exterminate the Canaanites? Did a civilization of such abominable filth and brutality have any right longer to exist? It is one of history's examples of the Wrath of God against the Wickedness of Nations.
Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that
God did not destroy them sooner than He did.
God's object, in the command to exterminate the Canaanites, besides being a judgment on the Canaanites. was to keep Israel from IDOLATRY and its shameful practices. God was founding the Israelite nation for the one grand specific Purpose of paving the way for the Coming of Christ, by establishing in the world the IDEA that there is One True Living God. If Israel fell into idolatry, then there ceased to be any reason for its existence as a nation. As a matter of precaution. it was needful to clean the land of the last vestige of Idolatrous Worship. In this matter Joshua gave Israel a good star. If only Israel had kept it up, what a different story there would have been to tell!