Joshua 13-24: Joshua’s pet rock; the silent witness

Like I said, back into the swing of things as we finish the Book of Joshua today. You may look at the title of this piece and think ‘phwoar that’s a lot of chapters, today’s entry will be long’ but it’s quite to the contrary. Most of the fighting for the promised land was covered in the last entry, the chapters contained within today’s are mostly about the allocation of land, which is boring as hell. As always, feel free to read them independently, but as part of the purpose of this blog is that I read the boring useless stuff so you don’t need to, feel free to omit them from your further reading lists.

Josh 13, Verse 1: When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.

Bloody hell God, how much land do these guys need? Did you not see the list of 31 conquered kings in the last entry? Leave some room for the rest of the inhabitants of earth, will you?

Josh 13, Verse 6: “As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites. Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you.”

Yep, the usual sort of plan. The Israelites don’t actually have to work hard at anything, God will just hook them up anyway. Maybe this is why the Israelites rebel against God so often, because they’re like a spoiled child?

Then, as I said at the start, the rest of the chapters until 23 are all about land allotment. I did warn you this entry would be short.

Josh 23, Verse 1: After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them

Given Israel rest? Are you kidding me? Israel are the one’s who just barged in and started slaughtering everyone in the first place! The only there’s rest is because Israel are taking a break from finishing off the Canaanites.

Josh 23, Verse 2: Joshua, by then a very old man, summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old.”

Groundbreaking.

Josh 23, Verse 4: “Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.”

I think you mean the nations God conquered for you. Lets be real here Josh, one of your armies was routed because of 36 casualties, you lads would have been absolutely fucked if God didn’t do everything for you.

Josh 23, Verse 6: “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.”

If any Israelites are genuinely stupid enough to stray from God’s laws after all the punishments he’s dished out etc. they must be a real moron. You could say that their inevitable deaths would be natural selection . . .

Josh 23, Verse 9: “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you.”

. . . Except that one time where you were routed because of 36 casualties when God wasn’t there to hold your hands.

Josh 23, Verse 16:  “If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”

Yep, heard it a million times before Josh, just die already.

But he doesn’t die quite yet, first he has to gather everyone and have a good ramble at them for awhile. He recounts the tales of their ancestors starting from Abraham and working on up, and then threatens them all not to rebel against God (again). Everyone says they won’t.

Josh 24, Verse 22: Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.

Well, duh?

Josh 24, Verses 25-27: On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

“See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

‘Just in case you guys are all unreliable witnesses, I have this rock here. It saw everything!’ Like seriously? A rock? Why do you even need a witness anyway, isn’t God all-knowing, all-powerful etc?

Josh 24, Verse 29: After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Phew. 11 more years and he would have broken the Genesis 6:3 rule. Other than that, it’s totally reasonable for someone from that period to live this long, right?

Summary

Like I said, this would be a short entry, but that gives me a little more breathing space when writing the summary for the whole book of Joshua. Not that it needs it, which is the first point to be made here. Joshua is the first of the Bible books in the section sometimes titled ‘history’. It’s of course pretty ironic, given there is barely any historical basis at all to what is written, but anyway. Because it’s a history book, there are less ideas and laws expressed, just supposed ‘factual’ retelling of what happened.

And what happened in this book was pretty scary. There wasn’t a range of different things going on, just one bloodthirsty campaign of genocide. As was stated in the summary of the last entry, it is terrifying to see the extent of barbarity towards the Canaanites, people who had never wronged the Israelites before they got there. Again, I cannot help but draw comparisons to Islamic State. Those people who say Islamic State are no representation of Islam, or that they are perverting it pr whatever, are kind of just wrong. If you review any of the Abrahamic religion’s (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) texts, you will see all sorts of stuff like we’ve covered in the book of Joshua, and that is why people like Islamic State feel like they can, or in fact, must do what they do.

By Rory McDowell
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