“Let’s Play The Bible: Joshua 1-24”
Now we have left the Pentateuch zone. Here’s where we are anticipating things becoming a little more nebulous, a little more exciting and eventually a little more Christian as the days and weeks of reading go by. This first stop specifically, and probably further ones, are definitely a direct sequel to the saga of Moses and Joseph and kin, however. Yes I am staying with them as they go through time.
I’m blasting through these books and leaving live notes, before I might enjoy overviews and dissection from various sources. The approach is somewhat time consuming, where notes and thoughts in different moods are alloyed, smelt and cast after a fact, but there is no issue in this regard. This is a very important book to enjoy and explore.
The story of Moses as a living servant of God has ended. Joshua will now take the reigns and move toward seizure of the promised land. Where the prior books describe the Exodus of the Jews up out of Egypt, we will now witness their conquest of the promised land “Canaan”. Variously the sequence of books beginning with Joshua are categorized “Prophets” or “Historical”.
The sequence of events? They might be considered as follows:
Joshua Graduates - While making prominent appearance previously, Joshua “son of nun” is commissioned proper, to lead the Israelites to victory as they inherit Canaan.
Joshua the General - Joshua leads God’s people into the land, variously destroying or integrating tribes dependant on how each react when faced with them. They are very victorious When all is said and done.
Joshua the President - Following victory, land is held by the various tribes of God’s People and governed. Joshua becomes old, and utilizing the “bully pulpit” he impresses upon the tribes the importance of God, teaching them well.
When all is said and done, this is a great era for the people of God. Very much not far removed from the galvanization and revolution under servant Moses, Joshua is a good servant of God. Very excellent work is done by him in this tale, militarily and spiritually. One might hope to see this continue…
Before getting into actual “ragpicking” items of interest and then slowly seeping into more broad inspection, we can go as wide as possible - I have to. I’m reading here that some consider the book to be entirely prophetic, mirroring the story of eventual saviour and messiah Jesus Christ, largely by way of names and themes. In fact it seems the name “Joshua” is no different to the name “Jesus” in meaning.
The Book of Joshua in its entirety is a prophecy of the spiritual conquest of the world through Jesus the Messiah. The name Joshua is formed from the root of the Hebrew word for “salvation.” Link
Language and the make-up of Bible version is playing a big role in this, apparently. I found a very nice post that seems to play things fairly straight from academic perspective, the writer says he can read hebrew and has a program that allows access to every Greek text - wow. He appears to be a bit meek and very adept at selective information wrangling and indirect spirit erosion if we glance at his recent general blog posts - typical midwit at the pulpit - but let us read in good faith and see some of these translations/transliterations:
- Yehoshua/Yeshua - The originating Hebrew, Jewish, name. Used anciently and recently respectively.
- Joshua - Anglicized common name of today, straight out of Hebrew.
- Iesous - Greek rendering of the Hebrew.
- Iesus - Latin rendering of the Greek.
- Jesus - Anglicized from Latin name “Iesus”.
- Hail, Zeus! - That’s just funny.
The original Hebrew name for our main-man, and therefore all subsequent translations, means “Salvation”.
This is all very interesting. If we were to use our brain as a very blunt weapon, we might consider following canon to see into current and future post-salvation timescape - given the fact humanity is in a “fallen state” and great disarray, this perhaps is simply the prophecy of the following book Judges, which has things taking a turn for the worse. We’re getting ahead of ourselves and probably entering juvenile levels of analysis to do this I guess. In broad strokes though, the ever present covenant, renewal/salvation, loyalty and the wavering thereof as such, is in constant cycle and in word are adumbrations of the future. Indeed even many secular-minded people will appeal to how history repeats with big conviction without a thought to append their customary justificatory Godless terms and conditions.
Here we are encountering an interesting location with well worn name. The city of Jericho, which Joshua successfully seized after much horn tooting, marching, patience and help from God, bore a protective wall and was very well defended - which would have made it a challenge without faith. The location bearing this name, touting long impressive history, new testament appearance and, yes, ancient protective walls, isn’t necessarily conglomerated around the exact site of the old testament siege however, if Sir Charles Warren, head of the london police at the time of Jack the Ripper, is to be believed, with the ancienter site being shortly north.
The ancient settlement has seen usage and been variously occupied and unoccupied throughout history from the so-called “Epipaleolithic” times, which is more commonly and locally known as the “mesolithic”, that is a time prior to the opening volley of “Big Ag” but with some advancing miniaturization and maybe some ugly early pottery, to apparent abandonment since ~900BC - prominent remains include a decaying instance of a four-roomer, a popular Israelite house style. The contemporary town which exists today passed through many hands: from being the domain of King Herod following a double suicide to being under the jurisdiction of modern Israel after the 6-dayer of 1967.
Entering modern times we can see that the “Jericho” name has been adopted and co-opted by American TV-show producers and even horror authors who contribute their name to video game studios alongside what I assume is a very hefty payment plan and a vaguely Biblically inspired script. Very interesting, hopefully future humans don’t discover these tributes.
There’s many intriguing usage of stones in this book. Well, firstly there is the usage of memorial stones, a physical testament - conjure now some images of cairns in lesser traveled land and renowned ancient mystical stone stackings from stonehenge to the ever-present pyramids - to demarcate the crossing of the river Jordan, where the flow of the river halted before the ark of the covenant, so that it may and did pass. This particular stone testament was placed in “Gilgal”, a name for a camping zone which means “circle of stones”.
When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.
Then there is a significant stoning. Part and parcel to the divine system of crime and punishment at this time - this instance induced by sins from within the people of God. Achan Son of Zerah, following an procedure of inquisition and confession, admitted to being a thief - this only coming to light after a period of unluck in conquest became understood to stem from the tribe being accursed by a sinful within. His entire family, his cattle, his tent and, yes, his stolen wares were stoned and incinerated in the valley of Achor - a valley near Jericho.
We can inspect further stones utilized in a slightly more pacifist nature. After the conquest of “Ai” (now the name of a bloated vectors maker that requires human input and one that requires less), the king thereof has his body cast at the gate and piled with stones - which are denoted to “remaineth unto this day”, presumably the contemporaneous day of writing at least.
Further into the conquering, a set of five kings band together in an attempt to destroy a city that has allied itself with Joshua. After sieging this city, Gibeon, they abandon their cause when the Israelites come to defend their friends. Fleeing battle, they comically scamper into a cave to hide, but are promptly sealed in by the Israelites who roll large stones across the entrance. Prior to this, during the fighting, there is also an instance of a divine helping hand casting down stones to help Joshua in his conquest. It’s reported that more men died from this intervention than the tribes had managed to kill with their own blades.
Wandering into Wonders
The supernatural and divine touches in this largely forward-narrative conquest driven book - some significant breakouts into clerical matters aside - are injected with a slightness of clip that lend it a little more wonder than some of the previous injections or figurative and literal flooding. Yes, the less saturated measure of God touch here does offer digestive value but it is still divine.
Most notably is an instance where a man accosts Joshua, bearing a sword. The man states he is “Captain of the Host of the Lord”, and demands he lose his shoes. That’s possibly sounding like a thief, a highwayman, but indeed the land Joshua stood on was Holy at this time, that’s why he had to do it. The heavenly super-soldier is here to help Joshua in his coming conquest (this happens early in the book), and is an instance of angels materializing in human form.
And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei link
Then we are gifted with a new exciting reference to the giants, who were previously cast out by Moses and depicted in several earlier books. Here the phrase “remnant of the giants” is used.
To quickly expand on the note I made above (about “breakouts into clerical matters”), some of the live-notes are funny to look back at:
this is the most unbelievably detailed/long stock-check yet, there are reams of cities, locations and villages named, along with some delineation of who should inherit them and more.
Immediately followed by:
my God there is a sh-t-ton of this divvying out of suburbs and wildernesses to tribes and chilren [sic] of elders
The Hill of the Foreskins
Here we go again. There’s a new batch of circumcision references here. Specifically interesting is “the hill of the foreskins”. This is just crazy, that there is a hill for this and denoted so literally. Of course, at the time this was an important rite for men to honour the covenant with God. Nowadays, this is pretty funny to read, though maybe not for the American population or some African people.
At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
Interestingly, there is a reference to circumcising people “a second time”. That’s probably sounding ridiculous, but I presume they weren’t doing the operation ad hoc on an individual bases, and this is meaning a new generation of Israelites are consecrated, where they haven’t been for the need to keep moving as a tribe. Their recovery and the time needed can be consolidated in this way at one juncture. There is the possibility of a second operation on the already circumcised, for compounding effect, I guess - we’ll see. I doubt it.
A Book Apart
Before leaving my analysis I do have to wonder on how we are delineating this book though. I’ve never fully read the Bible in my life before, but after considering much about the “pentateuch” so far, perhaps out of some attraction to demarcation of the reliquary, I’m a little confused as to why this book does not belong in the same status as the former five.
Moses is very important and good. He has spoke with God directly. The set of books is not limited to his story however, indeed it stretches back to the Genesis of the world and contains detailed biographical information of various of his ascendants. Joshua contains much the same in content, and seems not to depart so far from the continuing narrative of the Israelites. I suppose this is a question to ask the jewish, as they’re much more concerned with these ranges of the story.
Interestingly I have found something that substantiates some of these feelings and thinkings. The Penn Press paper here by W. H. Benett suggests that there are people referring to the Pentateuch plus Joshua as the Hexateuch (in fact there was an early english translation of bible writings that was this set), and consider them as potentially a single work that is artificially split by the jews. I am wondering if this is because the book is especially violent/conflict-concerned. This seems to break into the depthy topic of the constitution and administration of the texts and codes along with issues of authorship. While potentially very interesting, I am done with this for now.
Closing the Book
And so dear reader I am now done with this book for now. The first foray into the books of History that, alongside works of wisdom and prophets, constitute the Old Testament beyond the Pentateuch/Torah. This is extremely exciting.
I have to note for myself here that I am remaining fallen behind on the posts, and various stages of progress in writing these enjoyment posts for myself, making and looking into notes on the books and actually reading are causing a very colossal headache. We have to continue now.