Upon the death of Moses, Joshua was chosen to replace him. He was the conqueror of the Promised Land, and set the stage for the period of the judges that followed. This is why he is included in the section of the judges.
The Byzantine historian, Procopius, wrote that in his day two columns of white stone were located in Tangiers, North Africa. On these stones, written in the Canaanite script, was this inscription: “We are those who fled before the face of Joshua, the robber, the son of Nun.” These were Canaanites who had escaped from Palestine in advance of the Israelite invasion. Joshua had certainly made an impression on these Canaanites.
Why did God command the Israelites to rid the land of the Canaanites? In God’s sight, what was wrong with their society? Here is His instruction to Israel ” . . . Thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God” (Deut. 20:17-18).
God assured Israel that He would bless them because of their obedience to these commands.
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us . . . . When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou. (Deut. 6:24-25, 7:1)
Occultists tell us the God of the Old Testament was cruel and wrathful because he ordered the Israelites to kill a people whose only crime was living in the land. Was living in the land their only crime in the eyes of God?
The Pocket Bible Handbook, by Henry H. Halley, gives us a good synopsis of conditions in the land of Canaan prior to the arrival of the Israelites. Under the section of Joshua he tells us that at excavations at Gezer, contain the stratum that was of Cannanite culture prior to the arrival of the Israelites. The sacrifices found there contained a great number of jars that held the remains of children. It was an entire cemetery for newborn babies that had been sacrificed. Also, archeologists found evidence of “foundational sacrificing.” In this practice a victim was sacrificed and placed into the wall of a house being built in order to insure good luck for the family. All kinds of sex objects were found in such Canaanite cities as Jericho and Megiddo. Both sex rites and child sacrifice were practiced in these cities. The land of Canaan had become similar to Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale. The Pocket Bible Handbook, page 185, adds that the ruins of a temple to Ashtaroth were found, which was in use during the reign of Ahab. Children were sacrificed there as part of the official worship of Baal. We should be able to understand why Elijah had no mercy on the priests of Baal, and why Jehu was so ruthless in his extirpation of Baal worship.
Perhaps the ruins of an armorer’s workshop in Tyre depicts the most vivid example of Canaanite society. A parchment in ancient Syrian characters was found, along with sword blades in various stages of manufacture, which contained instructions on how to temper and prove a steel sword. The parchment reads as follows:
Let the high dignitary furnish an Ethiop [Ethiopian] of fair frame and let him be bound down, shoulders upward, upon the block of the God Ba-hal, his arms fastened underneath with thongs, a strap of goatskin over his back, and wound twice around the block, his feet close together lashed to a dowel of wood, and his neck projecting over and beyond the end of the block . . . Then let the master workman, having cold-hammered the blade to a smooth and thin edge, thrust it into the fire of the cedarwood coals, in and out, the while reciting the prayer to the god Ba-hal, until the steel be of the color of the red of the rising sun when he comes up over the desert toward the East, and then with a quick motion pass the same from the heel thereof to the point, six times through the most fleshly portion of the slave’s back and thighs, when it shall have become the color of the purple of the king. Then, if with one swing, and one stroke of the right arm of the master workman it severs the head of the slave from his body, and display not a nick or crack along the edge, and the blade may be bent round the body of the man and break not, it shall be accepted as a perfect weapon, sacred to the service of the God Ba-hal, and the owner thereof may thrust it into the scabbard of asses’ skin, brazen with brass and hung to the girdles of camel’s wool dyed in royal purple. (None of the Above, by Sy Leon with Diane Hunter, pp. 199-201)
Joshua is called by different names in the Old Testament. His original name was Oshea. He is also known by the name of Jehoshua, and Joshua is a variant of this name. In the New Testament he is called Jesus, since “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of Joshua and means “Savior.” Moses gave him the name Jehoshua (Num. 13:16). Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim. Josephus says he was born in Egypt and was a slave for 40 years before the Exodus. He is first mentioned in Exodus 17:9: “And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.” This first mention of Joshua tells us he was a military commander under Moses. He was Moses’ right hand man and accompanied him to the Mount when Moses received the Ten Commandments. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God” (Ex. 24:12-13). It does not appear that Joshua was in Moses’ presence when he received the Ten Commandments, as he met him when he descended from the Mount (Ex. 32:15-17). He was one of the 12 spies sent out to reconnoiter the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1, 8), and one of the two that brought back a good report (Num. 14:6-8).
Upon the death of Moses, God chose Joshua to replace him.
And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses. (Num. 27:15-23)
Moses gave Joshua the following instruction:
And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you. And I besought the LORD at that time, saying, O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. (Deut. 3:21-28)
Following the death of Moses, Joshua received his first instruction from God.
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Josh. 1:1-5)
These were words of encouragement! Joshua was told his mission would be extremely successful as long as he faithfully followed God’s Law.
God told him:
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Josh. 1:6-9)
Success depended upon following in the footsteps of Moses-faithfully keeping all of God’s Law and obviously teaching it to the people. Before crossing the Jordan River, Joshua sent out two spies to reconnoiter the city of Jericho.
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were. (Josh. 2:1-4)
Rahab is listed in Hebrews, chapter 11, as a woman of faith. She had heard what God had done in Egypt and on the east side of the Jordan River. She knew He was the God of the whole earth and believed what He had promised to Israel. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Heb. 11:31).
Rahab told the spies:
. . . I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. (Josh. 2:9-11)
Then she made this request:
Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee (Josh. 2:12-14).
Next she let the men down the city wall with a rope, and they escaped. But they first told her:
Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. (Josh. 2:18-20)
Rahab and her family remained within the dwelling. She believed the true God and risked her life by hiding the spies. This is why she is listed in Hebrews 11. Joshua honored the commitment that had been made to her, and she and her entire family were spared. She later married an Israelite and was one of the ancestors of King David, and hence of Jesus Christ.
After the spies returned from their mission, God told Joshua: ” . . . This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee” (Josh. 3:7). Then God performed the miracle of crossing the Jordan River.
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. (Josh. 3:14-17)
On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life . . . . And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before. (Josh. 4:14, 18)
Next, the attack on Jericho was about to take place, and Joshua went near to survey the city. At this location God manifested Himself to Joshua and gave instructions as to how the city should be conquered.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. (Josh. 5:13-15)
God’s instructions were to surround the city and march around it for seven days. On the seventh day the priests were to blow the trumpets, and the people were to give a loud shout. “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city” (Josh. 6:20).
But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (Josh. 6:22-25)
This brief interruption in the slaughter that took place illustrates how important it is to honor a promise. Joshua made good the oath the spies had made because they represented him, as well as the God of Israel. Rahab’s faith in the surety of God’s promises to Israel places her in a category that merits special recognition, and she was not even an Israelite! Undoubtedly she gave up her lifestyle as a harlot, and became a proselyte of the God of Israel.
With the exception of the gold and silver, and the brass and iron vessels, which were to be kept for the treasury of the house of the Lord, everything in Jericho had been devoted to destruction. None of the booty was to be kept by any individual (Josh. 6:17-19).
But what occurred?
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel” (Josh. 7:1). When the Israelites attacked the city of Ai, they suffered a stunning setback. Some of the soldiers were killed, and the attacking force had to retreat. The Israelites were completely demoralized.
And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? (Josh. 7:6-9)
God answered very quickly.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Josh. 7:10-12)
This was a serious offense. If allowed, it would have set the stage for the eventual disregard for all the holy things of God. It also tested Joshua’s resolve as a leader to enforce obedience to all of God’s instruction, especially for those who may have thought the theft of holy things was a small matter. Lots were cast to determine the offender. “And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken” (Josh. 7:17-18).
And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 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. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. (Josh. 7:19-23)
And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day. (Josh. 7:24-26)
This event was not pleasant, but it was absolutely necessary to punish this man and his family, who, no doubt, were privy to this sin. It was a lesson to be learned by the entire nation of Israel.
Joshua, then, in confidence attacked the city of Ai. God instructed him how to take it. He was told to set a trap.
So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night. And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you. (Josh. 8:3-8)
Following the destruction of the city, we read: “And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day” (Josh. 8:28).
Joshua, chapter nine, illustrates what happens when people take things for granted. The Israelites put too much trust in what was told them. Here is the account.
And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof; That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. (Josh. 9:1-6)
Joshua and the elders of Israel fell for the ruse. They entered into a league with the Gibeonites. Shortly thereafter, they realized their mistake.
And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them. And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them. And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us? (Josh. 9:16-22)
“And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose” (Josh. 9:27).
The reason was that once an oath was taken, it could not be revoked. The Israelites knew they must keep their word even if what they swore was to their own hurt. These Canaanites could not be extirpated as they had now been given protection. But they did not get off without a penalty. They were placed under forced labor. Many years later, Saul broke this oath, and God saw to it that retribution was wreaked upon his family (2 Sam. 21:1-9).
But entering into this league with the Gibeonites had an advantage. It led to a great victory for Joshua and the men of Israel.
Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. (Josh. 10:1-5)
The Gibeonites appealed to Joshua to deliver them from this calamity.
And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. (Josh. 10:6-10)
God then intervened by two great events. He caused huge hailstones to rain upon the fleeing Canaanites, and He held back the going down of the sun. This second event is known as “Joshua’s long day.”
And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. (Josh. 10:11-14)
The result of this resounding defeat was that another coalition of Canaanites was formed against Joshua and the Israelites. The struggle that followed is often referred to as Joshua’s northern campaign.
And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west, And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many. And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel. (Josh. 11:1-5)
So, the league with the Gibeonites served as a catalyst to bring about the destruction of all these heathen peoples. It had a domino effect.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. (Josh. 11:6-8)
“And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded . . . . As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses” (Josh.11: 12, 15).
The conquest had now been largely complete. Before his death Joshua gave his final instruction and made a covenant with the people of Israel. He told them to rid the land of any remnants of these Canaanite peoples, and not to join with them in any manner. If they failed follow these instructions, they would surely suffer the consequences. Then he said:
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh. 24:14-15)
These are the last words we hear from this great servant of God-this great man of the Old Testament. They were strong and positive, exemplary of the kind of man Joshua was, and the kind of life he lived. “And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old” (Josh. 24:29).