The Scriptorium

Conquests in the Land

The land is conquered, but the struggle continues.

Joshua 12 and 13 (3)

And these 
are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel conquered on this side of the Jordan, on the west, from Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon as far as Mount Halak and the ascent to Seir, which Joshua gave to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions in the mountain country, in the lowlands, in the Jordan plain, in the slopes, in the wilderness, and in the South—the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; 12 the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; the king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; the king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; the king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; the king of Shimron Meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; the king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one; the king of Dor in the heights of Dor, one; the king of the people of Gilgal, one; the king of Tirzah, one—all the kings, thirty-one. Joshua 12.7-23

1.  Why all this tabulating of defeated kings? Is this just Israel gloating? 

2.   In spite of all these conquests, much remained to be done (cf. Josh. 13.2). The land was conquered, but it was still being conquered. Just like our salvation, right?

Think about it.
The writer lists six peoples as having been conquered by Joshua and the children of Israel. But those six peoples or nations were divided among thirty-one kings, and all those kings maintained standing armies. All this within a piece of real estate not much larger than the state of New Jersey! 

No wonder war, pillage, plunder, and conquest were such a constant part of Canaanite life. Imagine taking a long trip with all seven of your preadolescent kids in the back seat. That’s what Canaan was like. The fact that some of these kings could agree on anything was a mere expedient, a vain effort to preserve whatever autonomy and power they had known.

Yet so entrenched in self-interest, so determined to guard their turf, so confident of the rightness of their own cause were these kings, that, with the exception of the Gibeonites, they would not seek peace and submit to Israel. They would not believe in Israel’s God, the evidence of His irresistible power notwithstanding.

People haven’t changed much, eh?

Meditate and discuss.
1.  Why do you think it was important to catalog these victories? Should we be keeping record of the victories God brings into our lives? Why or why not?

2.  What does the writer mean when he says these peoples were “conquered” (vv. 6, 7)? Does that mean all the fighting was over (cf. 13.2)? Was the writer wrong?

3.  In Jesus Christ, we possess all the precious and very great promises of God (2 Cor. 1.20; 2 Pet. 1.4). But do we actuallypossess all God’s promises? We have been saved by our Joshua, but we are still being saved by Him. Explain.

“Joshua was eighty years of age when he entered the land. In this aged man how could there be so much vigor as to fit him for carrying on so many wars and enduring the fatigues of warfare, had not celestial virtue furnished him with more than mortal strength? And were not his uninterrupted career of victory, his success under all circumstances, the ease, free from doubt and uncertainty, with which he stormed cities, the rapidity of his movements, and his inflexible firmness ― were not all these clear evidences of the hand of God, just as if it had appeared from heaven?” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua(1509-1564 AD)

Many battles lie ahead of me today, Lord. Give me strength like Joshua, and faith in Jesus, as I…

Pray Psalm 9.1-13.

Use this psalm to lay out your battle plan for today’s going forth with Jesus, conquering and to conquer (Rev. 6.2).

Psalm 9.1-13 (Diademata: Crown Him with Many Crowns)
I will give thanks, O Lord, with all my heart to You!
I’ll tell the wonders of Your Word, so many and so true!
With joy to You I cry; Your glory I will raise; 
Your matchless Name, O Lord on High, will I forever praise!

Backwards my foes shall fall before Your holy face.  
You rescue all who on You call by Your all-glorious grace.
The nations lie in ruins; the wicked are no more; 
Our enemies have come to doom in wrath and judgment sore.

Lord, You forever reign in judgment on Your throne.
The world in bitter wrath and pain Your righteousness will own. 
All those who know Your Name, though in this life oppressed, 
You shelter from the storms of shame and keep them ever blessed.

Praise then the Lord of Zion; declare His deeds abroad!
Praise Judah’s mighty saving Lion, the ever-blessèd God!
Whose blood has washed us clean, Who hears our plaintive cries, 
Who good to us has ever been and lifts us to the skies!

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click hereAnd when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.