After the death of Moses, all of the generation that God had brought out of Egypt, all the naughty little wankers who had challenged God in the desert, had died. Only the two who had been loyal, Joshua and Caleb, were left. So it was time to cross the Jordan and take the promised land from the nasty Hittitesis (that’s a Gollum reference) who inhabited it.
Two spies were sent into Jericho to scope out the place, but they weren’t very good spies because the king was informed of their whereabouts. Luckily, they had hidden in the house of a prostitute, and she was willing to hide them in exchange for her and her family’s protection. The people of Jericho had heard about the Israelites attacking and destroying their neighbors and were “melting” in fear that the Israelites would attack them as well. Which is why the prostitute made the deal to save herself and her family; she was terrified of the Israelites. She helped the spies safely escape the king and was told to tie a scarlet chord on her window so that the Israelites would know not to attack her house.
Joshua told the Israelites that they were to make ready to attack the Hittites. The Ark of the Covenant (that Indiana Jones thing) was to go first. The rest of the people were to follow at a distance. As the Ark was brought to the edge of the Jordan, the water stopped flowing, and the entire nation of Israel crossed the river on dry land. Half way across, one man from each tribe gathered one stone from the riverbed as a reminder of what God had done in stopping the waters and letting them cross on dry land.
Once they were across the Jordan, God told Joshua to circumcise everyone in the camp. I thought everyone was supposed to be circumcised as they were born, but apparently only the original generation that came out of Egypt had been. So they made with the penis mutilation and stayed at that camp until everyone had healed. Meanwhile, word of how the Israelites had crossed the Jordan spread to the kings nearby, and they continued to “melt” with fear.
This is how the Israelites defeated the city of Jericho (don’t laugh): God had them march around the city walls six times for six days. One the seventh day (sounds like people are working on the Sabbath to me) they marched around the city seven times, blowing trumpets all the while. Then they gave a great shout and the city walls crumbled. They crumbled. Worst siege movie ever. Then the Israelites ran into the city and killed everything in it. Man, woman, child, slave, animal. Everything. Except that prostitute and her family; the Israelites kept their word and saved them. All of the riches, the gold and silver, were put into God’s treasury, and the city was burned to the ground.
Unfortunately, one guy was unfaithful and kept some treasure for himself. True to His style, God decided to take this out on the entire tribe. When the Israelites attacked the next city, they were routed and many died. Joshua, after tearing his clothes a good deal, asked God why He had abandoned His people. To which God responded, Someone stole my rich stuff, and I want to kill him. Bring him to me. Once the Israelites had figured out who stole the rich stuff and gotten a confession out of him, they gathered him and all of his belongings (including his children and livestock) and stoned them all to death, burying him and his belongings in a pile of stones. Once God’s bloodlust had been sated, He decided to help His people again.
God commanded Joshua to take the city of Ai next. Part of Joshua’s army lured the city of Ai’s army outside of the city walls. But Joshua had sent most of his army to the back of the city, to attack and take the city once its army had gone out. Then Ai’s army was caught in the middle and destroyed. 12,000 people, everyone living in Ai, died that day. The city was burned to the ground, and the king was hung from a tree. This time though, God allowed the Israelites to keep the spoils and livestock for themselves.
Then, the Israelites built that altar thing that Moses told them to build. And Joshua painted the laws of God on the walls and read them allowed to the entire camp. Meanwhile, the kings of the surrounding cities were trying to unite and mobilize against the Israelites. But one group, the Gibeonites, decided to take matters into their own hands. They pretended to be poor travelers, who had come a very long way to meet the Israelites and serve God. So the Israelites believed them and made an oath with them. When the Israelites found out that they were actually the Gibeonites, one of the peoples in the promised land whom they were supposed to wipe out, they decided to make them slaves since they couldn’t kill them and break the oath they had just made.
Of course this little deal didn’t make all of the peoples who had agreed to unite against he Israelites very happy with the Gibeonites, so they attacked the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites asked the Israelites to come and protect them. And they did. The Israelites attacked, and God killed people with hailstones while the Israelites killed with their swords. And for some reason God made the sun stop moving so that they could take their time hunting down and killing all of their enemies.
While the Israelites hunted down and killed their enemies, five of the enemy kings were found to be hiding in a cave. Once the fighting was over, Joshua had the kings pulled out of their cave. He had the commanders of the Israelite army put their feet on the necks of the kings and told the people that this is what God would do to all of their enemies. Then Joshua killed the kings and hung their bodies from a tree. Then the Israelites attacked and destroyed another city, leaving yet another king hanging from a tree. Then another city. Then another city. Then they decimated another enemy army. Then another city. Then some villages. Then another city. Joshua ensured that there were no survivors. “He totally destroyed all who breathed.” And just like that, all of the southern cities in the region had been completely wiped out.
Hearing the news, the kings of the northern cities banded together and marched out a huge army, complete with horses and chariots to defeat the Israelites. Once they attacked, Joshua and the Israelites killed every man in that army. Not only that, but they also hamstrung the horses and burned the chariots. Hamstringing basically means severing the hamstring muscles, which leaves the animal in intense pain and unable to move. Then the Israelites went to the cities of the people who had raised the army to attack them. They killed everything that breathed and burned the cities to the ground. Then Joshua and his army went around the land killing everyone who was left. What did these people do to deserve this? Their only sin seems to be worshipping the wrong god. Though the Israelites attacked first, the Bible says that the enemies of the Israelites attacked because “the Lord Himself hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that He might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy.” Joshua 11:20.
Once the promised land had been won, it was time for rest. Then the land was split between the tribes. Apparently, there were still some enemy hold outs, because Caleb “gave” his daughter to his brother for sacking and destroying another city. In fact, every now and again the Israelites decide to give away land that isn’t yet conquered to a tribe, so they just go kill everyone and take control of it too. One group, the Canaanites, were allowed to live but forced into slavery. Here is a map of how they split the land amongst the tribes:
So yeah… pretty much everyone in the very large piece of land (minus the Canaanite and Gibeonite slaves) died so that the Israelites could have their land of milk and honey. Anyway, then the Israelites set aside the cities of refuge. Remember? You could go there if you accidentally killed someone and escape possible retribution. Lastly, cities and pastureland from each territory were given to the Levites, as they had no territory of their own. Then everyone could rest and “everyone was fulfilled.”
The tribes who had been given land on the east side of the Jordan River went back home and built an altar to serve as a witness and a symbol of their loyalty to God. After the Israelites had lived in peace for many years, Joshua called the priests and the leaders of each tribe together again. He told them that he would soon die and asked if the Israelites meant to serve God or turn from Him. The Israelites agreed that they would stay true to God, so Joshua set up some rocks or something to serve a witness to their promise. Then Joshua died. Both he and Joseph’s bones were laid to rest in the promised land. (Joseph was the dude who had served pharaoh in Egypt before the whole slavery thing. He had died in Egypt, but the Israelites brought his remains with them into the promised land.)
You may notice that I’ve had a hard time making light of this particular book. That’s because I find everything about it absolutely disgusting. The end. Next up, Judges.