Josh 2:1-12:24

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Home > The Old Testament > Joshua > Chapters 2-12
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Story. Chapters 2-12 consist of several episodes in the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites:

  • Chapters 2-6: The conquest of Jericho. The Israelites conquer Jericho with obvious divine assistance. Significantly, much of this story is not about the conquest itself, but about Israel's religious preparation and obedience, which qualifies them for that assistance.
  • Chapters 7-8: The conquest of Ai. In contrast to Jericho, the Israelites are unable to conquer Ai because a single Israelite has disobeyed the Lord. Once he is executed, all remaining members of the group are worthy to receive the Lord's help and succeed in conquering Ai.
  • Chapters 9-11a: The hastened destruction of those who attack Israel. The people of Gibeon recognize that the Lord is with Israel and trick the Israelites into covenanting to not destroy them. Other Canaanites who do not recognize this fact attack Israel and/or the Gibeonites, which only causes them to be destroyed even more rapidly.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 2-12 include:

  • The Lord is with Israel.
  • The entire group must be worthy of the Lord's help.

Relationship to book of Joshua. The relationship of Chapters 2-12 to Joshua as a whole is discussed at Joshua.


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Entire passage[edit]

Chapters 2-6: Conquest of Jericho[edit]

  • Verse 2:1: Rahab. Notice that David (and hence Christ) come through Rahab: Matt 1:5–6. The New Testament also speaks of Rahab's faith (Heb 11:31) and righteous works (James 2:25).
  • Verse 3:13: As soon as. It seems the priests have to show faith by walking into the water before the miracle of crossing Jordan will occur. (Cf. verse 15; also see Josh 1:8 commentary regarding "sole of your feet.")
  • Verse 5:2: Sharp knives. As pointed out in the footnote, this means "flint knives." Although more modern medal (probably iron) knives were most likely available, using older, flint knives ceremoniously was common (cf. Ex 20:25; Deut 27:5; Josh 8:31).

Chapters 7-8a: Conquest of Ai[edit]

  • Verse 7:13: Individual guilt and communal suffering. The conditional aspect of the Sinai Covenant (see link below) implies that if any of Israel is not obedient, then all of Israel will suffer. This is analogous to the fallen nature of humanity through Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden. Later, God offers the Davidic Covenant to Israel (see link below) whereby only the king must be obedient in order to achieve God's blessing. This is analogous to Paul's teachings about how the atonement works: although we are all condemned through Adam's transgression, we are all redeemed through Christ's atonement (see Rom 5:12-19).
  • Verse 7:16: Was taken. Most scholars assume this choosing was done by the casting of sacred lots, which is explicitly mentioned in Josh 14:2 and 18:6. The casting of lots is also specifically mentioned in 1 Sam 14:37-42 by which Saul evokes a confession from Jonathan. Together, these two stories suggest that the casting of lots was a way of evoking confession, not just blindly discovering guilt. A similar description of choosing is recorded in 1 Sam 10:20-21 where Saul is chosen as king (the casting of lots is not specifically mentioned there either, though scholars tend to infer it).

Chapter 8b: Joshua's altar at Mount Ebal[edit]

Chapters 9-11a: Defeat of those who oppose Israel[edit]

  • Verse 2: The story of the Gibeonites demonstrates that being "with one accord" is not reserved for the righteous. The Lord wants us to be united, but only in doing His will. It is not enough to be united in the same cause; we must be united in His cause.

Chapters 11b-12: Conquest of the whole land[edit]

Points to ponder[edit]

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I have a question[edit]

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  • Verse 7:13: Individual guilt and communal suffering. Why does all of Israel suffer the consequences of one person's sin (viz. Achan's act of stealing described throughout this chapter)?


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  • Verse 4:6: Remember. For talks, speeches, scriptures, and othe discussion of the significance of remembering, see RobertC's subpage on remember.
  • Verse 7:13: Individual guilt and communal suffering.
  • Sinai covenant. See this comment for a discussion of the communal nature of the Sinai covenant contrasted with the individual nature of the Davidic covenant.
  • If ye are not one. This is a blog post by Kevin Burt at Millenial Star offers personal reflections about the story of Achan.


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.

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