Joshua 10 and 11 make for exciting reading but they don’t fit with the rest of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, or the archaeological evidence. In this series we take a look at the genre these texts employ, and what that tells us about the historicity of the events they appear to document.

Joshua 10 and 11: The Problem

Joshua 10 and 11 contain the accounts of the Southern and Northern campaigns describing the conquest of Canaan. Though they make for exciting reading, these chapters present the careful reader with a number of problems. Continue reading

Joshua 10 and 11: A closer look

In the previous post we saw that as well as being flatly contradicted by the archaeological evidence the Southern and Northern Campaigns of Joshua 10 and 11 don’t line up with the rest of the conquest accounts in Joshua, Judges, and Samuel.

We concluded that before trying to understand how the archaeological evidence fits with the text, we first need to understand why the texts don’t fit each other. Continue reading

Joshua 10 and 11: Genre and Annihilation

In the previous post we looked at some features that we saw were common to both Joshua 10 and 11. We concluded that those features mark the chapters out as being something quite different to ordinary war reports or historical narrative. Instead of military history we found two highly formulaic accounts that follow a definite and distinct pattern. In the next few posts we’ll look at what these features tell us about the genre of these chapters by investigating comparative literature. Continue reading

Joshua 10 and 11: Genre, repetition, and redundancy

In the previous post we saw how the language of annihilation in Joshua 10 and 11, far from being something unexpected, was actually a common feature across ancient Near Eastern conquest accounts. This time we’re going to look at another feature we noticed a couple of posts ago: the text’s repetition and redundancy in the way it records the Israelite conquest of Canaan. We’ll see how it too is a common feature in ancient conquest accounts. Continue reading

Joshua 10 and 11: Genre and hyperbole

In Jos 11:4 the northern coalition of Canaanites came to fight the Israelites with “a great army, in number like the sand on the seashore.1 Now, pretty much no one on earth would take that description at face value. According to a group of researchers at the University of Hawaii2, there are roughly 7.5×10^18 grains of sand on all the beaches of the earth. That’s 75,000,000,000,000,000,000, or, seventy-five quintrillion grains. Even if we restrict ourselves to just the beaches of Canaan, taking that phrase at face value would demand a Canaanite army of billions upon billions. Continue reading

Joshua 10 and 11: Genre and the common narrative structure

When we took a closer look at Joshua 10 and 11 one of the things we found was that they follow a similar sequence. It’s as if they’re employ some sort of formula we’re not aware of. In this post we’ll dig into the background to this common narrative structure. Continue reading