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6:1-12:24 CONQUEST OF THE LAND
Destruction of the Canaanites
The following chapters show that the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan was well planned. First they won control of the central region (Chapters 6-9). This created a division between the northern and southern regions, and so prevented Canaanite tribes throughout the country from joining forces. Israel then had a much easier task in conquering the rest of Canaan, first the south (Chapter 10), then the north (Chapter 11).
Israel’s destruction of the people of Canaan was not merely for political or material gain. It had a religious and moral purpose in God’s plan. He had given the Canaanites time to repent, and the case of Rahab shows that any who turned from their sins and believed in the God of Israel could be saved. But for the Canaanites as a whole, their wickedness was now so great that the time for judgment had come (Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 7:1-5). In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, God had used the forces of nature to bring destruction; in the case of the Canaanites, he used his people Israel.
Apart from certain specified exceptions, the Israelites were to spare nothing and keep nothing (Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Deuteronomy 20:16-18). The judgment had a religious significance, and everything was to be devoted to God for destruction. It was ‘devoted’, or ‘holy’, not in the sense of being morally pure, but in the sense of being forbidden to humans. People could not use devoted things for themselves. By destroying them, they were, in effect, presenting them to God and then carrying out God’s judgment upon them (see 6:17-18; Leviticus 27:28-29; Deuteronomy 13:17). Concerning the destruction of the Canaanites’ possessions, precious metals were excepted. These were added to Israel’s treasury, probably after they were ceremonially purified by being passed through fire and washed in water (see 6:19; Numbers 31:21-23).
One result of moral filth is physical disease. Therefore, the destruction of the Canaanites (in some cases together with their sheep and cattle) ensured the removal of deadly diseases that could have threatened Israel’s existence. The absence of Canaanite religious practices would also be a help to Israel’s religious life and moral well-being.
Defeat of Jericho (6:1-27)
The destruction of Jericho demonstrated the kind of warfare that Israel was engaged in. God’s unusual directions for the conquest of Jericho showed clearly that this was a religious judgment and Israel was his instrument. This was demonstrated in the important role of the priests, the prominence of the ark of the covenant, and the repeated use of the number seven in the battle preparations (6:1-7). Over the next six days the Israelites marched around Jericho once each day, and then returned to the camp at Gilgal (8-14).
On the seventh day the Israelites were to march around the city seven times. When the walls of the city fell, they were to destroy all the people except Rahab and those in her house, and all the goods except the precious metals. The Israelites were to keep nothing for themselves (15-19).
If earthquake activity had caused the collapse of the Jordan’s banks, the same earthquake activity may have weakened the foundations of Jericho’s walls. Nevertheless, the collapse of the walls at the exact moment God planned showed that victory came through the power of God, in response to the faith of his people (20-25; Hebrews 11:30). God intended Jericho to remain in ruins, as a permanent memorial that it had been destroyed by his curse. If any person rebuilt the city, the curse would pass on to him, and as a consequence he would suffer the loss of his own sons (26-27; cf. 1 Kings 16:34).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 6". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29