Joshua for Skeptics

If you believe in a God of peace, you won't much like the book of Joshua. Because Joshua's God is a God of war, and he isn't bothered by collateral damage. Rather, he insists upon it. "So Joshua ... utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded." (10:40)

And he's not just an innocent bystander either. He is an active combatant. "The Lord God fought for Israel." (10:42) God "slew them with a great slaughter" and even "chased them along the way." Sometimes he "threw down great stones from heaven," and once he even stopped the sun from moving so that he and the Israelites could finish all their killing before sundown. (10:10-12)

Here are a few highlights.

  • "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword." 6:21
  • A family is stoned and burned to death (along with their animals) to punish the father (Achan) for looking at "the accursed thing." "So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger." 7:24-26
  • Joshua kills all the inhabitants of Ai, burns their city, and hangs their king on a tree. 8:22-31
  • The Ai massacre 8:30-31
  • God curses the Gibeonites to be slaves of the Jews forever. 9:21-27
  • God gets right in and fights with the Israelites. He "slew them with a great slaughter" and even "chased them along the way." What a guy. 10:10
  • God threw down "great stones from heaven" so that he could kill even more people than the Israelites "slew with the sword." 10:11
  • God makes the sun and moon stand still so that Joshua could get all his killing done before dark. It was the first Daylight Savings Time. 10:12-13
  • "The Lord fought for Israel." 10:14
  • Five kings killed and hung on trees 10:24-26
  • Joshua, at God's command, kills everyone and everything that he can find -- or, as the Bible puts it, he "utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord commanded." 10:28-42
  • God and Joshua pretty much kill whoever they haven't yet killed. 11:6-12
  • Some more giant killing 11:20-21
  • "For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly." 11:20
  • Remember that God "is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins." 24:19