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Sojourn, Exodus, Conquest
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Conquest and Settlement - preamble

The purpose of these pages is to explore the accounts of the Conquest and subsequent settlement of the land under Joshua. As well as the book of that name, some later parts of the Pentateuch, and the early portions of Judges are used as Old Testament material. Other nonBiblical sources, both textual and archaeological, are used as necessary.

Comparison with Egyptian campaigns

New Kingdom Egyptian campaign tactics did not normally involve the destruction of a city. On those few occasions when this was done a specific word hb’ was used, and the destruction was not done during the battle but as a systematic act after victory had been achieved. Here in Joshua the action moves rapidly from one city or battle to the next, so it is likely there was no time for such destruction. This also accounts for the fact that frequently, a king is reported as defeated, but the city is later described as still resistant to the Israelite tribes. Additionally, the promise to the Israelites (Deut. 6:10-11, repeated in Josh. 24:32) had been that they would "live in cities they had not built", so the deliberate wholesale destruction of cities would have been foolish. Of the three cities which were burnt (Jericho 6:24, Ai 8:19,20,28, and Hazor 11:11), the Hebrew word shârap is used, denoting "to set on fire, kindle, burn up". This word is not used of the other captured cities.

[Under construction]

Preliminary stages

The preliminary stages Chapters 2-8

Joshua began his move to occupy Canaan cautiously. After sending spies in to Jericho he avoided a direct onslaught and relied on an out-of-the-ordinary event to enter the city. It was one of only three cities which were reported burnt. The success of this move prompted the attempt on Ai. The direct assault attempted on this city was a disaster, and the Israelite tactics changed at this point. There is subsequently no description of a direct assault on a guarded and forewarned enemy city. Instead we find that the principal tactics used were covert and indirect. Typically the Canaanites were lured out into the open field, often using ambushes or other deceptive means. Ai was also burned when finally captured. The capture of these two cities prompted a response from the inhabitants of the land.

Sojourn, Exodus, Conquest