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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(A6) The Untold Story of the Conquest of the Land: Shaping the Character of Joshua

Prof. Oded Lipschits

The Untold Story of the Conquest of the Land: Shaping the Character of Joshua, the Cultic Reform and the Deuteronomic Law of the Ban

The book of Joshua continues the book of Deuteronomy, and is connected to it historically, conceptually and narratively and also by its Deuteronomistic ideology. Despite this connection, and despite the clear continuity between the two books, Joshua is the first of the “Former Prophets” books in the Hebrew Bible. This is the introduction for the historiographic description of the history of Israel in Canaan, in which the story of the conquest of the land and its settlement is described. This understanding of the Book of Joshua’s historiographical place, alongside the emphasis on the importance of the Law of the Torah and the presentation of loyalty to it as a condition for the entire conquest, raises the question: did the school that stands behind the composition of the Book of Joshua even intend to describe a historical reality?
Therefore, this chapter of the podcast will demonstrate that the story of the conquest of the land was an ideological story designed to convey the message of the Deuteronomists. It did not seek to convince its contemporaries that this description reflects a historical reality. They knew the reality very well and understood that this story was intended to emphasize the demand that the chosen people separate themselves from their neighbors – the ancient peoples of Canaan. The shaping of the character of Joshua in the spirit of King Josiah and in the light of his character, and the detailed stories of areas that had only recently become a part of the Kingdom of Judah, emphasized the extent to which the stories of the conquest carry a topical ideological message for their contemporaries, and are a part of the messages that were integrated into the cult reform of that time.

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