After the death of Y’hoshua, the people of Isra’el asked The LORD, “Who will go up for us first to fight against the Kena‘ani?” The LORD said: “Y’hudah will go up; here, I have handed the land over to him.” Y’hudah said to his brother Shim‘on, “Come up with me into my assigned territory, so that we can fight against the Kena‘ani; and I likewise will go with you into your territory.” So Shim‘on went with him.
How can this be? The Book of Joshua concludes with Israel settled before Y’hoshua’s death. The account of Kalev’s daughter happens at the beginning of Joshua. Also Juhudah and Shimon were dead before Moshe was born. What is a believer to do? First of all, if this worries you: take a deep breath. I’ll pause too.
Inhale. Hold it. Slowly exhale.
As I go on this journey through the Bible, I am mostly looking to mine the gems from every chapter, but I am also curious to see what I learn as I go through this time. A couple years ago I listened to the entire Bible within a fairly short amount of time. I don’t remember all of it, but at the time I felt good and overall assured in my faith. This contradiction here between Joshua and Judges doesn’t bother me. It did for a bit, but then I read the chapter over and thought about it some more. It has been said that the text is infallible. It has been said by some that if there are contradictions in the text that it can not be true. It has been said of the Torah experts of Messiah’s time that they were blind hypocrites who did not know the Almighty and that damned the people beneath them. Those statements of Messiah were taken a bit out of context and twisted to have a slant that I would argue against to some extent, but this is not the place for it. Is it possible that just as some of the Torah experts had elevated tradition over the text in their day, that some leaders among believers have done the same thing in our day? I would say yes. I am setting aside the mission of defending the Most HIgh, even though He doesn’t need it to soberly think about what is going on here and find a way to square the contradictions between these two texts. I will present some counter points to consider and then continue one my way finding those gems I delight in.
-Joshua and Judges have two different authors. Josua feels like the sixth book of the Torah. The way the stories are conveyed, I think that is called syntax, are the same. There are also many parallel incidents between the five books of Moses and Joshua. Glancing through Judges, the writing style is very different. Tribes are personified as their ancestral head in chapter one, then in chapter two, the people are once more addressed as a nation.-Joshua and Judges have different purposes. I won’t be so bold as to say what those purposes are, but if they were given to Israel at different times, through different people, there is a meaningful difference in their purposes.
-Looking ahead to Judges 2, the timeline is recontextualized and clarified. Joshua is alive again and after all the men of his generation die out, Israel begins to stray and be fully tested.
Since I didn’t find a particular gem in Judges 1, I will take the opportunity to say this. Joshua is one of my favorite books. It feels to me, now, in America like a road map or inspiring story of how to fuse my aspirations with the will of Heaven. It feels like an admonition to dream and serve the Almighty equally. Knowing all that Israel had to go through to take possession of what was given to them assures me that I have to keep working for what I want. Knowing that their victories came with the help of Heaven is a reminder to check myself, to be humble and confident, that if my heart is in the right place, that the Most High will give me what I am after when I have passed the test and when I am ready for it. Joshua tells me to love my Creator, be courageous and fight to make a space in this world for His glory and justice to reign.