By Rachel M. Billings

Subject matters have ruled scholarly interpretation of the ebook of Joshua in the previous century: the literary “discovery” of the Deuteronomistic historical past and the archaeological detection of facts regarding Israel’s profession of Canaan. during this most up-to-date quantity within the sequence interpreting the Scriptures, Rachel M. Billings addresses the fragmentation usually led to by way of those advancements and gives a extra holistic examining of Joshua, which joins theological sophistication with an emphasis on its which means and function as a literary work.

Through a hermeneutical and literary lens, Billings analyzes the tale of Rahab and Achan, the tales of the Gibeonites and the Transjordanian altar, and the topic of the completeness of Israel’s taking of the land of Canaan. She argues that the best way the e-book of Joshua provides those fabrics reminds Israel of the dynamic nature of its identification as YHWH’s people—an identification that calls for a persevered reaction of obedience parallel to YHWH’s ever-unfolding paintings on Israel’s behalf. The ebook of Joshua portrays Israel’s obedience as now not in basic terms an unimaginable perfect or something of the previous, yet a residing truth that unfolds while YHWH’s humans recognize His declare upon them and try to serve Him.

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Extra resources for "Israel Served the Lord": The Book of Joshua as Paradoxical Portrait of Faithful Israel

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This point aside, historical-critical readers’ concerns about the ethical dimensions of the narrative for the most part lie elsewhere than with Rahab. Interestingly, critical scholars express more distress about the potential conflict between the oath that the spies make to Rahab and Deuteronomic law than did early Jewish and Christian readers. 11 Rather, it seems implicitly to be relegated to the realm of literary contradictions, which for historical-critical readers often serve as little more than red flags signaling disparate sources.

32 Assuming, then, that the spies’ oath (šĕbuʿa) sworn to Rahab in Joshua 2:20 clearly violates the command in Deuteronomy 7:2 not to make covenants (lōʾ-tikrōt lāhem bĕrît) with the Canaanite nations would be a mistake. A second challenge to this perceived conflict is that Deuteronomy addresses Israel’s interactions with the Canaanites only as an idolatrous group; its laws lack instructions for dealing with individuals who do not reflect this collective identity. While Deuteronomic law gives explicit instructions on how to deal with Canaanites who, as a body, threaten to lead Israel astray, it has no place—both positively and negatively speaking—for a Canaanite who affirms YHWH and the deeds He has done on behalf of Israel.

62 As the single most blatant and explicitly noted covenant violation in the book,63 the story revolves around the question of how Israel is to understand disaster that befalls it when, for all appearances, it has acted in faithfulness and obedience to YHWH. Achan’s sin and its aftermath function as an example of how Israel should properly recognize and respond to intentional sin committed in its midst of which it is unaware. In the fruitful resolution of this tension between apparent obedience and concealed sin, the story of Achan has several major functions in relation to later Israelite readers.

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