This post is a continuation of my reading and review of Bible scholar Bart Ehrman’s university Biblical Studies textbook, “The Bible, a Historical and Literary Approach”.
Contradictions in the Book of Joshua:
- In the book of Joshua we are told that the Israelites had 40,000 men armed for war.
“The priests who bore the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan, until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people crossed over in haste. 11 As soon as all the people had finished crossing over, the ark of the Lord, and the priests, crossed over in front of the people. 12 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the Israelites, as Moses had ordered them. 13 About forty thousand armed for war crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for battle.”
—The Book of Joshua, chapter 4
Forty thousand??? Is that all? What happened to the great numbers of armed Israelite men that were present for Moses census of the people as told in the Book of Numbers?
“These are those who were enrolled, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled with the help of the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each representing his ancestral house. 45 So the whole number of the Israelites, by their ancestral houses, from twenty years old and upward, everyone able to go to war in Israel— 46 their whole number was six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty.”
—The Book of Numbers, chapter 1
We are to believe that 603,350 fighting age Israelite men left Egypt but only 40,000 fighting men crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land? What happened to the other 563,350???
2. Archeological Evidence for the Destruction of the Walled City of Jericho
It doesn’t exist, folks. Starting with archeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950’s, modern archeologists find no evidence of the remains of a great walled city or its destruction in the area of Jericho.
3. Joshua did NOT drive out the pagan inhabitants of Canaan as the author of Joshua so often assures us, in the strongest of language, that he did.
“Joshua defeated the whole land.” Joshua 10:40
“Joshua took all that land.” Joshua 11:16
“Joshua took the whole land.” Joshua 11:23
Yet, at the end of the Book of Joshau, the author of this book says this:
“Joshua was old…the LORD said to him, ‘very much of the land remains to be possessed.'” Jerusalem had not yet been taken (15:63). Parts of Ephraim had not been taken (16:10). Parts of Manasseh had not been taken (17:12-13).
In fact at the end of the Book of Joshua, Joshua has to persuade the Israelites to drive out the natives living in the land (23:4-5).
I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5 The Lord your God will push them back before you, and drive them out of your sight; and you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God promised you.
So much for “taking the whole land”, Joshua!
4. City of Hazor
In Joshua chapter 11 we read this:
Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and struck its king down with the sword. Before that time Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms. 11 And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire. 12 And all the towns of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took, and struck them with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua did burn. 14 All the spoil of these towns, and the livestock, the Israelites took for their booty; but all the people they struck down with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. 15 As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
But if one reads the next book in the Old Testament, Judges, chapter 4, Hazor and its Canaanite inhabitants are alive and well???
And we are asked to believe that a perfect, all-knowing deity “inspired” all these mistakes? Good grief.
5. And now the most implausible event found in the Book of Joshua: The Day the Earth Stopped Turning on its Axis (or literally, The Day the Sun Stood Still). Read it for yourself:
On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in midheaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel.
Just think of the chaos and weather related catastrophies that would occur if the earth stopped rotating on its axis for several hours. Yet, there is no geological evidence of this event. There is no archeological evidence of this event. No culture in the entire world wrote about this incredible event. Yet conservative Christians want us to believe it really happened. Good grief.
5. Not only is there no archeological evidence in Palestine for the stories of Conquest told in the Book of Joshua, there is no evidence anywhere in the region of any of the surrounding peoples recording this great and successful invasion and re-population of Canaan. None.
Once again, the evidence is overwhelming: these are tall tales, folks. Legends.