My NOAB oh-so-helpfully points out that about half the cities that are supposedly conquered and utterly destroyed in this chapter show up in later books, unconquered and quite inhabited. That would definitely account for the inconsistencies in this chapter as well as the very repetitive second half.
Joshua, the book, feels pretty repetitive, and it’s hard to always think of something new to say about it. It’s a list of conquests that didn’t happen, genocides that never occurred, the same justification given over and over for them that ring decidedly hollow. Oh sure, there’s a lot of adventure in it, with conspiring kings hiding out in caves, and all of Joshua’s alliances and tactics. But Joshua and the Israelites aren’t doing anything we might consider noble with it. They’re not defending their land from invaders, they are the invaders, taking the land and slaughtering the inhabitants. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t how it actually happened, it’s just a constant cognitive dissonance between the reader feeling this is wrong and the author thinking this is how it ought to have been.
But repetitiveness means ritual, and while the Israelites may never have conquered the Promised Land literally back in the 3rd millennium BCE, they were retaking it in the 6th century BCE, after being forcefully relocated from it. Is this litany of victories, unmarred by the realities of history, a means of reclaiming a land they actually lost? Is the imagined conquest a kind of symbolism?
That may a way of getting past some of the nastiness of Joshua, but that doesn’t get around the whole “Oh, if only we’d massacred all these people we wouldn’t have been in this mess!” sentiment that permeates everything.
Anyway, too other little things. As a Lutheran I always find Joshua 10:12-14 amusing because it was Luther’s proof text against Copernicus. Proof that taking the Bible too literally will make you look like an idiot centuries later… also, that you shouldn’t let your followers take down what you say while drinking (this particular idea came up at one of his “Table Talks”).
The other is The Book of Jashar (v 13). What is the Book of Jashar? Well, it only shows up again in 2 Samuel 1:18, which is also a poem. So the Book of Jashar contains various poems, and post-dates David, at least, so remind me why I’m supposed to believe Joshua wrote this book himself or whatever it is that awful textbook I had to use at the community college said? Taking the Bible literally, it is drawn from different sources, and put together long after the events it describes. Source criticism = taking the Bible seriously and at its own words.
The Japanese: shikakeru “to start (a war)” (v 5), tachihadakaru “to stand in one’s way” (v 8), yodooshi “throughout the night,” kyuushuu suru “to swoop down on” (v 9), dageki “blow” (v 10), haisou suru “to flee, to retreat” (v 11), uttae “appeal, complaint, call” (v 14), horaana “cave, grotto” (v 17), haiko “rear” (v 19), karoujite “barely, scarcely,” toride “fortress,” gokuwazuka “negligible, minimal,” haizanhei “straggler” (v 20), chuushou suru “to slander, to defame” (v 21), fumitsukeru “to trample” (v 24), kyuuen “aid, rescue” (v 33), keishachi “sloping land,” seifuku suru “to conquer” (v 40), kaisen suru “to return in triumph” (v 43).