Do v 2-8 even make sense? The covenant of circumcision goes way back (see Genesis 17 and Leviticus 12), so why weren’t the Israelites performing it all along with each new baby boy? How come all of a sudden there’s a big rush to get everyone ‘done’? And what’s the point of the little story in verses 13-15? Joshua met some kind of angel, or maybe he was just hallucinating. It doesn’t say, which renders it meaningless. Perhaps the author added it in to parallel the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel, but it falls flat because it is incomplete.
This should be familiar, but it’s nuts for several reasons. First, there was no ‘battle’ of Jericho, because no one fought. They just marched and blew trumpets and yelled, and the walls fell, and that was that. Huh? Did the vibrations of thousands of people marching and yelling cause the walls to crumble? Second, v 21 tells us that the Israelites killed everyone, not just people, but all the livestock as well. Stupid! Food sources and working animals are the most valuable resources – why destroy them? Third, the Israelites brought out Rahab and her family (v 22-23) – where the heck were they during the destruction? Certainly not in their home on the city wall. Fourth, so much for Joshua’s curse (v 26) – last I looked, Jericho was still on the map.
This is based on a very scary premise – that the sins of a single person can be responsible for the downfall of a whole community. Seriously? One man stealing a few trinkets caused the army to lose a battle?? Is this why fundamentalist societies place so much stress on keeping individuals in line? I was raised quite differently – to believe that we are each responsible for our own actions. But Joshua goes on a witch hunt to rout out the guilty party. And then the tribe stones not only the culprit, but his whole family. This is biblical morality??
The Israelites capture Ai on their second attempt (now that they’ve rid the tribe of their betrayer). They kill all 12,000 inhabitants, then impale the king on a pole and leave the body on display. And afterward they hold a worship service to celebrate. I looked up Ai – Wikipedia says it’s widely thought of as the archeological site of Et-Tell. But as you can see here, there may be a small problem with that – it was uninhabited during the time of Joshua.