Promised Land Wars

Bible's First Battles    -    Wilderness Wars
Moses' Last Conflicts    -    Promised Land Wars
Joshua's Greatest Victory   -   Early Civil Wars
Israel Battles the Jews
This fourth timeline in our series of Biblical wars covers the initial battles, led by Joshua, carried out to take possession of the Promised Land west of the Jordan River. Israel crossed over the river to begin claiming this inheritance in 1405 B.C. when Joshua was eighty-five years old.

While this timeline lists, in chronological order, the wars Israel fought for land promised to them, the Bible is unclear as to the exact year most of them occurred. What is known is that Joshua attacked Jericho and Ai in 1405 and that all the conflicts ended within seven years after crossing the Jordan.

Spring 1405 B.C.
Jericho's walls come tumbling down!
Joshua 6

Jericho, the first Promised Land city attacked by Israel, is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is also believed to have the oldest known protective city wall so far discovered and the remains of one of the oldest stone towers in existence.

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The strongly fortified city, aware that the Israelites will soon attack it, forbids anyone from entering or leaving it (Joshua 6:1). Following God's instructions, Joshua has the men of war march once around the city for six successive days. Accompanying them are seven priests blowing trumpets who march in front of the Ark of the Covenant.

God's people, on the seventh day, march around Jericho seven times while the priests blow their trumpets. Then, after a prolonged horn blast signals the people to shout loudly, Jericho's mighty walls miraculously fall down! All those in the city, including animals, are killed with the exception of Rahab the harlot and her family (Joshua 6:21 - 23).

Joshua, after the city is utterly destroyed, declares a curse on anyone who rebuilds it (Joshua 6:26). It is prophesied that anyone attempting to restore Jericho will lose both firstborn and youngest son as the price for his folly. More than five hundred years later, during the time of Israel's King Ahab, this prophecy comes true when a man named Hiel rebuilds Jericho (1Kings 16:33 - 34).

1405
Defeated by sin, then victory over Ai
Joshua 7 - 8

Ai, the second Promised Land city the Israelites attack, was believed to be an easy victory since spies reported it had so few people (Joshua 7:2 - 3). Joshua, therefore, sends a force of only 3,000 men to overtake the city. To the army's surprise, they are not only repelled but also suffer the loss of thirty-six lives!

Stunned by the loss at Ai, Joshua fasts and prays in front of the Ark. While he is praying the Lord informs him that a grievous sin, secretly committed by someone while Jericho was being overrun, caused His people to be cursed and lose the battle (Joshua 7:10 - 13).

Ultimately, it is discovered that a man named Achan, against God's command (see Joshua 6:18 - 19), lusted after Jericho's treasures and took some for himself. The penalty for his greed is that he, his animals (and possibly his entire family as accomplices) receive the death penalty via stoning. The Lord's anger is quelled when the bodies, along with the illegal booty from Jericho, are burned (Joshua 7:24 - 26).

Joshua and his new force of 30,000 men (ten times more than in the first conflict, see Joshua 8:1) attack Ai a second time. They ambush the city and overrun it, killing all its inhabitants, taking all its booty, and burning it to the ground.

1405 - 1398
Allied forces defeated at Gibeon
Joshua 10:8 - 26

The king of Jerusalem, upon hearing of a peace treaty between Gibeon and the Israelites, wages war against the city with a confederation of four other Amorite kings (the rulers of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon). The people of Gibeon, who had recently lied and tricked Joshua into a peace agreement with them (see Joshua 9), now call upon him to save them!

God reveals to Joshua that not only should he help the Gibeonites but also that the enemy will be delivered into his hands (Joshua 10:8). The Lord not only allows fear to come upon Jerusalem's king and his allies, he also miraculously rains huge hailstones upon their heads killing many of them!

Then, in one of the most unique Biblical miracles, God causes the sun to slow (or possibly stand still) in the sky in order to allow more time for his people to complete their victory (Joshua 10:12 - 14)!

The five allied Amorite kings, after their humiliating defeat at Gibeon, flee the battlefield and hide inside a cave. Joshua, however, is informed of where they are hiding and has them executed (Joshua 10:16 - 28).

1405 - 1398
Quick victory over Libnah
Joshua 10:29 - 30

Soon after the victory over the five Amorite kings, Joshua fights a war against the king of Libnah. He gains a quick victory and kills all the inhabitants of the city including the king. Although the city is within the Promised Land territory given by lot to Judah (Joshua 15:42), it becomes one of forty-eight cities allocated for use by the tribe of Levi (Joshua 21:13).

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References
Bible Knowledge Commentary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on Old Testament
Willmington's Complete Guide to Bible Knowledge


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