A Pause To Honor
Under the leadership of Joshua, Israel’s military record was by any fair measure a success. Except for the setback against Ai, and the gaffe with the Gibeonites, Israel had defeated 31 straight kings, including the battles to win Israel an easement up to the Jordan River. Joshua’s time had come to die; for he was 110 years old. God called for a pause in the battles for Israel to honor their leader.
But unlike Moses, Joshua named no successor. Joshua’s final action as leader was to announce the tribal division lines. And each tribe was commissioned to complete the battles as tribes, and not as a nation.
Joshua 14 gives us enough information to determine that Joshua’s leadership lasted seven years:
- Caleb was 40 years old when he was sent from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land. (Joshua 14:7)
- Kadesh Barnea occurred two years into the 40-year sojourn; there remained 38 years of wandering after Kadesh Barnea.
- Caleb was now 85 years old. Kadesh Barnea was 45 years prior. (Joshua 14:10)
- Therefore, there were 7 years between the end of the wanderings and this mid-battle pause. (45 minus 38)
- The demography was interesting: Joshua was 110; Caleb 85; and a lad just short of 20 during the Kadesh Barnea rebellion – the third oldest living Israelite – was now 65, the same age Joshua was during the Kadesh Barnea rebellion.
- That made Joshua 63 when Moses selected him – rather randomly – to be the army General during the battle against the Amalakites in Exodus 17:9 .
Placing the Exodus at 1446 BC and the Kadesh Barnea rebellion in 1444 BC, Israel entered Canaan in 1406 BC. And Joshua died in 1399 BC.
The next hard time marker will be in Judges 11:26, which indicates that Jephthah was judge in 1099 BC. Other time markers in Judges such as length of rebellions and length of individual judgeships cannot be used. Because many judgeships were local in nature, and many events in Judges take place simultaneously with no data to align them. For 49 years after, Jephthah will finish his term, Samson will judge; and Samuel will become judge. Then in 1050 BC, Samuel will anoint Saul as King of Israel.
1When I began seminary in 1988, one course at a time, a critic calculated I’d be in my 50’s when I graduated. I simply asked him to calculate how old I would be by then if I decided not to take classes.
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