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The Conquest of the Land
(Joshua 3-12)

Readers are given a good clue as to the direction of the narrative when the captain of YHWH’s army comes to Joshua with a sword in his hand (5:13). He tells Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy” (5:15). Moses’ sign of God’s presence was a burning bush; Joshua’s is a captain of an army with drawn sword. This depiction of God the divine warrior is an important one for feminist readers on a number of levels. On whose behalf does God conquer? Who is conquered and why? How are the conquered given voice in the text? Who controls this narrative? Whose perspective is not included? For many, the conquest of the promised land is a story of ultimate liberation, the fitting conclusion to the exodus narrative in which God intervenes to save an oppressed people and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. The slave spiritual “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” memorializes this interpretation of the story and evidences the power of this narrative to shape the theological imagination of a suffering people, who are ultimately confident in the liberating power of God. Moreover, this interpretation aligns with the tone of Joshua as a whole, which celebrates with enthusiastic optimism the power of God to act on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized Israelites and bring them to a place of freedom…

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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