Sunday, November 19, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 11

Aftermath and the ripples
spraeding in time
spreading in space

[For full chapter, click here
"And it was, when Yavin, the king of Hatzor, heard..." This chapter continues directly from the last. As news of Joshua's victories spread, so does the war, as more kings join in to the original five. Once again, God assures Joshua of victory (Joshua is no longer the terrified new leader he was, and no longer needs to be told not to be "dismayed.") Once again, Joshua "surprises" the enemy encampment, and decimates the army that is arrayed against him.  There is a greater emphases on the destruction that follows the victory, this time with a focus on the inhabitatnts. Only one city is burned, like Jericho and Ai, but all the living are deprived of their "breath / soul" (neshama). 

On the one hand, this is repeatedly justified as fulfilling the commandment given by God to Moses; on the other hand, the chapter ends by emphasizing that none of the inhabitants agreed to make peace, other than the Gibonites. In an echo of Egypt and Pharoah, God "hardens their heart, to make battle against Israel, that they might be utterly destroyed." Would Joshua have made peace if they had not come in battle? The question is left hanging.

What stands out is the mood from specificity to generality. What begins as a specific battle againts four kings mentioned by name, becomes a generalized description of a years-long battle that spreads from the north down to the south--and indeed, at the end we find out that the war has lasted "many years."

The initial battles described in the book have the intensity of archetypes: Jericho and miracles; Ai as the move to strategy; the five kings as the first synethesis of human and divine action. Now we deal with the rippling after effcts of these intial shocks. The battles run one into the other, over a period of many years, until the land "rests from war."] 

No comments:

Post a Comment