Reading these stories from Joshua and Judges reminds us again to read these texts as stories, not as history.
The ancients who gathered and edited Israel’s memories committed themselves to recollecting the tales and events that created the people of Israel. These remembrances name the national identity of a people. How we tell the story of our past origins can influence how we understand our shape and purpose for both the present and future.
The writers of Joshua craft a story of a unified, coordinated effort by a united people to follow Yahweh and claim the Promised Land. The writers of Judges describe a hodge podge tribal people led by various local judges. Each book is written from a particular perspective for a particular purpose. But woven throughout both are tales of faithfulness and unfaithfulness, of obedience and arrogance, of peaceful cooperation and inhumane warfare.
Since none of us knows what really happened so many centuries ago, we must read these stories with both eyes open. Instead of asking: what happened, we do better to ask: what does this mean? What does this tell us about the people and how they understood the God in Whom they believed?
Keep reading, my friends. This is well worth your effort.
Living in The Story blog
As You Read resource Weeks 20-23