1. Exposition

Why are these lists included in Joshua if most of the details within them has already been shared elsewhere?

Joshua 12:7–24 (ESV)

7 And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir (and Joshua gave their land to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their allotments,

There are a number of possible reasons as to why God the Holy Spirit inspired the author of Joshua (2 Peter 1:20–21) to include this list:

  • The detailed listing of the kings and their cities adds to the impressiveness of Israel’s triumph, a small nation having defeated so many kings who were stronger and larger than they.1

  • In the ancient Near East, pagan kings would often celebrate their conquests by listing the cities that they captured or destroyed. The emphasis would be on their achievement (e.g., I have conquered…). In Joshua’s list, the emphasis is on Joshua and the Israelites and not on Joshua only. This would then serve to show that it was a combined effort of obedience, a total triumph that comes when the one God, the Lord, leads and fights for a united Israel.2

  • Along with emphasizing the greatness of God who works on behalf of Israel, the list also highlights the leadership of Joshua who follows in the example of Moses by completing the task which the Lord had given to Moses.3

  • Finally, the list serves as a living picture of the goodness of God, proving that he has worked to fulfil the covenant made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18–21).4