How long did the conquest of Canaan last?

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By BibleAsk Team


The conquest of Canaan, as described in the Bible, was a significant event in ancient Israelite history, marking the fulfillment of God’s promise to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. To understand the duration of the conquest, we must examine the relevant biblical passages, consider historical context, and explore different interpretations.

The Conquest of Canaan

The hint to the answer of the question: “how long did the conquest of Canaan last” is found in Joshua 11:18; 14:7, 10, 11; 23:1; 24:29. Joshua 11:18 simply reads, “Joshua made war a long time with all those kings” but it doesn’t specify the period. And according to Joshua 14:7, 10, 11, Caleb was 40 years old when Moses sent him from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan, and 45 years had passed since that time.

The conquest of the land was by this time considered complete, as Joshua 11:23 indicate. “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war” (Joshua 11:23; 14:5).

This does not mean that all the land was under the Israelite rule, for God had promised only a slow taking over Canaan so that the land doesn’t become a wilderness. “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land” (Exodus 23:29, 30).

Since the mission of the spies took place on the second year of the Exodus (Deuteronomy 2:14), and the sojourning in the wilderness lasted 38 years, the conquest lasted between 6 and 7 years (45 – 38 = 7).

Then, Joshua ruled for “a long time after the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age” (Joshua 23:1). But how long was the period of his ruling is not given. And according to Joshua 24:29, Joshua was 110 years old when he died. So, Josephus (Antiquities v. 1. 29) divides Joshua’s life into three parts: 45 years before the Exodus, 40 years with Moses, and 25 years as sole leader.

The conquest of Canaan occurred during 1550–1200 BC, a period characterized by the decline of Egyptian hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean region and the emergence of new polities and ethnic groups. The biblical account of the conquest reflects a combination of historical events and religious beliefs.

The book of Deuteronomy presents a theological perspective on the conquest of Canaan, emphasizing the role of divine intervention and Israel’s obedience to God’s commands. According to this perspective, the duration of the conquest may be understood within the context of Israel’s fidelity to the covenant and God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.

Conclusion

The conquest of Canaan holds significance as a foundational event in Israelite history and theology, symbolizing the fulfillment of God’s promise to give the land to the descendants of Abraham and the establishment of Israel as a chosen people.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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