Joshua 16: Why The Canaanites Were (Almost) Wiped Out

The Canaanites were supposed to be destroyed, right? Like, all of them, gone. Isn’t that what God said?

If so, why have I read the following two passages in the last two chapters:

 But the people of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so the Jebusites live with the people of Judah in Jerusalem to this day . . . .

They did not, however, drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer: so the Canaanites have lived within Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labour.

If you throw in that group of Gibeonites from a few chapters ago, you start to get the suspicion that Israel isn’t all that great at the whole “drive out the people” thing. What does this mean?

Option 1: The Initial “Driving Out” Was All They Needed

Maybe all God really wanted them to do was completed in Joshua’s wars. Anything else is bonus.  All Israel needed to do was overthrow the first 31 Kings and their people and then they could rest. There is some evidence for that in the fact that no one commands Caleb to take the extra cities, but Joshua blesses him anyway. Also, there is no punishment for leaving the previously mentioned Jebusites and Canaanites alive.

Option 2: Israel Settled

Is it possible that they all just got tired? I mean, 31 kings is no small thing! Some guy in Judah was all like, “Yeah, you know what? It doesn’t really bother me that the Jebusites are still alive. I can live with that. Can you? Yeah? Good. Let’s have a nap.”

Option 3: They Got All Anachronistic

“Hey, maybe all this slaughter is going to make it more difficult for us to be seen as a people that were created to ‘bless the nations’. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t exactly felt like the source of blessing in the last few years, know what I mean? Maybe we should stop.”

Option 4: Why Not Have Slaves When You Can Have Slaves?

The Gibeonites have to do forced labor, why can’t we have the Canaanites too?

I may be overstepping here with my interpretation, but does anyone else find it interesting that the children of slaves have now begun enslaving people? I can’t really think of a good reason why this should happen. Granted, just because I can’t think of one doesn’t mean there isn’t, but still.

Seems to me like there are some people out there who are forgetting their story. 

Why do you think Israel didn’t drive out the Jebusites and Canaanites?


4 responses

  1. I always thought they settled–that they compromised. Bearing in mind that the Bible presents this as a historical narrative, what would the “types and shadows” interpretation be? Maybe the point is they couldn’t drive out “sin” on their own?

  2. You will get around to it in a year or so, but God wanted Saul to wipe out some enemies. It was still going on. Saul didn’t. So, I agree with Chad, I think it was settling for what they wanted rather than what God wanted.

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