The story in Joshua is of a very violent entry into the land of Canaan. Archeology does not seem to bear out the violent entry theory. Archeology shows that Egyptians made their buildings out of stone, not mud, brick, and straw as Exodus stipulates. Babylon did. The writer transposes the oppression under the Babylonians back in time to the epic story of the Hebrew people suffering in Egypt, so the people can relate to the story. The reason for the violence being in the Joshua is that the anger the Jewish people had against Babylon is transposed back into time to the Canaanites. “If only we had eradicated all temptation to follow the ways of the nations, God would never have gotten angry and sent Babylon to destroy us. We should not only be angry with Babylon, but with the Canaanites too.”
Genesis 9 tells us, “I establish my Brit with you, your descendants after you, and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the tame animals, and all the wild animals that were with you—all that came out of the ark. I establish my Brit with you, never again will I destroy all creatures with the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” The contract is with all flesh, with all the land, not just mankind.
Leviticus 25 tells us, “The Personal Name told Moses on Mount Sinai, “Speak to those who quarrel with God and tell them. When you enter the land that I am giving you, let the land, too, keep a Sabbath for the Personal Name. For six years, you may sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyard, gathering in their produce. During the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, a Sabbath for the Personal Name, when you will neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”
The next chapter tells us, “I will scatter you among the nations at the point of my drawn sword, leaving your countryside desolate and your cities deserted. During the time it lies waste, the land will make up for its lost Sabbaths, while you are in the land of your enemies. The land will have rest and make up for its Sabbaths during all the time that it lies desolate, enjoying the rest that you would not let it have on your Sabbaths when you lived there.”
This is what happened during the Babylonian Exile. The writer of Leviticus looks back in time, through the reign of the kings, the rustic life the people had before the kings, and all the way back to Joshua and sees what America saw during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. America, the land of the empty people, אמי רקה , did not give the land its rest, so God made provisions for the land to take its rest. We find the same logic today, We listen to people like Sean Hannity tell his audience at Faux Noise how prideful the liberals are for claiming people could cause global warming. The liberals are doing the same as the prophets did before them. They look into the future and project what will happen, given the best scientific evidence, if things do not change.
The writer of “J” is very concerned for the land. He knows that if we do not take care of the land, the land will cry out to God and God will come down and get even. He will use climate change as the mechanism through which the world gets even. The land will have its rest. If we do not give the land its rest, God will give the land its rest and we will be part of the land again, six feet under the surface of the land. It is only a matter if we will listen to Sean Hannity and his ilk at Faux Noise, or if we will listen to God.
Torah, in particular the stories of life in the land, Joshua, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings is one large story, of living in the land, sometimes guarding and keeping the garden, sometimes living in loose confederation, as America did before our modern constitution. Sometimes they strove as we did to get back to the old Articles of Federation, as the south did in the 1860’s, sometimes with a strong central government, Washington D.C., Jerusalem, and sometimes with limited government/states rights, which allowed for the enslavement of peoples, north and south. Sometimes, we did not care for the land. Those old enough remember the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland Ohio, Love Canal, the Valdez Oil Disaster and the Deep Water Horizon. As Leviticus 26 predicts, when we guard and care for the garden, things go well. When we do not care for the garden, the land will have its rest. That is the reason we read Joshua, Samuel, and Kings.