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Introduccin al Libro de Josu

Estudio del AT
Texto en ingls tomado de:
Dozeman, Thomas, Joshua 1-12, The Anchor Yale Bible, Volume 6b, Yale University Press,
2015, 43-54.
Central Themes and Literary Structure
The summary of the major themes in Josh separates into four sections: (1) Plot of Holy
War, (2) Procession of the Ark, (3) Wars Against Kings and Royal Cities, and (5) Promised
Land. The initial section, Plot of Holy War, provides an overview of the two-part
structure of Josh 1-12, which includes the procession of the ark in Josh 2-8 and the war
against the indigenous kings in Josh 9-12. Th e plot provides the framework for exploring
individual themes that support the unique theology of holy war in the book. Procession of
the Ark examines the authors view of divine presence in the ark, the focus on holiness in
the execution of the ban, the anticultural function of aniconism, and the monotheistic
worldview of the book of Joshua. Wars Against Kings and Royal Cities explores the
social implications of the political-religious theology of the ark. Promised Land
investigates the rural utopian vision advanced in the book of Joshua as a countercultural
antidote to the urban society represented by the city-states of the dominant indigenous
nations.
Plot of holy war
Th e central theological theme in Josh 1-12 is the holy war against the indigenous kings and
royal cities in order to realize the divine promise of land. Th e theme of holy war provides
the plot structure to Josh 1-12, which is developed in two stages: the entry of the ark into
the land in Josh 2-8, and the war of Joshua against the indigenous nations in Josh 9-12.
The initial stage of holy war in Josh 2-8 describes the divine possession of the promised
land through the procession of the ark to the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim. Th e
procession of the ark profi les a form of Yahwism that explores the theme of the land as
divine gift (3,1-5,12); the condemnation of royal cities as a source of pollution (5,136,27);
the need to maintain religious purity through a strict form of social exclusion, reinforced by
a monotheistic and aniconic form of religion, in which precious metals are banned (Josh 7);
and the prominent role of the Torah at the central cultic location of Ebal and Gerizim near
Shechem (Josh 8). Th e theology of divine cultic presence coupled with the execution of the
ban on the royal cities of the indigenous nations weave together a theology of holy war that
is unique to the book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible.
The second stage of holy war is the conflict between Joshua and the indigenous nations in
Josh 9-12. Th e result of Joshuas successful campaign is that the land had rest from war
(11,23). Although the author of Josh 9-12 is writing in the tradition of the royal conquest
accounts, the ideology of Josh 9-12 represents the rejection of the rule of kings and royal
cities. Th e religious authority for the ideology in Josh 9-12, in which a tribal society
replaces kings and their royal cities, springs from the aniconic form of Yahwism established

in the procession of the ark in Josh 2-8 and symbolized in the altar of uncut stones at Ebal
and Gerizim.
The symbolism of the altar is not confi ned to the religious rituals associated with the ark in
Josh 2-8; it is also carried over into Josh 9-12 to represent a form of social power that justifi
es waging an iconoclastic war against kings and royal cities (Z. Bahrani, 2018: 16). The
correct behavior in war for the author of Joshua is established in the procession of the ark in
Josh 2-8. Th e wars of Joshua, like the battle of Yahweh against Jericho and Ai, are not for
the purpose of conquering kings but of purging them altogether from the promised land and
in the process returning the royal cities to a more natural state of rubble. Only after the
extermination of kings and the eradication of all royal cities will the promised land have
peace from war (11,23).
Procession of the ark
The ark is the central cultic object in Joshua. It appears thirty times in the book and is
described in a variety of ways, including the ark, the ark of the covenant, the ark of
Yahweh, and the ark of the testimony. Given this prominence, where the ark is
mentioned in the book is noteworthy, and it is limited to four stories in the MT version of
Joshua: (1) the crossing of the Jordan (3,1-5,12), (2) the destruction of Jericho (5,13 6,27),
(3) the intercession of Joshua for the presence of Yahweh after the sin of Achan (7,126),
and (4) the writing of the Torah on stones at the covenant ceremony on the mountains of
Ebal and Gerizim (8,1-35). Th e LXX excludes the reference to the ark in the intercession
of Joshua in Josh 7,6 and adds a reference to the ark in Josh 24,33a by concluding the book
with the procession of the ark around the grave of Eleazar the priest at the northern location
of Gabaath (Hebrew, Gibeah). When the MT version of the four scenes is read as a
continuous narrative, Josh 3-6 describes the theology of divine cultic presence in the book
of Joshua. The spying on Jericho and the confession of Rahab in Josh 4, in which she states
that Yahweh has given the land to Israel, sets the stage for the procession of the ark in Josh
3-8 from Shittim, on the east side of the Jordan River, to the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim
at Shechem in the promised land.
Interpreters do not read Josh 2-8 as a continuous narrative about the ark, because they judge
the story of Rahab in Josh 2 and the additional four stories of the ark to be only loosely
related, or, in the case of the ritual reading of the Torah at Ebal and Gerizim, to be
hopelessly out of context. Noth, for example, recognized the central role of the ark in the
crossing of the Jordan, but he concluded that the ark was a late addition to the episode
about the fall of Jericho and thus not a motif that originally related this story to the crossing
of the Jordan (1971b: 40-43). L. Schwienhorst agreed with Noth (1986: 23-28) and also
eliminated the motif of the ark from the original version of the destruction of Jericho in
Josh . Fritz removed the ark from the intercession of Joshua in Josh 6, thus also detaching
this story from a larger narrative about the ark (1994: 84-81). Soggin went so far as to
relocate the fi nal occurrence of the ark at Ebal and Gerizim to the end of the book of
Joshua (1972: 220-31). Nelson does not follow the literary reconstruction of Soggin, but he
too describes the writing of the Torah as a fl oating pericope that is isolated from its

context (1997a: 116-17). As a result, although interpreters recognize the central role of the
ark in the crossing of the Jordan, they have not fully explored the function of the ark
throughout the four scenes of Josh 3-8.
My interpretation begins with a survey of the literature on the ark in the Hebrew Bible. The
review allows for the comparison of the procession of the ark in Josh 3-8 with other
accounts of the ark, focusing on the following themes: (1) religious procession, (2) divine
cultic presence, (3) the ban, (4) aniconic religion, and (5) monotheism. The interpretation
illustrates the authors selective use of pentateuchal tradition to construct a politicalreligious story of holy war in Josh 1-12.