Israel under the Ban and Conquering Ai:
Israel is immediately placed under “the Ban” (or “herem”) for destruction because Achan from their camp had violated the Lord’s commands by taking goods from Jericho that were under the ban. The Israelites are subsequently defeated by the Amorites at Ai. Joshua then inquires who disobeyed the Lord’s commands and took goods under the ban from Jericho. Achan confesses to having taken the goods in his greed. Achan is then taken outside the camp and stoned to death, then “..the anger of the Lord relented.” (Josh. 7:26) Once Achan is removed then Israel is able to conquer Ai with the Lord’s blessing. “Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will deliver it into your power.” (Josh. 8:18) Israel then ambushed Ai, captured it and burnt it to the ground, destroying the entire population of the city.
Renewal of the Covenant at Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal:
Once Jericho and Ai are conquered, Joshua and the Israelites head north to Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerezim, the locations where Moses had directed them to do the Covenant-Renewal ceremony once they were in the Promised Land (Deut. 27:1-26). They are to erect twelve stones with a copy of the Law that Moses has given them. Half shall stand on Mt. Gerezim to bless the people and the other half shall stand on Mt. Ebal for the curse. There the Israelites “read aloud all the words of the Las, the blessings and the curses..” (Josh. 8:34)
The Gibeonites Spared:
A people called the Gibeonites, apparently part of the Hivites community, came to Joshua and offered to be their slaves if they would only not kill them, like they did Jericho and Ai. Joshua and the Israelites’ fame had spread all across the land and the Canaanites were in fear of God and the Israelites’ attacking them. Joshua decides to enter into an oath with them to spare them but they are made to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” for the Israelites. (Josh. 9:27) Just like Rahab, they are a pagan people who were shown mercy because they feared God and entered into covenant with his people.
Joshua’s Miraculous Victory over Gibeon:
From their base-camp at Gilgal, Joshua and the Israelites attacked the city of Gibeon, as five Amorite kings (of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon) united against Israel. Yet, the Lord delivered them into Israel’s hands, and inflicted “a great slaughter on them at Gibeon..” (Josh. 10:10) As the Amorites fled, Joshua and his troops pursued them. At this point a miraculous divine intervention of hailstones are rained down of the Amorites killing many of them. “..the Lord hurled great stones from the sky above them all the way to Azekah, killing many. More died from these hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword.” (Josh. 10:11) Joshua then prayed to God that the day last longer, the sun and moon would miraculously not move, so he could pursue his total victory. “The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.” (Josh. 10:13) The miraculous halting of the sun in the sky let daylight persist indefinitely while the Israelites pursued and destroyed the Amorites and Gibeonites. Joshua eventually finds in a cave, and kills the five Amorite kings as well. Thus, the miraculous hailstorm and halting of the sun helped Joshua and the Israelites to victory.
Joshua Conquers the Entire Countryside:
“So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.” (Josh. 10:40) From there, all the lands and kings of Canaan were captured by Joshua in a single campaign, as “the God of Israel, fought for Israel.” (Josh. 10:42) The Israelites then return to Gilgal, which remains their basecamp of operations for all their military campaigns in the Promised Land.
Conquering the Northern Confederacy:
After hearing of the Israelites’ victories, the northern Canaanite peoples formed a confederacy and attempted to attack Joshua and the Israelites. “And they came out, with all their troops, a great host, in number like the sand that is upon the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces, and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.” (Josh. 11:4-5) Yet, in another surprise attack, Joshua and the Israelites “struck them all down, leaving no survivors.” (Josh. 11:8)
Ongoing Conquest of Canaan:
“So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he took all their kings, and smote them, and put them to death. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; they took all in battle. For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be utterly destroyed, and should receive no mercy but be exterminated, as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Josh. 11:16-20) The Lord had placed all of the Canaanites under the ban (“herem”) for total destruction. The reasons for this are multifaceted. One of the reasons was that they were pagan idolaters who offered human and child sacrifice to demon-gods.
Destruction of the Anakim:
Another reason for the herem, total-destruction of the Canaanites was the presence of the giant Anakim and Rephaim, who were tall people opposed to the will of God. Who they were is not exactly known, but may be by-products of the fallen angels (Gen. 6:1-4). “And Joshua came at that time, and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, did some remain.” (Josh. 11:21-22) Joshua and the Israelites completely wiped-out the Anakim, as the Lord had commanded them. Yet, only a few are left in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod. Gath is where David in the future will end up fighting the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:4), perhaps one of these Anakim remnants that Joshua failed to kill.
Joshua Conquers All of Canaan, and there is Peace in the Land:
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 11:23) When sin (allegorically symbolized by the Canaanites and Anakim) is conquered, then you will have peace.