Let’s start with three simple questions:1. Who wrote laws on tablets of stone? God? Moses? Joshua?
Read Joshua 8:32. Maybe writing on stone was different from their usual writing. Could Moses have written most of his documents on papyrus, as he learned in Egypt? If so, his original writings were probably falling apart by now—papyrus is notoriously hard to preserve. Some people suggest the lack of pre-Babylonian copies of documents means the Old Testament stories were “invented” during the exile in Babylon, but perhaps it just means they weren’t written down on very durable materials. The oldest versions were copied—the Bible says so, right here—and chances are most copies weren’t on stone and have therefore been lost. But these ancient documents, copied, recopied, transcribed, and later translated, form the reliable basis of our Old Testament.2. How did the Israelites enter Canaan?
Read Joshua 3:14-17. The Israelites crossed the Jordan somewhere near Jericho, and the river ran dry allowing them to cross. The Bible even tells us how the river ran dry, mentioning a mud-slide at Adamah, probably triggered by an earthquake. We now know where Adamah was, and that mudslides really do make the river run dry (though the timing’s pretty miraculous—God really does have perfect timing). God works through nature, and doesn’t mind telling us so.3. Where did the Israelites enter Canaan?
Read 2:1. This takes place while the tribes prepare to cross the Jordan. But Jericho is a long way north of where the Israelites would end up if they walked straight to Canaan from Mount Sinai, wherever you place Mount Sinai. On their first attempt to enter the Promised Land, the Israelites fail and end up spending a generation “wandering” in the desert. But that attempt probably took place way down in the south, and the wandering may not have been as purposeless as we imagine.