Read Josh 11:5-9
Israel’s enemies combine and bring their armies, plus horses and chariots, to a staging point in the mountains ready to march on Israel’s camp. But chariots are hard to use in mountain warfare and Joshua traps them before they can move out onto the Israelite plain. Destroying the chariots and horses after the battle might seem strange, but the Israelites wouldn’t have known how to use them—it’s just the same as destroying cities that they don’t know how to defend. Israel’s enemy are far more advanced in terms of weaponry and siege craft. But Israel has numbers, wise strategy, and God on its side.
Of course, killing the horses, burning the cities, killing women and children, this begs the question, did the Israelites really murder everyone in their path?
Read Joshua 8:35, 9:23, 13:13, Judges 1:19
Who were the “aliens” in their midst if not non-Israelites living among them? Who were the slaves? And what about all the cities “in the lowlands” that were not conquered because their towns had walls and their armies had chariots. We often imagine the book of Joshua as describing how a country changed hands, but this wasn’t a country, just an area of land occupied by competing tribes with shifting alliances. By the end of the book, it’s still a land occupied by competing tribes. Some of those tribes are Israelites.