These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan,from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, including all the eastern side of the Arabah…
Chapter 12 is a summary of Israel’s conquests from the times when Moses was guiding Israel around from Egypt, until that point in time when Joshua was very old and at the end of his life. Not only is this Israel’s history of conquests, this is also a history of how the Canaan area came to be divided.
Admittedly sections like this in the Bible (and there are many!) lack a narrative and take on a much more informational, historical voice. However, that is no excuse to skip right over them to the more exciting parts, though it is totally tempting, and I am guilty of doing that often. I try not to skip over it, but instead, search for something to learn. After all, ALL of scripture is inspired by God and worthy for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
I like to use Matthew Henry’s biblical commentary because it is free and if you are using Biblegateway.com, you can simply click on it over to the right to learn more about your passage. Mr. Henry says
Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies, nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church be suffered to eclipse and diminish the just honour of those who have gone before them, and who were the blessings and ornaments of their day. commentary
Sure, Joshua’s achievements were all very admirable but God is showing us through scripture that we must not forget the wonderful miracles and saints that came before us. God was the one who brought both Joshua and Moses forward out of the crowd and called them to lead and proclaim Israel’s salvation.
God, thank you for sending us so many wonderful people to speak your truth into the world. Thank you for your Word which is living and active, and still has more layers than we could ever ponder in a lifetime. Please help us to stay persistent in our pursuing of relationship with you through genuine prayer and quiet time with You.