Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., ‘Only a Distant Memory: Old Testament Allusions to Joshua’s Days’, Ex Auditu 16 (2000), 131-48.
The survival of Canaanite Rahab and the Gibeonites show there were exceptions to the mandate that pagans be destroyed. Hubbard tracks allusions and echoes of Joshua in the Deuteronomic History and the Prophets to see whether they reaffirm, reformulate, or relativise its problematic aspects (131-32).
After the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua, Joshua hardly figures at all in later books, overshadowed by Moses and Aaron. Most allusions occur in brief historical resumés of Yahweh’s deeds on behalf of Israel. Some texts exhibit an inclusivist spirit towards non-Israelites, reaching full expression in Ezekiel 47-48 where it is decreed that resident aliens may own land and belong to Israelite tribes.
Such texts show a ‘trajectory’ away from harsher aspects of the book of Joshua, as Israelite theologians work out the logic of their theological traditions on the one hand and historical experience on the other hand (142). Joshua’s policy is limited to a unique moment in Israelite history, and the trajectory of God’s plan for humanity points in a more ‘inclusive’ direction (143).
The book of Joshua, he claims, has been misread:
‘By “misreading” it, I mean that we tend to read it as if it had been written yesterday by a Christian rather than 2500 years ago by an Israelite and as a manual for ethics. We judge it by modern Christian standards of ethics and, on that basis, condemn its Nazi-esque policy toward Canaan. In my view, this approach is unfair to the book because it judges the book by an ethical standard which did not exist when it originated – in other words, to misread it. To read Joshua properly is to read it within its own original context, on its own cultural terms, before screening it by later standards’ (142).