God makes an incredible promise to Joshua:

Joshua 1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2“Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

Still, Joshua's conquest is incomplete:

Joshua 23:4 Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5The Lord your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

All Joshua has to do is to just go and set foot on the land according to God's promise. Why does he not do it to finish the job?

  • Your question is answered in the beginning of the next book, Judges. I think that should have been part of the research for this question.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23 at 6:19

Before God made this incredible promise to Joshua, he promised the Israelites in Deuteronomy 11:

22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— 23then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. 24 Every place where you set your foot will be yours

What God promised Joshua was not new.

In addition to Perry's citation on Deut. 7:22 which predates the events, there is also the following passage, which was written after the events in Judges 2:

20 So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed the covenant I laid down for their fathers and has not heeded My voice, 21I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22In this way I will test whether Israel will keep the way of the LORD by walking in it as their fathers did.”

23That is why the LORD had left those nations in place and had not driven them out immediately by delivering them into the hand of Joshua.

All Joshua has to do is to just go and set foot on the land according to God's promise. Why does he not do it to finish the job?

Joshua did finish the job that God assigned to him according to Chapter 21:

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

It wasn't Joshua's job to completely clear out all the Canaanites in the entire promised land.


The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you. (Deut. 7:22, ESV)

God had already said he would gradually drive out the people so that the land would not go back to wild animals.

  • Good, simple and direct - great answer! +1.
    – Dottard
    Mar 23 at 19:48
  • It is noted that the reference is out of Exodus 23, 'in one year' it wouldn't be done.
    – user21676
    Mar 24 at 2:22

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