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According to Joshua 24:29 Joshua died at the age of 110. I am wondering how many years elapsed between the Entry in the Holy Land (the Conquest) and his death (or alternatively: how old was he at the beginning of the Conquest). In addition I am trying to figure out how many years passed since his death till the first oppression at the beginning of the Judges period. I tried to find that information in the Bible but I couldn’t. The following Bible verses seem to be relevant:

Judges 2:7 (NIV): "The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel."

And this is the first oppression:

Judges 3:8 (NIV) “The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.”

These two verses possibly imply Joshua was already dead at the beginning of the first oppression.

So I am curious what do Christian chronologists or Jewish tradition say on the subject. I came across this Judaism.StackExchange Question: How old was Joshua at the time of the spies?. According to one of the answers Joshua was 43 years old at the time of the spies which implies he was 81 at the beginning of the Conquest. Could this be true and if so, it remains the second question: How many years between his death and the first oppression?

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Bible Chronology Timeline states this:

  • Like all other ancient time records, those of the Bible present problems. In the first place, the records are often incomplete. In the second, we cannot always be sure that we know the method by which the ancients reckoned; for example, whether they reckoned the year as beginning in the spring or the autumn, or whether inclusive reckoning was used in such a phrase as “three years.” Again, it is not always possible to synchronize Biblical with secular chronology.

The point we can take away from this is that our numbers won't likely be exact. We will need to make some assumptions that are not stated.

Since it's short, let me site the question you referenced:

Sefer Hadoros & Zemach David says Yehoshua was born in 2406 and the story of the Meraglim was in 2449, making him 43 years old. - Gershon Gold (How old was Joshua at the time of the spies?)

We know that Joshua 14:7 tells us that Caleb was 40 years of age when he helped spy out the land of Canaan while verse 10 says that now he is 85 year of age:

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. - Joshua 14:7 (NKJV)

And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. - Joshua 14:10 (NKJV)

Based on the estimation that Joshua was between 30 to 43 years old during the espionage of the land, it can be inferred that he would have been between 69 to 82 years old upon Israel's entry into the Promised Land, following 39 years of wandering in the wilderness. This calculation is derived by adding the 39 years of wandering to the initial estimate of Joshua's age.

We also know that Joshua died at 110 year of age:

Now it came to pass after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old. - Joshua 24:29 NKJV

Bible Chronology Timeline has a possible different number:

Joshua’s Death and the Ensuing Apostasy.—The next chronological item, an uncertain one, is the death of Joshua at the age of 110 (Joshua 24:29). It was “many days” after the end of the war that Joshua called the people together, and told them, “Behold, I have divided unto you … an inheritance for your tribes” (Joshua 23:4), and bade them farewell with, “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth” (verse 14). If this was soon after the division of the land at Gilgal and Shiloh, then Joshua was nearing 110 years of age at the time Caleb was 85, was about 65 when he acted as one of the 12 spies, and was a centenarian when he led the Israelites into Canaan. If, however, he was about Caleb’s age, his death took place 25 years after the end of the war. Thus the interval between the entry into Canaan and the first judge has a wide margin of uncertainty. In either case, we must allow a considerable period after Joshua’s death before the first judges, for it was after the apostasy of the generation that succeeded Joshua that the oppressions began, and the judges were raised up to deliver the Israelites.

What about your second question?

How many years between his death and the first oppression?

The chronology of the period of the judges presents problems if we attempt to place all the events in consecutive order. There is no need to doubt the figures, but the problem of harmonizing them with the events described in the end of the book of Joshua and the beginning of 1 Samuel has given rise to varying opinions and solutions. 1

Joshua 2:7 says:

So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

Biblical Chronology Timeline calls these the "x years" simple because we don't know how long this was.

Another timeline says this:

The information given in I Kings 6:1 allows us to construct a set of bookends, if you will, for the period of the judges: A beginning and ending date inside of which to attempt to build a chronology. The current accepted date for the reign of Solomon is 970-930 BC following Thiele [7]. Thus, the fourth year of his reign would be 966 BC. Subtracting 480 years from this date gives us a date of 1446 BC for the Exodus. Adding back the 40-year period between the Exodus and the entry into Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:3, Joshua 4:19) gives us a starting date of 1406 BC and the bookend on the left. On the right side we can subtract from the fourth year of the reign of Solomon the four years of his reign, and forty years for the reign of David (II Samuel 5:4-5). This puts the right bookend at 1010 BC at the death of Saul.

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[7] Thiele, Edwin R.; The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings; Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, © 1983

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For the full answer

I have already written a document that deals with this question in greater detail. The first four questions in the appendix from page 57 onwards address the Joshua side of things specifically, so I won't repeat myself massively here. I would recommend going to that document to work through the methodology for this and the whole Judges period (If you download the document you can view all of the graphics in glorious HQ).

I also have these two posts on here discussing the Judges time period:

When was the book of Ruth Set

Is There A Chronology Issue In The Book Of Judges

Here is the Briefest Summary

Judges is a math puzzle. 1 Kings 6:1 gives us a total of 480 years. Subtracting the years of Solomon's reign (4), David's reign (40), and Saul's reign (40), then subtracting the years in the Wildnerness (40) and the years of the conquest (6 as can be derived from Caleb's statements, they spied out the land in the second year). 480-130 years = 350 Years for the Judges period.

The total numerical data within (410 years adding oppressions, rests and judgeships) and around Judges (60 years in 1 Samuel 1-7) gives you 470 years of data for a 350-year period.

Judges 11:26 is the only event within Judges that is externally dated to another date; 300 years since the final year of wilderness wanderings, which would make 294 years since the end of the conquest. If we add up all data prior to this in Judges (18 years of Philistia/ Ammon, 22 Jair, 23 Tola, 3 Abimelech, 40 Gideon, 7 Midian, 40 Barak, 20 Canaan, 80 Ehud, 18 Moab, 40 Othniel, 8 Years Cushan) we get 319 years, which is 25 years too many, plus we need an indeterminate time between Joshua and the first conquest.

The linked documents point out, that we have case studies showing that judgeship data is overlapping data (as can be shown through Samson, Shamgar, and by reference Eli), only rests and oppressions should be used to build the chronology. When we recognise this, we find Jair and Tola are judgeship data (whereas Othniel, Ehud, Barak, and Gideon provide land "rest" data). Once we remove these from the equation, we find the solution for the whole period presents itself. We have 274 years of data instead of 319, which gives us a gap of 20 years from the end of the conquest until the first oppression.

With this method, we also find after Jephthah's 300 years, instead of 151 years of data to cram (which would encroach Solomon's reign by 15 years), we only need to fit 40 years of data in (the 40 oppression of Philistia), which gives a 16-year gap from the end of the Philistine oppression until Saul's reign.

Josephus gives 25 years total "reign" for Joshua (including the conquest), and 18 years from his death until the first oppression. Sedar Olam states 28 Years. Eusebius gives 27 years for Joshua. The Bible does not give a clear statement. Josephus gives two different numerical pieces of data to 1 Kings 6:1. He puts 592 years where 1 Kings 6:1 would be in his run-down/ summary (Book VIII, Chapter 3:1), but since he gives a different number (612 Years) when summarising this piece of data later in Book 20:10:1 (showing he disagrees with himself), it tells us that he is not quoting a number from his TaNaKh copy (a source of his history), but calculating this based on his own data. It seems in the second instance he includes the 20 years the Ark was in Kiriath-Jearim but omitted it in the first instance (if memory serves. You would have to find and add up all his data to double-check). If he was directly quoting he would give the same piece of data twice. Since he puts a number in the same place, it gives a strong indication that there was a number there in his copy of 1 Kings 6:1, but since he puts a different and self-disagreeing number in its place, it indicates to us that Josephus disagreed with 1 Kings 6:1, and so he just makes all the Judges data sequential with. He also omits Judge Tola entirely (and the enumeration of his total reflects this). Basically, his methodology is questionable and so I would question where he got any data regarding Joshua and the elders for this period of his history.

Presumed Same Age as Caleb?

Lots of people presume Joshua was the same age as Caleb, and so presume 25 years for Joshua, but this presumption is based on nothing. The Bible says that by the end of the war, Joshua was "old and advanced in years" and so was physically unable to continue fighting after only six years (Joshua 13:1). This same physical descriptor is given to him in Joshua 23:1,2. The only things Joshua needed to accomplish after six years of fighting were:

  1. Divide the land (Joshua 13:6,7)
  2. Build up his own inheritance in Timnath-Serah with his household (Joshua 19:50, 24:15, 29)
  3. Enter into God's "rest" as promised (Numbers 14:30, Psalm 95:11, Hebrews 3:11). It could hardly be said that he entered the "rest" if warfare continued and he enjoyed no peace before he died. So the nation stopped fighting until after he died (Judges 1:1).

These tasks would not require decades. Therefore, the time that can be deduced from the biblical data (20 years) is sufficient time for Joshua to grow old (chapters 22-24), die, Eleazar to die, Caleb and the other elders of the people (listed in Numbers 34:16-29) to die as the events of Judges 1:1-3:7, Joshua 13:13, 15:14-19, 63, 16:10, 17:11-13, 19:47 and Judges 17-21 to occur.

As to a specific birth year for Joshua, we can only speculate based on counting back 110 years from this 20-year window (which creates a 20-year window for his birth), and then you can count the generations from Joshua to Ephraim as contained in 1 Chronicles 7:20-27 to see if the math works (although this genealogy isn't 100% straightforward but that's another topic).

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