After being instructed/warned by god to be just as docile as Moses, Joshua prepares for war. Two spies are sent from Shittim, where they are stationed, to Canaan. They inexplicably lodge in "a harlot's house, named Rahab", cleverly combining work & entertainment (were there really no beter hotels to be found?). The king of Jericho, one of Canaan's cities, hears of the arrival of the Israelite spies (so much for secrecy) & sends men to kill them. Rahab hides them - in exchange for a promise of safety for herself & family - and tells the soldiers the men already left. They run off in hot pursuit & the spies return safely.
In a cheap imitation of the red sea parting, god (cozy in his ark, carried by 12 priests) parts the water of the river Jordan; the waters "stand upon a heap" - quite an impressive and impossible way to behave for water. The soldiers cross the riverbed while the priests carrying the ark stand in the middle. To commemorate the event, twelve stones are gathered and set up "in the midst of Jordan… and they are there unto this day". Go there & check it out, oh ye of little faith. After the last soldier, the priests follow & the waters return (strange enough, they then take out those 12 stones again… somebody isn't paying a lot of attention here). Joshua sets up camp in Gilgal (so much for a surprise attack) and diligently circumcises all males, as these soldiers were all born during the 40 desert years (all the older men have died - serves them right for complaining all the fucking time) and somehow they never got around to being circumcised. Imagine the scene: a centenarian with "sharp knives", patiently cutting off the tip of 40.000 penises... how utterly picturesque. God is finally satisfied with his people & forgives them; he also cuts off the manna supply, as they have now reached Canaan (big sigh of relief from everyone). A man with a sword appears who identifies himself as the "captain of the host of the lord" - an angel? Anyway, this host isn't mentioned any more afterwards, confirming my suspicions about the sloppy scribe.
Now follows the famous siege of Jericho. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't just the sounds of the trumpets that made the walls come tumbling down (how could 7 "trumpets of rams' horns" ever be worse than a stadium full of football supporters wielding vuvuzelas?): the priests tooting the horns prepare the event by compassing the city walls every day for 6 days; on the seventh day, after 7 rounds (alright, we get it…) the warriors (who were ordered to be silent until then) all raise a fierce battle cry, and the walls just "fell down flat"; quite an unusual acoustic phenomenon, but then, in bible territory, anything's possible. You won't be surprised to hear that "they utterly destroyed all that was in the city", including the animals (I still don't understand why they keep on doing that; animals were a valuable commodity, so why kill them? So fucking pointless). Only Rahab & family are saved, as promised, "and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day", suggesting these events were written down not so long afterwards. The city is destroyed, but not before all valuables are taken out & "put into the treasury house of the lord". The enemy's animals are dirty, but his gold isn't… a timeless lesson.
When attacking the next city, Ai, the Israelites suffer defeat. Joshua is stunned: how could this happen? God tersely informs him the Israelites have sinned by taking "of the accursed thing" (?) and stealing (in other words, holding back the loot "rightfully" belonging to god), and he will hand in his notice if the perpetrators aren't punished. In the camp, Joshua discovers that a certain Achan, of the tribe of Judah, stole a "goodly Babylonish garment" along with silver & gold. He takes the spoils back, Achan is stoned, his clothes are burned, god is content & resumes duty. Returning to Ai, they plan an ambush: a large army is hidden, and a smaller group, pretending to be vanquished, simulates a retreat. The Aiites fall for the ruse & pursue them; behind their backs the city is burned to the ground. The Aiites, now scissored, are slaughtered, some 12.000 in all; their king is captured alive only to be "hanged on a tree".
A group of Gibeonites, hearing of the slaughter, thinks up a clever plan: disguised as merchants from "far away" they join the Israelites, praising their god. They are welcomed in the camp & "sworn unto" as guests. When Joshua discovers their trick, he is riled but can't kill them or their kin on account of their oath of friendship. The obvious solution is enslaving them, but at least they are still alive.
Five other kings hear of the Gibeonites' dirty trick & resolve to attack Gibeon for "making peace with Joshua and the children of Israel" (but then, their options were limited: slavery or death). Needless to say, their army is mercilessly slaughtered by the Israelites; god, positively enjoying the unbridled killing, helps out by sending a rain of hailstones that kills more than half of the enemy army. Joshua commands the sun to stand still & the moon to stall, as they need time to "avenge themselves upon their enemies" - read: kill them all. Obligingly, the sun keeps the same position for "about a whole day", while the Israelites happily butcher away (the amazing trick of "stopping the sun" is later reused at Jesus' death… more echoes. I'll discuss it there. Speaking of echoes: 12 tribes - 12 disciples? The new testament scribes really tried to connect everything). The bit about the sun standing still seems to be "written in the book of Jasper", whoever he might be (not an astronomer, that's for sure).
The five kings commanding the vanquished army hide in a cave; when they are found, they are smitten, slain AND hanged - Joshua overdoing things a bit there. The Israelites continue their journey, smiting and "utterly destroying" all other cities (Hitler was a mere beginner compared to Joshua). Another coalition of kings (the term clearly having a different meaning then, possibly more in the vein of "mayor" or perhaps "warlord") assembles a huge army, only to be, yep, you guessed, utterly destroyed. More cities & kings fall - excuse me for a moment, I have to get a mop & bucket to wipe up all the blood seeping from these pages. And what do you know: god once more admits HE "hardens the hearts" of all those kings, so they attack like mindless zombies, only to be slaughtered… god doesn't even WANT survivors or peace, the sick fuck. Joshua proves a perfect companion, with an unsurpassed zeal for wholesale slaughter and organized genocide. Imagine: the Israelites actually slaughtered ALL inhabitants of a COMPLETE country because of a divine promise, how ugly is that (apart from the Gibeonites, who only survived as slaves thanks to their clever trick).
Joshua is getting "old and stricken in years", but god informs him there are still many people left to kill. A very elaborate description of how to divide Canaan follows. Surprisingly, the Levites don't get anything; "the lord god of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them". Gee, thanks, but not really. Hebron is given to Caleb, the only one apart from Joshua still alive from the original exodus, although 85 by now. The book degenerates into a list of place names (more who-gets-which-bit lists) for some 5 pages. Snore. Funny enough, our absentminded scribe at this point remembers god's promise of "48 cities to dwell in" to the Levites, so they duly come up to Joshua to complain. All the other tribes have to hand in some of their cities until "all came to pass" the way god promised (but then forgot…) it.
A clan war almost breaks out when Joshua hears that some of the tribes, who took up land across the Jordan river, built themselves an altar. He sets out with an army to slaughter them (temper temper…) but as the clans show they still faithfully worship according to the rules, Joshua returns, possibly slightly disappointed.
Sensing his approaching death, he gives a farewell speech (don't fuck with the dude; always follow orders; yak yak), followed by a (thankfully rather brief) summary of everything that happened since Abraham. The people promise eternal obeisance (possibly with several fingers crossed behind their backs) and Joshua dies at 110, a satisfied man.