This paper suggests an alternative way to interpret Joshua herem passages today. The book of Joshua has led to a history of problematic biblical receptions that justify ancient and modern genocides. Its nuance, advocating for genocides and massive killings in the name of God, has challenged many Christians and non-Christians alike. It has also become an obstacle to the spread of the Gospel.
For this purpose, this paper uses contemporary hermeneutical research methods, especially ‘reading of recovery’ (Horrell, Hunt, and Southgate, 2010). By comparing God’s speeches with Joshua’s speeches and practices, a reader of the book of Joshua finds that Joshua committed many mistakes.
Case studies on the selected texts in Joshua (chapters 1, 2-6, 7-8, 9-10, and 11) demonstrate that God has not spoken of killing all the Canaanite people. However, Joshua and the people of Israel probably misunderstood God’s commandments and then mistakenly killed indigenous people.
An alternative reading of Joshua suggested in this paper may provide an interpretation that prevents justifying genocides in the name of God. Therefore, it could extend an invitation to those who have been disturbed by the justification of killings back into the Christian community.