A couple more thoughts on the 31 kings of Joshua 12

Today, as I was cleaning up the kitchen and thinking about our small group (which is also working through Joshua), another thought occurred to me about the significance of the 31 kings in Joshua 12.

None of these kingdoms were very large. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, the entire region that they all occupied was a grand total of 100 miles north to south and 70-ish miles east to west. 31 kingdoms piled into 7,000 square miles, probably a third of which was east of the river. So 29 kingdoms ruling 4,500 square miles. That makes for an average of 155 square miles each. So each of these kingdoms was smaller than the size of the Des Moines metropolitan area.

That makes for an average of some 155 square miles per kingdom. But when you really look at it, these 31 kings didn’t even represent all the kingdoms in the promised land! In fact, in the first verse of chapter 13, Joshua reveals “there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.”

So we’re truly talking about very small kingdoms here!

And yet not one of them (with the exception of the Gibeonites) rolled over. Indeed, every last one of these fought tooth and nail to retain their kingdoms. So Israel had to fight, hard, for each kingdom it conquered, and yet each victory yielded only a relatively small chunk of land.

You ever feel that way? You know, where everything that you do is a battle, and at the end of each battle won, you look around and realize that you really haven’t accomplished all that much at all?

I know I have.

And yet, here in Joshua 12, Joshua recounted that, after many, many, long-fought and hard-won battles, and with still more battles yet to come, God had been faithful. The going had been slow, but God had been faithful. The progress had been difficult, but God had been faithful.

Of course, that didn’t negate the fact that the Israelites had needed to be tenacious and determined, courageous and resolved.

But the fact remained that God had been faithful.

And if we will be strong and courageous (as He called Joshua and us to be), He will be still.

That’s another pretty cool lesson from a chapter that, at first glance, seems rather fruitless.

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1 Response to “A couple more thoughts on the 31 kings of Joshua 12”


  1. 1 Jontisha Graves February 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I needed the clarification. I have been led to read Joshua 12, twice now in the last month. I thought it was fruitless somewhat with all the names and such I couldn’t even pronounce, but because the Holy Spirit brought me here twice I knew God was trying to show me something I missed the first time. I know I’m responding 4 yrs after u wrote this…nothing but The Lord. I don’t know if u mentioned Des Moines because that is where u r, but it really struck me because that’s where I was born. Confirmation. That all means that I landed where God wanted me to land on this cold Chicago day in 2014. 🙂


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