Who Led Israel After Joshua?
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord , “Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?” The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.” The men of Judah said to their relatives from the tribe of Simeon, “Join with us to fight against the Canaanites living in the territory allotted to us. Then we will help you conquer your territory.” So the men of Simeon went with Judah. When the men of Judah attacked, the Lord gave them victory over the Canaanites and Perizzites, and they killed 10,000 enemy warriors at the town of Bezek.
While at Bezek they encountered King Adoni-bezek and fought against him, and the Canaanites and Perizzites were defeated. Adoni-bezek escaped, but the Israelites soon captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. Adoni-bezek said, “I once had seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off, eating scraps from under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They took him to Jerusalem, and he died there.’
After such a great example of leadership being passed on from Moses to Joshua, you might wonder who Joshua’s apprentice was.
It’s not clear whether it was the fault of Joshua or the way God planned the whole thing, but there was no single ruler of Israel after Joshua died. Some say Judah led after Joshua, but at that point in history, Judah was a tribe, not a man.
The tribe of Judah continued the conquest of Canaan and the settling of the region, but it didn’t go so well for the other tribes. As you read through Judges, one tribe after another lost and only got a part of their allotment. They had to share with the existing people and eventually, gave into their native religions.
The book of Judges details the disconnected heroes of Israel from the 14 to the 11 century BC. None of them passed on their leadership from one generation to another or from one leader to another. They each rose up as circumstances, faithfulness, and God’s will came together.
The book of Judges goes to show that even when leaders fail at leading the generations after them, God won’t forget about them. Many of us have good bad examples that have led us but we ended up becoming faithful Christians anyway!
If we see anything in the book of Judges, it is that God is faithful, and sometimes men and women are too.