We learn that Yehoshua took 7 years to conquer the land and another 7 to divide it. Why did both of these take so long?

  • Conquest (at least from the details of the description in the text) took at most a couple of months, especially with the Divine assistance. (There is a Midrash Tanchuma that says he intentionally prolonged the conquest and was punished by losing 10 years of his life, however, it cannot be that he prolonged it for 7 years instead of a couple months - that'd be too gross of an error - there must have been something else.)
  • Dividing land - what else had to be done besides the lottery, which I suspect hadn't lasted more than 1 day?

Thank you very much.

  • 1
    The posuk says 'pen tirbe olecho chayas hasode'.
    – user2709
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 14:32
  • 1
    while the actual days of conquest themselves may have only been a couple months worth of days, there is no indication that they happened consecutively. As @msh210's answer points out, the opposite is true.
    – Menachem
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 15:37
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/33818/…
    – gt6989b
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


The division of the land included, among other steps:

  • sending out commissioners to survey it (Josh. 18:4ff)
  • ...and to evaluate the worth of the individual regions and plots of land, to make sure that the division would be equitable (Rashi to Num. 26:54)
  • designating which roads would be private vs. public, depending on their grade (Eruvin 22b)
  • assigning a plot to each adult male Jew living at that time, then redividing based on the identities of the Jews who had left Egypt (Bava Basra 117a and Rashbam there ד"ה אלא; Rashi to Num. 26:55)
  • and perhaps only then casting the lots and asking the urim vetumim which tribe would end up in which part of the land.

So all of that can easily have taken quite a while.


As far as conquest, see Exodus 23:29–30 (JPS translation):

I will not drive them [=the inhabitants] out from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the beasts of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.

I guess conquest took longer than is apparent from the text of Joshua.

I don't know about dividing it up, though.

  • +1, this is a great association, I appreciate it. But it's still not clear what were they doing for so long, if they defeated everyone in the first year.
    – gt6989b
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 14:34
  • Would you think it would be better to split this into 2 questions - one for conquest and one for division??
    – gt6989b
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 14:35
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    @gt6989b, I don't think it needs to be split into two questions. I also don't know why you say the defeats were in one year: I doubt that they were. If you can provide support for that claim, please edit into your question.
    – msh210
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 14:40
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    @msh210: Seder Olam places the sun standing still (Josh. 10:12) on 3 Tammuz 2488, less than three months after the entry into Eretz Yisrael. So unless we assume that ch. 11 happened much later - which seems contraindicated by 11:1, which describes Yavin hearing about the (presumably recent) events - then yes, it sounds fair to assume that up to 11:15, at least, happened all within a very short timeframe.
    – Alex
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 19:28
  • @Alex Where does it get that number from? Is that the date of the Tekufa or something?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 20:34

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