Richard S. Hess, «The Book of Joshua as a Land Grant», Vol. 83 (2002) 493-506
Despite a variety of attempted identifications of the book of Joshua, or portions of it, with other ancient Near Eastern legal documents, the form of the royal land grant remains the closest of those studied in terms of structure and content. In particular, the form of this type of document, as illustrated in the archive of the Middle Bronze Age site of Alalakh, provides an important and useful set of parallels with those found in the sixth book of the Bible. The essay considers the strengths and weaknesses of identifying the book of Joshua in this manner, as well as its implications for the interpretation of the book. In addition, the origin of these documents in the West Semitic world invites consideration of a specific genre or literary type that flourished in those cultures and perhaps provided a link for related documents in the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean worlds.
perspective establishes the circumstances in which Abbael was able to hand over the grant of the city of Alalakh to his brother Yarimlim. Chapters 1–12 of Joshua provide a similar perspective. They also describe the necessary events of warfare that led Israel to a context where it could receive its allotment. Of special interest is the sense in which God, as the giver, fights for Israel and thereby does the primary work of destroying and driving out the inhabitants, and giving Israel the land (6,2-21; 8,1-2; 10,11-126.96.36.199; 11,6-8.20)15. The nation receives the land as it enters and takes possession of what God has given.
The gifts of the city of Alalakh and the additional town of Murar are a reward for the loyalty of Yarimlim. There is no mention of Yarimlim’s activity in the war; only that of Abbael and the enemy, Zitraddu. Although the circumstances described are entirely different, this resembles Joshua 1–1216. God gives the enemies and their land