The Tactics Of Joshua

The book of Joshua is a great story, full of epic battle scenes, spies and spy-hunters, life and death chases, and even evil kings being impaled in front of their cities.  The question we ask here is: Can the tactics that Joshua employed in war thousands of years ago, still be relevant today?

Let’s look at two particular tactics from Joshua.

After an all night march from Gilgal,

Joshua took them by surprise.

Joshua 10:9

Joshua marched a massive army under cover of darkness into position to completely surprise an alliance of kings attacking an allied town.  These tactical principles can still be applied today to someone looking to be prepared for whatever may come in our troubled times.

  • Use darkness to move past potentially hostile forces.
  • Take unexpected routes that might not be watched or guarded.
  • Appear where least expected.
    • Ironically, Sun Tzu also taught this same principle.
  • When traveling any distance in potentially hostile territory, movement at night is imminently better.
    • Natural patterns of human activity are lower at night, so you are far less likely to encounter anyone else.
    • Thousands of years of conditioning has trained the human mind to rest at night, rather than be outside and watchful.
    • It is cooler at night, and this will prevent heat injuries.

Joshua was also known throughout the book to use darkness to set ambushes for his enemies.

Darkness is definitely your friend and it’s just as valid today.

As resources for those who want to be prepared, I have a few suggestions that might help.

  1. Invest in your ability to navigate at night.
    1. That doesn’t mean spend a lot of money.
    2. Buy a luminous compass; I personally have a US government issue one.
    3. Buy paper maps and a flashlight/filter combination that allows you to read them at night, while maintaining light discipline (your 1000 lumen Tacti-Cool light isn’t it).
    4. A GPS with 24K topographic maps is a good SUPPLEMENT to paper maps, NOT A REPLACEMENT.
  2. Invest in your ability to see at night.
    1. Purchase some type of night observation device.
    2. Again, this doesn’t mean spend $5,000 on the latest Cool Guy night vision, just get something that works.
  3. Invest in your ability to NOT BE SEEN at night.
    1. Many people in the preparedness community love their MutliCam uniforms, or Army issue ACU’s, but these are too light in color for nighttime use.
    2. Similarly, dressing in all-black is too dark for nighttime use.
    3. I have both midnight digital gear and ATACS-LE gear.  These incorporate black, gray, and dark blue, truly making you blend with the dark.
  4. Take the time to actually train in the dark and use movement techniques IN THE DARK and learn to use your nighttime equipment IN THE DARK.
  5. Invest some time training in how to shoot in the dark.

…You are to hamstring their horses

And burn their chariots…

Joshua 11:6b

Now, that’s a bit harsh, and we are going to have to translate that today’s context.  At the time Joshua was written, a horse was the most common vehicle for moving forces and supplies, and the chariot was the most advanced infantry fighting vehicle available.

If we are to put that into today’s context, it means destroy the hostile force’s ability to move troops and supplies.  That’s definitely applicable today, maybe even more applicable, as we’ve become more reliant on transportation.

In Joshua’s context, he not only defeated the enemy in the field, but by destroying their mobility, he eliminated their chance to ever wage war against him again.

In today’s context, we can prevent a hostile force from taking action against us or pursuing us if we destroy their mobility.

It’s also a way to take the initiative away from an enemy, forcing them to pause and reconsider their own security and resupply, giving a smaller force an opportunity escape or take whatever other action they need to.

Outside of a military context, what does this mean for people into preparedness?  First, understand the risk that a loss of mobility might cause you.  Second, it gives you a tactic to handle a larger force.

On the first point, if all of your preparations rely on your ability to load up a vehicle and drive away, what will you do if someone “hamstrings your horses and burns your chariots”?  All of your careful planning is gone out the window.

My plans involve being able to leave the city in a vehicle, but I also have alternate plans (see my other articles) that enable me to leave the area on foot (or by bicycle) if I have to.  The point is to consider the possibility and devise a plan to mitigate the risk.

As for the second point, in a without rule of law situation, such as those seen after Hurricane Katrina and being seen in some of the current rioting, groups of looters will be mobile, and the police will not be responding.  Having a plan to “hamstring their horses and burn their chariots” might save lives and property and allow time for law enforcement to eventually respond.  How you do that is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s something to consider.

As you can see, these principles can indeed apply today by those interested in preparedness.  

The Bible is indeed the Ultimate Tactical Handbook.


Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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