Joshua (book of the Bible

Josue. In Hebrew, Yehósua ‘: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yhwh (salvation) is the great biblical character with whom the Hebrew conquest of the land of Canaan is linked, and from which this book takes its name. Narrating the tactics used and the geographical distribution of the land.

Joshua’s book is named after the Israelite hero who continued the mission of Moses and organized the people to conquer the promised land. At the beginning of the book, Joshua promised the Israelites that they would conquer the land of Canaan and take over the territory if they were faithful to the covenant. They responded with enthusiasm: << Just as we obeyed Moses in everything, we will obey you >> (Jos 1:17). Under his guidance, they took possession of the land, settled with their families and their livestock, and tried to follow their covenant with God. Joshua belongs to the books of the Old Testamentand the first of the six writings that make up the series of the previous Prophets (Nevi’im in Hebrew). It highlights the divine intervention in circumstances such as the crossing of the Jordan River, the conquest of Jericho and Hai, and the defeat of the Amorites.

Summary

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  • 1 Author
  • 2 Date
  • 3 Structure of the Book
  • 4 Contribution to theology
  • 5 Outline of content
  • 6 Sources

Author

The author of the book of Joshua cannot be identified through Scripture. The use of the pronouns us and us in 5.1, 6 supports the theory that the author may have been an eyewitness to some of the events that occurred during this period. Joshua 24:26 suggests that the author of some of the longest sections of this book was Joshua himself.

Other passages, however, could not be written by Joshua. His death is recorded in the final chapter (24.29–32). Several events that occurred after his death are also mentioned: Caleb’s conquest of Hebron (14.6–15); Otoniel’s victory (15.13–17); and Dan’s migration (19.47). Parallel passages in Judges 1.10–16; 18, confirm that these events occurred after Joshua’s death.

Most likely, the book was composed in its final form by a scribe or publisher, relying on stories written by Joshua himself.

Date

The book covers some twenty-five years of Israel’s history under the direction of Joshua, Moses’ assistant and successor. The commonly accepted date of Joshua’s death is approximately the year 1375 BC. Hence the book covers the period of Israelite history from 1400 BC to 1375 BC; it appears that the stories it contains were compiled some time later.

Book Structure

The Ajalón valley. (Jos 10.1–15) Photo by Howard Vos

Josué has a fluidity in its structure that makes it easy to read. In a short prologue, he introduces the warrior Joshua as the capable leader God selects to lead his people to the promised land. He immediately begins to narrate the military victories of the Hebrews by throwing the Canaanites out of the land that God gave them. They attacked first through the center of Canaan and seized the city of Jericho and the adjacent regions. Then they launched rapid attacks to the south and north. This strategy allowed them to consolidate positions. After weakening their enemies, they carried out several smaller attacks over several years.

After the chronicles of Joshua’s military campaigns, the division of the territory between the twelve tribes of Israel is described .

The book ends with the death of Joshua, after he exhorted the people to renew the covenant and remain faithful to God.

Contribution to theology

The book contains elements of great importance to Christians. Chief among them are the unequivocal demonstration of God’s faithfulness to his people in giving him the promised land, details as to God’s purpose with Israel, God’s obedience and blessings to those who listen and obey him faithfully.

They see God’s purpose in preparing the way for the coming of Christ through Israel. The various references to Joshua in the New Testament demonstrate his importance to early church believers and of course to current believers. (Act 7.45; Heb 4.8; 11.30; Stg 2.25).

Content Outline

  1. The conquest of Canaan (1.1–12.24)
  2. Distribution of the territory among the tribes of Israel (13.1–22.34)
  3. Joshua’s last words. Renewal of the Covenant (23.1–24.33)

 

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