The Book of Joshua
This Book is the sixth Book in the Old Testament. It immediately follows Deuteronomy, the 5th Book of the Pentateuch of Moses. It tells us how God led the people of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan, how He gave them the land, and how He wanted them to live in it. Although Joshua was the visible leader, God was the true leader, encouraging him and guiding his steps (Josh. 1:5,6; 5:13-15; 6:1-6). Spiritually, this Book offers assurance and encouragement to every servant of God, and shows us how we should live in His kingdom, making no compromise with sin (Josh. 7,8; and 6:17).
Joshua, Son of Nun
The name means Jehovah is his help, or Jehovah the Savior. He is the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, the successor of Moses as the leader of Israel. He was born in Egypt and was probably of the age of Caleb, with whom he is generally associated. He shared in all the events of the Exodus, and held the place of commander of the host of the Israelites at their great battle against the Amalekites in Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-16). It was on that occasion that his name was changed from Oshea “help” to Jehoshua, “Jehovah is help” (Num. 13:16). This name is the key to his life and work.
He became Moses’ servant, and accompanied him part of the way when he ascended Mount Sinai to receive the two tables (Ex. 32:17). He was also one of the twelve who were sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan (Num.13:16,17), and only he and Caleb gave an encouraging report. Under the direction of God, Moses before his death, invested Joshua in a public and solemn manner with authority over the people as his successor (Deut. 31:23). The people were encamped at Shittim when he assumed the command (Josh.1:1); and crossing the Jordan, they encamped at Gilgal, where, having circumcised the people, he kept the Passover, and was visited by the Captain of the Lord’s host, who spoke to him encouraging words (1:1-9). Six nations and thirty-one kings were conquered by him (Josh. 11:18-23, 12:24). Having thus subdued the Canaanites, Joshua divided the land among the tribes. His work being done, he died, at the age of one hundred and ten years, twenty-five years after having crossed the Jordan. He was buried in own city of Timnath-serah (Josh.24); and “the light of Israel for the time faded away”.
Joshua has been regarded as a type of Christ:
Thiscan be seen inHebrews 4: 8, and in the following particulars:
1. In the name common to both (Joshua and Jesus have the same meaning)
2. Joshua brings the people into the possession of the Promised Land, as Jesus brings his people to the heavenly Canaan, God’s Kingdom
3. Joshua was born as a slave in Egypt, the land of slavery, like all his brothers, and Jesus was born in our world, and resembled us in our nature, even in our sufferings to save us.
4. As Joshua succeeded Moses, so the Gospel succeeds the Law, and it is by the grace of God announced in the Gospel, that we enter the heavenly Canaan, not by the Law given by Moses.
The Book of Joshua and its contents
The book of Joshua contains a history of the Israelites from the death of Moses to that of Joshua (25 years) and the death of Elazar the son of Aron (about 6 more years). It consist of three parts:
1. The history of the conquest of the land (Ch. 1-12, see the enclosed illustrated map for details):
- Joshua enters the Promised Land after being assured by spies that the way is safe. The river of the Jordan is dry during the passage of Israel (1-3)
- A monument is erected in the midst of the Jordan, and one at Galgal to commemorate the miracle (4)
- The Israelites born during the wandering are circumcised; the pascha is eaten the first time in the land of promise; the manna ceases to fall; Joshua is strengthened by the vision of an angel (5)
- The walls of Jericho fall without a blow; the city is sacked; its inhabitants are put to death; only the family of Rahab is spared (6)
- Israel goes up against Ai, The crime of Achan causes defeat. Joshua punishes that crime and takes Ai (7-8)
- Joshua sets up an altar on Mount Hebal and subjugates the Gabaonites (8-9).
- Joshua defeats the Kings of surrounding lands and marches north and defeats the combined forces of the Kings at Meron (10-12)
2. The allotment of the land to the different tribes, with the appointment of cities of refuge, the provision for the Levites (13-22, see map), and the dismissal of the eastern tribes to their homes.
3. The farewell addresses of Joshua, with an account of his death (23, 24, see map).
The Author of the Book of Joshua:
There is much evidence to support the book of Joshua was written by an author (authors) who lived during or near the time when the events occurred:
1. External evidence:
- The Jewish Talmud affirms that “Joshua wrote his own book” and that his death was recorded by Eleazar son of Aaron and Eleazar’s death was recorded by his son, Phinehas
- Jewish medieval expositors affirmed that most of the book came from Joshua’s time.
2. Internal Evidence:
- The book has an eyewitness quality, especially in chapters 5-7.
- There are vivid descriptions of the sending of the spies, the crossing of the Jordan, the capture of Jericho, and the battle of Ai.
- The details of the latter chapters suggest that those accounts were written by an author who was contemporary with Joshua if not Joshua himself.