The Book of Joshua derives its name from the successor of Moses, with whose deeds it is principally concerned. The purpose of the book is to demonstrate God’s fidelity in giving to the Israelites the land he had promised them for an inheritance (⇒ Genesis 15:18-20; ⇒ Joshua 1:2-4; ⇒ 21:41-43;⇒ 23:14-16).
Their occupation of the country is begun with the crossing of the Jordan and the conquest of Jericho (Jos 1-6), in both of which the Lord intervenes on their behalf. This is followed by a first foothold on the Palestinian mountain range, at Ai, Bethel, and Gibeon (Jos 7-9), and two sweeping campaigns against the city states in the south of the country (Jos 10) and in the north (Jos 11), with a summary in Jos 12. The broad claim to total sovereignty thus established is spelled out by a combined list of tribal boundaries and of the towns contained within each area or administrative district (Jos 13-19), including cities of asylum and cities for the Levites (Joshua 20:21). The book closes with a narrative about the tribes east of the Jordan (Jos 22), a warning speech by Joshua (Jos 23), and a renewal at Shechem (Jos 24) of the covenant with the Lord, already affirmed there near the beginning of the conquest (⇒ Joshua 8:30-35).
Like the books which precede it, the Book of Joshua was built up by a long and complex process of editing traditional materials. Both Jewish and Christian believers have always regarded it as inspired.
The entire history of the conquest of the Promised Land is a prophecy of the spiritual conquest of the world through the Church under the leadership of Jesus the Messiah.
The Book of Joshua may be divided as follows:
- Conquest of Canaan (⇒ Joshua 1:1-⇒ 12:24)
- Division of the Land (⇒ Joshua 13:1-⇒ 21:45)
III. Return of the Transjordan Tribes and Joshua’s Farewell (⇒ Joshua 22:1-⇒ 24:33)
After Moses, the servant of the LORD, had died, the LORD said to Moses’ aide Joshua, son of Nun:
“My servant Moses is dead. So prepare to cross the Jordan here, with all the people into the land I will give the Israelites.
As I promised Moses, I will deliver to you every place where you set foot.
1 Your domain is to be all the land of the Hittites, from the desert and from Lebanon east to the great river Euphrates and west to the Great Sea.
No one can withstand you while you live. I will be with you as I was with Moses: I will not leave you nor forsake you.
Be firm and steadfast, so that you may give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers I would give them.
Above all, be firm and steadfast, taking care to observe the entire law which my servant Moses enjoined on you. Do not swerve from it either to the right or to the left, that you may succeed wherever you go.
Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it; then you will successfully attain your goal.
I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.”
So Joshua commanded the officers of the people:
“Go through the camp and instruct the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for three days from now you shall cross the Jordan here, to march in and take possession of the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.'”
Joshua reminded the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh:
“Remember what Moses, the servant of the LORD, commanded you when he said, ‘The LORD, your God, will permit you to settle in this land.’
Your wives, your children, and your livestock shall remain in the land Moses gave you here beyond the Jordan. But all the warriors among you must cross over armed ahead of your kinsmen and you must help them
until the LORD has settled your kinsmen, and they like you possess the land which the LORD, your God, is giving them. Afterward you may return and occupy your own land, which Moses, the servant of the LORD, has given you east of the Jordan.”
“We will do all you have commanded us,” they answered Joshua, “and we will go wherever you send us. We will obey you as completely as we obeyed Moses.
But may the LORD, your God, be with you as he was with Moses.
If anyone rebels against your orders and does not obey every command you give him, he shall be put to death. But be firm and steadfast.”