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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Joshua

Description : historical book recounting the taking of the Promised Land

Author: probably Joshua (except end section)

Date written : probably about 1350

Chapters : 24


Brief Synopsis:


•  Gets its name from Joshua, who took over after Moses' death
•  Reveals the miraculous entry into the land
•  Reveals the miraculous taking of Jericho
•  Follows the taking of the rest of the land
•  Sees the distribution pf the Land among the tribes
•  Sees Joshua's last days.


Outline :


Ch.1-5 Initial Entry into the Land
Ch.1 Encouragements to Conquer
Ch.2 Reconnaissance of Jericho
Ch.3,4 Crossing of the Jordan
Ch.5 Consecration at Gilgal
Ch.5-12 The Conquest of the Land
Ch.5,6 Jericho
Ch.7,8 Ai
Ch.8 Covenant renewed at Shechem
Ch.9,10 Campaign in the South
Ch.11 The Campaign in the North
Ch.12 The Defeated Kings of Canaan
Ch.13-21 The Distribution of the Land
Ch.13 The Areas Yet to Be Conquered & land Assigned to the Tribes in Transjordan
Ch.14-19 The Division of the Land of Canaan
Ch.20,21 The Cities Assigned to the Levites
Ch.22-24 Tribal Unity and Loyalty to the Lord
Ch.22 The Altar of Witness by the Jordan
Ch.23 Joshua's Farewell Exhortation
Ch.24 The Renewal of the Covenant at Shechem
Ch.24 The Death and Burial of Joshua and Eleazar

Key Verses:


Joshua's commissioning to take the Land

1:1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide:  "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them --to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates --all the Hittite  country--to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. " Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."


Miraculous Crossing the Jordon

3:7 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.
3:15-17 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.


Holy Presence

5:13-15   Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man   standing in front of him with a drawn sword   in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"   "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"  The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy."  And Joshua did so.


Miraculous taking of Jericho

6:20 When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout,   the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.

Failure at Ai

7:1 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel.  


Mount Ebal Covenant renewal

8:30-35 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal   an altar   to the LORD, the God of Israel,    as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses--an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he had written. All Israel, aliens and citizens alike, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing those who carried it--the priests, who were Levites. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.  Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law--the blessings and the curses--just as it is written in the Book of the Law.  There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.



11:23   So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance  to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.
See Josh 12 for list of all the defeated kings of Canaan
13:1 When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the LORD said to him, "You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.


Joshua preparation for departure

23:1-3   After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then old and well advanced in years, summoned all Israel--their elders, leaders, judges and officials--and said to them: "I am old and well advanced in years. You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the LORD your God who fought for you.  
•  Followed by strong injunctions to remain faithful to the Lord 
24:15,16 choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household,  we will serve the LORD." Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake  the LORD to serve other gods!
24:29-31 A fter these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel



Concluding Comments

•  By the use of the verses above, we have sought to convey some, at least, of the key part of the story of the taking of the Land.

•  Of particular merit for study is chapter 1 with all its encouragements and directions from the Lord to Joshua as he takes over the leadership after Moses has died.

•  Also of merit is the miraculous crossing of the River Jordon and the taking of Jericho. Ai brings a warning not to hide things from the Lord!

•  Also worthy of our attention (although we have not covered it above) is the ruse of the men of Gibeon (9:3-). Through this we see that, not only should we not take people at the face value sometimes, but in this event the Lord allowed some of the Canaanites to become part of Israel if they fully submitted to them.

•  We also see this in the example of Rahab (Josh 2 & 6). She is particularly significant as she appears to become part of the Messianic family tree (Mt 1:5). She is also mentioned in the NT for her faith (Heb 11:31) and for her righteousness (Jas 2:25)

•  Joshua's challenge and statement of commitment (24:15,16) also stands out.

•  It is an action book that shows us the gradual taking of the land although, as we saw in a previous book, not all of the Canaanites were expelled and thus became an ongoing thorn in the side of Israel.


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