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The Book of Joshua is the sixth book of the Old Testament of the Bible and first book of the Nevi'im (history).

The book focuses on the possession of the Promise Land of Canaan, by Israel through conquest and allotment, under the theocratic leadership of Joshua, the successor of Moses.

The first half of the book contains a historical narrative of the defeat of particular cities and their kings, as well as other important events surrounding the battles. The latter portion of the book is primarily a treatise detailing the assigned land to each tribe.

The information in the book serves as a documented foundation for the the land of Israel and what cities belong rightfully to which tribe. Theologically, the book demonstrates the fulfilment of God's promised land to the Israelites, abundant blessing for obedience, curses for disobedience.

Authorship

Since this book includes Joshua's death,[1] it is clear that it was not written entirely by him. However, as an eyewitness account, most of the book could very well be by Joshua himself. Certain place names and even later events are inserted as well, indicating that the text has been augmented somewhat by later writers. As in the Books ascribed to Moses, this one could have been by the pen of a scribe under close supervision.

Genre

Historical Account

The first half of Joshua contains historical accounts and documents the Israelite conquest and invasion of Canaan, under the leadership of Joshua.

Records

There are several listings for captured territories and kings

Land Division

Joshua contains several land division documents that give specific details on the allotted land per Israelite tribe.

Summary

Conquest of the Land

After being set apart as the new leader, Joshua sent spies into the walled city of Jericho. Upon their return, the tribes prepared to cross over into Canaan, the Promised Land. Then God performed a dramatic miracle, drying up the Jordan River, which was at flood stage, to allow easy access into Canaan. Once there, at a place called Gilgal, the institutions of circumcision and the passover were observed with the children of all those who had rebelled forty years earlier.

When properly consecrated, the army was ready to conquer Jericho. However, the method was not by the strength of the army, but rather by a miracle of God. Seven days later, when the great walls fell outward, the armies stormed the city, taking no prisoners. Rahab, the prostitute who had helped the spies, was spared along with those of her family that had believed the word of the spies.

After a setback at Ai, brought on by the sin of Achan, cities became easy targets for the armies of Israel. This was largely because God was faithful to his promises. When the people wavered, the consequences were long lasting, leading to failure to take the land completely.

Division of the Land

In order to fairly divide the land between the tribes, a lottery was held. Nine and a half tribes, according to size, were allotted portions of the land west of the Jordan River. The tribe of "Joseph" was divided into two tribes while the Levites were scattered among the others to fulfill their role as priests.

Directions for the Land

Special arrangements were made for the administration of judgment and service among the people. Throughout the tribes on both sides of the Jordan cities were proclaimed "refuge" cities for the safety of those who had incurred the wrath of those bereaved through negligence (manslaughter). In addition, the Levites were given cities of their own in which they could support themselves if need arise.

Before Joshua died, he reminded the people of God's covenant promises to them. He instructed the people to keep on loving and obeying God. Publicly, he spoke of his own willingness to serve God.


Verses

  1. Joshua 24:29-30 (Link)

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