Survey of Joshua

Book Type: Book of history, the sixth book of the Old Testament and the Bible.

Author: Joshua, son of Nun. Joshua served as Israel's leader following the death of Moses. He had previously served as the Moses' aide, had explored the Promised Land with the 12 spies, and had led the Jews in military battle while in the wilderness.

Audience: Joshua is written to the Jewish people who first entered the land of Israel. These people experienced the initial fulfillment of God's promises to provide a land and a nation to the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3). This book preserves the history of Israel following the death of Moses. In particular, Joshua notes preparations to cross the Jordan River, the conquest of the land, and the divisions of the land to the tribes of Israel.

Date: Likely written between 1400 and 1370 BC.

Overview: This book consists of 24 chapters which form four major sections. First, chapters 1—5 describe the events related to the nation of Israel entering the Promised Land. Joshua is commissioned and begins to lead the people (Joshua 1). Rahab hides the spies sent to view the land (Joshua 2). The people consecrated themselves followed by a miraculous parting of the Jordan River (Joshua 3). Twelve stones are established as a memorial of remembrance (Joshua 4). The new generation is circumcised (Joshua 5:1–9), the first Passover takes place in the new land (Joshua 5:10–12), and the angel of the Lord appears to Joshua with instructions (Joshua 5:13–15).

The second major section consists of the main battles waged as Israel conquered the land. Three campaigns took place, including a central effort involving Jericho (Joshua 6:1—8:35), a southern campaign (Joshua 9—10), and a northern campaign (Joshua 11). The remainder of chapters 11 and 12 provides a summary of the military actions taken during this time.

The third major section covers chapters 13–22. This passage features instructions related to distributing the newly acquired land to the Israelites. This includes instructions regarding land yet to be conquered, already settled land east of the Jordan River (Joshua 13), allotment of land west of the Jordan River (Joshua 14—19), establishment of the cities of refuge (Joshua 20) and the towns of the Levites (Joshua 21), and recording of the eastern tribes returning to their land (Joshua 22).

The fourth major section includes two speeches by Joshua (Joshua 23—24). These speeches encourage faithfulness to the Lord as well as Joshua's farewell to the people. The book ends with a description of the death of Joshua, at the age of 110, as well as burial of the bones of Joseph and the death of Eleazar the son of Aaron.

Key Verses (ESV):

Joshua 1:69: "Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Joshua 24:1415: "Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."