Joshua: Introduction

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Who was Joshua?

  • Born a slave in Egypt (circa 1486 B.C.). He lived through the realities of slavery, but also witnessed the supernatural plagues and the miracles.
  • Son of Nun. He was called Hoshea, which means "salvation". Later Moses changed his name to Joshua meaning, "the Lord saves". The same name in the Greek form is Jesus (Numbers 13:8, 16).
  • From the tribe of Ephraim.
  • In the Sinai Peninsula, he led the troops of Israel to victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-13).
  • Servant or aide of Moses (Exodus 24:13).
  • He represented his tribe when 12 spies were sent to look over Canaan. Only Joshua and Caleb were ready to follow God's will and take possession of the land (Numbers 13-14).
  • He was God's chosen servant, successor to Moses (circa 1406 B.C.), chosen to lead Israel into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:1-8, 34:9).
  • He was 40 yrs at the time of the Exodus, 80 when he received his commission, and 110 at his death (circa 1376 B.C.).
  • He was known for his deep trust in God and as "a man in whom is the spirit" (Numbers 27:18).

The Book of Joshua

  • Chapters 1-12: Promised Land entered
  • Chapters 13-21: Land divided
  • Chapters 22-24: Joshua's message
  • Where Deuteronomy ends, Joshua begins (after the death of Moses, circa 1406 B.C.). The tribes of Israel are still camped on the east side of the Jordan River.
  • After many years of slavery, and 40 years in the desert, under Joshua's lead, Israel enters the Promised Land. The land the Lord spoke of to Abraham (Genesis 17:8). God always keeps promises!
  • Israel faces conflict and conquest during the establishment in the Promised Land. The theme of Joshua is possession; it relates the series of victories in central, southern, and northern Canaan. It gave Israel control of the hill country and the Negev.
  • God had given Israel their land in an unconditional covenant. The possession of the land was conditional; determined by their obedience to the Word of God.

Author: Varying Views

  • Not written until the end of the period of the kings; about 800 years after the actual events.
  • Early Jewish tradition (Talmud) claims that Joshua wrote his own book, except for the final section about his death, attributed to Eleazar son of Aaron.
  • Some think that Samuel may have had a hand in compiling the materials of the book.

Place in History

  • The events which took place in the book of Joshua happened during the period called the Late Bronze Age (circa 1550-1200 B.C.).
  • Today, thousands of artifacts and ruins such as pagan temples, altars, tombs and ritual vessels have been uncovered. They give testimony to the Canaanite culture and domestic, commercial, and religious life. Stories tell us of ancient kings and gods that revealed immoral behavior and cruelty.

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Note: The material for this introduction was adapted from the NIV Study Bible, New International Version, Zondervan, (Introduction to Joshua, pp. 285-288).

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