The book of Joshua is the first of the history books in the Old Testament. It is named for Joshua the son of Nun, who led Israel after Moses’ death. His name means “Yahweh is deliverance,” and is the Hebrew name for Jesus (Gr. iesous).
The book of Joshua marks the fulfillment of God’s promise to give the land of Canaan to Israel. After the conquest of the land was complete and the land distributed to the people, we find the following emphatic affirmation:
So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave the rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass (Joshua 21:43-45)
God gave them all the land which He had promised to give. Everything God said He would do for them, He did it.
There were only two people from Joshua’s generation to enter the promised land—Joshua and Caleb. These were the faithful spies who urged the Hebrews to believe God and go take the land. Now, 40 years later, Joshua sent two spies into the land, specifically to Jericho (ch. 2), which would be Israel’s first battle in the land. The prostitute Rahab expressed faith in God, hid the spies from the king’s men, and thus secured freedom for herself and her family. Rahab entered the lineage of the Messiah as the wife of Salmon and mother of Boaz.
Having crossed over the Jordan River (ch. 3), the people set up a memorial (ch. 4) and set up their camp at Gilgal (ch. 5). The battle plan against Jericho was unique (ch. 6). There was a lot of walking in silence culminating with a great noise of shouting and trumpets; and the walls of Jericho fell to the ground. The people were commanded to destroy everything at Jericho, not to take any spoils. Unknown to anyone else, one man (Achan) took spoils for himself. With sin in the camp the Israelites fell to their enemy at Ai (ch. 7). Once the sin was dealt with Israel was given victory (ch. 8).
Seeing the success God had given His people, the Gibeonites sent ambassadors to make a treaty with Israel (ch. 9). They pretended to be from far away and fooled the leaders of Israel. With a treaty in place, Israel rose to the defense of the Gibeonites when five Amorite kings attacked them (ch. 10). The next two chapters speak of the campaigns of Israel in the land of Canaan and the victories which God gave them.
Beginning in chapter 13, we read about the dividing of the land among the tribes of Israel as their inheritance. Caleb was given Hebron as his inheritance (ch. 14). The next several chapters (ch. 15-19) give the parameters of the land which was given to the tribes of Israel.
As the events of the conquest draw to a close, the cities of refuge were appointed (ch. 20). The Levites were given cities and pasture surrounded their cities (ch. 21). Having kept their word to go to battle with their brethren, the men of the tribes which received land on the east side of the Jordan (Reuben, Gad and Manasseh) returned home (ch. 22).
The book closes with a final speech by Joshua before the people. He called upon them to remember all that God had done for them and to commit themselves to serving Him (ch. 23). He challenged them, “…choose for yourselves this day who you will serve…” (24:15). He made it clear, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Next week we continue with Judges…