This is my introduction to my study of the book, and will be followed by my study notes.
The purpose of the book of Joshua is no doubt a record of the conquest of the land of Canaan by Israel, fulfilling the promise of God to Abraham in making him a “great nation” . The book covers approximately 30 years of Israel’s history (1405 to 1390 or 1250 to 1200 B.C.), emphasizing 5 to 7 seven years of Joshua’s military activities . The first task that Joshua faced was to put an end to the Canaanite power in the land by subduing and destroying the key Canaanite cities; in total 31 Canaanite kings were destroyed . Joshua’s second task was to divide the land and assign each Tribe its allotted portion, and once this was accomplished it was the responsibility of each individual tribe to completely eliminate all Canaanites from their territory. Joshua faithfully completed his tasks but history reveals that Israel did not.
Joshua was born in Egypt, and with the sole exception of Caleb, he was the only adult Israelite from the exodus to survive the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and to actually enter Canaan. The first reference of him is in Exodus 17:9 where we read, “Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites….” here we have no mention of his parentage or past, but we see him as a successful warrior fighting the enemies of the Lord.
Although not mentioned by name, Exodus 23:20-23 could also be a reference to Joshua, the content, however, being a Divine prophecy and promise to Israel, and can be envisioned in Joshua’s tasks in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. There are two other references to Joshua that are worthy of mention here; in Exodus 24:13 we see him accompanying Moses up to Mount Sinai, and in Numbers 11 where Moses gathers the 70 elders of the people. (quote: “Gleanings in Joshua” pp 13-15 – by A.W. Pink)
The meaning of his name is, “Yahweh is Salvation”. When the Lord ordered Moses to send 12 men who were rulers from each tribe to “explore the Land of Canaan”, Oshua was selected from the tribe of Ephraim, and it was here that Moses changed his name to Joshua. “Oshua” means “salvation” and “Joshua” is “he by whom Jehovah will save”. We also find that in the Greek language “Joshua” is the same as “Jesus”.
The book of Joshua can be divided into two principal sections; Chapters 1 to 12 record the conquest, while Chapters 13 to 24 record the assignment of the tribal territories and their dispersal throughout the Land of Promise. Under Joshua’s faithful and capable leadership through three major military campaigns the people learn a crucial lesson – victory is achieved only through faith in God and obedience to His Word!
THE CONQUEST OF THE LAND
Joshua first established the Israelites in the central part of Canaan, and then conducted campaigns into the southern and northern parts completing the takeover, and these operations took approximately 7 years to complete.
THE DIVISION AND ASSIGNMENT OF TRIBAL TERRITORY
The land formally occupied by the Canaanites was divided and assigned to each of the Tribes of Israel. Ruben, Gad, and one half of the tribe of Manasseh settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The Levites, descendants of Levi, were not allotted any portion of the Land because they were set apart for priestly service and their portion was to be God Himself , so Levi’s allotment went to the descendants of Joseph’s two sons – Manasseh and Ephraim . God provided 48 cities throughout the Land for the use of the Levites
CITIES OF REFUGE
Six cities of refuge were designated throughout the Land to provide a haven for anyone who, by accident, had killed another person. Such protection was necessary because a relative who considered it his duty to avenge or kill the slayer, under the Law had the right to do so.
TRIBES OF ISRAEL
The 12 tribes of Israel comprised: Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), and Benjamin.
All Scripture references are quoted from the New International Version unless otherwise indicated. The abbreviation “c.f” used throughout the text means to “compare”