The Book of Joshua
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Joshua is placed right after the book of Deuteronomy which records all of the law and Israel’s journey up to that point.
The first five books (known as the Pentateuch or Torah) recount human history from Creation through the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Joshua is the story of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to bring Israel into Canaan (Genesis 12). Surprisingly, we know who Joshua is before this book begins.
Joshua is first mentioned in Exodus 17, where he is described as a warrior alongside Moses. He was also a faithful spy sent into Canaan alongside Caleb in Numbers 14. Joshua also takes the place of Moses in Numbers 27.
We can deduce from Joshua 1:8-9 that Joshua was a timid leader. This verse was placed at the beginning of the book for two primary reasons. The first reason is that Joshua was intimidated to lead the Israelites. Secondly, God provided assurance that he was with Joshua the same way he had been with Moses.
The crossing of the Jordan is described in Chapter Four, where Israel stacks stones as a memorial for what God did for them. These stones were set up in such a way so that anyone who saw them would think, “Something significant happened at this place.”
This is a powerful way to demonstrate the importance of signifying how God has worked in our lives both to ourselves and others. Soon after this, Israel celebrated the first Passover in the land of Israel.
Chapter 10 describes how the sun stands still when Israel needs more daylight. This was an incredible miracle that God performed on behalf of Israel. God is not confined to play by what seems the best route in the human sense. He is not confined by the natural world, and he can use natural or supernatural means. This story concludes with the statement, “There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14).
A major question concerning this book is: Why is there so much detail about all the battles and how the land was divided up?
Joshua 21:43-45 gives these chapters great significance. “Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
This goes all the way back to Genesis 12 and God’s promise to Abraham. This is the fulfillment of the Land Promises. All of the detail contained in these last chapters in Joshua proves that what God promised came true.
An interesting aspect of this book is when it mentions the bones of Joseph.
“As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph” (Joshua 24:32).
Why is this significant? This points back to Genesis 50:25, where Joseph tells his brothers, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”
The book of Joshua takes the fulfillment of God’s promises one step further into the minute details. The complete and faithfulness of God is displayed in this book. The fulfilled promises remind us that God is a covenant-keeping God, and he is concerned not only with the big picture but with the specifics of our lives.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.