Joshua. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.
Joshua was the successor to Moses, though his role as a civil and military leader appears to be emphasized more than his role as a prophet. He led the Israelites into the land God promised to them and divided it. The book that bears his name covers the history of ancient Israel from the time they entered the Promised Land until the death of Joshua.
Joshua might be divided into four major parts. The early chapters deal with the entry into the land and the mostly successful military campaigns against the fortified cities there. The middle chapters cover the progression of migration across the territory and the kings and peoples defeated in the process. After enough progress was made, the land was divided amongst the tribes and these territories are described in some detail. The final few chapters describe Joshua’s last act as the people’s leader and as God’s spokesman.
One of the most famous military campaigns of the Bible appears in Joshua: the fall of Jericho. More specifically, the miraculous fall of the walls of Jericho allowed the Israelites to overrun the city. This theme runs throughout the battles in this book: the strength of God’s people rests in God Himself, and success comes from obeying Him and not from relying on human ability.
Joshua may be known more as a general than as a prophet because of the many kings he overthrew as he consolidated the land under the control of the Israelites. Unfortunately, he was not as skillful a diplomat and was tricked into alliances he regretted. The instruction from God was to completely remove the existing inhabitants from the land; the Israelites didn’t comply and it was the cause of trouble for them.
The division of the land amongst the tribes was an important task undertaken by Joshua. These land grants were essentially perpetual. Israelite law did not allow for the permanent sale of land, but at set times real property returned to the heirs of the tribes and families that originally possessed it. Oddly, though the people had waited generations for the land of promise, some of the tribes had to be urged to possess the territories allotted to them.
Joshua wrapped up his life and leadership with ceremonies and speeches that called the people to rededicate themselves to God. The people swore to be faithful. Like Moses before him, Joshua correctly foresaw that they would not keep their word.
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King James Bible