Introduction to Joshua

The book of Joshua immediately follows the Pentateuch in the Bible, chronologically as well as sequentially in the Bible. Some liberal scholars view Joshua and the rest of the Pentateuch as one book, called the Hexateuch, alleging that all six of the books were written and edited many centuries after the time of either Moses or Joshua, in an attempt to fabricate a history that would unify and encourage a fragmented nation.

The name “Joshua” is equivalent to “Jesus,” both meaning “Jehovah is Savior.” Joshua, of course, was the successor to Moses, leading the children of Israel across the Jordan to conquer and inhabit the promised land of Canaan. There is little realistic question that Joshua himself wrote the book, except for the account of his own death and certain explanatory editorial comments that were added later. In the final chapter is an affirmation by Joshua that he wrote the words of the book and added them to the books of the law left by Moses (see Joshua 24:26). Both the internal evidence and uniform tradition agree that Joshua was the author.

The archaeological and chronological evidence are still somewhat equivocal. However, there has been no indisputable evidence in these fields that would disprove any aspect of the book’s historicity or divine inspiration. In the New Testament the book of Hebrews refers to its accounts as true history (see Hebrews 4:8; 11:30-31). Rahab (Joshua 2:6) is also recognized in Matthew 1:5 as a real historical person, in fact, in the ancestry of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus. The divine inspiration of Joshua 1:5 is indicated by its quotation in Hebrews 13:5.

The account of Joshua records two of the most remarkable miracles in history, appropriately signaling God’s determination to fulfill His ancient promise to Abraham in giving the land of Canaan to his seed. The heavy walls of Jericho at the entrance to this promised land fell down flat in response to the trumpets of the priests and the shout of the people (Joshua 6:15-20). Then the sun itself “stood still in the midst of heaven” (Joshua 10:13) to enable Joshua’s army to rout the confederation of Amorites that otherwise might eventually have turned them back.

On the basis of the reference in Hebrews 4:8, Joshua, leading the people of God into the promised land, can even be considered as a type of the greater “Joshua,” the Lord Jesus, leading His own people to eternal life in the new Jerusalem.

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