Outline of the Book of Joshua
In Hebrew the title of the book is “evwhy” (yeh-ho-shoo’-ah) or “YHWH saves”, which is named after the successor to Moses, Joshua, who is the main character of the book, and who led the Israelites into Canaan. This was also a form of the name of Jesus in the Hebrew tongue.
The Septuagint styles the book as “Iesous Naus“ (ee-ay’-soos nahs) or “Joshua the son of Nun” taken from the opening of the book 1:1, “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister,…”
The Latin Vulgate simply uses the title, “The book of Joshua” or “Liber Josue”.
1) The covenant nation receives its land1
2) Possession of the promised land by the covenant people of God
“To show how God brought the theocratic nation from the wilderness into the promised land…It also serves to show how Joshua faithfully performed the work which had been entrusted to him by God, and how God, in fulfillment of His promises, gave the promised land to His people.”2
To show, “how Israel was brought into the land of Canaan. This was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. This was the final step in the establishment in the theocratic nation. Israel was formally organized, had received her laws, and was now given possession of the land in which the theocracy was to develop.”3
D) Key Verses:
Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, [even] to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (12-3)
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (2414-15)
E) Key Truths:
The Lord authorized Joshua as Moses’ successor and Israel’s leader to bring them into possession of the promised land.
The Lord kept his promise to Abraham that, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates…” (Gen 1518-21)
Joshua maintained his confidence in the Lord after the conquest (Josh 24) with the same zeal that he displayed in his youth (Numb 146-9) by God’s grace.
The Israelites were to cast off there temptations to go after other gods and worship YHWH alone, who both brought them out of the house of bondage & gave them the promised land.
II. AUTHOR & DATE
A) Critical Viewpoints:
There is much evidence that Joshua wrote most of this book, which will be covered in the next section; however, there are places were it is apparent that there was an inspired scribe that added to Joshua’s work after his death. To name only a couple examples:
“until this day” (49; 59; 625; 726; 828-29; 927; 1414; 1563; 1610)
How awkward for Joshua to write about his death in the third person, and that which took place after his death, as though he were a witness, as opposed to foretelling the events.
“In the current phase of Joshua criticism two views ‘stand opposed to one another without compromise.’ The one is primarily literary-critical view; the other, while not rejecting literary criticism, believes that it must be combined with the traditio-historical view.”4
Literary-Critical view: This view fundamentally approaches the Bible, not as the inspired Word of God, not as the only rule of faith and practice, but wrongly as a book written by men. The theory of the book of Joshua is that is had multiple contributors from different ecclesiastical traditions. As each tradition inherited the manuscript from the former tradition, they edited the work adding their own theological nomenclatures and affirmations. This theory can be called the “documentary hypothesis”.
Woudstra claims in his commentary, “Following in the footsteps of J. Wellhausen (1844-1918) a group of contemporary scholars continues to believe that Joshua, together with the Five Books of Moses, must be regarded as part of a six-book unit called the Hexateuch.”5 An in depth study would reveal that their flawed documentary hypothesis serves as a launchpad for all kinds of speculations, based not on facts but further theories like the Hexateuch.
Traditio-Historical view: This view is much like the Literary-Critical view, because it does not deny the fundamental hypothesis of multiple traditions editing the manuscript until we get it in its present form.
E.J. Young spends time to expose the “dominant negative criticism” view with their unbelieving “documentary analysis”. What is key here is: first, that they claim that “Joshua is not a literary unit, composed by a single author”; and second, “we are too greatly impressed by the internal unity of the book to give credence to such analysis.”6
B) Joshuaic Authorship:
Our third option is a Joshuaic authorship with an inspired scribe that added to Joshua’s work after his death, therefore we conclude, based upon the internal evidence of the book of Joshua:
A majority of the book was written by Joshua: “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that [was] by the sanctuary of the LORD.” (Josh 2426)
However the canonized version could not have been written completely by Joshua, “for it records events which did not take place until after his death. Among these are the conquests of Hebron by Caleb, of Debir by Othniel and of Leshem by the Danites. And the accounts of the death of Joshua and of Eleazar show that the book is later than Joshua’s time.”7
The book could not have been completed long after Joshua’s death, and was most likely completed by one who was a witness to the ministry of Joshua (51,6):
“Joshua was written not long after the events it narrates. We cannot enter now into the
proof of it. But let the reader ponder chapters 51,6; 625; 2426, etc.”8
“For one thing, the harlot Rahab was still living. ‘She dwelt in the midst of Israel unto this day, because she hid the messengers’ (Josh 625).”9
III. HISTORICAL ANALYSIS
Caleb was 40 when he was a spy in the wilderness (Josh 147) and lived 45 more years to receive the land. He was 85 (1410) when Canaan was divided. So from the time of the spies (Numb 1011cf. ch.13), who spied 1 year after they left Egypt, to the entering into Canaan was 39 years, and from the time of the spies to the division of Canaan was 45 years. So here is the equation for hoe long it took to conquer Canaan. 45 yrs minus 39 yrs equals 6 yrs.
Further, there are 2 dates given for the death of Moses, hence the 2 different starting dates. Ussher says that events recorded in Joshua cover about 26 years. Halley’s Handbook says that Joshua’s rule over Israel, in all, covered 25 years
1) Between 1450 and 1400 BC
Death of Moses (about 120 yrs old) and the Calling of Joshua ( 85 yrs old, per Halley)
2) Between 1444 and 1394 BC
Conquering of Central, Southern, & then Northern Canaan (took 6 years, per above)
3) Between 1425 and 1388 BC
Joshua’s Final Sermon and Death (about 110 yrs old, Josh 2429)
B) Historical Purpose:
Where Deuteronomy closes the
Pentateuch, Joshua opens the section of the Old Testament known as the “Prophets”, specifically the “Former Prophets”, which were the prophets that spoke God’s word to His people from the time of entering into Canaan until the time of the Southern kingdom’s captivity. Though they have much to say to God’s people in their own day, they also serve the Church in the contemporary days of the Latter Prophets after the Babylonian exile, and even in our own day if we be humble to see and hear in faith. So we see a foreground in the Former Prophets as a budding on the branch of the Pentateuch, and a background for the blossoming of the Latter Prophets; purposed to produce that New Testament fruit of revelation and fulfillment!
C) Setting & Geography:
The book begins with the calling
of Joshua. Israel is east of Canaan, in the plains of Moab, then tracks beyond the Jordan River, moving into central Canaan and finally both southern and then northern Canaan. The land is then divided among the tribes. The book concludes with Joshua’s final declaration to the Israelites and his death.
IV. LITERARY ANALYSIS
William Hendriksen’s Outline10
1-5 YHWH helps Israel to enter the land
6-12 YHWH helps Israel to conquer the land
13-22 YHWH helps Israel to inherit the land
23-24 Joshua’s farewell address, calling Israel to worship and love YHWH
Alfred Martin’s Outline11
1-12 Conquest of the Land
13-24 Division of the Land
Joshua is mainly narrative, though it also records this sermon or address by Joshua to the people. (ch.24) There are also records of kings conquered, in a genealogical form.
V. THEMATIC ANALYSIS
“Fear not” (3) and “Be strong and of good courage” (4)
- Joshua’s calling
- Jordan’s crossing
- Jericho’s crumbling
War and “Rest” (7)
- Conquering the land was not an end in itself, but a means so that they could find rest.
- Application: Warring against the flesh, world & devil;
- Application: Resting in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
“Possess” (6) the land
- It is possessed through the means of conquest.
- What Israel’s conquest means for them.
- What Christ’s conquest means for us.
“Fear the Lord” (2) and True Worship
- Achan – clinging to idols effects the whole camp
- Joshua calls them to serve YHWH; put away both the false gods of their Fathers and of this new land.
VI. NT ANALYSIS
The First Joshua and the Second Joshua:
1) Rest: The first Joshua led the people of God into the land of rest, and the land of promise. This is a theme we see so broadly in the book of Joshua. However, that was the best Joshua could do. He could not give the Israelites an everlasting, eternal rest; a rest from sin and corruption; from war and conflict; from their idolatry and backsliding. This only the second Joshua, the Lord Jesus can do. And this is the point of the writer of Hebrews. “For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.” (Heb 48) The second Joshua brings another day, the new day, To-day! And truly the gospel was preached to them in Joshua’s day (v.2) but it was not mixed with a faithful hearing.
2) Entering the Promised Land: The first Joshua again could only lead them into a physical land, that needed to be conquered by the work of the Israelites. But our second Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ went before us, doing the work Himself, defeating sin and death, that we may inhabit the home of our citizenship, Heaven! This home is promised to us through the Person and Work of Christ. And we must follow God’s anointed servant, for to reject Him is to remain in a wilderness of weeping and gnashing of teeth. And we want to follow Him, for in Him are all the benefits and promises realized and fulfilled. In Heaven there is freedom to perpetually worship and adore our King!
The Law and the Gospel:
As we saw in Heb 42, the Gospel was there in the days of Joshua. Sin was pointed out, it was exposed, and there was Christ offered to sinners in the midst of their radical rebellion to God. The command to utterly destroy “all things that breath” was a testimony of God’s holiness and complete hatred for sin; and there was the purging power of Christ displayed, for He fully extirpates sin in us. There is Law shown in the legislation of the land, and there is Mercy shown in the Cities of Refuge. That Gospel proclaimed to Abraham (Gal 38, cf.. Gen 123; 1518-21) comes to fruition in the inhabiting of the land. (ch.24)
The Great Commission:
There is an amazing parallel between the first Joshua’s commission to enter Canaan with the Israelites and have dominion over it in the name of the Lord, and the second Joshua’s commission to enter the ends of the Earth with His apostles to have dominion over it in His own name. Consider:
1) The land given: The Promised Land versus the Heavens and the Earth.
The first Joshua is given the promised land through mercy. The second Joshua is given all power over all Creation because He earned it. By the mercy of the second Joshua, the first Joshua and Israelites could possess the land. And by the same mercy the Church possesses the Heavens and the Earth.
Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, [even] to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (Josh 12-4)
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matt 2818)
2) The commission given: Divide the land versus make disciples.
What’s amazing here is the distinction between the purging of the land versus the discipling of nations. Clearly the second Joshua is merciful! With Jesus there is a redemptive commission, and a larger vision for conquest – the world! In both events the commandments are to be taught to the covenant people of God and observed in faith.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Josh 16-8)
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: (Matt 2819-20a)
3) The roles given: The first Joshua, protected versus the second Joshua, Protector.
God promised to be with the first Joshua. And we see the second Joshua, who was truly God, promising to be with His apostles and His Church. It was the second Joshua who protected the first Joshua, for Jesus was with Joshua as He had been with Moses, and Abraham; Jesus is the great I AM, who was before the foundations of the world. Jesus will never forsake us, nor fail us, but will be with us even unto the end of the world!
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, [so] I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Josh 15)
lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mat 2820b)
VII. THE MESSAGE OF JOSHUA:
God has commissioned Joshua to lead Israel, His Covenant people, into the promised land to possess it and to find rest in the true worship of YHWH.
God has commissioned Jesus, the second Joshua, to lead the Church, His Covenant people, into the the promised land, Heaven, to possess it and find eternal rest in the true worship of the living triune God, YHWH.
Breisch, Francis. 1965. The kingdom of God: a guide for Old Testament study. Grand Rapids: National Union of Christian Schools.
Hendriksen, William. 1957. Bible survey: a treasury of Bible information. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Keil, Carl Friedrich, George Cunningham Monteath Douglas, and Friedrich Bleek. 1988. Introduction to the Old Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Martin, Alfred. 1962. Survey of the Scriptures: a Bible correspondence course. Chicago, Ill: Moody Bible Institute.
Moorehead, William G. 1957. Outline studies in the Old Testament, book-by-book. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Pratt, Richard L. 1993. He gave us stories: the Bible student’s guide to interpreting Old Testament narratives. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P. & R. Pub.
Rad, Gerhard von, 1901-1971. 2001. Old Testament theology/ Gerhard von Rad. Translated by D.M.G. Stalker. The Old Testament library. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
The Old Testament. 2000.
Shepherd’s notes. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman.
Woudstra, Marten H. 1981. Thebook of Joshua. New international commentaryon the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans.
Young, Edward J. 1964. Anintroduction to the Old Testament. GrandRapids, Mich: Eerdmans.
1F. Breisch, Jr. The Kingdom of God: A Guide for Old Testament Study (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Schools International, 1958), 60.
2EJ Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub., 1969), 163.
3F. Breisch, Jr. Ibid., 61.
4MH Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), 5-6.
5MH Woudstra, Ibid, 6.
6EJ Young, Ibid, 162. See p. 160-62 for a full description and answer to the Documentary Hypothesis and the Hexateuch.
7EJ Young, Ibid, 163.
8WG Moorhead, Outline Studies in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub., 1957), 62. The author goes on to say, “If, as Lias and others hold, it was written not later than fifty years after the events recorded in it, then Deuteronomy was in existence at that remote period; cf. Chapter 8:30-34; Deut. 27:2-8.”