Introduction to the Book of Joshua

The Israelites conquered Canaan in the book of Joshua

Conquering Canaan Land in the Book of Joshua
The Israelites Conquering Jericho. Getty Images

The book of Joshua details how the Israelites conquered Canaan, the Promised Land given to the Jews in God's covenant with Abraham. It's a story of miracles, bloody battles, and dividing the land among the 12 tribes. Characterized as a historical account, the book of Joshua tells how a leader's obedience to God resulted in divine help in the face of overwhelming odds.

Question for Reflection

Of the more than one million Israelites who escaped from slavery in Egypt, Joshua and Caleb were the only two of the older generation to enter the Promised Land. To succeed they would need to be strong and courageous. The job of leading Israel into its homeland would not be an easy one. God taught them that faithful obedience to the Lord’s Word was key to their success. Do you look to the world’s standards of power and influence for success, or do follow the examples of Joshua and Caleb, concerning yourself only with God’s commands?

Who Wrote the Book of Joshua?

Several authors contributed to the writing of this historical book, including Joshua, Eleazar the high priest and Phinehas, his son, as well as other contemporaries of Joshua.

Date Written

Approximately BC 1398.

Written To

Joshua was written to the people of Israel and all future readers of the Bible.

Landscape of the Book of Joshua

The book of Joshua records Joshua’s leadership of the people of Israel as they complete their journey into the Promise Land and fulfill the task of conquering its inhabitants. The story opens in Shittim, just north of the Dead Sea and east of the Jordan River. The first great victory was at Jericho. Over seven years, the Israelites captured the entire land of Canaan, from Kadesh-barnea in the south to Mount Hermon in the north.

Themes

God's love for his chosen people continues in the book of Joshua. In the first five books of the Bible, God brought the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and established his covenant with them. Joshua returns them to their Promised Land, where God helps them conquer it and gives them a home.

The book of Joshua shows how the Israelites experienced success when they obeyed the Lord's master plans. God's Word sets the standard for success. It also provides guidance for living our daily lives. When we do God's work in God's way, we experience success.

The book also gives a living picture of godly leadership. Joshua trusted wholly in God's strength, which gave him courage in the face of strong opposition. He sought God diligently for direction and advice.

Key Characters

Joshua, Rahab, Achan, Eleazar, Phinehas.

Key Verses

Joshua 1:8
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (NIV)

Joshua 6:20
When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. (NIV)

Joshua 24:25
On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. (NIV)

Joshua 24:31
Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel. (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Joshua

  • Joshua's Assignment - Joshua 1:1-5:15
  • Rahab Helps the Spies - Joshua 2:1-24
  • The People Cross the Jordan River - Joshua 3:1-4:24
  • Circumcision and a Visit by an Angel - Joshua 5:1-15
  • Battle of Jericho - Joshua 6:1-27
  • Achan's Sin Brings Death - Joshua 7:1-26
  • Renewed Israel Defeats Ai - Joshua 8:1-35
  • Gibeon's Trick - Joshua 9:1-27
  • Defending Gibeon, Defeating Southern Kings - Joshua 10:1-43
  • Capturing the North, a List of Kings - Joshua 11:1-12:24
  • Dividing the Land - Joshua 13:1-33
  • Land West of the Jordan - Joshua 14:1-19:51
  • More Allotments, Justice at Last - Joshua 20:1-21:45
  • Eastern Tribes Praise God - Joshua 22:1-34
  • Joshua Warns the People to Stay Faithful - Joshua 23:1-16
  • Covenant at Shechem, Joshua's Death - Joshua 24:1-33