Most of Joshua was written by Joshua, himself (24:1-26). However, certain passages could not have been written by him (15:13-17; 24:29-31; cf. Judges 1:9-13). These were probably written by Eleazer the priest or by Phineas, his son.
Time covered in history:
The Biblical Timeline Book by Book:
Genesis…history from Creation through entry into Egypt
Exodus…history from Exodus through Sinai
Leviticus…one year after the Exodus…Laws for living & instructions for the use of the Tabernacle…given during the month & 20 days between the setting up of the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:17) and the departure of the people from Sinai (Numbers 10:11).
Numbers…history, starting one month after the close of the book of Exodus and continuing through 39 years of wandering in the wilderness… concluding at the border to the Promised Land (Canaan)
Deuteronomy…the addresses given by Moses during the final months of his life while Israel was camped across from the Promised Land
The book of Joshua begins a new section of the Old Testament…the Historical books. It describes the conquest of the land of Canaan (180 miles long by 40 miles wide). It begins where Deuteronomy concludes. The first five books of the Old Testament lead the children of Israel up to Canaan…now Joshua leads them into Canaan. Exodus records how God lead His people out of the land of bondage…while Joshua tells us how God led His people into the land of blessing. The remainder of the Historical books (Judges through Esther) cover Israel’s history inside Canaan.
The conquest of the Promised Land took place around 1400 B.C. God confirms the transfer of leadership to Joshua. At the beginning of the Exodus (under Moses) there was a crossing of the Red Sea and now at the end of the Exodus (under Joshua) there is a crossing of the Jordan River. The crossing took place during the time of the year when the Jordan River was swollen…and yet, just like with the Red Sea the people crossed over on dry ground when the water was held back.
Joshua (his name means “Yahweh is salvation”) was born in Egypt. He may have served as a soldier in Pharaoh’s army. He had served as Moses’ personal attendant during the year at Mt. Sinai, was one of the spies (tribe of Ephraim) who scouted out the land of Canaan, and was one of the two who gave a positive report. He was commissioned as Moses’ successor prior to his death. He was a man characterized by faith, courage, obedience, and devotion to the law of God.
The Canaanites, the people who lived in the land, were the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham (grandson of Noah). They were a very wicked and idolatrous people. So, God told Joshua that they would have to be completely destroyed. However, this wasn’t done and the Canaanites became a constant source of trouble for Israel. The land did not come completely into Israel’s control until the days of Solomon some 500 years later (2 Chronicles 9:26).
Canaan’s (the Promised Land) boundaries were the wilderness on the south, the Lebanon ranges on the north, the Euphrates on the east, and the Mediterranean on the west. It was in the center of mighty civilizations that made ancient history…
- Egypt…300 miles to the south
- Nineveh…700 miles northeast
- Babylon…700 miles east
- Persia…1,000 miles east
- Greece…800 miles northwest
- Rome…1,500 miles northwest.
Even today…Israel is still at the center of the world…its history and its future.
The book of Joshua emphasizes: (1) the faithfulness of God to give Israel the land of Canaan (cf. Gen. 13:15); (2) the importance of the written Law of God (1:8; 8:32-35; 23:6-16; 24:26-27); and (3) the holiness of God in judging the sins of the people who lived in the land of Canaan prior to the Israelites (cf. Deuteronomy 7:1-6).
Entering the Land of Canaan Joshua 1:1-5:15
Joshua 1:1-18 The Commissioning of Joshua
Joshua 1:1-9-God speaks to Joshua and tells him that if he will follow His commands, then He will be with him and he will have great success. His courage comes from his faith in God’s presence, and his success comes from his obedience to God’s command as found in the law that He had given him (:8).
Joshua 1:10-18-Joshua speaks to the tribes that will remain on the east side of the Jordan and reminds them of their commitment to fight alongside of the rest of the tribes as they enter into the Promised Land. In verse 17 they respond that they will follow Joshua just like they did Moses. That probably was not very reassuring to Joshua when we remembered how many times the people had rebelled against Moses.
Joshua 2:1-24 The Casing of Jericho
Joshua 2:1-7-Joshua sends two spies into the land and tells them to look it over carefully, especially Jericho. While there, they stay in the home of Rahab.
Joshua 2:8-11-Rahab's profession of her belief in the God of Israel…”for the LORD your God, He is God in Heaven and on earth beneath.” The residents of Jericho had heard about the miracles that God had performed in behalf of Israel and they were terrified of Him.
The spies are hidden by a newly converted ex-harlot named Rahab. Rahab had not only heard of the mighty power of God (2:9-11), but apparently come to trust him also. She must have possessed some kind of testimony, for it was to her house the spies first went, and later the King of Jericho guesses they might be hiding there also. This converted harlot is mentioned in three New Testament passages (Mt. 1:5; Heb. 11:31; Jas. 2:25). She later married a Hebrew man named Salmon, who may have been one of the spies. At any rate, this former pagan would later become the great-great-grandmother of King David. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful illustrations of the grace of God in the Bible.
Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, H.L. Willmington, p. 86
Joshua 2:12-21-Rahab makes a deal with the two spies to save her family. Evidently, her home was part of the outside wall around Jericho because it is through one of her windows that the spies escape when they leave Jericho. The spies tell her that when they attack she is to hang a scarlet thread out of her window. This will identify where she lives and the soldiers will not attack her.
Joshua 2:22-24-The spies return to Joshua and give him an encouraging report.
Joshua 3:1-17 The Crossing of the Jordan
Joshua 3:1-6-Joshua commands the people to make ready to cross the Jordan River. They had not ever been here before so he tells them to follow the Ark of the Covenant…but to stay about 3,000 ft. (10 football fields) behind it.
Joshua 3:7-17-God stops the Jordan River from flowing and the people walk across on dry ground...this demonstrated to the people that God was with Joshua just like He had been with Moses (cf. 4:14; 6:27). When the feet of the priests who were carrying the ark stepped into the water of the Jordan River…the River stopped flowing and backed up at the city of Adam…which was 15 miles north of the place where they crossed the Jordan River. The priests stopped in the middle of the River and all of Israel walked across the River on dry ground.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that even as the people followed the Ark…I will follow You. Let me know when You want me to move forward and when You want me to stop. Don’t ever let me start out on my own or stay in a place when You are moving forward.