Summary of The Book of Joshua
This book is named for its chief character, Joshua, whose name means "Jehovah is salvation." The Greek form of this name is Jesus. The first appearance of Joshua is as the leader of the forces of Israel against Amalek (Ex. 17:8ff). The manner in which he is introduced into the story indicates that he was already well established as a leader. Later, he accompanied Moses to the foot of Mt. Sinai, but did not make the ascent with him (Ex. 24). In Ex. 32-33 he is also found in close association with Moses. No doubt, the years which he spent with Moses greatly influenced his spiritual development. The aspect of his life for which Joshua is most often remembered is his having brought back a positive report from the land of Canaan after serving as one of twelve men sent to spy out the land (Num.13). From this it can be seen that the experience and spirit which were Joshua's equipped him well for his duties and responsibilities as the leader, of God's people.
The book may be regarded as consisting of three parts which may be analyzed as follows :
1) The Conquest of Canaan (1-12). This includes the preparation for and crossing of the Jordan (1-4). After the crossing, they camped at Gilgal. Here they circumcised all the males who were born in the wilderness, as circumcision had not been observed since the departure from Egypt. Gilgal was also the scene of the keeping of the Passover and the cessation of the manna. 5:13-6:27 tells of the miraculous destruction of Jericho and the salvation of Rahab. The crime and punishment of Achan is discussed in ch. 7. In ch. 8, the narrative records the avenging of the defeat which Israel had suffered at the hands of Al because of the sin of Achan. The latter portion of this chapter tells of the setting up of the stones on Mount Ebal. The stratagem of the Gibeonites is the topic of ch. 9. In ch. 10 is contained the story of the conquest of Southern Canaan, with the aid of Joshua's long day. Chs. 11-12 describe the conquest of Northern Canaan and give a list of the defeated kings.
2) The Distribution of the Territory (13-22). This provides a record of the area which was assigned to the various tribes (13-19), the appointment of the six cities of refuge (ch. 20) and the forty-eight cities of the Levites (ch. 21), as well as the departure of the Transjordanic tribes to their home.
3) Joshua's farewell addresses (23-24). The first of these is a speech of encouragement and warning. The second recalls the history of Israel, with emphasis on divine interventions on their behalf. At the close of this speech, Joshua issued the famous statement, "choose you this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (24:15).
The book closes with an account of the renewal of the covenant and the death of Joshua and Eleazer.