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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

- Joshua

by Gary H. Everett


Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett


All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme How to Serve the Lord with All Our Strength

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Structural Theme God Provides His Children Rest

Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying,

The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.

Joshua 1:13

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

For he that is entered into his rest,

he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9-10

Imperative Theme Prosperity Comes when We Serve the Lord

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.

Joshua 1:8  


The Scriptures tell us that God has spoken to His people on many occasions and in various ways throughout the history of mankind (Hebrews 1:1). God spoke to the patriarchs by dreams; He spoke to Moses face to face; He spoke to the nation of Israel from a fiery mountain and then by the written Law; He spoke to Balaam by the mouth of a donkey; He spoke to His people by His prophets, and by divine judgment when they ignored His prophets; He spoke by Psalms and by proverbs and by parables; He spoke to us through His incarnate Son Jesus Christ; He spoke by signs and wonders; finally, He spoke to His people and to us by the recorded history in Scripture. In every way and manner God has spoken to His people because of His great love for them. The record of history reveals to us God’s divine plan for mankind as He supernaturally intervenes in the affairs of our lives (Proverbs 16:9). Graeme Goldsworthy refers to Hebrews 1:1 when he links the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Old Testament Scriptures. [1] Thus, the underlying theme of the Writings is to declare the office and work of the Heavenly Father as the One whose foreknowledge and divinely election has determined for His people salvation from their sins and eternal rest in Heaven (1 Peter 1:2).

[1] Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, c2006), 234.

Hebrews 1:1, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,”

Proverbs 16:9, “A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

1 Peter 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

The historical books of the Old Testament follow a literary structure.

A. The Four-fold Plan of Redemption in the History of Israel - Paul the apostle presents God the Father’s redemptive plan for Israel in Romans 8:29-30, into which the Church has been grafted, as he explains in the following chapters of this epistle.

Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

The apostle describes this four-fold plan of God the Father’s foreknowledge as (1) predestination, (2) calling, (3) justification, and (4) glorification. The thematic scheme of the Old Testament historical books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth , 1 -2 Samuel , , 1 -2 Kings will follow this redemptive scheme as they record the history of the nation of Israel. This redemptive scheme will find its structure in the rise and decline of the kingdom of Israel, with the reign of King Solomon serving as the climax of Israel’s history. [2] These historical books reveal that Israel’s success as a nation is determined by their obedience to the Mosaic Law. Israel’s failures during the period of the conquest of Joshua, and during the time of the judges reveals their need for a redeemer, a Messiah, which hope God has predestined to fulfill in Christ Jesus. The nation of Israel failed to obtain redemption from their sins under the leadership of the priesthood, with Eli and his sons becoming corrupt. Under the judges, Samuel’s sons failed to carry on their father’s office. The children of Israel cried out for a king to be their deliverer and redeemer. The book of Ruth shows that David has been predestined for the throne of Israel. In the book of 1 Samuel, their cry for a king during the time of Samuel moves Samuel, this last judge over Israel, to anoint a leader, whom God will divinely call as their king. The book of 2 Samuel records the establishment of the kingdom of Israel under the rule and conquests of David. 2 Samuel emphasizes God’s justification for establishing the Davidic lineage for Messianic promises and ultimate redemption for Israel. 1 Kings 1-11 records the reign of Solomon, which serves as the glorification of the Davidic lineage. 2 Timothy 2:0 Kings records the decline of the kingdom of Israel.

[2] Graeme Goldsworthy divides the Old Testament historical narrative texts into two epochs. The first epoch spans the time from “the beginning of biblical history up to and including the first part of Solomon’s reign.” He describes the second epoch as “the post-Solomonic decline of Israel.” See Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Literature (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmanns Publishing Company, c2000), 140-43.

We can propose the primary themes of the historical books based upon Paul’s four-fold plan of redemption, and structured around the rise and decline of the kingdom of Israel.

Israel’s Need for a Redeemer Joshua and Judges

The Predestination of David as King Ruth 1:1 to Ruth 4:22

The Calling of David as King 1 Samuel 1:1 to 1 Samuel 31:13

The Justification of David 2 Samuel 1:1 to 2 Samuel 24:25

The Glorification of Solomon 1 Kings 1:1 to 1 Kings 11:43

The Decline of the Kingdom 1 Kings 12:1 to 2 Kings 25:5

B. Parallel Accounts of the Reigns of David and Solomon - In outlining these historical books more closely, it can be noted that the rise and decline of each king over Israel follows a similar pattern. David’s reign begins with him judging his immediate adversaries within his nation (2 Samuel 1:1-27); he establishes his throne through conquests and uniting the nation (2 Samuel 2:1 to 2 Samuel 5:25); he institutes national worship of the Lord (2 Samuel 6:1-23); God makes a covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:1-29); the prosperity of David’s reign (2 Samuel 8:1 to 2 Samuel 10:19); David’s sin and judgment (2 Samuel 12:1 to 2 Samuel 18:33) David’s restoration as king (2 Samuel 19:1 to 2 Samuel 21:22); epilogue to David’s reign (Joshua 22:1 to 2 Samuel 23:39); David’s final intercession for Israel (2 Samuel 24:1-25).

A. Judgment of His Adversaries 2 Samuel 1:1-27

B. Establishment of His Throne 2 Samuel 2:1 to 2 Samuel 5:25

C. Institution of National Worship 2 Samuel 6:1-23

D. God Makes a Covenant with David 2 Samuel 7:1-29

E. The Prosperity of David’s reign 2 Samuel 8:1 to 2 Samuel 10:19

F. David’s Sin and Judgment 2 Samuel 12:1 to 2 Samuel 18:33

G. David’s Restoration as king 2 Samuel 19:1 to 2 Samuel 21:22

H. Epilogue to David’s reign 2 Samuel 22:1 to 2 Samuel 23:39

I. David’s Final Intercession for Israel 2 Samuel 24:1-25

The reign of Solomon will follow a parallel history of the judgment of his immediate adversaries within his nation (1 Kings 1:1 to 1 Kings 2:46), he establishes his throne through treaties and wise judgment (1 Kings 3:1 to 1 Kings 4:34), he institutes national worship of the Lord by building the Temple (1 Kings 5:1 to 1 Kings 8:66), God makes a covenant with Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-9), the prosperity of Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 9:10 to 1 Kings 10:29), sin and judgment (1 Kings 11:1-23), and epilogue (1 Kings 11:41-43).

1. Judgment of His Adversaries 1 Kings 1:1 to 1 Kings 2:46

2. Establishment of His Throne 1 Kings 3:1 to 1 Kings 4:34

3. Institution of National Worship 1 Kings 5:1 to 1 Kings 8:66

4. God Makes a Covenant with Solomon 1 Kings 9:1-9

5. The Prosperity of Solomon’s Reign 1 Kings 9:10 to 1 Kings 10:29

6. Solomon’s Sin and Judgment 1 Kings 11:1-40

7. Epilogue to Solomon’s Reign 1 Kings 11:41-43

In contrast, the wicked reign of King Jereboam of northern Israel follows a similar sequence of events, but leads Israel into idolatry, from which they will never recover.

1. Jereboam Establishes His Throne 1 Kings 12:1-24

2. Jereboam Institutes National Worship 1 Kings 12:25-33

3. God Speaks to Jereboam thru a Prophet 13:1-32

4. Jereboam’s Sin and Judgment 1 Kings 13:33 to 1 Kings 14:18

5. Epilogue to Jereboam’s Reign 1 Kings 14:19-20


Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

Introductory Material - The introduction to the book of Joshua will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. [3] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

[3] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).


“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”

(J. Hampton Keathley) [4]

[4] J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Joshua will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Joshua was the author of the book of Joshua, writing during the period after Israel’s Conquest of the land of Canaan.

I. The Title

The four books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings are grouped into a collection of books known by the ancient Jews as the “Early Prophets.” The LXX testifies to the ancient title to the book of Joshua, which is “Ίησοϋς Ναυή” and “υι ́ ο ̀ ς Ναυή.” [5] The Greek title was known by Melito, bishop of Sardis (d. c. 190). [6] Origen (c. 185 c. 254) testifies to the use of this title by the Jews in his day. [7] Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) was familiar with this title as well. [8] The Vulgate uses the Latin title “Liber Joshue,” [9] from which the English title “Joshua” is derived. The ancient Hebrew title ( יהושע ) has remained essentially unchanged, and can be found in the standard work Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. [10] Keil notes that this title was derived not necessary from its author, but from the main character of its historical material. [11]

[5] Henry Swete believes the Greek title “Ίησοϋς Ναυή” is “of Alexandrian and pre-Christian origin.” See Henry B. Swete, An Introduction to Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1902), 215.

[6] Eusebius writes, “‘I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David; the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.’ Such are the words of Melito.” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.26.14 , trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff, (Oxford: Parker and Company, c1890, 1905), 206.

[7] Eusebius, the early Church historian, writes, “Jesus, the son of Nave, Josoue ben Noun;” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.1-2 , trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c1890, 1905), 272-3.

[8] Jerome writes, “The second class is composed of the Prophets, and they begin with Jesus the son of Nave, who among them is called Joshua the son of Nun.” See Jerome, “Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings,” trans. W. H. Freemantle, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol. 6, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1893), 489-90.

[9] Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam, ed. electronica (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2005), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).

[10] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eißfelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c1967-77).

[11] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, vol. 4, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin (Edinburgh: T & T Clarke, 1865), 13.

II. Historical Background

A. Archaeological Evidence for the Structure of City-States in Canaan During the Time of Joshua The land of Canaan during the time of Joshua was made up of fragmented city-states. Each city had a “king,” who influences a small area. These kings joined together in battle against Joshua and the children of Israel during the Conquest. Work in biblical archaeology now supports this political view of the land of Canaan during the time of Joshua. I n 1887 a peasant, digging in the ruins of Tell el-Amarna, found a number of clay, cuneiform tablets, which were a portion of an ancient, royal Egyptian archive. The site of these ruins was later excavated by Professor Petrie in 1891-92, who discovered more tablets, with additional excavations providing new tablets. These Amarna Tablets of the fourteenth century B.C. contain correspondence between the Egyptian pharaohs and his vassal Canaanite kings, suggesting that the land of Canaan prior to the conquest by Joshua consisted of many independent city-states having its own government, kings and armies. [12] This description agrees with that given in the Scriptures of the land of Canaan before and during the Conquest of Joshua.

[12] William L. Moran, ed., The Amarna Letters, trans. William L. Moran (Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, c1987, 1992), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).

III. Authorship

Internal and external evidence suggests the book of Joshua was the primary author, with the book receiving its final editing during the time of Ezra the priest after the Babylonian Captivity.

A. Internal Evidence - Internal evidence supports the fact that Joshua was the primary author of the book of Joshua with a later editing added by the time the Scriptures reached their last compilation. We find this same evidence with the authorship of Moses and the Pentateuch.

1. The author passed over Jordan with children of Israel. Therefore, he was an eyewitness of this event.

Joshua 5:1, “And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.”

Joshua 5:6, “For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us , a land that floweth with milk and honey.”

2. Joshua wrote “these words.”

Joshua 24:26, “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.”

3. The first verse in the book of Judges suggests that the same person edited or composed both the book of Joshua and the book of Judges. Both opening verses begin in the same way by referring to the death of the main character in the previous work.

Joshua 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, saying,”

Judges 1:1, “ Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?”

4. The book of Joshua and Judges contain a number of parallel passages.

a. The death of Joshua is referred to in Joshua 24:29-32 and Judges 1:1.

a. Joshua 24:31 and Judges 2:7 are almost the same words.

Joshua 24:31, “And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.”

Judges 2:7, “And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.”

b. Caleb's conquest of Hebron, which took place after Joshua's death, is recorded in Joshua 14:6-15 and Judges 1:10-16.

c. Othniel’s conquest of Debir is found in Joshua 15:15-20 and Judges 1:11-15, which event took place after the death of Joshua according to the book of Judges.

d) The Danite migration is recorded in Joshua 19:47 and Judges 18:1-31, which took place after Joshua's death

5. Joshua 18:9 suggests that the leaders of the tribes who surveyed the land put their surveys in writing. These surveys were very likely copied into the sections on the divisions of the land that list the cities and boundaries of each tribe of Israel.

It is most probable that Joshua was the primary author of the book of Joshua, while someone else composed the book into the form we have today at a later date, most likely during the time of Ezra the scribe. It is likely that this same editor composed both Joshua and Judges in its final form because some passages are duplicated.

B. External Evidence - If we look outside of biblical literature for clues to authorship and into other ancient Jewish literature from which much Jewish tradition is found, we read in the Talmud that says that Joshua wrote his own book as well as the final passage of the Pentateuch that tells about the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-12).

“And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil’am [Numbers, xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died.” Samuel wrote his book, Judges, and Ruth. David wrote Psalms, with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh’s theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra’s book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah.” ( Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) [13]

[13] Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.

Thus, according to Jewish tradition, Joshua is the most likely person to have compiled the Pentateuch as well as having recorded some of the material found in the book of Joshua.

IV. Date

The book of Joshua covers about a thirty-year period of Israel's history under the leadership of Joshua, as Moses' successor. Some scholars suggest that the Exodus took place as early as 1446 B.C., [14] when Joshua was forty years old (Joshua 14:7). He would have been eighty years old when he led the conquest of Canaan after the forty-year wilderness journey (Exodus 16:35). He was eighty-five years old at the end of the Conquest (Joshua 14:10), and he died at the age of one hundred and ten (Joshua 24:29), thirty years after entering the Promised Land and seventy years after the Exodus. We may then estimate the date of his death at 1376 B.C.

[14] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R.K. Harrison, in Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “The Exodus.”

Joshua 14:7, “Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.”

Exodus 16:35, “And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.”

Joshua 14:10, “And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.”

Joshua 24:29, “And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.”

If the phrase “unto this day” is used in dating the authorship of the book of Judges, it can be noted that the author lived during the time of Rahab, the harlot (see Joshua 6:25) and before King David took Jerusalem from the Jebusites in 2 Samuel 5:6-10 (see Joshua 15:63). Rahab was still living when the book was written (see Joshua 6:25).

Joshua 4:9, “And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day .”

Joshua 5:9, “And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day .”

Joshua 6:25, “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day ; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”

Joshua 7:26, “And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day . So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day .”

Joshua 8:28-29, “And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day . And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day .”

Joshua 9:27, “And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day , in the place which he should choose.”

Joshua 10:27, “And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day .”

Joshua 13:13, “Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day .”

Joshua 14:14, “Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day , because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.”

Joshua 15:63, “As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day .”

Joshua 16:10, “And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day , and serve under tribute.”

It is very likely that the writings and words of Joshua were collected into book form by someone of Joshua’s generation, perhaps during the judgeship of Othniel, because of the interest in characters of Caleb and Othniel within the book of Joshua. The events of Othniel’s victory probably took place between 1370 and 1330 B.C. Therefore, a date of 1400 B.C. to 1375 B.C. for the book’s initial composition would be realistic, with the final editing and composition of all of the Old Testament books taking place during the time of Ezra the scribe.

V. Recipients

VI. Occasion


“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”

(Thomas Schreiner) [15]

[15] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the children of Israel in the wilderness, the author of the book of Joshua chose to write using the literary style of the historical narrative. Thus, the book of Joshua is assigned to the literary genre called “historical narrative literature.”


“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”

(Andreas Kösenberger) [16]

[16] Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Joshua, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Joshua for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

VIII. Thematic Scheme

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) Serving the Lord With All of our Strength - The Historical books teach us how to serve the Lord with all of our strength as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). They give us examples of those who did so and of those who failed to do so. This theme is revealed in the opening passage to the Historical books when the Lord tells Joshua that if they would come to know His Word, then they would make their way prosperous and have good success.

Joshua 1:8, “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.”

The books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth serve as three witnesses of how to serve the Lord before the kingdom of Israel. The books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles serve as three witnesses of how to serve the Lord during the kingdom of Israel. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther serve as three witnesses of how to serve the Lord after the kingdom of Israel.

Thus the historical books give us examples of how the children of Israel served the Lord with all of their strength and prospered and also of how they disobeyed and fell back into poverty and lack through divine discipline.

B. Structural Theme (Structural) God Provides His Children Rest The secondary theme of the book of Joshua reveals that God provides rest for the children of Israel.

C. Third Theme (Imperative) Meditating upon God’s Word in Order to Made Decisions - The third, imperative theme of the book of Joshua can be found it is opening passages. Perhaps the most popular verse in this Old Testament book is Joshua 1:8, which tells us that “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.” Now Joshua’s calling (Joshua 1:1-9) falls under God’s original command to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to be fruitful and multiply and to take dominion over the earth. In this command, God was referring to the multiplication of a righteous people. Thus, Joshua was simply building upon the foundation laid by his predecessor Moses. We see God’s original plan for mankind is still being given to His children of righteousness, who are the children of Israel during the time of Moses and Joshua up until the time of the New Testament church. The command to be fruitful and to multiply has never changed and will be given again to the apostles in the Great Commission by our Resurrected Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for He will command the apostles to go and to train, or to make disciples, of all nations. In other words, the Church was to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. This was God’s original plan for mankind and this plan has not changed in the least. The Gospel of Matthew serves as the training manual by which the Church is to go and make disciples just as the Law of Moses found in the Pentateuch served as Joshua’ guide to fulfill his divine calling and destiny; for the Gospel of Matthew is structured into five major discourses which parallel and build upon the five books of the Pentateuch. The Great Commission is found in the first book of the New Testament and therefore serves to lay the foundation for the work of the New Testament Church. We find in the book of Acts how the early Church followed this command. In the same way, the book of Joshua serves as an example and a pattern for the nation of Israel in subduing the nations around them.

Joshua 1:8 gives us the pattern of how Joshua was to fulfil his divine commission. He was to spend time meditating upon God’s Word in order to know how to lead the nation of Israel into success. As we examine the stories found within the book of Joshua, we find that they serve as an example of Joshua’s ability to hear God’s voice and follow divine instructions. We can see how Joshua practiced this command on a daily in a practical way, which will also serve as an example to us. In the story of the Gibeonites and how they deceived the elders of Israel (Joshua 9:1-27), we find an example of Joshua’s failure to wait upon the Lord before making a decision. The Gibeonites, who were of the land of Canaan, came to the children of Israel and convinced them that they were from a foreign land and made a covenant with them, which thing Moses had strictly forbidden them to do (see Exodus 23:32; Exodus 34:12).

Exodus 23:32, “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.”

Exodus 34:12, “Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee.”

This covenant was made because Joshua did not first “seek counsel from the Lord” (Joshua 9:14). In other words, Joshua should have withdrawn himself in prayer and meditation after listening to the voice of the Gibeonites and of the elders of Israel. In this way, Joshua would have also heard God’s counsel and been able to make a wise decision. This is the procedure that God had given Joshua to follow. But too often, we as Christians neglect this procedure because it appears as an encumbrance in our busy day or because of peer pressure from those around us. Also, we are not sure how to hear from God through waiting on Him in prayer and meditation because we have not practiced this procedure often enough. Therefore, we often attempt to make decisions after hearing only on voice. But does not the Scriptures say in Proverbs 18:17 that “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him”? In other words, the first voice appears to be the right information until the second voice is heard and “searches out,” or corrects or evaluates, the first voice. This is the way that God instructed Joshua to make a decision.

Illustration - Let’s take a practical example from my missionary work in Africa. When I took over the management of Lighthouse Television in July 1999, I could not make any decision without first consulting the board of directors of this company. At first, this was indeed cumbersome and the office work proceeded rather slowly. But this procedure was critical and necessary in those early stages of managing a Christian ministry in a foreign land. Through the years, however, I was released to make many daily decisions because these decisions were based upon the precedence set by former decisions of similar circumstances. Things began to move a little more briskly in the office because I could now make some of the more simple decisions. But there are always new and challenging situations that require the counsel of the board of directors. This procedure will never be abandoned.

This is the procedure that God commanded Joshua to follow. When he followed them, his decisions were successful. When he disobeyed, those decisions brought problems. In the case of the Gibeonites, we read later how King Saul yielded to the temptation of violating this covenant and this act of disobedience brought judgment upon the nation of Israel during the reign of King David. As a result, Saul’s decision brought much ruin upon the nation before David sought God for a remedy and healed the land with the death of seven of Saul’s sons.

IX. Literary Structure

X. Outline of Book

I. Intro: Joshua’s Divine Commission Joshua 1:1-9

II. Israel Prepares for the Conquest Joshua 1:10 to Joshua 5:15

A. Joshua’s First Command to Israel as Their Leader Joshua 1:10-18

B. The Story of Rahab the Harlot and the Two Spies Joshua 2:1-24

C. Israel Crosses Over the Jordan River Joshua 3:1 to Joshua 4:24

D. The Men of Israel Are Circumcised Joshua 5:1-12

E. The Captain of the Lord of Hosts Joshua 5:13-15

III. The Conquest of Canaan Joshua 6:1 to Joshua 12:24

A. Israel Destroys Jericho Joshua 6:1-27

B. Israel’s Defeat at Ai and the Judgment of Achan Joshua 7:1-26

C. Israel Defeats Ai Joshua 8:1-29

D. Israel Renews Its Covenant with the Lord Joshua 8:30-35

E. Israel’s Covenant with the Gibeonites Joshua 9:1-27

F. The Southern Campaign Joshua 10:1-43

G. The Northern Campaign Joshua 11:1-15

H. Summary of the Conquest of Canaan Joshua 11:16-23

I. List of Conquered Kings Joshua 12:1-24

1. List of Kings Conquered by Moses Joshua 12:1-6

2. List of Kings Conquered by Joshua Joshua 12:7-24

IV. The Division of the Promised Land Joshua 13:1 to Joshua 21:45

A. Intro: Joshua’s Divine Charge to Divine the Land Joshua 13:1-7

B. The Division of the Land East of Jordan Joshua 13:8-33

1. Description of the Land East of Jordan Joshua 13:8-14

2. The Allotment to Reuben Joshua 13:15-23

3. The Allotment to Gad Joshua 13:24-28

4. The Allotment to Half Manasseh Joshua 13:29-33

C. The Division of the Land West of Jordan Joshua 14:1 to Joshua 21:42

1. Introduction Joshua 14:1-5

2. The Allotment to Judah Joshua 14:6 to Joshua 15:63

Caleb’s Inheritance Joshua 14:6-15

The Allotment to Judah Joshua 15:1-12

Caleb Takes His Inheritance Joshua 15:13-19

The Cities of Judah’s Allotment Joshua 15:20-63

3. The Allotment to Joseph Joshua 16:1 to Joshua 17:18

Description of Joseph’s Allotment Joshua 16:1-4

The Allotment to Ephraim Joshua 16:5-10

The Allotment to Half Manasseh Joshua 17:1-13

Additional Land for Joseph Joshua 17:14-18

4. The Allotment to the Other Ten Tribes Joshua 18:1 to Joshua 21:42

Introduction Joshua 18:1-9

The Allotment to Benjamin Joshua 18:11-28

The Allotment to Simeon Joshua 19:1-9

The Allotment to Zebulun Joshua 19:10-16

The Allotment to Issachar Joshua 19:17-23

The Allotment to Asher Joshua 19:24-31

The Allotment to Naphtali Joshua 19:32-39

The Allotment to Dan Joshua 19:40-48

The Allotment to Joshua Joshua 19:49-51

The Cities of Refuge Joshua 20:1-9

The Allotment to the Levites Joshua 21:1-42

D. Summary of Division of the Promised Land Joshua 21:43-45

V. The Eastern Tribes Return to their Land Joshua 22:1-34

A. Joshua Sends Eastern Tribes Home Joshua 22:1-9

B. The Burnt Altar for a Memorial Joshua 22:10-34

VI. Conclusion Joshua 23:1 to Joshua 24:33

A. Joshua’s Farwell Speeches Joshua 23:1 to Joshua 24:28

B. The Death of Joshua and Eleazar Joshua 24:29-33



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