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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Joshua, the Book of

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"The doomsday book of Palestine," especially Joshua 13-23. Authenticated by Scripture references to the events recorded in it (Psalms 78:53-65; Psalms 28:21; Habakkuk 3:11-13; Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8; Hebrews 11:30-32; James 2:25). Joshua after destroying the kings, so that Israel had rest from war in the open field, divided generally the land; but this is quite consistent with the after statements that years passed before the process of division was completed and the allotments finally settled. Joshua was directed to divide land not yet in Israel's actual possession (Joshua 13:1-14;Joshua 13:5). God designed that Israel should occupy the land by degrees, lest the beasts should multiply and the land be desolate (Exodus 23:28-30); for instance, though the kings of Jerusalem and Gezer were slain, their people were not rooted out until long after.

The slackness of Israel to extirpate the accursed Canaanites was also a cause of non-immediate possession (Joshua 11:16; Joshua 11:23; Joshua 12:7; Joshua 12:10-12; compare Joshua 15:63; Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:1; Joshua 17:16; Joshua 18:1; Joshua 18:3; Joshua 19:51). Joshua is based on the Pentateuch (to which it is joined by the conjunction "now" or "and" at its beginning), "now" but distinct from it. Compare Joshua 13:7 with Numbers 34:13; Numbers 13:17 with Numbers 32:37; Numbers 13:21-22 with Numbers 31:8; Numbers 13:14; Numbers 13:33; Numbers 14:4, with Deuteronomy 18:1-2; Numbers 18:20; Numbers 21 with Numbers 35.

UNITY. The book evidently is that of an eye witness, so minute and vivid are the descriptions. The narrative moves on in one uninterrupted flow for the first 12 chapters of Joshua. Jehovah's faithfulness is exhibited in the historical fulfillment of His covenanted promises, with which the book opens (Joshua 1:2-9, the programme of the book).

I. The promise, Joshua 1:2-5, is fulfilled (Joshua 2-12), the conquest of the land by Jehovah's mighty help, "from the wilderness and this Lebanon unto ... Euphrates ... and the great sea (the Mediterranean) toward the going down of the sun." The limit, the Euphrates, was not actually reached until Solomon's reign (1 Kings 4:21), and the full realization awaits Christ's millennial reign (Genesis 15:18; Psalms 72:8); but the main step toward its fulfillment was taken. Joshua's conquests, though overwhelming at the time, could only be secured by Israel's faithfully following them up.

II. The promise, Joshua 6-7, that Joshua should divide the land is recorded as fulfilled (Joshua 13-22).

III. The means of realizing this two-fold promise, "only be very courageous to do ... all the law ... turn not to the right hand or to the left ... 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 all that is written therein ... for then thou shalt have good success .... Be strong and of a good courage for the Lord thy God is with thee wheresoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:7-9), are urged upon the people in detail by Joshua as his last testimony (Joshua 23:24). The connection and method traceable throughout prove the unity of the book. The variety in the style of the historical compared with the topographical parts is what we should expect. The "three days" (Joshua 1:11) are not the time within which the crossing actually took place, but the time allowed to the people to prepare for crossing: prepare victuals to be able to leave Shittim within three days, so as to be ready to cross Jordan.

The spies sent from Shittim to Jericho (the key of Canaan) on the same day as Joshua gave this charge to Israel had to hide three days after leaving Jericho, so that they could not have returned until the evening of the fourth day after they were sent (Joshua 2:22). The morning after this Israel left Shittim for Jordan, where they halted again; three days afterward they crossed, i.e. eight days intervened between their being sent and Israel's crossing. The drying up of Jordan is the counterpart of the drying up of the Red Sea under Moses, Joshua's master and predecessor. Throughout the warlike and the peaceful events of this book, comprising a period of 25 years (compare Joshua 14:7-10) from 1451 to 1426 B.C., God's presence is everywhere felt. Joshua is His conscious and obedient agent.

AUTHOR. That Joshua wrote the book is probable because

(1) he certainly wrote one transaction in it (Joshua 24:26), and scarcely any but Joshua himself is likely to have written the parting addresses, his last legacy to Israel (Joshua 23-24).

(2) None but Joshua could have supplied the accounts of his communion with God (Joshua 1:1 ff; Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:2; Joshua 5:2; Joshua 5:9; Joshua 5:13; Joshua 6:2; Joshua 7:10; Joshua 8:1; Joshua 10:8; Joshua 11:6; Joshua 13:1-2; Joshua 20:1; Joshua 24:2).

(3) Joshua was best qualified by his position to describe the events, and to collect the documents of this book; it was important that the statement of the allotments should rest on such a decisive authority as Joshua.

(4) He would be following his master and predecessor Moses' pattern in recording God's dealings with Israel through him; Joshua 24:26 looks like his own subscription, as Moses in Deuteronomy 31, both being followed by an appendix as to the author's death.

(5) In Joshua 5:1; Joshua 5:6, he uses the first person, "we passed over"; and in Joshua 6:25, "Rahab dwelleth in Israel even unto this day"; both passages imply a contemporary writer.

Keil gives a list of phrases and forms peculiar to this book and the Pentateuch, marking its composition in or near the same age. Judges 3:1-3; Judges 1:27-29, repeat Joshua 13:2-6; Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:11, because Joshua's description suited the times described by the inspired writer of Judges. The capture of Hebron and Debir by Judah and its hero Caleb is repeated in Judges 1:9-15 from Joshua 15:13-20. Possibly the account of the Danite occupation of Leshem or Laish is a later insertion in Joshua 19:47 from Judges 18:7. So also the account (Joshua 15:63; Joshua 18:28) of the joint occupation of Jerusalem by Israel and the Jebusites may be an insertion from Judges 1:8; Judges 1:21.

In the case of an authoritative record of the allotment of lands, which the book of Joshua is, the immediate successors who appended the account of his death (probably one or more of the elders who took part in Joshua's victories and outlived him: "we," Joshua 5:1; Joshua 5:6; Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7) would naturally insert the exact state of things then, which in Joshua's time were in a transition state, his allotments not having been taken full possession of until after his death. The expulsion of the Jebusites from Jerusalem at the beginning of David's reign proves that Joshua and Judges were written before David. The Gibeonites were in Joshua's time (Joshua 9:27) "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for the sanctuary "even unto this day," but Saul set aside the covenant and tried to destroy them; so that the book of Joshua was before Saul. The only Phoenicians mentioned are the Sidonians, reckoned with the Canaanites as doomed to destruction; but in David's time Tyre takes the lead of Sidon, and is in treaty with David (Joshua 13:4-6; 2 Samuel 5:11).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Joshua, the Book of'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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