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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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JOSHUA (on forms and meaning of the name see next art.). 1. The successor of Moses. See next article. 2. The Bethshemite in whose field was the stone on which the ark was set, on its return from the land of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 6:14; 1 Samuel 6:18 ). 3. The governor of Jerusalem in the time of Josiah ( 2 Kings 23:8 ). 4. The high priest who along with Zerub. directed affairs at Jerusalem after the restoration ( Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:12; Haggai 1:14 etc., Zechariah 3:1; Zechariah 3:3; Zechariah 3:6 etc.). In the books of Hag. and Zec. he is called Joshua, in Ezr. and Neh Jeshua (wh. see). See also Jesus, 2 .

JOSHUA (cf. Jesus, 1 ). The successor of Moses as leader of Israel. He is called Hoshea in Deuteronomy 32:44 , Numbers 13:8; and in Numbers 13:16 this is represented as his original name. But Numbers 13:1-33 is late, and the versions in Dt. show that ‘Joshua’ was probably the original reading. The most likely rendering of the name is ‘Jahweh is salvation.’ The son of Nun and of the tribe of Ephraim, he commanded the army in the battle with Amalek ( Exodus 17:8-16 ), attended on Moses at Mt. Sinai ( Exodus 32:17 f.), and at the Tent of Meeting ( Exodus 33:11; all these passages are from E [Note: Elohist.] ); acted as one of the twelve spies ( Numbers 13:8; Numbers 14:6-9 ), was spared along with Caleb ( Numbers 14:30; Numbers 14:38; all P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ). His subsequent history belongs to the story of the conquest of Canaan (see following article). He was buried in Timnath-serah ( Joshua 19:50; Joshua 24:30 ) or Timnath-heres ( Judges 2:9 ), in the hill-country of Ephraim.

The view is widely held that Joshua has no historical reality as a person, that his name is merely the name of a clan in Ephraim, and that his leadership in Israel represents, and puts back into the period of the conquest the commanding position which Ephraim had come to hold in the Israelite confederation. And the effort is made to show that he makes his appearance first in E [Note: Elohist.] , the N. Israelite or Ephraimite source. But the old poetic fragment Joshua 10:12 f. represents him as speaking in the name of united Israel, and Joshua 17:14-18 brings him into view in his dealings with his own tribe as having more than their interests in his mind, as being in some sense the arbiter of the confederacy. And while it is difficult on any reading of the history to understand why all our sources say nothing about the conquest of Central Palestine, this becomes doubly difficult if originally this was the scene of Joshua’s first activity and influence. The historical foundation for making the hero of Ephraim into the conqueror of all Canaan is absent.

It seems more probable that Joshua led the nation in their first assault on Palestine, that under his leadership the entry by Jericho was won, and a wedge thrust into the land by the capture of Bethel and Ai. After this early and united victory, the tribes may have divided for their future settlements, and the separate conquests may have been carried out, as the traditions in Jg. represent them, in a more piecemeal and imperfect fashion. But this is not incompatible with the fact that Joshua may have retained such a position of arbiter as, e.g. , Joshua 17:1-18 gives him. The loose confederacy, which still recognized its unity against its enemies, may have turned naturally for guidance to one who led its early efforts. In our later sources the conquest was conceived in a different fashion. It was represented as thorough, and as carried out by a united people. The writers naturally grouped all this round the name of one who had been able, though only for a short time, to give the tribes a sense of unity and to begin their assault on their new land. They idealized both his person and his work. But only on the supposition that there was something to idealize is it possible to understand why a man, who belongs to a clan in Ephraim which is otherwise unknown, came to be set up as the hero under whom they won their foothold among the nations, and passed from wandering tribes into a people.

A. C. Welch.


1. Place in the Canon . The book was placed by the Jews among the Early Prophets, i.e. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings. The reason generally accepted for this is that Joshua, unlike Exodus or Leviticus, does not contain Torah or law. But Genesis, which recounts only the origins of the nation to which the Torah was delivered, was included in the Pentateuch; Joshua, which relates the conquest of the land where the Torah was to be practised, was excluded. Jewish tradition worked with criteria of which we are ignorant, but in separating Joshua from the Pentateuch it may have recognized the presence of different documents.

Modern criticism has insisted on connecting the book more closely with the Pentateuch, on the ground that, since all the Pentateuch documents look forward to the fulfilment of Jahweh’s promise of Palestine, Joshua, which relates the conquest, is a necessary sequel. This, however, forgets ( a ) that all Hebrew history is a unity in which the conquest of Palestine is merely an incident; ( b ) that Deuteronomy looks forward beyond the conquest to the erection of a national sanctuary, for which Joshua provides no more than the foundation. And there are other evidences that Joshua formed part of a history which extended through the period of the Judges to the establishment of the kingdom in Jerusalem. It is possible that a wider recognition of this fact may help to clear up some of the difficult questions as to the composition of the book.

2. Structure and contents . The book falls into three parts: ( a ) the conquest, chs. 1 12; ( b ) the division of the land, chs. 13 21; ( c ) a conclusion, chs. 22 24. It is convenient to discuss these separately.

( a ) In chs. 1 12, an account, closely akin to JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] , supplies the foundation. It relates the mission of the spies to Jericho ( Joshua 2:1-9; Joshua 2:12-24 ), and the consequent passage of Jordan ( Joshua 3:1; Joshua 3:5; Joshua 3:10-17 , Joshua 4:1-11 a, Joshua 4:15-18 , Joshua 4:20 ). In the latter story a difference in substance proves the presence of two accounts, but every effort to identify one of these with J [Note: Jahwist.] , the other with E [Note: Elohist.] , fails from insufficient criteria. It recounts the circumcision at Gilgal, which it views as a novelty (‘the second time’ of Joshua 5:2 is absent from the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ), since by this means the reproach of the circumcised Egyptians is removed from the people ( Joshua 5:2 f., Joshua 5:8 f.). The story of the capture of Jericho and Ai (in both of which the presence of two accounts is clear) follows ( Joshua 5:13 to Joshua 6:27 , Joshua 7:2-26 , Joshua 8:1-29 ), with the trespass of Achan. Joshua then makes a compact with the Gibeonites ( Joshua 9:3-9 a, Joshua 9:11-15 a, Joshua 9:16 , Joshua 9:22 f., Joshua 9:26 , Joshua 9:27 a), and advances to the victory at Beth-horon ( Joshua 10:1-7; Joshua 10:9-12 b 14a), to the execution at Makkedah ( Joshua 10:15-24; Joshua 10:26 f.), and to the victory at the Waters of Merom ( Joshua 11:1-9 [in part]).

This account has been thoroughly revised by an editor who is closely akin in spirit and language to the author of the framework of Deuteronomy. He added an introduction into which he has fused earlier material (ch. 1). He brought out certain features in connexion with the passage of Jordan the fear inspired in the Canaanites, the presence of the 2 1 / 2 tribes, the exaltation of Joshua by Jahweh (Joshua 2:10 f., Joshua 3:2-4; Joshua 3:6-9 , Joshua 4:11 b, Joshua 4:12 , Joshua 4:14 , Joshua 4:21-24 , Joshua 5:1 ). He gave a different reason for the circumcision at Gilgal ( Joshua 5:4-7 ), and added some details to the fraud of the Gibeonites ( Joshua 9:1 f., Joshua 9:9 b, Joshua 9:10 , Joshua 9:24 f., Joshua 9:27 b.), and to the story of Beth-horon ( Joshua 9:8; Joshua 9:12 a, Joshua 9:14 b, Joshua 9:25 ). He concluded the conquest of the South ( Joshua 10:28-43 ) and the victory at Merom ( Joshua 11:10-23 ), with a summary of the result; and he added a review of the entire conquest in ch. 12. In his work he does not add independent material to his original, but by his arrangement and omissions gives a new aspect to the account. Thus several indications point to his having omitted much from his documents. It is sufficient to mention one the absence of any account of the conquest of Central Palestine. This is the more remarkable since at Joshua 8:30-35 we have a statement of how Joshua built an altar at Ebal, before the country between Gilgal and Mount Ephraim was subdued. Probably this formed the conclusion to JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] ’s narrative of the conquest of Central Palestine; possibly it was derived from E [Note: Elohist.] , a source which was specially interested in North Israelite sanctuaries, and which (see Deuteronomy) was a favourite source with D [Note: Deuteronomist.] . Further, the conquest of South Palestine in its present form does not agree with Joshua 15:14-19 = Judges 1:10-15 . The latter passages represent South Palestine as conquered, not in one sweeping rush, but gradually; not by the action of the united tribes under one head, but by the effort of one tribe or of several in combination. Again, Joshua 11:21 f. assigns to Joshua the victory over the Anakim, which in Joshua 14:12 , Joshua 15:15 ff. and Judges 1:10-15 is attributed to Judah, and especially to Caleb. Evidently the editor has sought to group round one representative figure, and assign to a specific period, the conquest which covered a considerable time and engaged many leaders. His chief interest in the details of history centres round their capacity to be used to point a moral. Thus it is noteworthy bow few chronological data appear in the chapters in comparison with earlier books. He gives prominence to the motives which governed Joshua, and to the Divine support promised to and received by him. He magnifies the leader’s successes, and considers him the representative of the nation and the successor of Moses.

A few verses in this section, Joshua 4:13; Joshua 4:19 , Joshua 5:10-12 , Joshua 7:1 , Joshua 9:15 b, Joshua 9:17-21 , are generally assigned to P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , but they are so isolated and so vague that nothing can be done with them except catalogue them, and express the doubt whether they ever belonged to a separate work.

( b ) In chs. 13 21 the situation is different, and the critical results more uncertain. The same three sources can be traced as in the earlier section; but, on the one hand, the portions assigned to P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] take a character and range wholly unlike those which characterize this document throughout the Pentateuch; on the other, it is still a subject of debate whether the section owes its final form to a Deuteronomic or a Priestly editor, D [Note: Deuteronomist.] or P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] . The present writer’s view is that D [Note: Deuteronomist.] edited this section also, using as his sources JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] and what is called P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] . (The other view is held, e.g. , by Driver.)

(1) P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] (so called), as the more complete, is given first. It began with the assembly of the tribes at Shiloh for the division (Joshua 18:1 ), and a statement as to the lot assigned to the 2 1 /2 tribes ( Joshua 13:15-32 ). It then proceeded to the division ( Joshua 14:1-5 ). The lot of Judah is first described ( Joshua 15:1-13; Joshua 15:20-44; Joshua 15:48-62 ). Then follows the lot of the children of Joseph ( Joshua 16:4-8 , Joshua 17:1 a, Joshua 17:3 f., Joshua 17:7 , Joshua 17:9 a, Joshua 17:9 c, Joshua 17:10 a), who are counted as two, and of whom Manaseeh, as firstborn, is named first. The lots of Benjamin ( Joshua 18:11-28 ), Simeon ( Joshua 19:1-8 ), Zebulun ( Joshua 19:10-16 ), Issachar ( Joshua 19:17-23 ), Asher ( Joshua 19:24-31 ), Naphtali ( Joshua 19:32-39 ), Dan ( Joshua 19:40-46; Joshua 19:48 ) are described, and then comes a conclusion ( Joshua 19:51 ) corresponding with the opening ( Joshua 18:1 ). On this followed the law and list of the cities of refuge ( Joshua 20:1-3; Joshua 20:6 a, Joshua 20:7-9 ), and a list of the Levitical cities ( Joshua 21:1-42 ).

(2) D [Note: Deuteronomist.] incorporated with this, material drawn from JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] . He introduced the division of the land with a review of the undivided land, and a statement of the lot assigned to the 2 1 /2 tribes (Joshua 13:1-14 ). He therefore dislodged the introduction ( Joshua 18:1 ). Into the lot of Judah he inserted the account of Caleb’s settlement there ( Joshua 14:6-15 , Joshua 15:14-19 ), and of Jerusalem ( Joshua 15:63 ).[ Joshua 15:45-47 may be a late addition, written, after the Philistines had disappeared, to conform Judah’s boundary to the ideal of Joshua 15:12 ]. Into the lot of the children of Joseph he inserted material from the older source ( Joshua 16:1-3; Joshua 16:9 f., Joshua 17:1 b, Joshua 17:2 , Joshua 17:5 , Joshua 17:8 , Joshua 17:9 b, Joshua 17:10-18 ), which represented the lot of the sons as one ( Joshua 17:14-18 ). Before the lot of Benjamin he placed the statement of a survey made for the seven remaining tribes ( Joshua 18:2-6; Joshua 18:8-10 [from JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.]; Joshua 18:7 is from D [Note: Deuteronomist.] ]). This may represent the historical fact that the two strong clans of Judah and Ephraim were the first to be settled. But the break at this point in the original source gave occasion to insert Joshua 18:1 here. In the description of the remaining seven lots only a few verses ( Joshua 19:9; Joshua 19:47; Joshua 19:49 f.) come from JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] , but the list of Naphtali’s cities ( Joshua 19:32-39 ), which is entirely different in character from the description of the other lots, may be from JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] , according to which ( Joshua 18:9 ) the country was distributed by cities. This is one of the facts which support those who hold that P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] edited JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] .

It deserves notice that the account of Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon the districts which were inhabited after the Exile is more exhaustive than that of the others. The fact suggests that the editor, who gave the book its final form, wrote at a late date, or at least that late hands retouched the book.

In the account of the cities of refuge (ch. 20), Joshua 18:4 f., Joshua 18:6 b, which have been added to the earlier source, are absent from the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] . They must have been added at a late date to bring the section into agreement with the Deuteronomic law.

(3) D [Note: Deuteronomist.] concluded the section on the division of the land with his formal close, Joshua 21:43-45 .

( c ) In chs. 22 24 D [Note: Deuteronomist.] took the account of the dismissal of the 2 1 /2 tribes ( Joshua 22:9-34 ) from P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , providing it with his own introduction ( Joshua 22:1-6 ). The account is late, since it views the conquest as simultaneous, complete, and national. He took ch. 24 the renewal of the covenant from JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] (probably E [Note: Elohist.] ), and added only a few verses ( Joshua 24:11 b, Joshua 24:13; Joshua 24:31 ). To these he attached Joshua’s parting counsels (ch. 23).

The source named P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] takes much the same position about the conquest as the final editor. The chief difference lies in the fact that it associates Eleazar with Joshua, but these two formally divide the conquered territory.

It seems probable that the Book of Joshua once formed part of a greater whole a history written in the Deuteronomic spirit and based on earlier sources, which covered the period from the conquest to the kingdom. This view is tenable along with the opinion that P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] was the final editor, who, adding some sections on the division which he extracted from older sources, brought the book to its present form.

A. C. Welch.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Joshua'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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