Introduction to the Book of Joshua

An overview on the purpose, structure, and content of the book of Joshua, the first book of the Former Prophets found in the Old Testament.

Introduction to the Book of Joshua
Photo by Jack Anstey / Unsplash

Summary Facts About Joshua

  • Joshua is the sixth book of the Hebrew Bible
  • Joshua is the first book of the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings)
  • Focuses on Joshua who is commissioned by God to succede Moses and lead Israel.
  • Traditional view attribute Joshua as the author based on Joshua 24:26.

Purpose of Joshua

  • Show God's faithfulness to Israel and giving them victory when they trust God.

Structure and Content of Joshua

Israel's Conquest of Canaan (Josh 1–12)

  • God commissioned Joshua to be Moses's successor (Josh 1)
    • Joshua is commanded to prepare Israel to cross the Jordan River and capture the land of Canaan.
    • Israel must trust God and obey his Law to be successful (Josh 1:8)
  • Joshua sends spies to scout the city of Jericho (Josh 2)
  • Israel crosses the Jordan and piles up stones to commemorate this event (Josh 3–4)
  • Joshua meets a man with a sword in his hand, called the commander of the army of God who may have been the pre-incarnate Jesus (Josh 5:13–15)
  • Conquering of Jericho (Josh 6)
  • Sin of Achan (Josh 7)
  • Conquering of Ai (Josh 8)
  • Gibeon's Treaty and Curse (Josh 9)
  • Conquest of South (Josh 10) and North (Josh 11)
  • List of Defeated Kings and Conquered Territories (Josh 12)

Israel Allocates Canaan (Josh 13–24)

  • There was still much land not conquered (Josh 13:1) including the region north of Galilee and areas occupied by the Philistines (Josh 13:2–7).
  • God commanded Israel to focus on dividing the land that they currently possessed.
    • East of the Jordan River (Josh 13)
    • West of the Jordan River (Josh 14–19)
  • All tribes received land except Levi who lived in designated cities (Josh 20–21).
  • Special inheritance given to Joshua (Josh 19:49–50) and Caleb (Josh 14:6–15).
  • Foreshadowing of struggles ahead since Israel was still worshipping idols (Josh 24)