Book Of The Month 

Joshua: “Whom Will Ye Serve?”

Michael Foresha

There are twelve books of History in the Old Testament, which cover a time span of 1,000 years. Joshua heads the list, and Esther concludes the section. The book of Joshua is named for its main character (mentioned in 23 of the 24 chapters.) The book covers 25 to 30 years: from the death of Moses (Deut. 34) to the death of Joshua (Joshua 24.) It contains 24 chapters, 685 verses, and some 18,858 words. Robert R. Taylor Jr. in The Story of The Bible, p. 17, made this observation: “Joshua in the Old Testament forms the same basic purpose as follow-up to the Pentateuch (the first five books) as Acts does the four gospel records in the New Testament. The Pentateuch paves the way for Joshua and its physical conquests just as the four biographies pave the way for Acts and its thrilling accounts of spiritual conquests.” 

The Book of Joshua can be divided into two major sections. The first half of the book (Joshua 1:1-12:24) depicts the conquering of Canaan (which took 5-7 years), the second half of the book (Joshua 13:1 - 22:34) describes the colonizing of Canaan (which took approx. 20 years.) Joshua was commissioned as Israel’s new leader. Moses led Israel out of captivity (Egypt) and Joshua led them into the land of Canaan

The Conquering of Canaan (1:1-12:24). Joshua prepared the people to go in and possess the land God had given them. The two and one-half tribes east of the Jordan were reminded of their prior commitment, and spies were sent to Jericho. The spies received help from Rahab and returned with a good report. The people crossed the Jordan as God had instructed them. The waters divided, and the people crossed on dry ground. A memorial of the crossing was built, and the inhabitants of Canaan lost heart. There was a reinstatement of circumcision, a renewal of the Passover, and removal of manna, following the crossing of the Jordan. The conquest of Canaan began in the central area (5:13-9:27). It began with victory at Jericho, followed by defeat at Ai due to Achan’s sin. Achan and his family were punished, and Ai was then defeated. The section closes with the deception by the Gibeonites. Israel moved to the Southern area (10:1-43). The sun stood still, and Israel prevailed as they rescued the Gibeonites. The Southern territory was delivered into Israel’s hand. The Northern Territory was next (11:1-23). Israel defeated Jabin’s host, and Joshua took the whole land, gave it as an inheritance to Israel, and the land rested from war. A summary of the kings defeated on the East and West of the Jordan is given in 12:1-24. 

The Dividing of Canaan (13:1-24:33). Unconquered territory remained, but the land was divided. The division of the land East of the Jordan (13:7-33) was among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and one-half of Manasseh. The Division of the land West of the Jordan (14:1-19:51) was distributed to the tribes of Judah, Ephraim, one-half of Manasseh, Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. There is mention of special inheritance given to Caleb and Joshua (see Numbers 14:24-30). Designated Cities are outlined in 20:1-21:45. The six cities of refuge were given on the east and west of the Jordan (20:1-9). The 48 cities of the Levites were next enumerated (21:1-42). Next, the two and one-half tribes were dismissed to their land (22:1-34). The section closes with Joshua’s outlining the conditional settlement of the land (23:1-24:33). If they remained faithful to God, they would remain in the land. If not, they would quickly perish from the land. As William Woodson wrote, “Joshua bowed to the decline of the years and bade his nation farewell, closing with the ringing appeal to “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” God’s promises had not failed; Israel was now in the promised land.” (Spiritual Sword, Vol. 30, July 1999, No. 4, p. 7.) 

Conclusion: God had promised Abraham and his seed this land (Genesis 12 and 15). God fulfilled the land promise to Abraham (Joshua 2:24; 21:43; 23:14.). Many students of the Bible have wondered what purpose the movements, conquests, and colonization of the land served. The purpose of all these was to preserve Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:18), so Christ could come (Gal 3:16). We read in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” -90 Pleasants Ave., Shinnston, WV 26431. (304) 592 3125.


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