The Book of Joshua

Leading the Israelites into the Promised land.

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The Book of Joshua is the first book in Nevi'im (Prophets), the second section of the Tanakh. It is considered part of the Deuteronomic history that begins in Deuteronomy and ends with the second Book of Kings. These books tell the story of the Israelites from the wandering in the desert to the establishment of a monarchy in the Land of Israel.

The Six Books of Moses?

The Deuteronomic history is known for its emphasis on living in obedience to God and fulfilling the covenant. As God declares to Joshua in the opening chapter: "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses…Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left so that you may be successful wherever you go" (1:3-7).
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By following God's will the people will receive all the blessings of the land.

Joshua Bin Nun

The title character of the Book of Joshua is the son of Nun (Yehoshua Bin Nun), who figures heavily in the Torah as the protégé of Moses. Joshua appears early on as Moses' sentry at the base of Mount Sinai during the Golden calf incident (Exodus 32). He also has an important role as one of the 12 spies sent into the land of Canaan, and one of only two who came back with positive reports about the land (Numbers 13).
 
Finally, after Moses strikes the rock and loses his right to enter the Land of Israel (Numbers 20), Joshua is designated the next leader of the Israelites. And it is under Joshua's leadership that they enter the land of Canaan.
 
The overall story arc of the Book of Joshua involves the Israelites' conquest and settlement of Canaan. The book as a whole can be broken down into three sections: The history of the conquest, the allocation of the land, and Joshua's farewell speech.
 
Aside from its clean chronological order, the book also follows a geographical logic, from the east to west crossing into Canaan, to the circular conquest of the native tribes. First the Israelites conquer the nations in the center, then the south, and finally the northern and peripheral nations.

The ConquestJoshua son of Nun

The Book of Joshua gives an extremely optimistic vision of the conquest of Canaan and tells several notable stories. The very first tale is the famous story of sending the spies into Jericho, where the prostitute, Rahab, protects them (Chapter 2). Once the spies escape the city safely, the Israelites are commanded to move in. Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River in a miraculous parting of the waters.
 
After the Israelites successfully cross into Canaan, they must reaffirm the covenant with God. The Israelites have been wandering in the desert for 40 years at the onset of the Book of Joshua, and before they can conquer the Holy Land, they have to prepare accordingly.
 
In Chapter 5, verse 4, we find out that all of the men who came out of Egypt died during the journey in the wilderness, and all of the men who were born in the wilderness were not circumcised. So Joshua is instructed to institute a mass circumcision of all males before allowing them to continue. This act allows the Israelites to renew their covenant with God, and become worthy of the Promised Land.
 
From there they begin the systematic conquest of Canaan. By the end of Chapter 12, each native nation has fallen. The conquest is complete and allocation of land can begin.

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Elana Roth

Elana Roth is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she earned degrees in English Literature and Bible. She currently works as a literary agent in New York City.