Joshua


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Joshua Taking the Promised Land

Approaching Joshua •

What kind of literature is Joshua?



Who wrote Joshua?



What is the content of Joshua?



What are interpretative difficulties in Joshua?



How does Joshua shadow forth Jesus?

Approaching Joshua •

What kind of literature is Joshua? •

Joshua clearly stands as a historical narrative with an overarching theological message. •

As such, it shares commonalities with the books that our Bibles group together from Joshua-2 Kings.



The historical books, as a whole, tell the story from entry into the Promised Land to exile from the Land to Assyria and Babylon.



Thus, they represent the historical outworking of God’s covenant treaty given in Deuteronomy: •

At first, blessing for their obedience to God’s word (Joshua)



In between, cycles of repentance/blessing and disobedience/cursing (Judges-2 Kings)



In the end, final cursing and exile for their disobedience and covenant breaking (2 Kings)

Approaching Joshua •

What kind of literature is Joshua? •

Joshua clearly stands as a historical narrative with an overarching theological message. •

The historical books were called the “former prophets”—in what sense “prophecy”? •

Prophecy, in both the OT and NT, was not primarily or solely predictive; rather, it was concerned with obedience to God in the present.



Hence, these historical books (Joshua-2 Kings) used history for “prophetic” purposes—calling God’s people to return to covenant obedience as detailed in Deuteronomy.

Approaching Joshua •

What kind of literature is Joshua? •

Joshua clearly stands as a historical narrative with an overarching theological message. •

The historical aspect of Joshua (and the other historical books) cannot be set aside without damaging the theological message of the book.



“Historicity does not prove its theology is true. But historical trustworthiness is necessary in order for the theological assertions to be true because those assertions are based on the events of history…If the history is not true, then the theology based on that history is mere human speculation” (Arnold and Beyer, 160-1).

Approaching Joshua •

Who wrote Joshua? •

Joshua presents itself anonymously. However, it seems clear that it is based on material that Joshua wrote (Josh 24:26).



There is other material that would indicate that there was a later editor involved: •

The account of Joshua’s death (24:29-31)



The phrase “until this day” (4:9, 5:9, 7:26, 8:28-29, 9:27, 10:27, 13:13, 15:63, 16:10) suggests the perspective of someone within the Promised Land at a later date.

Approaching Joshua •

Who wrote Joshua? •

However, it seems that Joshua was probably written at some point before the division of the Davidic Kingdom in 931 BC: •

The mention of the Jebusites in Jerusalem (15:63) suggests a date prior to 1000 BC, when David conquered the city and drove the people out (2 Sam 5:6-10).



The reference to Canaanites in Gezer (16:10) implies a date prior to 970 BC, when the King of Egypt conquered the city and gave it to Solomon (1 Kings 3:1, 9:16)

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel conquers the land (1-12) •

Joshua picks up where Deuteronomy 34 left off—Moses has died (1:1) and now Joshua is preparing to cross the Jordan to conquer the land.



Joshua 1:1-9 provides a kind of table of contents for the entire book: •

1:2-5—Israel conquers the land (1:10-12:24)



1:6—Israel’s inheritance distributed (13-21)



1:7-9—Israel serves the Lord according to his Word (22-24)

Who was Joshua? Exodus 17:9-14

Leads God’s people into battle against the Amalekites

Exodus 24:13, 32:17

At the foot of Mt. Sinai (or midway up the mountain?) when Moses received the Law

Exodus 33:11

Near the tent of meeting when God met with Moses face-to-face

Numbers 13:8, 16

Joshua sent as one of the twelve men to spy out the land

Numbers 27:18-19

Chosen to be Moses’ successor at the one who would lead Israel into the Promised Land

Deuteronomy 31:14-23

Joshua commissioned to lead God’s people, exhorted to be strong and courageous

Deuteronomy 34:9

Moses lays his lands on Joshua to delegate both power and authority to lead

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel conquers the land (1-12) •

The spies (2)—come back with a different answer (cf. Num 13-14)



Crossing the Jordan—re-enacting the Red Sea crossing (3-4)



Observing the sacraments in the Promised Land—circumcision and Passover (5:1-12)



The Commander of the Lord’s army (5:13-15)—a fulfillment of the promise of chap 1; a replay of Exodus 3-4

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel conquers the land (1-12) •

The campaign moves in three phases:



The Central Campaign (6-9) •

Paradigmatic for all three phases •

Success at Jericho (6): trusting and obeying the Lord •



Failure at Ai (7): sin in the camp/disobedience to the Lord

Success at Ai (8): trusting and obeying the Lord •

Failure with the Gibeonites (9): disobedience to the Lord

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel conquers the land (1-12) •

The campaign moves in three phases:



The Southern Campaign (10) •

Most important here: Israel honors its covenant with the Gibeonites, which leads them to attack the five kings of the Amorites



God is able to use Israel’s foolishness to further his purposes.

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel conquers the land (1-12) •

The campaign moves in three phases:



The Northern Campaign (11:1-15) •

The account stresses that Joshua was completely obedient to all that God commanded through Moses (11:15; parallel to Exodus 40).

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel divides the land (13-21) •

The remaining challenge (13)—God had delivered the land to Israel, but they needed to continue to conquer God’s enemies.



Dividing the land (14-19)



Designating cities of refuge and cities for the priests (20-21)

Approaching Joshua •

What is the content of Joshua? •

Israel serves the Lord in the Land (22-24) •

Remembering Achan’s sin—no idolatry (22; cf. 22:20)



Final charges from Joshua—a reminder and renewal of God’s covenant—23-24 •

Coda: Joshua, Joseph (Gen 50:25), Eleazar (in Gibeah—see Judges 19).

Approaching Joshua •

What are interpretative difficulties in Joshua? •

Holy War? Ethnic Cleansing? What to do with the destruction of the Canaanites? •

On the surface, we rebel against these accounts— we do not believe that Holy War or Ethnic Cleansing in something to be practiced today.



However, this situation is unique for several reasons:

Approaching Joshua •

What are interpretative difficulties in Joshua? •

Further, this was not “ethnic cleansing” per se, since it was not ethnicity, but the people’s rebellion against Yahweh that formed the basis of God’s decree.



The people of Canaan were exceedingly wicked and their social and religious customs angered the Lord (Lev 18:24-30).



God had given the people plenty of time to repent, but they had not done so (Gen 15:13-16).



Even though God decreed total destruction for the Canaanites, there were exceptions to this decree (e.g. Rahab, Gibeonites).

Approaching Joshua •

What are interpretative difficulties in Joshua? •

God used Israel as his instrument of judgment against the Canaanites (Josh 11:18-20), just as he would use the Assyrians and Babylonians to judge Israel/Judah (2 Kings 17:6-7, 24:20-25:7).



The Pentateuch laid out specific rules for warfare; Joshua and his armies were to follow those rules careful in conquering the land (Deut 20)



Israel, as a theocracy, was a unique creation—not only was destruction decreed for Canaanites, but also for Israelites who disobeyed God’s Word (Deut 13:5, 17:7, etc)



“Holy war” only occurred at specific points and for specific purposes in Israel’s history—it was not viewed by Israel as a practice for future generations (1 Sam 15:1-3; 2 Chr 20:15-23).

Approaching Joshua •

How does Joshua shadow forth Jesus? •

Joshua’s name means “Yahweh saves”—it is identical with “Jesus” and so natural connections are made between Joshua’s mission and Jesus’



Joshua leads his people into the Promised Land where God gives them rest (Josh 1:13, 15; 14:15; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1); but there yet remains a rest for God’s people—Jesus leads us there (Heb 3:11, 18; 4:1-11) as our inheritance and our eternal city (1 Pet 1:3-5; Heb 11:13-16).



Jesus is the Divine Warrior who fights on behalf of his people and wins ultimate victory (Josh 5:13-15; Rev 19:11-16)