An Argument of the Book of JoshuaRelated Media
Israel’s occupation, distribution, and maintenance of the promised land reaches fulfillment in accordance with YHWH’S sovereign initiative and the people’s obedient response to their covenant with him under joshua
I. THE BOOK OF WAR--CONQUERING THE PROMISED LAND--POSSESSING THE PROMISE:2 Israel’s occupation and distribution of the land reachers fulfillment following the initiatives of YHWH and the obedient response of the people under Joshua 1:1--12:24
A. Preparation for the Conquest:3 YHWH prepared Joshua and His people for the conquest by restoring their spiritual vitality and unity through exhortations to prepare to take the land, a victorious reconnaissance mission which revealed the peoples fear of Israel, a miraculous crossing of the Jordan river, and the cultic preparation of the people to follow the Prince of the Lord’s army into victory over the peoples of the land 1:1--5:15
1. Introduction and Main Themes--A Consolidation and Establishment of Leadership in Word: After the YHWH commissioned Joshua as the new leader of the people to courageously and obediently take all of the Land which He is giving, Joshua exhorted the people to prepare to posses the land whereupon, they responded with whole hearted support to obey him 1:1-18
a. God’s Charge to Joshua--Exhortation and Encouragement--Divine Marching Orders: As the leadership transfers from Moses to Joshua, YHWH commissioned Joshua to take all of the Land which He is giving the sons of Israel without fear and in obedience to His revealed word 1:1-9
1) Transition from Moses to Joshua: 1:1-2>
2) Description of the Land the Lord Has Given: 1:3-4>
a) Southern Boarder--The Wilderness of Arabia>
b) Northern Boarder--Lebanon>
c) Eastern Boarder--The Euphrates River>
d) Western Boarder--The Mediterranean Sea4>
3) Encouragement to Take the Land: 1:5-6>
4) Exhortation to Obey YHWH’s Word: 1:7-8>
5) Exhortation Not to Fear: 1:9>
b. Joshua’s Charge to Leaders--The Participation of All Israel: Joshua exhorted the people, through the officers, to prepare to posses the land and they all responded with whole-hearted support to obey him 1:10-18
1) Commanding the Officers: Joshua commanded the officers of the people to exhort the people to prepare to posses the Land and he reminded the Transjordan tribes that they were obligated to fight for their brothers 1:10-15>
a) Exhortation to All to Prepare to Posses the Land: 1:10-11>
b) Exhortation to the Transjordan Tribes5 to Fight for Their Brothers: 1:12-15>
c. Support from the People: The people responded with whole-hearted support to obey Joshua as they obeyed Moses and to put to death anyone who does not obey Joshua’s words 1:16-18
2. A Reconnaissance Mission--Spies Sent to Jericho--The People’s Faith Encouraged:6 Through a reconnaissance mission where Joshua sent two spies to Jericho and they were protected by Rahab, Joshua became encouraged that the Lord has given the land to them and has caused the people to be frightened of them and their God; and Rahab and her family has been promised deliverance for her faithfulness to the spies 2:1-24
b. Protection by Rahab: When the king of Jericho learned that the sons of Israel had come to spy out the land, he sent word to Rahab to turn them over, but she protected them by hiding them and affirming that although they had been there, they had left already through the gates of the city causing the king’s men to pursue them through the gates9 2:2-7
c. Information from Rahab: Rahab informed the spies who were hiding on her roof that she and the people know that the Lord has given the land to them thus they and are fearful because of reports which they have received concerning the Lord’s work over Egypt at the Red Sea and over the two kings of Moab, Sihon and Og 2:8-11
d. Promise to Rahab: As Rahab was helping the spies to escape through her window, she requested that they spare her and her family when they take the city and they agreed as long as she kept all in her house, tied a scarlet thread on her window for them to recognize it, and not tell of this to any others in the city; whereupon she agreed. 2:12-21
3. Return to Joshua: After the spies waited for three days in the east in the hill country as Rahab had suggested, they returned to Joshua, reported all that had occurred and encouraged him with the words of Rahab that the Lord had given all of the land into their hand and the inhabitants were fearful before them 2:22-24
4. Crossing the Jordan to Conquer the Land at the Word of YHWH:10 As a means of confirming Joshua to the people and the certainty that the Lord will enable the people to posses the land, Joshua prepared the people to cross the overflowing Jordan where they were encamped for three days, had the priests lead the crossing by stepping in the river whereupon it was stopped at Adam, set up twelve memorial stones in the river and twelve memorial stones in the camp at Gilgal as a reminder of the great work which the Lord had done for the sons of Israel 3:1--4:24
a. The Crossing: After preparing the people to cross the Jordan by having them camp before it for three days and informing them of how they were to consecrate themselves and follow the priests, Joshua strengthened the people’s confidence in God’s use of him and their ability to conquer the land by ordering them to cross the Jordan as they passed by the priests in the center of the river since when the priests stepped in the river, it would be stopped upstream at Adam and they would cross on dry land 3:1-17
1) Preparation for the Miracle Crossing: On the morning after the return of the spies Joshua and the sons of Israel broke camp, set out from Shittim and lodged before the Jordan three days11exhorting the people through the officers to consecrate themselves and to follow the ark, which will be carried by the priests, at a distance of 2,000 cubits (3,000 feet) 3:1-6>
2) The Miracle Crossing: As a confirmation to the people that the Lord was with Joshua as He was with Moses and that He was going to give them the land, Joshua commanded the sons of Israel to select one man from each tribe12 and then to follow the priests who are carrying the arch because when they step in the overflowing13 river it will stop flowing at Adam14 and they will all cross on dry land with the priests and the arch standing in the center of the Jordan 3:7-17>
b. Remembering God’s Acts--The Memorial Stones:15 After the people, including those from the two and a half Transjordan tribes, crossed over the Jordan on dry land, Joshua set up a memorial of twelve stones in the center of the river and twelve men, each from one of the tribes, took a stone to the other side of the river to set up in the camp at Gilgal for the following generations to remember the greatness of the Lord; whereupon the priests crossed over the Jordan; it returned to its flood level, and the people camped at Gilgal on the eastern boarder of Jericho 4:1-24
1) The Erection of Memorial Stones in the Jordan: While the priests stood in the center of the Jordan, the people crossed over, twelve men from the tribes of Israel took up twelve memorial stones to set up in the camp (at Gilgal) on the west side of the Jordan as a reminder of what the Lord had done, Joshua set up twelve stones in the center of the river where the priests stood as a reminder of what the Lord did, and 40,000 from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh crossed over the Jordan in military array to support the nation in the conquest causing the people to exalt Joshua in the sight of all of the people 4:1-14>
2) The Erection of the Memorial Stones at Gilgal: On the tenth of the first month the priests came out of the Jordan, the waters returned to their flood stage and they people camped about 1¼ miles from the Jordan at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho where the twelve stones from the Jordan were set up as a memorial for their children to remember that He had dried up the Jordan just as He dried up the Reed Sea and was thus to be regarded as might and to be feared forever 4:15-24>
5. Becoming Cultically Correct for Conquest:16 After Israel became cultically correct through circumcision and the celebration of the Passover for the conquest of the nations who were fearful from hearing the report of the Lord’s provision for their crossing of the Jordan, the wilderness wandering ceased, the reproach of Israel ended and the Lord appeared in a confirming theophany before Joshua as the commander of His army ready to do battle in the Conquest of the land 5:1-15
a. Covenant Sign and Meal:17 In view of the preparation of the inhabitants of the land for their defeat by the sons of Israel, the people of God also prepared for the conquest by circumcising all of those from the wilderness wandering generation, naming the camp Gilgal because the Lord had taken away their reproach by Egypt, celebrating the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, and eating of the produce of the land from the sixteenth day forward resulting in the cessation of the manna which the Lord had provided during the wilderness wandering 5:1-12
1) Response to the Crossing: When the Ammorites, to the west of the Jordan, and the Canaanites, but the sea, heard of how the Lord had dried the Jordan for the sons of Israel to cross over, they became frightened 5:1>
2) Circumcision:18 In view of how the people of the land were prepared for their conquest (5:1) the Lord required the generation which grew up in the wilderness wanderings to be circumcised and to remain until they healed in the camp which was called Gilgal (because the Lord had rolled away [gilgal] the reproach from Egypt from the sons of Israel) 5:2-9>
3) Passover: On the fourteenth day of the month the sons of Israel who were now circumcised19 observed the Passover on the plains of Jericho and on the next day ate unleavened cakes of the produce of the land which resulted in the cessation of the manna20 as they ate from the land of Canaan 5:10-12>
b. The Captain of the Lord’s Army:21 Through a confirming Theophany the Angel [of the Lord?]22 appears before Joshua as a super-human warrior ready to go into battle [his sword is drawn] and coming to save Israel23 resulting in Joshua prostrating himself and worship and being told to remove his sandals from his feat because the ground where he was standing is holy 5:13-15
B. The Conquest:24 Through YHWH’S initiation and direction of the military campaigns He utilizes the skill and obedience of Joshua to lead the people in a conquest of the land 6:1--12:24
1. The Central Campaign: Characterized by both obedience and disobedience to God’s word Israel experienced success at overtaking Jericho and initial failure in their attack upon Ai only to be followed by ultimate success when they dealt with the rebellion of Achan and obeyed YHWH fully in His prescriptions concerning those things which were dedicated to Him and those things which they may take from the plunder 6:1--8:35
a. Positive--Covenant Obedience and the Taking of Jericho:25 After the Lord instructed Joshua and he instructed the people on how to circle the secured city of Jericho for seven26 days, they obeyed and the walls of the city fell leading to its complete defeat, but Rahab and her family were delivered and the land was aware that the Lord was with Joshua 6:1-27
1) Instructions to Joshua:27 6:1-5>
2) Instructions to the People: 6:6-7>
3) Obedience of the People and the City Destroyed:28 6:8-21>
4) Deliverance of Rahab and Her Family: 6:22-25>
5) Curse on Jericho:29 6:26>
6) Effect of the Conquest: The Lord was with Joshua and his reputation was in all of the Land after the defeat of Jericho 6:27>
b. Negative--Covenant Disobedience and Its Consequences:30 Although Israel first suffered defeat at the hands of the people from Ai because of the disobedience of Achan who took goods under the ban at Jericho, they dealt with Achan, and then under obedience to YHWH took Ai through the tactical move of an ambush destroying the city and its inhabitants and only taking the cattle and the spoil as the Lord prescribed 7:1--8:29
1) The Defeat at Ai and Punishment: Because of the disobedience of Achan who took goods under the ban at Jericho, Israel suffered defeat at Ai, and the Lord identified Achan whereupon he and his family were judged by the people causing the anger of the Lord to turn away from Israel 7:1-26>
a) Setting--The Reason for the Defeat--Breaking of the Ban by Achan: Achan, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah31 took some of the things under the ban causing the Lord to be angry with the Israelites 7:1>
b) The Defeat at Ai: After spies reported that only a few men needed to be sent in order to take Ai, Joshua sent about 3,000 men to take the city, but they had to flee from the people of Ai and thirty-six of them were killed causing Israel’s heart to fear 7:2-5>
c) Joshua’s Prayer:32 In fear Joshua prayed to the Lord God expressing regret for coming into the land, fear that they would be destroyed by the people of the land and concern for the Lord’s reputation in their defeat 7:6-9>
d) The Lord’s Response:33 The Lord curtly exhorts Joshua to arise because Israel has sinned by taking that which was under the ban thereby breaking covenant, and then describes how he is to consecrate himself and the people for the next day when the Lord will identify the one who has broken the ban through lot34 by tribe, family, household, and man resulting in judgment through fire 7:10-15>
e) Achan Identified: Through the lot Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah was identified as the one who broke the ban 7:16-18>
f) Achan Judged and the Lord’s Anger Turned: When Achan confessed that he had taken a beautiful mantle (rob) from Shinar, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, Joshua sent messengers to find them in his tent, brought the stolen goods as well as Achan’s family35 and the congregation stoned them in the Valley of Achor (“trouble”) causing the Lord to turn away from His anger 7:19-26>
2) Ai Conquered and Burned: In response to a command from the Lord to take Ai, Joshua and his people completely destroyed the city and its inhabitants only taking the spoil and cattle as the Lord commanded through the tactical move of an ambush 8:1-29>
a) Command to Take Ai: The Lord told Joshua not to fear, but to take all of the warriors with him and to take Ai which would also be under the ban except for its spoil and cattle36 8:1-2>
c) Sequence of Preparation at Ai: Joshua gathered his army early in the morning and camped with them north of the city and sent an ambush of 5,000 men to the west side of the city; then Joshua spent the night with the people in the valley on the north side of the city 8:10-13>
d) Israel’s Tactical Deception of Ai: When the men of Ai saw the people from Israel they quickly pursued them and were led away from the city by Israel pretending to flee from them along the “Way of the Wilderness”40 thereby leaving the city unguarded for the ambush to take it 8:14-17>
e) YHWH Initiates the Charge: While Joshua and his people were fleeing from the people of Ai YHWH told him to point to Ai with his javelin41 whereupon the ambush overtook the city and burned it, and then both they and the men of Joshua turned on the warriors from Ai and destroyed them only taking the king of Ai alive and bringing him to Joshua 8:18-23>
f) Report of the Destruction: When Israel had finished destroying all the inhabitants of Ai 12,000 men and women were dead, the city was burned, the king was hung on a tree42 and then thrown in the entrance of the city gate with a heap of stones over it43 and the people only took the spoil and the cattle as the Lord had commanded Joshua 8:24-29>
2. Fulfilling Moses’ Orders--Blessings and Curses Proclaimed in Canaan: 8:30-35
3. The Southern Campaign--Southern Canaan Subdued:44 9:1--10:43
a. Israel’s Treaty with Gibeon:45 9:1-27
b. The Lord’s Battles at Gibeon and in Southern Canaan 10:1-43
1) The Battle at Gibeon 10:1-27>
2) The Southern Campaign 10:28-39>
3) Summary comment and concluding statement 10:40-43>
4. The Northern Campaign--North Canaan Delivered into Israel’s hands:46 11:1-15
5. A Review of the Victories: 11:16--12:24
a. Summary Concerning the Conquered Areas--God’s Hand: 11:16-23
b. Summary Concerning the Conquered Kings--God’s Kingship over the Kings of Canaan: 12:1-24
1) Kings East of the Jordan: 12:1-6>
2) Kings West of the Jordan: 12:7-24>
II. THE BOOK OF DISTRIBUTION--ALLOCATING THE PROMISED LAND--LOTS FOR THE LAND:47 Israel distributes the land for an inheritance following YHWH’s sovereign allotment of the land 13:1--21:45
A. Introduction--God’s Command to Divide the Land: 13:1-7
B. The Distribution of the Land: 13:8--21:42
1. Peoples--Two and One Half Tribes--Reviewing the Transjordan Allotment: 13:8-33
2. Individual--The Portion for Caleb: 14:1-15
a. Introduction: 14:1-5
b. Caleb at Kadesh Barnea: 14:6-9
c. Caleb during the Wilderness Wanderings and the Conquest 14:10-11
d. Caleb at Hebron: 14:12-14
3. Peoples--Nine and One-Half Tribes--The West Jordan Allotment: 15:1--19:48
a. Judah’s Allotment: 15:1-63
b. Joseph’s Allotment: 16:1--17:18
1) General Boundary Description: 16:1-4>
2) Ephraim’s Inheritance: 16:5-10>
3) Manaaseh’s Allotment: 17:1-13>
4) Complaint of the Josephites: 17:14-18>
c. The Allotments for the Remaining Tribes: 18:1--19:48
1) Land Distribution Continued at Shiloh: 18:1-10>
2) Benjamin’s Allotment: 18:11-28>
3) Simeon’s Allotment: 19:1-9>
4) Zebulun’s Allotment: 19:10-16>
5) Issachar’s Allotment: 19:17-23>
6) Asher’s Allotment: 19:24-31>
7) Naphtali’s Allotment: 19:32-39>
8) Dan’s Allotment: 19:40-48>
4. Individuals--Joshua, Manslayers, and Levites 19:49--21:42
a. Joshua’s Inheritance--The Allotment Concluded: 19:49-51
b. Cities of Asylum--God’s Justice in His Land: 20:1-9
1) Command to Set Up Cities of Refuge for the Unintentional Sin of Murder 20:1-6>
2) Cities East of the Jordan from North to South*Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron 20:7>
3) Cities West of the Jordan from South to North*Bezer, Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan 20:8>
4) Summary Statement: 20:9>
c. Levitical Cities--Claimed and Assigned: 21:1-42
1) The Levites Claim their Rightful Share: 21:1-3>
2) Broad Statements*The Levitical Cities Determined by Lot: 21:4-8>
a) The sons of Aaron received thirteen cities from the tribes of Judah, Simeonites, and Benjamin 21:4>
b) The sons of Korath received ten cities from the tribes of Ephriam and Dan, and the half tribe of Manassah 21:5>
c) The sons of Gershon recived thirteen cities from the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Manasseh 21:6>
d) The sons of Merari received twelve cities from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun 21:7>
e) Summary: The sons of Israel gave the Levites cities with their pasture lands as the Lord commanded Moses (cf. Num 35:2; cf. Gen 49:5-7) 21:8>
3) Particular Cities*The Levitical Cities Listed by Name: 21:9-40>
a) The Cities of the Aaronites from the Tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin: 21:9-19>
b) The Cities of the Remaining Kohathites from the Tribes of Ephriam, Dan and the Half Tribe of Manasseh: 21:20-26>
c) The Cities of the Gershonites from the Tribes of Manassah, Issachar, Asher, and Naphtali: 21:27-33>
d) The Cities of the Merarites from the Tribes of Zebulun, Reuben, and Gad: 21:34-40>
C. Conclusion--Summary of the Conquest Distribution--Greatful Recognition of God’s Faithfulness:48 21:43-45
III. THE EPILOGUE--KEEPING THE PROMISED LAND--LIFE IN COVENANT OBEDIENCE:49 A renewed covenant with Israel provides the basis for her to remain in the land 22:1--24:33
A. A Boarder Dispute: 22:1-34
1. Joshua’s Admonition to the Transjordanian Tribes: 22:1-8
2. The People’s Unity Preserved: 22:9-34
a. Threat to Unity--An Unauthorized Altar in the East: 22:9-12
b. Investigation of the Alleged Offense--A Threat of War: 22:13-20
c. Apology and Reconciliation of the Tribes: 22:21-34
B. The Last Days of Joshua--Exhortations to the People: 23:1--24:28
1. A Finale Challenge to the People: 23:1-16
a. The First Call to Covenant Obedience: 23:1-8
b. The Second Call to Covenant Obedience: 23:9-13
c. The Third Call to Covenant Obedience: 14-16
2. Covenant Renewal at Shechem: 24:1-28
a. An Assembly Called at Shechem: 24:1
b. Prophetic Survey of Redemptive History: 24:2-13
c. Exhortation and Response: 24:14-24
d. Covenant Documentation: 24:25-28
C. Epilogue of Faithfulness--Three Graves in the Promised Land: 24:29-33
1 The broad structure of this outline has been adapted from the following sources: Trent C. Butler, Joshua, Word Biblical Commentary, vii-viii; Robert G. Boling, Joshua: A New Translation with Notes and Commentary, The Anchor Bible, vii-x; Martin H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 42-44; Donald K. Campbell, Joshua, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, I:326-327; Elliott E. Johnson, Analysis of Joshua (unpublished class notes in 372 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature. Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1989), 4; Elliott E. Johnson, Joshua (unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History I. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1980), 13.
2 Elliott Johnson writes,YHWH has delivered out of the generation of the Exodus Joshua and Caleb. With these He would effect the entrance into the land. Yet in effecting a fulfillment of His promise through Joshua He continues to prepare them through the ministry of the Word and the Spirit (Joshua, [unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History I, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1980), p. 13.
3 Johnson writes, Only as Joshua and the people are under the control of YHWH's Word can there be faith necessary for conquest. So there is a final stage of preparation establishing the generation in the words and works of YHWH (Joshua, [unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History I, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1980), p. 13.
4 The land of the Hittites probably referred to North Syria.
5 Reubenites, Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
6 Butler writes, The setting changes to Shittim (v 1). The interest shifts from crossing the Jordan (.e.g. 1:11) to spying out Jericho (e.g., 2:1). Chapter 2 then carries out a complete narrative from the commission of Joshua (v 1) to the report back to Joshua (vv 23-24). Chapter 3 then returns to the narrative of the Jordan crossing. Thus chap. 2 must be handled as a complete unit within itself (Joshua, 27).
It seems that the story is placed in front of the conquest in order to encourage the people as they learn something through the report of the spies about themselves and their God. Again Butler writes, Conquest narratives begin in Israel with the dispatch of spies (Num 13--14; Judg 1:22-26; 18, etc.). Only in the conquest do spy stories play a role for Israel. This must be set beside the fact that the intent of spy stories is to show that God has given the land into the hands of his people. Human spying and divine gift are not self-exclusive realities. God sends human spies. Why? The obvious explanation would be that spies should help develop military strategy. That is not the case with the biblical materials, in every case. Rather, the biblical spies convince Israel that God can and will give the land to Israel. God uses human spies to convince his people to do what he had called them to do. This is very evident in the present context. The first chapter has demonstrated the need for strong, courageous leadership through both divine (vv 1-9) and human (vv 16-18) exhortation. The second chapter gives a concrete example showing how God is fulfilling his promises and how weak Israel's opposition is. A common prostitute is more intelligent than the intelligence agents of the king. Yet even she is no match for Israel's spies. Israel can easily get its opponents to chase shadows while she occupies the enemy fortresses. Israel behind strong, courageous leadership will face an enemy king without intelligence and an enemy people scared stiff in the face of Israel and her mighty God (Ibid., 34-35).
7 Probably Abel-shittim (Num 33:49)--the place where Israel sinned with Baal-peor (Num 25:1).
8 Perhaps she was both an innkeeper and a harlot (e.g., a house of illrepute?). The men may not have intended to engage in sexual misconduct. It may have be a natural place for them to go to escape detection (cf. Woudstra, Joshua, 70).
9 Woudstra writes, Several commentators call Rahab's words a lie. Others point out that the account does not contain a value judgment, which it is left to the reader to supply from the wider biblical context. B. Holwerda (Jozua, p. 8) argues that 'truth' in Israel is something different from 'agreement with fact.' It means 'loyalty toward the neighbor and the Lord.' Thus viewed, Rahab's words need not be called a lie (Joshua, 71 n. 14).
10 This unit establishes Joshua as the leader of the people under YHWH by setting him apart as authoritative.
Woudstra writes, It will be well, in reading these chapters, to keep in mind the Hebrew narrative technique employed here.... In this technique the narrator concludes a certain matter (3:17; 4:1), stating that the crossing was completed; yet at a later point (4:5, 15ff.), he resumes his description of the crossing when necessary for the development of his topic. We prefer this manner of reading the account to that adopted by those who see these chapters as a composite of various traditions woven together by a redactor [C. Steuerngel, J.A. Soggin, H. J. Kraus, Noth, Butler, 41-44] (Joshua, 78).
Note that each of the paragraph units begins with a command to Joshua and is followed by an indication that it was communicated to the people and then carried out (ibid., 78-79).
11 This may not be the same three days as in 1:11. That may have even been a longer period than three days including the time that the two men spied out Jericho (see Woudstra, 78, 65 n. 2; Hos. 6:2; Esth. 4:16; Ex. 19:11).
Perhaps this time before the Jordan in its flood stage would have heightened the impact of this miraculous work of God.
12 These men will later be used to set up the memorials (cf. 4:2ff).
13 The river was in a flood stage.
14 Woudstra writes, The city of Adam is probably to be identified with Dâmiyeh, 19 miles upstream from Jericho.... Taking the alternate reading, the waters stood and rose up at a point not visible to the Israelites. This would have resulted in a very wide stretch of river bottom suitable for crossing (Joshua, 87). The difference is between the Qere (spoken) <dam and the Ketib (written) <dab.
15 Memorials are established to YHWH in order to remember His work among the people (4:1-9, 20-24). Woudstra writes, If the chief purpose of ch. 4, the erection of the memorial stones, is kept in mind, the apparent lack of order and of composition, which many have thought to characterize the account at this point, ceases to be a pressing problem (Joshua, 90).
16 These cultic works are done in order to establish the people in separation and commitment to the Promise of YHWH.
17 Woudstra writes, This section deals with the observance of two important ceremonies, both related to God's covenant with his people, namely circumcision and the Passover. The word 'covenant' is not mentioned explicitly, but when this section is read in the larger context of Gen. 17 and Exod. 12 (see Exod. 12:48b), the connection is obvious. Though circumcision was essential to the celebration of the Passover (Exod. 12:48), the signal manifestation of God's goodness as shown in the Jordan crossing was not as such dependent on the nation's circumcised or uncircumcised state. Insistence upon the observance of law under the Old Covenant, through in a very real sense a condition of the covenant, was not to be construed along the lines of righteousness by works. For after all, the very code of the covenant had been given to Israel after the people had been redeemed from Egyptian bondage (Joshua, 98).
18 Woudstra writes, The story of the circumcision presented here may have been intended as another parallel between the lives of Joshua and of Moses (...compare 3:13 with Exod. 15:8; 3:17 with Exod. 14:21-22, 29). Just as before fully entering upon his task as the people's deliverer Moses was reminded of the need to circumcise one of his sons (Exod. 4:24-26), Joshua receives the command to circumcise all of those who had not received this rite. This command precedes his role as the captain of the Lord's people during the Conquest (Joshua, 99).
19 This was a necessary prerequisite for observing the Passover (cf. Exodus 12:48).
20 Exodus 16:15ff. This marks the end of the desert period for the sons of Israel. Woudstra writes, The lesson taught by the manna (Deut. 8:3) had been sufficient. God's pedagogy could now resort to other means, namely those of ordinary providence (Joshua, 103).
21 Woudstra writes, Some interpreters consider this pericope to be incomplete, assuming the part of the original tradition has no longer been preserved. Some judge that v. 15 should contain more instructions than it does now. Others' prefer to read 5:13-15 in conjunction with 6:2-5, thus making 6:1 a parenthetical statement. A third view considers these verses to be sufficiently self-contained as to make further supplementation superfluous. We believe the inherent drama of the encounter described makes this last view plausible, and it is adopted here.
A connection between this appearance to Joshua and a similar appearance to Joshua's predecessor, Moses (Exod. 3:1-22), is evident (Joshua, 104).
Continuing he writes, If there was still any doubt about the essentially superhuman nature of this mysterious appearance, v. 15 removes it. Joshua is told: take off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. Moses (Exod. 3:5) and Joshua have an identical experience. Holiness in the OT has its basis and origin in God. Things, places, and people can be called holy only insofar as they have been set aside for God or claimed by him. We believe, therefore, that the theophany as reported here is self contained and needs no further supplementation. Joshua has been made aware of the presence of One greater than man whose drawn sword clearly speaks of combat readiness, and whose army is nothing less than that of the Lord himself. What more is there to know before the Conquest is to being in earnest (ibid.)?
22 See also Genesis 16:7-4; 21:14-21; Judges 2:1; 6:12, 22.
23 Woudstra writes The book of Psalms knows of a 'coming' that is pregnant with redemptive meaning; see Ps. 40:8 (Eng. 7); 50:3; 96:13 = 98:9. Such instances are sufficient to treat the words of the visitor to Joshua as in need of no further definition (Joshua, 105).
24 Johnson writes, With very clear evidence the victory was effected at the word of YHWH. Yet YHWH will allowed for human strategy and faith through which to fulfill the promise. He also permitted Israel to suffer the consequences of sin in their midst (Joshua, [unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History I, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1980), p. 13.
25 This unit was designed to establish God as the Power of deliverance. Woudstra writes, Within the scope of the book of Joshua, this chapter means to celebrate the most outstanding instance of God's 'giving' of the land to Israel. This motif runs through the entire book (Joshua, 108).
26 Woudstra writes, The number seven (seven priests each carrying a signal horn) is doubtless symbolical, recalling God's works at creation. The Lord who creates also works in the history of redemption. On the seventh day he will act on his people's behalf (Joshua, 110).
27 The horns which are to be blown may be a reminder of the theophany at Sinai (Ex 19:16, 19; cf. 2 Sam 6:15).
28 It seems that the Lord is identified with the Ark. He is invisibly present there. Woudstra writes, Moreover, the narrator is conscious of the close association between ark and deity: The priests who carry the seven horns do so before the Lord, for the ark is the Lord's ark, and he is as if identified with it (cf. Num. 10:35-36; 2 Sam. 6:14). The ark, moreover, follows the priests as if by locomotion, although actually borne by priests ... (Joshua, 111; cf. also 112).
29 Woudstra writes, This curse is not meant for those who, as is known from 18:21; Judg. 3:13; 2 Sam. 10:5, used the site of Jericho for habitation. Only he who will use Jericho as a city with a 'foundation' and 'gates' will be affected by the curse. Of him it is said that at the cost of his oldest he will lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates. The exact meaning of this curse is disputed. It is clear that 1 K. 16:34 reports the fulfillment of the curse. Some have held that foundation sacrifices were practiced at that time, but others question this. Even if in Ahab's days such sacrifices were practiced, this may have been due to Phoenician influences (Joshua, 117).
30 This unit was designed to expose the essential presence of obedience in victory.
As Woudstra writes, The purpose of this chapter, to be read in close conjunction with ch. 8, is easy to recognize. The Lord, who 'gives' the promised land to his people, and who has just furnished a striking instance of this in the capture of Jericho, demands of his people loyalty to the covenant he has made with them. When the covenant is violated (see v. 11), Israel receives a setback before Ai, God's wrath blazes, and his pardon must be gained. Only then will Israel again be assured of victory (8:1).
It is also clear from this chapter that the book of Joshua, and Hebrew historiography as a whole, means to do more tan offer a chronicle of events. It wishes to let the light of revelation fall upon the events so that through them the principles by which God writes redemptive history will become clear for later generations of readers and for the church through the ages (Joshua, 119).
31 This order will be reversed through the discovery of Achan by lot in 7:14ff.
32 Woudstra writes, The prayer Joshua offers uses language similar to that used by Moses under similar circumstances. By addressing God as Sovereign Lord (Heb. 'adonay yhwh) Joshua expresses a note of perplexity shown elsewhere by the use of this dual address to God (cf. Jer. 1:6; Ezek. 4:14; Also Deut. 3:24).
Blind to the great things the Lord had done at the time of the crossing and at the fall of Jericho, Joshua raises the daring question of the 'why' of it all. Did God mean to bring Israel into Palestine only to destroy it by the hands of the Amorites? These are bold words and can be explained only as an utterance of supreme grief. Out of context these words resemble the murmuring of Israel in the desert (Num. 14:3), but there is also an element close to self-reproach (Joshua, 124).
33 If our understanding of Joshua's prayer has been correct, the Lord's displeasure with Joshua's grief arises not from the nature of his plea but from the Lord's great anger which blazes toward all Israel on account of its sin (v. 1). Corporately they are all involved in the offense of Achan (Woudstra, Joshua, 125).
34 Perhaps by the Urim and Thummim (see Num 27:21; 1 Sam 14:42).
35 In view of Deuteronomy 24:16 it seems that the family was also involved in this evil of Achan. They may have agreed to the hiding of the goods in the tent.
36 This ban is not as strict as the one in Jericho. It is closer to the pattern in Deuteronomy 2:34-35; 3:6-7.
37 This may be a general summary of the execution of the divine command and the details are given beginning in verse 10. See Woudstra, Joshua, 136-37 for more details.
38 There is some question about this number, especially in view of verse twelve which says that 5, 000 men were set in ambush between Bethel and Ai. Woudstra writes, Since in vv. 4ff. these men are addressed as to their prospective duty in the ambush, the question arises as to how to understand the difference between the figures used in vv. 3, 12. Moreover, even if the figure in v. 3 should be retained, the larger number of troops used for a mere ambush causes wonderment, and not least in light of Ai's total population, which is said to be twelve thousand (v. 25). Perhaps the best solution is to assume a scribal error in one of the two entries. Since at an earlier point in the scribal tradition numerals were indicated by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, such an error could have occurred quite easily. In light of what was said earlier, the lower of the two figures would be the accurate one (Joshua, 137-38). By the lower of the two figures Woudstra means 5,000 as in verse 12. See also Keil and Deilitzsch, Joshua, Commentary on the Old Testament, 2:86.
39 This is probably the chief force located north of the city (cf. 8:13).
40 This may have been a specific route from near Bethel to the Jordan Valley (see The Macmillan Bible Atlas, 43).
41 Joshua is again being described as following in Moses footsteps as he holds the javelin out until the city is destroyed.
42 This emphasizes that he is under a curse (Dt. 21:22-23). He is taken down before dark so that they may comply with YHWH's word in this land which He is giving them.
43 These piles of stones are almost Israel's trade mark as they set up memorials to what God has done (cf. the Jordan, Achan, Jericho).
44 This unit along with the Northern campaign which follows is descriptive of the execution of the conquest of the land.
45 This unit exposes the importance of consulting God in decisions.
46 This unit, along with the Southern campaign which preceded it, is descriptive of the execution of the conquest of the land.
47 Johnson writes, Although the land had been conquered it still remained to be possessed as an inheritance. YHWH wills to effect this aspect of the promise through the faith of tribes and their leaders. They were also part of this prepared generation (Joshua, [unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History I, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1980), p. 13.
Concerning the literary structure of this book Gunn writes, As in Numbers (or Chronicles), listing subdues narrative here, building a land and community out of names and connectives, though occasionally narrated speech and activity push through, as when Caleb (14:6-15) and the daughters of Zelophehad (17:3-6) remind Joshua of special treatment promised by Moses, or the tribe of Joseph grumbles at its lot (17:14-18), or surveyors are sent out on behalf of seven reluctant tribes (18:2-10). But we miss something of the book's special texture if we allow our taste for action or character development to deflect us from this more static, administrative, prose. For out of it arises a powerful sense of the myriad elements that constitute 'the people.' 'Israel' takes on substance, as does the task at hand; for the challenge to Israel is to translate those lists and allotments into an actual community in actual possession of the Promised Land. The taking of Jericho and Ai and the other campaigns dramatically recounted in chapters 1--12 sweep us along in a vision of easy success. Chapters 13--21 implicitly suggest that occupation involves much more. They also establish a sense of ambivalence which will not readily be resolved (Joshua and Judges, in The Literary Guide to the Bible, 102).
48 This is a difficult passage to understand since it seems to be affirming that the Lord completed all of His promises in Joshua's day, yet the reader knows that Israel does not have possession of all of the land! A couple of words of comment may help.
The word for possess in the phrase, and they possessed it (******) describes taking possession of an inheritance contextually (Jos 21:43-45) and is a summary of Joshua has just finished doing as he distributed the land. The term for all in the statement, So the Lord gave to Israel all the land (ÇÜ-ïî-äÇÿò) describes all parts of the land (cf. 13:8*21:24). This is a figurative use of the term all (a synecodeche of genuis*a statement of the general for the specific). The term all looks at a series of parts which represent all of the land.
Joshua 24:43 (So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it) is an enclusio to Joshua 1:6 (Be strong and courageous for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them). God's word would fail if Israel believed it, obeyed it, and it did not occur. However, as they steped on the land, they experienced the promise.
49 Johnson writes, The question of national leadership was now changing. Continued national existence in the land depended on local leadership. With these local leaders the Word of the Covenant was renewed committing them to faith in YHWH (Joshua, [unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History I, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1980), p. 13.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines