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Slide 1

Book of Joshua

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The book is named after the main character and traditional author Joshua’s original name was Hoshea (Num. 13:8; Deut. 32:44) which means “salvation.” But during the wilderness wanderings Moses changed his name to Yehoshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation” or “Save, Yahweh” (Num. 13:16).

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PURPOSE The time had come for the people of Israel to enter into the land of promise. All those who left Egypt some 40 years before had perished in the wilderness, except for Caleb and Joshua. A new generation had grown up in the wilderness journey. Moses had fully instructed them in the laws and the sacrifices before he died, and Joshua had assumed the task of leading the people into the land. Thus, the book of Joshua deals with the Conquering, possessing, and dividing/allotment of the promised land.

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Theme The book of Joshua is designed to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, doing for Israel exactly as He had promised (cf. Gen. 15:18 with Josh. 1:2-6 and 21:43-45). However, while ownership of the land depended on God's faithfulness, occupation of the land depended on Israel‘s faithfulness (cf. Deut. 30:20).

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Christ as seen in the book of Joshua Though there are no overt Messianic prophecies of Christ, there are a number of types which point to the Savior. Joshua is a type of Christ in two very important ways. First, his name, Yeshua, a contracted form of Yehoshua, meaning, “Yahweh is salvation,” is the Greek equivalent of the name Jesus. Joshua is actually called by the name Jesus (Iēsous) in Acts 7:45 and Heb 4:8. Second, Joshua is seen as a type of Christ in his work of leading Israel triumphantly into the rest of their promised possession, the land of Canaan (cf. Josh 11:23 & Heb. 4:8). This is but a foretaste of the rest we enter by faith in Christ (Mat 11:28).

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Further, Joshua was met by the Commander of the Lord’s army in 5:13-15. This is undoubtedly a Christophany, a preincarnate appearance of Christ who was there to teach Joshua that He had come not to take sides, but to take over as commander. Finally, Rahab’s scarlet cord (2:21) portrays salvation through the blood and death of Christ (cf. Heb. 9:19-22). This Gentile prostitute heard of the mighty works of God, believed, hid the spies, was delivered when Jericho was destroyed, and is found in the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:5).

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KEY WORD INHERIT "The word 'inherit' ["possession" in the NASB] used to describe the future possession of the land has subsequently become a NT term for the enjoyment of the spiritual blessings of salvation (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:4).” Martin H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, p. 61

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OUTLINE Joshua is divided into three primary sections: Entering, conquering and allocating the promised land. Following the allocation, Joshua's farewell address and challenge finish the book, along with the description of his death. I. ENTERING THE LAND (CH 1-5) II. CONQUERING THE LAND (CH 6-12) III. ALLOCATING THE LAND (CH 13-22) IV. EPILOGUE (CH 23-24)

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Entering the land (chapters 1-5) “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” (1:1-3) Moses (who exemplified the law of God) could not lead Israel into the land of promise and rest. This is surely an anticipation of the New Testament truth that the law cannot fulfill the promises of God, but they are all available to us through our heavenly Commander, Jesus.

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“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” (1:7) The task before Joshua was going to be difficult. He was leading this people into battle. The people affirmed their willingness to follow Joshua (1:16-18). But this was the same fickle people who grumbled against Moses in the wilderness. How well will they follow when faced with war? But God assures Joshua that he has nothing to worry about, for He would be there wherever he goes, and that God would fulfill his promise to give the land to His people.

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After reminding the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh of their promise to assist their brethren in the conquest of the land, Joshua sent out his spies to view the situation. The spies entered into the city of Jericho and were hidden in the house of Rahab, the harlot, who informed them that the people had for 40 years been afraid of the Israelites, having heard of their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea and their conquest of the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. The giants which Israel feared at Kadesh-Barnea had themselves been afraid of the people of Israel for the whole 40 years' wandering!

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“There came men unto me, but I knew not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I know not: pursue after them quickly for ye shall overtake them.” (2:4-5) Many Bible students struggle to understand why God seemingly “winks” at the lie told by Rahab to the king’s men. However, Rahab's lie is not justified. The Bible simply reports Rahab's lie; it does not praise it or excuse it.

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“And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land,” (2.8) We may be appalled at the fact that Rahab was a prostitute, or that she was a liar. But the fact is that she was not saved by her works, but by her faith (Heb 11:31).

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“Thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by:” (2:18) This was the signal to the army of Israel that the people in this home were to be spared. Despite Rahab's desire, despite her faith, despite the promises of these spies, she would have perished unless she put her trust in a blood red cord cast down from her window. Without the scarlet cord, she could not have been saved. Most scholars see this scarlet cord as a symbol of the blood of Jesus.

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“they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.” (3:3) Joshua divided the waters of the Jordan with the ark that had become the divinely appointed symbol of God's presence since God gave the Mosaic Covenant (3:8-10).

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“Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore” (3:4) God required that the children of Israel keep some 1,000 yards behind the ark. This was for two reasons. First, to respect the holy nature of the ark of the covenant. But also, it was to make sure that everyone a clear view of the ark.

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The Israelites crossed the Jordan when the river was at its widest, deepest, and swiftest, in late April or early May. (3:15) The waters which came down from upstream stood still: In some miraculous manner, God stopped the flow of the Jordan River. This miracle obviously connects with the miracle the nation knew some 40 years earlier: the passing through the Red Sea. God brought them out of Egypt's bondage with a miracle, and He brought them in to the Promised Land with a miracle.

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In Christian experience, the crossing of the Jordan does not correspond to the believer's death and entrance into heaven, which some popular Christian songs suggest. Rather it parallels the believer's entrance into the enjoyment of his or her eternal life now through dedication to Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2) and through walking by means of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). “It signifies his willingness to 'cross the Jordan’ and engage the enemy. In other words, it is a decision by a regenerate saint to submit to the lordship of Christ and trust God for victory in the spiritual battle.” Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign ofthe Servant Kings

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The wilderness wanderings resemble the experience of the redeemed believer who has not yet fully committed himself or herself to God and is walking in the flesh. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan they encountered enemies and had to contend with their spiritual adversaries just as a believer does when he dedicates himself to God and walks by the Spirit. The Christian's rest is not the absence of hostility. It is the beginning of the enjoyment of some blessings God has promised us (i.e., eternal life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, victory over our spiritual enemies, etc.).

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The priests stood with the ark of the covenant for the entire time it took the nation to cross over. The visible token of the presence of God had to remain in the river through the entire crossing. After the nation crosses over, God commands Joshua to set up a memorial of the crossing. This memorial consists of 12 stones taken from the middle of the Jordan where the priests had stood with the Ark of the Covenant

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The purposes of the memorial stones were the same as the purpose of the miracle at the Red Sea. They manifested the power of Yahweh to all people (4:23-24; cf. Exod. 14:4, 18), and they caused God's people to fear Him (4:24; cf. Exod. 14:31). "Fear the Lord" is the most common expression calling for faith in God in the Old Testament

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“And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” (4:19) The detail that the crossing took place on the tenth day of the first month is significant because it was exactly 40 years earlier to the day that God instructed Israel to prepare to depart from Egypt by setting apart the paschal lambs (Exod. 12:3). Gilgal will become their base of operations for the conquest of the entire Promised Land.

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Apparently, all during the forty years of waiting in the wilderness, none of the sons born during that time had been circumcised. Now God commanded that this be done. (5:2-5) God guaranteed Joshua's success only as he kept the Mosaic Law (1:7). It was necessary therefore that all the males who had been born in the wilderness and had not undergone circumcision should do so. Circumcision included the individual male in the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17). It was a prerequisite for partaking in the Passover that God required of all Israelites yearly (Exod. 12).

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Significantly, due to the act of circumcision, all the men of fighting age were made completely vulnerable and unable to fight for a period of several days, till they were healed. (5:8… also ref Gen 34:24-25) So, not only did Israel cross over the Jordan at a militarily undesirable place (right in front of Jericho [3:16], the strongest military outpost of the Canaanites), they also incapacitated their army for several days. Obviously, this was suicidal from a military standpoint. They were put in the place where they could trust in nothing but God alone, rather than in their own wisdom.

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Next, the children of Israel celebrate their first Passover in the Promise Land. Following Passover, they eat of the produce of the land for the first time. The next day, the supply of manna ceases.

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“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand.” (5:13) As Joshua was reconnoitering near Jericho and planning his strategy, he met the Man who identified Himself as the Captain (Prince) of the Lord's host (angelic army; cf. 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Kings 6:8-17; Ps. 148:2; Matt. 26:53; Heb. 1:14).

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The command to remove his sandals (v. 15) probably convinced Joshua that this was the same God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:5). We know that this Being, standing before Joshua, was God. Though the title Commander of the army of the LORD could perhaps apply to an angel (such as Michael, based on a passage like Revelation 12:7), Joshua's falling down and worshipping is inconsistent with angels, who never receive worship (Revelation 22:8).

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“And Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” (5:13) The Lord had told Joshua that He would be with him, and that He would drive out the people. But as He is about to enter His first battle, this encounter teaches Him that the battle truly belongs to the Lord. The Lord was not on His side, but rather, He needed to be on the Lord's side. Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the American Civil War, said, "Let us pray not that God is on our side but that we are on God's side.” Israel would soon discover the truth of this, for whenever Israel battled on God's side, they found success. But whenever they did not follow God's lead, they failed.

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CONQUERING THE LAND (CH 6-12) “Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.” (6:1) Jericho itself was on full alert; from a human perspective, this would be a hard, if not impossible, battle. Yet from God's perspective, the battle was already over.

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“And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram‘s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (6:3-5) In chapter 6, God instructs Joshua on how to take the city. Unlike Moses, who at the burning bush argued at length with the Lord about His plan (Exod. 3:11—4:17), Joshua obeyed without question

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On the seventh day, exactly as predicted, the mighty walls tumbled down at the shout of faith. Rahab and her family were spared according to the prearranged provision, but the city was sacked and the rest of the inhabitants were put to the sword with not a single casualty! A curse, involving the death of the firstborn and youngest son of any who would rebuild the city, was pronounced by Joshua. The fulfillment of this curse some two hundred years later is recorded in I Kings 16:34.

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Symbolically, the Canaanites represented sin. Israel was at war with the Canaanites, but behind these human soldiers God was waging war against sin. Earlier in Israel's history God was compared to a warrior (Ex. 14:14; 15:3; Deut. 1:30, 3:22; 20:4). But now Israel experienced His leadership in war as never before. God is constantly at war with sin because it is an affront to His holiness and because it destroys people whom He loves and desires to bless (cf. Rom. 6:23).

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“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: (7:1 …also ref Deut 18:9-14) Chapter 6 is a record of supernatural victory, but chapter 7 describes a great carnal defeat. In chapter 7, Israel sets out to take their next city, Ai. The Lord's help “would not be needed” (they did not take the Ark of the Covenant) with this battle, for Ai was a small city, and there would be no need to take the entire Israelite army. Only an army of about 3,000 would be needed to take this city. But Israel is soundly defeated. Interestingly, Joshua is utterly dismayed, for 36 Israelites had died in this engagement. This was little over a 1% casualty rate, which is amazingly low. But Joshua is devastated. But, as some scholars point out, no where else in the book of Joshua do we see any other battle casualties at all! (this silence about casualties could imply no significant losses rather that absolutely none killed) The fact that the people's hearts melted (7:5; cf. 2:11) expresses that Israel was trusting in her own strength rather than in the Lord.

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After seeking God’s guidance, Joshua went through the entire nation until he discovered the villian, Achan, apparently by the casting of lots. Israel resorted to the casting of lots when no eyewitness could testify against a criminal (cf. 1 Sam. 14:41-42; Jonah 1:7; Prov. 18:18) or the high priest could have used the Urim and Thummim (cf. Num. 27:21).

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Achan had not just taken some things that did not belong to him. This would have been bad in itself. He stole what was God's, and he robbed the whole nation of its purity before God. The Lord's blazing anger against Israel fell on Achan and literally consumed him (7:25; cf. Heb. 12:29). The burning of a criminal after his stoning was one way of emphasizing the wickedness of his crime (7:25…also ref Lev. 20:14; Deut. 13:15-16). It was an “accursed thing" (7:15) to steal something under the ban from God.

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Even though Achan was the individual who sinned, and even though his sin was private, God regarded what he did as the action of the whole nation. This was so because he was a member of the community of Israel. Israel's defeat at Ai graphically illustrates the far-reaching influence of sin. The private sin of one or a few individuals can affect the welfare of many other people who do not personally commit that sin. Paul speaks in similar terms concerning sin in the church; regarding sin among the Corinthian church, he says Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6) A small amount of sin accepted and tolerated among believers can infect the whole group.

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When the people had dealt with the sin of Achan as God had commanded, Israel was ready to engage the enemy again. In chapter 8, the Lord promises that He would deliver Ai into their hand. This time Joshua chooses ten times the number of men. Further, God directs the strategy and tells him to set up an ambush. (8:4-5) Thus, Ai is totally defeated and burnt to the ground (8:28) .

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“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their beasts, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.” (9:3-5) The residents of the town of Gibeon decided that if they could not defeat the Israelites they would join them. This has been a strategy that enemies of believers have employed for centuries.(cf. Num. 25:1-2).

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Joshua and the leaders of Israel fell prey to the deception of the Gibeonites because they failed to seek the counsel of the Lord. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. God had not forbidden the Israelites from making peace treaties with non-Canaanite peoples (Deut. 20:11), but He had expressly commanded them not to make treaties with the native Canaanite tribes (Exod. 23:32; 34:12; Num. 33:55; Deut. 7:2).

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Joshua and the leaders of Israel discover they have been deceived, yet they abide by their sworn oath to the Gibeonites. (9:16-20). The Israelites considered their oath to the Gibeonites as binding, especially since it was a promise given in the name of Yahweh (v. 19). Later in Israel's history King Saul put some of the Gibeonites to death in his misguided zeal. God sent a famine on Israel as punishment (2 Sam. 21:1-2). As punishment for the Gibeonites, Joshua makes them slaves to the LORD by serving in menial ways such as cutting wood for the sacrificial fires of the tabernacle and carrying water used in its service.

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Next, the southern kings of Canaan assemble for an attack on Gibeon. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.” (10:8) This was the first time Israel had gone into battle against an alliance of city-states. God reassured Joshua that he would be victorious.

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Prophetic allusion??? The leader of this group, the king of Jerusalem, is an interesting figure. His name, Adoni-Zedek means Lord of Righteousness, though we see him as really the opposite of the Lord of Righteousness. Some scholars believe he is symbolic of the Anti-Christ, set against Joshua's representation of Jesus Christ. If Adoni-Zedek (the false Lord of Righteousness) represents the Antichrist, we are even more interested to find that he leads many nations against Joshua and the children of Israel.

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God's strategy included an early morning surprise attack that caught the Amorites off guard (10:9 cf. Exod. 23:27). Israel was able to gain the advantage and pursued the fleeing Amorites for several miles. God also sent a hailstorm that killed many of the enemy but none of God's people. In fact, there were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. (10:11) But God is still not through yet…

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“Then spoke Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel” (10:12-14) The Canaanites regarded the sun and moon as deities. Their control by Yahweh probably deeply impressed Israel's enemies

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The explanation of this miracle held by most evangelical scholars is that God slowed or stopped the earth's rotation, or He tilted its axis thereby lengthening the period of daylight. Most of those who hold this view believe God counteracted the worldwide effects of this miracle by His supernatural power. Various writers have suggested many other views and variations of these views. One of the most intriguing is by the conservative Hebrew scholar Robert Dick Wilson, who argues that the Hebrew words translated "stand still" and "stood still" can be translated "be eclipsed" and "was eclipsed.“ Thus, he believes that both the sun and the moon experienced an eclipse by other heavenly bodies. (Source: Robert Dick Wilson, "Understanding 'The Sun Stood Still,'" in Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, pp. 61-65.)

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After finding the kings hiding in caves, “Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening” (10:26) We have another striking similarity with the Book of Revelation. Not only does a false "Lord of Righteousness" (Adoni-Zedek) lead a group of nations against Joshua, who has come to possess the land; but also, in the midst of their defeat, the kings hide in caves in fear of the conquering Joshua (Revelation 6:15-16).

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To this point Israel's victories had taken place in central Canaan. God's strategy was to give His people a base of operation in the middle part of the land first. From there they could then advance to the South and then to the North. After the battle of Gibeon the conquest of the south was soon accomplished. The cities were taken one by one and the inhabitants slaughtered in obedience to the command of God to eliminate the cities of the Canaanites in their entirety.

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Then the kings in the northern part of Canaan banded together under the leadership of King Jabin of the fortified city of Hazor. (11:1-5) Joshua met them in battle at the waters of Merom and another great victory was accomplished, including the taking of Hazor. On the defeat of the northern kings, much of land lay under the control of Israel. Chapter 12 primarily consists of a listing 31 kings in the order they were subdued under Joshua's first attack, in the first seven years after Israel had entered the land

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“As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.” (11:15) The secret of Joshua's remarkable success from the human viewpoint was his consistent obedience to the Lord. We too will experience victory over our spiritual enemies—the world, the flesh, and the devil—to the extent that we do God's will as He has revealed that in His Word.

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“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.” (11:23) The taking of the whole land does not imply that all the towns and villages to the very last had been conquered, or that all the Canaanites were rooted out from every corner of the land, but simply that the conquest was of such a character that the power of the Canaanites was broken, their dominion overthrown, and their whole land so thoroughly given into the hands of the Israelites, that those who still remained here and there were crushed into powerless fugitives, who could neither offer any further opposition to the Israelites, nor dispute the possession of the land with them.

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Thus, though the major portion of the land promised to Abraham was now under Israel's control, still along the fringes there were unoccupied territories and within the land itself pockets of resistance remained. When Joshua allotted each tribe its own territory by casting lots, he reminded them that they were individually responsible to claim the territory which rightly belonged to them. There would be battles involved, but they were to be assured that the ultimate victory would be secure, for God had given His word.

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ALLOCATING THE LAND (CH 13-22) Over forty percent of the book of Joshua deals with the apportionment of the Promised Land to the Israelite tribes, comprising the largest section of the book. The apportionment gives great geographic detail as the boundary line for each tribe is exactly described. The apportionment was to be made by lot and according to the size of the tribe (Numbers 33:53-54), demonstrating one of the primary reasons for the second census in Numbers. In addition, to the tribal apportionment of land, the Levite cities are reserved as are the cities of refuge.

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Once the apportionment had been made, that land was to remain within the tribe. If the land was sold outside the original apportionment, it was to be returned to the original owner every 50 years in the land of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). Having detailed descriptions of the boundary markers was therefore extremely important. These boundaries were so important, that moving it was a violation of the law (Deut. 19:14) and put the offender under a curse (Deut 27:17).

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The importance of the apportionment is previewed in Number 33:50-56. Number 33:50-52 starts with the importance of driving out the current inhabitants of the land, and the destruction of their idols and places of worship. Before the apportionment can take place, the people must conquer the land and destroy all remnants of the idolatrous nations. The apportionment by God does not come because Israel is worthy of such land, but because of the wickedness of those currently in the land (Deut 9:5). In fact, Abraham's descendents had to wait four centuries for God to fulfill His covenant promise for the land because the current inhabitants had not reached the full measure of their potential wickedness (Gen. 15:16).

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Most significantly, though, the apportionment was not automatic. The tribes had to take the land and conquer it (Numbers 33:55-56). Thus, the apportionment is divided into two sections: 1) the apportionment for those tribes who obediently conquered the land, and 2) the apportionment for those tribes who failed to conquer the land.

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“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed” (13:1) At the end of the seven-year period of conquest Israel actually occupied very little of the Promise Land. "Very much" of it remained for them to possess.

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As previously seen in Numbers, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh were given their part on the east of the Jordan, but the rest of the land was divided between the nine and one-half tribes. Before the casting of lots began Caleb came to Joshua with his fellow tribesmen from Judah to request the inheritance that Moses had promised him (14:6-9; cf. Deut. 1:36; Num.14:26-38). Moses had promised Caleb land in Canaan but had not given a specific allotment. The reason for this special blessing was Caleb's faithfulness to God when he served as one of the 12 spies. Joshua also received a personal allotment later (19:49-50).

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The references to Caleb's age (14:10) enable us to determine the length of the conquest of Canaan. Caleb had received the promise of a portion in the land at Kadesh Barnea 38 years before the Israelites crossed the Jordan and entered Canaan (Num. 14:24). Caleb was 40 years old then (v. 7). He was now 85 (v. 10). Forty-five years had elapsed, and Caleb had spent 38 of them in the wilderness. Therefore the conquest must have taken the remaining seven years.

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Despite being 85, the portion Caleb requested was part of the hill country that the giants who had discouraged his fellow spies still inhabited. In making his request (14:12), Caleb referred to the very things that the unbelieving spies had pointed out to discourage the Israelites from entering the land: hill country, Anakim, and large fortified cities (cf. Num. 13:28-29).

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The tribe of Judah received their allotment first (on the west side of the Jordan) The tribe of Judah probably received first consideration in the text because it was the tribe that had received Jacob's special patriarchal blessing. It was also the largest tribe. Judah was the southernmost tribe west of the Jordan. Caleb's family and the Simeonites lived within Judah's territory. Simeon was the smallest tribe except Levi and lost its territorial identity within Judah shortly after the conquest (cf. Gen. 49:7). For this reason some maps of the tribal allotments do not include Simeon.

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The Sons of Joseph (Chapter 16-17) The tribe of Ephraim received their allotment in chapter 16. However, they failed to completely drive out the Canaanites (16:10). The Ephraimites complained to Joshua that their apportionment was too small for the size of their tribe (17:14). Joshua's response was that they had plenty of land, if only they would finish conquering the land (17:17-18). The Ephraimites, however, feared the people, for they had iron chariots (17:16). They did not believe in the promise of God, and they failed to act on the promise. Therefore, they did not receive their full inheritance.

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Most of the tribes, however, failed to take the land. So, in chapter 18, Joshua calls the whole nation together to Shiloh and he rebukes them for failing to complete the task. Only Judah and the sons of Joseph had conquered the land (of course, Gad and Reuben had already been given land on the East side of the Jordan), so they were able to keep what they had won. The rest of the land would be apportioned with the remaining 7 tribes who failed to obey. The description of this apportionment takes chapters 18-19. After this apportionment, Dan found their inheritance too small. So they moved north and conquered another unallocated territory, thus gaining additional land (19:47).

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EPILOGUE (CH 23-24) By the end of the book, Israel has mostly conquered the land and the tribes had all received their apportionment. Now that a good portion of the Promised Land had been conquered, the need for diligent obedience to the law would be less obvious. As they rested in the land, Joshua's biggest fear is that their complacency would tempt them to abandon Yahweh and chase after other gods. (23:7) If Israel associate and intermarry with the people whom they failed to destroy according to the Lord's command, they also will begin serving other gods, and then they will loose the land that they have just possessed (23:15-16). So, at the age of 110, as Joshua nears his death, he has an important farewell message to give to the nation. Thus, he calls for all of Israel to come and hear what he has to say.

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He begins by reminding the people that is was Yahweh, their God who had been fighting for them. He is the one who drove out the nations. He sent hornets before them, so they did not even need to use their sword or their bow (24:12). God hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots (11:5). Furthermore, God hardened their heart so that their enemies would not seek peace, but would fight, thus sealing their own fate (11:19-20). Yahweh had driven out the nations, and no one was able to stand before them (23:8-10). Thus, Joshua clearly states that it is God who gets the credit for everything: “And I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat.” (24:13)

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Next, in one of the most quoted passages in the book, Joshua draws the proverbially line in the sand: “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (24:14-15) Israel must choose sides. There is no middle ground. Joshua knows on which side he and his family is going to be. But each family must also decide and state their commitment.

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The people respond: “far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord.” He is the one who gave us this land. Of course we will serve the Lord (24:16-18). But Joshua knows better. They will fail God (24:19-20). He has predicted as much in 23:15-16. And when that happens they will be destroyed. In fact, After Joshua, the history of Israel goes downhill [until David]. Joshua Ch.24 thus marks the high point of Israel's history, the full realization of her identity as people of God Still, Joshua accepts their commitment, but then states that their bold commitment will serve as a witness against them (24:22). When they fall back into idolatry, the commitment they make on this day will serve to condemn them.

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Just so we don’t miss the main point.. The Book of Joshua demonstrates that God is perpetually at war with sin. He hates it and will judge it not only because it is an offense to His character but because it destroys the people He created for fellowship with Himself. The choice remains for all of us. We must choose this day who are we going to serve. If we want to serve God, then it is not enough to just say that we will. We must give up our idols. We must quit holding onto those things which weigh us down.

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