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Seminar 9 Joshua

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Andrew Hodge                                                                                                      10th June 2006

Old Testament Survey OTE 113


Seminar 9


Jensen, Irving L. Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament 1978, Moody Press, Chicago; Joshua




Discuss Joshua’s historical and biographical background:

            Joshua was originally named Oshea by his parents (Numbers 13:8) meaning ‘salvation’. His name is changed by Moses to Jehoshua (contracted to ‘Joshua’ Numbers 13:16) meaning ‘Jehovah is salvation’ which in the light of subsequent events is a very significant change - from the general to the specific, from the impersonal to the personal, from the proud  exaltation of a man to the praise of God Himself - and reflects Joshua’s attitude as he assumes the leader’s reins from Moses.

            Joshua was selected as an Israelite ‘spy’ because he was a “ruler” in his tribe (Numbers 13:2) and a “head” of the children of Israel (13:3). In other words, he had naturally risen to the top.

            Joshua’s natural talents as a military leader were enhanced by his spiritual training under Moses in that “he departed not out of the tabernacle” (Exodus 33:11).

            Joshua is an Ephraimite, and as he plays a most prominent role in the leadership of the Nation, this partly explains why Ephraim was such a ‘cocky’ tribe in the time of early settlement in the Eisodus.

            After seeking God’s direction, Moses appoints Joshua as his successor (Deuteronomy 31:3, 23) because God says that he was “a man in whom was the spirit” (Numbers 27:18, 22), a man who had “wholly followed the LORD” (Numbers 32:12) and who was “full of the spirit of wisdom” (Deuteronomy 34:9). God Himself also charges Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:14). Once Moses had died, God spoke directly to Joshua telling him exactly how to lead (Joshua 1:1ff), the people willingly obeying him (1:16; Deuteronomy 34:9).

            Moses includes Joshua in the list of leaders of the Nation (along with Eleazar the priest, and the Chief Fathers of the tribes) when exhorting them to remember that the tribes who wished to settle in Transjordan had promised to send all their armed men into Canaan in order to assist their brethren to conquer their own land (Numbers 32:28-33).

            God confirms His confidence in Joshua’s leadership by the events at the crossing of the Jordan, just as He had with Moses in the crossing of the Red Sea (Joshua 3:7; 4:14).




Discuss Joshua’s leadership role between the two Passovers:

            The first Passover occurs at the Exodus and the second shortly after the Eisodus at Gilgal when Joshua required the Nation to renew its commitment to the Abrahamic Covenant (Joshua 5:10-11). The Captain of the host of the LORD appears to Joshua in theophany immediately after this (5:13-15).

See above and below for some of the characteristics of Joshua’s leadership.

Of some interest is that God tells Joshua before entering the land the extent of the tract to be divided between the tribes ie the area that has to be conquered (Joshua 1:3-6). This extent was not achieved during Joshua’s lifetime which makes Joshua 21:43 difficult to interpret. God said to Joshua that this was the land that He had promised to Moses (1:3) but it had been previously promised to Abram, Isaac and Jacob as well.

The responsibility of allocating the land to the tribes after the Eisodus was given to Eleazar (as the spiritual leader who inquired directly of God) and Joshua (as the military leader who went and did it - Deuteronomy 1:38; 3:28; 31:7). Joshua was responsible for conquering the land as a whole; it was subsequently divided up by God to each tribe. Joshua was not counted as the Nation’s spiritual leader.

            Nevertheless, God ordered Joshua to get the Israelites back on the Abrahamic track in requiring all the males to be circumcised, as the Nation had neglected to do this during the 40 years of wandering while all the original males died off (Joshua 5:2-9). It is likely that at this time, only Joshua carried the authority to get this done.



Discuss the response of the people to Joshua’s leading:

See above.     

One of the very important things that Joshua was not able to do was unite the tribes into one Nation. The Israelites had come out of Egypt as a single body, essentially united in that they were all slaves in a singularly repressive situation. Apart from dissent against God and a few isolated events of rebellion against Moses’ leadership, this body remained single throughout the 40 years of wilderness wanderings.

            On approaching the Promised Land, under God’s instruction, each tribe was to receive a tract of land as an inheritance. The body then started to break up, and most tribes became jealous of their own territory and occasionally jealous of territory not set aside for them eg the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh took Transjordan, Dan took Laish in the North, being dissatisfied with where they were put in the centre. Intertribal warfare was not uncommon, on one occasion almost obliterating the Benjamites. For a number of political, geographical and social reasons (and also some God ordained ones, see Exodus 23:29-30), it was not possible for Joshua to prevent this and it was not until the time of David that disunity was overcome.



Appreciate Joshua’s leadership role in taking Israel from a nation of slaves into a true Theocratic people in the Promised Land:

            See above.     

If there was any day when  a ”mixt multitude” of slaves became a nation it was Exodus 24:4-8 when they all heartily agreed to abide by the conditions of obedience set down by God as He established the Mosaic Covenant with them (Wood 1). This occurred after God had given the nation His moral and social law

1Wood, Leon.  A Survey of Israel’s History  p145  quoted in Jensen, Irving L. Jensen’s

Survey of the Old Testament 1978, Moody Press, Chicago  p 92

(through Moses as the nation’s leader), so the people were under no misapprehension as to what they had agreed to.

            Immediately after this, Joshua is included with Moses in God’s call for Moses to go up to meet Him on Mt Sinai (24:13). Joshua is the only other person permitted on the mountain, apart from Moses, and is termed Moses’ ‘minister’ (equivalent to ‘personal assistant’). He is therefore allowed to approach God more closely than any of the other Israelites except Moses.

            There is one previous mention of Joshua in leadership - Exodus 17. In this chapter Joshua was commissioned by Moses to gather an army of Israelites and fight Amalek, which was successful in that God fought for His nation. After the victory, Moses was to write of the incident in a book, and “rehearse it in the ears of Joshua” (17:14) for it was Joshua’s subsequent task as a military leader to obliterate the Amalekites (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). 

            Joshua’s faith must have impressed itself upon Israel in that he led the people in conquering Jericho using a completely non-military tactic that would have seemed ridiculous to the ordinary soldier in the ranks, unless he had confidence in Joshua’s communication with God (Joshua 6:2-27). In this limited sense Joshua could be said to be a spiritual leader.

            God was just as quick to pick up Joshua after a failure as He did with Moses eg the disaster of Ai (Joshua 7:3-10), giving Joshua specific direction as to how to correct the problem of disobedience (Achan: Joshua 7:16-25). Although it is interesting that God uses Joshua to correct spiritual problems, the correction needed was such that only a governor like Joshua could have carried them out.

            Jensen makes an attempt to identify Joshua as a type of Christ 2, by making him the “captain of ….. our salvation” citing Hebrews 2:10-11; cf Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 1:10 and 2:14. None of these NT scriptures mention Joshua and although some parallels could be drawn, there is insufficient scriptural evidence to conjure a type. Good point   Others cite Hebrews 4:8 noting that the KJV “Jesus” in this verse should be Joshua (the son of Nun); in my view this is still insufficient to establish a type.

            Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites conquered 6 nations under 31 kings (11:18-23; 12:24). There were 7 nations originally in the land “greater and mightier” than the Israelites - Joshua made a treaty with the Hivites of Gibeah.


Know why and how the people responded to Joshua’s leadership and the way they did it:

            See above.     

Joshua’s leadership depended on Joshua’s (and his immediate contemporaries) presence, for when they died, the very next generation rebelled against God (Judges 2:6-10). Was this a failure to instil a proper respect for God? Was it a simple failure to pass on the deeds that God had done on Israel’s behalf? Was it a failure to demonstrate overcoming faith to the next generation? Was it merely an overwhelming sinfulness on the part of the new generation? Judges 2:10 suggests that it was Joshua and the Elders fault, because the new generation “knew not”. They should have known in no uncertain terms what was expected of them and why.

            When the time came for the conquered land to be allotted, the relief of the people to now have a settled place with at least the potential for peace must have

2Jensen, Irving L. Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament 1978, Moody Press, Chicago p148

been very great. Joshua charges the two large tribal groups - Transjordanian (Joshua 22:1-9) and Cisjordanian (23:1-16) - to total commitment to Jehovah, receiving in return their willing consecration to Him (24:14-28).

            Joshua is to be commended for his single-minded devotion to Jehovah and his witness of that to the Nation, which he continued steadfastly until his death, which is more than can be said for many of his illustrious antecedents and descendants, who unlike Joshua, were in the Messianic line.

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