Lord’s Library editors created this resource on Joshua in the Bible to give you a basic summary of his life and significance.
The story of Joshua is part of the larger narrative of the Israelites’ journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The story of Joshua in the Bible is replete with instances of divine guidance and miracles, such as the crossing of the Jordan River, the fall of the walls of Jericho, and the stopping of the sun and moon during a battle.
Joshua’s leadership marked a significant transition following the death of Moses. He ensured continuity in leadership and successfully led the Israelites into the land Moses had longed to see but was not allowed to enter, a pivotal moment in Israel’s history. He also gathered the people at Shechem and called on them to choose to serve the Lord faithfully.
Joshua’s unwavering faith in God’s promises and his commitment to obeying God’s commands serve as examples for believers. The Book of Joshua in the Bible serves as a historical record of the Israelite conquest of Canaan and the division of the land among the twelve tribes.
Joshua is sometimes seen as a precursor or foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. The name “Joshua” is similar to “Yeshua” or “Jesus” in Hebrew, and both figures are associated with leading God’s people to salvation.
Joshua in the Bible
Relationship with Moses & Leadership After His Death
Joshua served as an assistant and aide to Moses throughout their journey in the wilderness and during the Israelites’ quest to enter the Promised Land. For more context, see Exodus 17:9-10, Exodus 24:13, and Numbers 27:18-23 below:
- Exodus 17:9-10: “And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.”
- Exodus 24:13: “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.”
- Numbers 27:18-23: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.”
In the passage in Numbers, God instructs Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor, and Moses follows this command by publicly setting Joshua apart for leadership before the people of Israel.
One of Joshua’s first major acts as a leader was to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River, mirroring the earlier crossing of the Red Sea during Moses’ leadership. Joshua also led the Israelites in a series of military campaigns to conquer the land of Canaan, divide up the land, and renew God’s covenant.
Crossing the Jordan River
One of Joshua’s first major acts as a leader was to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, mirroring the earlier crossing of the Red Sea during Moses’ leadership. This event is described in Joshua 3:14-17 (KJV):
“And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.”
Joshua’s leadership in this miraculous event demonstrated his faith in God and his willingness to follow divine guidance.
Joshua led the Israelites in a series of military campaigns to conquer the land of Canaan. These battles included the famous Battle of Jericho, as well as conflicts with various Canaanite tribes. His leadership in these battles is highlighted in passages like Joshua 6:2-5 (KJV):
“And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 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.”
Joshua’s obedience to God’s specific instructions in these battles led to remarkable victories.
Key Military Campaigns
These military campaigns were crucial in establishing the Israelite presence in Canaan, as described in the biblical narrative:
The Battle of Jericho
Led by Joshua, the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho for seven days, with the Ark of the Covenant, priests, and trumpets. On the seventh day, they circled the city seven times, and at the sound of the trumpets, the walls of Jericho miraculously collapsed. The Israelites then captured the city.
The Conquest of Ai
After the victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered a setback at the city of Ai due to disobedience to God’s commands. However, after resolving the issue of disobedience, Joshua led another campaign against Ai and successfully captured it.
The Southern Campaign
Joshua led campaigns against various cities and kings in the southern part of Canaan. This included battles against cities like Hebron, Debir, and Libnah, among others.
The Northern Campaign
After dealing with the southern cities, Joshua led campaigns in northern Canaan. This phase included battles against cities such as Hazor, Madon, and the coalition of northern kings who gathered to fight against the Israelites.
The Conquest of Gibeon
The Gibeonites, fearing the Israelite advance, tricked Joshua into making a covenant of peace with them. When this deception was discovered, Joshua and the Israelites defended Gibeon from attacks by other Canaanite kings.
Dividing the Land
After the conquest of Canaan, Joshua oversaw the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel, ensuring that each tribe received its allotted inheritance. This process is described in Joshua 13-21 and involved a meticulous distribution of territory.
Renewing the Covenant
Joshua played a significant role in the renewal of the covenant between God and the Israelites. He gathered the people at Shechem and delivered a powerful speech, urging them to choose to serve the Lord faithfully. This event is recorded in Joshua 24:14-15 (KJV):
“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.”
Joshua’s emphasis on faithfulness to God and the importance of serving the Lord is a central theme of his leadership.
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