Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua (Hebrew: ספר יהושעSefer Yehoshua) is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament, and is the first book of the Deuteronomistic history, the story of Israel from the conquest of Canaan to the Babylonian exile.[1]:42 It tells of the campaigns of the Israelites in central, southern and northern Canaan, the destruction of their enemies, and the division of the land among the Twelve Tribes, framed by two set-piece speeches, the first by God commanding the conquest of the land, and, at the end, the last by Joshua warning of the need for faithful observance of the Law (torah) revealed to Moses.[2]

Almost all scholars agree that the Book of Joshua holds little historical value for early Israel and most likely reflects a much later period.[3] The earliest parts of the book are possibly chapters 2–11, the story of the conquest; these chapters were later incorporated into an early form of Joshua written late in the reign of king Josiah (reigned 640–609 BCE), but the book was not completed until after the fall of Jerusalem to the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, and possibly not until after the return from the Babylonian exile in 539 BCE.[4]:10–11


Dore joshua crossing
Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan (Gustave Doré)


I. Transfer of leadership to Joshua (1:1–18)

A. God's commission to Joshua (1:1–9)
B. Joshua's instructions to the people (1:10–18)

II. Entrance into and conquest of Canaan (2:1–12:24)

A. Entry into Canaan
1.Reconnaissance of Jericho (2:1–24)
2. Crossing the River Jordan (3:1–17)
3. Establishing a foothold at Gilgal (4:1–5:1)
4. Circumcision and Passover (5:2–15)
B. Victory over Canaan (6:1–12:24)
1. Destruction of Jericho (6)
2. Failure and success at Ai (7:1–8:29)
3. Renewal of the covenant at Mount Ebal (8:30–35)
4. Other campaigns in central Canaan. The Gibeonite Deception (9:1–27)
5. Campaigns in southern Canaan (10:1–43)
6. Campaigns in northern Canaan (11:1–15)
7. Summary of lands conquered (11:16-23)
8. Summary list of defeated kings (12:1–24)

III. Division of the land among the tribes (13:1–22:34)

A. God's instructions to Joshua (13:1–7)
B. Tribal allotments (13:8–19:51)
1. Eastern tribes (13:8–33)
2. Western tribes (14:1–19:51)
C. Cities of refuge and levitical cities (20:1–21:42)
D. Summary of conquest (21:43–45)
E. De-commissioning of the eastern tribes (22:1–34)

IV. Conclusion (23:1–24:33)

A. Joshua's farewell address (23:1–16)
B. Covenant at Shechem (24:1–28)
C. Deaths of Joshua and Eleazar; burial of Joseph's bones (24:29–33)[2]


God's commission to Joshua (chapter 1)

Chapter 1 commences "after the death of Moses" (Joshua 1:1) and presents the first of three important moments in Joshua marked with major speeches and reflections by the main characters; here first God, and then Joshua, make speeches about the goal of conquest of the Promised Land; in chapter 12, the narrator looks back on the conquest; and in chapter 23 Joshua gives a speech about what must be done if Israel is to live in peace in the land.[5]:49

God commissions Joshua to take possession of the land and warns him to keep faith with the Mosaic covenant. God's speech foreshadows the major themes of the book: the crossing of the Jordan River and conquest of the land, its distribution, and the imperative need for obedience to the Law; Joshua's own immediate obedience is seen in his speeches to the Israelite commanders and to the Transjordanian tribes, and the Transjordanians' affirmation of Joshua's leadership echoes Yahweh's assurances of victory.[6]:175

Entry into the land and conquest (chapters 2–12)

James Jacques Joseph Tissot - The Ark Passes Over the Jordan - Google Art Project
The Ark Passes Over the Jordan (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

The Israelites cross the Jordan River through the miraculous intervention of God and the Ark of the Covenant and are circumcised at Gibeath-Haaraloth (translated as hill of foreskins), renamed Gilgal in memory. Gilgal sounds like Gallothi, "I have removed", but is more likely to translate as "circle of standing stones". The conquest begins with the battle of Jericho, followed by Ai (central Canaan), after which Joshua builds an altar to Yahweh at Mount Ebal in northern Canaan and renews the Covenant in a ceremony has elements of a divine land-grant ceremony, similar to ceremonies known from Mesopotamia.[6]:180

The narrative then switches to the south. The Gibeonites trick the Israelites into entering an alliance with them by saying that they are not Canaanites. This prevents the Israelites from exterminating them, but they are enslaved instead. An alliance of Amorite kingdoms headed by the Canaanite king of Jerusalem is defeated with Yahweh's miraculous help of stopping the Sun and the Moon, and hurling down large hailstones. (Joshua 10:10-14) The enemy kings were eventually hanged on trees. The Deuteronomist author may have used the then-recent 701 BCE campaign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib in the Kingdom of Judah as his model; the hanging of the captured kings is in accordance with Assyrian practice of the 8th century BCE.[7]

With the south conquered the narrative moves to the northern campaign. A powerful multi-national (or more accurately, multi-ethnic) coalition headed by the king of Hazor, the most important northern city, is defeated with Yahweh's help. Hazor itself is then captured and destroyed. Chapter 11:16–23 summarises the extent of the conquest: Joshua has taken the entire land, almost entirely through military victories, with only the Gibeonites agreeing to peaceful terms with Israel. The land then "had rest from war" (Joshua 11:23, repeated at 14:15). Chapter 12 lists the vanquished kings on both sides of the Jordan River: the two kings who ruled east of the Jordan who were defeated under Moses' leadership (Joshua 12:1-6; cf. Numbers 21), and the 31 kings on the west of the Jordan who were defeated under Joshua's leadership (Joshua 12:7–24). The list of the 31 kings is quasi-tabular:

the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; (etc.; Joshua 12:10–11).

Division of the land (chapters 13–22)

The map of the Holy Land by Marino Sanudo (drawn in 1320)
Map of the Holy Land, Pietro Vesconte, 1321, showing the allotments of the tribes of Israel. Described by Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld as "the first non-Ptolemaic map of a definite country"[8]
1759 map Holy Land and 12 Tribes
1759 map of the tribal allotments of Israel

Having described how the Israelites and Joshua have carried out the first of their God's commands, the narrative now turns to the second: to "put the people in possession of the land." Joshua is "old, advanced (or stricken) in years" by this time (Joshua 13:1).

This land distribution is a "covenantal land grant": Yahweh, as king, is issuing each tribe its territory.[6]:183 The "Cities of Refuge" and Levitical cities are attached to the end, since it is necessary for the tribes to receive their grants before they allocate parts of it to others. The Transjordanian tribes are dismissed, affirming their loyalty to Yahweh.

The book reaffirms Moses' allocation of land east of the Jordan to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13:8-32; cf. Numbers 32:1-42), and then describes how Joshua divided the newly conquered land of Canaan into parcels, and assigned them to the tribes by lot.[9] Joshua 14:1 also makes reference to the role of Eleazar the priest (ahead of Joshua) in the distribution process.[10] The description serves a theological function to show how the promise of the land was realized in the biblical narrative; its origins are unclear, but the descriptions may reflect geographical relations among the places named.[11]:5

The wording of Joshua 18:1-4 suggests that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh received their land allocation some time before the "remaining seven tribes", and a 21-member expedition set out to survey the remainder of the land with a view to organising the allocation to the tribes of Simeon, Benjamin, Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, Issachar and Dan. Subsequently, 48 cities with their surrounding lands were allocated to the Tribe of Levi (Joshua 21:1-41, cf. Numbers 35:7).

Omitted in the Masoretic Text, but present in the Septuagint, is a statement that:

Joshua completed the division of the land in its boundaries, and the children gave a portion to Joshua, by the commandment of the Lord. They gave to him the city for which he asked, Thamnath Sarach gave they him in Mount Ephraim, and Joshua built the city, and dwelt in it. And Joshua took the stone knives with which he had circumcised the children of Israel, which were in the way in the wilderness, and he placed them in Tamnath Sarach.[12]

By the end of chapter 21, the narrative records that the fulfilment of God's promise of land, rest and supremacy over the enemies of the Israelites was complete.(Joshua 21:43-45) The tribes to whom Moses had granted land east of the Jordan are authorized to return home to Gilead (here used in the widest sense for the whole Transjordan district),[13] having faithfully 'kept the charge' (Joshua 22:3, English Revised Version) of supporting the tribes occupying Canaan. They are granted "riches ... with very much livestock, with silver, with gold, with bronze, with iron, and with very much clothing" as a reward (Joshua 22:1-9).

Joshua's farewell speeches (chapters 23–24)

Joshua, in his old age and conscious that he is "going the way of all the earth" (Joshua 23:14), gathers the leaders of the Israelites together and reminds them of Yahweh's great works for them, and of the need to love Yahweh (Joshua 23:11). The Israelites are told - just as Joshua himself had been told (Joshua 1:7) - that they must comply with "all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses" (Joshua 23:6), neither "turn[ing] aside from it to the right hand or to the left" (i.e. by adding to the law, or diminishing from it).[14]

Joshua meets again with all the people at Shechem in chapter 24 and addresses them a second time. He recounts the history of God's formation of the Israelite nation, beginning with "Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, [who] lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods" (Joshua 24:2). He invited the Israelites to choose between serving the Lord who had delivered them from Egypt, or the gods which their ancestors had served on the other side of the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land they now lived. The people chose to serve the Lord, a decision which Joshua recorded in the Book of the Law of God. He then erected a memorial stone "under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord" in Shechem (Joshua 24:1-27). The oak is associated with the Oak of Moreh where Abram had set up camp during his travels in this area (Genesis 12:6). Thus "Joshua made a covenant with the people", literally "cut a covenant", a phrase common to the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages. It derives from the custom of sacrifice, in which the victims were cut in pieces and offered to the deity invoked in ratification of the engagement.[15]

The people then returned to their inheritance i.e. their allocated lands (Joshua 24:28).

Closing items

The Book of Joshua closes with three concluding items (referred to in the Jerusalem Bible as "Two Additions"):[16]

The death of Joshua and his burial at Timnath-serah (Joshua 24:29–31)
The burial of the bones of Joseph at Shechem (Joshua 24:32)
The death of Eleazar and his burial in land belonging to Phinehas in the mountains of Ephraim (Joshua 24:33).

There were no Levitical cities given to the descendants of Aaron in Ephraim, so theologians Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch suppose the land may have been at Geba in the territory of the Tribe of Benjamin: "the situation, 'upon the mountains of Ephraim', is not at variance with this view, as these mountains extended, according to Judges 4:5, etc., far into the territory of Benjamin".[17]

In some manuscripts and editions of the Septuagint, there is an additional verse relating to the apostasy of the Israelites after Joshua's death.


Prise de Jéricho
The Taking of Jericho (Jean Fouquet, c.1452–1460)

Authorship and date

The Book of Joshua is an anonymous work. The Babylonian Talmud, written in the 3rd to 5th centuries CE, attributed it to Joshua himself, but this idea was rejected as untenable by John Calvin (1509–64), and by the time of Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) it was recognised that the book must have been written much later than the period it depicted.[5]:26–30 There is now general agreement that it was composed as part of a larger work, the Deuteronomistic history, stretching from the Book of Deuteronomy to the Books of Kings.[6]:174 composed first at the court of king Josiah in the late 7th century BCE, and extensively revised in the 6th century BCE.[5]:63


Shemesh Givon Dom 1
"Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon" (sculpture by Shmuel Bar Even)

The prevailing scholarly view is that Joshua is not a factual account of historical events.[18][19]:4 The apparent setting of Joshua is the 13th century BCE[19] which was a time of widespread city-destruction, but with a few exceptions (Hazor, Lachish) the destroyed cities are not the ones the Bible associates with Joshua, and the ones it does associate with him show little or no sign of even being occupied at the time.[20]:71-72 Given its lack of historicity, Carolyn Pressler in her commentary for the Westminster Bible Companion series suggests that readers of Joshua should give priority to its theological message ("what passages teach about God") and be aware of what these would have meant to audiences in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.[21]:5–6 Richard Nelson explained that the needs of the centralised monarchy favoured a single story of origins, combining old traditions of an exodus from Egypt, belief in a national god as "divine warrior," and explanations for ruined cities, social stratification and ethnic groups, and contemporary tribes.[22]:5

In the 1930s Martin Noth made a sweeping criticism of the usefulness of the Book of Joshua for history.[23] Noth was a student of Albrecht Alt, who emphasized form criticism and the importance of etiology.[23][24] Alt and Noth posited a peaceful movement of the Israelites into various areas of Canaan, contra the Biblical account.[25]

Albright questioned the "tenacity" of etiologies, which were key to Noth's analysis of the campaigns in Joshua. Archaeological evidence in the 1930s showed that the city of Ai, an early target for conquest in the putative Joshua account, had existed and been destroyed, but in the 22nd century BCE.[23] In 1951 Kathleen Kenyon showed that Jericho was from the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2100–1550 BCE), not the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1200 BCE). Kenyon argued that the early Israelite campaign could not be historically corroborated, but rather explained as an etiology of the location and a representation of the Israelite settlement.[26][27]

In 1955, G. Ernest Wright discussed the correlation of archaeological data to the early Israelite campaigns, which he divided into three phases per the Book of Joshua. He pointed to two sets of archaeological findings that "seem to suggest that the biblical account is in general correct regarding the nature of the late thirteenth and twelfth-eleventh centuries in the country" (i.e., "a period of tremendous violence").[28] He gives particular weight to what were then recent digs at Hazor by Yigael Yadin.[28]

As an alternative to both the military conquest and uncontested infiltration hypotheses, George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald suggested that the Israelites emerged through a kind of peasant revolt against their Canaanite lords. Arguing against this view Gary A. Rendsburg says that archaeological findings (presented by Israel Finkelstein in 1986) undermined this idea because the Israelites' first settled areas were not held by Canaanites, whose cities were sustained alongside Israelite areas.[25]

The Book of Joshua holds little historical value.[3] The archaeological evidence shows that Jericho and Ai were not occupied in the Near Eastern Late Bronze Age.[29] The story of the conquest most likely represents the nationalist propaganda of the 8th century BCE kings of Judah and their claims to the territory of the Kingdom of Israel;[18] incorporated into an early form of Joshua written late in the reign of king Josiah (reigned 640–609 BCE). The book was probably revised and completed after the fall of Jerusalem to the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, and possibly after the return from the Babylonian exile in 538 BCE.[4]:10–11


JoshuaSun Martin
Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gideon (John Martin)

Faith and wrath

The overarching theological theme of the Deuteronomistic history is faithfulness and God's mercy, and their opposites, faithlessness and God's wrath. In the Book of Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings, the Israelites become faithless and God ultimately shows his anger by sending his people into exile.[30] But in Joshua Israel is obedient, Joshua is faithful, and God fulfills his promise and gives them the land.[21]:3–4 Yahweh's war campaign in Canaan validates Israel's entitlement to the land[31]:158-159 and provides a paradigm of how Israel was to live there: twelve tribes, with a designated leader, united by covenant in warfare and in worship of Yahweh alone at a single sanctuary, all in obedience to the commands of Moses as found in the Book of Deuteronomy.[32]:162

God and Israel

The Book of Joshua takes forward Deuteronomy's theme of Israel as a single people worshipping Yahweh in the land God has given them.[31]:159 Yahweh, as the main character in the book, takes the initiative in conquering the land, and Yahweh's power wins the battles. For example, the walls of Jericho fall because Yahweh fights for Israel, not because the Israelites show superior fighting ability.[4]:7-8 The potential disunity of Israel is a constant theme, the greatest threat of disunity coming from the tribes east of the Jordan. Chapter 22:19 even hints that the land across the Jordan is unclean and that the tribes who live there have secondary status.[4]:9


Land is the central topic of Joshua.[19]:11 The introduction to Deuteronomy recalled how Yahweh had given the land to the Israelites but then withdrew the gift when Israel showed fear and only Joshua and Caleb had trusted in God.[33]:33 The land is Yahweh's to give or withhold, and the fact that he has promised it to Israel gives Israel an inalienable right to take it. For exilic and post-exilic readers, the land was both the sign of Yahweh's faithfulness and Israel's unfaithfulness, as well as the centre of their ethnic identity. In Deuteronomistic theology, "rest" meant Israel's unthreatened possession of the land, the achievement of which began with the conquests of Joshua.[22]:15–16

The enemy

Tissot The Taking of Jericho
The Taking of Jericho (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

Joshua "carries out a systematic campaign against the civilians of Canaan — men, women and children — that amounts to genocide."[34] In doing this he is carrying out herem as commanded by Yahweh in Deuteronomy 20:17: "You shall not leave alive anything that breathes". The purpose is to drive out and dispossess the Canaanites, with the implication that there are to be no treaties with the enemy, no mercy, and no intermarriage.[6]:175 "The extermination of the nations glorifies Yahweh as a warrior and promotes Israel's claim to the land," while their continued survival "explores the themes of disobedience and penalty and looks forward to the story told in Judges and Kings."[22]:18–19 The divine call for massacre at Jericho and elsewhere can be explained in terms of cultural norms (Israel was not the only Iron Age state to practice herem) and theology (a measure to ensure Israel's purity as well as the fulfillment of God's promise),[6]:175 but Patrick D. Miller in his commentary on Deuteronomy remarks, "there is no real way to make such reports palatable to the hearts and minds of contemporary readers and believers."[33]:40–41


Obedience versus disobedience is a constant theme of the work.[35]:79 Obedience ties in the Jordan crossing, the defeat of Jericho and Ai, circumcision and Passover, and the public display and reading of the Law. Disobedience appears in the story of Achan (stoned for violating the herem command), the Gibeonites, and the altar built by the Transjordan tribes. Joshua's two final addresses challenge the Israel of the future (the readers of the story) to obey the most important command of all, to worship Yahweh and no other gods. Joshua thus illustrates the central Deuteronomistic message, that obedience leads to success and disobedience to ruin.[22]:20

Moses, Joshua and Josiah

The Deuteronomistic history draws parallels in proper leadership between Moses, Joshua and Josiah.[22]:102 God's commission to Joshua in chapter 1 is framed as a royal installation. The people's pledge of loyalty to Joshua as the successor of Moses recalls royal practices. The covenant-renewal ceremony led by Joshua was the prerogative of the kings of Judah. God's command to Joshua to meditate on the "book of the law" day and night parallels the description of Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25 as a king uniquely concerned with the study of the law. The two figures had identical territorial goals; Josiah died in 609 BCE while attempting to annex the former Israel to his own kingdom of Judah.[36]

Some of the parallels with Moses can be seen in the following, and not exhaustive, list:[6]:174

  • Joshua sent spies to scout out the land near Jericho (2:1), just as Moses sent spies from the wilderness to scout out the Promised Land (Num. 13; Deut. 1:19–25).
  • Joshua led the Israelites out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, crossing the Jordan River as if on dry ground (3:16), just as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea, which they crossed as if on dry land (Ex. 14:22).
  • After crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites celebrated the Passover (5:10–12) just as they did immediately before the Exodus (Exodus 12).
  • Joshua's vision of the "commander of Yahweh's army" (5:13–15) is reminiscent of the divine revelation to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:1–6).
  • Joshua successfully intercedes on behalf of the Israelites when Yahweh is angry for their failure to fully observe the "ban" (herem), just as Moses frequently persuaded God not to punish the people (Ex. 32:11–14, Num. 11:2, 14:13–19).
  • Joshua and the Israelites were able to defeat the people at Ai because Joshua followed the divine instruction to extend his sword (Josh 8:18), just as the people were able to defeat the Amalekites as long as Moses extended his hand that held the staff of God (Ex. 17:8–13).
  • Joshua is "old, advanced in years (13:1) at the time when the Israelites can begin to settle on the promised land, just as Moses was old when he died having seen, but not entered, the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:7)
  • Joshua served as the mediator of the renewed covenant between Yahweh and Israel at Shechem (8:30–35; 24), just as Moses was the mediator of Yahweh's covenant with the people at Mount Sinai/Mount Horeb.
  • Before his death, Joshua delivered a farewell address to the Israelites (23–24), just as Moses had delivered his farewell address (Deuteronomy 32–33).
  • Moses lived to be 120 (Deuteronomy 34:7) and Joshua lived to be 110 (Joshua 24:29).

Moral and political interpretations

Joshua Leading the Israelites Across the Jordan on 10th of Nisan
Joshua Leading the Israelites Across the Jordan on 10th of Nisan

Joshua has become an iconic figure for the Jewish Zionist movement,[37] and many Israeli settlements sit on land taken by force from Palestinians.[38] David Ben-Gurion saw in the war narrative of Joshua an ideal basis for a unifying national myth for his new State of Israel, framed against a common enemy, the Arabs.[39] He met with politicians and scholars such as Bible scholar Shemaryahu Talmon to discuss Joshua's supposed conquests and later published a book of the meeting transcripts; in a lecture at Ben-Gurion's home, archaeologist Yigael Yadin argued for the historicity of the Israelite military campaign pointing to the conquests of Hazor, Bethel, and Lachish.[39] Zionism thus presented the 1948 war (the war which saw the creation of the State of Israel) as a "miraculous" clearing of the land based on Joshua, and the Bible as a mandate for the expulsion of the Palestinians.[40]

By the same token, the Biblical narrative of conquest has been used as an apparatus of critique against Zionism. For example, Michael Prior criticizes the use of the campaign in Joshua to favor "colonial enterprises" (in general, not only Zionism) and have been interpreted as validating ethnic cleansing. He asserts that the Bible was used to make the treatment of Palestinians more palatable morally.[41] A related moral condemnation can be seen in "The political sacralization of imperial genocide: contextualizing Timothy Dwight's The Conquest of Canaan" by Bill Templer.[42] This kind of critique is not new; Jonathan Boyarin notes how Frederick W. Turner blamed Israel's monotheism for the very idea of genocide, which Boyarin found "simplistic" yet with precedents.[43]

See also


  1. ^ McNutt, Paula (1999). Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-66422265-9.
  2. ^ a b Achtemeier, Paul J; Boraas, Roger S (1996). The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary. Harper San Francisco. ISBN 978-0-06060037-2.
  3. ^ a b Killebrew 2005, p. 152.
  4. ^ a b c d Creach, Jerome F.D. (2003). Joshua. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-66423738-7.
  5. ^ a b c De Pury, Albert; Romer, Thomas (2000). "Deuteronomistic Historiography (DH): History of Research and Debated Issues". In de Pury, Albert; Romer, Thomas; Macchi, Jean-Daniel (eds.). Israel Constructs its History: Deuteronomistic Historiography in Recent Research. Sheffield Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-56722415-6.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Younger, K. Lawson Jr (2003). "Joshua". In Dunn, James D.G.; Rogerson, John William (eds.). Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-80283711-0.
  7. ^ Na'aman, Nadav (2005). Ancient Israel and Its Neighbors: Collected Essays. 2. Eisenbrauns. p. 378. ISBN 978-1-57506113-9.
  8. ^ Nordenskiöld, Adolf Erik (1889). Facsimile-atlas to the Early History of Cartography: With Reproductions of the Most Important Maps Printed in the XV and XVI Centuries. Kraus. pp. 51, 64.
  9. ^ Hirsch, Emil G. (1906). "Joshua, Book of". Jewish Encyclopedia.
  10. ^ Maclear, G. F. (1897). Joshua 14 in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press via BibleHub.
  11. ^ Dorsey, David A. (1991). The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-3898-3.
  12. ^ Spence-Jones, HDM; Exell, Joseph S., eds. (1919). Pulpit Commentary: Joshua 21. via BibleHub.
  13. ^ Barnes, Albert (1834). Notes on the Bible: Joshua 22. via BibleHub.
  14. ^ Poole, Matthew (1853). Commentary on the Holy Bible: Joshua 23. Robert Carter & Brothers via BibleHub.
  15. ^ Spence-Jones, HDM; Exell, Joseph S., eds. (1919). Pulpit Commentary: Joshua 24. via BibleHub.
  16. ^ Jerusalem Bible, heading of Joshua 24:29–33
  17. ^ Keil, Carl Friedrich; Delitzsch, Franz (1878). Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: Joshua 24. BibleHub.
  18. ^ a b Coote, Robert B. (2000). "Conquest: Biblical narrative". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. (eds.). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. p. 275. ISBN 978-905356503-2.
  19. ^ a b c McConville, Gordon; Williams, Stephen (2010). Joshua. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-80282702-9.
  20. ^ Miller, James Maxwell; Hayes, John Haralson (1986). A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-21262-X.
  21. ^ a b Pressler, Carolyn (2002). Joshua, Judges and Ruth. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664255268.
  22. ^ a b c d e Nelson, Richard D (1997). Joshua. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664226664.
  23. ^ a b c Albright, W. F. (1939). "The Israelite Conquest of Canaan in the Light of Archaeology". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 74 (74): 11–23. doi:10.2307/3218878. JSTOR 3218878.
  24. ^ Noort, Ed. 1998. "4QJOSHa and the History of Tradition in the Book of Joshua," Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages, 24:2 (1998): 127-44
  25. ^ a b Rendsburg, Gary A. (1992). "The Date of the Exodus and the Conquest/Settlement: The Case for the 1100S". Vetus Testamentum. 42 (4): 510–27. doi:10.2307/1518961. JSTOR 1518961.
  26. ^ Kenyon, Kathleen M. (1967). "Jericho". Archaeology. 20 (4): 268–275. JSTOR 41667764.
  27. ^ Kenyon, Kathleen M. (20 November 2013). "Some Notes on the History of Jericho in the Second Millennium B.C.". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 83 (2): 101–38. doi:10.1179/peq.1951.83.2.101.
  28. ^ a b Wright, G. Ernest (1955). "Archaeological News and Views: Hazor and the Conquest of Canaan". The Biblical Archaeologist. 18 (4): 106–8. doi:10.2307/3209136. JSTOR 3209136.
  29. ^ Bartlett, John R. (2006). "3: Archeology". In Rogerson, J.W.; Lieu, Judith M. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-19925425-5.
  30. ^ Laffey, Alice L (2007). "Deuteronomistic history". In Orlando O. Espín; James B. Nickoloff (eds.). An introductory dictionary of theology and religious studies. Liturgical Press. ISBN 9780814658567.
  31. ^ a b McConville, Gordon (2001). "Joshua". In John Barton; John Muddiman (eds.). Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198755005.
  32. ^ Coogan, Michael D. (2009). A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. Oxford University Press.
  33. ^ a b Miller, Patrick D (1990). Deuteronomy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780664237370.
  34. ^ Dever, William (2003). Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?. Eerdmans. p. 38. ISBN 9780802809759.
  35. ^ Curtis, Adrian H.W (1998). Joshua. Sheffield Academic Press. ISBN 9781850757061.
  36. ^ Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001). The Bible Unearthed. Free Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-74322338-6.
  37. ^ Farber 2016, p. unpaginated.
  38. ^ Gordon & Gordon 2012, p. 136.
  39. ^ a b Havrelock 2013, p. unpaginated.
  40. ^ Masalha 2014, p. unpaginated.
  41. ^ Prior, Michael (2002). "Ethnic Cleansing and the Bible: A Moral Critique". Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies. 1 (1): 37–59. doi:10.3366/hls.2002.0003.
  42. ^ Templer, Bill (1 December 2006). "The political sacralization of imperial genocide: contextualizing Timothy Dwight's The Conquest of Canaan". Postcolonial Studies: Culture, Politics, Economy. 9 (4): 358–91. doi:10.1080/13688790600993230.
  43. ^ Boyarin, Jonathan (1996). "2: Reading Exodus into History". Palestine and Jewish History: Criticism at the Borders of Ethnography. University of Minnesota Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-45290029-2.


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Book of Joshua
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Old Testament
Achan (biblical figure)

Achan (; Hebrew: עכן‎), the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, is a figure who appears in the Book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible in connection with the fall of Jericho and conquest of Ai.

His name is given as Achar in 1 Chronicles 2:7.

Ai (Canaan)

Ai (Hebrew: הָעַי‎ hā-‘āy "heap of ruins"; Douay-Rheims: Hai) was a Canaanite city. According to the Book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible, it was conquered by the Israelites on their second attempt. The ruins of the city are popularly thought to be in the modern-day archeological site Et-Tell.

Ain Aata

Ain Aata, Ain Ata, 'Ain 'Ata or Ayn Aata is a village and municipality situated southwest of Rashaya, 99 kilometres (62 mi) south-east of Beirut, in the Rashaya District of the Beqaa Governorate in Lebanon.The name is thought to mean "gift spring". There is a remarkably cold spring in the area.The village was suggested by Charles William Meredith van de Velde to be the ancient site of Beth-Anath or Anatha mentioned in the Bible Book of Joshua (Joshua 19:38) and the Book of Judges (Judges 1:33) as a land given to Naphtali. Historical geographer Ze'ev Safrai, disputing, identifies the biblical Beth-Anath with Bi'ina in the Beit HaKerem Valley of Upper Galilee. Eusebius in his work Onomasticon, placed it 9 miles (14 km) from Dora (Tanturah), however this falls outside the territory of Naphtali. Beth-Anath has been translated to mean "temple of Anat", a Canaanite goddess linked to a Sumerian predecessor called Ninhursag.


Bashan (; Hebrew: הַבָּשָׁן, ha-Bashan; Latin: Basan or Basanitis) is a term for the northernmost region of the Transjordan. The Hebrew Bible first mentions it in Numbers 21:33, where Og the king of Bashan came out against the Israelites at the time of their entrance into the Promised Land, but was vanquished in battle (Numbers 21:33–35; Deuteronomy 3:1–7). Along with the half of Gilead it was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13:29–31). According to the book of Joshua, Golan, one of its cities, became a Levitical city and a city of refuge (Joshua 21:27).

According to the Torah, the Israelites invaded Bashan and conquered it from the Amorites. Deuteronomy 3:1–7 states:

Then we turned, and went up the way to Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the LORD said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves.

Argob, in Bashan, was one of Solomon's commissariat districts (1 Kings 4:13). The cities of Bashan were taken by Hazael (2 Kings 10:33), but were soon after reconquered by Jehoash (2 Kings 13:25), who overcame the Syrians in three battles, according to the prophecy of Elisha (2 Kings 13:19). From this time, Bashan almost disappears from history, although we read about the wild cattle of its rich pastures (Ezekiel 39:18; Psalm 22:12), the oaks of its forests (Isaiah 2:13; Ezekiel 27:6; Zechariah 11:2), the beauty of its extensive plains (Amos 4:1; Jeremiah 50:19), and the rugged majesty of its mountains (Psalm 68:15). Soon after the conquest, the name "Gilead" was given to the whole country beyond Jordan.

Battle of Jericho

The Battle of Jericho is an incident from the Book of Joshua, being the first battle fought by the Israelites in the course of the conquest of Canaan. According to Joshua 6:1–27, the walls of Jericho fell after the Israelites marched around the city blowing their trumpets, but excavations at Tell es-Sultan, the biblical Jericho, have failed to substantiate the story, which has its origins in the nationalist propaganda of much later kings of Judah and their claims to the territory of the Kingdom of Israel. The lack of archaeological evidence and the composition history and theological purposes of the Book of Joshua have led archaeologists like William G. Dever to characterise the story of the fall of Jericho as "invented out of whole cloth."


Bethel (Ugaritic: bt il, meaning "House of El" or "House of God", Hebrew: בֵּית אֵל ḇêṯ’êl, also transliterated Beth El, Beth-El, Beit El; Greek: Βαιθηλ; Latin: Bethel) is a toponym often used in the Hebrew Bible. At first it was a place where Jacob dreamt of seeing angels and God, which he therefore named Bethel, "House of God". The name is further used for a border city located between the territory of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin and that of the tribe of Ephraim, which first belonged to the Benjaminites and was later conquered by the Ephraimites.

Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome describe Bethel in their time as a small village that lay 12 Roman miles north of Jerusalem, to the right or east of the road leading to Neapolis.Most academics identify Bethel with the Arab West Bank village Beitin, a minority opinion preferring El-Bireh.Ten years after the 1967 Six-Day War, the biblical name was applied to the Israeli settlement of Beit El, constructed adjacent to Beitin.

In several countries—particularly in the US—the name has been given to various locations (see Bethel (disambiguation)).

Book of Joshua (Samaritan)

The Samaritan Book of Joshua is a Samaritan chronicle so called because the greater part of it is devoted to the history of Joshua. It is extant in two divergent recensions, one in Samaritan Hebrew and the other in Arabic. The editio princeps is a published an Arabic manuscript written in the Samaritan alphabet, with a Latin translation and a long preface by T. W. Juynboll (Leyden, 1848). The Samaritan Hebrew version was published in 1908 by Moses Gaster. Though based on the Hebrew canonical Book of Joshua, it differs greatly from the latter in both form and content and the Samaritans ascribe no canonical authority to it. The author, who was of a much later period, amplified the Biblical narratives by weaving into them legends of a later date and developing the narratives themselves, at the same time altering certain statements in accordance with Samaritan views on history. Alterations that emphasize the Samaritan belief in the sanctity of Mount Gerizim, the site of the Samaritan temple, appear throughout the text; for example, an expanded passage Joshua 9:27 calls Gerizim "the chosen place" and a description of the temple being built there follows the conclusion of the conquest of Canaan. It is divided into fifty chapters, and contains, after the account of Joshua, a brief description of the period following Joshua, agreeing to that extent with the Book of Judges. Then follow histories of Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, and the revolt against Hadrian; it ends with an incomplete account of Baba Rabba.

Book of Judges

The Book of Judges (ספר שופטים, Sefer Shoftim) is the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. In the narrative of the Hebrew Bible, it covers the time between the conquest described in the Book of Joshua and the establishment of a kingdom in the Books of Samuel, during which Biblical judges served as temporary leaders. The stories follow a consistent pattern: the people are unfaithful to Yahweh and he therefore delivers them into the hands of their enemies; the people repent and entreat Yahweh for mercy, which he sends in the form of a leader or champion (a "judge"; see shophet); the judge delivers the Israelites from oppression and they prosper, but soon they fall again into unfaithfulness and the cycle is repeated. Scholars consider many of the stories in Judges to be the oldest in the Deuteronomistic history, with their major redaction dated to the 8th century BCE and with materials such as the Song of Deborah dating from much earlier.


Gilgal (Hebrew: גִּלְגָּל Gilgāl; Koinē Greek: Γαλγαλατοκαι Δωδεκαλίθων "Galgalatokai of the Twelve Stones") is the name of one or more places in the Hebrew Bible. Gilgal is mentioned 39 times, in particular in the Book of Joshua, as the place where the Israelites camped after crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:19 - 5:12). The Hebrew term Gilgal most likely means "circle of stones". Its name appears in Koine Greek on the Madaba Map.


Joshua () or Jehoshua (Hebrew: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yehoshuʿa) is the central figure in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua. According to the books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua, he was Moses' assistant and became the leader of the Israelite tribes after the death of Moses. His name was Hoshea (הוֹשֵׁעַ) the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, but Moses called him Joshua (Numbers 13:16), the name by which he is commonly known. According to the Bible he was born in Egypt prior to the Exodus.According to the Hebrew Bible, Joshua was one of the twelve spies of Israel sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan. In Numbers 13:1–16, and after the death of Moses, he led the Israelite tribes in the conquest of Canaan, and allocated the land to the tribes. According to biblical chronology, Joshua lived some time in the Bronze Age. According to Joshua 24:29, Joshua died at the age of 110.

Joshua also holds a position of respect among Muslims. According to Islamic tradition, he was, along with Caleb, one of the two believing spies whom Moses had sent to spy the land of Canaan. Muslims also see Joshua as the leader of the Israelites, following the death of Moses. Some Muslims also believe Joshua to be the "attendant" of Moses mentioned in the Quran, before Moses meets Khidr and Joshua plays a significant role in Islamic literature with significant narration in the Hadith, therefore he is a point of study in comparative religion, see Joshua in Islam.

Mateh Asher Regional Council

The Mateh Asher Regional Council (Hebrew: מועצה אזורית מטה אשר‎, Mo'atza Azorit Mateh Asher) is a regional council in the western Galilee of northern Israel. It is named after the Tribe of Asher which had been allotted the region in antiquity according to the Book of Joshua (19:24-31). It was founded in 1982 as a merger of three regional councils: Ga'aton, Na'aman and Sulam Tzor. The council's offices are located on Highway 4, between Regba and Lohamei HaGeta'ot.

The regional council was established in 1982, now stretches over 216,059 dunams and includes some 17,300 residents. As of 2008, the head of the regional council is Yehuda Shavit, and the chief rabbi is Rabbi Shlomo Ben Eliyahu.


Rahab (; Hebrew: רָחָב, Modern: Raẖav, Tiberian: Rāḥāḇ, "broad", "large", Arabic: رحاب, a vast space of a land) was, according to the Book of Joshua, a woman who lived in Jericho in the Promised Land and assisted the Israelites in capturing the city by betraying her people (Joshua 2:1-24). In the New Testament, she is lauded both as an example of a saint who lived by faith, and as someone "considered righteous" for her works.The King James Version renders the name as Rachab, after its literal spelling in Greek in Matthew 1:5, which differs from the spelling for Rahab in James and Hebrews. Most modern versions render it as Rahab ignoring the distinction. Matthew's genealogy records her as one of the ancestors of Jesus.


The Samaritan religion, also known as Samaritanism, is the national religion of the Samaritans. The Samaritans adhere to the Samaritan Torah, which they believe is the original, unchanged Torah, as opposed to the Torah used by Jews. In addition to the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans also revere their version of the Book of Joshua and recognize some Biblical figures, such as Eli.

Samaritanism is internally described as the religion that began with Moses, unchanged over the millennia that have since passed. Samaritans believe Judaism and the Jewish Torah have been corrupted by time and no longer serve the duties God mandated on Mount Sinai. Jews view the Temple Mount as the most sacred location in their faith, but Samaritans regard Mount Gerizim as their holiest site.

Tel Hazor

Tel Hazor (Hebrew: תל חצור), also Hatzor (חצור) and Tell el-Qedah (Arabic: تل القضاه‎), is an archaeological tell at the site of ancient Hazor, located in Israel, Upper Galilee, north of the Sea of Galilee, in the northern Korazim Plateau. In the Middle Bronze Age (around 1750 BC) and the Israelite period (ninth century BC), Hazor was the largest fortified city in the country and one of the most important in the Fertile Crescent. It maintained commercial ties with Babylon and Syria, and imported large quantities of tin for the bronze industry. In the Book of Joshua, Hazor is described as “the head of all those kingdoms” (Josh. 11:10).

The Hazor expedition headed by Yigal Yadin in the mid-1950s was the most important dig undertaken by Israel in its early years of statehood. Tel Hazor is the largest archaeological site in northern Israel, featuring an upper tell of 30 acres and a lower city of more than 175 acres.In 2005, the remains of Hazor were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba.


Terah is also a place, Terah (Exodus)Terah or Térach (Hebrew: תֶּרַח – Téraḥ, in pausa תָּרַח – Tā́raḥ, "ibex, wild goat" or "wanderer; loiterer"; Greek: Θάρα – Thára) is a biblical figure in the Book of Genesis, son of Nahor, son of Serug and father of the Patriarch Abraham, all descendants of Shem's son Arpachshad. Terah is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 11:26-27, Joshua 24:2 and 1 Chronicles 1:17–27) and New Testament.

Transjordan (region)

Transjordan, the East Bank, or the Transjordanian Highlands (Arabic: شرق الأردن‎), is the part of the Southern Levant east of the Jordan River, mostly contained in present-day Jordan.

The region, known as Transjordan, was controlled by numerous powers throughout history. During the early modern era, the region of Transjordan was included under jurisdiction of Ottoman Syrian provinces. After the Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, the Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by Hashemite Emir Abdullah, and the Emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, the Emirate achieved independence from the British and in 1952 the country changed its name to the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".

Transjordan in the Bible

The Transjordan (Hebrew: עבר הירדן‎, Ever HaYarden) is an area of land in the Southern Levant lying east of the Jordan River.

Tribe of Issachar

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Issachar (Hebrew: יִשָּׂשכָר, Modern: Yissakhar, Tiberian: Yiśśâḵār) was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is one of the ten lost tribes. In Jewish tradition, the tribe of Issachar was seen as being dominated by religious scholars and influential in proselytism.In the Biblical narrative of the Book of Joshua, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. The territory which it was allocated was immediately north of (the western half of) Manasseh, and south of Zebulun and Naphtali, stretching from the Jordan River in the east, to the coast in the west; this region included the fertile Esdraelon plain . There is a consensus among scholars that the accounts in the Book of Judges are not historically reliable. Alternatively, scholars and historians such as Barry G. Webb believe Judges to be a challenging book to parse and grasp, but nevertheless believe it possesses substantially greater historicity than most modern secular scholars give it credit for.

Tribe of Zebulun

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Zebulun (alternatively rendered as Zabulon, Zabulin, Zabulun, Zebulon; Hebrew: זְבוּלֻן, Modern: Zevulun, Tiberian: Zəḇûlūn, "dwelling; habitation; home") was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is one of the ten lost tribes.

Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes in the Book of Joshua, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. The territory Zebulun was allocated was at the southern end of the Galilee, with its eastern border being the Sea of Galilee, the western border being the Mediterranean Sea, the south being bordered by the Tribe of Issachar, and the north by Asher on the western side and Naphtali on the eastern.

Books of the Bible
See also

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