December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Book of Joshua derives its name from the successor of Moses, with whose deeds it is principally concerned. The purpose of the book is to demonstrate God's fidelity in giving to the Israelites the land he had promised them for an inheritance (Genesis 15:18-20; Joshua 1:2-4; 21:41-43; 23:14-16).
Their occupation of the country is begun with the crossing of the Jordan and the conquest of Jericho (Jos 1-6), in both of which the Lord intervenes on their behalf. This is followed by a first foothold on the Palestinian mountain range, at Ai, Bethel, and Gibeon (Jos 7-9), and two sweeping campaigns against the city states in the south of the country (Jos 10) and in the north (Jos 11), with a summary in Jos 12. The broad claim to total sovereignty thus established is spelled out by a combined list of tribal boundaries and of the towns contained within each area or administrative district (Jos 13-19), including cities of asylum and cities for the Levites (Joshua 20:21). The book closes with a narrative about the tribes east of the Jordan (Jos 22), a warning speech by Joshua (Jos 23), and a renewal at Shechem (Jos 24) of the covenant with the Lord, already affirmed there near the beginning of the conquest (Joshua 8:30-35).
Like the books which precede it, the Book of Joshua was built up by a long and complex process of editing traditional materials. Both Jewish and Christian believers have always regarded it as inspired.
The entire history of the conquest of the Promised Land is a prophecy of the spiritual conquest of the world through the Church under the leadership of Jesus the Messiah.
The Book of Joshua may be divided as follows:
- Conquest of Canaan (Joshua 1:1-12:24)
- Division of the Land (Joshua 13:1-21:45)
- Return of the Transjordan Tribes and Joshua's Farewell (Joshua 22:1-24:33)
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