Joshua Study Guide
The books of the Bible are divided into different categories. The Old Testament contains books of law, history, poetry, minor prophets, and major prophets. In your journey through the Bible, Joshua is the first book of the Bible labeled as “history.” Obviously, the first five books (known as the law) also contain history, but Joshua is the first book that tells of the people of Israel as they follow God to conquer the land He had promised to them many years ago.
The book of Joshua is named after the character of Joshua. The name Joshua means, “Yahweh saves.” Throughout the book, the people of Israel are reminded that Yahweh will, indeed, save them. He will provide for them. He will fight for them. He will lead them into the promised land, and they will be successful in their conquest of this land.
Joshua shows the journey of God’s people to conquer the land that they had been promised. The story isn’t finished, though, because at the end of Joshua there is still much land to be conquered. The people of Israel allowed many of the other nations to continue in the promised land, and this would bring some problems for them in the future. Joshua is an account of God’s faithfulness but of Israel’s struggle to be faithful and obedient to Him.
Overview: Joshua begins with the death of Moses and the famous promise that God gives to Israel’s new leader. In Joshua 1:7-9, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous and reminds him that the book of the law is to be obeyed, that they should not turn from it at all, and that God Himself will be present with His people wherever they go. As Joshua begins to lead the people to conquer the promised land, they are committed to his leadership. They quickly win victory at Jericho, but then fail miserably at Ai because of selfishness and sinfulness. God teaches them a lesson, and they renew their covenant to Him. They continue to conquer, relying on the Lord to go before them, but they still, at times, do not wholeheartedly follow Him. There is still more land to be conquered, but God divides the land up according to each tribe and provides for His people.
Where Joshua fits in the whole story of the Bible: As the first book of history, Joshua lays the foundation for the geographical ideas of the following books. The people of Israel would read this book to understand how they came to possess the land they lived in and how God was faithful to bring them into the promised land. They would see the geographical boundaries of each tribe and understand how God was faithful to His promises specifically for them. It also connects what happened in the Exodus to what would come in the time of the Judges.
Foundational stories in Joshua (and where to find them):
- Death of Moses and commissioning of Joshua: Chapter 1
- Rahab hides spies: Chapter 2
- The crossing of the Jordan River: Chapter 3
- Defeating Jericho: Chapter 6
- Loss at Ai and sin of Achan: Chapter 7
- Renewal of the covenant: Chapter 8
- Conquests: Chapters 10-11
- Remaining land: Chapters 13
- Division of the land: Chapters 13-21
- Death of Joshua: Chapter 24
The book of Joshua shows how God is faithful to His promises. He provides for His people and gives them the land. They are His people and He is their God.