Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Joshua
ENCAMPED on the Plains of Moab in 1473 B.C.E., the Israelites must be thrilled to hear these words: “Get provisions ready for yourselves, because three days from now you are crossing this Jordan to go in and take possession of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you to take possession of it.” (Joshua 1:11) Their 40-year wilderness sojourn is about to end.
A little over two decades later, the leader Joshua stands in the heart of the land of Canaan and declares to the older men of Israel: “See, I assigned to you by lot these nations that remain as an inheritance for your tribes, and all the nations that I cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea at the setting of the sun. And Jehovah your God was the one who kept pushing them away from before you, and he dispossessed them on your account, and you took possession of their land, just as Jehovah your God had promised you.”—Joshua 23:4, 5.
Written by Joshua in 1450 B.C.E., the book of Joshua is an exciting historical narrative of what took place during those 22 years. As we stand at the threshold of the promised new world, our position is comparable to that of the sons of Israel who were poised to take possession of the Promised Land. With keen interest, then, let us give attention to the book of Joshua.—Hebrews 4:12.
TO “THE DESERT PLAINS OF JERICHO”
What an assignment Joshua receives when Jehovah tells him: “Moses my servant is dead; and now get up, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel”! (Joshua 1:2) Joshua is to lead a nation of several million people into the Promised Land. In preparation, he sends out two spies to Jericho—the city that is to be conquered first. In that city lives Rahab the harlot, who has heard about the powerful works Jehovah has performed in behalf of his people. She protects and helps the spies and receives from them a promise of preservation.
Upon the return of the spies, Joshua and the people are ready to make their move and cross the Jordan. Although at flood stage, the river proves to be no obstacle to them, for Jehovah causes the waters upstream to rise up like a dam and allows the waters downstream to empty into the Dead Sea. After crossing the Jordan, the Israelites camp at Gilgal, near Jericho. Four days later, on the evening of the 14th day of Abib, they observe the Passover on the desert plains of Jericho. (Joshua 5:10) The next day, they begin to eat some of the yield of the land, and the provision of the manna ceases. During this time, Joshua circumcises all males born in the wilderness.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
2:4, 5—Why does Rahab mislead the king’s men who are searching for the spies? Rahab protects the spies at the risk of her life because she has come to have faith in Jehovah. Therefore, she is under no obligation to divulge the spies’ whereabouts to men who are seeking to harm God’s people. (Matthew 7:6; 21:23-27; John 7:3-10) In fact, Rahab was “declared righteous by works,” including the act of misdirecting the emissaries of the king.—James 2:24-26.
5:14, 15—Who is “the prince of the army of Jehovah”? The prince who comes to strengthen Joshua as the conquest of the Promised Land begins is likely none other than “the Word”—Jesus Christ in his prehuman existence. (John 1:1; Daniel 10:13) How strengthening it is to have the assurance that the glorified Jesus Christ is with God’s people today as they engage in spiritual warfare!
Lessons for Us:
1:7-9. Reading the Bible daily, regularly meditating on what it says, and putting into practice what we learn are essential for success in spiritual endeavors.
1:11. Joshua asks the people to get provisions ready and not idly wait for God to provide them. Jesus’ admonition to stop being anxious about the necessities of life, along with his promise that “all these other things will be added to you,” does not mean that we should take no measures to support ourselves.—Matthew 6:25, 33.
2:4-13. After hearing about Jehovah’s great deeds and realizing that the time was critical, Rahab makes a decision to take the side of his worshipers. If you have been studying the Bible for some time and recognize that we are living in “the last days,” should you not make a decision to serve God?—2 Timothy 3:1.
3:15. Since the report of the spies who were sent to Jericho is favorable, Joshua acts quickly, without waiting for the waters of the Jordan to subside. When it comes to deeds involving true worship, we must act courageously rather than delay until the circumstances seem more suitable.
4:4-8, 20-24. The 12 stones taken from the riverbed of the Jordan are to serve as a memorial to Israel. Jehovah’s acts of delivering his modern-day people from his enemies also stand as a memorial that he is with them.
ON WITH THE CONQUEST
The city of Jericho is “tightly shut up . . . , no one going out and no one entering.” (Joshua 6:1) How would the city be taken? Jehovah gives Joshua the strategy. Soon the walls are down and the city is destroyed. Only Rahab and her household are saved.
The next conquest is the royal city of Ai. The spies sent there report that the city has few inhabitants, so not many men are needed to strike it down. However, about 3,000 soldiers sent to attack the city take to flight from the men of Ai. The reason? Jehovah is not with the Israelites. Achan of the tribe of Judah sinned while invading Jericho. After handling the matter, Joshua comes up against Ai. Having defeated the Israelites once, the king of Ai is eager to meet them in combat. But Joshua uses a strategy that plays on the overconfidence of the men of Ai, and Joshua takes the city.
Gibeon is ‘a great city—greater than Ai, and all its men are mighty ones.’ (Joshua 10:2) Upon hearing of Israel’s success against Jericho and Ai, however, the men of Gibeon trick Joshua into making a covenant of peace with them. The surrounding nations view this defection as a threat to them. Five of their kings form an alliance and attack Gibeon. Israel rescues the Gibeonites and thoroughly defeats the attackers. Israel’s other conquests under the leadership of Joshua include cities in the south and west, as well as the defeat of the coalition of kings to the north. All the kings defeated on the west of the Jordan amount to 31.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
10:13—How is such a phenomenon possible? “Is anything too extraordinary for Jehovah,” the Creator of the heavens and the earth? (Genesis 18:14) If he chooses to, Jehovah can manipulate the movement of the earth so that the sun and the moon would seem motionless to an earthly observer. Or he can let the movement of the earth and the moon remain undisturbed while refracting the rays from the sun and the moon in such a way that the light from these two luminaries continues to shine. Whatever the case, “no day has proved to be like that one” in human history.—Joshua 10:14.
10:13—What is the book of Jashar? The book is mentioned again at 2 Samuel 1:18 with reference to a poem called “The Bow”—a song of grief about King Saul of Israel and his son Jonathan. The book was probably a collection of songs and poems on epical or historical subjects and was likely well-known among the Hebrews.
Lessons for Us:
6:26; 9:22, 23. The curse that Joshua pronounced at the time of Jericho’s destruction is fulfilled some 500 years later. (1 Kings 16:34) Noah’s curse on his grandson Canaan comes true when the Gibeonites become laborers. (Genesis 9:25, 26) Jehovah’s word always comes true.
7:20-25. Some may dismiss Achan’s theft as a minor offense, perhaps reasoning that it brought no harm to others. They may view petty thefts and minor offenses against Bible law in a similar vein. We, though, should be like Joshua in our resoluteness to resist pressures toward illegal or immoral acts.
JOSHUA TAKES ON HIS LAST BIG TASK
Now advanced in years—approaching 90—Joshua sets out to apportion the land. A huge task indeed! The tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have already received their inheritance east of the Jordan. The remaining tribes are now given an inheritance on the west side by the drawing of lots.
The tabernacle is set up at Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim. Caleb receives the city of Hebron, and Joshua gets Timnath-serah. The Levites are given 48 cities, including the 6 cities of refuge. On their way back to their inheritance east of the Jordan, the warriors of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh set up an altar that is “great in conspicuousness.” (Joshua 22:10) The tribes on the west of the Jordan view this as an act of apostasy, and intertribal warfare nearly breaks out, but bloodshed is averted by good communication.
After Joshua has lived for some time in Timnath-serah, he calls together the older men, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel and urges them to be courageous and remain faithful to Jehovah. Later, Joshua assembles all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. There he reviews Jehovah’s dealings from the time of Abraham on, and once again he exhorts them to “fear Jehovah and serve him in faultlessness and in truth.” The people are moved to respond: “Jehovah our God we shall serve, and to his voice we shall listen!” (Joshua 24:14, 15, 24) After these things Joshua gradually dies at 110 years of age.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
13:1—Does this not contradict what is stated at Joshua 11:23? No, for the conquest of the Promised Land consisted of two aspects: the national warfare that defeated 31 kings of the land of Canaan, which broke the power of the Canaanites, and the taking of full possession of the land by tribal and individual actions. (Joshua 17:14-18; 18:3) Though the sons of Israel failed to drive the Canaanites away from among them completely, the survivors were no real threat to Israel’s security. (Joshua 16:10; 17:12) Joshua 21:44 states: “Jehovah gave them rest all around.”
24:2—Was Abraham’s father, Terah, a worshiper of idols? Initially, Terah was not a worshiper of Jehovah God. He likely worshiped the moon-god named Sin—a popular deity in Ur. According to Jewish tradition, Terah might even have been a maker of idols. However, when Abraham leaves Ur at God’s command, Terah goes with him to Haran.—Genesis 11:31.
Lessons for Us:
14:10-13. Though 85 years of age, Caleb asks for the difficult assignment of clearing out the region of Hebron. The area is occupied by the Anakim—men of unusual size. With Jehovah’s help, this seasoned warrior succeeds, and Hebron becomes a city of refuge. (Joshua 15:13-19; 21:11-13) Caleb’s example encourages us not to shy away from difficult theocratic assignments.
‘Not One Word Has Failed’
At a ripe old age, Joshua tells the responsible men in Israel: “Not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you.” (Joshua 23:14) How vividly the historical account of Joshua illustrates this!
“All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction,” wrote the apostle Paul, “that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) We can be sure that our hope in God’s promises is not misplaced. Not a promise will fail; they will all come true.
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The land conquered under the leadership of Joshua
T.V. of Jabbok
T.V. of Arnon
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Do you know why Rahab the harlot was declared righteous?
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Joshua exhorted Israel to “fear Jehovah and serve him”
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Achan’s theft was not a minor offense—it led to serious consequences
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“By faith the walls of Jericho fell.”—Hebrews 11:30