The Book of Joshua
The sixth in succession among the 24 books that make up the Hebrew Bible, the book of Joshua is among the most popular after Genesis and Exodus. The book of Joshua is about the emergence of Joshua as the leader of the Hebrews after the death of Moses. As the story narrates he was an Israelite spy who followed the footsteps of the great messiah. The authorship of the Book of Joshua is still not clear, and researchers claim that it was composed by many writers over a period of time, somewhere between the third and the fifth century BC. According to some biblical researchers, the book of Joshua was penned by Joshua himself. This book was part of the Pentateuch.
Although there are controversies centering round the authorship of the book of Joshua, there is no doubt that the central theme of the book is theological and delineates that the Israelites along with their leaders are guided by the divine covenants and their conduct are justly judged by their righteousness and obedience.
There are a total of 24 chapters in this book of Joshua which has a diptych structure. The first part of the book deals with the rise of Joshua, how he led the Israelites obeying the commandments of God into the land of Canaan and finally the book of Joshua concludes with the farewell of Joshua. Strangely, Joshua is revered by the Islamic religion too. Even in the later times, the character of Joshua finds mention in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.
The story begins with Joshua leading his men through the land of Jordan and consequently conquering it. Throughout their enduring struggle Joshua urges his men to keep faith in God and his covenants. As an aftermath of his faith and obedience of the Divine power, Joshua successfully wins in the Biblical “War of Jericho” after which he pays tribute to Yahweh by building an altar at the foothills of Mt. Ebal. Thereafter there are a series of adverse events which leaves the Israelites being enslaved again. But finally, under Joshua, they strike back and capture both sides of Jordan.
After the conquest, the Israelite tribes are divided and given possession of the different territories but as Joshua urges they show their allegiance to Yahweh. In the book of Joshua it is said that Joshua dies in an advanced age and as his tribute to the Divine power, he built a great stone as a mark of God’s sanctuary. He was said to have been buried at Timnath Sera which means the portion of Sun in Hebrew.
The recurring theme of this book of Joshua is Obedience and faith in the Divine. It also reverberates with the unity among the 12 Israelite tribes who are united by the love of their God Yahweh. The issue of land is also important in this book of Joshua. The possession of land is closely related to the ethnicity of its people. This is stressed and delineated well in this book.