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The Israelites marching around the walls of JerichoThe Talmud names Joshua, or Yehoshua, “salvation of Jehovah,” as the author of Joshua, and Aaron’s son Eleazar the one who added the conclusion describing Joshua’s death. Assuming the Israelites left Egypt in 1445 B.C., as evidence seems to indicate, Joshua would have led the Israelites across the Jordan in 1405 B.C.

The conquest of Canaan lasted between five and seven years. Joshua led Israel for about 25 years in all. Joshua would have written his book near the beginning of the 14th century B.C.

Archaeological Finds

Spies coming back from CanaanWhat archaeologists have uncovered from the Palestinian region tells us much about Joshua’s time. Canaan was home to many small kingdoms. Though the people lived in cities, they planted olive groves and vineyards. They owned horses, drove chariots, and could read and write; one city was called Kirjath-sepher, or “City of Books.” Their religion, however, involved all manner of superstition and immorality.

Egypt had dominated Canaan for centuries. Attempting to maintain control, Thutmose III (c. 1479-1425 B.C.) invaded the area 17 times over a nearly 20-year period. Egypt’s power began to decline, however, after the Israelites escaped. By the time Amenhotep III (c. 1412-1375 B.C.) took the throne, Egypt’s military prowess was history. Instead the nation basked in its hard-earned security and wealth.

As the Hittites fought to control the area north of Canaan, Assyria’s power had begun to decline and Babylon’s dominance of Mesopotamia was still uncertain. Therefore Canaan’s neighbors could not help fight the Israelites as they invaded, as their attention was diverted elsewhere. The Israelites thus avoided confrontation with Egypt or any other major armies, and they conquered the Promised Land.

The book of Joshua

Joshua - The SoldierThe book of Joshua serves as a sequel of sorts to the Pentateuch, much the way Acts continues the story told in the Gospels. Its theme summed up in verse 21:45, Joshua portrays the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants. As referenced in Hebrews 3:7-12, Joshua also has a theological theme of rest. The book details how, after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Israelites claimed the rest God had prepared for them.

Today, Joshua assures us that God is faithful to fulfill His promises. The book also reminds us to meditate on God’s Word so that we will not forget how He wants us to live. The next book describes the sad consequences of the Israelites’ disregard.
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