Joshua was the leader of a motley group of refugees who have
crossed the Red Sea,
journeyed in the Wilderness, and
were now ready to take possession of the land of Canaan.
Joshua led them in this dangerous and exhausting journey.
What dangers did they face?
Unfortunately, the land they wanted was not empty. It was already occupied by a thriving population, so the Book of Joshua Chapters 1-12 is mostly a narrative about wars, skirmishes and guerilla warfare.
Who were the ‘people of Israel’?
They were not a single group all descended from former Egyptian slaves – as Hollywood would have us believe. Chapters 13-22 lists ‘the people of Israel’, giving a powerful sense of the diversity in this supposedly single group.
The Covenant ceremony at Shechem included ‘all Israel, foreigners with the native-born’ (8:33) and alliances were made with people already living in Canaan (2:1-14, 6:22-25).
The challenge Joshua faced was to forge these groups into a single unified nation. He has high hopes. He sees Israel as a sort of alternative kingdom governed by the laws of Yahweh.
How does the Book of Joshua end?
It ends with Joshua’s death – just as Deuteronomy ended with the death of Moses.
His final instructions to the people are wise: ‘ .… put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ Joshua 24:14-15.