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Traditionally, the Book of Joshua, the sixth book of the Bible, is the first of the “historical books” of the Bible in the Old Testament. Jewish tradition holds that Joshua himself was the primary author and that the book was finished by Eleazar the High Priest and Eleazar’s son. But, many modern scholars believe the Book of Joshua is actually a compilation of several authors finished sometime in the 6th century, B.C., much later than when the actual events occurred.
The Book of Joshua gives an account of the entry and conquest of the Promise Land (Canaan) under the leadership of Moses’ successor, Joshua. The first twelve chapters detail the miraculous events, battles, and annihilation of various Canaanite tribes. Some of the well-known stories in the book are:
- The fall of Jericho
- The story of Rahab hiding the Israelite spies
- The battle at Gibeon in which the sun stood still for a day (Joshua 10).
Though the book details the conquests of Joshua and the Israelites, the real theme is the power and commitment of the God of the Israelites.
The second part of the Book of Joshua describes the division of the land of Canaan amongst the twelve tribes of Israel (Joshua 13-22). Joshua gives his farewell address as the leader of Israel and initiates the Covenant at Shechem where all the tribes commit to serve and obey God. The final chapter ends with the death of Joshua and the high priest, Eleazar, and the burial of the bones of Joseph in Shechem fulfilling the promise to Joseph to bury him in the Promised Land.