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Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua in the Bible contains a history of the Israelites from the death of Moses to that of Joshua. It consists of three parts:
  1. The history of the conquest of the land (1-12).
  2. The allotment of the land to the different tribes, with the appointment of cities of refuge, the provision for the Levites (13-22), and the dismissal of the eastern tribes to their homes. This section has been compared to the Domesday Book of the Norman Conquest.
  3. The farewell addresses of Joshua, with an account of his death (23, 24).

This book stands first in the second of the three sections, (1) the Law, (2) the Prophets, (3) the "other writings" (or Hagiographa), into which the Jews divided the Old Testament. The authorship of the book is traditionally assigned to Joshua, but some think the last verses (24:29-33) were added by some other hand.

This book resembles the Acts of the Apostles in the number and variety of historical incidents it records and in its many references to persons and places.

Comments

Two difficulties are connected with this book that have given rise to much discussion:
  1. The miracle of the standing still of the sun and moon on Gibeon[?]. The record of this occurs in Joshua's impassioned prayer of faith (Josh. 10:12-15).
  2. Another difficulty arises out of the command given by God to completely exterminate the Canaanites. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Archaeological evidence

The Amarna tablets are remarkable archaeological discoveries dating from about B.C. 1480 down to the time of Joshua. They consist of official communications from Amorite[?], Phoenician, and Philistine chiefs to the king of Egypt and afford a glimpse into the actual condition of Canaan prior to the Hebrew invasion. They help to illustrate and confirm the history of the conquest.

In addition, a letter, still extant, from a military officer, "master of the captains of Egypt," dating from near the end of the reign of Rameses II, gives a curious account of a journey, probably official, which he undertook through Palestine as far north as Aleppo. It gives an insight into the social conditions of the country at that time.

Among the things brought to light by this letter and the Amarna tablets is the state of confusion and decay that had fallen on Egypt. The Egyptian garrisons that had held possession of Palestine from the time of Thothmes III[?], some two hundred years before, had now been withdrawn. The way was thus opened for the Hebrews. In the history of the conquest there is no mention of Joshua having encountered any Egyptian force. The tablets contain many appeals to the king of Egypt for help against the inroads of the Hebrews, but no help seems ever to have been sent. In many points, the progress of the conquest is remarkably illustrated by the tablets.


Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- somewhat updated



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