Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

General Editor:—J. J. S. perowne, d.d.,

Bishop of Worcester.






warden of st augustine’s, canterbury, and

late head master of king’s college school, london.




[All Rights reserved.]



The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.

Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.

Deanery, Peterborough.


  I.  Introduction

Chapter I. The Book of Joshua

Chapter II. The Life of Joshua

Chapter III. The Work of Joshua

Chapter IV. Joshua as a type of Christ

Chapter V. Analysis of the Book

  II.  Notes

  III.  General Index

  IV.  Index of Words and Phrases explained

*** The Text adopted in this Edition is that of Dr Scrivener’s Cambridge Paragraph Bible, which will account for a few variations, chiefly in the spelling of certain words, and in the use of italics. For the principles adopted by Dr Scrivener as regards the printing of the Text see his Introduction to the Paragraph Bible.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5.

The voice that from the glory came

To tell how Moses died unseen,

And waken Joshua’s spear of flame

To victory on the mountains green,

Its trumpet tones are sounding still,

When Kings or Parents pass away,

They greet us with a cheering thrill

Of power and comfort in decay.”

Keble’s Christian Year.




1. The Pentateuch is followed in the Jewish Canon by a series which bears the name of Neviim Rishonim, “the earlier Prophets[1]”, and comprises Joshua, Judges, the first and second Books of Samuel, and the two Books of Kings. This series contains the history of the Israelites,

[1] The Jewish division of the Old Testament into (a) the Law, (b) the Prophets, (c) the Hagiographa, is at least as old as the time of our Lord.

(a) As governed by the successor of Moses and the elders who outlived him;

(b) As governed by native kings;

(c) As subject to foreign invaders.

2. The first of these Books, the Book of Joshua, derives its name, not from its Author, but from the great hero, whose exploits are therein related, and who succeeded to the command of the people after the death of the great Hebrew Lawgiver, and led the nation into the Promised Land.

3. The claims of the Book to a place in the Canon of the Old Testament have never been disputed, and its authority is confirmed by allusions to the events recorded in it, which are found in other Books of Holy Scripture.

4. These allusions are found in (a) the Psalms, (b) the Prophets, (c) the New Testament;

Thus (a) in Psalm 44:2-3; Psalm 68:12-14; Psalm 78:54-55, we find reference made to the events which succeeded the Exodus from Egypt, the expulsion of the Canaanites, the division of the land among the tribes of Israel, and the subsequent apostasy of the people.

Again (b) in Isaiah 28:21, reference is made to the victory in the valley of Gibeon, and, in Habakkuk 3:11-13, to the miracle which attested that victory, the Divine march “through the land in indignation,” and the “threshing of the heathen” in the Divine anger.

Again (c) in Acts 7:45, St Stephen alludes to the bringing of the Ark into the land of Canaan, and the driving out of the nations by Joshua; while the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 4:8) speaks of “the rest” which Joshua gave, in part and in part only, to the people; (Hebrews 11:30-31) of the fall of Jericho; the faith of Rahab; and her shelter of the spies; and lastly St James (James 2:25) mentions the same Canaanitess as “justified by her works, when she had received the messengers and sent them out another way.”

5. By whom was it written? Nothing can be said to be really known as to the authorship of the Book[2]. Jewish writers and the Christian Fathers ascribe it to Joshua himself[3]. Others conjecture that it was composed by Eleazar, or Phinehas, or one of the elders who outlived Joshua, or Samuel, or Jeremiah; while others have not hesitated to ascribe it to one who lived after the Babylonish captivity.

[2] “It should be observed,” it has been said, “that in accepting the written chronicles of any nation as substantially true, we are not accustomed to depend on the personal character of each particular annalist. The trustworthiness of the pictured narratives which cover the temples and tombs of Thebes, or of those equally wondrous inscriptions discovered in the record chambers of Nineveh and Babylon, is not disputed because we do not know by what particular scribes or priests they were originally composed; nor would the attestation be of much value if we did. And many ancient MSS., which throw light on the history of our own country, are the work of men of whom nothing has come down to us but the faded relics of their earnest toil.”

[3] This view has been embraced in recent times by König and, as regards the first half of the book, by Hävernick.

6. Many arguments may be alleged which point to Joshua, in preference to any other person, as the compiler, at any rate, of the greater portion of its contents. For

(a) The example of his predecessor Moses could not but have suggested to him the composition of a record of the fulfilment of the Divine Promises through his leadership;

(b) No one was better qualified by his position to describe events, in which he had taken so distinguished a part, and to collect the documents contained in the Book;

(c) No one would have been more anxious to treasure up in writing his own last addresses and solemn warnings to the people[4];

[4] Joshua 23, 24.

(d) No one else could have recorded with such accuracy the account of the commands he received from the Most High, and of his own interviews with his Mysterious Visitant, “the Prince of the Host of Jehovah[5].”

[5] Joshua 1:1; Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:1-2; Joshua 5:2; Joshua 5:9; Joshua 5:13; Joshua 6:2; Joshua 7:10; Joshua 8:1; Joshua 10:8; Joshua 11:6; Joshua 13:1-2; Joshua 20:1; Joshua 24:2.

7. But while the Book appears to have been compiled by one, who lived in the time of the events recorded, and was, indeed, an eye-witness of them, there are scattered up and down it a number of historical allusions, which clearly point to a date beyond the death of Joshua. Amongst these may be enumerated,

(a) The capture of Hebron by Caleb and of Debir by Othniel[6];

[6] Comp. Joshua 15:13-20 with Jdg 1:10-15.

(b) The remark that “the Jebusites dwelt with the children of Judah at Jerusalem[7];”

[7] Comp. Joshua 15:63 with Jdg 1:8.

(c) The capture of Laish by the warriors of the tribe of Dan[8].

[8] Comp. Joshua 19:47 with Jdg 18:7. It is true that, if we consulted only the Book of Joshua, we might suppose these conquests to have been completed before Joshua’s death, as he lived for several years after he had dismissed the people to their possessions, but when we refer to the parallel passages, it is clear they were not completed till after his death. See Keil’s Commentary, Introd. p. 46.

(d) The account of Joshua’s death[9].

[9] Joshua 24:29-33. All these incidents, it will be noticed, may very well have taken place within twenty or twenty-five years after Joshua’s death.

8. While, then, there is evidence that much of the materials may have been collected and furnished by Joshua himself, we shall not in all probability be far wrong in conjecturing that the Book was composed partly from personal observation and inquiry, partly out of authentic documents already in existence, by one of “the elders who overlived Joshua[10],” and within a few years after his death.

[10] Joshua 24:31.

9. For what object was it written? Resuming, as it does, the history of the Chosen People at the death of Moses, it was not intended to be a mere biography or a mere collection of authentic documents. It serves as a link between what precedes and what follows[11], and is designed to shew the faithfulness of Jehovah to His Word of Promise, and to illustrate the operations of His grace and mercy, whereby He placed the people in possession of the land, which He had promised as an inheritance to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob[12].

[11] Just as the Acts of the Apostles is the link between the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament.

[12] “The design of the writer,” observes Keil, “was not merely to display the great deeds of Joshua, nor even to trace the history of the theocracy under him, and thus continue the narrative contained in the Pentateuch from the death of Moses to that of Joshua; but to furnish historical evidence that Joshua, by the help of God, faithfully performed the work to which the Lord had called him; and by the side of that to shew how, in fulfilling the promises which He gave to the patriarchs, God drove out the Canaanites before Israel, and gave their land to the twelve tribes of Jacob for a permanent inheritance.”—Keil’s Commentary, Introd. p. 2.

10. In respect to style, the Book of Joshua is less archaic than the Pentateuch, but more so than the Books of Kings and Chronicles. In reading it, it is well to bear in mind the extreme antiquity of the documents on which it rests. We need not, therefore, expect to find in it marks of the finished composition which belong to a later age. The style is plain and inartificial. The narrative follows the course of thought and feeling on the part of the writer, rather than any formal method of arrangement, and sometimes, when the conclusion of any record is deemed of special importance, it is apparently anticipated by the writer, and afterwards restated, though not always in the same identical terms.



1. It is a natural transition from the Book of Joshua to the life and career of the great hero from whom it derives its name. His life falls into three divisions:—

(a)  His life in Egypt;

(b)  His life in the desert of Sinai;

(c)  His life in Canaan.

2. (a) The life of Joshua in Egypt. He, who first bore the name which is now “above every name[13],” was born during the weary years of the bondage of his nation in Egypt. His father was Nun[14], of the powerful tribe of Ephraim. Of his mother we know nothing.

[13] Php 2:9.

[14] The descent of Nun from Ephraim is given in 1 Chronicles 7:20-27.

3. His original name was Oshea or Hoshea[15], “salvation.” This, as we shall see, was afterwards changed to Jehoshua or Joshua, “the salvation of Jehovah[16].” Modified, like many other Hebrew names in their passage through the Greek language, “Joshua” took the form sometimes of “Jason,” but more frequently of ΙΗΣΟΥΣ,, Jesus, “which has now become indelibly impressed on history as the greatest of all names.”

[15] “The same with the name of the Song of Solomon of Azaziah, ruler of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 27:20); of the Song of Solomon of Elah, king of Israel (2 Kings 17:1); of the son of Beeri, the prophet (Hosea 1:1).” Pearson On the Creed, Art. 11.

[16] “If unto the name Hoseah we add one of the titles of God, which is Jah, there will result from both, by the custom of the Hebrew tongue, Jehoshua; and so not only the instrumental, but also the original cause of the Jews’ deliverance will be found expressed in one word: as if Moses had said, This is the person by whom God will save this people from their enemies.” Ibid.

4. Growing up a slave in the brickfields of Egypt he must have witnessed at once the idolatries of that mystic land, and the moral and social degradation of his countrymen. He must have beheld, as he could scarcely have beheld it anywhere else, the adoration of the creature rather than the Creator[17] carried to its furthest point, and divine honours paid not only to the sacred black calf Mnevis, to his rival the bull Apis, to the mighty Pharaoh, the Child, the Representative of the Sun-God, but to almost everything in the heaven above, and the earth beneath, and the water under the earth. His early experience thus made him acquainted with the fascination, which the idolatries around exercised upon his countrymen, and give special force to his declaration afterwards to the heads of the ransomed nation, when located in the Land of Promise, “Your fathers worshipped other gods in Egypt[18].”

[17] Romans 1:25[18] Joshua 24:14.

5. Here too he experienced the bitterness of cruel bondage, while beneath a burning rainless sky, the sons of Jacob toiled naked and in gangs under the lash in the quarries or the brickfield, or followed the oxen over the shadeless furrows, or in long rows monotonously threshed out the corn, while the gay barges of their masters sailed up and down the canals and rivers, and the royal chariots with their outriders, and the priests and officers of state, passed unheeding along the streets[19].

[19] Drew’s Scripture Lands, p.30.

6. (b) Life of Joshua in the Sinaitic desert. Nearly forty years must thus have passed away. At length the hour of deliverance came. Moses returned from Midian, and Joshua witnessed the judgments of the Most High on the land of Ham[20], and shared in the hurried triumph of the Exodus. It is in the Sinaitic desert that he first comes before us with any prominence. Moses, who had doubtless already noticed signs of his fitness as a military leader, selected him to take the command of the people in the engagement with Amalek at Rephidim[21], and “he discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” From this day forward he takes the position of “minister,” or attendant on the great Lawgiver. With him he ascends the mountain-range of Sinai at the first giving of the Tables of the Law[22], and is the first after the forty days of waiting for his return to accost him on his descent[23]. His younger ears first catch the confused sounds which roll up the mountain side from the tented plain below, and with the interpretation of the uncertain noise most natural to a soldier[24], he says at once to Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp[25]. He learns from the mouth of the Lawgiver the true explanation of the sounds, and witnesses his righteous anger, as he casts out of his hands the precious Tables, and breaks them before the eyes of the offending people[26].

[20] Psalm 78:51; Psalm 105:23; Psalm 105:27.

[21] Exodus 17:9-14.

[22] Exodus 24:13.

[23] Exodus 32:17.

[24] See Professor Blunt’s Undesigned Coincidences, p. 66; Bp Wilberforce’s Heroes of Hebrew History, p. 133.

[25] Exodus 32:17.

[26] Exodus 32:19.

7. When we next hear of him it is on the occasion of the prophesying of Eldad and Medad, when he would have his master rebuke them, and received the well-known reply, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them[27].” From this point we seem to lose sight of him altogether till the people were at the very gates of the Promised Land, and Moses resolved to send from Kadesh-Barnea twelve spies to search out the length and breadth of the territory, and ascertain its character, its products, and its inhabitants[28]. Of the Twelve Joshua was now one, and considering the important part he was himself destined to take in the actual conquest of the country, and the service he had already rendered to the great Lawgiver, it is easy to understand why the latter now changed his name from Hoshea to Jehoshua, an alteration which was a God speed! to the spies on their departure[29].

[27] Numbers 11:26-29.

[28] Numbers 13:1-20; Deuteronomy 1:23.

[29] Kurtz On the Old Covenant, 3:284. The occurrence of the new name in Exodus 17:9; Exodus 24:13, and Numbers 11:28, may be accounted for on the supposition of a prolepsis, of which there are many examples in the Pentateuch.

8. As the attendant of Moses and the most distinguished of the Twelve, Joshua undoubtedly stood at the head of those thus sent forth on their arduous mission. With them he traversed the land as far north as Rehob[30] on the way to Hamath in the valley of the Orontes. Then, ascending by the south, they approached Hebron, and in a valley opening on the city plucked pomegranates, and figs, and the famous cluster of grapes, and from “the valley of the Cluster” returned to the camp and their brethren after an absence of forty days[31]. As might be expected from all that had gone before, Joshua did not now fail to display proofs of the same courageous faith, which had procured for him the command against Amalek. He and Caleb alone of all the spies did not discourage the hearts of their brethren, but entreated them to go up and possess the land[32]. Their words, however, fell on unheeding ears, and in just retribution for their rebellious faithlessness the fiat went forth that none of that generation should enter the Promised Land[33].

[30] Numbers 13:21.

[31] Numbers 13:22-25.

[32] Numbers 14:6-9.

[33] Numbers 14:22-23.

9. We hear nothing of Joshua during the weary years of wandering that now commenced in the Sinaitic peninsula. We know, however, that he must have witnessed the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and the terrible penalty which it entailed[34]; the death of Miriam, and her burial in her desert-grave at Kadesh[35]; the one failure of his own trusted leader, when he spake unadvisedly with his lips[36]; the death of Aaron and his entombment on Mount Hor[37]; the battles of Jahaz[38] and Edrei[39], and the conquest of Eastern Canaan, and the frustration of the fell designs of Balaam by the righteous zeal of Phinehas1[40]. None of the varied lessons, we may be sure, which these events were designed to teach, would be lost on one like Joshua, and when the hour came for Moses to “go the way of all the earth,” his constant “attendant” had already justified the confidence, with which, acting on the Divine command1[41], the great Prophet solemnly and publicly invested him as his successor with definite authority over his brethren, and gave him his last charge1[42].

[34] Numbers 16, 17.

[35] Numbers 20:1.

[36] Numbers 20:7-14; Deuteronomy 32:51; Psalm 106:32-33.

[37] Numbers 20:23-29.

[38] Numbers 21:23-24.

[39] Numbers 21:33-35.

[40] 0 Numbers 25:1-18.

[41] 1 Numbers 27:18.

[42] 2 Numbers 27:22-23; Deuteronomy 31:14; Deuteronomy 31:23.

10. (c) The career of Joshua in Canaan. This parting charge to Joshua brings us to the threshold of the Book, which bears his name, to the day when having reached, according to Josephus, his 85th year[43], he assumed the command of the people at Shittim[44], and commenced those victorious campaigns, which in seven years laid six nations and thirty-one kings prostrate at his feet.

[43] Ant. 5:1. 29.

[44] Joshua 1:1-2.

11. These campaigns form the subject of the first part of this Book, and need not be detailed here. In the conduct of them Joshua displayed throughout the same high qualities which first won for him the confidence of Moses. He was the soldier, “the first soldier,” it has been said, “consecrated by the sacred history,” blameless, fearless, straightforward. He was “strong, and of a good courage.” He was “not afraid nor dismayed[45].” “He turned neither to the right hand nor to the left; but at the head of the hosts of Israel he went right forward from Jordan to Jericho, from Jericho to Ai, from Ai to Gibeon, to Bethhoron, to Merom. He wavered not for a moment, he was here, he was there, he was everywhere, as the emergency called for him[46].” The carrying out of the charge he received from God with a remarkable simplicity of unquestioning faith was the key-note of his whole career. While, moreover, he was the brave, undaunted, leader, the terrible exactor of the judgment of Jehovah in reference to a people sunk in idolatry and sensuality, he was ever gentle and merciful towards the sinner. In the presence of Achan the armed warrior is transformed into the loving father, pleading, remonstrating, sympathizing, pronouncing upon the transgressor, not in passion, but with calm dignity, the doom he had brought upon himself, as being under the ban of God.

[45] Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:9; Joshua 1:18.

[46] Stanley’s Lectures, 1. p. 229.

12. But besides his work of war, there was also his work of peace. When strengthened from on high, “he had passed through those scenes of blood which were appointed for him,” he proceeded to divide the conquered territory amongst the victorious tribes. This he carried out not with the self-seeking of an Oriental despot, but on principles, “which place the conquest of Palestine even in that remote and barbarous age, in favourable contrast with the arbitrary caprice by which the lands of England were granted away to the Norman chiefs[47].” With order and method, with appeals to the sacred lot before the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and in the presence of the High-priest and the elders of the nation, the conquered territory was distributed. When provision had been made for all the rest, then, not till then, did he claim any provision for himself. Modest and disinterested, he asked only for a small inheritance in the rugged mountains of his native tribe of Ephraim, and there he built the city of Timnath-serah.

[47] Arnold’s History of Rome, 1. p. 266, quoted in Stanley’s Lectures, 1. p. 265.

13. Hither, when his commissions had been fully enacted, the land divided, the Tabernacle set up at Shiloh, the Cities of Refuge appointed, the priestly and Levitical cities arranged—he retired, and there dwelt in peace for some eighteen years of rest. At length he became aware that he too, like Aaron on Mount Hor, like Moses on the top of Pisgah, must be gathered to his fathers, and go the way of all the earth. Summoning, therefore, the tribes of Israel, with the elders, and judges, and officers, to Shechem, he gave them his last charge. He reviewed their past history as a family, a tribe, a nation. He recounted all the merciful acts of their invisible King, and then he bound them with his parting words to an everlasting covenant of faithfulness to the God, Who had done such great things for them, and set up a stone pillar under the sacred oak of Abraham and Jacob, writing out the words of the covenant in “the Book of the law of God” (Joshua 24:26).

14. And now all was over. His work of war and his work of peace alike were ended. All that human agency could effect for the well-being of his people had been done. He bade every man depart after the solemn scene at Shechem to his inheritance, and shortly “after these things Joshua, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old, and they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah” (Joshua 24:29-30),

“Great in council and great in war,

Foremost captain of his time,

Rich in saving common sense,

And, as the greatest only are,

In his simplicity sublime[48].”

[48] Tennyson’s Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington.



1. It is impossible to disconnect the life and character of Joshua from the work, which the Divine Command called upon him to accomplish.

2. This work was undoubtedly of terrible severity. The command of Moses respecting the nations of Canaan required their complete extermination. “Thou shalt save nothing that breatheth,” said the Lawgiver, and Joshua strictly fulfilled this order. He passed from Jericho to Ai, from Ai to Makkedah, from Makkedah to Libnah, from Libnah to Lachish, from Lachish to Eglon, from Eglon to Hebron, from Hebron to Debir, and “smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining[49].”

[49] Joshua 10:39.

3. Such acts, done in obedience to the Divine Command, have often[50] been strongly urged as objections against the Old Testament morality, and have been placed “among the many cruel things which Moses did and commanded.” Hence, some of the older Rabbinical writers have endeavoured to soften down the more rugged features of the narrative, by affirming that Joshua sent three letters to the land of the Canaanites before the Israelites invaded it; or rather, that he proposed three things to them by letters; that those who preferred flight, might escape; that those who wished for peace, might enter into covenant; and that such as were for war, might take up arms[51].

[50] The adversaries of Judaism and Christianity in the second and third centuries urged them. Comp. Josephus c. Apion. I.28; Origen c. Celsum, Joshua 3:5; S. Cyril cont. Jul. 6.

[51] See Selden de Jure Nat. I. Joshua 6:13; Dean Graves on the Pentateuch, Part III., Lect. I.

4. The instructions[52] however to which this view appeals, prescribe this course of action only in reference to foreign enemies, not Canaanites. “Thus shalt thou do,” said the Lawgiver, “unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations[53].” The Canaanite cities and their inhabitants are thus expressly exempted from the operation of such merciful alternatives. “Of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth; but thou shalt utterly destroy them[54].

[52] Deuteronomy 20:10-14.

[53] Deuteronomy 20:15.

[54] Deuteronomy 20:16-17. Comp. Numbers 21:2-3; Numbers 21:35; Numbers 33:52-54.

5. But as the possession of Canaan is uniformly represented as the free gift of God to the Israelites[55], so the conquest of Canaan is uniformly represented as an act of righteous judgment against its inhabitants. Their moral degeneracy had reached a point to which no other people presented a parallel. The abominations they practised[56] are represented to have been of a kind which might be said to call to heaven for vengeance. The idolatrous rites, to which they were addicted, tended to defile their very consciences, and the pollutions they habitually practised were a disgrace to humanity. Their land is represented as unable to endure them any longer, as “vomiting out its inhabitants,” and therefore, it is added, “the Lord visited their iniquity upon them[57].”

[55] Comp. (a) Exodus 23:32; Exodus 34:12 sqq.; (b) Numbers 33:52 sqq.; (c) Deuteronomy 7:1 sq. The idea that in conquering Canaan the Israelites were but recovering the property of their ancestors is inconsistent with the language of Genesis 17:8; Genesis 26:3, and such transactions as those recorded in Genesis 23:4; Genesis 33:19.

[56] Their false religion cannot be regarded as a mere error of judgment. Cruelty the most revolting, and unnatural crimes the most defiling, were inseparably connected with its celebration.

[57] Leviticus 18:24-25; Leviticus 18:30; Deuteronomy 12:30-31. “It is an eternal necessity,” even Ewald remarks, “that a nation such as the majority of the Canaanites then were, sinking deeper and deeper into a slough of discord and moral perversity, must fall before a people roused to a higher life by the newly awakened energy of unanimous trust in Divine Power.” Ewald’s History of Israel, 2:237, E. T.

6. This judgment, however, it is to be remembered, was not inflicted upon them summarily, or without warning. God waited patiently for five hundred years, and during this period addressed to them many calls to repentance. So early as the time of Abraham He had warned them of His wrath against sin, and especially the sins to which they were addicted, by the awful destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah[58]. He had given them the blessing of the presence and example of eminent men, as Melchizedek and Abraham, and He had forborne to punish them for many ages because the cup of their iniquity was not yet full[59], and in order that a season for repentance might still be granted them. But they knew not the day of their visitation[60], and still persisted in their iniquity.

[58] Genesis 19:1-24.

[59] Genesis 15:16.

[60] Luke 19:44.

7. But even when their cup was well-nigh full, the Divine judgment did not descend without giving repeated indications of its approach. The Canaanites heard of the punishments inflicted by the God of Israel upon the inhabitants of Egypt, and of the wonders which He wrought at the passage of the Red Sea[61]. When again the Israelites stood at the very threshold of the Promised Land, and it might have been supposed that the Sword of Vengeance, which had so long hung in suspense, would have at once descended, it was again held back, and during the wandering in the wilderness, a further space of forty years was granted for repentance and amendment[62].

[61] Joshua 2:10-11.

[62] See the argument well stated in Fairbairn’s Typology of Scripture, II. pp. 432–436.

8. Nay, when all had proved in vain, and mercy at length gave place to judgment, the overthrow of the nations on the East of Jordan, of great kings, famous kings, mighty kings[63], with their fenced cities, high walls, gates and bars[64], warned them of the mighty Invisible Power that fought on the side of the strange People, so lately freed from Egyptian bondage. And as though this was not enough, as though no proof should be wanting that the campaign to be waged was not the victory of one nation over another, but God’s controversy with degrading idolatry, and unnatural and unbridled licentiousness, the invaders themselves, when they suffered themselves to be enticed into the orgies of Baal-peor, experienced a fearful punishment for their apostasy. The Promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not exempt them from the penalty of their misdoings. A plague broke out amongst them, which swept off upwards of twenty-four thousand, while the princes of the tribes at the command of Moses slew the guilty with unsparing vigour, and hanged them up before the Lord[65].

[63] Psalm 135:10-12.

[64] Deuteronomy 3:5-6.

[65] Numbers 25:1-15.

9. But even at the eleventh hour, when at last the fiat went forth, and instead of cutting off the guilty nations, as He had done in the case of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by an earthquake, or a famine, or a pestilence, God entrusted the sword of vengeance to Joshua, was ever campaign waged in such an unearthly manner as that now inaugurated by the leader of the armies of Israel?

10. At the passage of the Jordan, in the capture of Jericho, the Israelites were allowed to do literally nothing but look on and obey the commands of Him Who fought for them. Every impulse of nature to attack the city, to try upon its towers and battlements the skill of military science, as then known, was checked and restrained. The power of faith was tried to the uttermost in consenting to play what must have seemed a useless, almost a ridiculous part, in the face of a disciplined host, watching from their ramparts the strange evolutions of warriors, who had lately triumphed over Sihon at Jahaz, and Og in his basaltic Thermopylæ at Edrei, but who were now constrained to submit to an inexplicable edict of complete inactivity.

11. Nor was the same supernatural check upon the ordinary impulses of humanity maintained only during the mysterious preparations for the fall of Jericho. It was enforced as rigidly when the city had been captured. The excesses, which were the rule of the age on the reduction of a conquered city, which stand out in such painful relief in the inscriptions of Assyrian kings[66], and which have too often disgraced even Christian armies, were absolutely unknown. The city, indeed, was devoted to destruction, and all that were in it, but the conquerors were forbidden under the severest penalties to appropriate to themselves the least benefit from the spoils.

[66] Comp. The Annals of Assur-Nasir-Pal, sometimes called Sardanapalus:

  74  while in Commagene

  75  I was stationed, they brought me intelligence that the city Suri in Bit-Khalupe had revolted

  77  chariots and army I collected —— and the rebellious nobles

  90  who had revolted against me and whose skins I had stripped off, I made into a trophy: some in the middle of the pile I left to decay; some on the top

  91  of the pile on stakes I impaled; some by the side of the pile I placed in order on stakes; many within view of my land

  92  I flayed; their skins on the walls I arranged.

  93  I brought Ahiyababa to Nineveh; I flayed him and fastened his skin to the wall

  113  from Kinabu I withdrew; to Tila I drew near;

  115  with onset and attack I besieged the city; many soldiers I captured alive;

  117  of some I chopped off the hands and feet; of others the noses and ears I cut off; of many soldiers I destroyed the eyes;

  118  one pile of bodies while yet alive, and one of heads I reared up on the heights within their town; their heads in the midst I hoisted; their boys and their maidens I dishonoured.

See Records of the Past, Vol. 3:39–50; Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, Joshua 1:17-18, and comp. it with other passages in the Assyrian records.

12. But when Jericho had fallen, observe the strange halt at Gilgal. What was its object? Not to divide the spoil, for everything had been devoted to Jehovah. Not to celebrate a triumph, for in the capture the people had been little more than spectators. What, then, was its purport? To renew the rite of circumcision; to celebrate the Passover; to remind the people of their solemn moral and religious obligations.

13. Again when Ai had been reduced, after a delay and a discomfiture caused by a single act of disobedience, why was the strange march undertaken to Shechem with the priests, and the ark, and a deputation from all the tribes? To build an altar; to offer sacrifices; to set up stones, and plaster them with plaster; to inscribe upon them the words of the law; to proclaim from the slopes of Ebal and Gerizim its blessings upon purity, justice, order, truthfulness between man and man, and its curses upon impurity, injustice, sensuality, and wrongdoing[67]. Was ever an invading army, before or since, made to feel more completely that it was no work of their own in which they were engaged; that they were simply the instruments in the accomplishment of Divine retribution upon a guilty race; that even as regards themselves, their tenure of the land thus conquered must depend upon the preservation of pure morality?

[67] Joshua 8:33-34.

14. And was the lesson taught with such scrupulous care taught in vain? Did Joshua shew himself like other “scourges of God,” simply an incarnation of brute force and resistless might? His gentleness towards Achan, his faithfulness towards the Gibeonites, the mode in which he carried out the division of the land, the solemnity of his last charge, prove the exact contrary. He could not have preserved untarnished that simplicity and gentleness, that piety and humility which distinguished him to the end, had he not kept clear before his eyes the unique and unearthly character of the commission entrusted to him, had not every other feeling given place to the conviction that he was simply the instrument in carrying out a sentence not his own upon a long-tried but reprobate people.

15. And what is true of him is in a great measure true also of the Israelites themselves. If in their subsequent history they had shewn themselves brutalized by the scenes through which they now passed, if they had proved afterwards violent, tyrannical, cruel, unscrupulous, utterly indifferent to human feelings, and addicted to massacre and bloodshed, these results might have been traced to the campaign in which they were now engaged. But this, without doubt, was not the case. We nowhere find any traces of that terrible exultation in the infliction of pain as pain, of that horrible gloating over the miseries and sufferings of conquered peoples which disfigure the records of other nations. They passed through all the stages of their chequered history with the warning repeated in their ears again and again, that they held the land by no other tenure than that which the Canaanites were destroyed for infringing; that if they failed to maintain purity of worship or purity of life they would subject themselves to the same doom, which would be inflicted by penalties as tremendous, and very often as indiscriminating as those which they were commissioned to inflict on the nation they cast out before them.

16. “The Israelites’ sword,” says an eminent writer[68], “in its bloodiest executions, wrought a work of mercy for all the countries of the earth to the very end of the world. They seem of very small importance to us now, those perpetual contests with the Canaanites, and the Midianites, and the Ammonites, and the Philistines, with which the Books of Joshua and Judges and Samuel are almost filled. We may half wonder that God should have interfered in such quarrels, or have changed the course of nature, in order to give one of these nations of Palestine the victory over another. But in these contests, on the fate of one of these nations of Palestine, the happiness of the human race depended. The Israelites fought not for themselves only, but for us. It might follow that they should thus be accounted the enemies of all mankind; it might be that they were tempted by their very distinctness to despise other nations. Still they did God’s work; still they preserved unhurt the seed of eternal life, and were the ministers of blessing to all other nations, even though they themselves failed to enjoy it.” “If Israel,” says another writer, “had been subdued by the Canaanites, if the separated seed had been mingled with the heathen, if it had learned their ways, if the worship of Chemosh and Molech and Astarte had superseded the worship of Jehovah, how had all the grand designs of redemption been frustrated in their development! The cry of Joshua after the flight at Ai would have been the despairing utterance of the race of men, ‘And what wilt Thou do unto Thy great name?’ More also in Joshua’s history than anywhere else besides, may the troubled soul—perplexed and harassed by the sight on this sin-defiled earth of wars, battles, slaughters, pestilences, earthquakes, miseries, and treasons—rest itself, though it be with a deep sob of a present broken-heartedness, in the conviction that God has a plan for this world; that in the end it does prevail; that the Baalim of heathen powers must fall before Him; and that His kingdom shall stand for ever and ever in its truth and righteousness and love[69].”

[68] Arnold’s Sermons, 6:35–37.

[69] Bp Wilberforce’s Heroes of Hebrew History, pp. 145, 146.



1. An Introduction to the Book of Joshua would be incomplete without a notice of the typical character of his life and his work. Holy Scripture itself suggests the consideration of the successor of Moses as a type of our Lord and Saviour[70], and the more we reflect upon the subject, the more striking does this feature of his career appear.

[70] Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8.

2. “It is not often,” it has been remarked, “either in sacred or common history, that we are justified in pausing on anything so outward and usually so accidental as a name[71].” But, if ever there be an exception, it is in the present instance. The original name of the leader of the hosts of Israel, Hoshea, Salvation, was changed, as we have already seen[72], to Jehoshua, or Joshua, “God’s Salvation,” or “Jehovah the Saviour” (Numbers 13:16; Numbers 14:6; Numbers 14:30). In the Greek translation of the Bible this name is always rendered by the word ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, Jesus, whence its use in the New Testament.

[71] Dean Stanley’s Lectures on the Jewish Church. 1:229.

[72] See above, p. 9.

3. And as with the name, so with its purport. The first Joshua was but a man, and by the power of Jehovah enabled the Israelites to vanquish the nations of Canaan, and saved them from the innumerable dangers that beset them. “Thou shalt call His Name JESUS,” said the angel Gabriel to Joseph, at the time of the first Advent of our Lord, “for He shall save His people from their sins[73].” “Joshua saved Israel not by his own power, not of himself, but God by him; neither saved he his own people, but the people of God; whereas Jesus Himself by His own power, the power of God, shall save His own people, the people of God. Well therefore may we understand the interpretation of His Name to be God the Saviour[74].”

[73] Matthew 1:21.

[74] Pearson On the Creed, Art. 11.

4. The career of a Conqueror thus marked out for the first Joshua, “the first soldier consecrated by the sacred history,” prepares us for and receives its complete fulfilment in the career of Him, Who came into the world that He might fight against and destroy the works of the Devil[75]. He bade His disciples “be of good cheer,” for He had “overcome the world[76],” and as the Conqueror and the Rewarder of them that conquer, He is frequently revealed in the Apocalypse[77].

[75] 1 John 3:8.

[76] John 16:33.

[77] See Revelation 2:7; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 6:2; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 21:7.

5. Again, where was the first part of Joshua’s life spent? Was it not in Egypt? There he was the companion of the rest of his nation in their sorrows; he was one with them in their afflictions; he shared their labours in the brick-kilns of Egypt; in all their afflictions he was afflicted. And even so our Lord, remaining the Son of God most High, became JESUS, the Son of Mary, and condescending to be made in the likeness of men[78], was in all points like unto His brethren, and whereas He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted[79].

[78] Php 2:7 : Hebrews 2:14.

[79] Hebrews 2:18.

6. Joshua, moreover, succeeded Moses and completed his work. The hand of the great Lawgiver brought the people out of Egypt, “but left them in the wilderness, and could not seat them in Canaan[80].” This was reserved for Joshua his successor. Now Moses is often taken for the doctrine delivered, or the books written by him, that is, the Law[81]. And the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ[82], by Whom all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses[83].

[80] Pearson On the Creed, Art. 11.

[81] Comp. Luke 16:29; Luke 16:31; Luke 24:27; John 5:45-46; Acts 6:11; Acts 6:13-14; Acts 15:21; Acts 21:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15.

[82] John 1:17.

[83] Acts 13:39.

7. With this typical name, and in this order of succession, Joshua entered on his leadership, and at the banks of Jordan God began to “magnify him,” and to make manifest to Israel his credentials as their appointed chief. Even so his great Antitype begins His office at the banks of Jordan. His feet are dipped in the selfsame rushing stream, and no sooner has He come up therefrom, and “sanctified water to the mystical washing away of sin,” than the Spirit descends upon Him, and the Voice is heard, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased[84].”

[84] Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22.

8. At the Jordan, again, Joshua directed that from its bed twelve stones should be taken by twelve men chosen out of the people, to be for evermore a witness to the nation of their deliverance. So after His baptism in Jordan the second Joshua began to choose His twelve Apostles, those foundation-stones in the Church of God, whose names are in the twelve foundations of the wall of the holy city, the new Jerusalem[85]. “Twelve stones, Joshua buried under the returning waters of Jordan; and over the first twelve Apostles, Jesus let the stream of death flow as over others; whilst they were repeated in their office of witnesses to Him by all the enduring succession of His earthly ministers with whom He is, even unto the end of the world[86].”

[85] Revelation 21:14.

[86] Bp Wilberforce’s Heroes of Hebrew History, p. 156.

9. Having led the people through the Jordan, and renewed the Covenant of Circumcision[87], and conquered for them their foes, Joshua assigns to them their inheritance, but directs that they must fight for their possessions against the remnants of their enemies, if they would maintain their conquest. And even so Jesus, though He brings His people into the spiritual Canaan of His Church, calls upon them to fight manfully under His banner against the foes, whom He hath not driven out all at once[88], but left to try and prove them, whether they will turn to account the fair inheritance He hath bestowed upon them.

[87] Comp. Joshua 5:2; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11.

[88] See Joshua 13:7-32.

10. When Joshua’s great work is over, his work of war and his work of peace, he ascends the hill of Ephraim and dwells in his own possession. But this has fallen to him, not as to others of his brethren by the casting of the sacred lot. Rather has it been yielded to him as his own right in respect to the work of conquest which he has achieved. And thus too, when His work was over—the work which the Father had given Him to do[89]—our Lord ascended up on high to the heaven in which He was before, His own by right, His own by conquest, and there for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool[90].

[89] John 17:4.

[90] Hebrews 10:12-13.

11. Once more. Before Joshua departed and was gathered unto his fathers, he summoned to him all the heads of the tribes, and described to them in solemn words, the work that lay before them, and set forth the mighty Future destined to be theirs if they would be loyal to their Invisible King, and cleave earnestly to the God, Who had done such great things for them. And so did the great “Captain of our Salvation,” before He ascended up on high, summon to meet Him on a mountain in Galilee, the heads and representatives of His Church, and proclaim to them the greatness of the work, to which they had been called, and the true source of the strength, in which it should be accomplished, saying, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth; go ye, therefore, evangelise all nations, and lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world[91].”

[91] Matthew 28:18-20.

12. Lastly, Joshua smote the Amalekites and subdued the Canaanites; by the first, making way to enter the land, by the second, giving possession of it[92]. And even so, Jesus our Lord in a spiritual manner goeth in and out before us against our spiritual foes, opening and clearing our way to heaven. For every one, who follows Him, He divides the cold waters of death, “setting against their utmost flood the Ark of the Body which He took of us, and in which God dwelleth evermore; so making a way for His ransomed to pass over to the mansions, which He has prepared for them, from the foundation of the world.”

[92] Pearson On the Creed, Art. 11.



1. The following Analysis will give an idea of the contents of the Book of Joshua.

2. It may be regarded as consisting of three parts;

  (i)  The Conquest of Canaan;

  (ii)  The Division of Canaan;

  (iii)  Joshua’s Farewell.


The Conquest of Canaan 1–12

Section I.  The Preparation.

  (a)  The Summons to the War.

  (α)  The Command of God to Joshua 1:1-9.

  (β)  The Command of Joshua to the people Joshua 1:10-18.

  (b)  The Mission of the spies to Jericho.

  (α)  The sending of the spies Joshua 2:1-7.

  (β)  Their reception by Rahab Joshua 2:8-21.

  (γ)  Their return to Joshua 2:22-24.

Section II. The Passage of the Jordan.

  (a)  The Divine Guidance.

  (α)  The Preparations of Joshua 3:1-13.

  (β)  Jordan turned backwards Joshua 3:14-17.

  (γ)  Completion of the Passage Joshua 4:1-18.

  (δ)  The Memorial at Gilgal Joshua 4:19-24.

  (b)  The Consecration to the Holy War.

  (α)  Renewal of the Rite of Circumcision Joshua 5:1-9.

  (β)  Celebration of the Passover Joshua 5:10-12.

  (γ)  Appearance of the Prince of Jehovah’s host Joshua 5:13-15.

.  (δ)  Instructions as to the capture of Jericho Joshua 6:1-5.

Section III. The Conquest of Southern and Central Canaan.

  (a)  The Capture of Jericho.

  (α)  The Preparations Joshua 6:6-14.

  (β)  Capture and Destruction of the City Joshua 6:15-27.

  (b)  First Advance against Ai.

  (α)  The sin of Achan Joshua 7:1.

  (β)  The repulse from Ai Joshua 7:2-5.

  (γ)  Joshua’s Prayer Joshua 7:6-15.

  (δ)  Detection and Punishment of Achan Joshua 7:16-26.

  (c)  Second Advance against Ai.

  (α)  Stratagem of Joshua 8:1-13.

  (β)  Capture and destruction of the city Joshua 8:14-29.

  (γ)  Renewal of the Covenant at Ebal Joshua 8:30-35.

  (d)  The Battle of Bethhoron.

  (α)  League of the Canaanite kings against Israel Joshua 9:1-2.

  (β)  The Fraud of the Gibeonites Joshua 9:3-15.

  (α)  The League with Gibeon Joshua 9:16-27.

  (δ)  Investment of Gibeon by the Five Kings Joshua 10:1-5.

  (ε)  Relief of the city by Joshua 10:6-15.

  (ζ)  Flight and destruction of the Five Kings Joshua 10:16-43.

Section IV. The Conquest of Northern Canaan.

  (a)  The Northern League.

  (α)  The Gathering of the Kings Joshua 11:1-6.

  (β)  The Battle of the Waters of Merom Joshua 11:7-9.

  (γ)  The Defeat of Jabin Joshua 11:10.

  (δ)  Subjugation of the North Joshua 11:11-23.

  (b)  Review of the Conquest.

Catalogue of the conquered kings

  (α)  Of Eastern Palestine Joshua 12:1-6.

  (β)  Of Western Palestine Joshua 12:7-24.

Part II

The Division of Canaan. 13–21.

Section I.  The Partition of Eastern Canaan.

  (a)  The Mosaic Settlement.

  (α)  The Divine Command to divide the land Joshua 13:1-7.

  (β)  Provision for the tribe of Levi Joshua 13:8-14.

  (γ)  Possessions of the tribe of Reuben Joshua 13:15-23.

  (δ)  Possessions of the tribe of Gad Joshua 13:24-28.

  (ε)  Possessions of the half tribe of Manasseh Joshua 13:29-33.

  (b)  Commencement of the Distribution Joshua 14:1-5.

  (c)  The Possession of Caleb Joshua 14:6-15.

Section II. Division of Western Palestine.

  (a)  Territory of the tribe of Judah.

  (α)  Its boundaries Joshua 15:1-12.

  (β)  Petition of Achsah Joshua 15:13-20.

  (γ)  Cities in the South Joshua 15:21-32.

  (δ)  Cities in the Lowlands Joshua 15:33-47.

  (ε)  Cities in the Mountains Joshua 15:48-60.

  (ζ)  Cities in the Wilderness Joshua 15:61-63.

  (b)  Territory of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

  (α)  Boundaries of the Territory Joshua 16:1-4.

  (β)  Territory of the tribe of Ephraim Joshua 16:5-10.

  (γ)  Territory of the tribe of Manasseh Joshua 17:1-13.

  (δ)  Complaint of the sons of Joseph Joshua 17:14-16.

  (ε)  Reply of Joshua 17:17-18.

  (c)  Territory of the seven remaining tribes.

  (α)  The Tabernacle set up at Shiloh Joshua 18:1-10.

  (β)  Territory of Benjamin Joshua 18:11-28.

  (γ)  Territory of Simeon Joshua 19:1-9.

  (δ)  Territory of the tribe of Zebulun Joshua 19:10-16.

  (ε)  Territory of the tribe of Issachar Joshua 19:17-23.

  (ζ)  Territory of the tribe of Asher Joshua 19:24-31.

  (η)  Territory of the tribe of Naphtali Joshua 19:32-39.

  (θ)  Territory of the tribe of Dan Joshua 19:40-48.

  (ι)  Joshua’s possession Joshua 19:49-51.

Section III. Appointment of the Cities of Refuge.

The Divine Command Joshua 20:1-3.

  (α)  Choice of the Cities Joshua 20:4-6.

  (β)  Three east of the Jordan Joshua 20:7.

  (α)  Three west of the Jordan Joshua 20:8-9.

Section IV.Appointment of the priestly and Levitical cities.

The Demand of the Levites Joshua 21:1-3.

  (α)  The compliance Joshua 21:4-8.

  (β)  Cities of the Kohathites

  (1)  The sons of Aaron Joshua 21:9-19.

  (2)  The other Kohathites Joshua 21:20-26.

  (γ)  Cities of the Gershonites Joshua 21:27-33.

  (δ)  Cities of the Merarites Joshua 21:34-42.

  (ε)  Conclusion Joshua 21:43-45.

Part III

Joshua’s Farewell. 22–24

Section I.  Release of the Two Tribes and a half.

  (a)  The Departure.

  (α)  Exhortation of Joshua 22:1-8.

  (β)  Return of the Tribes Joshua 22:9.

  (b)  The Disagreement.

  (α)  Erection of the Altar Joshua 22:10.

  (β)  Embassy of Israel Joshua 22:11-20.

  (γ)  The Explanation Joshua 22:21-31.

  (δ)  Return of the Embassy Joshua 22:32-34.

Section II. The Parting of Joshua.

  (a)  The First Address.

  (α)  Exhortations to fidelity Joshua 23:1-11.

  (β)  Warnings against apostasy Joshua 23:12-16.

  (b)  The Second Address.

  (α)  Last counsels Joshua 24:1-15.

  (β)  Renewal of the Covenant Joshua 24:16-28.

  (γ)  Death of Joshua 24:29-31.

  (δ)  Burial of the bones of Joseph Joshua 24:32.

  (ε)  Death of Eleazar Joshua 24:33.

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