The Former Prophets
The second division of the Hebrew Old Testament is called Neviim in Hebrew; this is translated into English as "Prophets". This section is itself broken into two subsections, the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets.
The Former Prophets
The Latter Prophets
Ordinarily, English speaking Christians do not think of the books of Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings as prophetic works, but this is the way they were classified in the Hebrew Bible. Only the Latter Prophets, which follow them, are the books Christians more traditionally think of as prophetic (Isaiah- Malachi). However, when one considers the important role such prophets as Samuel, Elijah, Elisha and Nathan played in those books Christians call History, the Hebrew classification begins to make more sense. Furthermore, it should be noted that these Former Prophets were not presenting plain history; rather, they had a prophetic purpose in mind: to proclaim God's actions in the life of his chosen people.
The Book of Joshua
The English title "Joshua" is the same in both the Hebrew original and in the Greek translation. It was derived from the content of the book, rather than from its author.
The author of the book is unknown. However, Joshua 5:1 states that:
Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the seacoast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts sank and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
Also, in 5:6:
For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Therefore, the use of the first person plural pronoun would seem
to indicate that the author of Joshua was an eyewitness to the
While the book was written by an eyewitness, it seems unlikely that this eyewitness was Joshua. 15:13-19 and 19:47 contain accounts of the conquest of Hebron by Caleb, Debir by Othniel, and Leshem by the tribe of Dan. Considered alone, these conquests could have happened before Joshua died. But if these accounts are compared with the parallel accounts of the same conquests in Judges 1:1-15, there can be little doubt that the battles described occurred following Joshua's death.
The question then arises: just how long after Joshua's death was the book written? Caleb's conquest of Hebron must have occurred a very short time after Joshua's demise. After all, Caleb was eighty-five years old at this time.
In addition, there seems to be distinct evidence that the book was written before, not after the establishment of the monarchy in Israel, contrary to what some critics have inferred.
In Joshua 16:10 the Canaanites are still in Gezer. However, by the end of David's reign they were gone (1 Kings 9:16). In Joshua 15:63 the Jebusites were still in Jerusalem. However, when David began to reign over the united kingdom, the Jebusites were gone (2 Samuel 5:3, 6-9). Furthermore, the book of Joshua shows no traces of a later time, either in style or content. It is closely connected with the Pentateuch in language as well as viewpoint. For example, the only Phoenicians mentioned are the Sidonians, and they are considered a part of the Canaanites who were to be destroyed (13:4-6). By the time of David, circumstances had changedcompletely. Also, Sidon is referred to as the chief city of the Phoenicians, and the epithet "great" is applied to it in 11:8 and 19:28. But, in the days of David, Tyre was the most prominent Phoenician city.
Therefore, it seems likely that the book of Joshua was written within twenty or twenty-five years of the death of Joshua, probably by one of the elders who crossed the Jordan with him, and had taken part in the conquest of Canaan (5:1 and 6), but survived a long time after (12:31 and Judges 2:7).
III. An Outline of Joshua
I. The Entry into Canaan 1-6
II. The Incident at Ai and Renewal of the Covenant 7-8
III. The Conquest of the South 9-10
IV. The Conquest of the North 11-12
V. The Division of the Land 13-22
VI. Farewell and Death of Joshua 23-24
Questions on Joshua
1. Discuss the authorship of the book of Joshua.
2. Give a summary of the account of Rahab and the spies.
3. Give a summary of the conquest of Jericho.
4. What happened at Ai?
5. What is significant about the Gibeonites?
6. What happened at Gibeon?
7. Who settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River?
8. What was the significance of the altar built at the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan?
9. Is the book of Joshua arranged chronologically? Explain.
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