BibleProject - Old Testament - Lesson 9


In this lesson, you will learn about the book of Joshua in the Bible. Joshua is part of the Old Testament's Historical Books, and it tells the story of the Israelites' conquest of the Promised Land after Moses' death. The book is divided into three sections: entering the Promised Land, conquering the land, and dividing the land. The book's themes include God's faithfulness to His promises, the importance of obedience, and God's judgment on sin. Understanding Joshua's significance can provide both historical and theological implications and foreshadows Christ's work.

Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
BibleProject - Old Testament
Lesson 9
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Joshua: Bible Study


I. Introduction

A. Background of the book of Joshua

B. Literary genre of Joshua

II. Summary of Joshua

A. Entering the Promised Land

B. Conquest of the Land

C. Division of the Land

III. Themes and Message of Joshua

A. God's faithfulness to His promises

B. Importance of obedience

C. God's judgment on sin

IV. Significance of Joshua

A. Historical and theological implications

B. Foreshadows Christ's work

  • By watching this video, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the Old Testament, including its literary design and flow of thought. You will learn about the different sections of the Old Testament, including the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom Literature, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets. You will also gain insights into the stories, themes, and messages of each of these sections and how they contribute to the overall narrative of God's relationship with humanity.
  • By studying Genesis, you will gain a deeper understanding of the Old Testament and its key themes and characters, as well as the literary features of the book, such as its structure, style, and genre. The creation story is a key part of the book, as are the stories of Abraham and the patriarchs, the fall and sin, the flood and Noah, and God's covenant with Israel. Additionally, Genesis introduces readers to the Old Testament and sets the stage for the Pentateuch and Books of Moses, while also introducing many themes and motifs that continue throughout the Bible.
  • Discover the captivating stories of the patriarchs in Genesis Part 2, exploring themes of covenant, God's sovereignty, human responsibility, faith, and obedience.
  • Explore the Bible's book of Exodus to gain insight into God's rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the significance of the covenant and law, and its connection to the New Testament.
  • Gain insight into the book of Exodus and its themes of salvation and redemption, revealing God's character through his interactions with Israel, with significant influence on Jewish and Christian traditions and connections to the New Testament through its foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.
  • By studying Leviticus with The Bible Project, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the historical and literary context, themes, and structure of this important book in the Old Testament. You will also learn about the significance of Leviticus for understanding the Torah and its relevance for Christians today.
  • By studying The Bible Project's lesson on Numbers, you'll comprehensively understand its structure, themes, and significance, gaining insight into the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness, God's guidance, rebellion, priesthood, and offerings, as well as its historical, theological, and contemporary relevance.
  • Explore Numbers' authorship, context, structure, and theology to gain a comprehensive understanding of its significance to the Pentateuch and the Old Testament, as well as its relevance to the Christian faith today.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the book of Joshua, including its historical context, literary genre, and summary. You will learn about the book's themes, such as God's faithfulness, obedience, and judgment, and its significance in foreshadowing Christ's work and providing historical and theological implications.
  • Explore the historical and cultural context, literary design, and theological significance of the book of Judges in the Old Testament, and learn how it fits into the broader biblical storyline, including its relevance for today.
  • Explore the Book of Ruth to understand its historical context, literary features, themes of loyalty and faithfulness, redemption, the kinsman-redeemer's role, and its Old Testament significance.
  • Studying the Book of Samuel provides insight into the rise of the Israelite monarchy, the lives of Saul and David, and the importance of obedience to God, covering themes of leadership and kingship with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant.
  • By exploring the story of Absalom in 2 Samuel and the broader context of the Old Testament Historical Books, you will gain insight into the themes and messages of these books, as well as their historical and modern-day significance.
  • Through the study of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, you will gain a deeper understanding of the history of Israel and Judah, as well as valuable spiritual lessons from these Old Testament books.
  • By studying this lesson, you understand the historical and literary aspects of 1 and 2 Chronicles, emphasizing God's sovereignty, covenant faithfulness, worship, and obedience.
  • Through this lesson, you grasp the historical context, key themes, and modern applications of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, enriching your understanding of faith, community, and commitment to God's Word.
  • You will gain an understanding of the book of Esther, a narrative in the Hebrew Bible that tells the story of a Jewish woman named Esther who becomes queen in the Persian court and, with the help of her cousin Mordecai, saves the Jews from genocide orchestrated by the villain Haman. The story highlights God's sovereignty and providential care, and the feast of Purim celebrates the Jews' victory.
  • By studying the Book of Job, you will explore the complexities of human suffering, the search for divine wisdom, and the tension between God's sovereignty and human limitations within a unique literary structure.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the book of Psalms, including its background, structure, authorship, and theology. You will also learn about the various themes and motifs present in the Psalms, which will help you better understand and appreciate this important book in the Old Testament.
  • By studying Proverbs, you will understand the definition and purpose of wisdom, the fear of the Lord, and the personification of wisdom in the book. You will also gain insights into the literary structure of Proverbs and the themes of the book, including the importance of listening to wisdom, the power of words, and the value of hard work.
  • In the Ecclesiastes lesson, you gain insights into the book's structure, themes, and significance, while exploring the search for meaning, vanity, and the importance of fearing God and enjoying life.
  • You will gain an understanding of the literary features, interpretation, theology, and application of the book Song of Songs, including its authorship, historical and cultural context, allegorical and literal interpretation, and its teachings on God and human love, sexuality, and relationships.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into Isaiah's historical context, literary features, major themes, and its significance in the Old Testament.
  • Discover how Isaiah's prophetic message of judgment and hope for Jerusalem evolves, as it predicts the fall of Israel's kingdom and envisions a new, purified Jerusalem where God's kingdom will be restored through a future messianic king, uniting all nations in peace.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain understanding of the book of Jeremiah, including its historical and cultural context, literary features, major themes and message, and significance in the Old Testament.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the Book of Lamentations, its structure, themes, and the role of God in the midst of suffering and divine judgment, while ultimately highlighting His faithfulness and mercy.
  • In the book of Ezekiel, you follow the story of a priest named Ezekiel who has a vision of God's glory riding on a royal throne chariot, and is commissioned by God to accuse Israel of rebellion and warn them of their impending destruction due to their covenant violations and rampant social injustice, while also providing a small glimmer of hope for the future.
  • By viewing this lesson on Daniel, you will gain understanding of its structure, themes, and significance in the Old Testament, gaining knowledge about living as faithful exiles in a hostile culture, God's sovereignty and faithfulness in times of trial, and remaining faithful to God even in difficult circumstances.
  • Through this lesson, you grasp the complexities of Hosea, discovering the book's themes, messages, and its role in the Old Testament, emphasizing the relationship between Israel's unfaithfulness and God's unwavering love.
  • By studying the book of Joel, you will gain insight into the historical and cultural context of Judah, the literary features of prophetic literature, and the themes of repentance, restoration, and the Day of the Lord. Joel's prophecy also has significance in the New Testament as it is quoted by Peter at Pentecost, emphasizing the fulfillment of Joel's vision through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
  • In the Amos lesson, you explore its historical context, literary features, and themes, enhancing your understanding of justice, the Day of the Lord, and God's sovereignty within the Old Testament.
  • By studying Obadiah, you will gain insight into the historical context and literary features of this prophetic oracle. You will learn about the pride of Edom, their judgment, and the hope for Israel. Through understanding the significance of Obadiah in the Old Testament, you will have a deeper appreciation for the themes and message of this book.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into Jonah's themes, including God's mercy, human rebellion, repentance, and the significance of mission, while also understanding its connections to other biblical narratives.
  • Studying the book of Micah will give you an understanding of its historical context, literary genre, prophetic message of judgment and restoration, and insights into God's character and how He interacts with His people.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the historical context, structure, and themes of the book of Nahum, learning about God's sovereignty, justice, and the relevance of these concepts in today's world.
  • Studying Habakkuk will deepen your understanding of how to wrestle with difficult questions about God's character and the problem of evil and respond with faith and trust in God's sovereignty.
  • In this lesson, you explore the book of Zephaniah, gaining insights into its background, context, literary features, themes, and significance in the Old Testament, including the central message of the Day of the Lord and the promise of future hope.
  • You will gain an in-depth understanding of the Book of Haggai, including its historical and cultural context, literary structure, purpose and themes, individual sections, and theological significance in relation to the Exile, Restoration, and Messiah.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into Zechariah's historical context, structure, themes of restoration, the coming Messiah, God's sovereignty, and its significance in the Old Testament.
  • Discover the last book of the Old Testament and its themes, such as God's love for Israel, the importance of worship, and the coming of the messenger and the day of the Lord, as well as its connection to the New Testament, which prophesies the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus and calls for a return to God.

BP100-09 Joshua

The book of Joshua. Let's back up and remember the story so far, So God chose Abraham and then his family became the people of Israel, who are then enslaved down in Egypt. So through Moses, God rescued Israel out of Egypt, he made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai and he brought them through the wilderness. So Israel then camped outside the promised land and Moses called them to obey God’s commands so that they could show all the other nations what God is like. The book of Joshua picks up right after Moses has died and Israel is ready to enter the land. So the story of Joshua is designed with four main movements. Joshua first leads Israel into the promised land, and then once they are there, they meet all this hostility from the Canaanites and so they engage them in battle, then after their victory Joshua divides up the promised land as the inheritance for the twelve tribes and then the book concludes with these final speeches that Joshua gives to the people. So let’s dive in and we will see how all of it flows together. The first section begins with Moses’ death and Joshua is appointed as Israel’s new leader, and the author intentionally presents Joshua as a new Moses, so like Moses, Joshua calls the people to obey the Torah, which means the covenant commands that they were given at Mount Sinai, and then Joshua sends spies into the land just as Moses did back in Numbers chapters 13 and 14 except it goes way better this time. In fact, some Canaanites turn and follow the God of Israel, Joshua then leads all Israel across the Jordan river and into the land. Just like the sea parted for Moses in the Exodus so here the river Jordan parts and the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant across leading all Israel with them. Now, in chapter 5 the story transitions, so the people look back to their roots as God’s covenant people and so the new generation is circumcised and they celebrate their first Passover in the land. But then, they turn prepared to go forward and Joshua has this crazy encounter with a mysterious warrior, who, it turns out is the angelic commander of God’s army, and Joshua asks, “Are you for us? Or are you for our enemies?” The warrior responds, “Neither.” Which shows that the real question here is whether Joshua is on God’s side. It makes clear that this whole story is not about Israel versus the Canaanites, rather this is God’s battle, and Israel is going to play the role of spectators or sometimes supporters in God’s plan. Which leads to the next section. We find stories about all these conflicts that Israel has with different Canaanite groups, and the first part retells the story of two battles in detail and that is followed by a series of short stories that condense years of battles into a few brief summaries. So the first two battles are against Jericho and then Ai, and they offer these contrasting portraits of God’s faithfulness versus Israel’s failure. At Jericho, Israel is to take a completely passive approach, so they let God’s presence in the Ark lead them around the city to music for six days and just like Rahab turned to the God of Israel maybe the people of Jericho would do the same, but they don't, and so on the seventh day the priests blow the trumpets and the walls come falling down leading Israel to victory. The point of the story is that God is the one who will deliver his people; Israel simply needs to trust and wait. Now the next story, of the battle of Ai makes the opposite point. So there is this Israelite named Achan, and he steals from Jericho some of the devoted goods that were to belong to God alone and then he lies about it. It’s a pretty lame move after all that God has done for Israel, and so Israel goes into battle with the city of Ai and they are totally defeated, and it’s only after humble repentance and severely dealing with Achan’s sin that Israel gains victory. And so together these two stories are placed right up front to make an important point. If Israel is going to inherit the land, they have to be obedient and trust in God’s commands. They don’t get special treatment. Now the second part of the section begins with the Gibeonites, a Canaanite people group and they do just as Rahab did as they turn to follow the God of Israel and they make peace with Israel. This is in contrast to all these other Canaanite kings who start to form alliances and coalitions and they want to destroy Israel. So Israel engages them in battle and they win by a land slide. So this whole section concludes with this summary list of all of these victories won by Moses and then by Joshua. Now, let’s stop for a second because odds are that these stories and the violence in them, they are going to bother you, and if you are a follower of Jesus, you’re bound to wonder, like, didn’t Jesus said to love your enemies? Why is God declaring war here? So first, why the Canaanites? The main reasons are actually given earlier in the biblical story is that the culture of the Canaanites had become extremely morally corrupt, especially when it comes to sex, go check out Leviticus chapter 18, and they also widely practiced child sacrifice, go see Deuteronomy chapter 12, and so God didn’t want these practices to influence Israel, the Canaanites had to go. Which raises the second question. Did God actually command the destruction of all the Canaanites, like a genocide? So at first glance, you know, you look at the phrases used in these stories. They “totally destroyed them”, they “left no survivor or anything that breathed”, but when you look a second time more closely, you’ll see that these phrases are clearly hyperbole and not literal. So go back to the original command about the Canaanites in Deuteronomy chapter 7. Israel is first told to drive out the Canaanites, but then to totally destroy them and then that is followed by commands to not intermarry with them or enter into business deals with them. So you can’t marry someone that you’ve destroyed. I think you get the point. The same idea applies to the stories in Joshua, look closely. So for example, we’re told in Joshua chapter 10 that Israel left no survivors in the cities of Hebron or Debir, but then later in chapter 15 we see these towns and they’re still populated by Canaanites, and so what we’re seeing is that Joshua fits in with other ancient battle accounts by using non-literal hyperbolic language as part of the narrative style. And so the word genocide doesn’t actually fit what we see here. Especially in light of the stories about the Canaanites who did turn to the God of Israel, like Rahab or the Gibeonites, God was open to those who would turn to him. The last thing to think about is that these stories mark a unique moment in Israel’s history. These battles were limited to the handful of people groups living in the land of Canaan. With all other nations, Israel was commanded by God to pursue peace, go read Deuteronomy chapter 20. So the purpose of these battle stories was never to tell you, the reader, to go commit violence in God’s name. Rather, they show God bringing his justice on human evil at a unique moment in history, and how he delivered Israel from being annihilated by the Canaanites. Now, let’s go back to the book’s design. After years of battles we see an aging Joshua and he starts dividing up the land for the twelve tribes of Israel, and most of this section is like lists of boundary lines, and let us be honest, it’s kind of boring. It’s like reading a map that has no pictures. But for the Israelites these lists were super important. This was the fulfillment of God’s ancient promises to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the promised land. . And so now it was all coming to pass right down to the detail, which leads to the final section. Joshua gives two speeches to the people they’re very similar to the final speeches of Moses in Deuteronomy. Joshua reminds them of God’s generosity, how he brought them into the land and rescued them from the Canaanites. And so, he calls them to turn away from the Canaanite gods and be faithful to the covenant they made. If they do, it will lead to life and blessing in the land, but if they’re unfaithful, Israel will call down on itself the same divine judgement that the Canaanites experienced. They’ll be kicked off the land into exile, and so Joshua leaves Israel with a choice. What is Israel going to do? That’s the big question that looms as the story ends. And that’s the book of Joshua.