Module 13: The Need for a King - God the only King
Module Guide: Joshua - The Book of Possession
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures the second division was known as "The Prophets." In this division the first section included Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings, and was called "The earlier Prophets." Of this division Joshua was the first book. It derives its name from the great leader, the story of whose work is chronicled therein.
Of its authorship nothing definitely is known. In all likelihood it was largely the work of Joshua himself, subsequently added to, and completed, by some one or more of the elders of Israel. Its content is a continuation of the history of the chosen people. The nation led out by Moses is led in by his successor. This book tells the story. It is the book of possession, and may be broadly divided into three parts: The Conquest of the Land (1-12); the Settlement of the People (13-21); Joshua's Farewell (22-24).
The Conquest of the Land
In this first division there are four sections dealing with mobilization, advance, war, and the extent of conquest.
The first fact chronicled is that of the call to arms, and therein God's call to Joshua. His right of entrance to the land was that God had given it to His people. His power of entrance was that of the Divine presence. The conditions of his success were that he should be strong and courageous, and in order to this he was charged to be obedient to the law. Thus commissioned, Joshua issued his call to the people. It was characterized by urgency and despatch. Within three days the hosts were to move forward. Forty years before spies had been sent. Of these Joshua had been one of the few who had brought back a report true to God. He now sent them again. The principle of sending was, however, quite different. It was now the action of that faith which was characterized by caution. The spies, returning, made it evident that the promise of God that no man should be able to stand before Joshua was being fulfilled, for according to Rahab, "their terror was fallen upon the people." Rahab's action was that of faith. The men of Jericho shared her conviction, but rebelled against it. She recognized the activity of God, and yielded.
The first movement of the people forward was of such a nature as to impress them with the truth of their positive relation to God.
They came on to the actual soil of Canaan, not by deflecting the course of the river, nor by bridging it, but by direct Divine intervention. While obedience demanded haste, haste was not allowed to cause neglect of religious observance. Safely over Jordan, the hosts paused while stones were gathered out of the riverbed, and a ceremony of worship was observed. This miraculous crossing of the river produced a remarkable effect upon the surrounding people. "Their heart melted, neither was there any spirit in them any more." Before the actual march commenced, the Captain of the hosts of the Lord appeared to Joshua, and he was thus made to recognize that his authority and leadership depended upon his submission and obedience.
Preparation thus being complete, the hosts of Israel became the scourge of God, moving forward in judgment upon the corrupt peoples of the land. It is impossible to imagine anything more calculated to impress upon them their absolute weakness than the method of their victory. Marching priests and blatant horns are utterly inadequate to the capture of a city, and represent foolishness, judged by all ordinary methods of human warfare. The victory was theirs, but they were taught that it came not by might, and not by power, but by their being obedient to the government of God. Suddenly the triumphant people were defeated. The reason was the sin of a man, which was also the sin of a nation. Israel had now become a nation, and no one person could act alone. Thus individualism is seen to become a far greater responsibility when it has ceased to be isolation. The sin of the one became the sin of the community. The evil thing was judged and punished, and through this return to obedience on the part of the nation the campaign moved victoriously forward. The story of the taking of Ai is one of acute military strategy. Thus the truth is brought into prominence that in prosecuting the work of Jehovah there must ever be a recognition of the value of the use of the best in human reason. Strategy without obedience is useless. Obedience includes the use of reason, the employment of common sense. The fame and dread of the people were spreading far and wide. The kings of Canaan formed a league against the oncoming hosts. Before they had time to take action a new peril threatened Israel in the strategy of the Gibeonites. The deceit being discovered, the action of Joshua was immediate and decisive. He felt bound by the letter of his covenant, but condemned the Gibeonites to perpetual servitude, making them hewers of wood and drawers of water. This action of the Gibeonites aroused the anger of the confederate kings. In their peril the men of Gibeon appealed to Joshua. By forced marches he reached the scene of action, and the rout of the kings was complete, Joshua followed up his advantage, immediately moving forward until the whole of Southern Canaan was in possession of Israel. A new confederacy had now to be faced and fought. The northern kings joined in an attempt to break the power of the conquering hosts. Turning swiftly north, Joshua routed them, and then turned back to Hazor, where victory still attended him. All this did not happen immediately. Indeed we are told that it had occupied "a long time." The division ends with a detailed summary of the extent of the conquest.
The Settlement of the People
Dean Stanley says, "In the book of Joshua we have what may without offence be termed 'The Doomsday Book of the Conquest of Canaan.' Ten chapters of that book are devoted to a description of the country, in which not only are its general features and boundaries carefully laid down, but the names and situations of its towns and villages enumerated with the precision of geographical terms which encourages, and almost compels, a minute investigation." Joshua was now about ninety years old, and was reminded that the conquest was by no means complete. There remained "much land to be possessed." In order that the chosen people might be able to complete the conquest and perfectly possess the land, it was now to be divided amongst them. Toward this end the provision made for the two and a half tribes on the east of Jordan was ratified.
Then followed provision for Caleb, who after forty-five years of waiting, claimed a definite possession in the land. Joshua's recognition of his friend, and of his right to a choice of possession, was quick and generous. He granted him the mountain which he asked, and blessed him.
In the settlement of the nine and a half tribes Judah stood first, as being the kingly and imperial tribe. The possession allotted to it was that of the fighting front. It remained loyal longer than the rest, but subsequently became contaminated with the abominations of the heathen. God's hosts are never overcome in fair and open fighting with His foes. It is the friendship of the world which is enmity against God. The inheritance of Joseph was divided between Ephraim and Manasseh. To Ephraim was allotted a fertile and beautiful district, nevertheless a place of difficulty because it still lay in the power of the Canaan ites. The territory of Manasseh was indicated, and then Ephraim and Manasseh, being discontented, complained to Joshua. His answer was characteristic. He knew the weakness of these tribes, and that they would become strong only by conflict. He instructed them to go up to the mountain and cut down the trees, and drive out the foes, and so enlarge their borders by cultivating their possession, rather than by seeking new ground. After rebuking the seven tribes for being slow to possess the land, Joshua erected the tabernacle at Shiloh. He then appointed three men from every tribe to divide the land into seven parts. One of these portions was allotted to each of the remaining tribes. The first of the seven fell to Benjamin. Then follows an account of the portions of the rest — Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan. When all had been provided Joshua asked and obtained his portion.
Having thus come into possession of the land, the cities of refuge were provided according to the arrangements already made.
Following these the Levites made application for their cities and pasturage, and the rulers and the people made ready response. Jacob's prophecy concerning Simeon and Levi, "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel," was fulfilled in the case of Levi, in the scattering of the tribe through all the others. This second division of the book ends with the statement that the Lord gave, and they possessed the land. His promise to them was fulfilled. No man had been able to stand before them. Their enemies had been wholly delivered into their hands. They never completely realized the purpose of God in these matters. The failure, however, was wholly due to their own disobedience, and the record at this point fittingly closes with the declaration of the fidelity of God: "There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." Failure to possess what God gives is always that of His people, and never the result of unwillingness or weakness on His part.
At the close of the war the two and a half tribes returned to their possession on the other side of the Jordan. As they departed Joshua commended them for their fulfilment of their promise, and charged tliem to be loyal to Jehovah. As the time for Joshua's passing approached, he twice gathered the people together, and delivered farewell messages. The burden of the first was that of the power and faithfulness of God, with an earnest desire for the faithfulness of the people to Him. His warnings were perhaps more fiery and searching than those of Moses. The address was a wonderful revelation of the strength of that man, and of that strength as consisting in his acute consciousness of the relationship of the people to Jehovah, and his consequent passion for their loyalty to His law. The second time he gathered them to Shechem. In his final address he traced their history from the call of Abraham to the then present time, emphasizing the fact that everything of greatness in their history was of God. He finally charged them, "now, therefore, fear the Lord, and serve Him." There was a fine touch of courageous irony in the appeal which followed. If they would not serve God he called them to choose whom they would serve. Would they go back to the gods of their fathers beyond the river, or would they turn to the gods of the Amorites, in whose land they dwelt? He ended by declaring, "As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord."
The book closes with death - the death of Joshua, the second great leader, and the death of Eleazar, the second priest. Yet in the midst of the darkness of death there is something almost weird and yet full of the suggestion of hope - the bones of Joseph were buried in the land.
Part A: THE CONQUEST OF THE LAND - Joshua 1:1-12:24
A.1. Mobilisation - Josh. 1:1-2:24
- The Call to Arms - 1:1-1:18
- God's Call to Joshua - 1:1-1:9
- Joshua's Call to the People - 1:10-1:18
- The Mission of the Spies - 2:1-2:24
A.2. Advance - Josh. 3:1-5:15
- Crossing of the Jordan - 3:1-4:24
- The Crossing - 3:1-3:17
- The Final Movements - 4:1-4:24
- Ceremonies of Consecration - 5:1-5:15
A.3. War - Josh. 6:1-11:23
- Jericho - 6:1-6:27
- Ai - 7:1-8:35
- Defeat "But" - 7:1-7:26
- Victory - 8:1-8:35
- Beth-horon - 9:1-10:43
- The Deceit of the Gibeonites - 9:1-9:27
- The Defeat of Five Kings - 10:1-10:27
- The Following Conquests - 10:28-10:43
- The Northern Kings - 11:1-11:23
A.4. Extent of the Conquest - Josh. 12:1-12:24
Part B: THE SETTLEMENT OF THE PEOPLE - Joshua 13:1-21:45
B.1. Settlement according to Mosaic Promise - Josh. 13:1-14:15
- The two-and-a-half Tribes - 13:1-13:33
- The Possession of Caleb - 14:1-14:15
B.2. Settlement of nine-and-a-half Tribes - Josh. 15:1-19:51
- Judah - 15:1-15:63
- Ephraim - 16:1-16:10
- Manasseh - 17:1-17:18
- Benjamin - 18:1-18:28
- The Rest - 19:1-19:51
B.3. Settlement of Cities of Refuge and Levites - Josh. 20:1-21:45
- Cities of Refuge - 20:1-20:9
- The Levites - 21:1-21:45
Part C: JOSHUA'S FAREWELL - Joshua 22:1-24:33
C.1. The Two-and-a-half Tribes - Josh. 22:1-22:34
C.2. Farewell Addresses - Josh. 23:1-24:15
- First Address - 23:1-23:16
- Second Address - 24:1-24:15
C3. Final Things - Josh. 24:16-24:33
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.