Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible and is classified as one of the Historical Books. As the first book outside of the Pentateuch, it functions as a kind of turning point by beginning a larger story (through 2 Kings) that tells of Israel's experiences in the land.


Brief outline

  • 1:1-5:15: Crossing into the Land

The Lord speaks first in the book of Joshua. His first initiative is to pass the mantle of leadership from Moses to Joshua, who has been groomed for this very task (see Deut. 31:1-8). Joshua is to lead the people to their inheritance in the Land of Promise, but first barriers must be crossed and relationships restored. (Long)

  • 6:1-12:24: Taking the Land

Now that the Israelites are in the land, they must conquer it. Again, the Lord takes the initiative, his first words underscoring the fact that the land is his gift: "I have given Jericho into your hand" (6:2). Nevertheless, this does not annul the importance of God’s people acting on his commands. In this section, Joshua and Israel on occasion fail in their faithfulness to the Lord. The Lord nevertheless graciously restores them and fights for them (10:42) until the land is taken. (Long)

  • 13:1-21:45: Dividing the Land

As with the first two sections, this third major section in Joshua begins with a divine initiative. The Lord instructs Joshua regarding the division and allocation of the land. Packed with geographical details often lost on modern readers, the boundary descriptions and town lists that characterize this section were doubtless of great interest to ancient Israelites inheriting their allotments in the land. Over time, the tribal allocations presented here undoubtedly became the basis for administrative documents, and these would have been subject to updating as new towns or villages were founded. Despite its historical-geographical content, this lengthy section shows careful literary shaping. (Long)

  • 22:1-24:23: Serving the Lord in the Land

Each of the preceding three major divisions of the book of Joshua receives its impetus from a divine initiative. The Lord instructs; Israel under Joshua’s leadership responds; and the land is entered, taken, and divided. This final section lacks such a beginning. The Lord has already fulfilled all his “good promises” (21:45). Now it is Israel’s turn to respond. In his old age, Joshua charges the people to be united and exclusive in “serving” the Lord alone. (Long)

Book of Joshua in the New Testament

  • Joshua 1:5 Hebrews 13:5
  • Joshua 22:5 in Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; Luke 10:27


  • Long, V. Philips. "Joshua" Study Notes in ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Further reading

  • Hawk, L. D. "Book of Joshua" in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Book, edited by Bill T. Arnold and H. G. M. Williamson, 563-74. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.


  • Hess, Richard. Joshua. TOTC. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
  • Howard Jr., David. Joshua. NAC. Nashville: B&H, 1998.
  • Hubbard, Robert L. Joshua. NIVAC. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
  • Butler, Trent. Joshua. WBC. Revised ed. Thomas Nelson, 2012.

See also