Monday, August 31, 2009

What's In The Book: Joshua

The Book of Joshua (Yehoshua) is the first of the ten books known as Nevi'im, the Books of the Prophets. It begins after Moses’ death, when Joshua bin Nun assumed the leadership of the Children of Israel and led the people into the promised land.

Joshua not only led the Children of Israel in their upcoming military expedition, but also served as their spiritual guide. In this new stage of the Jewish people’s experience, they would no longer have the everyday miracles (manna, water, protective cloud) of the wilderness to sustain them.

Their entry into the Land of Canaan (Chapter 3) began with a miracle. As the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Jordan River, the waters of the Jordan stopped flowing and, as with the Red Sea, the Children of Israel crossed on dry land.

After crossing the Jordan, four days before celebrating Passover, all the men of Israel underwent circumcision, which they had been unable to perform in the wilderness due to medical considerations. They were then ready to begin conquering the Holy Land.

Much of the Book of Joshua is a detailed account of the conquest and distribution of the land to the Tribes. This includes the famous Battle of Jericho (Chapters 5 and 6). Joshua and the army of Israel circled the city seven times before sounding the shofar and watching the walls come tumbling down.

The war with the 31 Canaanite city-states lasted for 7 years. While not all cities were conquered, the Israelites became the dominant force in the land.

Once the conquest concluded, Joshua allotted the land to the various tribes. Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe, however, settled east of the Jordan River.

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