JOSHUA, BOOK OF

JOSHUA, BOOK OF, the first book of the Former Prophets, which relates the conquest of canaan and its early settlement from the death of moses to the death of joshua . The Book of Joshua is divided into three main sections: the conquest of the land (chs. 1–12); the division of the land among the tribes and the establishment of cities of refuge for the levites (chs. 13–21); and the final chapters, which include the negotiations with the tribes dwelling east of the Jordan and the covenant at Shechem (chs. 22–24). (See Table: Book of Joshua – Contents.) book of joshua contents BOOK OF JOSHUA – CONTENTS   1:1–12:24 The Conquest of Canaan 1:1–5:12 Crossing the Jordan. 5:13–8.35 First conquests (Jericho, Ai). 9:1–10:27 Success in south-central Canaan. 10:28–43 Southern campaign. 11:1–15 Northern campaign. 11:16–12:24 Summary of conquest. 13:1–21:43 Allotment of the land 13:1–6 Land still unconquered. 13:7–33 Inheritance of Transjordanian tribes. 14:1–19:51 Allotment of Canaan. 20:1–9 Cities of refuge. 21:1–43 Levitical cities. 22:1–34 Departure of Transjordanian tribes 23:1–24:33 Joshua's last days 23:1–16 Joshua's farewell address. 24:1–28 Covenant at Shechem. 24:29–31 Death and burial of Joshua. 24:32–33 Two burial traditions: Joseph's at Shechem, Eleazar's at Gibeah. -THE COMPOSITION OF THE BOOK According to talmudic tradition, "Joshua wrote his own book" (BB 14b), although the talmudic sages found it necessary to add the qualification that Joshua's death was recorded by eleazar son of Aaron, and the latter's death by his son phinehas (BB 15a). No mention of the author is made in the book itself, and the statement that "Joshua wrote these things in a record of divine teaching" (24:26) does not refer to the book in its entirety but only to the last section concerning the covenant. Both the date and the editing of the book are subjects of controversy. The traditional exegetes (Rashi, 15:14–16; Rashi and David Kimhi, 19:47; Levi b. Gershom, Judg. 1:10) held that most of the book is from the time of Joshua, but mentioned additional details from a later period, which were added in subsequent generations, such as the Danites' wanderings northward (19:37) and the conquest by Caleb and Othniel (15:14–19), who also lived after the time of Joshua (Judg. 1:10–13). Abrabanel rejected this view. According to him the statement "until this day" which recurs throughout the book (Josh. 4:9; 5:9; 7:26; 8:28; 9:27; 13:13; 14:14; 15:63; 16:10) reflects a distinct lapse between the events themselves and their description in the book. An additional important proof, according to him, is provided by the mention of the Book of Jashar (10:13), which is not very early since it contains David's lament over Saul and Jonathan (II Sam. 1:18). For this reason, Abrabanel held that the author of the book was probably the prophet Samuel; "and if you desire … to agree with the words of the sages, you would have to say that Jeremiah … or Samuel collected these sayings, arranged them in a book, and added to them with God's benevolent aid" (Introduction to commentary to Former Prophets). There are significant differences between the Hebrew and   Greek texts of Joshua. Fragments of Joshua have been found at Qumran (see in Ahituv, 28–37). These demonstrate that the text of Joshua was somewhat fluid as late as the Hasmonean period and perhaps even later. A group of scholars suggest that the Book of Joshua be considered, together with the Five Books of Moses, as part of a six-book literary creation, or Hexateuch. There is no consensus concerning the P, D, E and J sources found in the book (see pentateuch ). Some scholars hold that not all of the conjectured Pentateuchal sources are represented here. Beatrice Goff thinks that the bulk of the J source for the story of Joshua's conquest of the land has been lost. W. Rudolph denies the existence of the E source in Joshua. A. Alt and M. Noth assume that the first part consists of stories of various origins edited about 900 B.C.E. by one editor, while the second part consists of two separate geopolitical documents, one dating from the end of the period of the Judges, the other from Josiah's time, both of which were combined and edited near the end of the pre-Exilic period. Then during the Babylonian Exile, the Deuteronomist combined these disparate sources and added a historical framework. Finally, some sections were added from the P source, while other small additions were made before the book assumed its present form. For an updated summary of scholarly opinions on Joshua see Auld in Bibliography. Y. Kaufmann disagrees with all these theories and maintains the unity and antiquity of the Book of Joshua. He is of the opinion that the Book of Joshua correctly reflects the historical events of the conquest and early settlement of Canaan and was written soon after these events took place. The geographical chapters also belong to the period of early conquest; they are partially a realistic description and partly a utopian ideal – a plan that was only partially realized. The current consensus based on extensive excavation of biblical Israel is that the conquest is unhistorical (see History: Beginning until the Monarchy ). As such Kaufmann's views cannot be sustained. Other solutions must be sought for the differing "maps" in the book. The commentary by Ahituv is extremely helpful in identifying the many geographic sites in Joshua. (Yohanan Aharoni / S. David Sperling (2nd ed.) -THE CONTENT OF THE BOOK The Conquest of the land of canaan (chs. 1–12) The book introduces Joshua as continuing the work of Moses (1:1–9), beginning preparations for crossing the jordan , and calling upon the tribes who settled east of the Jordan to participate in the war of conquest (1:10–18). After sending the spies to jericho (ch. 2), the crossing of the Jordan is described (chs. 3–4). It is followed by the description of the circumcision of the people at Gibeath ha-Araloth and the Passover festival in gilgal (ch. 5). Then stories are told about the miraculous conquest of Jericho (ch. 6) and the destruction of ai , after the punishment of achan in the valley of Achor (ch. 7; 8:1–29); the construction of the altar on Mt. Ebal (8:30–35); the covenant with the cities of gibeon (Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-Jearim, ch. 9); the victory over the alliance of the five amorite kings of the Judean hills and the lowland (Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, lachish , and eglon ), and their flight from Gibeon, through Beth-Horon, to the valley of Aijalon, Azekah, and Makkedah; the conquest of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish (despite the help of the king of Gezer), Eglon, and debir (ch. 10); and finally the victory at the waters of Merom over the alliance of the northern kings (hazor , Madon, Shimron, and Achshaph) and the capture of Hazor (11:1–15). The description of the wars concludes with a summary of the battles, the conquered areas (11:16–12:6), and a listing of the vanquished Canaanite kings. In this section, the editor wove several battle stories into a geographical and contextual unit in order to depict a single campaign of conquest under Joshua's leadership. It would appear that this is actually a selection of stories about the conquest, as is apparent from the concluding catalog of vanquished Canaanite kings (12:9–24). This list includes the cities mentioned in the stories of the conquest, such as Jericho and Ai; the alliances of southern and northern cities; cities which do not appear in the biblical stories, such as Geder (Gerar?), Hormah, arad , and Adullam in the south, beth-el , Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek in the Sharon (according to LXX), Tirzah in the central area, and Taanach, megiddo , Kedesh, Jokneam, and Dor in the north; and finally the king of Goiim in Gilgal (according to the LXX in Galilee: i.e., king of the region (Heb. galil) of Goiim). There undoubtedly were stories about the conquest of these cities which were not handed down. Most scholars believe that the stories of the battles originally were related to individual tribes and were only associated with Joshua, and with Israel as a whole, at a later period. Such earlier sources are preserved mainly in Judges 1 and in a few sections in the Book of Joshua, e.g., the conquest of Hebron and Debir which is attributed to Caleb and Othniel (Josh. 15:13–19; 21:12–15), to Judah (Judg. 1:10–11), and finally to Joshua and all of Israel (Josh. 10:36–39). Other cities appearing in the concluding list (ch. 12) were captured, according to Judges (1:16–17, 22–26), by individual tribes: Arad by the Kenites, Hormah by Simeon, and Beth-El by the house of Joseph. Judges 1:4ff. describes a separate campaign launched by Judah against Jerusalem via Bezek and from there to the Judean hills, which concludes with the words "and he drove out the inhabitants of the hill-country; for he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron" (1:19). Among the modern scholars, G.E. Wright prefers the tradition in the Book of Joshua because it presents a total viewpoint in comparison with the fragmentary contradictory data of Judges 1; the progress of the conquest is logical both circumstantially and topographically, and archaeological investigations, particularly in the mounds of the plains, have disclosed ruins dating from the 13th century B.C.E., i.e., the period of Joshua. However, it is impossible to deduce from the ruins of a city whether the destruction was accomplished by individual tribes or as part of a unified campaign of conquest. Nor can   the ruins be dated with absolute certainty, so that one cannot rule out the possibility that some towns, such as Lachish, continued to exist until the beginning of the 12th century B.C.E. While it is clear that the editor of the Book of Joshua organized the chapters in logical topographical fashion, this does not necessarily indicate that the events themselves occurred in this same order. Other scholars, such as W.F. Albright, associate the stories of the conquest with the various waves of immigration by different tribes; in his opinion archaeological findings prove the basic historicity of the stories. While the date of Jericho's destruction has not been established with certainty, it is clear that its great decline preceded the period of Joshua. A more complicated problem has arisen in the excavation of ai (et-Tell); it is clear that a large city existed there in the early Canaanite period and was destroyed about 1,000 years before Joshua's time. Albright assumes that there was a confusion between the stories of Ai and Beth-El (Josh. 8:17; cf. 8:9, 12). A. Vincent conjectures that the men of beth-el temporarily defended themselves in the destroyed city of Ai; others doubt the identification of Ai with et-Tell – but all these are tenuous guesses. Only the destruction of Beth-El, Lachish, Eglon (Tell el-Hesi), Debir (Tell Beit Mirsim?), and Hazor can be dated approximately to the 13th century B.C.E. Various scholars assume that some of the stories in the Book of Joshua are only etiological legends created in order to explain the existence of outstanding objects in the landscape, as is evident in the emphatic reference to the existence of these objects "unto this very day" at the end of each section, e.g., the stones in the midst of the Jordan (4:9), the house of rahab in Jericho (6:25), the heap of stones in the valley of achor (7:26), the mound of ruins known as Ai (8:2–8), the heap of stones at the conjectured gate of the city (8:29), the inferior condition of the Gibeonites (9:27), and the great stones by the mouth of the cave in Makkedah (10:27). A. Alt and M. Noth view most of these stories as purely etiological legends and believe that only the stories about the wars of Gibeon and the waters of Merom have an historical basis. The Gibeonite war was apparently associated with Joshua, since he became, in the course of time, the central figure in the stories of the conquest, a result of this decisive victory in the center of the country. In the light of archaeological excavations, one cannot doubt the conquest of the southern cities. Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, and Makkedah were neighboring cities on the plain which evidently fell to the families of Judah at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 12th century B.C.E. Hebron and Debir were conquered at about the same time by the families of Caleb and Kenaz. The battle of the waters of Merom undoubtedly reflects an historical event, but it should be associated only with the tribes of Galilee. The Division of the Land Among the Tribes and the Establishment of Cities of Refuge and the Cities of the Levites (chs. 13–21) These chapters constitute the richest collection of geographical source material in the Bible. They include "the remaining land" which was not conquered by the Israelite tribes (13:1–6); a description of the portions of Reuben and Gad, whose lands lay east of the Jordan (13:7–32); and after an introduction (ch. 14), a description of the lands of Judah (ch. 15), Ephraim (ch. 16), and Manasseh (ch. 17), with introductory and closing remarks which pertain exclusively to the households of Joseph (17:1–4; 14–18). The last seven tribes are apportioned their lands by casting lots at Shiloh before the Lord (18:1–10; 19:51): Benjamin (18:11–28), Simeon (19:1–9), Zebulun (19:10–16), Issachar (19:17–23), Asher (19:24–31), Naphtali (19:32–39), and Dan (19:40–48). The catalog ends with an enumeration of the cities of refuge (ch. 20) and of the 48 cities of the Levites, which were given to them as an inheritance by the 12 tribes of Israel (ch. 21). Most scholars now generally agree that this is a collection of geographical and administrative documents dating from various periods which were gathered together in order to describe the inheritances of the tribes. One can differentiate among the following documents: A DESCRIPTION OF THE "REMAINING LAND" (13:1–6) The editor made use of the document in order to introduce the subject of the land which is to be inherited and divided among the tribes. In fact, this is a document completing the boundaries of the tribes and describing those regions of the land of Canaan (cf. Num. 34) which "remained" and were not settled by the Israelite tribes, e.g., all the Philistine provinces from the Egyptian border to north of Ekron; the Phoenician-Sidonian coastal area, from Misrephoth (-Maim, or reading Misrephoth-Miyyam) on the west to the Amorite border in the northern area of Lebanon; and all of Lebanon and the valley of the Lebanese from Baal-Gad at the foot of Mount Hermon to the Lebo-Hamath at the northern limit of Canaan (cf. Num. 34:8; Judg. 3:3). THE BOUNDARIES OF THE tribes A. Alt distinguished two separate documents, different in type and in date, describing the territories of the tribes, the tribal boundaries, and the lists of towns. The boundary descriptions consist of a series of consecutive border points on the four corners of the tribal territory. M. Noth showed, through a comparison of parallel sections in the documents, that the original document only enumerated the border points, the connecting verbs between points being added at a later period. The list of boundaries includes the following sections: Judah (15:1–12), the house of Joseph (16:1–3), Ephraim (16:5–8), Manasseh (17:7–10), Benjamin (18:12–20), Zebulun (19:10–14), Asher (19:25–29), and Naphtali (19:33–34). The document therefore contains only the boundaries of seven tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh are included in the house of Joseph); the others – Simeon, Issachar, Dan, and the tribes east of the Jordan – are missing. Noth attempted to prove that the lists of towns belonging to Issachar, Reuben, and Gad are the original boundary descriptions in which the connecting verbs are missing; but there would not seem to be any basis for this theory. The descriptions vary in detail; they are more specific in the case of the southern tribes and briefer   for the northern tribes. The most detailed description is that of the boundary between Judah and Benjamin in the area of Jebus (= Jerusalem; 15:8; 18:16), which ran south of the city, an integral part of the area of Benjamin. On the basis of the detailed description of the border in the Jerusalem area, Albright and others hold that the list does not predate the time of David, who captured Jerusalem. Alt surmises that the list predates the monarchy and comprises both the actual situation and the theoretical Israelite claims to territories still held by the Canaanites (similarly to Judg. 1:27–35). S. Mowinckel, on the other hand, claims that one cannot conceive of a union of tribes, which would include both Israel and Judah, in the period of the Judges. None of these hypotheses has taken the connection between the list of tribal boundaries and the borders of the land of Canaan into consideration (Num. 34) – the southern border of Judah is none other than the southern border of Canaan (Josh. 15:2–4; Num. 34:3–5), and as the Jordan is the eastern border of Canaan, it serves as the boundary of the tribes which have no portion east of the Jordan. It therefore seems that the list did not include Judah (its northern boundary is the southern boundary of Benjamin, and its remaining – theoretical – boundaries are the borders of Canaan) and that it originated in the alliance of the six tribes of the hill-country of Ephraim and Galilee (cf. Judg. 1:27–35; 5:14–18; 6:35). These, then, are the tribes of Israel (as opposed to Judah) as they appear at the beginning of the monarchial period. It would seem that these boundaries were established by the league of tribes whose center was Shiloh (18:8; 19:51) and that the original document included detailed descriptions of the boundary points. It was the Judahite editor who shortened them to their present form. Therefore, no chronological and substantive conclusions can be drawn from the more detailed bits of boundary description. THE TOWN LISTS Alt was the first to identify the list of the Judean cities in chapter 15 as a list of the 12 regions of the kingdom of Judah. In his opinion the list included the Judahite cities (15:21–62), arranged in geographical groupings in the south, the lowland, the hill region, and the wilderness, together with the district of beth-lehem , which is preserved only in the Septuagint (v. 59), and the towns of Benjamin (18:21–28) and of Dan (19:41–46). In view of the enlarged territory of the kingdom as reflected in this regional list, Alt dated it to the reign of Josiah. Alt's basic assumption has been accepted by many scholars, but with some modifications. F.M. Cross and G.E. Wright are opposed to the inclusion of the towns of Dan in the list; they believe that the list dates from the time of jehoshaphat (II Chron. 17:2) and includes the region of Beth-El, which was conquered in the time of his grandfather, abijah (II Chron. 13:19). However, from the days of Abijah to those of Jehoshaphat territorial changes occurred in the boundaries of Judah and Israel (I Kings 15:17–22). It therefore appears that only the southern group of Benjaminite cities (18:25–28) belongs to the list of the regions of Judah, while the northern group (18:21–24) comprises the towns of Benjamin, which belonged to the kingdom of Israel. In this form, a description of Judah does, in fact, reflect the age of Jehoshaphat or Uzziah rather than that of Josiah. The remainder of the town lists are apparently associated with the regional division of the northern kingdom of Israel as it crystallized from the time of solomon (I Kings 4:7–12). The absence of city lists for the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh suggested to Alt that the lists of the cities of the tribes of Galilee are derived from a description of the Assyrian province of megiddo , which was formed in the days of tiglath-pileser III and comprised these regions. CITIES OF REFUGE (CH. 20) The list of the cities of refuge is associated with the ancient law of blood vengeance and the establishment of places of sanctuary for the accidental man-slayer (Deut. 4:41–43; 19:1–13). Three cities of refuge were established east of the Jordan River (Bezer, Ramoth-Gilead, and Golan; cf. Deut. 4:43) and three west of the Jordan (Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron). The formulation of the law apparently belongs to the conjectured D source with additions from the P document, but there is no evidence for the establishment of these sacred sites during the period of Josiah or the Babylonian Exile. More likely is the view of I. Lohr and Y. Kaufmann that the list is early and belongs to the period of the Judges or of the united kingdom. The Levite Cities (ch. 21) The list of the levitical cities concludes the collection of geographical documents in the Book of Joshua. S. Klein and Albright have shown that the composition of the list indicates that it dates from the united kingdom. Based on the parallel version in I Chronicles 6:39–66, Albright reconstructed an original version consisting of 48 cities – four in each tribe (see Num. 35:1–8; Josh. 21:41). Alt showed that the list consists mainly of cities in the border areas and the Canaanite regions; B. Mazar suggested the identification of them as centers of administration to which levite families from Judah, loyal to the house of David, were appointed "for all the business of the Lord and for the service of the king" (I Chron. 26:30–32). It is thus understandable why the levite families were expelled from their towns in the kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam and were resettled in Judah by Rehoboam (II Chron. 11:13–14). The Concluding Chapters (22–24) These chapters include the negotiations with the Transjordanian tribes concerning the altar in the region of the Jordan (ch. 22), Joshua's concluding address (ch. 23), the covenant in Shechem (24:1–20), the death of Joshua and of Eleazar the Priest, and the transfer of Joseph's bones and their burial in Shechem (24:29–33). Construction of the Altar in the Region of the Jordan The introduction (22:1–8), which evidently belongs mainly to the supposed D source, associates the construction of the altar with the period of the return of the Transjordanian tribes from the wars of conquest in the land of Canaan. The story itself (22:9–34) belongs mainly to the P source. The Transjordanian   tribes – apparently, at first only Reuben and Gad (22:25, 33, 34) – build an altar "in the forefront of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that pertains to the children of Israel" (22:11). This arouses the suspicions of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh who consequently send a delegation to Gilead. In response, the Transjordanian tribes state that it is not their intent to rebel against the Lord, but rather that the altar was constructed as a witness to the tie between them and the remaining tribes; they feared that future generations should say that they had no part in the worship of the Lord since they did not dwell in the land of Canaan. There is hardly a basis for the theory that this is a later tradition which belongs to the period of the unification of the cult. It refers rather to the fear of the Transjordanian tribes, who live outside the land of Canaan (Num. 34), and to the boundaries of the tribes (see above). JOSHUA'S FINAL ADDRESS AND THE SIGNING OF THE CONVENANT IN SHECHEM Most scholars see a redundancy in chapters 23–24; they associate chapter 23 with the D source and the Shechem covenant (ch. 24) with an earlier source (according to some, the E document). Alt and Noth hold that the covenant of Shechem was connected from the beginning with the historical figure of Joshua, through whom the Sinai covenant was extended to include the tribes who lived in Canaan and had not originally participated in it. The covenant of Shechem is the appropriate conclusion to the Book of Joshua and the zenith of Joshua's accomplishments. It is therefore possible to assume, according to Alt, that "the victor in battle against the Canaanites, and the judge of disputes among the tribes, is also the man who, in the dawn of Israel's existence, set it upon the firm foundation of its history by uniting it about a new sanctuary of the Lord in the heart of the land." (Yohanan Aharoni) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: COMMENTARIES: H.W. Hertzberg (Ger., 19592); G.A. Cooke (Eng., 1913); M. Noth (Ger., 19532); R.P. Fourmond and J. Steinmann (Fr., 1960); J.J. de Vault (Eng., 1960); Y. Kaufmann (Heb., 1964); GENERAL: O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, an Introduction (1965), 248–57 (incl. bibl.); EM, 3 (1965), 543–63 (incl. bibl.); J. Garstang, Joshua, Judges (1931); C. Rabin et al. (eds.), Iyyunim be-Sefer Yehoshu'a (1960); SPECIAL TREATMENTS: Alt, Kl Schr. 1 (1953), 176–202; Y. Kaufmann, The Biblical Account of the Conquest of Palestine (1953); K. Moehlenbrink, in: ZAW, 56 (1938), 238–68; S. Mowinckel, Zur Frage nach dokumentarischen Quellen in Joshua xiiixix (1946); Noth, in: F. Noetscher Festschrift (1950), 152–67; Dornseiff, in: ZDMG, 93 (1939), 296–305; Goff, in: JBL, 53 (1934), 241–9; Wright, in: JNES, 5 (1946), 105–14; Mendenhall, in: BA, 25 (1962), 66–86; Aharoni, Land, 73–83, 174–239. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Boling, in ABD, 3, 1002–15; A.G. Auld, in: DBI, 1:625–32 (history of interpretation with extensive bibliography); W. Koopmans, Joshua 24 as Poetic Narrative (1990); S. Ahituv, Joshua (1995); M. Anbar, Joshua and the Covenant at Shechem (1999).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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