Joshua, who is also referred to as Jehoshua, Yehōšuʿa in Hebrew, Isho and Eesho Bar Non in Aramaic, plays an important role in both the Christian and Hebrew religions and in the Hebrew Bible he has his own chapter, known as the Book of Joshua.
In the Christian Old Testament, Joshua also appears in Exodus and although the two religions different in many ways, both agree that Joshua was Moses’ assistant and after his master’s death he succeeded Moses to become the leader of the Israelite tribes. It is believed that Joshua was born in Egypt some time during the latter part of the Bronze Age and the Hebrew Bible states that he was one of the twelve spies of Israel who were sent by Moses to investigate the land of Canaan.
The name Joshua is English in origin and comes from the name Yehoshua, which means salvation in the Hebrew language. In the modern Greek language his name translates as Jesus son of Naue, with the second part of the name commonly being provided to distinguish him from Jesus son of Mary and Joseph.
Numbers 13:1–16 describes how after the death of Moses Joshua led the Israelite tribes in their pursuit of the conquest of Canaan and once the conquest was successful Joshua set about allocating the Canaan to the different tribes so that they would finally have a land to call their own.
Muslims believe that Moses respected and valued Joshua as he set him the important task of spying on the land of Canaan along with Caleb. In addition to Joshua’s becoming the leader of the Israelites as the successor to Moses, many Muslims believe that Joshua was the revered attendant of Moses, which is mentioned in the Quran.
Joshua plays a significant role in the book of Exodus, which is one of the key books of the Old Testament of the Christian bible. Exodus reveals how Joshua was tasked by Moses with the selection and command of a militia group who would take part in their first battle after leaving Egypt. Exodus 17:8-16 describes how this battle took place in Rephidim against the Amalekites and due to Joshua’s instructions his army were victorious.
The climb to the top of Mount Sinai in order to communicate with God and receive the Ten Commandments from God is one of the most significant and inspiring episodes in Exodus. Joshua was beside Moses during this episode and felt the full force of his wrath when Moses destroyed the Golden Calf when he discovered it had been established as a false icon during his absence.
The Book of Joshua describes how he was appointed by God to succeed Moses as the leader of the Israelites. God also gave Joshua a blessing of invincibility to help him have the necessary strength to perform his duties. It is shown that Joshua was able to perform the same types of miracles as Moses as the waters of the Jordan River parted for him so that Joshua could lead his people safely across.
Not long after crossing the Jordan River, Joshua led his army in the Battle of Jericho. After they were victorious and Jericho had been destroyed, they moved on to the neighbouring city of Ai, where they were defeated. However, it was soon discovered that the defeat was caused because one of the Israelites known as Achan had stolen something from Jericho, causing God to curse Joshua’s army. In order to appease God, Achan and his family as well as all their animals were stoned to death. God was then satisfied and Joshua was able to lead his troupes to victory.
In order to try to defeat Joshua, the Amorite kings of Jerusalem, Eglon, Heron, Lachish and Jarmuth formed an alliance. In order to try and even the odds, Joshua asked God to make the moon and sun and still. God also aided the Israelites in this epic battle by hurling enormous hailstones from the sky and killing a huge number of Canaanites.
The Book of Joshua states that while he was; "old and well advanced in years" Joshua gathered together the chiefs and elders of the Israelites and commanded that they have no camaraderie with the native population as he believed that mixing with people who held different beliefs would cause them to question their faith in God. In fact, loyalty to God was one of Joshua’s strongest themes throughout his life and one of the last things he told the Shechem clans during an assembly was to remain loyal.
As a monument to the promise of the clans to serve God, Joshua placed a gigantic stone under an oak tree. It is recorded that his death occurred shortly after this momentous act and the Book of Joshua 24:29 states that Joshua died at the impressive age of 110 and it is suggested that his long life was due to his reverence and service to God. After his death, Joshua was buried at Timnath-heres, which can be found just to the north of Mount Gaash in the country that is now known as Jordan.
Site text and images are copyright of Tony Gray, 2018.