JOSHUA, jesh'yu-a: An Ephraimite, son of Nun, servant and helper of Moses (Ex. xxiv. 13), and his successor in the leadership of Israel (Num. xxvii. 18-23). On assuming the leadership, Joshua sent spies who were entertained by Rahab in Jericho, and on their return reported the situation in Canaan (Josh. i. 10-ii. 24). He then ordered preparations to be made for the invasion, which took place on the tenth day of the first month of the forty-first year after the exodus from Egypt. It has been said that Joshua used the fords of the Jordan; but the place and the season of the year are unfavorable to this supposition, since at that time the Jordan overflows its banks (Josh. iii. 15; I Chron. xii. 15). According to the narrative the upper waters of the river stayed as if dammed up, while the lower waters flowed off into the Dead Sea. The suggestion of Klostermann that the phenomenon may have been caused by a severe earthquake which raised the bed of the river or produced a landslide across the river bed, which was afterward carried away by the flood, offers a natural explanation of the way in which the river was crossed dry-footed. To preserve the memory of this crossing, the leader had twelve atones carried from the bed of the river and set up at Gilgal, midway between the river and Jericho (Josh. iv. 1-8, 20-24). The people were then circumcised and the feast of the Passover was celebrated. The promise made to Joshua that Yahweh, the leader of the host of the people which had become Yahweh's, would be his helper was fulfilled in the taking of Jericho, the walls of which were thrown down in an earthquake (Josh. v. 13-xxx. vi.), while of the inhabitants only Rahab and her family were saved alive. The punishment of Achan and the treaty secured by the Gibeonites' device followed. According to Deut. xxvii., after the capture of Ai


Joshua led the people in a northerly direction to Ebal and Gerizim, and overcame a combination of Canaanites gathered to punish Gibson for its treaty with Israel, on which occasion occurred what has been read as a miracle in the staying of the sun and the moon in their courses, to be interpreted probably as a subjective effect of the quickness and completeness of the victory (Josh. x. 1-14). This was followed by the conquest of the southern part of the land as far as Kadesh-barnea and westward to Gaza (Josh. x. 29 sqq.), succeeded by a third campaign in which the kings of the northern cities were subdued near Merom. While by these wars the country was won, with the exception of the Philistine and Phenician coast, not all was actually in the possession of the Hebrews; and several years after the ending of the campaigns Joshua's seat of government was still at Gilgal (Josh. xiv. 6).

It was at this place that Joshua's second task was begun--the division of the land among the tribes. Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh first received their allotments, and the ark was carried from Gilgal to Shiloh in Benjamin (Josh. xv.xviii. 1). This was followed by the allotment of the portions to the other tribes, and the permission to the East-Jordan tribes to return to their own district, having fulfilled their duty to the tribes west of the river (Josh. xviii.-xxii.). In anticipation of his death Joshua gathered first the elders and then the people at Shechem to receive his last instructions, which he commemorated by a pillar or stone under the terebinth at Shechem (Josh. xxiv. 26-27). He died at the age of one hundred and ten.

(W. VOLCK†.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. H. Stähelin, in TSK, xxiv (1849). 394 sqq.; J. Sockel, Die Eroberung des heitigen Landes durch Josua, Gleiwitz, 1870; J. B. Meyer, Joshua and the Land of Promise, London, 1893; and the literature under JOSHUA, BOOK OF.


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