Studies in Joshua, chapters 1-3


Each book of the Bible has a prominent and dominant theme.

Whatever that leading subject may be, we should endeavor by all means to familiarize ourselves with it.

For example, Genesis is the book of beginnings.

Every major doctrine of the NT is found in embryo form in Genesis.

Exodus is the book of redemption, deliverance.

Departure of the Hebrews from Egypt.

Redemption is first of all by blood (Passover).

Secondly by power shown in God’s amazing power in deliverance and preservation in the wilderness.

Leviticus is the book of worship.

God gives instruction relative to fellowship and worship. In type the book is full of Christ, especially His sacrifice and High Priesthood.

Numbers depicts the walk and wanderings of the Jews in the Wilderness.

Typical of the believers walk today.

Deuteronomy is the book in which Moses reviewed the past and gave instructions for the future.

The old generation had died in the wilderness. Moses is now acquainting the new generation with the law and the claims of God upon them. The word “remember” occurs 14 times, “hear” over 30, and “do” over 100 times.

Obedience to God is the theme.

To arrive at the aforementioned conclusions entails extensive reading and research and prayerful consideration.

To know our subject we must be thoroughly acquainted with it.

So then I suggest that you read the Book of Joshua in a prayerful and expectant manner.

Joshua has a unique place in the annum of Scripture.

The Last Days Of Joshua's Leadership, Joshua 21-24

We may consider these closing chapters of the book of Joshua as a group, as the matters with which they deal are all so intimately linked together. In chapter 21 we read of the separation of forty-eight cities from among the various tribes of Israel, which were allotted to the Levites. In chapter 22 we get the return of the warriors of the two and a half tribes to the homes which had already been given to them by Moses on the east of the Jordan. In chapters 23 and 24 we listen to Joshua as he seeks solemnly to impress upon the nation, which he had led into the possession of the land, the importance of cleaving closely to the Word of the Lord and not being turned aside through following any of the customs of the surrounding nations.

The Cities Of Refuge, Joshua 20

It is very evident that God has hidden some special lessons for us in the types of the City of Refuge, of which we now read in chapter 20, as otherwise we would find ourselves wondering why they are mentioned so frequently. In four previous passages the Spirit of God drew the attention of Israel to the importance of these cities and the expression of His grace toward the unwitting or unintentional manslayer in Israel. First, we have the brief intimation in Exodus 21:13, telling Israel that when they reached the land, God would provide such a refuge: “And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.” Then we have much fuller information in Numbers 35: verses 6 and 9-28:

“And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.

The Inheritance Of The Tribes And The Story Of Othniel And Achsah, Joshua 15-19

We come now to a portion of the book of Joshua which, while it would richly repay careful and minute examination, we must pass over cursorily because of the nature of these messages. In chapters 15 to 19 we have the account of the division of the land west of the Jordan among the nine and one-half tribes that had not chosen to remain in the country of Bashan and the land of Gilead on the east side of the river, as had the two and one-half tribes, who found there such fine accommodation for pasturing their great herds of cattle. They preferred to settle down in the countries taken from Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Am-orites, and Moses gave them that permission, as we have seen, providing their warriors went into the land to help their brethren against the Canaanites.

Caleb, The Wholehearted, Or The Energy Of Faith, Joshua 13 And 14

The wars of Canaan were largely at an end. Israel had to a great extent found at least temporary rest in the land that God had promised them. We know from the history that follows that this condition, however, did not continue. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we are told, “If Jesus had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another rest.” Many, perhaps, have not realized that Jesus and Joshua are the same: that is, Joshua is the Hebrew form of the name that our blessed Lord bore here on earth. Jesus is an anglicization of the Greek form. So the passage in Hebrews is referring to the rest into which Joshua led the people, which did not prove to be lasting because of the faithlessness of Israel, and yet in the beginning of their history there was certainly much to give them confidence as they saw how marvelously God undertook for them.

As the thirteenth chapter opens we hear the Lord addressing Joshua, now an aged man. God said to him:

Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.

Then in the rest of the chapter we have pointed out vast tracks of the land not yet settled by Israel, even though they had to a very large extent overcome their enemies and taken possession of many of their cities and villages.

We learn too of the judgment meted out to Balaam, who sought to destroy Israel by giving evil advice to Balak. Verse 22 tells us also,

Balaam did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.

Several of the tribes had already obtained their inheritance, but the others had not yet taken possession of the land that was to be allotted to them; and so the challenge was given: “There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.”

God's Word Tested And Proven, Joshua 11 And 12

Admittedly these chapters and most of those to follow do not lend themselves readily to expository preaching. Yet we would not forget that “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable”; so we may be sure that these portions were written for our admonition and have in them precious lessons we cannot afford to pass over lightly.

In the opening verses of chapter 11 we read of the second, and, as it turned out, the last great coalition of Canaanite nations that Joshua and the Lord’s host had to face before they could take possession of their promised inheritance. This time it was a confederation headed by Jabin, king of Hazor, and with him were associated Jobab, king of Madon, and the kings or sheiks who held authority over the tribes on the north of the mountains of Palestine and in the great plains south of Chinneroth, that is, the sea of Galilee. The Canaanites who dwelt in the east and on the west, and the remnants of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Hivites also sent their quotas. It was a formidable host indeed, but Joshua went out to meet them strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; and the result is given us in verses 6 to 9:

And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

When The Sun Stood Still, Joshua 10

The evil effects of the unhappy alliance with the men of Gibeon soon began to be manifested. When the nations of the contiguous territories learned what had taken place, they formed a confederation, headed by Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, and set out to attack Gibeon, as a warning to the people of other districts, not to make peace with Israel. This at once led the Gibeonites to call for help from their new allies, and in order to redeem their pledges it became necessary for Joshua to lead the host of the Lord up from Gilgal to attack the confederated armies. Had it not been for the blunder into which they had been betrayed by failing to consult the Lord, they would not have had to meet so vast an army at one time, but the conquest of Canaan would have proceeded in a more orderly way as city after city should have fallen before them, even as Jericho and Ai had done.

We have seen that the seven nations of Canaan, who were determined to contest Israel’s right to take possession of the land, picture for us the spiritual foes who ever seek to hinder our entering into the enjoyment of the inheritance which is ours by title from the moment we are saved. We wrestle not with flesh and blood but with wicked spirits in the heavenlies, the world-rulers of this darkness, or, the rulers of this dark world. Of these Satan is the chief, even as Adonizedek headed up the coalition against Israel.

The Wiles Of The Devil, Joshua 9

It has been well said that “Satan plays with loaded dice.” He knows all the weaknesses of human nature and is an expert in the black art of deception. So in the New Testament believers are exhorted to “put on the whole armour of God, that [they] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph.6:11).

We have a very striking illustration of the devil’s deceptive practices in this ninth chapter of Joshua. As the word went out to the other Canaanite peoples that Jericho and Ai had fallen before the victorious Israelites, the dwellers in a certain Hivite city, named Gibeon, decided that if they would avert the destruction of themselves and their city, they must act at once and that in a manner calculated to mislead Joshua and his forces regarding their identity and the location of their homeland.

So we are told in verses 3 to 6:

And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We become from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.

This was on the part of these Hivites a very clever ruse and it accomplished its purpose, for when the strange-looking “ambassadors” arrived at the camp of Israel in Gilgal, Joshua and his officers were deceived by their appearance and the story that they concocted. The ragged garments, the worn-out sandals, the rotting wine-skins, and the mouldy bread all seemed to authenticate the plea that these Gibeonites made.

The Fall Of Ai And The Proclamation Of The Law, Joshua 8

The present chapter readily divides into two sections. In verses 1 to 29 we have the account of the destruction of Ai. In verses 30 to 35 we read of the proclamation of the law, with the blessings for the obedient and the curses that would fall upon the disobedient.

When God’s people fail to act in accordance with His will the first time they have to face some barrier to progress, they find it far harder to overcome upon making a second effort. Had it not been for hidden sin in the camp, Israel would have overcome Ai very easily, even as they overcame Jericho when they acted in accordance with the Word of the Lord. But when, after dealing with Achan and his covetous household, they prepared to make a second onslaught on the little city by whose inhabitants they had been defeated before, they found it a difficult task indeed which they had to undertake.

We read in verses 1 to 8:

Sin In The Camp, Joshua 7

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

The fall of Jericho in such a miraculous way, without any real effort on Israel’s part, evidently led to overconfidence and forgetfulness of the fact that it was God alone who had destroyed this first barrier to their possession of the land. The next city to be subdued was small compared to Jericho and a detachment sent out to reconnoiter reported that it would be easily captured and that it would be quite unnecessary for the entire host to move against it. So about three thousand men undertook to destroy it, but were defeated ignominiously. We are told they fled before the men of Ai and thirty-six of them were slain. It was a great shock naturally to Joshua and to the people as a whole, but we are told at once of the reason for the defeat.

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