This is from the biblical primer that I wrote for my Ugandan friends. Below is a brief introduction to the "historical books" of the Old Testament as well as an introduction to the book of Joshua.
The next section of the Old Testament contains history books. These books tell the history of ancient Israel from the time of the conquest of the Promised Land; the rise of the Kings; the division of the Kingdoms (North, Israel, and South, Judah); and the fall of Jerusalem and exile to Babylon. Finally, through Ezra and Nehemiah, these books tell of the return to the Holy Land from exile and the eventual rebuilding of the walls around the holy city and the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This is “holy” or “sacred” history. The authors of the historical books are not concerned with the political process but with the rise and fall and rise of Israel as evidence of their faithfulness (or lack thereof) to the commands of God.
Joshua takes its name from Moses’ successor, Joshua son of Nun, and tells the story of the conquest of Canaan (the Promised Land) and the distribution of the land of Canaan and the trans-Jordan (the land east of the Jordan River) among the tribes of Israel. After many years of wandering in the wilderness and the death of Moses, Israel crosses the Jordan River and begins to take possession of the Promised Land. The book ends with the death of Joshua and the reestablishment of the covenant at Shechem. In the book of Joshua, God is seen as closely involved as a “God of Battles,” whose power is clearly manifest in the conquest. Joshua was written during or shortly following the time of Joshua by an unknown author or authors.
Joshua can be outlined as follows:
· Joshua 1-6 Crossing the Jordan and the destruction of Jericho.
· Joshua 7-10 The conquest of the South (Negev) through battles and alliances
· Joshua 11 A final battle at Hazor in the North completes the conquest.
· Joshua 12 A summary of Joshua’s triumphs.
· Joshua 13-22 Tells of the division of the land among the tribes of Israel.
· Joshua 23-24 Joshua’s farewell discourse and the renewal of the covenant at Shechem
A vital lesson from Joshua, as well as from all of the historical books, is that the nation of Israel’s faithfulness to God leads to security and prosperity. Their unfaithfulness to God leads to destruction.