The book of Joshua is named after Joshua (Hoshea) the son of Nun, who was the successor of Moses. Joshua was born in Egypt prior to the Exodus. The book of Joshua gives us the account of how the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan from the east, passing through the river Jordan. The Israelites crossed the Jordan river as the waters miraculously opened for them by the power of God. It also relates how the pagan people groups that made up the Canaanites of the land were conquered, and how their land was divided among the tribes of Israel. The people had been wandering the desert for forty years, the generation who rebelled against God and refused to enter the Promised Land had all died out. In addition, Aaron and Miriam the brother and sister of Moses had also died, and lastly Moses himself has died. However, prior to his death, Moses had passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua.
Joshua was chosen by God to lead the people as the successor to Moses, and God was with Joshua like He was with Moses. However, the Bible tells us it was only with Moses, "that God spoke face to face." Joshua is leading the next generation into the land of Canaan as they crossed the Jordan river. This was a significant moment, because when the previous generation rebelled against God, one of their claims was that God was trying to kill their children in the desert. As part of their discipline, God allowed only their children to be the ones who would enter and conquer the Promised Land.
Prior to entering the Promised Land the kingdoms of Sihon and Og were crushed, these were part of the remnant of the giants. As the people crossed the Jordan river, its then that they truly started to become the nation of Israel. Once crossing the Jordan river the city states of Ai and Jericho crumble, and Joshua leads the people to victory over the southern coalition of city states as well as the northern coalition of city states. At the time of Joshua's death a great deal of Canaan has been conquered and Israel really stands as the dominate power in Canaan. However, there are some western fortifications and some people groups in the mountain regions that have not been taken. These groups loom as a threat to Israel's future. Joshua divides the land, then admonishes the people to continue to follow the Lord and to complete the conquest as the Lord commanded. However, shortly after the death of Joshua and the death of those leaders who supported Joshua, the people fail to heed Joshua's warnings and they abandon the conquest of Canaan.
The Lord commands Joshua to appoint cities of refuge. The use and names of the cities of refuge. The cities given to the Levites. Forty-eight cities were given to the Levites. The Lord according to His promises gave the children of Israel rest. Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh are sent again to their possessions. The children of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh build an altar at the Jordan river border. The children of the remaining tribes of Israel misunderstand the meaning of the altar. The children of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh explain why they built the altar.
20:1 The Lord also spoke to Joshua, saying, 20:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 20:3 'that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. 20:4 'And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. 20:5 'Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. 20:6 'And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled.' " 20:7 So they appointed Kedesh in Galilee, in the mountains of Naphtali, Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and Kirjath Arba (which is Hebron) in the mountains of Judah. 20:8 And on the other side of the Jordan, by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness on the plain, from the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead, from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh. 20:9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel and for the stranger who dwelt among them, that whoever killed a person accidentally might flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stood before the congregation.
21:1 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the children of Israel. 21:2 And they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, "The Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock." 21:3 So the children of Israel gave to the Levites from their inheritance, at the commandment of the Lord, these cities and their common-lands: 21:4 Now the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. And the children of Aaron the priest, who were of the Levites, had thirteen cities by lot from the tribe of Judah, from the tribe of Simeon, and from the tribe of Benjamin. 21:5 The rest of the children of Kohath had ten cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Ephraim, from the tribe of Dan, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh. 21:6 And the children of Gershon had thirteen cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. 21:7 The children of Merari according to their families had twelve cities from the tribe of Reuben, from the tribe of Gad, and from the tribe of Zebulun. 21:8 And the children of Israel gave these cities with their common-lands by lot to the Levites, as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses. 21:9 So they gave from the tribe of the children of Judah and from the tribe of the children of Simeon these cities which are designated by name, 21:10 which were for the children of Aaron, one of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi; for the lot was theirs first. 21:11 And they gave them Kirjath Arba (Arba was the father of Anak), which is Hebron, in the mountains of Judah, with the common-land surrounding it. 21:12 But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession. 21:13 Thus to the children of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron with its common-land (a city of refuge for the slayer), Libnah with its common-land, 21:14 Jattir with its common-land, Eshtemoa with its common-land, 21:15 Holon with its common-land, Debir with its common-land, 21:16 Ain with its common-land, Juttah with its common-land, and Beth Shemesh with its common-land: nine cities from those two tribes; 21:17 and from the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its common-land, Geba with its common-land, 21:18 Anathoth with its common-land, and Almon with its common-land: four cities. 21:19 All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their common-lands. 21:20 And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites, the rest of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot from the tribe of Ephraim. 21:21 For they gave them Shechem with its common-land in the mountains of Ephraim (a city of refuge for the slayer), Gezer with its common-land, 21:22 Kibzaim with its common-land, and Beth Horon with its common-land: four cities; 21:23 and from the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with its common-land, Gibbethon with its common-land, 21:24 Aijalon with its common-land, and Gath Rimmon with its common-land: four cities; 21:25 and from the half-tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with its common-land and Gath Rimmon with its common-land: two cities. 21:26 All the ten cities with their common-lands were for the rest of the families of the children of Kohath. 21:27 Also to the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, from the other half-tribe of Manasseh, they gave Golan in Bashan with its common-land (a city of refuge for the slayer), and Be Eshterah with its common-land: two cities; 21:28 and from the tribe of Issachar, Kishion with its common-land, Daberath with its common-land, 21:29 Jarmuth with its common-land, and En Gannim with its common-land: four cities; 21:30 and from the tribe of Asher, Mishal with its common-land, Abdon with its common-land, 21:31 Helkath with its common-land, and Rehob with its common-land: four cities; 21:32 and from the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with its common-land (a city of refuge for the slayer), Hammoth Dor with its common-land, and Kartan with its common-land: three cities. 21:33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their common-lands. 21:34 And to the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, from the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its common-land, Kartah with its common-land, 21:35 Dimnah with its common-land, and Nahalal with its common-land: four cities; 21:36 and from the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with its common-land, Jahaz with its common-land, 21:37 Kedemoth with its common-land, and Mephaath with its common-land: four cities; 21:38 and from the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its common-land (a city of refuge for the slayer), Mahanaim with its common-land, 21:39 Heshbon with its common-land, and Jazer with its common-land: four cities in all. 21:40 So all the cities for the children of Merari according to their families, the rest of the families of the Levites, were by their lot twelve cities. 21:41 All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty-eight cities with their common-lands. 21:42 Every one of these cities had its common-land surrounding it; thus were all these cities. 21:43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 21:44 The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. 21:45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.
22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, 22:2 and said to them: "You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you. 22:3 "You have not left your brethren these many days, up to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. 22:4 "And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brethren, as He promised them; now therefore, return and go to your tents and to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. 22:5 "But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." 22:6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents. 22:7 Now to half the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half of it Joshua gave a possession among their brethren on this side of the Jordan, westward. And indeed, when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them, 22:8 and spoke to them, saying, "Return with much riches to your tents, with very much livestock, with silver, with gold, with bronze, with iron, and with very much clothing. Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren." 22:9 So the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, which they had obtained according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses. 22:10 And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan-a great, impressive altar. 22:11 Now the children of Israel heard someone say, "Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan-on the children of Israel's side." 22:12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them. 22:13 Then the children of Israel sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, 22:14 and with him ten rulers, one ruler each from the chief house of every tribe of Israel; and each one was the head of the house of his father among the divisions of Israel. 22:15 Then they came to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying, 22:16 "Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord: 'What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the Lord? 22:17 'Is the iniquity of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord, 22:18 'but that you must turn away this day from following the Lord? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the Lord, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. 22:19 'Nevertheless, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of the Lord, where the Lord's tabernacle stands, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the Lord, nor rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar besides the altar of the Lord our God. 22:20 'Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.' " 22:21 Then the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered and said to the heads of the divisions of Israel: 22:22 "The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, He knows, and let Israel itself know-if it is in rebellion, or if in treachery against the Lord, do not save us this day.