1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
The book of Joshua describes Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan, which took place in about 1400 BC, as well as the distribution of land to the tribes of Israel. The book is named after its chief character, Joshua son of Nun. Joshua had been Moses’ assistant and succeeded him as Israel’s leader who would lead the conquest of the Promised Land.
Scripture provides no information about the inspired author of this book. The memoirs of Joshua may have provided the foundation for the book. One of the priests of his time may have played a role in writing, collecting, and preserving these memories. The book was probably written early in the period of the judges but certainly not later than the time of the first kings of Israel. The references within the book of Joshua that say “until this day” may refer, not to the time of the writing of the whole book, but to the time of the source that the author of Joshua may be using at this point. One such reference (6:25) says that Rahab was still alive at the time of writing.
The purpose of the book of Joshua is to record the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to Abraham concerning the Land of Promise (Genesis 12:1–3; 13:15). Joshua 21:45 and 23:14 serve as the summary and theme of the book of Joshua: “Not one promise out of all the good promises that the Lord had promised to the house of Israel failed. They all came true!”
Because of the Messianic goal of that promise, the history of the conquest of Canaan at the same time serves as a standing confirmation of the promise of a future redemption and an eternal home for God’s people (Hebrews 4:1–9).
The book of Joshua tells how Joshua led the Israelites from the plains of Moab across the Jordan, conquered the land west of Jordan in three great military campaigns, assigned a heritage to each of the tribes, exhorted the people in two great assemblies to remain steadfast toward the Lord, renewed their covenant with the Lord, died, and was buried in the land of his heritage.
Links to two maps for the book of Joshua: