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Judges in the Bible
In the Book of Judges
Deborah (and Barak)*
In the First Book of Samuel
* Not explicitly described as a judge

Joshua praying for God to stop the Sun.

Joshua (Hebrew: יְהוֹשֻׁעַYehoshua; Greek: Ἰησοῦς, same as Jesus; Latin: Josue or Jesus in Hebrews; Arabic: يشع بن نونYusha‘ ibn Nūn), according to the Hebrew Bible, became the leader of the Israelite tribes after the death of Moses. His story is told chiefly in the books Exodus, Numbers and Joshua. According to the Bible, Joshua's name was Hoshea the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, but that Moses called him Joshua, (Numbers 13:16) and that is the name by which he is commonly known. He was born in Egypt prior to the Exodus, and was probably the same age as Caleb, with whom he is occasionally associated.

He was one of the twelve spies of Israel sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan. (Numbers 13:1-16) After the death of Moses, he lead the Israelite tribes in the conquest of Canaan, and allocated the land to the tribes. The years in which these events took place is subject to academic dispute. According to conventional Bible chronology, Joshua lived between 1450 – 1370 BC, or sometime in the late Bronze Age. According to Joshua 24:29, Joshua died at the age of 110.

Joshua also holds a position of respect to Muslims; the Shi'ah believe he was an Imam.


The English name Joshua is a rendering of the Hebrew: יהושע‎ "Yehoshua," meaning "Yahweh is salvation", from the Hebrew root ישע, "salvation," "to deliver/be liberated," or "to be victorious."[1][2] It often lacks a Hebrew letter vav (ו) before the shin (ש), allowing a reading of the vocalization of the name as Hoshea (הוֹשֵׁעַ) - the name is described in the Torah as having been originally Hoshea before Moses added the divine name (Numbers 13:16).[3]

"Jesus" is the rendition in English of the Greek transliteration of "Yehoshua". In the Septuagint, all instances of "Yehoshua" are rendered as "Ἰησοῦς" (Iēsoūs/Jesus), the closest Greek pronunciation of the Hebrew.[4][5]

Conquest of Canaan

As Moses' apprentice, Joshua was a major figure in the events of the Exodus. He accompanied Moses part of the way when he ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 32:17) He was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore and report on the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:16-17), and only he and Caleb gave an encouraging report, a reward for which would be that only these two of the spies would enter the promised land (Numbers 14:23-24).

He was commander at their first battle after exiting Egypt, against the Amalekites in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-16), in which they were victorious.

"The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan" by Gustave Doré (d. 1883)

According to Joshua 1:1-9, Moses appointed Joshua to succeed him as leader of the Israelites. The first part of the book of Joshua covers the period when he led the conquest of Canaan.

At the Jordan River, the waters parted, as they had for Moses at the Red Sea. The first battle after the crossing of the Jordan was the Battle of Jericho. Joshua led the destruction of Jericho, then moved on to Ai, a small neighboring city to the west. However, they were defeated with thirty-six Israelite deaths. The defeat was attributed to Achan taking an "accursed thing" from Jericho; and was followed by Achan and his family and animals being stoned to death to restore God's favor. Joshua then went to defeat Ai.

The Israelites faced an alliance of Amorite kings from Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. At Gibeon Joshua asked God to cause the sun and moon to stand still, so that he could finish the battle in daylight. This event is most notable because "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:14) From there on, Joshua was able to lead the Israelites to several victories, securing much of the land of Canaan.

Division of the land

12 staemme israels cs.png

In the second part of the book of Joshua (Ch 13 onwards), the extent of the land to be conquered is defined (Numbers 34:1-15) and the allocation of the land among the tribes of Israel. At that time, much of this land was still unconquered. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh received land east of the Jordan (Numbers 34:14-15) while the other nine and a half tribes received land on the west of the Jordan.


When he was "old and well advanced in years" [6] Joshua convened the elders and chiefs of the Israelites and exhorted them to have no fellowship with the native population because it could lead them to be unfaithful to God.[7] At a general assembly of the clans at Shechem, he took leave of the people, admonishing them to be loyal to their God, who had been so mightily manifested in the midst of them. As a witness of their promise to serve God, Joshua set up a great stone under an oak by the sanctuary of God. Soon afterward he died, at the age of 110, and was buried at Timnath Serah, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.[8]

In rabbinical literature

Joshua and the Israeli people, Karolingischer Buchmaler, c.840

In rabbinic Jewish literature Joshua is regarded as a faithful, humble, deserving, wise man. Biblical verses illustrative of these qualities and of their reward are applied to him. "He that waits on his master shall be honored" (Pro. xxvii. 18) is construed as a reference to Joshua (Midrash Numbers Rabbah xii.), as is also the first part of the same verse, "Whoso keepes the fig-tree shall eat the fruit thereof" (Midrash Yalk., Josh. 2; Numbers Rabbah xii. 21). That "honor shall uphold the humble in spirit" (Pro. xxix. 23) is proved by Joshua's victory over Amalek (Midrash Numbers Rabbah xiii). Not the sons of Moses — as Moses himself had expected — but Joshua was appointed successor to the son of Amram (Midrash Numbers Rabbah xii). Moses was shown how Joshua reproved that Othniel (Yalḳ., Num. 776). Joshua's manliness recommended him for this high post. David referred to him in Psalms lxxxvii. 25, though without mentioning the name, lest dissensions should arise between his sons and those of his brothers (Yalḳ., quoting Sifre).

In Islam

Joshua holds more importance for Shi'i Muslims than for Sunnis because he is held up as the Imam after Moses after the death of Aaron. As such, he is frequently mentioned in works on theology. In Turkey, it's believed that his tomb is in Istanbul, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. The sacred place known as Yuşa Tepesi (Joshua's Hill) is revered and visited by the locals.

In later literature

In the Divine Comedy Joshua's spirit appears to Dante in the Heaven of Mars, where he is grouped with the other "warriors of the faith."

Baroque composer Georg Frideric Handel composed an oratorio "Joshua" in 1747.

Composer Franz Waxman composed an oratorio "Joshua" in 1959.

For a punning take on "Joshua, son of Nun," see the 1973 political thriller Joshua Son of None.

In the literary tradition of medieval Europe, Joshua is known as one of the Nine Worthies.

Joshua is a main protagonist in Matthew Woodring Stover's novel Jericho Moon.


While the Bible holds Joshua out to be a real historical figure, archeologists have to date not found any definite extra-biblical evidence for Joshua's existence,[9] leading some minimalist commentators to dismiss the historicity of Joshua entirely. Others see a middle ground. For example, archeologist William G. Dever, who on the one hand has been scathing in his dismissal of "minimalists" who deny any historical value to the Biblical accounts, also says this, "The Biblical narratives about Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the 'larger than life' portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence."[10]


Joshua's Tomb in Kifl Hares, April 2007

The annual commemoration of Joshua's yahrtzeit is marked on the 26th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. Thousands make the pilgrimage to Kifl Hares on the preceding night.

See also

  • Yehoshua (disambiguation)


  1. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament Francis Brown, with S.R. Driver and C.A. Briggs, based on the lexicon of William Gesenius. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 221 & 446
  2. Fausset's Bible Dictionary
  3. Joshua, New Bible Dictionary, second edition. 1987. Douglas JD, Hillyer N, eds., Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL, USA ISBN 0842346678
  4. cf Numbers 13:16 LXX καὶ ὲπωνὸμασεν Μωυσῆς τὸν Αὐσῆ υἱὸν Ναυῆ Ἰησοῦν (and Moses named Hosea, son of Nun, Jesus)
  5. The High Priest Jesus in Zechariah 3 LXX
  6. Joshua 23:1-2
  7. Joshua 23:7-8, 23:12-13
  8. Joshua 24:29-30
  9. Boling, Robert G. Joshua. Harper Collins Study Bible, 311
  10. Dever, William G. (March/April 2006). "The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk". Biblical Archaeology Review 32 (2): 26 & 76. 

External links

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Joshua. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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Judge of Israel Succeeded by

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