Book summary

The book of Joshua continues where Moses left off in the Torah. Joshua leads God’s people — the Israelites — across the Jordan River into the Promised Land (also known as Canaan). They conquer and take control of the land, sharing it out among the twelve tribes of Israel.

Joshua had a strong devotion and heart for God, and previously served as Moses’ military leader. This made him an ideal leader for God’s people as they entered this new land filled with hostile nations.

Chapters 1-5 — Preparation for conquest

Ch 1:1-9 — Joshua commissioned by God

  • After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “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. (Joshua 1:1-2)

  • “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:7-8)

Ch 1:10 to 5:1 — Crossing the Jordan River

Ch 1:10-18 — Joshua commands his officers
  • So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” (Joshua 1:10-11)

Ch 2 — Rahab and the spies
  • Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. (Joshua 2:1)

Ch 3:1 to 5:1 — Crossing the Jordan
  • [Joshua said to the Israelites,] Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord — the Lord of all the earth — set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” (Joshua 3:12-13)

Ch 5:2-15 — Circumcision, Passover, and the encounter at Gilgal

  • At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” (Joshua 5:2)

  • Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

    “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (Joshua 5:13-14)

Chapters 6-12 — Israel’s conquest in Canaan

Ch 6 — The fall of Jericho

  • Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:2-5)

Ch 7-8 — Defeat then victory at Ai

Ch 7 — Defeat due to Achan’s sin
  • But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. (Joshua 7:1)

  • So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. (Joshua 7:4-5)

Ch 8:1-29 — Ai destroyed
  • Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. (Joshua 8:1)

Ch 8:30-35 — Covenant renewed at Mount Ebal
  • Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel… (Joshua 8:30)

Ch 9-12 — Conquest completed

Ch 9 — The Gibeonites deceive them
  • Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.” (Joshua 9:22-23)

Ch 10 — Conquest in southern Canaan
  • The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! (Joshua 10:1)

Ch 11:1-15 — Conquest in northern Canaan
  • Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. (Joshua 11:12)

Ch 11:16 to 12:24 — Summary of conquered territories
  • So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war. (Joshua 11:23)

  • [Joshua defeated 31 kings in total.]

Chapters 13-22 — Land divided amongst the tribes

Ch 13:1-7 — God’s instructions to Joshua

  • When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over. (Joshua 13:1)

Ch 13:8 to 21:45 — Assigning land to the tribes

Ch 13:8-33 — Tribes east of the Jordan
  • The other half of Manasseh, the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the Lord, had assigned it to them. (Joshua 13:8)

Ch 14-19 — Tribes west of the Jordan
  • Their inheritances were assigned by lot to the nine and a half tribes, as the Lord had commanded through Moses. Moses had granted the two and a half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest, for Joseph’s descendants had become two tribes — Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. (Joshua 14:2-4)

Ch 20 — Cities of refuge
  • Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. (Joshua 20:1-3)

Ch 21 — Towns for the Levites
  • [The family heads of the Levites said,] “The Lord commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” (Joshua 21:2)

Ch 21:43-45 — Summary of conquest

  • Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:45)

Ch 22 — Eastern tribes return home

  • Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. (Joshua 22:4)

Chapters 23-24 — Joshua’s farewell

Ch 23 — Joshua’s farewell to the leaders
  • “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. (Joshua 23:6-9)

Ch 24:1-28 — Covenant renewed at Shechem
  • And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord. (Joshua 24:24-26)

Ch 24:29-33 — The deaths of Joshua and Eleazar
  • After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. (Joshua 24:29)