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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Subject Matter and Literary Genre.

1.

Joshua stands at a mid-point in the narrative of Israel's origins that spans Genesis–Kings. It continues the basic story-line of Exodus–Numbers, with its elements of promise of land (Ex 3:8 ); spying it out and first failing (Num 13–14 ); conquest of Transjordan (Num 21 ); the theme of guidance and the ark (Num 10:33–6 ); Moses and Joshua, his second-in-command (Ex 17:8–13 ); Joshua and Caleb, the faithful spies (Num 14:6–10 ); Joshua and Eleazar to divide the land (Num 34:17 ); cities of refuge, and cities for the Levites (Num 35 ). The correspondence of Joshua with the expectations created by Numbers has led to the idea of a ‘Hexateuch’ (Genesis–Joshua), where Joshua is the culmination of the story of promise that begins in Genesis ( 12:1–3; Tengström 1976 ).

2.

Yet Joshua also points forward. In its themes of Torahand covenant-keeping, it looks to Israel's ongoing life in the land. Its reflections on the role of the leader, where Joshua inherits the responsibilities of Moses, also point forward to a crucial issue in Judges–Kings. Its covenant-renewal ceremonies at Shechem ( 8:30–5; 24:1–28 ) have solemn exhortations to faithfulness, and there are other important notes of warning. Joshua thus heralds both the possession of land and the possibility of exile. In these respects it has significant links with Deuteronomy, and also with Judges–Kings.

3.

The book falls into four sections: entry to the land ( 1:1–5:12 ); its conquest ( 5:13–12:24 ); dividing it among the tribes ( 13:1–21:45 ), and serving YHWH in it ( 22:1–24:33 ). The narrative of conquest is at the centre of this. The other parts belong intimately to that concept, however (see c below).

4.

The genre of Joshua may be seen as a conquest narrative, similar in many respects to ancient Near-Eastern conquest accounts, as perpetrated by kings who claimed a religious mandate for their campaigns (Younger 1990 ). Joshua is the account of YHWH's war-campaign in Palestine, providing Israel's entitlement to the land.

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