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Joshua ( Yehoshua, Yusha‘ ibn Nūn), according to the Hebrew Bible, He was 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, ( ) and that is the name by which he is commonly known. He was born in Egyptmarker 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. ( ) 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 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 "Yehoshua," meaning "Yahweh is salvation" from the Hebrew root , "salvation," "to deliver/be liberated," or "to be victorious". It often lacks a Hebrew letter vav ( ) after the shin ( ), allowing a reading of the vocalization of the name as Hoshea ( ) - the name is described in the Torah as having been originally Hoshea before Moses added the divine name ( ).

"Jesus" is the Anglicized transliteration of the Hellenized transliteration of "Yehoshua". In the Septuagint, all instances of "Yehoshua" are rendered as "ιησου" (Iesou/Jesus), the closest Greek pronunciation of the Hebrew.

Conquest of Canaan

The victory of Joshua over the Amalekites (Nicolas Poussin)
As Moses' apprentice, Joshua was a major figure in all the events of the Exodus. He accompanied Moses part of the way when he ascended Mount Sinaimarker to receive the Ten Commandments ( ). He was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore and report on the land of Canaan ( ), 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 ( ). He was commander at their first battle after exiting Egypt, against the Amalekites in Rephidim ( ), in which they were victorious.

"The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan" by Gustave Doré (d.
According to , Moses appointed Joshua to succeed him as leader of the Israelites. The first part of the book of Joshua covers the period when he commanded the conquest of Canaan. At the Jordan Rivermarker, the waters parted, as they had for Moses at the Red Sea. The first battle was the Battle of Jericho. Joshua led the destruction of Jerichomarker, then moved on to Ai, a small neighboring city to the west. However, they were defeated and thirty-six Israelite warriors were killed, because Achan had taken the "accursed thing" (some treasures from Jericho). When Achan's sin was exposed, he and his family and his animals were stoned to death and the favor of God was again restored. Joshua was then able to defeat Ai. The Israelites faced an alliance of Amorite kings from Jerusalemmarker, Hebronmarker, Jarmuth, Lachishmarker, and Eglon. At Gibeonmarker 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. ( ). From there on, Joshua was able to lead the Israelites to several victories, securing much of the land of Canaan.

Division of the land

In the second part of the book of Joshua (Ch 13 onwards), the extent of the land to be conquered is defined ( ) 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 Jordanmarker ( ) 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" 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. At a general assembly of the clans at Shechemmarker, 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 Serahmarker, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

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 Istanbulmarker, on the Asian side of the Bosphorusmarker. The sacred place known as Yuşa Tepesi (Joshua's Hillmarker) 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, many modern archeologists cannot find definite extra-biblical evidence for Joshua's existence. 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."


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

See also


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