, Yusha‘ ibn
), according to the Hebrew
, He was the leader of the Israelite
tribes after the death of Moses
. His story is told chiefly in the books Exodus
. According to the Bible, Joshua's name
the son of Nun
, of the tribe of
, but that Moses called him Joshua, ( ) 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
He was one of the twelve spies
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
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
is salvation" from the Hebrew root ,
"salvation," "to deliver/be liberated," or "to be victorious". It
often lacks a Hebrew letter vav
( ) after the
( ), 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 ( ).
" is the Anglicized
transliteration of the Hellenized transliteration of "Yehoshua". In
, 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
Sinai 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
( ), 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 River, the waters parted, as they had for Moses at the
The first battle was the Battle of Jericho
. Joshua led the
destruction of Jericho, then moved
on to Ai, a small neighboring city to the
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 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.
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
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
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 ( ) while
the other nine and a half tribes received land on the west of the
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
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.
afterward he died, at the age of 110, and was buried at Timnath Serah, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount
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"
xxvii. 18) is construed as a reference to
Joshua (Midrash Numbers
xii.), as is also the first part of the same verse,
"Whoso keepes the fig-tree shall eat the fruit thereof" (Midrash
, Josh. 2; Numbers Rabbah
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
xii). Moses was shown how Joshua reproved that Othniel
., 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.,
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
Hill) is revered and visited by the locals.
In later literature
In the Divine Comedy
spirit appears to Dante in the Heaven of Mars, where he is grouped
with the other "warriors of the faith."
composer Georg Frideric Handel
" in 1747.
Composer Franz Waxman
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
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.
, 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
Hares on the preceding night.