What are the two major themes of The Book of Joshua in the Bible?

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The Book of Joshua exists in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible and, as the name suggests, focuses on Joshua. Following the death of Moses, God tasks Joshua with leading the Israelites into Canaan. After completing a number of campaigns, the Israelites took over their promised land and divided it among their twelve tribes. The book ends with Joshua’s death.

While a number of themes are explored in this book, but the two biggest are the theme of land and the theme of faithfulness.

The promised land was given to the Israelites by God. God also took that land away from the Israelites (which ties in with the theme of faithfulness) when they displayed cowardice. The exiled Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years waiting to return to their promised land. In those years in exile, they lost a piece of their identity. Since God gave them the claim to the promised land, they could not be whole until they returned. God ultimately chooses Joshua to lead them back.

In Christian view of God is a merciful deity. However, the Book of Joshua presents the idea of faithfulness and obedience, which God demands. When the Israelites falter in their obedience and faithfulness, God reprimands them by taking away their land.

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The Book of Joshua is the sixth book overall in the Old Testament. It follows the five books of the Pentateuch, which cover the creation of the world—through the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt and the giving of the law to Moses. Joshua is the first of what are referred to as the historical books, which also include Judges, Ruth, the first and second Samuel, the first and second Kings, the first and second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

The book of Joshua has both historical and theological themes. The two major historical themes in the book include Joshua leading the people of Israel on a violent conquest of the land of Canaan and the division of the conquered land among the twelve tribes of Israel.

One of the most important theological themes is the importance of obedience. The people of Israel are repeatedly told that only obedience to every specific instruction in the Law of Moses will allow them to win battles, claim the land, and receive God's blessing.

Another crucial theological theme is the concept of God as the supreme leader. Moses and Joshua are merely God's servants, and God has ultimate authority.

Besides these two major theological themes, there are others that are also important. One is the designation of Canaan as the land promised to God's people. The theme of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob runs through the earlier books of the Bible as well.

The Book of Joshua also stresses the theme of purity or holiness. The people of Israel are urged to remain separate from the people living in the lands around them. The sacred articles that they carry and the ceremonies they perform remind them of this holiness. When they are instructed to utterly destroy the Canaanites, it is for the purpose of supposedly purifying the land before the Lord.

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The sixth book of the Bible, the Book of Joshua, focuses on a period in Jewish religious history that stretches from a moment of triumph—when the Jewish people conquer Canaan—to the death of Joshua. Scholars generally do not assume the work to be historically accurate, but instead see it rather as a type of religiously and culturally important foundation story preserved in oral tradition and eventually written down to consolidate its thematically important cultural legacy. The two major themes of the book act as bookends, one starting the narrative and one ending it.

The opening theme is that of the Promised Land, in which God fulfills his promises to his people by bringing them to a land of "milk and honey." Rather than being a reward in the afterlife, this is a reward given to the Israelites when they are alive. After having been tested in Egyptian captivity, they have followed God's commandments and, through their faith and efforts, have earned their rewards.

The end of the book establishes the second theme of the need for continued piety and righteousness, and the notion that the Promised Land is not simply granted in perpetuity but must be constantly earned through righteousness. Joshua's final instructions to his people emphasize this theme.

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The Book of Joshua tells the final realization of the promise of God to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land after their escape from slavery in Egypt. It begins immediately after the death of Moses.

The first section or theme of the book, the vast majority of the book (chapters one through twenty-two) details the conquest of the land of Canaan and its allocation to the tribes of Israel. The control of the territory did not occur all at once; there were many battles over a period of many years, with the extent of land controlled and settled by the Israelites gradually increasing.  Once much of the land was under Hebrew control, the division into areas specifically assigned to the different tribes is detailed.

The second major theme of the book, the last two chapters, records Joshua's advice, instructions, and reminders to the people of Israel regarding the commitments and promises God had made to the people, and the commitments and expectations regarding the ways in which the Israelites were to worship and live in return.

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What are the two theological themes of the book of Joshua? 

There are number of themes one can extrapolate from the book of Joshua. This short paper from Bethel University lists seven which are predominant: "(1) the land, (2) God's promises, (3) the covenant, (4) obedience, (5) purity of worship (holiness, (6) godly leadership, and (7) rest." Of these, the land and God's promises are perhaps most evident.

The book of Joshua begins as the Israelites are about to enter Canaan, the "Promised Land." The book describes their entry into the land and conquest (at at times, lack of conquest) of the native inhabitants, as God had commanded them.

Closely connected to "the land" is the theme of God's promises. Israel's entry into Canaan served as the fulfillment of the promise God made Abraham in Genesis 12 (that he would make him a great nation). The Israelites had clung to this promise for numerous generations, and finally they were able to see it come to fruition. Likewise, God promised he would drive out the inhabitants of Canaan so the Israelites could possess it; according to the book of Joshua, the Israelites were able to conquer any Canaanites they actively tried to eradicate.


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