Encountering the Old Testament, 3rd Edition

A Christian Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


11. Joshua: Conquest and Division

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • Outline the basic content of the book of Joshua
  • List the events God used to prepare Joshua for his role as leader
  • Identify the book’s three major themes
  • Discuss reasons why Israel was allowed to conquer Canaan
  • Explain the significant events of Israel’s central, southern, and northern campaigns in chapters 6–12
  • Summarize key issues related to Israel’s division of the land in chapters 13–21
  • Evaluate the final challenge Joshua gave to Israel

Chapter Summary

  1. The Israelites successfully conquered Canaan because of the strong leadership of Joshua, who was empowered by God.
  2. Joshua’s influence probably largely shaped the book of Joshua.
  3. The three themes of Joshua are the transition of power from Moses to Joshua, the conquest and division of Canaan, and God’s faithfulness to his promise to give Israel the land.
  4. Israel’s battle strategy was to conquer the central part of Canaan first, where a key battle was at Jericho. The southern and northern campaigns then followed, and the Israelites’ victories gave them effective control of the land.
  5. Because Israel did not drive out smaller groups of people, their pagan influence eventually corrupted the Israelites.
  6. The lands of Canaan and Transjordan were divided up among the twelve tribes. The Levites received forty-eight cities among the tribes.
  7. Israel designated six Levitical cities as cities of refuge to protect people who accidentally caused someone’s death.
  8. Because the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh built a large altar when they reached the Jordan River, the other tribes were ready to go to war, believing the eastern tribes had disobeyed God.
  9. Before his death, Joshua challenged the Israelite leaders to remember the great things they had seen God do; he reviewed Israel’s history from the days of Abraham; and he exhorted them to commit themselves fully to God.

Study Questions

  1. What are the major themes of the book of Joshua?
  2. What basic plan did Israel use to conquer the land? Describe Joshua’s three major military campaigns.
  3. What was the significance of the cities of refuge and Levitical cities?
  4. Do you think Joshua was successful in fulfilling God’s plan for his life? Why or why not?