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Author: Ron Graham

History of IsraelTimes of Israel series

Joshua’s Adventures
—And the conquest of Canaan

Time ~ 4. Conquest of Canaan
Span ~ 170 years
Books ~ Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1Samuel
Figures ~ Joshua, Samuel
Begins with ~ Entry into promised Land across Jordan

Our fourth period of Israel's story —Conquest of Canaan— covers the time from the people's entry into the promised land of Canaan until the appointment of their first king. In this lesson, we look mainly at Joshua's time, which is covered in the book that bears his name.

1 Facts About the Conquest of Canaan

After one generation of Israelites had wandered 40 years in the wilderness, the next generation was led over Jordan by Joshua.

They fought many wars to conquer Canaan. Through sin and idolatry they faltered. Through penitent revivals they prevailed, helped by judges like Gideon and Deborah.

Tribes and Territories

Eventually the tribes were settled around the Jordan. By this time there were thirteen tribes, not twelve, because Joseph's descendants had formed into two tribes Manasseh and Ephraim.

There were twelve territories however, because the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, was required to settle not in a territory of their own, but in towns to which they were given rights throughout the territories of the other tribes.

Constant Wars

This period is characterised by constant warring by the twelve tribes of Israel with the inhabitants of the land in an attempt to take possession of the land from them.

The land was not quickly possessed for the same reason that the wilderness was not quickly traversed: the people were often faithless and disobedient to the LORD God of Israel.

Led by Judges

During the time of conquest, the Israelites were led by JUDGES. The first, was Joshua successor to Moses who had judged God's people in the wilderness. Then came a succession of twelve other judges, and last of all Samuel.


Under the leadership of Joshua and Samuel, there was a strong (though not perfect) allegiance to God. In between, there was unfaithfulness and idolatry punctuated only by the raising up of another judge to restore some semblance of Godliness. Therefore God allowed the Israelites to be oppressed by the very nations they were supposed to be conquering.

2 Some Facts About Joshua

Joshua, was called by God to succeed Moses.

Joshua took over as leader and judge of the Israelites after Moses died. It was Joshua, a descendant of Joseph's son Ephraim, who led the people into the promised land.

Moses was the figure who linked the time of EGYPTIAN BONDAGE with the WILDERNESS WANDERING, and now Joshua is the figure who links the WILDERNESS WANDERING with the CONQUEST OF CANAAN.

Joshua was originally named Hoshea

Joshua used to be called Hoshea, with variants Oshea, Hosea, or Osee. Moses called him Joshua (Numbers 13:8,16) which has a stronger meaning. Hoshea means deliverer, whereas Joshua means The LORD has saved. Our Lord Jesus bore the same name: Ιησους —Jesus, the Greek form of Joshua.

Joshua demonstrated amazing powers in God's name.

Under his leadership, for example, the waters of the swollen Jordan were parted, the walls of Jericho fell down, and the sun and moon were withheld for a time.

God's promise to Joshua is very beautiful:

"Just as I have been with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go" (Joshua 1:5-9).

Joshua's exhortation before he died is beautiful too:

It's essence is, "Choose you this day whom you shall serve". As we think about Joshua, may some of his great faith rub off on us and encourage us to say, "We will serve the Lord". (Joshua 23 and 24).

3 The Main Point

Behind this story is the victorious faith that Joshua showed toward God.

Of all the people freed from Egyptian bondage, only Joshua and Caleb made it into the promised land.

Joshua, by faith, led the next generation of Israelites into Canaan and began to conquer with amazing power.

This raises the question: How many of us have the faith and faithfulness needed to enter Heaven in victory?

4 Bible Summary (Joshua 1-24)

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