JOSHUA, Boon. 0F. The first of the four his torical books in the Hebrew Bible, forming with Judges, Samuel, and Kings the division known in the Jewish canon as the Former Prophets.
a matter of fact. Joshua is a direct continua tion of Deuteronomy, and it has therefore become customary among scholars to group the first six hooks of the Old Testament together under the name Ilexateneh (q.v.). These six hooks form part of a great historical compilation, beginning with Genesis and ending with Kings. The Book of Joshua is mainly occupied with the narrativo of the conquest of Canaan and with the settle ment of the Hebrew clans in the newly gained territory. Because of the prominence which is assigned to Joshua in the book. the tradition arose which made him the author. .As a matter of fact, the historical narrative in Joshua is in the main the work of the writer designated as .1E, who, living probably in the seventh cen tury B.C., compiled from two sources, known as the Yahwistie and Elohistie histories (see ELOHIST AND YAIIWIST) , a narrative extending from the Creation to the death of Joshua; tlds compilation was subsequently combined with the various codes and the priestly history produced in the post-exilie period, and further enlarged by the addition of historical compilations of a composite character, bringing the history down to the destruction of Jerusalem. The Book of Joshua. therefore, in its present shape repre sents a redaction several centuries later even than the eompilation known as .JE.
The contents of the book may be summarized as follows: (a) Chaps. crossing of the Jordan; capture of Jericho: advance to Ai; the race of the Gibeonites to save themselves from destruction; the subjugation of the south; cam paign against the King of Hazer and allies; con quest of the north; and summary of results. (b) Chaps. distribution of the land to the trans-Jordanie tribes, to Caleb, Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh; survey and allotment to the remaining. tribes; Joshua's inheritance;
designation of cities of refuge; Levitical cities; dismissal of trans-Jordanie divisions of the con federation; final exhortations of Joshua; assem H• and covenanting at Sliechem; death and burial of Joshua.
In the first half (chaps. i.-xii.) we have al most exclusively the narrative of JE with but a few fragments belonging to the priestly his tory. The second half is more composite in character, and in chaps. xx.-xxii. (designation of cities of refuge an I 1 ; (.we have chiefly the priestly narrative; but, on the whole, even in this second half, the older compilation JE predominates. It has also been observed by critics that there are two variant traditions of the conquest embodied in the book, one according to which the conquest was gradual and not com plete, the other representing it as rapidly and completely carried out by Joshua. History writing in Joshua, as in Samuel and Kings, is based on the same pragmatic theory of the re lationship of Yahweh to His people. and of the promise made to Abraham and Moses regarding the possession of Canaan and the future great ness of the Hebrew nation. The conquest and distribution is therefore regarded as an illus tration of this promise and its fulfillment. For all that, the Book of Joshua contains 11111(•11 valuable historical material, which when prop erly used throws light upon events and con ditions among the _Hebrews during the two centuries following the exodus from Egypt. Con sult the chapters on the conquest in the Hebrew histories of Kittel, Stade, Weilhansen, Guthe, Renan, and Piepenbring; the commentaries to the Book of Joshua by Keil, Dillmann, Opttli, Steuernagel, and Bennett: also Budde, Richter wuniosita (Giessen, 1SS8) ; Albers, Die Quellen berichte in Josua (Bonn, Documents of the Ileratench (London. 1S9S); Carpenter and Batersley. 7'he 11 exelletieh (Lon don, 1900) ; and the Introductions to the Old Testament by Driver, Kuenen. liautzsch, and Cornill.