The Great Prophet Joshua

Bishop Youssef

July 1, 2022

The son of Nun, the disciple of chief of the Prophets Moses and author of the Old Testament book named after him, Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim, born in Egypt. He was disciplined by Prophet Moses for he became obedient, humble, perfect and lowly before him due to which the spirit of Moses the prophet dwelt upon him and he prophesied in his days.

Since Moses the Prophet and leader authored the first five Holy Books in the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,Numbers and Deuteronomy; it seems only natural that Joshua, his assistant and successor, would also author his own Holy Book as the leadership role of the Israelites was destined to pass on to him.

Prophet Moses, prior to his death, gladly ushered Joshua in and announced him as his successor in the presence of the High Priest and all the assembly. “And the LORD said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the LORD for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him all the congregation.’ So Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.” (Numbers 27:18-23)

What is the reason behind Moses’ benevolence and good feelings towards Joshua, his former student but now the Israelites’ leader, about to usher them into the Promised Land? The reason might very well be because Joshua did not desire to usurp Moses’ authority. He did not speak ill nor critically of Moses the Prophet. Joshua was an example of humanity at its best; most faithful both as a servant and as a leader.

Joshua was a man the children of Israel followed unquestionably without nostalgia for their “own” leader. It appears that the Israelites were most satisfied with God’s choice of leaders. Joshua must have embellished strength as he was not affected by the unrighteousness surrounding him; nor did he hide his strong convictions in the Word of the Lord.

Joshua did not fear the evil awaiting him to conquer in Canaan. He was not set up for defeat; but rather set about the business of preparation for the must-be-fought battles both spiritually and mentally. What made Joshua such a renowned victorious leader?

First, Joshua believed the Word of God without doubt, wavering, nor questioning. God was with Joshua and told him so, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

Second, Joshua was a man of character, strong convictions and firm faith allowing himself to be taught by another upright and Godly man. God told Joshua, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left that you may prosper wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)

Third, Joshua did not deviate from the exact letter of the law. Not even once, did he allow himself in indifference, tiredness, compassion nor favoritism to overlook any portion of the law. Joshua did not treat the law halfheartedly. He respected it, made it his life’s work, meditated upon it, and observed it both by example and in exercising his authority. This is evident in and documented by God Himself in his words to Joshua: “This Book of Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).

When Moses the Prophet died, Joshua received the people by the command and God said to him, “As I was with Moses My servant even so will I be with you.  Be strong, mighty, and keep the Law, which I commanded Moses My servant to keep.  Go not far from it, and turn not aside from it, neither to the right hand nor the left.  Let not your mouth ceases from reading the Book of the Law, but meditate therein by day and by night, so that you may keep and hold fast to, and do everything which is written therein.”

Prophet Joshua had a strong heart and he sent spies to Jericho where they examined the land. They hid with Rahab the harlot, made a covenant with her and all the men of her house that they would not kill her. She sent them away.  Joshua likewise divided the Jordan for them, and the children of Israel passed through it. He made the river for them like a wall.  He conquered Jericho, going round the walls thereof seven times, and he slew all that were therein, both man and beast.  He conquered many cities.  All the peoples feared the children of Israel and because of the greatness of their fear of Joshua, the men of the city of Gibeon made a pretence to him.  Then dressed themselves in ragged raiment and carried with them old sackcloth of hair, old shoes, dried and moldy bread.

Then, they went to Joshua, and said to him, “Behold, we have come from a far country, and we want you to give us a promise that you will not kill us.”  Joshua, and the Rabbis of the children of Israel, answered and said to them, “Tell us truly whether you dwell in this land.”  So, they said to them, “Verily we have come from a far country.” Then they showed them their dried, moldy food, and their old garments. Joshua believed them and swore that he would not kill them.

When Joshua heard that those people lived nigh to them, he said to them, “Why did you come with deceit?” and then he made them servants of the house of God.  While the five kings of the Amorites heard this, they rose up against the men of Gibeon. The Israelites helped the people of Gibeon, and made a great slaughter of them on those of them who fled God cast hailstones from heaven and He blotted them out.  When the sun was nigh to set Joshua said before the children of Israel.  “O sun, stand still over the city of Gibeon, and thou moon also over the city of ‘Abakon.”  The sun stood still, and the moon stayed firm, until God was avenged on His enemies.  Joshua divided the land of their inheritance among the children of Israel.  He gave the Priests cities to dwell in and land for their beasts.  He set apart six cities of refuge wherein all those who had committed a murder unwittingly might dwell, according as God commanded him.

During the days of Joshua were one hundred and ten years. He had arrived at a good old age and gathered together the children of Israel. He then commanded them to keep the commandment of the Law of the Torah, not to transgress it and to be strong in the worship of God.  He said, “The Lord God is jealous, and if you worship other gods, He will blot you out quickly.”

After this, Prophet Joshua died in peace and was buried in the grave, which Jacob bought from the children of Amer for a hundred sheep in the land of Nablos.  The children of Israel mourned for him with a great mourning for thirty days.

The story of this Prophet “The Holy Book of Joshua” encompassed battles, preparation for tribal territories, tribal divisions by land, and a call to “choose Whom you will serve.”

The Holy Book of Joshua is an eyewitness account of his conquests. Joshua’s faithful heart and unsurpassed adherence to God’s teachings helped close him off to the external detrimental influences of the carnal pagan life surrounding him. By closing himself off to the interference of ungodly communication, thoughts, and provocations, Joshua became sealed by the Holy Spirit Who lived and abode within him. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in which also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

The Holy Book of Joshua is considered one of the Historical Biblical Books. It entails new leadership, new lands for the twelve tribes, and accountability among those who believed in God. The Holy Book of Joshua covers approximately thirty one years after the death of the prophet Moses, and Eleazar as well as six years following the death of Joshua. Those six years following the death of Joshua are attributed to the writer Pinehaus.

In Exodus 17:9 we first read the name “Joshua” in Rephidim where he led the battle against Amalek. It was a benediction of things to come: “And Moses said to Joshua, ‘choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” Joshua, son of Nun, became a great servant, a great conqueror and a great leader for the Israelite nation. “The Lord sees to the government of the world and brings the right person to power at the right time. The success of that person is in the Lords’ hands. The Lord is the source of the honor given to any official.” (Son of Sirach 10:4-5)

Glory be to God forever. Amen!

Source: Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States and The Ethiopian Snynaxarium pages 594-595