We have completed our study of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. This brings us to the second major division among the Old Testament books. We will be studying now the 12 books of HISTORY. The 12 books that belong to this division are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. When we study these 12 books we are covering a period of about 1,000 years in the history of God’s chosen people.


Memorize this “time line” and be able to reconstruct it. It will help you to remember better Old Testament events and people and put them in their proper order. The dates that are given are rounded off for easy memory. They are only approximate dates.

Abraham – 2,000 B.C.
Moses – 1,500 B.C.
The Exodus – 1,450 B.C.
Joshua – 1,400 B.C.
The Judges – 1,350 B.C.
Saul – 1,050 B.C.
David – 1,000 B.C.


The Book of Joshua records the history of Israel from the death of Moses through the conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan. We do not know who the author of the book is. It seems that the author must have been an eyewitness of the events he records. In 5:1 when the author speaks of Israel crossing the Jordan River, he speaks as though he is one of the people who made the crossing. He says “WE had crossed over.” It does not seem that Joshua was the author, since the book tells of his death and records events that happened after his time. The Book of Joshua received its name from the fact that Joshua is the principal character of the book. Joshua was born in Egypt and became Moses’ “right-hand man” during the exodus and the wilderness wanderings. He was an excellent military commander. He and Caleb were among the 12 spies sent to explore Canaan, as we read in Numbers. Those two men were the only ones allowed to survive the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and to enter the Promised Land. After the death of Moses, the leadership was passed over to Joshua. Deuteronomy 34:9 says: “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.” The name “Joshua” means “the Lord is salvation.” The Greek form of the name Joshua is “Jesus.” Joshua and Jesus are therefore identical names, the first being Hebrew and the second Greek.


The purpose of the Book of Joshua is to show that God was indeed faithful to His promise to Abraham. God had promised that the Land of Canaan would be given to Abraham and his offspring. (See Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 23:15.) Connected with this promise of the land was the idea that the Savior would come from the offspring of Abraham in the land of promise. The book of Joshua records for all time that God kept His promise. The Promised Land was given to the offspring of Abraham through the conquests of God’s leader, Joshua. About 1,400 years later, the Savior would be born there.


The theme of the book is “ISRAEL’S CONQUEST OF THE PROMISED LAND UNDER JOSHUA.” The book is logically divided into two main parts:

  1. The Conquest of the Land (1-12)
  2. The Distribution of the Land (13-24)

A BRIEF SURVEY OF PART 1: “The Conquest of the Land” (1-12)

In chapter 1 God encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous in his work of conquering the Promised Land. Chapter 2 tells how spies were sent into the city of Jericho and were hidden by the woman Rahab. Chapter 3 records the miraculous crossing of the River Jordan, they were able to pass through the river on dry land. Chapter 4 relates the story of the piling up of memorial stones at Gilgal to remind the Israelites how the Lord had dried up the Jordan to allow them to cross over. Chapter 5 tells of the circumcision of all the male Israelites, since for the 40 years of wandering there had been no circumcision. Chapter 6 tells of the destruction of the city of Jericho by the Israelites. Chapter 7 relates the sin of Achan. Achan had kept for himself some of the booty from Jericho. The Lord had strictly forbidden this, and Achan was stoned for his disobedience. Chapter 8 tells of the conquering of the city of Ai and the renewal of the covenant at Mount Ebal. The people fulfilled on Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal what God had commanded in Deut. 27. Chapter 9 records the deception of the Gibeonites against the Israelites to keep them from being destroyed. Chapter 10 tells of the amazing battle against the Amorites when the sun stood still for a day. It also records the conquering of the southern cities by the Israelites. Chapter 11 tells of the defeat of the northern kings. Chapter 12 lists 31 kings who were defeated by the Israelites.

A BRIEF SURVEY OF PART 2: “The Distribution of the Land” (13-24)

In chapters 13-22 we are told how the land was distributed among the tribes of Israel. Again your instructor will survey these chapters with you. Use your book of maps, p. 55, to locate the areas allotted to the various tribes. You should be able to place the tribes in their proper location on a map. Chapters 23-24 record Joshua’s farewell address to Israel’s leaders, the renewal of the covenant at Shechem, and the death of Joshua at the age of 110 years.


Crossing the Jordan  Joshua 3 
The fall of Jericho – Joshua 6
The sun stands still – Joshua 10
List of defeated kings – Joshua 12

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