Part II: Preparation for the Conquest—The Book of Deuteronomy
Part III: The Conquest Of Canaan Begins!—The Book of Joshua
Biblical period 4
Lesson # 12

Father God,
You have called your New Covenant people to lives of holiness just as You called our older brothers and sisters in faith, the Old Covenant people of Israel.  Your holy Bible compares lives of holiness to gold—the indestructible metal You created that can withstand fire and the ravages of time.  Fire destroys most materials of nature but gold can endure a fire of a thousand years without being deprived of a degree of its luster or an atom of its content.  So too is the indestructibility of a soul clothed in Your grace and holiness.  The souls of the faithful clothed in golden grace cannot perish and the trials they endure, like fire on this precious metal, simply serve to purify what cannot be destroyed!  Lead us in our lesson Lord as we study how You prepared Your holy people to take possession of the land You promised Abraham.  We pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


"You must seek Yahweh your God in the place which he will choose from all your tribes, there to set his name and give it a home; that is where you must go." Deuteronomy 12:5

"You must keep all the commandments which I enjoin on you today, so that you may have the strength to conquer the country into which you are about to cross, to take possession of it, and so that you may live long in the country which Yahweh promised on oath to bestow on your ancestors and their descendants, a county flowing with milk and honey." Deuteronomy 11:8-9

Part II: Preparation for the Conquest—The Book of Deuteronomy

The title of the Book of Deuteronomy is the English form of the Greek word deuteronomion, which is often mistranslated in English from Deuteronomy 17:18 as "Second law." Deuteronomy 17:18 should be translated "A copy of this law."  The book of Deuteronomy is not, however, a second law but is instead Moses' adaptation and expansion of original Law given at Mt. Sinai. The Hebrew title is from the first words of Deuteronomy 1:1 "These are the words."

The Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy has been vigorously attacked by critics who claim that Moses is only the originator of the traditions upon which these laws are based.  The usual argument is that the book was anonymously written not long before 621BC and used by King Josiah to bring about his religious reforms.  However, both the internal and external evidence for Mosaic authorship is strong. Deuteronomy itself includes about forty claims that Moses wrote it.  The book appears to fit the time of Moses, not that of Josiah, and geographical and historical details indicate a firsthand knowledge of the period between the Exodus and the Conquest of the Promised Land.  In addition to this evidence, the remainder of the Old Testament attributes Deuteronomy and the other parts  of the Pentateuch to Moses (Joshua 1:7; Judges 3:4; 1 Kings 2:3; Ezra 3:2; Psalms 103:7; Malachi 4:4). Jesus himself directly attributes it to Moses (Matthew 19:7-9; John 5:45 47). Furthermore, studies have shown that Deuteronomy appears to follow the covenant treaty format common in the 15th and 14th centuries BC, a form appropriate for the time period this covenant renewal document was given to the new generation of Israelites who will take possession of the Promised Land.

Time frame: 40 years after the Sinai experience.

Summary of Deuteronomy

COVENANT ----------------------------THE SINAI COVENANT--------------------------------
SCRIPTURE 1:1-----------------------4:44--------------------------27:1-------------------34:12
DIVISION OF TEXT -Review of God's blessings and works for Israel -Exposition of the 10 Commandments

-Commentary on the Liturgical laws and feasts

-Civil Laws

-Social Laws
-Ratification of Covenant renewal

-Renewed Covenant blessings and curses

-Transfer of the office of Covenant mediator
TOPIC What God has done
for Israel
Israel's obligations
under the Covenant
God's obligations
under the Covenant


C.2000 BC                        1600 BC                            1350 BC                          1000 BC

Abraham ? -------------EXODUS?-------------                            David

conquers Jerusalem

In summary, Deuteronomy is Moses' last 3 great homilies to the new generation of Israelites who will take possession of the Promised Land [the old generation with the exception of Joshua and Caleb having died on the wilderness journey].  The Covenant of Sinai is reviewed, expanded, enlarged and finally ratified in the plains of Moab.  Moses then presents 3 homilies instructing the people in how they must live when they take possession of the Promised Land.

As Israel prepares to move into Canaan to take possession of the "Promised Land," her status on the world stage changes from that of "nomadic people" to sovereign state.  Moses homilies and the renewal of the Sinai Covenant with the new generation of the desert wandering marks a turning point in Yahweh's relationship with His Covenant people on the Plains of Moab.  At Sinai the covenantal bond was expressed between Yahweh and Israel as Bridegroom and Bride but was also expressed in terms of Yahweh as Israel's King and Moses as His Vicar/ covenant representative.  But now there is a subtle change.  Moses becomes the Covenant mediator of Yahweh as the Suzerain or Great King.  The difference is that a king rules over a people but a suzerain rules an empire with vassal kings bonded in loyalty through covenant treaties.  Knowing that a time will come when Israel will choose a human king over her divine King, Yahweh will establish a Covenant Treaty with Israel as a vassal kingdom.  Moses will temporarily fill the position of not only Covenant mediator but leader of the vassal kingdom and God will allow Moses to modify the Sinai Covenant for the new generation.  This subtle change in relationship to Yahweh as Israel's Suzerain also highlights the relationship of Yahweh with the other kingdoms of the earth.  Yahweh is the Great King who rules over all the kingdoms of the earth but Israel is His "treasured possession....a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" [Exodus 19:5-6]. It is Israel role as Yahweh's "firstborn son" [Exodus 4:23] to be an example for the other nations, the "younger sons", and to show the way to Yahweh as the One True God.  Israel is to be a holy state—a sacred nation and not a political one but she will reject that role when she demands a "king like the other nations"—sadly Israel was not created to be like the other nations [see 1 Samuel 8:1-9].


1. Preamble: Identifying the Lordship of the Great King, stressing his greatness, dominance, and eminence
2. Historical Prologue: Recounting the Great King's previous relationship to his vassal (with special emphasis on the benefits or blessing of that relationship).
3. Ethical Stipulations: Enumerating the vassal's obligations to the Great King (his guide to maintaining the relationship)
4. Sanctions: A list of the blessings for obedience and the curses that will fall on the vassal if he breaks the covenant.
5. Succession Arrangements: Arrangements and provisions for the continuity of the covenant relationship over future generations.


1. Preamble: Deuteronomy 1:1 - 5
2. Historical Prologue: Deuteronomy 1:6 - 4:43
3. Ethical Stipulations: Deuteronomy 4:44 - 26:19
4. Sanctions: Deuteronomy 27:1 - 28:68
5. Succession Arrangements: Deuteronomy 29:1 - 34:12

For more information on Biblical Covenant Treaties see The Importance of Biblical Covenant Treaties and Covenant Treaty in Scripture in the Documents section and Covenant Treaty Format: Comparison of the Judgments of John's Revelation vs. Matthew's Judgments in the Charts section.  Also see the Appendix of this lesson for more information on Biblical Covenant Treaties.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 has a key impact on events in the future.  At Sinai Yahweh was established as Israel's king and Moses His Vicar or Prime Minister, but the office of kingship through the "promised seed" of Abraham has been anticipated since that promise was made to Abraham in Genesis 17:16.  Speaking of his wife Sarah Yahweh tells Abraham, "I shall bless her and she will become nations: kings of peoples will issue from her." And in Genesis 35:11 and 36:31 Yahweh repeats the promise "Kings will come from you." Furthermore in Jacob/Israel's prophecy in Genesis 49:9-12 we discover that this king will come from the tribe of Judah, and in Numbers 24:7 and Deuteronomy 33:5 references are made to this king and the role he will play in bringing about God's promises to Israel.  But this king must be one that Yahweh Himself shall choose [Deuteronomy 17:15], just as Yahweh will choose the resting place of the Tabernacle [repeated 20 times between 12:5 and 31:11].

Question: What restrictions does God impose on the appointment of a king over Israel?  See Deuteronomy 16:14-20

Please read Deuteronomy 18:13-20 Moses' Homily: The Promise of the Prophet

In this passage Moses introduces the office of the prophet and relates Yahweh's promise of the future redeemer: "a prophet greater than Moses".  Even though Abraham is called a prophet in Genesis 20:7 this passage is the first to discuss the office of the prophet of God.  The historical basis of this office is Israel's request at Mt. Sinai for a mediator in Exodus 19:16-19 and 20:19-21.  But this passage refers to a specific individual and not merely to a succession of prophets who were to fill Moses' office after his death.  Even the final words of the book of Deuteronomy in 34:10 recall this promise in Deuteronomy 18:18 and look far into the future to a single individual for this prophetic fulfillment.

Question: What will be the mark of this great prophet? Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Question: What is the test of a true prophet? Deuteronomy 18:21-22
Answer: He must be 100% right 100% of the time or he is not a true prophet.

Question: Mohammed, who founded Islam in the 7th century AD claimed this prophecy was about him.  Does he fit the criteria of this special prophetic office?  Who does fulfill this prophecy?
Answer: No! Jesus of Nazareth is the perfect fulfillment of this prophecy.  In John 1:21-22 John the Baptist is asked if he is "the prophet" and his answer is "no" but in Acts 3:22-23 after quoting the prophecy of the prophet Joel concerning the "last days" Peter said "Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you know.  This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified and killed by men outside the Law."

Question: Remembering God's command to Israel that when this prophet comes they must LISTEN to him, what are God's instructions to Peter, James, and John on the Mt. of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:6?
Answer: "This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor.  Listen to him."

Covenant Blessings and Curses

Please read Deuteronomy 28:1 – 31:13

Chapter 28 is the continuation of chapter 26 in which the Deuteronomic code has been set out in a 5 point Covenant treaty format between Yahweh and Israel.

If you read Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy Chapter 28:1-69 you will see a number of similaritiesDeuteronomy is the reestablishing of the Covenant with the new generation of Israel who had grown up during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and who are now about to take possession of the Promised Land.  Only Joshua and Caleb are alive from the pervious, perverse generation. The Blessings are the result of faithful obedience when covenant people follow the "voice of Yahweh, your God, by keeping and observing all his commandments." 

Curses beginning in verse15: "But if you do not obey the voice of Yahweh your God,  and do not keep and observe all  his commandments and laws which I am laying down for you today then all these curses will befall and over take you."  These curses may anticipate the fate of the Covenant people at the time of the Babylonian captivity [Jeremiah 43:7; 52:1-27 but are only partially fulfilled at that time.  These cruses are more perfectly fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD, an event prophesied by Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-23; and Luke 21:20-24.  Particularly notice:

  1. Verses 41-43: fulfilled in the Roman conquest of Judah in 63BC and also in the revolt of AD66-73AD this curse was fulfilled when the Romans destroyed and enslaved the Jews as a result of their revolt against the Roman Empire, 40 years after Jesus' ascension!
  2. Verse 47-48: This prophecy is fulfilled in 66-73AD.
  3. Verses 54-57: Jewish historian Josephus was an eyewitness to the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD when these curses were fulfilled. The Jews kept the Passover feast in the Spring of AD70.  The city, which normally had a population of 100,000 now, numbered about 1.5 million - 2 million people.  The Roman army besieged the city during the height of the feast.  The siege lasted 3 ½ months during which time famine had increased the suffering of the inhabitants.   Josephus, The Jewish War, Volume I, chapter 3 page 444:"...she slew her son; and then roasted him, and ate the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed.  Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her, that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready.  She replied that she had saved the very fine portion of it for them; and withal uncovered what was left of her son.  Hereupon they were seized with a horror an amazement...."  The Jewish historian, Josephus, recounts the reaction of the Roman soldiers when they discovered this cannibalism:  "..the Romans, some of whom could not believe it; and others pitied the distress which the Jews were under; but there were many of them who were hereby induced to a more bitter hatred than ordinary against our nation."  The Romans set fire to the Temple and utterly destroyed it and the city of Jerusalem.  Josephus records that over a million Jews perished in the revolt against Rome.

It is important to remember that in the Old Covenant both blessings and curses were temporal.  Covenant cursing is meant to be redemptive—a remedy to bring a rebellious people, or individual, back into communion with God.  Note: See the Chart of the Covenant Treaty format in the appendix section of this lesson.  The Sinai Covenant is a conditional covenant based on obedience to the covenant obligations.

The Commissioning of Joshua and The Song of Witness:

Please read Deuteronomy 31:14 – 32:44

The work Yahweh had accomplished through His servant Moses was to be carried on by Joshua [Yeshua]. Moses was to write down and complete the work of the teaching, the Torah, which God had given them and he was to entrust it to the priests who were to keep it in the Ark of the Covenant.  It was to be read publicly every 7 years during the pilgrim Feast of Tabernacles.

Question: According to Exodus 31:29 what is the reason God commanded Moses to write this song and to teach it to the people?
Answer: As an indictment against the people for their repeated willful disobedience and the repeated spiritual failure of the people to keep their covenant obligations, as well as a reminder that judgment will follow disobedience.

Question: Read Deuteronomy 32.  What is the warning that the people should head and when will these judgment events in the song/poem take place?
Answer: The warning is that disaster will fall on God's people because they will not keep the covenant. Clearly the song set its context as "the last days", a time not in the near future but a time "at the end of days". 

The central theme of the song/poem is Israel's apostasy and God's threatening judgment.  The description of the judgment of God on Israel and the nations is apocalyptic in scope and global in extent. 

The Song of Witness looks forward to a great judgment by Yahweh.  This same theme of divine judgment is revealed to the last Biblical prophet, St. John the Apostle, in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation chapter 15 St. John witnesses the 7 angels of God bringing the 7 plagues that were the "last of all because they exhaust the anger of God."  And then John hears the sound of the "Song of Moses and sees that all the angels "had harps from God and they were singing the hymn of Moses, the servant of God, and the hymn of the Lamb..."  Since this is the last of the judgments of God in Revelation is this also the last song of Deuteronomy, Moses' Song of Witness?  Is the "hymn of Moses" that the angels are singing the "Song of Witness that comes before the singing of the victory "Song of the Lamb"?  The "Song of Witness" would have been very familiar to an orthodox Old Covenant Israelite like St. John.  It was sung from the last days of Moses at every Sabbath liturgy up to the destruction of the Temple in 70AD. In the Book of Revelation does this song of Moses signal the end of one covenant and does the victory song of the Lamb signal the beginning of the New and Everlasting Covenant in Christ?

Question:  Read Exodus 40:34-35; Deuteronomy 31:14-15; 2Chronicles 7:1-2. What is the connection between these passages, and what is the connection to Revelation 15:5-8? The action in Deuteronomy 31 is the prelude to the Song of Moses.
Answer: The same action is taking place; God's Glory-Cloud fills the sanctuary and no one can enter.

Question:  Deuteronomy 31:23 is called the commissioning of Joshua: "To Joshua son of Nun, Yahweh gave this order, 'Be strong and stand firm, for you are to be the one to bring the Israelites into the country which I have promised them on oath, and I myself shall be with you.'" What is the connection between Joshua and Christ? 
Answer:   Joshua will be the new Moses and will lead the people of the Covenant into the Promised Land and Jesus-- (Jesus is the Greek [Iesous] version of the Hebrew name Joshua [Yeshua]), the new Joshua, will lead the New Covenant people of God into the Promised Land of heaven.  In the stories of Joshua, son of Nun in the Old Testament no single incident of misbehavior is ever recorded.  He is always perfectly faithful and obedient to God.  His name means "Yahweh saves" or "I save" and the Church Fathers identified him is a "type" (prefigures) of Christ.

We have established some of the connections between Revelation chapter 15 and Deuteronomy chapters 31 & 32.  But to have a better understanding, we need to study Deuteronomy 30.

Please read chapter 30:15 - 31:30.

In Deut 31:14-21 God reveals to Moses what will happen in the future. 

Question: What warning does God give to Moses?

Answer: He tells Moses that the people will apostatize into idol worship breaking His holy Covenant, and that His anger and judgment will come against Israel. 

(Deut 31:14-17) "Yahweh said to Moses, 'You will be sleeping with your ancestors, and this people is about to play the harlot by following the gods of the foreigners of the country, among whom they are going to live.  They will desert me and break my covenant, which I have made with them.  That very day, my anger will blaze against them; I shall desert them and hide my face from them.  A host of disasters and misfortunes will overtake them to devour them.'"

Then Yahweh instructs Moses and Joshua: (v. 19) "Now write down this song for you to use; teach it to the Israelites, put it into their mouths, for it to be a witness on my behalf against the Israelites: against Israel, whom I am bringing into the country which I swore to his ancestors that I would give him, a country flowing with milk and honey: against Israel, who will eat to his heart's content and grow fat, and will then turn to other gods and serve them, despising me and breaking my covenant.  When a host of disasters and misfortunes overtakes him, this song, like a witness, will give evidence against him, since his descendants will not have forgotten it.  Yes, even today, before I have brought him to the country which I have promised him on oath, I know what plans he has in mind.  So that day, Moses wrote out this song and taught it to the Israelites."

The Song of Witness and the passages that follow it in Deuteronomy Chapters 32-34 are Yahweh's Covenant Lawsuit against unfaithful Israel delivered to them through the Prophet Moses as Yahweh's prosecuting attorney.  These passages are structured according to the standard form of the 5 part Covenant Treaty of the ancient Near Eastern kingdoms of the 15th and 14th centuries BC:

1. Preamble: Deuteronomy 32:1-4: the identity of the King
2. Historical Prologue: Deuteronomy 32:5 - 14: history of the relationship
3. Ethical Stipulations: Deuteronomy 32:15 - 18: obligations of the covenant
4. Sanctions: Deuteronomy 32:19 - 25: curses against covenant breakers
Deuteronomy 32:26 - 34:12: blessings on the holy remnant through redemptive judgement
5. Succession Arrangements: Deuteronomy 32:44 - 34:12: future of the covenant for the next generations

(this chart is adapted from scholar David Chilton's outline)

As you read the Song in chapter 32 notice the references to "the Rock", "their Rock" and "our Rock". There are 5 references to this individual who carries the title "Rock" (do not count the first "rock" reference in v. 31 or v. 37 which is not a reference to an individual but instead refers to the practice of offering sacrifices on a rock as an altar). Some modern translations do not accurately translate the Song of Moses and lose the meaning of the title "ROCK".  The New Jerusalem Bible and the St. Ignatius Bible both provide a good translation but the New American completely looses the significance of the text.  

Deut. 32: 1-44 "The Rock" as God is mentioned 5 times, and "Yahweh God" is used 5 times; in number symbolism in Scripture 5 is the number of grace  

#1. verse 4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect,..."
#2. verse 15 Jacob has eaten to his heart's content, Jeshurun, grown fat, has now lashed out.  (You have grown fat, gross, bloated.)  He has disowned the God who made him and dishonored the Rock, his salvation,.."
#3. verse18 "You forget the Rock who fathered you, the God who made you, you no longer remember...."
#4. verse 30 "How else could one man rout a thousand, how could two put ten thousand to flight, were it not that their Rock has sold them, that Yahweh has delivered them up?"
#5 verse 31 "But their rock is not like our Rock; our enemies cannot pray for us!  For their vine springs from the stock of Sodom and from the groves of Gomorrah.."

Note: the word "rock" is used separately in v. 31 and v. 37 as false gods not as a title for God.

Question: In Lesson #11 we determined the identity of the "Rock".  If you do not remember the identity of "The Rock" please read 1Corinthians 10:1-5
Answer: "I want you to be quite certain, brothers, that our ancestors all had the cloud

over them and all passed through the sea.  In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized into Moses; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ. 1Cor 10:1-5. In the passage from 1 Corinthians 1:1-5 St Paul identifies Jesus as "the Rock" that followed the Children of Israel on their wilderness journey and gave them life-giving water.

Question: How many times in the Song of Witness is God identified as " the Rock?" The New American does not provide a good translation.  The New Jerusalem provides the most literal translation of this song.
Answer: Beginning in verse 4 "He is the Rock, his work is perfect" and in verses16, 18, 30, and 31 the title "rock" refers to God 5 times; the word "rock" is used 7 times.

Please look at 32:4 "He is the Rock, his work is perfect for all his ways are equitable.  A trustworthy God who does no wrong, he is the Honest, the Upright One!"

Question:  Do you see a connection to the Song of Moses and the Lamb in the phrase "upright and true are all your ways" in Revelation 15:3b?

Question:  If Jesus is the "Rock" who gave life giving water in the desert wilderness, who is the Rock in the "Song of Witness"?  Hint: again please see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4: "I want you to be quite certain, brothers, that our ancestors all had the Cloud over them and all passed through the sea. In the Cloud and in the sea they were all baptized into Moses; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they drank from the same spiritual Rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ.Answer: the Rock of the "Song of Witness is also Christ. St Paul is referring to the manna from heaven that sustained the Children of Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 16 & Deut 8) and the rock which gave them water (Ex. 17 & Num. 20:7-11).  Both miracles foreshadowing Christ and the Eucharist.  He is the "Living bread come down from heaven" and who will give us "the water of eternal life."

Question:  If Christ is the "Rock" in both the desert wilderness and the song then what is the reason Christ is addressed as "Rock" in the "Song of Witness"  and is there a connection to the "Song of Moses and the Lamb in Revelation?
Answer:  Both songs glorify Christ.

Also notice the references to the "perverse generation" in Deuteronomy 32:5 and v. 20 (some translations have rendered the Hebrew as "deceitful brood" but the Hebrew reference is to generation= dor in Hebrew and genea in Greek).  "Yahweh saw it and in anger he spurned his sons and daughters, 'I shall hide my face from them,' he said, 'and see what will become of them.  For they are a deceitful brood (perverse generation), children with no loyalty in them.'" (Deut 32:19-20)

Question:  Do you recall this pronouncement against another generation of Old Covenant Israel?   Please read Matthew 17:17 and Acts 2:40. The first and the last generation of the Old Covenant have been given this title.

Answer: What will happen to the last generation of the Old Covenant will be a reversal of the rescue the first generation experienced in the Exodus when judgment fell on Egypt, but both generations were condemned for their unfaithfulness.

Both Moses' "Song of Victory" in Exodus 15 and the "Song of Witness" in Deuteronomy 32 were used in the Old Covenant Liturgical Sabbath services in the desert Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem.  The "Song of Victory" was sung at the beginning of the Sabbath liturgy but the "Song of Witness" was sung at the end, from the time of Moses and Joshua until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, 40 years after Jesus' Ascension.

Yahweh had called on His people to be faithful to the Covenant and to enjoy the blessings that He had promised them but tragically this chapter shows that the future choice of God's people would not be for the good; rather "Yahweh said to Moses, 'You will soon be sleeping with your ancestors, and this people is about to play the harlot by following the gods of the foreigners of the country, among whom they are going to live.  They will desert me and break my covenant, which I have made with them.' " This song was a witness against the people, and a warning of what was to come!

Moses' last words to the new generation of Israel before he blessed each tribe: "Take all these words to heart; I intend them today to be evidence against you.  You must order your children to keep and observe all the words of this Law.  You must not think of this as empty words, for the Law is your life, and by its means you will live long in the country which you are crossing the Jordan to possess."  Deuteronomy 32:46-47

Please read Deuteronomy 34: 1-12 The Death of Moses

The last of the Pentateuch was probably completed by Moses successor Joshua.  This chapter provides the final statement regarding Yahweh's refusal to allow Moses to enter the Promised Land.  His death was a punishment just as his generation had died in the wilderness during the forty years was punished.  He was 120 years old when he died and he was buried somewhere on Mt. Nebo.

Question: What is the positive assessment of Joshua that leads us to understand that he will be able to carry out God's plan?
Answer: Deuteronomy 34:9 states that Joshua was "filled with the spirit of wisdom".

The Death of Moses

"It is true that Moses was trustworthy in the household of God, as a servant is, acting as witness to the things which were yet to be revealed, but Christ is trustworthy as a son is over his household. As we are his household, as long as we fearlessly maintain the hope in which we glory." Hebrews 3:5-6

And now Moses, the faithful servant of Yahweh, calmly having set Yahweh's "house" in order prepared for his own departure or "exodus".  From the time Yahweh called him from the brush which earthly flames could not destroy, his first care had been to fulfill God's plan for the salvation of his people.  Mindful that the "work" had not been completed Moses had asked Yahweh to appoint "a shepherd" over Israel after he had departed [see Numbers 27:15-21].  With the appointment and anointing of Joshua and with his final homilies and his restatement of the Covenant to the people, his task was completed.

Alone with God, Moses sets out on his last journey [Deuteronomy 34:1-4].  For a second time Yahweh will allow Moses to view the Promised Land. He climbs to the highest peak of the mountain, approximately 4,500 feet up, a rapid ascent but not rugged.  The people's eyes must have followed him as he made his final journey.  At the top of the mountain, standing there alone his old eyes would have taken in the full view of the Promised Land.  "And Yahweh showed him the whole country: Gilead as far as Dan, the whole of Naphtali, the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, the whole country of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the region of the Valley of Jericho, city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Yahweh said to him, 'This is the country which I promised on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying: I shall give it to your descendants. I have allowed you to see it for yourself, but you will not cross into it.' "

As Moses stood on the crest of the mountain the sweep of the land would have seemed almost endless.  With the gift of this vision Moses could see eastward-- stretching into Arabia was an endlessly rolling plain, an ocean of grain and grass.  Southward, the land of Moab and the sharp outline of Mounts Hor and Seir as well as the granite peaks of Arabia.  To the west he could see that the land descends in terraces to the Salt Sea [Dead Sea].  Beyond the Salt Sea he could see the ridge of Hebron, and then, as his eyes traveled northward he could see the high mountain ridges that would be home to both Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the city whose mountain of Moriah would become the home for Yahweh's house.  Turning northward Moses could see the winding course of the Jordan River from the ancient city of Jericho, resplendent with its many palm trees.  Looking across the river to the west his old eyes would have rested on the rounded top of Mount Gerizim, beyond which the fertile Plain of Esdraelon [Jezerel] opens and the shoulder of Mount Carmel appears.  Moses could have picked out a blue haze in the far distance that is the visible line of the Great Western Sea [Mediterranean].  Still farther northward he could have seen the outline of Mount Tabor and then northward still the beautiful lake country of the Galilee.  Perhaps he even saw the snow-clad outline of Mount Hermon and, if the day was clear, perhaps the highest range of the mountains of Lebanon slightly to the east and the Golan heights of Syria to the northwest.

When Moses returned from this last journey, just as Yahweh decreed, he died and was buried in the valley of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor.  He was 120 years old.  Israel mourned for thirty days, and Joshua succeeded this great prophet as the leader of Israel.

Question: What is the significance of 34:10? 
Answer: This passage, written after Moses' death, tells us that the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 had not yet come.  This picks up the theme of the future Messiah using Moses as a "type" for the future redeemer who will fulfill the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and who will bring a world-wide blessing to the nations of the earth.

The Conquest of Canaan Begins!

"Yahweh spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' adjutant. He said [...] every pace you tread with the soles of your feet I shall give you, as I declared to Moses that I would.  From the desert and the Lebanon, to the Great River, the Euphrates (the entire country of the Hittites), and as far as the Great Sea to westward, is to be your territory.  As long as you live, no one will be able to resist you; I shall be with you as I was with Moses; I shall not fail you or desert you." Joshua 1:1b-5

The Book of Joshua

"As for me and my family, we shall serve the LORD!" Joshua 24:15d [New American translation].

[note: whenever the word" Lord" is written in all capital letters as "LORD" the original ancient text renders this word by the consonants YHWH, God's personal covenant name.   Most scholars believe this word should be pronounced "Yahweh" (yah-way)].


SCRIPTURE 1:1--------6:1---------13:8--------------14:1------20:1-----------22:1-----24:33
DIVISION OF TEXT Preparation of Israel for the conquest Conquest of Canaan Tribes settle  East of the Jordan

Tribes settle West of the Jordan Establishment of the Cities of Refuge Israel's obligations for successful completion of conquest
TOPIC Initial
12 tribes preparing for War Subjugation of the native population VICTORY OVER CANAANITE CITIES
LOCATION East side of the Jordan River Canaan
(west side)
East of Jordan River = 2 ½ Tribes
West of Jordan River = 9 ½ Tribes
TIME c. 1 month c. 7 years c. 7 years


                                           -United Kingdom-Divided Kingdom

c.2000 BC_____1300 BC___1212-1202 BC_______1000___930__________722________586

Abraham          Moses\Conquest    Merneptha           David       Civil                  Israel               Judah
                                of Canaan            Stele                     conquers  War                 destroyed       destroyed
                                                                                             Jerusalem                          by Assyria       by Babylon

Jewish and Christian tradition assigns authorship of this book to Joshua himself.  In the Hebrew Tanach the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings are called the "Early Prophets," but Christians consider the book of Joshua the first of the historical books.  It is also the book that forges the link between the Pentateuch and the rest of the history of the nation of Israel. The Book of Joshua takes up where the narrative of the Pentateuch leaves off with Joshua, Moses' lieutenant, assuming command of the people of Israel.

 Conquest and occupation are the main themes of the book, which can be divined into three parts:

Please read Joshua 1:1-6:27 Joshua's Invasion of Canaan

The setting of the first 5 chapters is east of the Jordan River.  Even though there are no direct messianic prophecies in this book, Joshua is seen as a "type" of Christ.  His name, "Yahweh is Salvation", is the Hebrew equivalent of the name "Jesus".  In his role of triumphantly leading the Children of Israel into the Promised Land he foreshadows Yeshua/ also written as Yehosua=Jesus, the Messiah, who will be for mankind "the leader of their salvation" [Hebrews 2:10] leading all who will follow Him into the true Promised Land, heaven.

Question:  According to the text what are to be Israel's boundaries?  See Joshua 1:3-5.
Answer: Wherever they walk from the desert to Lebanon to the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.  It is only during David and Solomon's reign that this expanse of territory will belong to Israel.

Question: On which side of the Jordan River is Israel camped? Numbers 35:1; 36:13; Deuteronomy 32:49
Answer:  On the east side of the river across from the city of Jericho. 

Question: Do the two spies Joshua sent to survey the town of Jericho receive some unexpected help?
Answer:  Yes, from a prostitute named Rahab.  Ironically another foreign woman intervenes to offer aid to the people of Israel --Moses' Egyptian foster mother is a foreign heroine as were the daughters of Midian who convinced their father to offer Moses sanctuary..  Her Canaanite name suggests sexuality.

Question: The men make a pact with Rabab and in verse 14 they promise "we shall treat you kindly and faithfully".  In Hebrew the word is "hesed".  What does the use of this particular word express in association with the conditions of the arrangement?
Answer: "Hesed" is the Hebrew word that indicates a covenant relationship.  The men are offering Rabah and her family entrance into the covenant with Yahweh.

Question: In what other way is Rahab a significant figure in Biblical history?  See Matthew 1:4-16; Luke 3:23-32 [note: Salma and Salmon = same name]; Ruth 4:18-22, 21;1 Ch 2:10-14.
Answer: Rahab marries Salmon of the tribe of Judah.  Her descendant is Boaz who marries the Moabite woman, Ruth.  Boaz and Ruth are the great grandparents of King David, and ancestors of both Joseph and Mary and therefore of Jesus of Nazareth.

Rahab is mentioned in the "Hall of Heroes/Heroines" in Hebrews 11:31: "It was by faith that Rabah the prostitute welcomed the spies and so was not killed with the unbelievers."

James, first Bishop of Jerusalem and kinsman of Jesus lauds Rahab's good work and uses her as an example of faith combined with good works leading to justification of the righteous in James 2:24-25 "You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified.  There is another example of the same kind: Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified by her deeds because she welcomed the messengers and showed them a different way to leave?"

In Numbers chapter 3 Israel begins to prepare for the crossing.  The Jordan River is full because it is the harvest season, just after the spring rains [vs. 16].  This indicates that it is March or April when the snows of Mt. Hermon melt and the river is at flood stage.

Question: Where are the people crossing the Jordan River?  See Joshua 3:16
Answer: They are crossing from the east bank across from the city of Jericho.

Question: What happens when the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant touch the waters of the Jordan River with their feet?
Answer: The upper waters of the Jordan stopped flowing.  This miracle recalls the crossing of the Sea of Reeds; in fact the connection between the Exodus miracles of Moses and now Joshua's leadership is made three times in Joshua 3:7, 4:14, and 4:23.  The other parallel to the Exodus experience are:

In celebration of their entrance into the Land the new generation of Israelites will be circumcised. The boy children born in the wilderness for those 40 years had not been circumcised, and on the 14th of Nisan the new generation of Israel celebrates the first Passover in the Promised Land.  That night, Nisan 15th , they eat the sacrificial meal of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the next day discover that the manna has stopped.  From now on they will live on the fruits of the Promise Land.

The Conquest of Jericho: 5:13-25

The "Angel of Yahweh", a visual manifestation of God, appears to Joshua identifying Himself as the Captain of the army of Yahweh.  God Himself will lead Israel in battle to take possession of the Land.

Question: Israel commanded to take the city of Jericho by marching with his army around the city while the priests blow the shofar.  How many times did Joshua and his men march around Jericho before the walls fell? 
Answer: 13 times [see Joshua 6:3-5].

Question: How many priests march and blow the shofar on the 7th day?  Is anyone to be spared?  What is the significance of the "curse of destruction?" See Deuteronomy 23:12-13.
Answer: After 6 days of blowing the shofar, on the 7th day 7 priests marched around the city 7 times;  the wall of the city fell and the Israelites captured the city. Jericho is completely destroyed; only Rahab and her family are saved.  The "curse of destruction" in verse 21 is a religious act, a rule for holy war and depends on a divine command.  It is what Yahweh commanded Moses to tell the people in preparation for entering the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 23:12-13 [also see Deuteronomy 7:1-2, 20; and 1Samuel 15:3].  The "curse of destruction"  makes over all that is captured as a sacrifice to Yahweh. 

Question: How many cities will be destroyed?  See Joshua 12: 9-24.
Answer: In all thirty-one Canaanite kings and their cities are destroyed.

It is difficult to understand the command to inflict such destruction except in the context that the Canaanites, the cursed seed of Canaan [Genesis 10:25], were a danger to the promised seed of Israel.  The Canaanites practiced infant sacrifice as part of their religious observances.  Babies up to a year old were sacrificed to their fire god, burned alive.  This taking of innocent human life was an abomination to Yahweh. It is precisely because of this failure to remove the Canaanites that Israel will fall into sin and idolatry.  "For Yahweh had decided to harden the hearts of these men, so that they would engage Israel in battle and thus come under the curse of destruction and so receive no quarter but be exterminated, as Yahweh had ordered Moses." [Joshua 11:20].

Question: Archaeologists have found thousands of clay jars containing the ashes and bones of infants sacrificed in Canaanite cities.  If the sacrifice of infants was a contributing factor in the curse of destruction imposed by a just and righteous God, can nations who practice abortion expect to be exempt from God's judgment?

Question: Notice the repetition of 3s and 7s in these opening 9 chapters.  How many do you count?
Answer: I found 7 threes: 1:11; 2:16, 22; 3:2; 7:3, 4, 9:16. I found 9 sevens in the conquest of Jericho: 6:4, 4, 6, 8, 8, 13, 13, 15, 15, and 3 sevenths in 6:4, 15, 16, for a total of 12 seven/sevenths in the battle for Jericho!

Joshua 8:30-35 Covenant Renewal at Mt. Ebal

Question: What command given by Moses in Deuteronomy 27:1-26 did Joshua now carry out?
Answer: Moses ordered that when Israel had taken the Land that they would erect 12 standing stones on Mt. Ebal, one for each tribe, and they must write on them all the words of the Law.  They must build an altar, make communion sacrifices, and eat a sacrificial meal.  Then half the tribes would stand on Mr. Gerizim and the other half of the tribes would stand across the valley of Shechem on Mt. Ebal and standing in the valley between the two mountains the Levites would call out the curses of the covenant to remind Israel of her obligations and obedience to Yahweh.

Please read Joshua 13:7-19:51 Division of the Land by Tribes

The conquered land is divided among the 12 tribes [the tribe of Levi is not included because they serve Yahweh but the two tribes from Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh complete the 12 required tribes].  Two and a half tribes will settle on the east side of the Jordan River and 9 and a half tribes on the west side of the Jordan River. 

Question: What two cities, important to the future of Israel will become part of the territory of the tribe of Judah? 15:59, 63
Answer: Bethlehem and Jerusalem, but Jerusalem will remain independent of Judah until David of Judah takes the city in 1000BC [2 Samuel 5:6-9]. 

Question: What will be significant about the city of Jerusalem?  See Deuteronomy 12:5; 14:23 and 1Kings 11:13; 2 Kings 21:4; 23:27.
Answer: It will be the place Yahweh has chosen to be the dwelling place of His sanctuary.

Question: What is significant about the village of Bethlehem?  See Micah 5:1-3
Answer: It will be the site of the birth of the Messiah.

Please read Joshua 23:1-16 Joshua's Farewell Address

Joshua's farewell address in chapters 23 and 24 is a fitting conclusion to the career of this remarkable man.

Question: What is unique that is recounted in the Bible concerning the life and works of Joshua?
Answer: There is no single example of any kind of behavior on his part that was either unsavory or inconsistent with his complete faith and devotion to God.  He is the perfect role model for future generations of Israelite leaders.

In chapter 23 Joshua speaks specifically to the leaders of Israel [see 23:2], but in chapter 24 he addresses the whole community of Israel.

Question: In chapter 23 Joshua recounts the mighty acts of God on Israel's behalf and then what warning does Joshua give the people of Israel regarding their commitment to the Laws of God and their interaction with their pagan neighbors?  See Joshua 23:12-13 and Deuteronomy 23:11-13.
Answer: He tells them Yahweh will continue to give them the land and to provide for them so long as they do not intermarry with the foreign nations and adopt their ways.  It is the same warning given by Moses in his last homily in Deuteronomy 23:12-13.

In chapter 24 in his last act as leader of Israel, Joshua calls a Great Assembly of the Covenant people at Shechem.  This assembly constitutes a covenant renewal ceremony in which the nation of Israel recommits herself to serve Yahweh and to reject the worship of all false gods.  Just as in the covenant renewal in Deuteronomy the form of the covenant renewal in Joshua chapter 24 has been recognized by scholars as being based on the common ancient covenant treaty formula:

1. Preamble: Joshua 24:2a
2. Historical Prologue: Joshua 24:2b - 13
3. Ethical Stipulations: Joshua 24:14 - 15
4. Sanctions: Joshua 24:19 - 20
5. Succession Arrangements:/
deposing the covenant document
Joshua 24:21 - 24

At the close of the covenant renewal ceremony Joshua "wrote down these words in the Book of the Law of God"  Joshua 24:25-26

Question for discussion:

Question: Joshua's advice to his people in 23:6 was as valuable to them as it is to us today in our faith journey: "So be very firm about keeping and doing everything written in the Book of the Law of Moses, not swerving from that either to right or to left."  His message was simple: "Be faithful as Yahweh is faithful to you!"  How are you leading your family in faithfulness by example?  In what ways have you neglected vigilance in faithfulness to God as established in the oath sworn at your baptism and at your confirmation?  Did you know that the Latin word sacremantum, from which we get the word "Sacrament" means "to swear an oath"?  How are the Sacraments our active participation in the "oath" of our Covenant to Yahweh?

Question: How do you demonstrate Covenant leadership in your family? In your faith community?

Appendix:  Covenant Treaty format:


In Covenant swearing both the dominant King and his vassal swear an oath in Treaty form, thereby creating a covenant bonding the 2 parties.  The standard covenant had 5 parts:

1.   Preamble: identifying the Lordship of the Great King, stressing his greatness, dominance, and eminence

2.   Historical Prologue: recounting the Great King's previous relationship to his vassal (with special emphasis on the benefits or blessing of that relationship).

3.   Ethical Stipulations: enumerating the vassal's obligations to the Great King (his guide to maintaining the relationship)

4.   Sanctions:  a list of the blessings for obedience and the curses that will fall on the vassal if he breaks the covenant.

5.   Succession:  Arrangements and provisions for the continuity of the covenant relationship over future generations.

Covenant Treaties of Old Testament:

One of the best examples of a Covenant Treaty in the OT is the Book of Deuteronomy written by Moses just before the new generation of the Sinai Covenant took possession of the Promised Land.  It is a Covenant renewal treaty.  The book naturally divides into 5 sections which correspond to the 5 parts of ancient covenant structure.

  1. Preamble (Deuteronomy 1:1-5)

  2. Historical Prologue (Deuteronomy 1:6-4:43)

  3. Ethical Stipulations (Deuteronomy 4:44-26:19)

  4. Sanctions (Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68)

  5. Succession Arrangements (Deuteronomy 29:1-34:12)

When a vassal kingdom violated the terms of the covenant agreement, the Great Lord would send emissaries to warn the offenders of the coming judgment and enforcement of the curse sanctions.  In the Bible it was the mission of God's holy Prophets (who acted as God's prosecuting attorneys) to bring the message of the covenant Lawsuit to the offending nation = in Hebrew a 'rib' or riv.  For example: Isaiah and Hosea brought a Covenant Lawsuit against Israel in the 8th century BC; Both Jeremiah Ezekiel brought a Covenant Lawsuit against Judea in the 6th century BC.  Each prophet addressed the generation on which the Covenant curses would fall. Some examples in Scripture:

  1. Deut 4:26; 30:19; 32:1

  2. Psalm 50:4-7

  3. Isaiah 1:2 &21; 3:13

  4. Micah 6:1

  5. The Book of Hosea [see 2:4 (2)-15 (13);  Hosea 4:1 "Israelites, hear what Yahweh says, for Yahweh indicts [literally brings a 'riv', covenant lawsuit to] the citizens of the country:  there is no loyalty, no faithful love, no knowledge of God in the country..."

The book of Hosea is laid out in the classic Covenant Treaty format:

  1. Preamble: Hosea chapter 1

  2. Historical prologue: chapters 2-3

  3. Ethical Stipulations: chapters 2-7

  4. Sanctions: chapters 8-9

  5. Succession Arrangements:  chapters 10-14

(see Kline: Treaty of the Great King;
also Sutton That you may Prosper: Dominion by Covenant)

The Readings for Biblical Period #5: THE AGE OF THE JUDGES OF ISRAEL

The End of the Conquest Judges 1:1-2:23
Israel Falls into Sin --
God Raises up the Judges
Judges 2:11-23
Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar Serve Israel Judges 3:7-11;15-31
Deborah and Barak
defeat Sisera
Judges 4:1-5:31
Gideon Defeats
the Midianites
Judges 6:1-9:57
Jephthah Defeats
the Ammonites
Judges 10:6- 12:7
Samson Defeats
the Philistines
Judges 13:1-16:31
The Decline of Faith
in Israel
Judges 17:1-21:25
The Story of Ruth and
The Kinsman Redeemer
Ruth 1:1-4:22
The Birth of
the Prophet Samuel and The War against
the Philistines
1 Samuel 1:1-28; 7:1-17

Resources and recommended reading:

  1. Many Religions--One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, [Ignatius Press, 1999].
  2. Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, [Ignatius Press, 1988].
  3. Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie, S.J.,[Bruce Publishing Company, 1965].
  4. Tanach, edited by Rabbi Nosson Scherman,  [Mesorah Publications, Ltd,, 1998].
  5. Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, [William Morrow, Inc., 1991, 2001].
  6. The Navarre Bible Commentary: the Pentateuch
  7. The Anchor Bible Commentary: Leviticus
  8. The Anchor Bible Commentary: Numbers
  9. The Anchor Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy
  10. The Anchor Bible Commentary: Joshua
  11. The Pentateuch as Narrative, John Sailhamer
  12. Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant
  13. "Crosses in the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Waystation on the Road to the Christian Cross", Jack Finegan, Biblical Archaeology Society, [November/December 1979].
  14. "What's in a Name", Jeffery Tigay, Bible Review, pages 34-51, [February 2004].
  15. The Jewish Festivals, Hayyim Schauss, [New York Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1938, 1965].
  16. The Feasts of the Lord, Kevin Howard, Marvin Rosenthal, [Thomas Nelson, 1997].
  17. Offerings, Sacrifices and Worship in the Old Testament, J. H. Kurtz, [reprinted]
  18. Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy, Meredith G. Kline, [Grand Rapids: William B. Erdmann's Pub. Co., 1963].

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.