Preparing to enter the land.
The announcement of Moses' death connects the book of Joshua to the end of the Torah, for the last chapters of Deuteronomy
) are concerned with the end of Moses' life. The continuity of leadership, originating in the authority of Moses and now manifest
in Joshua, was emphasized in the Torah (Num. 27.15–23; Deut. 31.7–8
). It was important to rabbinic Judaism as well, as was the connection of the Torah to the subsequent biblical books. Probably
for those reasons, the haftarah (prophetic reading) for Simḥat Torah at the conclusion of Sukkot, when chs 33–34
of Deuteronomy are read, is Josh. 1.1–18
The commission is presented in four speeches, one delivered by God (vv. 2–9
), two by Joshua (vv. 10–11, 12–15
), and one by the people (vv. 16–18
The first speech introduces major themes of the book: crossing the Jordan, acquiring the territory promised to Moses, apportioning
the land to the people, and obeying God's teaching as a requisite for success and prosperity.
The full extent of the land runs from the Jordan on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, from the Lebanon in the northwest and the Great River, the River Euphrates, in the northeast to the wilderness in the south. These borders are virtually the same as in the description given by Moses in Deut. 11.24–25
. These are ideal borders only, and likely do not reflect the land held by Israel either in this period, or in some later
People…land is a juxtaposition that is central to the covenant idea, depicted as originating in the ancestral period and becoming actualized
in the era of Joshua.
The whole Hittite country does not appear in the parallel description of the land in Deut. 11
or in the Septuagint, the earliest translation of the Bible. It may therefore be a later addition, referring to northern
With Moses…with you emphasizes God's presence, essential for success.
The military exhortation to be strong and resolute, which occurs three times in this section and again at the end of ch 1
, echoes the language of Deut. 31.6, 7,23
, and also appears in Josh. 10.25
. The Vilna Gaon (Elijah ben Solomon Zalman of Vilna, an 18th‐century Lithuanian rabbi and biblical commentator) considered
“strong” to refer to the body and “resolute” to the emotions, and together they have come to signify the courage necessary
for all difficult endeavors.
Daily reflections on God's teaching, along with courage, are essential for successful occupation of the land. Many consider
these verses as an addition, which reinterprets the earlier idea of strength through military victory as strength through
Torah study and obedience.
Teaching is the translation here of Heb “torah.” It is thus understood to be broader than legislation, whereas Christian translations
use “law.” Here, as in many places in the Bible, it is unclear if “torah” should be translated as the canonized Torah, or
as a set of precanonical “teachings.”
Book denotes that God's teachings are in written form, though in this period they would have been on a scroll rather than in a
book of bound pages (cf. Exod. 24.3–7
). Language similar to this verse is also found in Ps. 1.2–3
. The opening chapters of Nevi’im and Kethuvim thus both contain references to “torah,” emphasizing the significance of Torah
within the canon.
Joshua gives his first orders.
Three days may denote a ritual period before a significant event and is not always to be taken literally (e.g., Gen. 40.13, 19, 20; Exod. 3.18; 19.11
Joshua's second speech is directed to the two‐and‐a‐half Transjordanian tribes. The other nine‐and‐a‐half tribes have helped
them take their territory; now they are to cross the Jordan to help those tribes acquire their land (cf. Num. ch 32; Deut. 3.12–20
Wives, children, and livestock are the three parts of a household that are taken as booty in warfare (cf. Deut. 20.14
). Mention of them is the first indication that taking the land will involve warfare. The term fighting men, used several times (
) in Joshua to refer to Israelite warriors, likewise anticipates military encounters.
The Transjordanian tribes deliver the final speech in ch 1
, affirming Joshua as the authoritative successor to Moses.
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