Since we're starting the book of Joshua this week in our Theocratic Bible reading schedule, I wanted to post some additional backround info, and maps showing the location of where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan on their way to the Promised Land...(click on the pictures to see the details of the map closeup).
Enlarged section of map on (pg 19, of "See the Good Land" brochure), showing the Jordan River from the city of Adam, where the waters of the river banked up enabling Joshua to lead the Israelites across, down to the Salt Sea/Dead Sea.
Cross section of the Promised Land - showing elevation,
(pg 12 of "See the Good Land")
the following info covers the first half of Joshua,
(pgs 8-10, of the 12/1/04 Watchtower)
Highlights From the Book of Joshua
Encamped on the Plains of Moab in 1473 B.C.E., the Israelites must be thrilled to hear these words: “Get provisions ready for yourselves, because three days from now you are crossing this Jordan to go in and take possession of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you to take possession of it.” (Joshua 1:11) Their 40-year wilderness sojourn is about to end.
A little over two decades later, the leader Joshua stands in the heart of the land of Canaan and declares to the older men of Israel: “See, I assigned to you by lot these nations that remain as an inheritance for your tribes, and all the nations that I cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea at the setting of the sun. And Jehovah your God was the one who kept pushing them away from before you, and he dispossessed them on your account, and you took possession of their land, just as Jehovah your God had promised you.”—Joshua 23:4, 5.
Written by Joshua in 1450 B.C.E., the book of Joshua is an exciting historical narrative of what took place during those 22 years. As we stand at the threshold of the promised new world, our position is comparable to that of the sons of Israel who were poised to take possession of the Promised Land. With keen interest, then, let us give attention to the book of Joshua.—Hebrews 4:12.
TO “THE DESERT PLAINS OF JERICHO”
What an assignment Joshua receives when Jehovah tells him: “Moses my servant is dead; and now get up, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel”! (Joshua 1:2) Joshua is to lead a nation of several million people into the Promised Land. In preparation, he sends out two spies to Jericho—the city that is to be conquered first. In that city lives Rahab the harlot, who has heard about the powerful works Jehovah has performed in behalf of his people. She protects and helps the spies and receives from them a promise of preservation.
Upon the return of the spies, Joshua and the people are ready to make their move and cross the Jordan. Although at flood stage, the river proves to be no obstacle to them, for Jehovah causes the waters upstream to rise up like a dam and allows the waters downstream to empty into the Dead Sea. After crossing the Jordan, the Israelites camp at Gilgal, near Jericho. Four days later, on the evening of the 14th day of Abib, they observe the Passover on the desert plains of Jericho. (Joshua 5:10) The next day, they begin to eat some of the yield of the land, and the provision of the manna ceases. During this time, Joshua circumcises all males born in the wilderness.
Headwaters of the Jordan River, (pg 332, Insight Vol. 1)
Shore of Salt Sea, lowest spot on earth, about 400 m/1,300 ft below sea level, (photo on pg 13 of "See the Good Land")
Salt formations in the Salt Sea, (pg 336 -Insight Vol. 1)
Scriptural Questions Answered:
2:4, 5—Why does Rahab mislead the king’s men who are searching for the spies? Rahab protects the spies at the risk of her life because she has come to have faith in Jehovah. Therefore, she is under no obligation to divulge the spies’ whereabouts to men who are seeking to harm God’s people. (Matthew 7:6; 21:23-27; John 7:3-10) In fact, Rahab was “declared righteous by works,” including the act of misdirecting the emissaries of the king.—James 2:24-26.
5:14, 15—Who is “the prince of the army of Jehovah”? The prince who comes to strengthen Joshua as the conquest of the Promised Land begins is likely none other than “the Word”—Jesus Christ in his prehuman existence. (John 1:1; Daniel 10:13) How strengthening it is to have the assurance that the glorified Jesus Christ is with God’s people today as they engage in spiritual warfare!
Lessons for Us:
1:7-9. Reading the Bible daily, regularly meditating on what it says, and putting into practice what we learn are essential for success in spiritual endeavors.
1:11. Joshua asks the people to get provisions ready and not idly wait for God to provide them. Jesus’ admonition to stop being anxious about the necessities of life, along with his promise that “all these other things will be added to you,” does not mean that we should take no measures to support ourselves.—Matthew 6:25, 33.
2:4-13. After hearing about Jehovah’s great deeds and realizing that the time was critical, Rahab makes a decision to take the side of his worshipers. If you have been studying the Bible for some time and recognize that we are living in “the last days,” should you not make a decision to serve God?—2 Timothy 3:1.
3:15. Since the report of the spies who were sent to Jericho is favorable, Joshua acts quickly, without waiting for the waters of the Jordan to subside. When it comes to deeds involving true worship, we must act courageously rather than delay until the circumstances seem more suitable.
4:4-8, 20-24. The 12 stones taken from the riverbed of the Jordan are to serve as a memorial to Israel. Jehovah’s acts of delivering his modern-day people from his enemies also stand as a memorial that he is with them.
Map showing Israelite conquest of the Promised Land, (pg 737, Insight Vol. 1)
ON WITH THE CONQUEST
The city of Jericho is “tightly shut up . . . , no one going out and no one entering.” (Joshua 6:1) How would the city be taken? Jehovah gives Joshua the strategy. Soon the walls are down and the city is destroyed. Only Rahab and her household are saved.The next conquest is the royal city of Ai. The spies sent there report that the city has few inhabitants, so not many men are needed to strike it down. However, about 3,000 soldiers sent to attack the city take to flight from the men of Ai. The reason? Jehovah is not with the Israelites. Achan of the tribe of Judah sinned while invading Jericho.
After handling the matter, Joshua comes up against Ai. Having defeated the Israelites once, the king of Ai is eager to meet them in combat. But Joshua uses a strategy that plays on the overconfidence of the men of Ai, and Joshua takes the city.Gibeon is ‘a great city—greater than Ai, and all its men are mighty ones.’ (Joshua 10:2) Upon hearing of Israel’s success against Jericho and Ai, however, the men of Gibeon trick Joshua into making a covenant of peace with them. The surrounding nations view this defection as a threat to them. Five of their kings form an alliance and attack Gibeon. Israel rescues the Gibeonites and thoroughly defeats the attackers. Israel’s other conquests under the leadership of Joshua include cities in the south and west, as well as the defeat of the coalition of kings to the north. All the kings defeated on the west of the Jordan amount to 31.
Map showing the surrounding pagan nations to be displaced from the Promised Land by the Israelites, (pg 11 of "See the Good Land")
Scriptural Questions Answered:
10:13—How is such a phenomenon possible? “Is anything too extraordinary for Jehovah,” the Creator of the heavens and the earth? (Genesis 18:14) If he chooses to, Jehovah can manipulate the movement of the earth so that the sun and the moon would seem motionless to an earthly observer. Or he can let the movement of the earth and the moon remain undisturbed while refracting the rays from the sun and the moon in such a way that the light from these two luminaries continues to shine. Whatever the case, “no day has proved to be like that one” in human history.—Joshua 10:14.
10:13—What is the book of Jashar? The book is mentioned again at 2 Samuel 1:18 with reference to a poem called “The Bow”—a song of grief about King Saul of Israel and his son Jonathan. The book was probably a collection of songs and poems on epical or historical subjects and was likely well-known among the Hebrews.
Lessons for Us:
6:26; 9:22, 23. The curse that Joshua pronounced at the time of Jericho’s destruction is fulfilled some 500 years later. (1 Kings 16:34) Noah’s curse on his grandson Canaan comes true when the Gibeonites become laborers. (Genesis 9:25, 26) Jehovah’s word always comes true.
7:20-25. Some may dismiss Achan’s theft as a minor offense, perhaps reasoning that it brought no harm to others. They may view petty thefts and minor offenses against Bible law in a similar vein. We, though, should be like Joshua in our resoluteness to resist pressures toward illegal or immoral acts.
9:15, 26, 27. We must take seriously the agreements we make and keep our word.
~ this covers the first half of the book of Joshua...I'll post the rest of the info with maps showing the tribe divisions of the land, when we're at the half-way point ~