Joshua the son of Nun

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Joshua fighting the King of the Amalekites , representation from the Hortus Deliciarum by Herrad von Landsberg , around 1175

Joshua (Jehoshua יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yəhôšuaʿ ), son of Nun, is a figure of Tanach . Joshua led the Israelites to take over the land as the successor to Moses .


Yehoshua, Yeshua in the variants of the Masoretic text

The Hebrew name Josua appears in the MT mainly in the spelling יְהוֹשֻׁעַ jəhôšua ' , but also as יְהֹושׁוּעַ jəhôšûa' and means " YHWH is savior / rescue / help".

Biblical representation

Joshua comes from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim . About the father Now there is no further information, apart from being Joshua's father, he is only mentioned in a genealogy in 1 Chr 7:27  EU . For the first time, Joshua appears in Ex 17.9  EU on behalf of Moses as a military leader in the battle of the Israelites against Amalek . In Ex 24.13  EU he accompanies Moses as a servant as he climbs the mountain of God . Joshua does not take part in the apostasy of the people from YHWH in idolatry for the golden calf in Ex 32  EU . In Num 13.16  EU , Joshua first bears the name Hoschea, son of Nun, but receives the new name Joshua from Moses. Here Joshua as the leader of the tribe of Ephraim belongs together with Caleb , the son of Jefunnes from the tribe of Judah, to the spies of the twelve tribes who are to prepare the conquest of the land. The scouts find a huge cluster and bring them to the camp. Joshua and Caleb want to advance the conquest, while the leaders of the other tribes hesitate and do not want to participate in the conquest. As a punishment for the disagreement and procrastination, the people of Israel have to spend another 40 years wandering in the desert until the whole generation dies, only Joshua and Caleb are later allowed to move into the promised land .

Appointment of Joshua as successor to Moses, Lorenzkirche (Nuremberg)

In Num 27  EU Joshua is determined to be the successor of Moses. In Dtn 31.7  EU he will be appointed one more time. The book of Joshua continues the story of the land conquest after the death of Moses. → Landing by the Israelites

Joshua takes on the role of general in the book of Joshua and leads the people in JosEU from the east across the Jordan into the promised land and has twelve memorial stones erected in Gilgal , JosEU . In a theophany in Jos 5:13  EU, Joshua meets a man with a sword in Gilgal, a messenger of God, as it turns out. Chapters 6 through 8 connect Joshua with aetiological sagas about the destruction of the cities of Jericho and Ai . At the end of Chapter 12 comes a list of the defeated kings of the East and West Banks. In chap. 13-19 Joshua divides the land in the mountains and in the Shphelah , in the Arava and on the mountain slopes, in the desert and in the Negev , which the defeated Amorites , Hittites , Hivites , Jebusites , Canaanites and Perizzites had lost to them individual tribes of Israel. There is a tradition for the tomb of Joshua according to Jos 24.30  EU in Timnat-Serach or according to Ri 2.9  EU in Timnat-Heres on the mountains of Ephraim.

Historical appreciation

The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua can hardly be evaluated as historical sources for the life of Joshua from a scientific perspective. The story about the installation of the twelve memorial stones in Gilgal on the occasion of the Jordan crossing and the reports about the conquest of the cities of Jerichos and Ai are etiological legends . These stories provide an explanation for the memorial stones and rubble mounds that are there, so they are not the original traditions about Joshua. Ai, Heb. עַי as the name of the city goes back to the Hebrew עִי(ʿI), which means ruin or rubble. The destruction was so far ago that the original name of the city is no longer known.

The archaeological findings also show that both Bronze Age cities were built centuries before the conquest from the 12th century BC. B.C., so have nothing to do with the events of the land grab in the early Iron Age. Only in Jericho were there still some unfortified buildings from the early Iron Age on the settlement mound of the destroyed Bronze Age city . Another argument against the historicity is that the stories in the book of judges describe the same period of time, but paint a completely different picture of the changeful land acquisition. In narrative terms, the Book of Joshua is the continuation and fulfillment of YHWH's land promises to the patriarchs and the people as formulated in the Pentateuch. The theological conception corresponds so closely to the Pentateuch that the close affiliation with the term Hexateuch is expressed. Against this background, the Joshua narratives should not be seen as historical accounts. Rather, they are part of the Deuteronomistic history , which undertakes a targeted theological interpretation of the old tradition and presents the events in a reconstructed order. On the other hand, the names Joshua and Caleb are linked to battles in the conquest of the land and there was an ancient burial tradition for Joshua up into the Middle Ages, so that a historical person Joshua as general of the Ephraim tribe is likely, whereby various legends were subsequently connected with Joshua.

Memorial days

Individual evidence

  1. "His [Josuas] figure had a fate similar to that of Moses: through the firm connection with one tradition it became the magnet for many traditions." Herbert Donner : The history of Israel and its neighbors in basic features , part 1: of the Beginnings up to the state formation period, Göttingen 1984 p. 128