SynopsisAt the end of Deuteronomy, Moses died, and left Joshua in charge of the Israelites. The book of Joshua marks the beginning of Joshua’s leadership.
The first thing that happens is that the LORD talks to Joshua, and tells him the following:
- Now that Moses is dead, Joshua and the Israelites are to prepare to enter the Promised Land, which He will give them.
- As long as Joshua lives, God will be with him, the way He was with Moses, and nobody will be able to stand up against him.
- Joshua is to be strong, and courageous. (God uses the phrase “be strong and courageous” three times in this chapter, in verses 6, 7, and 9. And, interestingly, the leaders of some of the Israelite tribes also use the phrase, in verse 18.)
- Joshua is also to be careful to adhere to God’s law. He is to carefully keep to it, and meditate on it—and if he does, he will be prosperous and successful.
So Joshua begins to “rally the troops.” He gets the officers, and tells them to prepare, because in three days, they’ll be crossing the Jordan, to take possession of the land.
However, he takes special care to talk to the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites—is that the right name for the tribe of Manasseh?—and reminds them about the vow they made: although they already have their land, on this side of the Jordan, their fighting men are to cross the Jordan ahead of their brothers, and help them to conquer the land. (The text doesn’t use the word “conquer,” but let’s be honest, that’s what they’re doing.) Once the land is settled, they can return to their own land. They agree, and tell Joshua that they will indeed cross the Jordan ahead of their brothers. They also tell him that they’ll obey him just as they obeyed Moses—but with a bit of a caveat:
Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. (verse 17)
Which, really, is a pretty good caveat, right? “As long as God is with you, we’ll be with you.” Frankly, if God were to abandon Joshua, then the people probably should too…