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Catholic Dictionary




Son of Nun, an Ephraimite. A military leader and hero whose name first appeared in the Old Testament when he won a great victory for Moses against the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). His prestige grew, and, obeying Yahweh's advice, Moses chose Joshua to be his successor and lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan (Numbers 27:18-23). Whereas Moses failed to reach it, Joshua succeeded in entering the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:2). The history of this great enterprise appears in the Book of Joshua, which relates the conquest of Canaan, the partition of the territory among the twelve tribes, and his final days (Joshua 1-12, 13-21, 22-24). Joshua was the dominating figure of the book, but he was not the author. While part of it was written during his lifetime, the writing was spread over a long period and a number of writers contributed. Hence, it is a fabric of many strands. It affords a simple overview of a long, complex historical process, idealized to ensure reverent acceptance by the Jews. Shortly before his death Joshua gathered all the elders, judges, and priests in a great assembly at Shechem. There they agreed unanimously to renounce all other deities and dedicate themselves and their people to the service of Yahweh. This was one of the great unifying actions in the history of Israel. His lifework completed, Joshua, the servant of Yahweh, died and was buried in Ephraim (Joshua 24:29-31).