Study Guide

Book of Joshua Courage

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Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. (NRSV 1:6)

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. (KJV 1:6)

Now that Joshua is the new leader of the Israelites, he needs to see the Wizard of Oz for some courage. But since there isn't a Wizard of Oz in Canaan, Joshua will have to make due with God. Food for thought: Is the Wizard of Oz a God figure?

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (NRSV 1:8-9)

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (KJV 1:8-9)

God tells Joshua to have courage. Well, actually he pretty much commands it. God knows how to get stuff done. We're on the fence, but it seems like there might be something sort of paradoxical (that's fancy for self-contradicting) about mustering courage under command.

They answered Joshua: "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your orders and disobeys your words, whatever you command, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous." (NRSV 1:16-18)

And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage. (KJV 1:16-18)

The Israelites tell Joshua to have courage and that they will follow him as they did Moses. That's very kind of them considering Joshua's whole life now revolves around being brave and becoming Moses. It's also interesting that God keeps telling Joshua to have courage, which he relays to the Israelites, which they in turn tell him. That's one big circle of courage.

As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. (NRSV 2:11)

And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. (KJV 2:11)

Oh no, Rahab's heart melted! Not really, that would be really weird. Rahab is using metaphorical language to discuss how the people of Jericho are terrified of the Israelites and their God. Do you think Rahab really described her fear this way, or was the writer taking some creative license?

Joshua said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned their backs to their enemies! The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will you do for your great name?" The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! Why have you fallen upon your face? (NRSV 7:7-10)

And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? (KJV 7:7-10)

In Joshua 7, the Israelites lose what should have been an easy battle against a small army at Ai, but because of outlying reasons, God is not with them in battle. Joshua moans and groans, but God essentially tells him to "buck up." Is God always about the tough love?

They answered Joshua, "Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; so we were in great fear for our lives because of you, and did this thing. And now we are in your hand: do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us." (NRSV 9:24-25)

And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do. (KJV 9:24-25)

The Gibeonites, being crafty, decide to dress up like weary travelers to infiltrate the Israelites. This scheme requires quite a bit of courage considering Israel's sterling battlefield reputation. We're not sure if this is true bravery, or complete foolishness. Sometimes it's hard to tell them apart.

When they brought the kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the Israelites, and said to the chiefs of the warriors who had gone with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. And Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous; for thus the LORD will do to all the enemies against whom you fight." (NRSV 10:24-25)

And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. (KJV 10:24-25)

Step on their necks! That's what Joshua gives as a lesson anyway. Once the kings have been defeated, Joshua orders their necks to be stepped on as a lesson in courage. It's always nice when Joshua uses visual aids to teach. Would you consider this lesson a little harsh?

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him an honest report. 8But my companions who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.' And now, as you see, the LORD has kept me alive, as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel was journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was on the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war, and for going and coming. (NRSV 14:7-11)

Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God. And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. (KJV 14:7-11)

Joshua tells the Israelites of a time he showed courage in the face of adversity, explaining he's just as brave now as he was when he first entered into the Promised Land. Does it sound like Joshua is full of himself? Or maybe he's trying to convince himself? You decide.

Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right nor to the left, so that you may not be mixed with these nations left here among you, or make mention of the names of their gods, or swear by them, or serve them, or bow yourselves down to them, but hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. (NRSV 23:6-8)

Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside there from to the right hand or to the left; That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. (KJV 23:6-8)

When Joshua is old and frail, he tells the Israelites to maintain their courage. Bravery in the face of adversity, along with faith in God, is what allowed the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land. Joshua pleads with the Israelites to keep this theme going. What do you think made Joshua lose his faith in the people of Israel?

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