Joshua (jŏshˈōə) [key], book of the Bible. It is the first book of the Deuteronomic history (Joshua–2 Kings), in which the theological outlook of the Book of Deuteronomy is used to explain the fate of Israel. As it stands in the canon, Joshua is the historical sequel to Deuteronomy, recounting the invasion and occupation of Palestine by all Israel. The chief figure of the book is Joshua, Moses' successor as leader of Israel. He appears in Moses' lifetime in increasingly important positions—as a warrior, as the assistant to Moses, as one of the spies, and finally as Moses' designated successor. The Book of Joshua may be divided into three sections. First is the conquest of the Promised Land, including the divine appointment of Joshua, the dry crossing of the Jordan River, the fall of Jericho, and the battle where the sun and moon stood still. Second is the allotment of the land to the people by tribes, an episode that begins with the observation that much land had yet to be conquered and includes an account of how the tribes east of the Jordan acquitted themselves of the charge of setting up a sanctuary of their own. Third is the farewell sermon of Joshua and his death. In this section, Joshua makes plain in Deuteronmic terms how the land won can be secured—by renouncing the worship of other gods and by fidelity to the covenant.
See studies by M. Woudstra (1981), R. G. Boling (1982), and T. Butler (1983). See also bibliography under Old Testament.