Introduction to the Book of Joshua
Dr. Jim Denison
Joshua before Joshua
The man known as Joshua was first named Hoshea (Numbers 13:8, 16), which means “salvation.” Later Moses changed his name to Joshua, meaning “the Lord saves” or “the Lord gives victory.” “Joshua” and “Jesus” are both derived from the same Hebrew word Yehoshua. The similarity of their names and work is striking—both led God’s people to salvation by conquest over the enemies of the Lord, establishing the possibility of eternal rest in the providence of the Father.
As the NavPress commentary makes clear, Joshua served a critical role in the early chapter of Israel’s history as a nation. When the people crossed the Red Sea, they met the Amalekites in their first military battle, and were led by Joshua to victory (Exodus 17:8-16). Joshua quickly became Moses’ understudy and disciple, sharing his experience atop Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:9-13) and in the tabernacle (Exodus 33:7-11).
After Moses led the nation to the edge of the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb were sent with ten other tribal representatives to spy out the land. Only they reported favorably; the nation shrunk from their heritage in fear, and their generation was forced to wander in the desert until they died. Moses then led them again to the boundary of the land, where he was taken to heaven. Leadership of God’s people now rested humanly in the hands of Joshua.