Joshua, Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Jeshua, Jesus [Jŏsh'uă, Jēhŏsh'u ă, Jĕsh'u ă, Jē’sus]—jehovah is salvation.
1. The son of Nun and successor of Moses and author of the book bearing his name. He is also called Hoshea (Num. 13:8, 16; Deut. 32:44).
Joshua has been rightly called, “The first soldier consecrated by sacred history.” A profitable way of studying his profile is to think of him in the following roles:
As a Son. Joshua was the son of Nun—a name meaning “prosperity, durable”—and of the tribe of Ephraim. Nothing is known of his mother. One usually finds, however, a good and gracious woman in the background of a man who reaches a position of influence and honor. Without doubt, Joshua’s parents feared the God of Israel, and he continued their godly influence.
As a Slave. Born during the weary years of bondage his nation suffered in Egypt under Pharaoh, Joshua knew something of the lash of the whip, the almost impossible task in the brick-fields, and the deep sigh of liberty. But little did he realize that although a slave, he would rise to become Israel’s supreme leader and commander. He had witnessed the moral and social degradation of his countrymen brought about by the terrible idolatries of that time. Thus, when he came to the position of leadership, his solemn commands were colored by early experience (Josh. 24:15).
As a Soldier. Joshua was pre-eminent as a military leader who knew how to plan campaigns, discipline his forces, use spies, but above all, pray and trust in God. Many a general has closely studied Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and followed his strategy. Read how he discomfited Amalek (Exod. 17:9-16)! He never stooped to pilfering and plunder. It was as true of him as of Sir Henry Havelock, of whom it was said, “He was every inch a soldier, and every inch a Christian.” Joshua was first of all a good soldier of the Lord whom he encountered and obeyed as Captain of the Lord’s host (Josh. 5:13-15).
As a Servant. Joshua’s victory over Amalek gave him the open door of further usefulness and responsibility. That he was prepared for the responsibilities of leadership is evidenced by the fact that because of his unswerving loyalty and devotion, he is called “the servant of Moses” (Num. 11:28; Josh. 1:1).
As a Spy. Joshua, along with eleven others, was chosen to search the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1-16). It was at this time that Moses changed his servant’s name from Oshea or Hoshea, meaning “help” to Joshua, meaning “God’s help” or “salvation.” The changed name indicated the desire of Moses to lift the thoughts of the people Godward, and to lead them from reliance upon leaders to God’s help. Along with Caleb, Joshua brought back a faithful report of the land, which the people rejected, and wandered thereby for forty years in the wilderness. But Joshua profited by such an experience (Josh. 2:1, 2).
As a Saviour. Moses, representing the Law, brought the people to the border of the land, but it took a Joshua (God’s salvation) to take them into the land. Divinely commissioned for such a task, he was probably about eighty-five years of age when he assumed command at Shittim. What a saviour he was! How marvelously was he helped to roll away Israel’s reproach and to lead them to possess their possessions! His conquests and victories are typical of all the Lord has made possible for His own.
As a Statesman. What magnanimity and unselfish statesmanship Joshua revealed! Once the division of the land was completed, he carried through the setting up of the Tabernacle, the appointing of the cities of refuge, the arrangement of the Levitical order and service, with the same precision and thoroughness that characterized his other work as Israel’s Premier and leader.
As a Saint. Joshua’s saintliness marked him out as Moses’successor (Deut. 34:9). What a soldier-saint he was!
He was filled with the Spirit of God (Deut. 34:9).
He enjoyed the presence of God (Josh. 1:5; 6:27).
He was indwelt by the word of God (Josh. 1:8).
He was ever obedient to the will of God (Num. 32:12; Josh. 5:14).
No wonder his death at 110 years of age was deeply mourned and his eminent service universally acknowledged! The brief but noble epitaph of the historian is eloquent with meaning, “before Joshua, the servant of the Lord.” Dead, he could yet speak, for the nation continued to serve the Lord all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua (Josh. 24:3).
2. A Beth-shemite, and owner of a field in the days of Eli (1 Sam. 6:14, 18).
3. The Governor of Jerusalem in the days of Josiah (2 Kings 23:8).
4. The son of Josedech and high priest at the time of the rebuilding of the Temple (Hag. 1:1; 2:4; Zech. 3; 6:11).
Devotional content drawn from All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer. Used with permission.