Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Joshua, the Book of, the sixth book of the ot, the first of the Former Prophets (i.e., the historical books, which conclude with Nehemiah). In broad outline, the book tells of Israel’s conquest of Canaan under Joshua after the death of Moses (chaps. 1-12) and Joshua’s subsequent distribution of the land among the tribes (chaps. 13-19). Six cities are then designated places of asylum (chap. 20), and forty-eight are reserved for Levites (chap. 21). The east Jordan tribes then return to their Transjordanian territory (chap. 22). In his old age, Joshua delivers a valedictory address (chap. 23). In another address, he challenges the tribes to commit themselves to God alone (chap. 24). The book ends with notices of Joshua’s death, the interment of Joshua’s remains and Israel’s faithfulness to God until Joshua’s contemporaries died (24:29-33).


The Book of Joshua

I. Introduction: transfer of leadership to Joshua (1:1-18)

A. God’s instructions and promises to Joshua (1:1-9)
B. Joshua’s instructions to the people (1:10-18)

II. The conquest of Canaan (2:1-12:24)

A. In central Palestine; the crossing of the Jordan (2:1-9:27)
B. In the south (10:1-43)
C. In the north (11:1-23)
D. Summary list of defeated kings (12:1-24)

III. The distribution of the land (13:1-22:34)

A. God’s instructions to Joshua (13:1-7)
B. Moses’ allotments to Transjordanian tribes (13:8-33)
C. Tribal allotments made by Joshua (14:1-19:51)
D. Designation of cities of refuge and levitical cities (20:1-21:42)
E. Summary of conquest: promises fulfilled (21:43-45)
F. Dismissal of Transjordanian tribes (22:1-34)

IV. Concluding speech and historical notices (23:1-24:33)

A. Farewell address of Joshua (23:1-16)
B. Covenant at Shechem (24:1-28)
C. Death and burial notices: Joshua, Joseph, Eleazar (24:29-33)

The present book contains some old traditions of historical value. The remains of premonarchical tribal accounts of local conflicts are scattered through the book, the first third of which depends on Benjaminite traditions (perhaps shaped by the worship practices carried on at Gilgal), which have been combined, generalized, and extended to create a single, national epic of a march of miraculous conquest under a single leader. The lists of boundary markers, cities, and territorial units perhaps go back to administrative reorganization during the early monarchy (late eleventh century b.c.). The book owes its present character to the Deuteronomists (see esp. 1; 8:30-35; 11:10-23; 21:43-22:6; 23-24), who distinguish the conquest from the subsequent cycles of apostasy and deliverance (Judges) and from the formation of Israel under Moses (Pentateuch). For them it is through Joshua’s faithfulness to the law of Moses, especially as recorded in Deuteronomy, that Israel is able to possess the promised land.


All glossary terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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