What is the purpose of Joshua?

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Now, while there are numerous themes that emerge from the book of Joshua, one particularly compelling theme that I see time and again in the book of Joshua is this question of corporate solidarity or national unity, this notion that Israel stands or falls together. Now, this notion of national solidarity, national unity, corporate solidarity, was adumbrated all the way back in the book of Deuteronomy prior to Joshua's leadership. In Deuteronomy 5 and Deuteronomy 11, we hear talk of this notion of "all Israel" as a formulaic phrase. Now, this phrase is going to appear over sixteen times in the book of Joshua. It's clustered heavily in the book of Joshua, this idea that there is this building of this national unity, this corporate identity. It appears in Joshua 3, 4, 7, and 24. Not only does it appear at the textual level, there are symbolic representations or actions that occur throughout the book. The building of the altar in the Jordan River as they enter into the Promised Land is an act of corporate solidarity; one from each tribe places a stone as an act of remembrance for perpetuity. When we look at Joshua 22, there's another memorial being built. This is a memorial by the Transjordan tribes of the Gadites, the Reubenites and the half tribe of Manasseh. This also stands as a physical memorial representation that binds Israel together.

Answer by Dr. Seth Tarrer

Dr. Seth Tarrer is Visiting Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at Knox Theological Seminary. Dr. Tarrer received his M.Div. from Beeson Divinity School and his Ph.D. from University of St. Andrews. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and has taught at seminaries in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Medellin, Colombia. He is the author of “Reading with the Faithful: Interpretation of True and False Prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah from Ancient Times to Modern.”