The Book of Joshua, so named from its principal character, the successor of Moses, under whose leadership the conquest of Canaan was successfully carried out, covers a period of about twenty-five years (B. C. 1450 to 1425). It takes up the history of Israel after the death of Moses, begins with the commission of the Lord to Joshua, describes in detail the campaigns of the army of Israel, the great successes as well as the occasional reverses, and finally gives an account of the last addresses of Joshua, of his farewell, and of his death. The work entrusted to Joshua was one requiring great intellectual and tactical ability, but above all an unwavering trust in God. Canaan was occupied by great nations and strong, inhabiting strongly fortified cities and able to place armies in the field consisting of skilled warriors. Joshua was fully qualified for the task set before him, since he had not only been associated with Moses during the entire wilderness journey, but was also full of the spirit of wisdom, Deu_34:9, possessed of true military ability, and had perfect faith in the word and promise of God, this trust being the source of all his strength and courage.
The chief object of the book is to offer the historical proof of the faithfulness with which God fulfilled the promise made to the patriarchs that He would give the land of Canaan to His chosen people. Accordingly, we are told how the Lord helped Joshua and Israel conquer and occupy Canaan: He led them through the Jordan on dry ground; He fought for them against the heathen inhabitants of Canaan; He drove those wicked, immoral, and foul nations out from before them; He divided the land by lot among the victorious tribes of Israel, and brought them to rest in that "good land flowing with milk and honey. "
So far as the author is concerned, the Book of Joshua was probably not written by this great leader himself, although some of the sections, especially the reports of the division of the land, were undoubtedly copied from his notes. Events are related in the book which did not take place until after the death of Joshua, such as Caleb's taking possession of his inheritance at Hebron, Jos_15:13-19, Cf with Jdg_1:10-15, the taking of the city of Laish by the Danites, Jos_19:47, Cf with Judges 18. Nevertheless, the writer was a contemporary of Joshua, who probably survived him for many years, and it is assumed that one of the elders who entered Canaan with Joshua wrote the book, Jos_5:1. The very latest date which may be accepted for the composition of the book is that of the time of Samuel, and there are some believing scholars who have regarded this prophet as the author.