Joshua’s Departure

Joshua’s Departure May 17, 2018

At a recent Theopolis intensive course, Pastor John Barach pointed out that Judges begins with the death of Joshua. Unlike the death of Moses, Joshua doesn’t leave behind a recognized successor. Joshua has no Joshua of his own.

That may seem a crisis, but Barach suggested that it was a case of “it’s good that I go away.” Joshua’s death spreads out responsibility for Israel’s possession of the land. Israel won’t rely on a single leader; many leaders and judges will emerge as local, temporary “new Joshuas.”

At another level, Joshua’s death unleashes the Spirit. The book of Joshua never mentions the Spirit, but ruach is used seven times in Judges, falling on four judges, Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson (a 7 and a 4; fancy that!).

Joshua’s departure thus foreshadows the departure of the greater Joshua, who leaves so that the Spirit can come and who equips his successors to do greater works.

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  • Craig Robinson

    Yet all the major judges are from Rachel’s side of the family. All of them will fail to be worthy successors, because none of them are from Leah’s side of the family. Only the minor judges come from Leah’s side.

    • Great observation on the genealogies, but wouldn’t that highlight the superiority of the judges from Rachel’s side? Leah’s sons were far more likely to behave like Gentiles and their kings.

      • Craig Robinson

        Judges doesn’t tell us much about how Leah’s sons behaved. I believe that in highlighting Rachel’s sons, the book of Judges is also highlighting their major flaws. They were each deeply flawed. I understand this can be subjective, but I believe that is the point, especially when we get to the end of the book and everything is somewhat of a mess and everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. Rachel’s sons are not the answer. No worthwhile leader is going to come from Rachel, with Saul being the final failure in her line before Jeroboam from Ephraim shows up after Solomon’s death to lead the Northern tribes (but again a failure). It is also interesting to note that Ephraim, who one would think should be the leader thanks to Jacob’s blessing, is always in the background and doesn’t show up in Judges until a leader from his brother’s tribe of Manasseh shows up (Gideon & Jephthah). Then Ephraim fights with his brother instead of the enemies of Israel. I am suggesting that just as the OT story shows a choice in Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, etc., it is also showing a choice of Leah over Rachel.