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.