Argument of the Book of Joshua

It is not material to know who was the penman of this book, whether Joshua, as seems most probable from Joshua 24:26, or some other holy prophet. It is sufficient that this book was a part of the Holy Scriptures, or oracles of God, committed to and carefully kept by the Jews, and by them faithfully delivered to us, as appears by the concurring testimony of Christ and his apostles, who owned and approved of the same Holy Scriptures which the church of the Jews did. But this is certain, that divers passages in this book were put into it after Joshua’s death, as Joshua 10:13, compared with 2 Samuel 1:18; Joshua 19:47, compared with Judges 18:1; and Joshua 24:29, 30. And such like insertions have been observed in the five books of Moses.

Prolegomena to Joshua

Question: Who is the Author of this book?  Either, 1. Isaiah, as certain interpreters in Tostatus[1] have it, but without any argument; Serarius in Joshua 2 “Prolegomena” 2.[2]  Or, 2. Eleazar the High Priest, because it belonged to him, not only with the living voice, but also by writing, to teach the people.  Or, 3. Samuel (Tostatus in Lapide[3]).  Or, 4. Ezra (Masius in the “Preface”[4]).  This book was gathered from ancient diaries and annals by some Prophet (Masius in Lapide).  Or, 5. Joshua himself (thus Serarius, Bonfrerius,[5] Vatablus,[6] the Hebrews in Lapide).  For, 1.  he is called the successor of Moses in Prophecies, that is, in writing the sacred Scriptures, Ecclesiasticus 46:1[7] (Serarius, Bonfrerius).  2.  Who would not have good reason to suppose that Joshua imitated Moses in this matter (Bonfrerius)?  3.  In Joshua 24:26, Joshua is said to have written all these words, namely, all matters that this book recites (Serarius).  But others object that in Joshua 10:13 the book of the Right[8] is cited, which was written after the times of David.  See 2 Samuel 1:18.  And in Joshua 15 are written concerning Achsah matters conducted after the death of Joshua,[9] Judges 1.[10]  Similarly, in Joshua 19:47, is related an expedition undertaken after Joshua, Judges 18.  And in Joshua 4:9 the stones erected are said to remain unto the present day.  Thus these things to that purpose (Masius, Tostatus in Serarius).  Response:  We acknowledge that some things were added by others, for example, by Samuel, or Ezra, etc.; nevertheless, this book is not for this reason to be denied to Joshua.  Otherwise we shall deny that Moses is the father of the Pentateuch, because similar things are found there, and the Talmudists relate that Joshua added eight verses to Deuteronomy[11] (Serarius, similarly Bonfrerius).  From the mention of those things, which happened after the death of Joshua, it is able to be gathered that not Joshua, but rather Phinehas,[12] wrote this book (Lightfoot[13]).

[1] Alonso Tostado, or Tostatus (c. 1400-1455), also known as Abulensis, was a Spanish, Roman Catholic churchman and scholar.  He was trained in philosophy, theology, civil and canon law, Greek, and Hebrew; and wrote commentaries on Genesis through 2 Chronicles and the Gospel of Matthew, filled, not only with exegetical, but also with dogmatic, material.

[2] Nicholas Serarius (1555-1610) was a Jesuit theologian and exegete.  He served as Professor of Theology at the University of Mainz. Commentarius in Librum Josuæ, Judicum, Ruth, Regum, et Paralipomenon.

[3] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar.  His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome.  Although his commentaries (covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms) develop the four-fold sense of Scripture, he emphasizes the literal.  His commentaries demonstrate a profound knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the history of interpretation.

[4] Andrew Masius (1516-1573) was among the most learned Roman Catholic scholars of his age and in no field is that more evident than in the field of Oriental languages, having received training in Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac.  He also served as Counselor to William, Duke of Cleves.  He wrote a major commentary upon Joshua, Joshuæ Imperatoris Historia Illustrata atque Explicata.

[5] Jacobus Bonfrerius (1573-1642) joined the order of the Jesuits in 1592.  He enjoyed a long tenure as a professor of the Scriptures and Hebrew at Douay, France.  Although he is said to have written commentaries on almost all the books of Scripture, only his commentaries on Genesis-Ruth survive.

[6] Francis Vatablus (c. 1485-1547) was a prominent Hebrew scholar, doing much to stimulate Hebraic studies in France.  He was appointed to the chair of Hebrew in Paris (1531).  Although a Roman Catholic, his annotations (Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum) found employment among Protestants and Catholics alike.

[7] Ecclesiasticus 46:1:  “Jesus the son a Nave was valiant in the wars, and was the successor of Moses in prophecies, who according to his name was made great for the saving of the elect of God, and taking vengeance of the enemies that rose up against them, that he might set Israel in their inheritance.”

[8] That is, סֵפֶר הַיָּשָׁר, the Book of Jasher.

[9] Joshua 15:16-19.

[10] Judges 1:12-15.

[11] Baba Bathra 15a.

[12] Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron.  See Judges 20:28.

[13] John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was a minister and divine of such distinction and learning that he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.  He specialized in Rabbinic learning and lore.  He brought that learning to bear in his defense of Erastianism in the Assembly and in his comments upon Holy Scripture.