Lesson 72: Joshua 1–2
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“Lesson 72: Joshua 1–2,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 72,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 72

Joshua 1–2


After Moses was translated, the Lord directed Joshua to lead Israel into the promised land. The Lord assured Joshua that He would be with him and commanded him to be strong and courageous, keep the law of Moses, divide the land among the people, and study and meditate the word of God continually. Joshua prepared the Israelites to cross the Jordan River and organized their departure. He sent two spies to Jericho. There, Rahab saved the spies from capture, and in exchange they promised to preserve her and her family from the forthcoming destruction.

Suggestions for Teaching

Joshua 1:1–9

The Lord directs Joshua to bring Israel into the promised land and promises to be with him

Ask students to imagine that when they get home today, they will receive a phone call from the bishop asking them to speak in sacrament meeting this Sunday. Invite a few students to share the feelings they might have about such an invitation. (Some students may express feelings of nervousness or fear about speaking in front of others.)

  • What are some other tasks or assignments the Lord asks us to do that some Church members might fear? (Answers might include sharing the gospel, living according to the Lord’s standards, defending the truth, and reaching out to serve and fellowship others.)

Invite students to look for truths as they study Joshua 1–2 that can help them whenever they feel fearful about doing what God asks of them.

Invite a student to read Joshua 1:1–4, 6 aloud. (Note that Moses did not die but was translated; see Bible Dictionary, “Moses.”) Ask students to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Joshua to do.

  • What did the Lord command Joshua to do? (Lead the Israelites into the promised land and begin to establish the boundaries as promised to Abraham and his righteous posterity.)

Invite a student to read Joshua 1:5–7, 9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for promises or instruction from the Lord that might have helped Joshua at this time.

  • What instruction do you see repeated in these verses?

  • What promise from the Lord might have helped Joshua “be strong and of a good courage”? (The promise that God would be with him.)

  • What principle can we learn from these verses? (Students may identify a variety of principles, including the following: When the Lord is with us, we can be strong and of a good courage. You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases in these verses that teach this truth.)

To help students understand this principle, consider asking the following questions:

  • Why can we “be strong and of a good courage” when the Lord is with us?

  • What can we do to invite the Lord to be with us?

Invite students to reflect on times when they felt that the Lord was with them and gave them strength or courage to do something difficult. You may want to ask them to write about this experience in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. After a few minutes, ask for volunteers to share with the class what they wrote. Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too sacred or private. You may also want to share an experience of your own.

To prepare students to identify another truth from Joshua 1, invite two to three students to come to the front of the class and act out a word that you will show them. Show the participating students a piece of paper with the word meditate written on it. After the class guesses the word being acted out, ask one of the students to read Joshua 1:8 aloud. Invite students to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Joshua to meditate about.

  • What is “the book of the law”? (This likely referred to the five books of Moses, the version of Genesis through Deuteronomy that was available to Joshua.)

Write the phrase Meditate on the scriptures on the board, and invite the same students to act out that phrase for the class. After they act out this phrase, invite them to take their seats. Ask the class what synonyms they can think of for the word meditate as used in Joshua 1:8. (Answers might include contemplate, ponder, reflect, consider, think, and study.)

  • Along with meditating on the scriptures, what else did the Lord command Joshua to do according to verse 8? (“Observe to do according to all that is written therein.”)

  • What did the Lord promise if Joshua meditated on the scriptures and lived according to the teachings therein?

  • How would you summarize the Lord’s words recorded in verse 8 as a principle? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we meditate on the scriptures daily and live according to the teachings therein, then we will prosper and have success.)

  • What do you think it would have meant for Joshua to prosper and have success in his situation? What might it mean for you to have success?

To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson. Ask the class to listen for the kind of success that comes from meditating upon the scriptures daily.

Benson, Ezra Taft

“The Lord was not promising Joshua material wealth and fame, but that his life would prosper in righteousness and that he would have success in that which matters most in life, namely the quest to find true joy. (See 2 Nephi 2:25.)” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 81).

  • How has meditating on the scriptures helped you prosper in righteousness and have success in finding true joy?

Remind students of the goal they set at the beginning of this seminary course to study the scriptures daily. Invite them to share what they have done to keep this goal.

Encourage students to continue their daily scripture study, and invite them to meditate on, or ponder, what they read.

Joshua 1:10–18

Joshua prepares the Israelites to cross the Jordan River

Ask students the following question:

  • If the prophet asked you to leave your family for a certain amount of time and expose yourself to hardship and maybe even danger, would you go? (You may want to invite those who say yes to explain why they would go.)

Remind students that the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh were granted their land inheritances on the east of the Jordan River on the condition that the men would assist the remaining tribes of Israel in fighting for and obtaining their land inheritances on the west side of the river (see Numbers 32). Summarize Joshua 1:10–15 by explaining that Joshua reminded the men of these tribes of this agreement.

Invite a student to read Joshua 1:16–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the men of these tribes responded to Joshua.

  • What does the response of these men say about their character?

  • Why do you think these men were willing to follow Joshua’s counsel and direction?

Joshua 2

Joshua sends spies to Jericho, where Rahab gives them a place to hide; they promise to preserve her family

Explain that before the children of Israel entered the promised land, Joshua sent two spies across the Jordan River to the city of Jericho. Jericho was the first city on the west side of the Jordan River that the Israelites were commanded to conquer.

Summarize Joshua 2:1–8 by explaining that the king of Jericho heard about the spies and sent men to capture them. A harlot named Rahab saved the spies from being captured by hiding them on the roof of her house.

Invite a student to read Joshua 2:9–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Rahab told the two Israelite spies.

  • Who did Rahab testify of?

Summarize Joshua 2:12–16 by explaining that Rahab asked the two spies to make an oath that the Israelite army would spare her life and the lives of her family members in return for her having saved the spies’ lives.

Invite a student to read Joshua 2:17–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the spies’ response.

  • How would the invading Israelite army know not to destroy Rahab’s family? (Explain that the “line of scarlet thread” is likely referring to a piece of cloth or cord made of red thread. This would help the army identify Rahab’s home.)

Explain that after making this oath with Rahab, the two spies were let down out of the city from Rahab’s window, and they escaped back across the Jordan River to Joshua.

Write the following on the board: Joshua, Reubenites-Gadites-Manassehites, Spies, Rahab.

  • How did each of these people or groups of people show their faith in the Lord? (You may want to explain that in spite of Rahab’s past as a harlot, two New Testament writers described her as a woman who showed faith in the Lord and was blessed because she provided safety for the Israelite spies [see Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25; see also Joshua 6:25].)

  • What can we learn about faith from the examples of these people? (Students’ responses may identify a variety of principles, including the following: We can show our faith in the Lord through our actions.)

Invite students to show their faith in the Lord by acting on the truths they have discussed in this lesson.

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Scripture Mastery Review

If time permits, you may want to use the following activity to review the scripture mastery passages you have taught so far this school year:

Give students a few minutes to review the scripture mastery passages they have learned. Invite a student to come to the front of the classroom with his or her scriptures. Ask the student to turn to one of the scripture mastery passages without showing it to anyone else. (If scripture mastery cards are available, you might consider providing one to the student.) Invite the student to write one word from the scripture mastery passage on the board. (Encourage him or her to choose key words from the passage rather than less-distinguishing words such as and or the.) Invite the class to search their scriptures for the scripture mastery passage they think the word comes from. If no one can find the correct passage using one word, ask the student to write another word from the passage on the board. Repeat this process until at least one student has located the correct passage. Invite the rest of the class to turn to the passage, and ask students to recite it together. Then repeat the activity with another student and a different scripture mastery passage.

Commentary and Background Information

Joshua 1:5–7, 9. “Be strong and of a good courage”

The Young Men general presidency in 2010 taught how the Lord’s promises to Joshua apply to youth:

“In the space of four verses in the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord commands Joshua to be strong and courageous—three times! (see verses 6–9). Then the Lord promises Joshua that he will succeed in bringing the Israelites to their land of inheritance, that strength and courage will come to him because of his obedience to all the law, and—most significantly—that the Lord will be with him wherever he goes. …

“That same call to courage is yours. And the same promises are yours as well. With the Savior’s help, you too will succeed in your callings and in your life. You will have strength to withstand any temptation as you obey the commandments and keep the standards found in For the Strength of Youth” (“Facing Challenges with Courage,” New Era, Jan. 2010, 7).

Joshua 1:8. Meditate upon the scriptures

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how pondering on the scriptures blesses us:

“As you ponder—not just read but ponder and meditate—on scriptural passages, the power of the Holy Ghost will distill truths in your mind and heart as a secure foundation in this uncertain time in which we live” (“He Lives! All Glory to His Name!” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 78).

President Thomas S. Monson explained the benefits of daily scripture study:

“I would encourage all of us to continue to read and study the scriptures, that we might understand them and apply in our lives the lessons we find there. …

“Spending time each day in scripture study will, without doubt, strengthen our foundations of faith and our testimonies of truth” (“How Firm a Foundation,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 68).