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Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Joshua: The Chronology of Joshua

5. The disputed chronology of the book. The Root of the Sabbatical years to be fixed from the autumn of the forty-first year from the exodus. Thence unto the rest of the land, or the first Sabbatical celebrated in the land, seven years pass. Joshua continued to live many days or years, twenty-seven apparently.

With respect to the Chronology of the book, the learned are not altogether agreed in establishing it. In general, it is sufficiently evident that the entire time of the government of Joshua, from the death of Moses unto the death of Joshua, is comprehended in it. But, just how many years passed in the meantime, not all judge in the same manner, because the years of the government of Joshua are not expressly determined in the Sacred Books. Nevertheless, it is certain from those things that we said on the Chronology of Deuteronomy that the book of Joshua begins with the forty-first year of the exodus out of Egypt: and that Joshua was confirmed in his calling in the first month of the same. But, that from the autumn of the same year, in which after the cessation of the Manna it fell to the Israelites to sow the land for the first time, the first year τῆς γεωργίας, of tillage, is to be reckoned and the beginning of the Sabbatical years is to be fixed, is gathered from Exodus 23:10, 11; Leviticus 25:2-7; Deuteronomy 15:1-9; 21:10. In the seventh year the first Sabbatical year was kept in the land, since the Israelites had be led into rest by Joshua, or the typical Jesus, which was a shadow and a figure of the Sabbath Rest to be acquired for the people by the true Jesus, Hebrew 4:8, 9: with which rest furnished for their brethren by God, the auxiliary troops from Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, returned in the same year to their possessions on the other side of Jordan with the blessing of Joshua, Joshua 22:4. After that rest granted by God in the seventh year after their entrance into the land of Canaan, Joshua lived רבים ימים, many days, or, in the style of Scripture, for a long time, Joshua 23:1.[1] Nevertheless, those are not defined: but it is only found that Joshua died in the one hundred and tenth year of his age, Joshua 24:29, 30. But, whereas in Judges 3:11 the land is said to have rested forty years, and so from the rest granted through Joshua, or the seventh year of the entrance into the land of Canaan, unto the quiet of the land restored through Othniel, forty years passed; and whereas, not only for the eight of those forty years did the Israelites serve Cushan,[2] but also after the death of Joshua, the Elders הֶאֱרִ֤יכוּ יָמִים֙, prolonged days, Joshua 24:31,[3] and for a long a time survived before the servitude under Cushan: thence learned men, both ancient, Clement of Alexandria,[4] Julius Africanus,[5] Eusebius, Augustine, and some more recent, have concluded those רבים ימים, many days, or that long period of time, which Joshua lived after the rest granted to the land, that is, the seventh year from the entrance, with almost another twenty years, and so the whole government of Joshua and the matters conducted in his book consist of roughly twenty-seven years, whose judgment we leave undetermined, since nothing certain appears.

[1] Joshua 23:1: “And it came to pass a long time (וַֽיְהִי֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים) after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.”

[2] Judges 3:8.

[3] Joshua 24:31: “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua (אֲשֶׁ֙ר הֶאֱרִ֤יכוּ יָמִים֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ, that prolonged days after Joshua), and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.”

[4] Titus Flavius Clemens Alexandrinus (died c. 215) was the head of the Christian catechetical school in Alexandria, Egypt. He was trained in pagan philosophy before his conversion to Christianity.

[5] Sextus Julius Africanus (c. 160-c. 240) was a chronographer, and the first Christian to attempt a history from the creation.

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