A Character Analysis of Joshua
What was Joshua like before Moses died?
In Joshua's youth he went many places with Moses, and he stayed in the Tent of Meeting where God would speak to Moses. Because of Joshua's trust in the Lord, he and Caleb were the only men over twenty years old to enter the promised land. Joshua was sent out as a scout with eleven others. Ten of them discouraged the people by their report, but Joshua and Caleb had confidence that the God of Israel would deliver the people and the land into their hands. God was pleased with their attitudes. Furthermore, when it was time for Moses to die, God had Moses lay his hands on Joshua, in whom was the Spirit (Numbers 27:18), to give some of Moses' authority to him. With this authority Joshua would lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. Many times Joshua is told, "Be strong and courageous... The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31:7-8). And when he leads Israel, Joshua encourages others with these words and speaks confidently that God's people will overcome their fiercest enemies (Joshua 17:17-18). The laying on of Moses' hands also gave Joshua the spirit of wisdom.
By leading the Israelites into the land of Canaan, Joshua was taking over the role of Moses. Joshua served well in his capacity as leader of the people. Through Joshua, the Lord parted the Jordan so the Israelites could cross it on dry ground. "That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses" (Joshua 4:14). And, "the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land" (Joshua 6:27). "There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them" (Joshua 8:35). The Lord also heard Joshua's prayers. When Joshua asked for the sun to stand still, the Lord delayed its going down for about a day. "As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses" (Joshua 11:15). And Joshua was determined to serve the Lord. He knew that the Lord was faithful to bless His people for obedience; yet, he also knew that the Lord would be just as faithful to punish and destroy His people if they were disobedient and idolatrous. Joshua was obedient to what was told to him by Moses, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid." He showed this by his strong moral character and proclaimed to the Israelites, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Joshua's influence upon those around him was clearly evident. In fact, "Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel" (Joshua 24:31).
What were some unrighteous judgments made by Joshua, and how could they have been prevented?
When the Gibeonites came to make a treaty with Israel and they lied about where they were from, Joshua made an unrighteous judgment. Instead of inquiring of the Lord, he made peace with them and soon found out that they lived, in fact, very close to the Israelites. Joshua obviously felt that he had enough proof (the dried wineskins and the moldy bread) to determine that a peace treaty was okay to make. However, he was deceived by the Gibeonites. He could have prevented this by taking more precautions, and he should have sought the Lord when dealing with an unknown nation. Then, he would not have been deceived by a people living in the land of Canaan. Nevertheless, when Joshua found out about the Gibeonite's trickery, he acted righteously, I believe. He kept his word and did not destroy them, but he reduced them to forced laborers. He conscripted them to be woodcutters.
The only other time I saw that Joshua made an unrighteous judgment was when he wanted Moses to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying in the camp. "But Moses replied, 'Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!'" (Numbers 11:29) I think this happened because Joshua had the idea, "My master is the leader around here and I am his aid; no one else should do the things he does without getting permission first." Joshua should have had the attitude of Moses (wanting everyone to be led by the Spirit of God). Then, he would not have blurted out what he did.