Torah Lesson 3 Joshua: Warrior Prophet

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1 Torah Lesson 3 Joshua: Warrior Prophet INTRODUCTION In choosing the prophets to be studied in the Level 5 Torah strand, the goal was to introduce students to different kinds of prophets. Joshua, the subject of this lesson, was a great military leader as well as a prophet. He was the first of the historical prophets and is the only prophet from the N vi-im section of the Tanach who we meet in the Torah. Students who have studied the Level 4 Torah strand may remember him from the story of the spies sent to scout out the land of Canaan. Joshua was one of two spies (the other being Caleb) who recommended that the Israelites go into Canaan to conquer it. The other spies expressed fear and mistrust of God and recommended the Israelites not move forward. Joshua was subsequently appointed by God to be Moses successor. It is not unusual for prophets to be thought of as individuals who are both in this world and in God s world. Joshua was a prophet who was very much part of this world. He engaged in often violent military actions and wasn t afraid to do what needed to be done to secure Canaan for the Israelites. At the same time, Joshua had a deep and profound relationship with God. As is abundantly clear in the final chapter of the Book of Joshua, he ascribed all his successes to God s guidance and intervention. He implored the People of Israel to cling to God s ways in order to prosper in the land. This is not the type of advice one expects from a great military leader. Though the Bible portrays Joshua as a great warrior, leader, and prophet, it seems as though, like every human being, he experienced moments of uncertainty. When giving Joshua the charge of leading the people into the Promised Land, God repeatedly urges Joshua to be strong (Joshua 1:6 9). In this lesson, students will be asked to reflect upon moments of uncertainty in their own lives, using the model of Joshua. They will describe a time in which they faced a challenge that made them feel afraid and then found the strength to go ahead and do the right thing. They will consider the possibility that the strength they found was God s support. Teachers may want to read chapter 2, Joshua: A New Leader for Israel, in The Gift of Wisdom: The Books of Prophets and Writings as a resource in preparing to teach this lesson. ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS Torah is an ongoing dialogue between the text and its students. Torah is real in our daily lives: It goes with us wherever we are. 33

2 34 Torah Lesson 3 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life Developing the skills to study Torah is essential to integrating Torah into our lives. The prophets were focused on reminding the Jewish people how God wants us to live, and their messages are at the heart of Reform Judaism. ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS 1. What does the Torah have to say to me and my world? 2. How can Torah study help me in my everyday life? 3. Why is the Torah different from other books? 4. What is prophecy? 5. What is a prophet? 6. In what ways do the prophets and what they said (prophecy) remind us how God wants us to live? 7. How can I as a Reform Jew understand how God wants me to live through the writings of the prophets? QUESTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED 1. What was special or important about Joshua? What qualities did he have that might have caused God to choose him as a prophet and leader? 2. What aspects of Joshua s behavior can provide a good model for us today? EVIDENCE OF UNDERSTANDING By completing the Different Views of Joshua text study, students will demonstrate an understanding of Joshua s varied roles as prophet, warrior, and administator. Students will describe a time in their own lives when they, like Joshua, were not sure they could do something important and right, but found the courage to do so. LESSON OVERVIEW Set Induction (10 minutes) Text Study: Different Views of Joshua (15 20 minutes) Reflection: Chazak, Chazak (15 minutes) Conclusion (10 15 minutes)

3 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life Joshua: Warrior Prophet 35 MATERIALS NEEDED Scissors Glue Pens Pencils Thin markers for writing The Scouting Report (page 38) Different Views of Joshua (pages 39 40) READING RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS Steinbock, Steven E. The Gift of Wisdom: The Books of Prophets and Writings. New York: UAHC Press, A large selection of articles about Joshua can be found by typing in the name Joshua in the site search box at LESSON VOCABULARY Tent of Meeting Ark of the Lord e²z j chazak The special place for worship and important gatherings after the flight from Egypt and before the construction of the Temple. The chest containing the Ten Commandments. Strong, courageous. SET INDUCTION (10 MINUTES) LESSON PLAN 1. Explain to the students that today they will be learning about Joshua, who was both a prophet and a warrior, and who brought the Jewish people into the land of Canaan (present-day Israel) after Moses died. Some of the students may remember the story of the twelve Israelite leaders who were sent to scout out the land of Canaan; ten came back and emphasized the obstacles facing the Israelites in the land, but two Joshua and Caleb came back with a favorable report (Numbers 13:1 14:10). The set induction is designed to help the students identify Joshua s courage in taking an unpopular stand.

4 36 Torah Lesson 3 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life 2. Distribute copies of The Scouting Report found on page 38. Invite volunteers to read it out loud. Ask the students what Joshua did, according to this text, that we might consider courageous. (He had the courage to see what was good; he had the courage to speak up even when most of the people disagreed with him; etc.) 3. Optional: Ask students to describe a time in their lives when they went against the crowd to do the right thing. How did it feel? LEARNING ACTIVITIES Text Study: Different Views of Joshua (15 20 minutes) In examining three texts from the Book of Joshua, students will become acquainted with different aspects of the prophet/warrior s character and will get a glimpse of both his humanity as well as his deep relationship to God. 1. If you are able to divide your class into smaller groups for the text study, do so. Otherwise, keep the class together as a whole. 2. Distribute the Different Views of Joshua sheet on pages Working in groups or together as a class, have the students review the texts and answer the questions on the page. 3. When the students are done working, go over the questions and ask students to share their answers. If any student has come up with answers different from the choices provided, ask the student to identify, if possible, the word or words in the text that led them to that answer. 4. Conclude the activity by pointing out that Joshua was a loyal prophet of God, a great military leader, and a great administrator. He had deep faith in God and his belief enabled him to be a great leader of our people. Reflection: Chazak, Chazak (15 minutes) 1. Write the words chazak, chazak v nitchazak e³z j, b±u e³z j 'e³z j in Hebrew or English on the board. Review these important points with the students: Joshua was a warrior (he led the battles that conquered Canaan present-day Israel), a great leader (he helped the Israelites settle the land), and a person of strong faith (he exhorted the Israelites to remain faithful to Adonai). Even with Joshua s great abilities, he had moments of fear and doubt and had to be reassured by God. Read the following to the students: When Joshua expressed fear and doubt about his ability to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, God said to him: chazak ve ematz. n t u e³z j Be strong and courageous! Later, when the Israelites were afraid, Joshua said the same words to them. To this day, when Jews complete the study of a book of the Torah, we say the words: chazak, chazak, v nitchazak e³z j, b±u e³z j' e³z j be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other. 2. Ask the students to turn to page 5 of their workbooks and to describe, in words or pictures, a time when they felt afraid and found the courage to do something important.

5 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life Joshua: Warrior Prophet 37 CONCLUSION (10 15 MINUTES) 1. Ask the students to turn to page 6 in their workbooks and work independently or with a friend to create The Joshua Report by writing a news story about Joshua and his deeds. They can do this by referring to the texts used in the lesson and copying important thoughts or phrases, or by answering the following questions using the texts contained in the lesson. (They can either write the answers or cut and paste from the texts themselves.) What evidence can you find of Joshua s trust in God? What evidence can you find that shows that Joshua was a brave warrior? What evidence can you find that Joshua was a great leader of our people? 2. At the conclusion of the activity, invite any student who wishes to to share his/her work with the class.

6 38 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life The Scouting Report Moses sent twelve leaders, one from each tribe, to scout the land of Canaan before deciding whether or not to try to conquer it. Ten of the scouts reported that the land was fertile and good, but that the people who were already living there were much stronger than the Israelites. The words of these scouts frightened the community because the people feared that they would be killed if they tried to enter the land. The people were ready to rebel against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Then Joshua (and Caleb) spoke: The land that we scouted is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, God will bring us into that land, a land that flows with milk and honey, and we will be victorious. Don t rebel against God because God will help bring us to victory. (adapted from Numbers 14:7 9) The people were furious at Joshua and Caleb for telling Moses that they should go ahead and try to conquer the land. They were about to attack Joshua and Caleb, when God s presence suddenly appeared. Copyright 2004 URJ Press

7 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life 39 Different Views of Joshua Read each text below and answer the question that follows it. Text 1 Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them ahead by night. He instructed them as follows: Listen, lie in ambush behind the city; don t stay too far from the city, and all of you be on the alert. I and the rest of the troops will approach the city; and when the enemy comes out against us, as they did the first time, we will flee from them. They will come rushing after us until we have drawn them away from the city. The enemy will think, The Israelites are running away from us as they did before. But while we are pretending to run away, you will dash out from your ambush and capture the city. (adapted from Joshua 8:3 7) Based on this text, select the phrase that best describes Joshua and circle it. loyal prophet of God smart military commander a wise leader Other ideas: Text 2 The whole community of the Israelite people assembled at Shiloh, and set up the Tent of Meeting there. The land was now under their control but seven tribes still hadn t received their piece of land to settle on. Joshua told those tribes to select three representatives to go out and survey the land and write a description of it. When they had done this, they returned to Joshua, who then gave out the land to the tribes so they could settle upon it. (adapted from Joshua 18:3 10) Copyright 2004 URJ Press

8 40 CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life Based on this text, select the phrase that best describes Joshua and circle it. loyal prophet of God smart military commander a wise leader Other ideas: Text 3 (a) (b) God told Joshua to have seven priests march in front of the Ark of the Lord, blowing shofars. In front of them and behind them marched soldiers. The rest of the people followed. The seventh time they marched around the city of Jericho, the people shouted when they heard the blowing of the shofars, as God had instructed Joshua. The wall of the city collapsed and the Israelites rushed in and captured it. (adapted from Joshua 6:2 5; 6:13; 6:20) When Joshua was old and about to die, he told the people, Acknowledge with all your heart that every good thing God promised you has happened to you.... Therefore, be completely loyal to God and serve God always. (adapted from Joshua 23:14; 24:14) Based on these texts, select the phrase that best describes Joshua and circle it. loyal prophet of God smart military commander a wise leader Other ideas: Copyright 2004 URJ Press

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