8

9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day. Joshua 4:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 And Joshua set up[a] twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. Joshua 4:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

And Joshua set also other twelve stones in Jordan itself, in the place that was under the feet of the priests that bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord; and there they are to this day. Joshua 4:9 LXX Brenton

The scribe is using "they are still there to this today" a present tense to describe a past event. This gives the feeling that no scribe with Joshua or some who saw him wrote it down but that it was penned down decades after.

  1. Who wrote the book of Joshua?
  2. When was it written, can we determine when "unto this day" was?
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  • 2
    The widespread historical view in the second half of the 20th century was that the Book of Joshua, along with the most of the rest of the Deuteronomistic history (Judges, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings), was probably written down around the reign of King Josiah of Judah in the late 7th century BCE perhaps based on older oral stories or other sources, and then re-edited in the 6th century during or after the Babylonian captivity.
    – Henry
    Jul 27 at 12:23
  • @Henry That's long after he lived Joshua (1355-1245 BC) at least 545 years after. Jul 27 at 13:19
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    DanielDahlberg - Indeed it is, and might be a possible interpretation of "to this day"
    – Henry
    Jul 27 at 13:21
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The answer to this question depends on who we believe wrote the book of Joshua. Jewish tradition is firmly of the view that it was Joshua himself.

Therefore, the phrase "they/it are there to this day", which occurs about 12 times in the book of Joshua, is a comment about the time the book was written.

Let us examine one of these in Josh 6:25 -

And Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her father’s household and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent to spy out Jericho. So she has lived among the Israelites to this day.

This simple statement firmly places the time of the author in the time of Rahab the prostitute, which could well have been Joshua, and could not have been (according to the much disputed "documentary hypothesis") at a MUCH later date, perhaps in the 6th century BC - an idea I personally reject.

Thus, it appears that Joshua wrote the book bearing his name toward the end of his life (he obviously did not write the last few verses) before he died at the great age of 110 years (Josh 24:29).

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  • Amen I have taken your answer in consideration! Jul 27 at 13:23
  • This is actually very interesting evidence, since this would imply that the book was written when Rahab was still alive! A stance that is extremely unlikely. I think the word ותשב is more likely referring to her family rather than Rahab herself. The LXX also supports such an interpretation "and IT has dwelled in Israel until this very day". The ISV also concurs with this view ("her family").
    – Bach
    Jul 28 at 20:38
  • @Bach - many would disagree and many would agree. That might be the subject of another question.
    – Dottard
    Jul 28 at 21:38
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Although there is no definitive answer to your question, I will say this: There is strong textual evidence that at least some parts of Joshua predate the davidic monarchy. Joshua 15:63 states that the Jebusites still live in Jerusalem near the Judahites "to this day". There are no records of any Jebusites living in Jerusalem the city that housed the temple and the temples of David and Solomon (keep in mind that city of Jerusalem was much smaller then than it is today) in the book of kings, Samuel or chronicles (1 chronicles 11 describes how David and Joab invaded the city of Jebus and conquered it, surely they were able to banish the Jebusites if they wanted to, and it's reasonable to assume that they did). This must be a very ancient text/record predating the Davidic kingdom that was somehow preserved in the book of Joshua.

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  • amen good point (63 As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out;) it's just verses like this I was hoping to get that reveal when it was wirten. Very good Thanks Bach +1 Jul 28 at 9:10
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    Glad to be of help!
    – Bach
    Jul 28 at 12:49
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Joshua 4:9 English Standard Version

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown offers two possible explanations:

they are there unto this day—
at least twenty years after the event, if we reckon by the date of this history (Jos 24:26),

i.e., assuming Joshua wrote this line

and much later, if the words in the latter clause were inserted by Samuel or Ezra.

i.e., assuming someone else wrote this line

The line/phrase is a running theme in the book of Joshua.

Joshua 5:9

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

Joshua 6:25

But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

Joshua 7:26

Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

More examples are in Joshua 8:28-29; Joshua 9:27; Joshua 10:27; Joshua 13:13; Joshua 14:14; Joshua 15:63; Joshua 16:10.

It seems to be part of Joshua's writing style.

Who wrote the book of Joshua?

Overall, likely Joshua himself.

When was it written, can we determine when "unto this day" was?

He could have written it piecemeal so that "unto this day" means on the day he wrote it.

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  • Amen you agree then as Dottard in an old age of Joshua it was written! +1 Jul 27 at 15:29
  • Right :) Thanks.
    – Tony Chan
    Jul 27 at 15:38

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