The book of Joshua concludes the story that began back in Egypt in the book of Exodus. Moses had liberated the Israelites and was leading them to the land that God had promised to their fathers when they hit a few snags in the road. Those are dealt with in the last books and this is where everyone gets right back on track. It’s still not perfect, but a lot of the doubt and mistrust of God appears to be gone. It’s a whole new generation, one that grew up with the faith and the deeds in mind.
Rahab is the only woman really mentioned in this book. She is a woman from Jericho who may have been a prostitute, temple prostitute or inn keeper, depending on where you get your information. She may or may not have been revered for her role as prostitute or an upstanding citizen of the community. Regardless of the way her community looked at her, she saved two members of Israel and made a deal to be spared, along with her household, when the walls of Jericho came down.
The rest of the book isn’t quite aware of the women, except in chapter 17 where the daughters of Zelophehad are finally named and given the inheritance Moses promised them back in Numbers. Their names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
There’s really just one theme. Follow God. If you do what He tells you to do, you will succeed. Of course, this is very specific and shouldn’t be taken as a blanket platitude. In this century, we are not given the direct instructions from God to carry out His orders. We have to attempt to intuit them and maybe we aren’t so good at that. Or maybe there aren’t direct orders anymore, not like this. Nevertheless, the major theme of this book is still that anyone who receives direct instructions, should follow them. Waiver and they will fail, though. More importantly, this book is about God fulfilling that original promise, but doing so with the cooperation of the people. It was necessary that they be a part of it too.
It was good to see that the daughters of Zelophehad got their inheritance. Despite the issue of referring to Rahab solely by her occupation, it was also good to see people of Israel beholden to and save a woman and her household because of her faith. The rest of the book doesn’t really mention women, but it doesn’t exactly separate the men either. We have a situation where it can be exclusive or inclusive depending on the outlook of the reader. This one doesn’t seem like either to me. It’s about all the people, not just the men or just the women at any point. The whole people of Israel moved in and settled in to the land that had been promised to them.