Top 3 Commentaries on Joshua


1. Joshua by Adolph Harstad (Concordia Commentary Series) Price: $$$


This commentary is gigantic, weighing in at over 900 pages, but it’s excellent. The series summarizes its position on Scripture by stating, “The commentary fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes ‘that which promotes Christ’ in each pericope.” It is written within the conservative Lutheran tradition (one that I’m fond of because I grew up in it!) and as expected many of Harstad’s interpretive decisions are conservative.  A huge plus of this commentary series is the layout.  Every pericope is written in English and then written in Hebrew.  Each Hebrew phrase is broken down grammatically.  Harstad is pretty meticulous, but Hebrew students will eat this section up!  After covering the Hebrew, the next section is the actual “commentary” on the text.  Harstad’s commentary is consistently solid and at times very illuminating.  He applies a  Christological interpretation to the text that is often very helpful and necessary, but at times he reaches too far.  Lastly, Harstad has many encouraging pastoral and applicational insights.  All in all, this is a terrific commentary.  Scholars, pastors, and laymen alike will all benefit from using this commentary in their study of Joshua.

2. Joshua by David Howard, Jr. (New American Commentary Series) Price: $

419rxslgOmLThis commentary is superb.  The only reason it’s ranked #2 is because Howard doesn’t deal as extensively with the Hebrew when compared to Harstad.  However, he certainly covers the Hebrew text sufficiently and is often incisive when doing so.  Howard does a great job of showing parallels and connections to other Old Testament passages, especially connections to the Pentateuch.  Additionally, he interacts often with other interpreters throughout the commentary (usually in footnotes).  These interactions illuminate interpretive options and normally strengthen Howard’s own interpretation.  Another plus of this commentary are the nine “Excursus” sections where Howard dives into a particular theme or issue such as: The Giving of the Land, Rahab’s Lie, Archeology of Jericho and Ai, or Destruction and Devoted Things.  These are very helpful for studying Joshua.  Overall, Howard looks at the trees often, but does a great job of not losing sight of the forest.  Due to the affordable price, this commentary is by far the best bang for your buck.  Pastors and teachers covering Joshua should not be without this commentary.

3. Joshua by Richard Hess (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) Price:$


This commentary by Richard Hess is smaller than the other two, but it packs a punch.  Dr. Hess is a renowned Old Testament scholar and is known for his insights into the Ancient Near East.  His profound knowledge of the historical background shines through in this commentary.  The introduction which covers the person of Joshua, the composition of the book, and the theology of the book, is well worth the meager price of the book.  The commentary itself is succint and easy to read.  The size of the commentary is the main down side, with some sections are only briefly covered.  However, this brevity might be an upside for some readers.  Often, I wish Hess had more space to dissect the text further.  Overall, this is an excellent commentary and for the price it is a real bargain.  This would be a great help in personal study or in a small group setting.