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As far as I know, the only reason why the Book of Joshua (BoJ) isn't part of the Torah is due to authorship: the Torah by Moses and the BoJ attributed to Joshua. The only theme shared in the Torah that is absent from Joshua is a narrative one: that the Israelites were a persecuted group of God who mostly wandered in the desert until reaching the Promised Land, while in BoJ, the Israelites have become fearsome conquerors.

Are there any other distinct reasons why the BoJ is not part of the Torah?

  • "The only theme shared in the Torah that is absent from Joshua is a narrative one: that the Israelites were a persecuted group of God who mostly wandered in the desert until reaching the Promised Land." What about Genesis, for starters? – Dov F Apr 26 '18 at 15:37
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Authorship is a biggie.

The Torah was given to us, through Moshe, directly by God. That Torah that was given had specific contents. The Torah isn't the only divine revelation, but these five books are the only divine revelation in this category. Thus, it does not make sense to add to it.

This doesn't mean that Joshua isn't an important book; it's very important, as are all the other books in Nach (Prophets and Writings). It has a different status and thus a different grouping.

You might be interested to know that there is some rabbinic dispute about the last eight verses of D'varim, which describe Moshe's death and the people mourning. Some say that even this, God dictated and Moshe wrote. Others say Joshua wrote those verses. (Bava Batra 15a) It's a serious issue because the Torah was given by God through Moshe, so either that happened here too or there's a major exception for just these few verses -- an exception that is unlikely to be granted for an entire book.

  • Note that authorship of Job is also attributed to Moshe by the Talmud. – Alex Apr 26 '18 at 17:28
  • @Alex Good point. The difference is that Moshe did not write Job as God's direct word. Job, like all of the Kesuvim, is divinely inspired but not high-level prophecy. – LN6595 Apr 26 '18 at 17:56
  • @LN6595 How do you know that? – Alex Apr 26 '18 at 18:00
  • FYI, it seems that another "obvious" exception is the last verse in parshat Hamahn. It states that they ate the mahn in the desert for 40 years. That had to have been edited in later. There's a debate as to who did this. It's also debatable as to whether Moshe wrote most of the verses "chronologically" or not. – DanF Apr 26 '18 at 22:40

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