Teaching Yehoshua, Part 2

  • 50 minutes
  • Grades: 3-6
  • Lesson Plan

This lesson compares free men to slaves and argues that Bnai Yisrael had to undergo a spiritual transformation before entering the Land of Israel. Chapter 3.


This lesson deals with the crossing the of the Yarden in perek 3. By comparing the behaviors and thoughts of a free man with that of a slave, the students will understand that Bnai Yisrael had to undergo a transformation before entering the Land of Israel.

Lesson objectives

To show how Bnai Yisrael changed from the time they left Egypt. Examine the thoughts/personality of a free man compared to a slave. This will lead up to an understanding of another reason why Hashem decided to make Bnai Yisrael wander in the desert for 40 years.
Show how this was manifested in the way Bnai Yisrael crossed over both the Yarden and the Yam Suf. How did Hashem support them during each step of their growth? The generation of the exodus needed all the miracles of the midbar, but then they gradually wore off when they got to Eretz Yisrael.

Resources & Equipment needed

Copies of Sefer Yehoshua/the Book of Joshua


Begin this lesson by letting the students see how hard it is to adapt to a new life. Imagine that someone transported you to a new life in Northern Siberia, a community of Eskimo. live in an igloo, bathe only in the summer, hunt bear and seal, and whale, use whale blubber for cooking and lamps.your clothing would be the skins of animals, you’d wake up wit the sun and get to work, no tv’s, no bathrooms… Do I take a shower, where? Where do I find the supermarket? Aren’t I supposed to eat my vegetables? How do I turn on the light to see where I’m going? Where can I get an extra pillow? I’m freezing. You wouldn’t know how to live because you have no understanding of that kind of life. Once you’ve lived your whole life in a certain place, a certain way, it’s almost impossible to change…you’ll probably resist the changes. Bnai Yisrael who lived in Egypt, who were slaves their whole lives, whose parents and grandparents were also slaves—what did they know? They understood two things: ALL they know is the now – nothing was more real to them than what was happening to them at the present moment. Yesterday they were slaves and tomorrow they will be slaves. they understand that nothing is better than a pause from work.

Lead a discussion about the differences between slaves and free men. A free man is aware of his past. For example, my grandfather was a painter, a scholar, a gymnast. A free man can ask himself: do I have those qualities, do I want to follow in his footsteps? My father was a poor immigrant, I have an opportunity to go to college. I want to do something to help the world–I want to become a doctor-researcher, find a cure for cancer…The world is open to me. My grandfather was a Rabbi, I want to follow in his footsteps… The free man has the opportunity and the drive to bring meaning into his life. He knows the world is open to him and that there is purpose in his being on this planet. Slaves do not understand this, but their children who were not slaves, did. Slaves could not possibly understand what it meant to enter, conquer and settle a new land. That takes work—does a slave want to do work? Does a slave have any courage against someone holding a sword at them wanting to kill them? What does it mean to enter the Land of Israel? to settle it to enjoy the rewards of settling the land create a nation committed to Hashem, Torah, and Mitzvot The splitting of the Yarden: a study Crossing the Yarden is more than a geographical relocation, it is a SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION as well.

Differences between Bnai Yisrael crossing the Yarden and crossing the Yam Suf (you may wish to draw up a chart on the board) Crossing of Yam Suf Bnai Yisrael are feeling panic and alarm because of the crushing waves of the Yam Suf , the whirling wheels and pounding hooves of the Egyptian chariots (coming to drag them back to slavery.) They crossed as a frightened crowd. There was no choice and NO options—there was a scary cloud and fire preventing them from turning back, their escape was a narrow tunnel—towering walls of water to their right and to their left—the decision was made for them. Bnai Yisrael had no choice but to go forward. Crossing of the Yarden Bnai Yisrael cross with CONFIDENCE in themselves Bnai Yisrael cross with TRUST IN HASHEM, that He will make them succeed Bnai Yisrael cross PROUDLY marching as a ‘front’ through an expansiveness that is very different from a tunnel Bnai Yisrael cross with a SENSE OF MISSION—they know where they are going, and what they have to do to set up a new life for themselves and their families. In their crossing of the Yarden, they demonstrated confidence, resolve, initiative, and trust. They have become a people with Divinely inspired direction, meaningful and worthwhile objectives and the patient resolve and national confidence to achieve them.