1.Now, after, etc Here, first, we see the steadfastness of God in watching over his people, and providing for their safety. The sanction given to Joshua’s appointment, as new leader by a renewed commission, was intended to indicate the continuance of his favor, and prevent the people from thinking themselves forsaken in consequence of the death of Moses. Joshua, indeed, had already been chosen to rule the people; and not only invested with the office, but also endowed with spiritual gifts. But as the most valiant, however well provided, are apt to halt or waver when the period for action arrives, the exhortation to Joshua to make ready forthwith for the expedition was by no means superfluous. Still, however, the call thus formally given was not so much on his own account, as to inspire the people with full confidence in following a leader whom they saw advancing step by step in the path divinely marked out for him.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Jos_1:1-18. The Lord appoints Joshua to succeed Moses.
Now after the death of Moses — Joshua, having been already appointed and designated leader of Israel (Num_27:18-23), in all probability assumed the reins of government immediately “after the death of Moses.”
the servant of the Lord — This was the official title of Moses as invested with a special mission to make known the will of God; and it conferred great honor and authority.
the Lord spake unto Joshua — probably during the period of public mourning, and either by a direct revelation to the mind of Joshua, or by means of Urim and Thummim (Num_27:21). This first communication gave a pledge that the divine instructions which, according to the provisions of the theocracy, had been imparted to Moses, would be continued to the new leader, though God might not perhaps speak to him “mouth to mouth” (Num_12:8).
Joshua — The original name, Oshea, (Num_13:8), which had been, according to Eastern usage, changed like those of Abram and Sarai (Gen_17:5-15) into Jehoshua or Joshua (that is, “God’s salvation”) was significant of the services he was to render, and typified those of a greater Saviour (Heb_4:8).
Moses’ minister — that is, his official attendant, who, from being constantly employed in important services and early initiated into the principles of the government, would be well trained for undertaking the leadership of Israel.
Keil and Delitzsch
The imperfect with vav consec., the standing mode of expressing a continued action or train of thought, “simply attaches itself by the conjunction ‘and’ to a completed action, which has either been mentioned before, or is supposed to be well known” (Ewald, §231, b.). “After the death of Moses,” i.e., after the expiration of the thirty days of general mourning for him (vid., Deu_34:8). “Servant of Jehovah” is a standing epithet applied to Moses as an honourable title, and founded upon Num_12:7-8 (vid., Deu_34:5; 1Ki_8:56; 2Ki_18:12; Psa_105:26, etc.). On “Joshua, Moses’ minister,” see at Exo_17:9 and Num_13:16. Minister (meshareth), as in Exo_24:13, etc. Although Joshua had already been called by the mouth of the Lord to be the successor of Moses in the task of leading the people into Canaan (Num_27:15.), and had not only been presented to the people in this capacity, but had been instituted in this office by the Lord, with the promise of His help (Deu_31:3-7 and Deu_31:23), the word of the Lord came to him a second time after the death of Moses, with the command to enter upon the office to which he had been called, and with the promise that He would help him to fulfil its duties, as he had already helped His servant Moses. “Because even some of the bravest men, although fully prepared beforehand, either stand still or hesitate when the thing has to be done: this exhortation to Joshua, to gird himself at once for the expedition, was by no means superfluous; though his call was ratified again not only for his own sake, but in order that the people might not hesitate to follow him with their minds collected and calm, when they saw that he took no step without the guidance of God” (Calvin). – Joshua received this word of the Lord by a direct address from God, and not through the intervention of the Urim and Thummim of the high priest; for this appointed medium for the revelation of the will of God, to which he had been referred on the occasion of his first call (Num_27:21), whenever difficulties should arise in connection with his office, was not sufficient for the renewal and confirmation of his divine calling, since the thing required here was not merely that the will of God should be made known to him, but that he should be inspired with courage and strength for the fulfilment of it, i.e., for discharging the duties of his office, just as he afterwards was then in front of the fortified town of Jericho which he was directed to take, where the angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him of its fall (Jos_5:13). Moreover, the conquest of Canaan formed part of the work which the Lord entrusted to His servant Moses, and in which therefore Joshua was now Moses’ successor. Consequently the Lord would be with him as He had been with Moses (Jos_1:5); and for this reason He revealed His will directly to him, as He had done to Moses, though without talking with him mouth to mouth (Num_12:8).
Now after the death of Moses. The form of the Hebrew is the usual historical one for the continuation of a narrative before commenced. The Book of Joshua is thus shown to be, and to be intended to be, a continuation of the Book of Deuteronomy, which ends with the death of Moses (see Speaker”s Commentary in loc. ). This link of connection is lost in the English version. The question forces itself upon the critic, At what time was this consecutive narrative written, as is admitted, in various styles, in the language of obviously distinct periods first composed and palmed off upon the Jews as the genuine work of a writer contemporary, or nearly contemporary, with the events he describes? The servant of the Lord. This term (Keil) is applied to the heavens and the earth, (Psa_119:91) to the angels, (Job_4:18) to the prophets, (Jer_7:25, etc.) to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the Jewish people, (Exo_19:5) to Zerubbabel, (Hag_2:23) and even to Nebuchadnezzar, (Jer_25:9, etc.) as the appointed minister of God”s wrath, and to pious men in general. (Gesenius; see Psa_34:2-3, etc.) It is also applied to the Messiah. (Zec_3:8; comp. the word paiv similarly applied in Act_4:27) It originally implies the position of a slave, whether born in the house or bought with money. (see Lev_25:39 Gen_9:25 Exo_13:3, Exo_13:14) In all cases it expresses a closer and more familiar relation than the term minister below. Keil says that it is applied so frequently to Moses that it has become almost his “official title”. (see Deu_34:5, and the Book of Joshua passim, and cf. Heb_3:5) It is, however, still more frequently applied to David. But it suits well with the special and peculiar mission which Moses had above the rest of mankind. He was, as it were, the household servant of the Most High, His steward and representative, ruling over the family of God in His name, and giving to them the directions of which they stood in need. That the Lord spake unto Joshua. Either by Urim and Thummin, which seems at least probable. (see Num_27:21, and Jos_9:14) But the great majority of commentators prefer the idea of an inward revelation, since the words are frequently used in this Book of God”s revelations to Joshua. (Jos_3:7 Jos_4:1, 15 5:2, 9 6:2, etc.)
The manner of these inward revelations is also a matter on which much difference of opinion exists. They, no doubt, were frequently made through a vision or dream, as to Abraham at Sodom, (Gen_18:1) Jacob at Bethel, and Joshua him. self. (Jos_5:13) But it is by no means clear that they were always so. The voice of God in answer to prayer is recognised by Christians in a strong inward persuasion of the desirability or necessity of a particular course. Of this kind would seem to be the answer to St. Paul”s prayer in 2Co_12:9. And it is quite possible that in passages such as Gen_12:1 Gen_22:1, Gen_22:2, nothing more is meant than that the persuasion, by God”s permission or inspiration, was strongly felt within. And so it is possible that one so specially and divinely commissioned as Joshua discerned in a strong and apparently irresistible conviction, the voice of God. (cf. Act_16:7 2Co_1:17) Joshua”s name was originally Hoshea (like the prophet and the Israelitish king of that name). The name originally meant salvation, or deliverance, but it was changed, either when he entered into Moses” service, or when he was about to fight the Amalekites, (Num_13:8, 16 Deu_32:44) into Jehoshua, or Joshua (either “God shall save,” or “God”s salvation”). It is not stated in Holy Writ when the name Joshua was given. In Exo_17:9, where Joshua is named for the first time, he is called by the name Moses gave him, and is mentioned incidentally as a person well known to the writer dud his readers. The reader need hardly be reminded that in the form Jeshua (Gr. Ihsouv ) it was the name of our Blessed Lord Himself, and that the Name which is now above all other names is used of Joshua in two places in the New Testament, in Act_7:45, in Heb_4:8. It was a common name in later times, as Col_4:11 and Act_13:6 will serve to show. In later Hebrew, as in Neh_8:17, Joshua is called Jeshua, and the names of Joshua and Jeshua are given indiscriminately to the high priest, the son of Josedeeh, who was contemporary with the building of the second temple.
For Joshua as a type of Christ the reader may consult a deep passage in “Pearson on the Creed,” Art. II, from which some of the most striking parts are here quoted: it was he alone, of all which passed out of Egypt, who was designed to lead the children of Israel into Canaan, which land, as it is a type of heaven, so is the person which brought the Israelites into that place of rest a type of Him who only can bring us into the presence of God, and there prepare our mansions for us. Besides, it is further observable, not only what Joshua did, but what Moses could not do. The hand of Moses and Aaron brought them out of Egypt, but left them in the wilderness. Joshua, the successor, only could effect that in which Moses failed. Moses must die that Joshua may succeed. (Rom_3:20-22) The command of circumcision was not given to Moses, but to Joshua; nor were the Israelites circumcised in the wilderness under the conduct of Moses and Aaron, but in the land of Canaan under their successor. Which speaketh Jesus to be the true circumciser, the author of another circumcision than that of the flesh. (Rom_2:29 Col_2:11) If we look on Joshua as the “minister of Moses,” he is even in that a type of Christ, “the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God.” If we look on him as the successor of Moses, in that he represented Jesus, inasmuch as “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” If we look on him as judge and ruler of Israel, there is scarce an action which is not predictive of our Saviour. He begins his office at the banks of Jordan, where Christ was baptized and enters upon the public exercise of His prophetical office; he chooseth there twelve men out of the people to carry twelve stones over with them, as our Jesus thence began to choose His twelve apostles, those foundation stones in the Church of God. (Rev_21:14) Joshua smote the Amalekites and subdued the Canaanites, By the first making way to enter the land, by the second giving possession of it. And Jesus in like manner goeth in and out before us against our spiritual enemies, subduing sin and Satan, and so opening and clearing our way to heaven; destroying the last enemy, death, and so giving us possession of eternal life.” Pearson quotes Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Theodoret, and others as justifying his view of the history. Theodoret, moreover, in his “Questions on Joshua,” remarks on the coincidence between Jos_1:17 and Joh_5:46. And Origen, in his first “Homily on Joshua,” remarks on the fact that the first time the sacred name meets us in the Book of God, it is as the leader of an army. (Exo_17:9) Another way in which Joshua was a type of Christ is this. Under Moses there are constant murmurings and disputings, for “the law made nothing perfect”. (Heb_7:19) Under Joshua all is confidence and triumph, for “by one offering Jesus hath perfected forever them that are sanctified”. (Heb_10:14) Moses” minister. This word is principally used of service in the house of God. Thus it is used of Aaron and his sons, Exo_28:43 Exo_39:41, etc.: of Samuel, 1Sa_2:11 1Sa_3:1, etc.: of the priests and Levites, 1Ch_6:32 Eze_14:5 Joe_1:9, etc. In these places it seems to be equivalent to the LXX leitourgov . But it is by no means confined to such service. In Exo_33:11, where it is applied to Joshua, it is rendered in the LXX by yerapwn , and it is quite clear that Joshua”s service to Moses was not exclusively of a religious character. Some commentators have suggested the word aide de camp, but this would be equally incorrect in the opposite direction, since Joshua”s services (see Exo_24:13 Exo_33:11) were clearly not rendered only in time of war. The word is used of Abishag the Shunamite, 1Ki_1:4, 1Ki_1:15; and of Elisha, 1Ki_19:21.
Vers. 1-4. Joshua”s Commission.
This passage may be viewed under two main aspects:
(1) regarding Moses as the type of Christ and Joshua of His ministers; and
(2) regarding Joshua as himself the type of Christ.
As these points of view suggest two perfectly distinct and independent lines of thought, it is obvious that they are better fitted for two separate discourses than for being combined in one.
I JOSHUA AS THE TYPE OF GOD”S MINISTERS.
1. After the death of Moses, the task devolves upon his minister. So after the death of Christ, the task of conquering the world devolved upon His apostles, His “ministers.” They who waited on Christ during His human life, who were with Him in His temptations, were the men appointed to carry on His work when He had gone hence.
2. By the express command of God. So the apostles not only had Christ”s commission, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”, (Mar_16:15 Mat_28:19) and “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you”, (Joh_20:21) but they were bidden to wait till the time was fixed, (Act_1:4) and the Spirit poured out upon them from on high. (Act_2:4) Hence we learn that no work, however high and holy, should be undertaken without the express intimation that it is God”s pleasure we should attempt it; that no motives, however pure, will justify us in putting our hand to the ark (2Sa_6:6, 2Sa_6:7) unless we are ordained by God to touch it. And if we ask how we are to know when we are so ordained, the answer is
(a) by seeking counsel of God;
(b) by scrutinising carefully the purity of our own motives, lest we may have mistaken pride or self interest for the voice of God.
That intimation will be given in various ways. We know not how (see note on Jos_5:1) Joshua was stirred up by God. But men are marked out for special tasks in three ways:
(1) by circumstances. Thus Joshua, as the minister of Moses, most closely acquainted with his modes of thought and course of action, became naturally his successor. So Timothy takes the place of St. Paul. (2Ti_3:10)
(2) By external authority; that of those who have a right to exercise it, like the high priest when he sought counsel of God by Urim and Thummim.
(3) By inward intimations of God”s Spirit, which cannot be mistaken, save by those who have blinded their own eyes by self seeking and self conceit.
1. The command is based upon Moses” death. So all the work of God”s ministers derives its energy from the death of Christ. It was the one all sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world that was the salt of the Apostles” mission. It is that same atonement which gives power to their successors now.
2. The work is of God, but the ministers are human. God might have performed His work without the intervention of means. But He has chosen to act through human instrumentality. Thus he magnifies His greatness even more than if He had done the work Himself. For human infirmities sorely mar the work of God. And yet that work goes on, and even human infirmity is overruled to God”s glory. (1Co_2:4, 5 2Co_4:7 2Co_12:9) So it was with Joshua”s error in judgment regarding the Gibeonites, (Jos_9:14) and so it often is with our own.
3. Difficulties often present themselves, insuperable but by the hand of God. “Go over this Jordan.” But how? The river was full to overflowing, the passage dangerous; in fact, for the whole multitude, in the face of the enemy, impossible. Yet the hand of God was stretched out, the river dried up, and what would have been a task of the greatest peril to themselves was instead a source of terror to their adversaries. So at the outset of great spiritual undertakings we are often confronted with difficulties far beyond our power to overcome. But “God showeth his voice,” and they “melt away.
4. The result, possession of the promised land. The land promised to the Israelites was a limited space, but the spiritual Israel has the promise of the whole earth. (see Gen_12:3 Psa_2:8 Isa_11:9 Dan_2:35, etc.)
II JOSHUA AS THE TYPE OF CHRIST.
1. After the death of Moses. The law could never give us our inheritance; (Heb_7:19) therefore Moses must die and Joshua arise. Again: the law was crucified together with Christ. (Rom_6:6, 10 7:4 Gal_2:19 Gal_5:24 Eph_2:15, 16 Col_2:14; also 2Co_3:14 in the Greek) As long as the law existed, man could only dwell in the wilderness, be dead in trespasses and sins, wander about without power to enter the promised land. He was continually confronted with a standard of holiness utterly beyond his strength to reach. But when Moses i.e., the law is dead, the true Jesus arises and leads His people into their inheritance, giving them the power to fulfil a law which He has written within.
2. Joshua was Moses” minister. So Christ was “made under the law”, (Gal_4:4) and was bound, by His Father”s will, to keep it. By His obedience alone was His sacrifice made acceptable to His Father. The law could but condemn us for being “weak through the flesh”; (Rom_8:3) we could not fulfil its precepts. But Christ condemned sin
(1) by His perfect fulfilment of God”s law, and
(2) by submitting to death, as the “wages” of that sin which mankind, whom He represented, had so fully deserved. Thus did He gain the right to be our leader into the inheritance God had promised us.
3. Jordan must be crossed; i.e., Jesus must die. As our representative, He dies once for all to sin, and His death translates us into a new life. Henceforth, by virtue of His atonement, “sin has no more dominion over us,” and we are, under His leadership, to destroy its empire forever. And we must follow Him through Jordan; that is, we too must die to sin and rise again unto righteousness. The river which divides our old condition from the new, which separates the wilderness from the promised land, is an eternal boundary between our condition by nature and our condition by grace. The waters of Jordan are likened by some to the waters of baptism, whereby we are “baptized into Christ”s death;” and by others to the moment of conversion, when, by the power of God alone, we are changed from wanderers and outcasts into the covenant people of God.
4. The land must be conquered. It was a wicked land; a land the sins of whose inhabitants contaminated it by their example; a land which called for condign chastisement from on high. The land with which Christians have to do is either
a. the whole world, or
b. the human heart.
In the first case it is the duty of the Church, in the second of the individual, in each case under Christ as a leader, to wage unceasing warfare against evil, in whatever forms it may be found. The character of that warfare will be indicated later. At present it will be sufficient to remark that the nature of the warfare itself is not changed, though its conditions are. The servants of God are eternally pledged to root out evil without compromise, and without mercy.
5. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. Every blessing was to be obtained there. Not only food, but delights. It is called emphatically “the good land”. (Deu_3:25 Deu_4:22) It contained every good thing man could desire. (Deu_8:7-9) So the steadfast determination to follow Christ, to him who is resolved to do so, insures us every blessing we need the supply of our wants, means of defence against our enemies, and the means, moreover, of happiness and enjoyment provided always that we do not cease the combat until all our enemies be destroyed.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE Vers. 1, 2. Consolation for bereaved workers.
In these words, addressed to Joshua, we have the most effectual consolation that can be offered to believers, when one has been taken away from their midst whose life seemed indispensable to the work and service of God. They are words applicable to the family no less than to the Church. Moses had just been taken from the people, from his friends, from Joshua his faithful servant. The great leader of Israel through the wilderness journey, the captain who had gone forth with their hosts to battle, the medium of the highest revelations of God to the nation, had vanished from among them. Israel would look no more on that noble face which had caught and kept the brightness of the glory of God revealed upon Sinai. The prophetic voice of him who had talked with God as a man talketh with his friend was hushed in lasting silence, he had been struck down on the very borders of the land of promise, to which he had safely led the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There was a peculiar sadness in the death of Moses just at this time. Have we not often felt the same when we have seen the strong man fall at the very moment when he was about to reap the fruit of his patient labours, and to win the hard-fought fight? The words spoken by God Himself for the consolation of Israel may suggest thoughts helpful to us under similar circumstances.
I GOD”S WORK DOES NOT DEPEND ON ANY ONE WORKER, EVEN THE GREATEST. It goes on, uninterrupted by the strokes of death. “Go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” Thus the cause still advances. Moses may die; his work cannot. Nay, it is extended, and assumes new developments. Moses has led the people to the verge of Jordan. Joshua will carry them over. Both Moses and Joshua are only instruments which may be broken and laid aside; but He who uses them will never be stopped in His work of love. “My Father,” says Jesus Christ, “worketh hitherto”. (Joh_5:17)
II AS GOD ONLY WORKS BY HIS SERVANTS, THESE MUST NEVER REST IN AN IDLE RELIANCE ON His POWER; THEY MUST TAKE UP THE WORK JUST WHERE IT IS HANDED OVER TO THEM, EVEN THOUGH THEIR HEARTS MAY BE BROKEN BY SORROW. Thus the Lord says to Joshua: “Arise, go over this Jordan.” We may not sit still mourning even over our beloved dead; we are to arise and take up their work. To carry it on is a sweet consolation; we feel ourselves still linked with the departed as we trace their blessed footsteps, and deepen the furrows they have already made. It brings us into closer fellowship with them. Joshua, as he took up the charge laid down by Moses, was more than ever brought into oneness of spirit with him.
III GOD, IN SPEAKING OF MOSES AS HIS SERVANT, GIVES TO THE SURVIVORS THE SWEET ASSURANCE THAT HE HAS TAKEN HIM TO REST IN HIS OWN PRESENCE. The recognition of his faithful service implies that of his sure reward. Undoubtedly he, like all the sons of men, was an unprofitable servant, but he nevertheless received from God that grand word of commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant;” and this is the word which sets before him who receives it an open heaven. Thus to know that God never leaves His work incomplete, that He gives it to us to carry on, and that those who have gone before us have entered into His rest, while we take up their unfinished task this is the threefold solace of the sorrows alike of the Church and of the Christian family. Thus both “he that soweth and they who reap rejoice together”. E. (Joh_4:3-6) D. P.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE Vers. 1-9. Joshua the successor of Moses.
The very name Joshua, Jesus, “God”s salvation, is enough of itself to awaken special interest in the man who, on the page of Scripture, first bears it. It is suggestive at once of the nature of his life work, and it leads us to anticipate some points of analogy between him and the Savior of the world. Joshua is one of the few Old Testament characters against whose name there is no reproach. Not that this Book presents any formal delineation of his character or pronounces his praise. It is but a simple, matter of fact record of great events in which he took a leading part. His illustrious deeds are their own eulogium. He stands before us as the type of a godly warrior, reverent in spirit yet full of practical energy, blameless and fearless, gentle and strong, spending a long life in unselfish and unwearied devotion to the cause of the people and of God. He was the brave soldier whose work, dark and terrible as it was, was consecrated by the inspiration of a Divine call and of a beneficent purpose. A general view of Joshua”s position in the annals of the Hebrew race is suggestive.
I IT REMINDS US HOW, AT CRITICAL PERIODS IN HUMAN HISTORY, GOD RAISES UP MEN AS FITTING INSTRUMENTS FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS PURPOSES. The death of Moses marks a crisis in the career of the chosen people, he who has been their “leader and commander” through all the forty years” wandering in the wilderness and has brought them to the borders of the land of promise, is taken from them just when they seem most to need him. Only Jordan now rolls between them and the fruition of their hopes; the prize is within their reach. Shall they fail, and, after all, come short of it? They would have failed if God had not been with them, moving, working among them, fulfilling His own will, magnifying His own name. Joshua”s uprising is itself a Divine interposition. He is not the product of the mere natural working of events and second causes. He is a deliverer whom God has provided, well named God”s salvation. The lesson is an important one. When God has any great work for men to do, he never fails to call forth those who can do it. The history of the Church, the general course of the world”s life, establish this law. The demand and the supply, the hour and the man, always meet. When those who are in the high places of the field fall, others step forth, often from very unlikely quarters, to fill the gap and carry on the work to riper issues. This continuity of the Divine purpose and of the path of its development is very wonderful “The voice that from the glory came To tell how Moses died unseen, And waken Joshua”s spear of flame To victory on the mountains green, Its trumpet tones are sounding still, kindling our expectations, rousing our energies, rebuking our distrust. Through the shifting clouds of circumstance we catch “glimpses of the unchanging sky.” God”s redeeming purpose shines on through all human and earthly changes. We need not fear but that He “will plead his own cause,” and when new emergencies arise provide some new instrument or agency to meet them.
II IT REMINDS US OF THE PROCESS BY WHICH GOD IS WONT TO PREPARE MEN FOR THE WORK HE HAS FOR THEM TO DO. Joshua was a divinely chosen and ordained deliverer. (Num_27:18-23 Deu_31:14-23) But God”s choice is never arbitrary, reasonless. There is generally some native quality, or circumstantial advantage, that makes the chosen man the more fitting instrument. (Examples: Moses, David, Cyrus, Paul, Luther.) Joshua grew up as a slave in the brick fields of Egypt. Born about the time when Moses fled into Midian, he must have been forty years old at the exodus. It may seem strange that such greatness as his should have been nursed amid such associations. But when God has fixed His choice on a man He can make what seem to be the most adverse conditions a school of preparation. And, perhaps, the rough influences of such a lot were, after all, the best school. In servitude as a youth, he learnt how to command as a man. No doubt sudden emergencies have often developed unlooked for qualities in men. Tender spirits, nursed in the lap of luxury, have been found calm in danger, brave in battle. Still, as a nile, to “bear the yoke in one”s youth” is the best preparation for the stern struggle of after life. Moreover, the trials and responsibilities of life are graduated. The right discharge of lesser duty qualifies for higher positions of trust. Joshua proved, in the previous expeditions on which Moses sent him, (Exo_17:9 Num_13:17) his fitness to take the place of the great leader. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” “If thou hast run with the footmen,” etc. (Jer_12:5) Again: other circumstances of adifferent kind miraculous manifestations, Divine revelations had their part in Joshua”s preparation, he had witnessed the wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea, had been with Moses in the mount, had had direct communication from God to himself (Deuteronomy 31). We are reminded of the higher, diviner influences that help in the formation of all noblest human character; there is always the blending of natural and supernatural elements, ordinary associations of life mingled with direct heavenly visitations, innate qualities sanctified and glorified by special ministries of the grace of God.
III IT ILLUSTRATES THE HEROISM THAT SPRINGS FROM FAITH. Faith, the faith that brought him into personal contact with the living God, was the spring of all Joshua”s strength and courage. He had no prophetic gift as regards the vision of the future, for it was through the priest Eleazar, “after the judgment of Urim,” that he was to ask counsel of the Lord. (Num_27:21) But as military leader of Israel he was divinely inspired; and his inspiration was the energy of faith. This has ever been the prolific root of the noblest forms of character and deed. By it “the elders,” whose names shed lustre on the ages of the past, “obtained their good report.” And so it always will be. There is no heroism like that which springs from the soul”s living hold on the unseen and eternal. The hope of the world for deliverance from the ills that afflict it, and its being led into the heritage of a brighter future, is in the men of faith. And he is an enemy to his race who would attempt to dry up this spring of power. “This is the victory,” etc. (1Jn_5:4)
IV IT PRESENTS US WITH AN INTERESTING HISTORIC TYPE OF GOSPEL SALVATION. Many points of typical resemblance have been traced. This, at least, is clear, as Joshua, “Moses” minister,” consummates his work, leads the people into the promised land, divides to them their inheritance; so Christ, “made under the law,” brings in the richer grace. He is the “end of the law for righteousness,” etc. (Rom_10:4) The Captain of salvation leads many sons, His redeemed ones, to glory and eternal rest. W.
2.Moses my servant, etc A twofold meaning may be extracted — the one, since Moses is dead, the whole burden has now devolved upon thee, take the place of him to whom thou has been appointed successor; the other, although Moses is dead, do not desist, but go forward. I prefer the former, as containing the inference that he should, by right of succession, take up the office which Moses had left vacant. The epithet or surname of servant applied to Moses, has respect to his government of the people and his exploits; for it ought to be accommodated to actual circumstances. The allusion here is not to the Law but to the leadership, which had passed to Joshua by the decease of Moses, and God thus acknowledges his servant, not so much with the view of praising him, as of strengthening the authority of Joshua, who had been substituted in his place. And as the people might not have acquiesced sufficiently in a bare command, he promises, while ordering them to pass the Jordan, to give them peaceable possession of the whole country, and of every spot of it on which they should plant their foot. For as nothing tends more than distrust to make us sluggish and useless, so when God holds forth a happy issue, confidence inspires us with rigor for any attempt.
It may be added, that he does now begin for the first time to give them good hopes, by making a promise of which they had not previously heard, but recalls to their remembrance what Moses had formerly testified. He says, therefore, that the time had now come for exhibiting and performing that which he had promised to Moses. Should any one object that the same thing had been said to Abraham long before Moses was born, nay, that the perpetual covenant deposited with Abraham included everything which was heard by Moses four hundred years after; I answer, that here no notice is taken of the ancient promise which was everywhere known and celebrated, and that Moses is produced as a witness whose memory was more recent, and by whose death the confidence of the people might have been shaken, had not God declared that the accomplishment of all which he had said was at hand.
The sole of your foot shalt tread upon – That is, the whole land occupied by the seven Canaanitish nations, and as far as the Euphrates on the east; for this was certainly the utmost of the grant now made to them; and all that was included in what is termed the promised land, the boundaries of which have already been defined. See Deu_34:1-4, and see Jos_1:4 (note) below. It has been supposed that the words, Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, were intended to express the ease with which they were to conquer the whole land, an instance of which occurs in the taking of Jericho. It was only their unfaithfulness to God that rendered the conquest in any case difficult.
Keil and Delitzsch
“Namely, every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,” i.e., I have given you the whole land, not excepting a single foot’s breadth. The perfect, “I have given,” refers to the counsel of God as having been formed long before, and being now about to be carried into execution. These words, which are connected with Deu_11:24, so far as the form is concerned, rest upon the promise of God in Exo_23:30-31, to which the words “as I said unto Moses” refer.
Every place that the sole of your foot doth tread upon. These words are a quotation, almost word for word, from Deu_11:24, bat the original promise is to be found in Gen_12:1-7, with which we may compare Gen_13:14-17 Gen_15:18 Gen_17:8. Comp. also Jos_14:9 Exo_23:30, Exo_23:31, etc. It was God”s purpose that the whole land should belong to the children of Israel; a purpose which, as usual in Hebrew prophecy, is signified by the use of the perfect tense here. The conquest was intended to be complete. Not a foot”s breadth was to rest in the hands of its former owners. But here, as elsewhere in Holy Writ, we may mark the way in which man”s sin and want of faith has marred the purposes of God. In the Book of Judges we read that the Canaanites were not only not driven out, but that the children of Israel made marriages with them, worshipped their gods, and practised their abominations. Jerusalem remained in the hands of the Jebusites until the time of David, while the Philistines remained in possession of their portion of Palestine until it was reduced under the power of the king of Babylon. We may observe that, according to all the ordinary laws of criticism, this citation of Deuteronomy is a proof that that Book existed when the Book of Joshua was written. For the cumbrous scheme of Elohists, Jehovists, Deuteronomists, and the like, by which this natural conclusion is overruled, see Introduction. Have I given it. The preterite here denotes God”s purpose. (cf. Gen_1:29)
4.From the wilderness and this Lebanon, etc How the truth and fulfillment of this promise surmounted all the obstacles interposed by the wickedness of the people, though they did not obtain immediate possession of the whole territory, I have explained in the Argument. For although God had unfolded the inestimable treasures of his beneficence by constituting them lords of the country, it did not follow that their misconduct was not to be chastised. Nay, there behooved to be a fulfillment of the threatening which Moses had denounced, viz., that if the nations doomed to destruction were not destroyed, they would prove thorns and stings in their eyes and sides. But as the promise was by no means broken or rendered void by the delay of forty years, during which they were led wandering through the desert, so the entire possession, though long suspended, proved the faithfulness of the decree by which it had been adjudged.
The people had it in their power to obtain possession of the prescribed boundaries in due time; they declined to do so. For this they deserved to have been expelled altogether. But the divine indulgence granted them an extent of territory sufficient for their commodious habitation; and although it had been foretold that, in just punishment, the residue of the nations whom they spared would prove pernicious to them, still, they suffered no molestation, unless when they provoked the Divine anger by their perfidy and almost continual defection: for as often as their affairs became prosperous, they turned aside to wantonness. Still, owing to the wonderful goodness of God, when oppressed by the violence of the enemy, and, as it were, thrust down to the grave, they continued to live in death; and not only so, but every now and then deliverers arose, and, contrary to all hope, retrieved them from ruin.
The Great Sea means the Mediterranean, and to it the land of the Hittites forms the opposite boundary; in the same way Lebanon is opposed to the Euphrates; but it must be observed that under Lebanon the desert is comprehended, as appears from another passage.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon – Joshua appears to be standing with his face towards the promised land, and pointing out the different places, or their situation, with his hand, This Lebanon, etc. The utmost of their limits should be from the desert of Arabia Petraea on the South to Lebanon on the North: and from the Euphrates on the East to the Mediterranean Sea on the West. The Israelites did not possess the full extent of this grant till the days of David. See 2Sa_8:3, etc., and 2Ch_9:26.
Land of the Hittites – These are generally reputed to have been the most hardy and warlike of all the Canaanitish nations; and as they occupied the mountainous countries on the south of the land of Canaan, it is natural to suppose that they would be the most difficult to subdue, and on this account, it is supposed, God particularly specifies these: “Ye shall subdue and possess even all the land of the Hittites,” but it is probable that under this one term all the other nations are included, as it is certain they are in other places under the term Amorites. Great sea: The Mediterranean, called great in respect of the lakes in the land of Judea, such as the sea of Gennesareth, or the sea of Tiberias, and the Dead Sea, which were comparatively small lakes; but the Hebrews gave the name of sea, ים yam, to every large collection of waters.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon. The words suppose a line to be drawn from the desert of Arabia on the south and the range of Lebanon on the north, to the River Euphrates on the one hand and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, including the land of the Hittites. (see 1Ki_4:24 2Ch_9:26) Tiphsah, the later Thapsacus, was far north of the utmost limits of Palestine, and almost in the latitude of Antioch. Azzah is generally termed Gaza in our version. See note on Jos_11:22. The land of the Hittites here (Keil) seems to be taken for the land of Canaan in general, (see 1Ki_10:29 2Ki_7:6 Eze_16:3) but extending far beyond their border, and including Syria, Moab, Ammon, the land of Bashan, and part of Arabia. This was never actually in the hand of the Israelites save during the reigns of David and Solomon, when these regions were either tributary to them, or had been actually reduced under their immediate sway. “The promise,” says Theodoret, “was not undefined, but if ye shall keep my commandments and ordinances”. (Deu_11:22, Deu_11:23) But they, inasmuch as they immediately transgressed the law, did not obtain the perfect promises. The Divine Apostles, on the contrary, not only conquered those places on which they set their foot, but even those in which their all wise writings were read; and the land that was before a desert they displayed as a Divine Paradise.” This Lebanon. This expression is no doubt used because Lebanon was visible from the spot where Joshua was standing. There is nothing surprising in this. We learn from travellers that its range, which there is no doubt included that of Anti-Lebanon, with its lofty peak Hermon, the highest point in Palestine, is visible from all parts of the Holy Land, even from the depths of the Jordan valley near the Dead Sea. Dr. Thomson (“Land and the Book,” p, 2) says that it is visible from Cyprus. Canon Tristram (“Land of Israel,” p. 609) tells how he had seen Hermon from Type, Sidon, Carmel, Gerizim, from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, from Gilead, from Nebo, and from the Dead Sea. The name Lebanon, derived from bl to be white, like the Arabic lebanon, milk, is supposed by Robinson to have been given from the whitish colour of the chalk or limestone rock (so Conder, “Handbook,” p. 206). But it is at least equally probable that it derives its name, like Mont Blanc in Savoy, from its snowy peaks. Hermon is still called by the Arabs Jebel-el-Thelj, or “the snowy peak.” The Jordan, the river of Palestine par excellence, derived its copious and ever-flowing streams, so essential in that “thirsty land,” from the Anti-Lebanon range. “Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus,” as well as the Orontes, and the Litany or Leontes, derive their waters from the same source (see Tristram, “Land of Israel,” chap. 25.; Thomson, “Land and the Book,” pp. 172, 173). We have a vivid description of the region of Lebanon and the adjacent range of Anti-Lebanon and Hermon, in the spring, at the time of the melting of the snows, in the 42nd Psalm. There David, recalling to mind his sojourn in the “land of the Jordan,” and of Hermon, speaks of the “deep calling unto deep,” of the noise of the cataracts as they dashed from rock to rock and foamed along the mountain sides; and he describes his sorrows as overwhelming him by their number and magnitude, just as the multitudinous torrents that rose in that snowy region threatened to engulf the unwary traveller in their onward sweep. The far-famed cedars of Lebanon are indigenous to this region, and to it alone, but the climatic changes which Palestine has undergone have reduced their number largely, and comparatively few specimens now remain, in a wild condition, of that noble tree, once the pride of the dwellers in the land. “We cannot study all the passages in the Old Testament which refer to the cedar, without feeling certain that in ancient times it was a far more conspicuous feature in the landscape than it is now” (Tristram, “Land of Israel,” p. 631). The great river, the river Euphrates. Das grosse Wasser Phrath (Luther). The Hebrew name is as Luther gives it. The Greeks added the euphonic syllable at the commencement, according to those who assign to the word a Semitic derivation. Others, however, derive it from an Aryan source, and regard it as equivalent to “the flowing river.” This mighty stream, especially after its junction with the Tigris, far transcended in size any other with which the Israelites were acquainted. The plains of Mesopotamia, even as far as Nineveh and Babylon, were destined to have been occupied by the Jewish race, had not their impiety and rebellion prevented; and the world empire obtained by Nineveh and Babylon might, and had they been obedient would, have been theirs.
All the land of the Hittites. The Hittites, or Chittites, seem to have been the most considerable of the tribes which inhabited Canaan. We find them in possession of Hebron in the time of Abraham, (Ge 23) but their more usual dwelling place was in the valley. They appear from the narrative above quoted to have been a peaceable people. We have records of them in Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions. Thus we hear of the Khita in the inscriptions of Rameses II, who reigned between 1383 and 1322, B.C.; that is, about the time of Deborah and Barak (“Records of the Past,” 2:67-78; 4:25-32). They were the inhabitants, however, of a region further to the northward, beyond the borders of the Holy Land, on the banks of the Orontes. So a Mohar, or scribe, of Rameses II, in an account of a tour in Palestine, in which he mentions Kirjath Anab, Achsaph, Megiddo, and the land of Hamath, describes Khita as to the north, bordering on this latter territory (“Records of the Past,” 2:106). The various translators of the Assyrian inscriptions of Assur-bani-pal, Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sennacherib recognise the Hittites in the people mentioned as dwelling to the north of Palestine (ibid. 3:52; 5:21, 32, 33; 7:61), though Ewald thinks that the Khatta there mentioned must be sought still further north. Prof. Sayce, in a recent lecture, regards the Hittites as having occupied a large portion of Asia Minor, and as having had great influence upon early Greek art, and adds, “Till within the last few years the Bible alone has preserved the name of a people who must have had almost as great an influence on human history as Assyria or Egypt.” Shahnaneser mentions the kings of the Hittites, just as they are mentioned in the later narratives of Kings and Chronicles. (see note on Jos_3:10) Unto the great sea. As the Euphrates was the greatest river, the Mediterranean was the greatest sea, known to the Jews. Unlike the race they displaced, the Canaanites or, to call them by a title by which they are better known to profane history, the Phoenicians the Jews were no sailors. It may have been even before the conquest of Canaan under Joshua that the Phoenician fleets sailed out beyond the pillars of Hercules, and brought back tin from the British isles. For Canaan, or Phoenicia, was a powerful and civilised country when conquered by the Jews. But whether it were before this period that Britain was discovered, or whether the fleets of Tyre and Sidon first sailed thither at a later period, to the Jews the Mediterranean still remained the great sea. They knew nothing of the vaster ocean into which it flowed. It seems strange that, with the example of Tyre and Sidon before them, the Israelites should have been so indifferent to navigation. Even in the time of David, it was Hiram”s ships that brought him his treasures and building materials. The later navies of Solomon and Jehoshaphat did but coast along the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Ophir, which has been identified with India, or more probably with Arabia.
5.There shall not any man, etc As a contest was about to be waged with numerous and warlike enemies, it was necessary thus to inspire Joshua with special confidence. But for this, the promise of delivering over the land which God had given, would ever and anon have become darkened; for how vast the enterprise to overthrow so many nations! This objection therefore is removed. And the better to free him from all doubt, he is reminded of the victories of Moses, by which God had made it manifest that nothing was easier for him than utterly to discomfit any host however great and powerful. Joshua, therefore, is ordered to behold in the assistance given to Moses the future issue of the wars which he was to undertake under the same guidance and protection. For the series of favors is continued without interruption to the successor.
What follows is to the same effect, though it is more fully expressed by the words, I will not fail thee, etc Hence the Apostle, (Heb_13:5,) when wishing to draw off believers from avarice, makes an application of these words for the purpose of calming down all anxieties, and suppressing all excessive fears. And in fact, the distrust which arises from anxiety kindles in us such tumultuous feelings that on the least appearance of danger, we turmoil and miserably torment ourselves until we feel assured that God both will be with us and more than suffice for our protection. And, indeed, while he prescribes no other cure for our timidity, he reminds us that we ought to be satisfied with his present aid.
THE SOURCE OF JOSHUA”S CONFIDENCE.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee. Literally, no one shall set himself up against thee, i.e., successfully resist thee (antisthsetai , LXX). As I was with Moses. Literally, as I have been with Moses: that is to say, was with him and remained with him unto the end. The continuity of the work of God under the old dispensation is thus as clearly marked as that of the new in Mat_28:20, and Joh_20:21-23. The promises made to Abraham, the law given to Moses, the gift of a new life in Christ, are so many parts of one great work, and that work the regeneration of mankind. I will not fail thee. Literally, I will not be weak towards thee, relax towards thee. God is ever the same, If His attitude to us be altered, it is not He who has changed, but ourselves.
Vers. 5-9. The source of Joshua”s confidence.
I HE HAD BEEN CHOSEN BY GOD. Moses was dead, and Joshua”s heart might well have failed him. For the great lawgiver had found the task of leading the Israelites from Egypt to the borders of the promised land too much for his strength and spirit. (Exo_18:13-17 Num_11:11-17 Deu_1:9-15) Constant rebellions and murmurings had weakened his hands. “They provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips, (Psa_106:33) and in consequence he was not permitted to lead them into Canaan. To Joshua a harder task was assigned. He was not only to lead the Israelites, but to lead them in battle, and against foes more numerous and better prepared for war than themselves. Yet the sense that he had been marked out for the task, as well as his determination to obey the orders he had received, sustained him. He was never known to waver but once (ch. 7.), nor did the confidence of his followers in him ever falter. So may all those who have received a charge from God rest assured that they will be able to execute it.
II HE REPOSED UPON GOD”S PROMISE. He “believed God,” and it was not only “counted unto him for righteousness,” but his faith led him to victory. Nothing could have nerved him for such a task but the consciousness that God was with him. For he had no personal ambition, (Jos_19:49) such as often stimulates men to great tasks. Thus the Christian warrior of today, who contends not for himself but for his Master, may emulate Joshua”s courage and confidence, for the same promises are his as were Joshua”s. (Heb_13:5, 6 Eph_6:10 2Th_3:3)
III HE WAS DILIGENT IN THE STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND HE GUIDED HIMSELF BY THEIR INJUNCTIONS. He had only the law of Moses, but he kept it (ch. 5, 6, 7). He had been warned to extirpate the Canaanites, and he obeyed the command to the letter. (Jos 10,Jos_11:15) The Christian who would conquer in his conflict with the powers of evil must be diligent in his study of God”s Word, and careful to frame his life by its precepts. He must “meditate therein day and night (cf. Psa_1:2 Psa_119:1 Psa_119:97-99; also Deu_4:9 Deu_11:18-20 Deu_17:18, Deu_17:19), and must take heed to carry out the lessons he has learned.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
Vers. 5, 6. The leader”s promise.
Such is God”s word to Joshua when commencing his great task. He needed the urgent precept and the supporting promise. He was no youthful dreamer, but one long past middle life, who had no exaggerated estimate of Israel”s faithfulness, and no illusions about its task. He needed, and here he gets, the quickening influence of a sacred charge. As God spake to him, so he would speak to all who are constrained by a sense of duty to God or man to undertake some task that seems beyond their powers. Let us take its general lessons to all.
I HEROES PASS AWAY, BUT THE POWER THAT MADE THEM STILL REMAINS. When Moses left his task it seemed as if the work must come to a stand. Where should they find such grace again? or how could they do without it? Such a combination of courage and meekness, faith to follow anywhere, patience with those who had hardly faith to follow at all; such wisdom, such love could it be repeated? could it be dispensed with? Especially now, when the finish of their great enterprise was so full of difficulty. They know little of the human heart who imagine that Joshua could gaily assume the responsibilities of his command. They who enter into great wars “with light heart” do not take long to gather heaviness. And Joshua, advanced in life, acquainted with the difficulties of his task, doubtless was tempted to feel that with Moses the heroic age had ended, and prosaic common life alone remained. Probably the people shared this feeling; and with the departure of this great hero there was the feeling that all greatness and glory was gone. The first thing that will quicken men with hope is this heroes leave us, but God remains. Before the special promise will operate its special comfort there must be this general thought of comfort cherished and realised. And we all shall be prepared to realise the promises which suit ourselves, if we realise that amidst all changes God remains unchanged, and whatever leaves us He abides. We are all apt to say that former times were better than the present; to imagine that former greatness cannot be grown now; that grandeur of thought, saintliness, courage, will come no more “to dignify our times;” that there was special grace vouchsafed to past ages which made them rich, and which has evaporated long ago. Churchmen look back to the Fathers; Dissenters to the Reformers of the Church. Now the martyrs of the ancient days, now the stalwart heroes of Puritan times, are gilded with our reverent memory; and then rises the pensive thought that “the tender grace of the day that is dead” will never return. “As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee.” Revere the saintly past, but recognise the Divine present. The great ones have gone; that which made them great remains. The fixed constancy of their maturer service makes us forget with what gradualness their characters grew. How by lowly ventures, by difficult waiting, by support only sufficient to prevent despair, they rose step by step; God”s grace entering them ever the more largely and obeyed ever the more fully. So, blade to ear, ear to full corn in the ear, their character grew; and so may ours. Today the Spirit of all grace broods on humanity, kindling all wakeful spirits, entering and employing them. Still Christ”s love helps and harbours all. The peculiarities of the nineteenth century do not enfeeble God. And He is here, fresh and strong today. He will hallow, not equalise, varieties of constitution; will not make a Joshua into a Moses, nor an Elisha into an Elijah; but with special grace for their special task will equally endue each. Despair not of God”s Church; tremble not for the ark of God; despair not of our country, or of mankind. Whoever, whatever has gone, God remains. “As He was with our fathers, so He will be with us.
II WITH EVERY DUTY COMES THE POWER TO DO IT. “I will not fall thee, nor forsake thee.” If the first clause of the text promised the presence, the second pledges the power and help, of God. He will be with Joshua not merely in sense of ubiquity, but in sense of interest; not to watch faults and failures, but to prevent them. There was the fear that in this enterprise many things might “fail” them. The people”s courage might fail; they might withdraw from allegiance to him; his wisdom might be at fault, his endurance might fail. But God comes in and says, “I will not fail thee.” Will disappoint no expectation, withhold no needed help; will not fail you when you are weak, nor forsake you when you are faulty. With the duty there will be the power, for God will not fail us. There is no part of the gospel more necessary or more sweet than this that with duty power always comes; they walk hand in hand. The moment the Saviour”s precept makes it the man”s duty to stretch forth his hand, that moment he has power to do it. When the disciples are bidden to feed the multitude they have power to do so. The acceptance of a charge opens the heart to God, and He floods it with His grace. If the disciples are sent out to cast out devils they have the power to do so, for God does not fail them. They never get power apart from Him, of which they can be conscious and proud. But He is there by them, in them; and when they are feeling all weakness, and unfitness, He, not failing, charges them with all the grace they need. You are called to confess Christ; to forsake some pleasant or profitable course of evil; to stand alone; to take up some forlorn hope of philanthropy… and you feel no strength, energy, vigour for your task. Take this comfort: with duty there invariably comes the power to discharge it. “I will never fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Observe lastly
III COURAGE IS THE SUPREME REQUIREMENT OF GOD”S SAINTS, AND STRENGTH GOES WITH IT. “Be strong and of a good courage. It is striking how large a place exhortations to courage hold in all the Bible. “Add to your faith, courage (not virtue), says Peter; and so saying sums up many testimonies. You cannot easily count the “fear nots” of the Bible. And these are not merely soothing words, calming solicitude, but quickening words, calling to conflict and to victory. Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and you will find that in almost every instance in which the writer attributes men”s greatness to their faith he might have done so with equal truth to their courage. Fear is the parent of every kind of vice; fear of conflict, fear of shame, fear of failure, fear that God will leave fidelity unrewarded and prayer unanswered. “They were afraid to confess him,” says the Evangelist of those who sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. “I was afraid and went and hid my talent.” Fear exaggerates difficulties, murmurs at duties, shrinks from reproach, postpones duty, then neglects it, and then hates God with the bitterness of despair. Be of good courage. If seeking God, seek hopefully, expecting to find Him. If distressed with doubts, face them bravely, and calmly wait the rising of the broader light which will include all that is best of old and new. Are you afflicted, bereaved, and broken? Be brave and of good courage. Look the grave in the face, and summon your energy to meet the falsehoods of despair. Are you failing almost gone,” “perplexed,” and all but in despair? Be of good courage, for hardihood of spirit, while it is needed, is sufficient for what you have to do. Strength goes with it. The momentum of a projectile is the product of its mass and velocity; and a lighter ball, if driven with greater force, will do all the work of a heavier one that moves more slowly. And this law of mechanics is true of souls. There is many a soul light, fragile, weak, but which hurls itself with energy against resisting forces, which has a power of overcoming far in excess of that possessed by many stronger and lordlier natures. Be strong and of good courage. If God appoints the task and leads the way, you are in a course in which fear of failure is superfluous. Let the eye be brighter; go not to your task burdened with melancholy of dark foreboding. Courage gladdening, strengthening you is duty and strength in one. Joshua obeyed the precept, and exceedingly abundantly above all he thought realised the promise. Let us act like him, and then from a pinnacle of high performance and blest success we shall look back and praise our God for the “faithful word on which he caused us to hope. G.
6.Be strong, etc An exhortation to fortitude is added, and indeed repeated, that it may make the deeper impression. At the same time the promise is introduced in different words, in which Joshua is assured of his divine call, that he might have no hesitation in undertaking the office which had been divinely committed to him, nor begin to waver midway on being obliged to contend with obstacles. It would not have been enough for him diligently to begirt himself at the outset without being well prepared to persevere in the struggle.
Although it is the property of faith to animate us to strenuous exertion, in the same way as unbelief manifests itself by cowardice or cessation of effort, still we may infer from this passage, that bare promises are not sufficiently energetic without the additional stimulus of exhortation. For if Joshua, who was always remarkable for alacrity, required to be incited to the performance of duty, how much more necessary must it be that we who labor under so much sluggishness should be spurred forward.
We may add, that not once only or by one single expression are strength and constancy required of Joshua, but he is confirmed repeatedly and in various terms, because he was to be engaged in many and various contests. He is told to be of strong and invincible courage. Although these two epithets make it obvious that God was giving commandment concerning a most serious matter, still not contented with this reduplication, he immediately after repeats the sentence, and even amplifies it by the addition of the adverb very.
From this passage, therefore, let us learn that we can never be fit for executing difficult and arduous matters unless we exert our utmost endeavors, both because our abilities are weak, and Satan rudely assails us, and there is nothing we are more inclined to than to relax our efforts. But, as many exert their strength to no purpose in making erroneous or desultory attempts, it is added as a true source of fortitude that Joshua shall make it his constant study to observe the Law. By this we are taught that the only way in which we can become truly invincible is by striving to yield a faithful obedience to God. Otherwise it were better to lie indolent, and effeminate than to be hurried on by headlong audacity.
Moreover, God would not only have his servant to be strong in keeping the Law, but enjoins him to contend manfully, so as not to faint under the burden of his laborious office. But as he might become involved in doubt as to the mode of disentangling himself in matters of perplexity, or as to the course which he ought to adopt, he refers him to the teaching of the Law, because by following it as a guide he will be sufficiently fitted for all things. He says, You shall act prudently in all things, provided you make the Law your master; although the Hebrew word שכל, means to act not only prudently but successfully, because temerity usually pays the penalty of failure.
Be this as it may, by submitting entirely to the teaching of the Law he is more surely animated to hope for divine assistance. For it is of great consequence, when our fears are excited by impending dangers, to feel assured that we have the approbation of God in whatever we do, inasmuch as we have no other object in view than to obey his commands. Moreover, as it would not be enough to obey God in any kind of way, Joshua is exhorted to practice a modesty and sobriety which may keep him within the bounds of a simple obedience.
Many, while possessed of right intention, sometimes imagine themselves to be wiser than they ought, and hence either overlook many things through carelessness, or mix up their own counsels with the divine commands. The general prohibition, therefore, contained in the Law, forbidding all men to add to it or detract from it, God now specially enforces on Joshua. For if private individuals in forming their plan of life behoove to submit themselves to God, much more necessary must this be for those who hold rule among the people. But if this great man needed this curb of modesty that he might not overstep his limits, how intolerable the audacity if we, who fall so far short of him, arrogate to ourselves greater license? More especially, however, did God prescribe the rule of his servant, in order that those who excel in honor might know that they are as much bound to obey it as the meanest of the people.
Keil and Delitzsch
The promise is followed by the condition upon which the Lord would fulfil His word. Joshua was to be firm and strong, i.e., well-assured, courageous, not alarmed (vid., Deu_31:6). In the first place (Jos_1:6), he was to rely firmly upon the Lord and His promise, as Moses and the Lord had already told him (Deu_31:7 and Deu_31:23), and as is again repeated here, whilst at the same time the expression, “thou shalt divide for an inheritance,” recalls to mind Deu_1:38; Deu_3:28; and in the second place (Jos_1:7, Jos_1:8), he was to strive to attain and preserve this firmness by a careful observance of the law. “Observe to do,” etc., as Moses had already impressed upon the hearts of all the people (Deu_5:29, cf. Deu_28:14 and Deu_2:27). The suffix in מִמֶּנּוּ is to be explained on the supposition that the speaker had the book of the law in his mind. The further expansion, in Jos_1:8, is not only attached to the exhortations, with which Moses urges upon all the people in Deu_6:6-7, and Deu_11:18-19, an uninterrupted study and laying to heart of the commandments of God, but even more closely to the directions to the king, to read every day in the law (Deu_17:19). “Not to depart out of the mouth,” is to be constantly in the mouth. The law is in our mouth, not only when we are incessantly preaching it, but when we are reading it intelligently for ourselves, or conversing about it with others. To this there was to be added meditation, or reflection upon it both day and night (vid., Psa_1:2). הָגָה does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings. “Then shalt thou make they way prosperous,” i.e., succeed in all thine undertakings (vid., Deu_28:29), “and act wisely” (as in Deu_29:8).
Be strong and of a good courage. Literally, be strong and vigorous. The word does not refer so much to the character of Joshua as to his actions. He was to be a man of action, alert, prompt, ready to act when occasion demanded. (see Deu_31:6, Deu_31:7, Deu_31:8, Deu_31:23) Which I sware unto their fathers (see note on ver. 3).
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
Vers. 6-9. A renewed covenant.
The covenant made with the patriarchs, and afterwards with their descendants when they came out of Egypt, is here renewed in almost the same words. The promises are identical (vers. 4, 5), and also the conditions of their fulfilment, which are summed up in fidelity and obedience: Observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee (vers. 7, 8). This renewal to each generation of the covenant between God and His people is a law of religious history. It results both from the nature of that covenant and from the character of those who enter into it.
I This alliance is, in its essence, THE RESTORATION OF THE BOND OF LOVE BETWEEN MAN AND GOD, by the obedience of faith. Now love is a feeling which needs to be constantly renewed. The love of one generation will not avail for the next. It must be rekindled and find fresh expression.
II The covenant must be made between the true God and man made in His image; IT MUST BE SPIRITUAL AND SPONTANEOUS IN ITS CHARACTER. It cannot be signed upon parchment or graven in the insensate stone; it must be written upon living hearts. Hence it ought to be perpetually renewed, though it gladly avails itself of the strengthening influence of its glorious antecedents. It recognises as its essential principle the free and sovereign initiative of Divine love. “We love him because he first loved us”. (1Jn_4:19) Nor is it enough that this Divine covenant be renewed with each successive generation; it must be entered into by every individual sad. This was true, indeed, in relation to the higher religious life, even under the old covenant. How much more under the new the covenant of the Spirit which is ratified not by circumcision but by conversion. “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. (Joh_3:3) E. DE P.
8.This book of the Law, etc Assiduous meditation on the Law is also commanded; because, whenever it is intermitted, even for a short time, many errors readily creep in, and the memory becomes rusted, so that many, after ceasing from the continuous study of it, engage in practical business, as if they were mere ignorant tyros. God therefore enjoins his servant to make daily progress, and never cease, during the whole course of his life, to profit in the Law. Hence it follows that those who hold this study in disdain, are blinded by intolerable arrogance.
But why does he forbid him to allow the Law to depart from his mouth rather than from his eyes? Some interpreters understand that the mouth is here used by synecdoche forface; but this is frigid. I have no doubt that the word used is peculiarly applicable to a person who was bound to prosecute the study in question, not only for himself individually, but for the whole people placed under his rule. He is enjoined, therefore, to attend to the teaching of the Law, that in accordance with the office committed to him, he may bring forward what he has learned for the common benefit of the people. At the same time he is ordered to make his own docility a pattern of obedience to others. For many, by talking and discoursing, have the Law in their mouth, but are very bad keepers of it. Both things, therefore, are commanded, that by teaching others, he may make his own conduct and whole character conformable to the same rule.
What follows in the second clause of the verse shows, that, everything which profane men endeavor to accomplish in contempt of the word of God, must ultimately fail of success, and that however prosperous the commencement may sometimes seem to be, the issue will be disastrous; because prosperous results can be hoped for only from the divine favor, which is justly withheld from counsels rashly adopted, and from all arrogance of which contempt of God himself is the usual accompaniment. Let believers, therefore, in order that their affairs may turn out as they wish, conciliate the divine blessing alike by diligence in learning and by fidelity in obeying.
In the end of the verse, because the term used is ambiguous, as I have already observed, the sentence is repeated, or a second promise is added. The latter is the view I take. For it was most suitable, that after the promised success, Joshua should be reminded that men never act skillfully and regularly except in so far as they allow themselves to be ruled by the word of God. Accordingly, the prudence which believers learn from the word of God, is opposed to the confidence of those who deem their own sense sufficient to guide them aright. (23)
This book of the law. The law was, therefore, embodied in a written document when the Book of Joshua was written; and as the antiquity of this Book may be regarded as proved, we may quote thus an early authority for the genuineness of at least some portions of the Pentateuch. There was a “book of the law” in Joshua”s time, according to this early testimony, and we may conclude from vers. 3-7 that Deuteronomy formed a part of it (see also Deu_17:19 for a similar precept. And for the fact see Deu_31:24-26). Meditate therein. (cf. Psa_1:2, Psa_63:7, Psa_143:5, in the original. Also Deu_31:26) Observe to do. Literally, keep to do, thus impressing on us the care necessary in deciding on our actions. All that is written therein. (cf. for the expression Deu_28:58, 61 29:19, 20, 26 30:10) Shall have good success. The word is the same as is translated “prosper” above, and not the same as that rendered “prosperous” in this verse. “Men,” says Calvin, “never act skilfully, except in so far as they allow themselves to be ruled by the Word of God.” Have I not commanded thee? “An emphatic inquiry is a stronger form of affirmation, and is generally employed by those who wish to infuse into another courage and alacrity” (Michaelis). Moreover repetition is a remarkable feature of Hebrew composition, as we may observe from the second chapter of Genesis onward, and is designed to give emphasis to what is commanded or related. Calvin would lay stress on I: “Have not I commanded thee?” But this is not borne out by the Hebrew.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
Ver. 8. The study of the Bible.
Who without secret misgiving could succeed to the position of Moses, that large-hearted, clear-sighted, faithful servant of God? How overwhelming the anxiety of him who would aspire to be leader of the Israelites; a fickle people who, “like bees about to swarm, were ready to alight on any bough.” He who summoned Joshua to occupy the vacant post promised to stand by and strengthen him. He gave him the direction contained in the text, to study well the book of the law. He seemed to say, “Take it; it shall be thy food, live upon it: carry it as a torch, and it will illumine thy pathway in the thickest darkness: in the vigour of thy manhood it shall be thy wand of truth to scatter doubt and error from before thee, and it shall be a staff to sustain thee in the decrepitude of age.” Surely the advice given to Joshua is applicable to all who are in positions of responsibility or perplexity. How fitted for the young! What better can any of us do than seek wisdom at the oracles of God? Let us group our thoughts under three headings.
1. Its subject-matter. “This book of the law.” This recommendation stamps the Pentateuch with authority. Joshua was favoured with direct communications from the Almighty, sometimes by an inward revelation, sometimes by the appearance of an angel in visible form. He could also consult the wishes of God by means of the high priest”s Urim and Thummim. Yet was he to study the written word. Meteoric flashes were not to make him careless of the steady light that burned in the lamp of God”s truth. Provision was made for a public rehearsal of the law every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles, (Deu_31:10) and it was the duty of a king on ascending the throne to write out a copy of the law. (Deu_18:18) How intense should be the eagerness with which we meditate on the whole Bible. The rapturous strains of the Messianic prophets, the simple and sublime gospel narratives, the epistles those commentaries on the preparatory dispensation and on Christian doctrine do not all these “testify” of the Saviour? Well may we “search the Scriptures.” Consider the fitness of the Bible to be a general textbook. It contains lessons suited to all capacities; the flowing river for the man, the purling brook for the little child, doctrines for the learned, pictured stories for the common people. It contains all truth needful to make us “wise unto salvation,” and contains it in a compact form, so portable that each may have a Mentor always at his side. It tells us things of the utmost importance which we could not know without it; and it comes in to verify the conclusions of our reasoning. It lends to the utterances of conscience the might of Divine testimony.
2. The character of the meditation enjoined. Constant and night.” So close a companion that it was not to “depart out of his mouth.” It should become his mother tongue; his speech should be redolent of the law. Constant reading alone can make us familiar with the contents of Scripture, so as to be well equipped at all points for the Christian warfare. Many knotty questions would Joshua have to decide; and many are the occasions on which men err grievously through “not knowing the Scriptures.” The command of the text implies that it was to be no formal perusal, but an endeavour to grasp the real meaning of the law. Glancing at the pages of the word can do little good; we want to enter into and imbibe the spirit of that we read. A good plan to read the Scriptures regularly through. There will be many an oasis in what we called a desert, and many a pretty flower on what we deemed only a sterile rock. It is profitable to read “at morning and at night.” He is well armed for his struggle with temptations and annoyances who goes to his work fortified by previous study of the Scriptures; and after the battle of the day is over, when the shadows of evening surround him or the gloomier shadows of trouble threaten to enclose him, there is naught so effectual to dissipate the darkness as the kindled rays of the heavenly lamp. Then “at evening time it shall be light.
II ACTION. Meditation is to be followed by appropriate conduct. “That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.” The inference is plain that the law contains, as we should expect in a law, precepts to be observed. And the whole Bible may be considered as a law. There are general regulations and positive institutions. “This do and thou shall live” is common both to the Old and New Testament, the difference being in the things to be done, and the spirit that is to characterise the doing thereof. We may test the value of our meditation by the obedience which results. Obedience is a proof of holding the things read in due estimation. “Why call ye me, Lord, and do not… say?” Obedience springs from faith, a hearty acceptance of the will and ways of God. Obedience brings its own confirmation of the truth. “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him.” “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” “Hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments.” Obedience is to extend to the smallest matters. “Observe to do according to all.” The only question with Joshua to be, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” We do not plead for the “letter” as against the “spirit,” nor forget that many Scripture precepts are expressed in a general form, and one must be compared with another to ascertain the intention of our Lawgiver. But many persons are for drawing distinctions, for keeping greater and violating lesser commandments. Some will compound with God. These ordinances they will observe, those they will neglect. Such resemble the strangers imported into Samaria, who “feared the Lord and served their own gods”. (2Ki_17:33) A little Christian service and a little idolatry, a little self denial, and a little worldliness to make the former palatable. We see the necessity of the frequent injunction, “Be strong, very courageous.” Joshua would have often to act in opposition to the prejudices and desires and clamours of the multitude. He who will follow Christ must “be courageous,” must be prepared to act in the teeth of worldly wisdom, to forego “good openings,” to refuse to give dishonest measure, though his gains be thereby slow in accumulating. We want a knowledge of the Bible, not merely as words and sentences but as influential principles. Not the Hebrew and not the Greek do we want so much as a translation of them into thought and feeling and conduct. He has not read his Bible to good purpose who has not repented of sin and thankfully accepted God”s well-beloved Son as his Saviour, his Redeemer “from all iniquity.
III PROSPERITY. The reward of obedience.
1. Regard prosperity, first, as the natural consequence of noting on good advice. The rules framed for the guidance of the Israelites evince consummate wisdom. Experience proved how disastrous was any attempt to depart from the lines of procedure there laid down. And many familiar instances show that, in modern days, he who steers by God s compass and chart is preserved from many rocks and shallows, and is most likely to reach the haven of his legitimate desire. A pure, temperate Christian life is likeliest to win real success in any department of activity.
2. Regard prosperity as a promised result. He who consults Omniscience is helped by Omnipotence. A finger post may indicate the way, it can do no more. God is a living Guide; he has written directions and he aids in the performance of them. “No good thing shall fail of all that he has promised concerning us.” “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you.” Blessed is the man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord,” so that “in it he doth meditate day and night, he shall be like a tree shall prosper”. A. (Psa_1:2, Psa_1:3)
9.Have not I commanded, etc Although in Hebrew a simple affirmation is often made in the form of a question, and this phraseology is of very frequent occurrence, here, however, the question is emphatic, to give an attestation to what had previously been taught, while the Lord, by bringing his own authority distinctly forward, relieves his servant from care and hesitancy. He asks, Is it not I who have commanded thee? I too will be present with thee. Observe the emphasis: inasmuch as it is not lawful to resist his command. This passage also teaches that nothing is more effectual to produce confidence than when trusting to the call and the command of God, and feeling fully assured of it in our own conscience, we follow whithersoever he is pleased to lead.
Commanded the officers – שטרים shoterim. These were different from the שפטים shophetim, who were judges among the people, and whose business it was to determine in all civil cases. The shoterim have been supposed to be subordinate officers, whose business it was to see the decisions of the shophetim carried into effect. Calmet conjectures that the shoterim here may have been the heralds of the army like those so often met with in Homer, who were called the messengers both of the gods and men; who bore sceptres, and whose persons were ever held sacred. See on Deu_1:13-16 (note).
Keil and Delitzsch
Preparations for Crossing the Jordan. – Jos_1:10-11. For the purpose of carrying out the commands of the Lord, Joshua first of all directed the officers of the people (shoterim: see at Ex 5-6), whose duty it was, as the keepers of the family registers, to attend not only to the levying of the men who were bound to serve in the army, but also to the circulation of the commands of the general, to issue orders to the people in the camp to provide themselves with food, so that they might cross the Jordan within three days, and take the land that was promised them by God. By zedah, provision for a journey (Gen_42:25, etc.), we are not to understand manna, for that had already ceased (see at Jos_5:12), but simply the natural produce of the inhabited country. The expression “in three days,” i.e., as we may see from comparing Gen_40:13, Gen_40:19, with Gen_40:20, on the third day from the publication of the command, “will ye go over the Jordan,” is not to be regarded as a prediction of the time when the crossing actually took place, but to be taken as the latest time that could be allowed to the people to prepare for crossing: viz., in this sense, “Prepare you victuals for crossing over the Jordan within three days,” i.e., that you may be able to leave Shittim within that time, to cross over the Jordan, and commence the conquest of Canaan. If we understand the words in this way, they are in perfect harmony with Josh 2 and 3. According to Josh 2, Joshua sent out spies from Shittim to Jericho, who were obliged to hide themselves for three days in the mountains after their flight from that city (Jos_2:22), before they could return to the Israelitish camp; so that they were absent three or four days at any rate, and came back at the earliest in the evening or night of the fourth day after they had been sent out. It was not till the morning after this that the Israelites left Shittim and proceeded to the Jordan, where they halted again.
Then, three days afterwards, they went across the river (Jos_3:1-2), so that at least 4 + 1 + 3, i.e., eight whole days must have intervened between the day when the spies were sent out and the day on which the people crossed the river. Joshua no doubt intended to proceed to the Jordan and cross it within three days after despatching the spies; he therefore sent the spies to Jericho on the same day on which he issued the command to the people to prepare for crossing within three days, so that he might reasonably hope that they would fulfil their commission and return in two or three days. But as they were compelled to hide themselves for three days in the mountains, in consequence of the unexpected discovery of their arrival in Jericho, and the despatch of men in pursuit of them, Joshua could not remove with the people from Shittim and proceed to the Jordan till the day after their return; and even then he could not cross the river at once, but waited three days after reaching the bank of the river before he crossed to the other side (vid., Jos_3:1.).
(Note: In this way the different statements in the three chapters harmonize perfectly well. But the majority of commentators have arranged the order of succession differently and in a very arbitrary way, starting with the unwarrantable assumption that the time referred to in this verse, “within three days,” is identical with that in Jos_3:2, “it came to pass after three days.” Upon the strength of this groundless assumption, Knobel maintains that there is great confusion in the order of succession of the events described in Josh 1-3, that Jos_1:11 is irreconcilable with Jos_3:1-6, and that accounts written by three different authors have been mixed up together in these chapters. (For the different attempts to reconcile the accounts, see Keil’s Commentary on Joshua, pp. 72-75, note, Eng. trans. Clark, 1857.))
JOSHUA”S COMMAND TO THE PEOPLE,
Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people. The Shoterim, a term derived from the same root as an Arabic word signifying “to write.” Different ideas have been entertained of their duties. Keil, Jahn (Hebrew Commonwealth), and others believe that they were genealogists; but it seems more probable that their original duties were to keep processes and minutes, and that, like our Indian “writers” and the “Master of the Rolls” at home, they exercised some kind of judicial functions, with which, moreover, active duties were sometimes combined. The idea that they were genealogists is contrary, as Gesenius shows, to the context in many places. Thus in Exo_5:6-19, they seem to have had to see that the specified tale of bricks was delivered up; and we know from the recently deciphered Egyptian inscriptions that very accurate registers of such matters were kept. In Deu_1:16 (cf. Deu_16:18 Jos_8:33 Jos_23:2 Jos_24:1, etc.) they appear to have exercised judicial functions in connection with the “princes” (not “captains, as in our version, which would lead to the idea that they were military officers). In Num_11:16 they are connected with the elders. In 1Ch_26:29 they seem again to have exercised judicial functions, whereas in 2Ch_26:11 their duty appears to have been to keep the muster rolls. In Pro_6:7 we find them once more with active duties as in the text. The LXX equivalent; grammateuv , is rendered in Act_19:35 by “town clerk,” an officer with active as well as merely secretarial duties. Here they seem to have acted as officers of the commissariat, civil and military functions being naturally largely interchangeable in the then condition of the Israelitish people, just as they were in the early days of our Indian empire.
Vers. 10-15. Joshua”s command to the people.
I WE MUST WORK WITH THE GRACE OF GOD. All these promises of God were not intended to supersede human effort. God had promised to be with Joshua, but Joshua must act on the promise. He had promised to plant the people in the Holy Land, but not without exertion on their part. Where their own action was impossible, as in crossing the Jordan, He did all for them. When a sign of His presence with them was necessary, as at Jericho, He did likewise. But in the rest of their warfare He did but prosper their own endeavours. So we are both to pray and work, save in cases where to work is denied us, and then our weapon must be prayer alone.
II WE NEED PROVISION FOR THE WAY. Without meat we should “faint by the way.” But we have “meat to eat” that the world “knows not of,” even the flesh and blood of Christ. And this we must “prepare;” that is, we must take pains to obtain it. “This kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting,” and by endeavours to serve Christ. Whether in the sacrament of His love, or in any other way in which He vouchsafes to impart His humanity to us, there needs on our part
(1) an earnest petition for the gift;
(2) steady self denial in our lives;
(3) steadfast efforts to do His will.
It is remarkable that the miraculous provision failed as soon as there was no more need for it. So exceptional provision for our spiritual needs is withdrawn so soon as we find ourselves within reach of the means of grace. These we must use with due diligence and forethought if we would derive benefit from them.
III WE FIGHT, NOT FOR OURSELVES ALONE, BUT FOR OTHERS. The two tribes and a half had received their inheritance, yet they were not allowed to settle down in it. They had been solemnly bound to help their brethren. Nor may we Christians sit down in the exclusive possession of religious privileges, but must impart them to our brethren, whether
(a) by nature, as the heathen, or
(b) by grace, as in the case of Christians less favoured than ourselves.
We cannot cease our labour till they are as well off as we. Thus the duty is incumbent upon us of cooperating in every good work, whereby the temporal or spiritual benefit of others is attained.
IV EACH HAS HIS APPOINTED TASK. As Christ gave to His disciples to set before the multitude, (Joh_6:11, etc.) so Joshua “commands the officers” to “command the people.” All are not apostles or prophets, but each has his proper office in God”s Church. Some are set over the flock to guide and exhort them, while others have to listen and carry out the voice of exhortation. They were to go up chamushim, in battle array (ver. 14), with van and rear, with wings and centre, each in his appointed rank. And we, too, shall only throw the army of Jesus into disorder if we fail to keep the place which God”s providence has assigned us.
V SOME, BY THEIR POSITION, ARE DENIED A PART IN THE GENERAL CONFLICT. As Christ forbade the demoniac to attach himself to His person, but bade him “go home to his friends”, (St. Mar_5:19) so there are those, like the women and children here, whose work for Christ is the simple discharge of domestic duties, whom Christ has not called to any more public efforts in His cause.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE Vers. 10-18. Joshua and the Reubenites.
The Reubenites and Gadites had already settled on the banks of the Jordan. They were at rest; they had not to await the ordeal of the conquest. As far as they were concerned, they had already received the promise. And yet they were not to be allowed to remain in idleness, and in selfish enjoyment of their own good. They were not to forget their brethren. “Ye shall pass before your brethren armed,” said Joshua, “and help them.” “And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do.” Such was the response of these valiant and true hearted men. We have here an admirable illustration of the great bond of solidarity which makes all the people of God one.
I IN REALITY, NO SECTION OF GOD”S PEOPLE CAN LIVE AN ISOLATED LIFE. It would he vain for the Reubenites to dream that they could rest at ease under their vines and fig trees. The defeat of their brethren would recoil upon them, and should the Canaanites be victorious the Reubenites would quickly find themselves driven out of the land. And it is the same with the Churcheach for all, and all for each; this is the Church”s motto. Therefore it is that all should rally round the great standard of the army.
II FOR ANY SECTION OF GOD”S PEOPLE TO ISOLATE THEMSELVES in their prosperity is not only the sure way to impoverish and ultimately to ruin themselves, but it is TREASON TO THE KING OF THE SPIRITUAL KINGDOM; for it implies that the first object of desire is prosperity for themselves, not the glory of the King; that he is loved, not with a pure, but with a selfish love.
III SUCH ISOLATION HARDENS THE HEART. It is a violation of the first law of the kingdom the law of love. Its tendency is, as far as possible, to obliterate that law. It ignores the fact that we receive only to give again. Let us fully grasp, then, this great truth, that every blessing received is a trust placed in our hands only that we may diffuse it among our brethren. The applications of this great precept of Christian love are innumerable. Do we possess in large measure the good things of this world? It is that we may communicate to our less favoured brethren. Are we rich in spiritual gifts? It is that we may impart to those less privileged and of fewer opportunities than ourselves. And as we are indebted to the Church, so are we also to humanity, for are we not all one flesh? Hence the claim of missions, both at home and abroad, as a means of imparting the gifts of God already received by us to those who as yet are ignorant of them. Nor is this all. After having won the victory for ourselves, we have to begin the battle over again, and to suffer in sympathy with those who have yet the Jordan to cross. Let us never forget Him who left the blessedness of heaven to undertake our cause, and who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. E. DE P.
Prepare you victuals – צדה tsedah, such prey or provisions as they had taken from the conquered countries, such as corn, oxen, sheep, etc.; for the word signifies prey, or what is taken by hunting, etc. This was necessary, as they were about to undergo considerable fatigue in marching, and in making preparations for the passage of the Jordan; for although the manna had not ceased to fall, yet such other provisions as are mentioned above were necessary on this occasion.
For within three days ye shall pass – Calmet contends, with great appearance of truth, that these three days should be reckoned from the first day of their encamping at Jordan, three days after the return of the spies, i.e., on the eighth day of the first month, on the tenth of which they passed over Jordan. The text therefore is supposed to mean, Prepare victuals for three days’ march, for “on the third day after your decampment from Shittim ye shall pass over this Jordan.”
Pass through the host,…. The whole camp of Israel, consisting of six hundred thousand fighting men:
and command the people; even all the people of Israel; this includes women as well as men, for the one, as well as the other, were to do what follows, and especially it may seem the business of the former:
saying, prepare ye victuals; this must be understood; as Kimchi observes, of other sorts of food besides bread; for they had manna, the bread of heaven, which fell about their tents every morning, so that they were sufficiently provided with that always, and which did not cease until they had entered the land, even until the sixteenth of Nisan, Jos_5:12; though indeed, as Abendana observes, that might be said to be prepared, it being ground in mills, and beat in mortars, and made cakes of, Num_11:8; but rather this designs meat and other provisions, which being upon the borders of Moab and Midian, they could furnish themselves with for their money; and besides, they were in the possession of a fine country, of Bashan and Gilead, they had taken from Sihon and Og. Jarchi interprets it of everything fit for journeying, and arms for war, with which they were supplied from the spoils of their enemies, the Egyptians at the Red sea, Amalek at Rephidim, and the Amorites and Midianites lately smitten by them; and to this sense Josephus (m) seems to agree:
for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan: or at the end of three days, as the Targum of Jonathan; and so Jarchi, while there are yet three days, after that ye shall pass over: but here arises a difficulty to be reconciled, how this could be done three days after, when the spies, which Joshua is afterward said to send into the land, stayed three days in the mountains, besides the time of their going, and returning, and stay at Rahab’s house; and it was not till after their return that the camp began to move; to which it may be observed, that though the affair of the spies is afterward related, they might have been sent by Joshua before this order was given to prepare for the journey, and of this opinion are several of the Jewish writers (n): this being the case, they might return before the expiration of these three days, at the end of which Joshua, with the whole host, moved, agreeably to these orders:
to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it; which must be a great inducement and encouragement to them to observe his instructions, and go over with him.
(m) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 1. (n) Jarchi, Ben Gersom, & Abarbinel in loc.
Prepare you victuals. Literally, game, the term being applied to meat obtained by hunting. Thus it is applied by Isaac to Esau”s venison in Ge 27. Here it means food of any kind, but especially animal food. It is therefore obvious that the miraculous supply of manna was soon to cease. (cf. Jos_5:12) Within three days. Much difficulty has been created here by the fact that another three days are mentioned in Jos_3:2 as elapsing after the return of the spies, which has been supposed to have taken place between this command and the period then mentioned. Three more days were spent (Jos_2:22) by the spies in eluding the pursuit of the men of Jericho one day in going thither, and one more in returning to Moses. Consequently eight days, if not more, (see Jos_3:7) must have elapsed between this proclamation and the actual crossing of the Jordan. But when we remember that the Hebrew language possesses no pluperfect tense, that there are many instances, such as (very probably) Gen_12:1, and more certainly Gen_3:1 Gen_6:6 Gen_20:18 Gen_26:18, Gen_26:32, where the Hebrew narrative has clearly departed from the chronological order, and that the chronology is obscured by this chasm in the Hebrew linguistic system, we may suppose that the narrative in the second chapter is parenthetical, and relates to events which occurred before the occasion now spoken of. This is the view taken by Josephus and the Rabbis, and our translators have adopted it in the margin a proceeding which, as their preface shows, may frequently be held to imply that in their opinion it is the preferable interpretation. It is energetically impugned by Keil, who maintains that there are insuperable difficulties in the way of this arrangement. He does not, however, make out a very powerful case against the simple explanation of Cornelius a Lapide, that the spies left the camp on the 3rd Nisan, returned on the 6th, that Joshua gave his order on the 7th, and that on the 10th (Jos_4:19) the crossing was effected. Stripped of all verbiage, Keil”s argument appears to amount simply to this, that it was not likely that the account of the narrative would be thus interrupted by an account of a transaction out of its proper chronological order. It may be added that it seems doubtful whether we must not render the word rml in ver. 12, by the pluperfect, for it seems very probable that the word of command to the two tribes and a half who had obtained their inheritance beyond Jordan had been given before this, and that therefore it may have preceded the command given to the spies, in which case one of Keil”s chief objections fails to the ground.
Other explanations than that of Cornelius a Lapide have been suggested. Thus Kimchi supposes that the spies left on the 5th Nisan and returned on the 8th; while Masius supposes that they were sent out simultaneously with these orders. Augustine”s explanation, that Joshua did not speak by revelation, but was influenced by human hope, is noticeable, as proving that the early fathers did not always take the strictest view of inspiration.
Prepare you victuals – The order was probably given with the knowledge that the manna would cease when the host crossed the Jordan Exo_16:35, and possibly because amidst their preparations there might not be opportunity to gather it in sufficient quantity. Nor does it appear that manna ever formed the whole and sole sustenance of the people. (Compare Num_20:1 note.)
It is the view of the majority of commentators – Jewish and Christian, ancient and modern – that the “three days” here named are identical with those of Jos_3:2; and that the command of Joshua in the text was not in fact given until after the return of the spies. Here, as elsewhere in the Hebrew historical books and frequently in the Gospels, the order of time is superseded by the order of thought. For the purpose if the writer was not historical merely; it was, on the contrary, mainly religious and theoretical. Intending, then, to exhibit God as accomplishing His promises to the covenant-people, he begins by informing us that God gave the word and set Joshua and the host actually in motion to take possession of their inheritance. Having placed this leading fact in the forefront, he returns to mention in Josh. 2 certain transactions closely relevant to the early stages of Joshua’s conquests, but which had in fact happened before the camp was removed from the plains of Moab and immediately after the expiration of the thirty days’ mourning for Moses. Deu_34:8. The order of events was probably the following – 3rd Nisan, the spies are sent out Jos_2:1; 6th, the spies return Jos_2:23; 7th, the camp is removed from Shittim to the bank of Jordan Jos_3:1, and the command Jos_1:11 is issued; 10th, the river is crossed Jos_4:19.
16.And they answered, etc They not only acquiesce, but freely admit and explicitly detail the obedience which they owe. Our obligations are duly discharged only when we perform them cheerfully, and not in sadness, as Paul expresses it. (2Co_9:7.) If it is objected that there is little modesty in their boast of having been obedient to Moses whom they had often contradicted, I answer, that though they did not always follow with becoming ardor, yet they were so much disposed to obey, that their moderation was not only tolerable, but worthy of the highest praise, when it is considered how proudly their fathers rebelled, and how perversely they endeavored to shake off a yoke divinely imposed upon them. For the persons who speak here were not those rebellious spirits of whom God complains (Psa_95:8) that he was provoked by them, but persons who, subdued by the examples of punishment, had learned quietly to submit.
Indeed, it is not so much to herald their own virtues as to extol the authority of Joshua, when they declare that they will regard him in the same light in which they regarded Moses. The groundwork of their confidence is at the same time expressed in their wish or prayer, that God may be present to assist his servant Joshua as he assisted his servant Moses. They intimate that they will be ready to war under the auspices of their new leader, because they are persuaded that he is armed with the power and hope that he will be victorious by the assistance of God, as they had learned by experience how wonderfully God assisted them by the hand of Moses. We may infer, moreover, that they actually felt this confidence, both because they call to mind their experiences of God’s favor to animate themselves, and because they regard Joshua as the successor of Moses in regard to prosperous results.
The epithet thy God is not without weight, as it evidently points to a continued course of divine favor. The form of expression also is intermediate between the confidence of faith and prayer. Accordingly, while they intimate that they cherish good hope in their minds, they at the same time have recourse to prayer, under a conviction of the arduousness of the work. Immediately after, when they of their own accord exhort him to constancy, they show that they are ready to follow and to imitate him in his confidence. Here, it is to be observed, that though Joshua was a model of courage, and animated all, both by deed and precept, he was in his turn stimulated onwards, that his own alacrity might be more effectual in arousing that of the people.
THE PEOPLE”S ANSWER.
And they answered Joshua, saying. We may compare this joyful willingness with the murmurings of the people in the wilderness, and their rebellion after the death of those who led them into the promised land. (cf. Jos_24:31 with Jud_1:2:10, 11, etc.) Obedience is easy when all goes well with us, and when it makes no demand upon our faith. The Israelites murmured when the promise was as yet unfulfilled. They rebelled against God when obedience entailed serf sacrifice. But now all was hope and eagerness. So it is often with the young Christian at the outset of life”s battle, before he has begun to realise the exertion and self denial that can alone ensure him victory.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE Vers. 16-18. Loyalty.
A demand had been made that the “men of valour” of these tribes should leave their relatives and property in the fenced cities of their inheritance, and head the advance of the Israelites into Canaan. A call to a dangerous position, to bear, as it seemed, the brunt of the enemy”s attack; a summons to exercise self denial in absence from home and possessions; the precept issuing, too, from unaccustomed lips, those of a new general. These verses record a courageous, generous response, which may well furnish matter for meditation and imitation.
I A DECLARATION OF OBEDIENCE.
1. A prompt assent. No time for thought and preparation asked for. No reasons invented for delay.
2. A hearty assent. It is expressed in three forms: a promise to do what is commanded, to go where sent, and to hearken when addressed. These phrases cover all possible kinds of precepts.
3. Promise of unreserved obedience. “All,” “whithersoever,” and “in all things,” thus blocking the smallest loophole of escape in each case. No picking and choosing here of the mandates to which they will conform.
Such complete acquiescence as this can be required of us only with respect to Him who is the Captain of our salvation. With regard to other subalterns of His, and to the national sovereign, there are occasions on which refusal and resistance are justifiable. Consider the grounds on which we owe fealty to Jesus Christ. He is our Lord as Creator, “by him were all things made,” and as Redeemer, “that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves,” etc.
II A PRAYER OFFERED FOR THE LEADER. “Only the Lord thy God be with thee as he was with Moses.
1. This petition recognised the fount of authority. The warriors readily complied with the demand of Joshua because they believed that he was appointed to occupy the place of Moses. Joshua was henceforth to receive and utter the directions of the Almighty, to be His vicegerent to the Israelites. And on this foundation Jesus Christ often based His claims to be heard by the Jews, viz., that He was sent from God and spoke the words of God. He pointed to His mighty works in evidence of the truth of His pretensions. Nicodemus declared, “No man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.” The Father openly signified His approval of the Son”s mission, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” The Jewish king was the “anointed of the Lord. “The powers that be are ordained of God.” Pastors under the Christian dispensation are “over” men “in the Lord.” “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.” “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls as they that must give account.
2. The prayer invokes the presence of God as the leader”s source of strength. By prayer we can commend to Divine grace “all that are in authority.” How the Apostle Paul reiterated his request that the readers of his epistles would earnestly pray on his behalf! When Peter was miraculously released from prison he found “many gathered together praying.” Thus may the people aid their minister, as Aaron and Hur upheld Moses” hands. There were seasons when the commands of the great legislator were received with murmuring, and when his right to rule was called in question. These Reubenites had not “in all things” hearkened unto Moses. Yet now they spontaneously avow that he had been supported by God. The death of a celebrated man calms passion, removes prejudice, and purges the vision.
III A STERN RESOLUTION. To inflict the punishment of death on any recalcitrant offender. Presumptuous refusal to hearken to the priest or judge was to be visited with this severe penalty. (Deu_17:12) This declaration by these tribes evinced their firm determination to abide by the decrees of their new ruler. Rebellion is treated as one of the worst crimes, inasmuch as whilst some illegal acts are only indirectly subversive of government, this strikes a blow at the very seat of authority, and endangers all order. Nor is it a matter of small moment whether men bow or not to the rule of Christ. Peter quoted the prophecy of Moses in reference to Christ and the terrible threat annexed, “Every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” Our Lord, in the parable of the pounds, represents Himself as saying, “But those mine enemies… and slay before me.
IV ADMONITORY ADVICE. In olden days servants were much freer in speaking their mind to their masters, and soldiers to their generals. But Joshua”s humility in listening to this exhortation is worthy of being copied. The wisest may learn from the ignorant, and the meanest of the flock may sometimes suitably address their pastor. Nor need any of us be above accepting good counsel, from whatever quarter it proceeds. There is no intimation of weakness, but only that these tribes perceived the weighty enterprise in which Joshua was engaged, and the necessity of his exhibiting a fearless demeanour. They sympathised with him, and wished to inspirit him for his arduous, honourable work. They knew how much Commonly depends on the leader”s courage, and how quickly his fear would affect his subjects. It was advice in full accordance with their actions. They had gone the right way to strengthen Joshua by their instant submission to His will. They did not try to cheer him with words after having previously knocked the breath out of him with their deeds. Speech and conduct were in harmony, and lent each other force. Marvellous is the effect of an encouraging word! Is there not some one whom we can thus send to his post with augmented zeal and hope? Conclusion. Whom are we serving? Under whose banner enlisted, and what wages, what reward do we anticipate? The true Joshua, even Christ, demands, invites, yea, entreats our faithful adherence. A.
Vers. 16-18. The people”s answer.
This passage can only be interpreted of Jesus, of whom Joshua was the type. Implicit obedience is no longer due to any human leader, nor has been since Joshua”s death. Even a St. Paul can say, “I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say”. (1Co_10:15) And St. Peter urges the clergy to remember that they are not “lords over God”s heritage”. (1Pe_5:8) And this because we each “have access by one Spirit to the Father by the faith of Jesus Christ”. (Eph_2:18 Eph_3:12) We may remark
I THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN IS BOUND BY A VOW OF OBEDIENCE. Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. He leads us in the warfare against every kind of evil. To disobey is to mutiny, and mutiny in every army is a capital crime. Yet here we may remark on the forbearance of our Joshua. All his troops are more or less guilty of this crime. Yet
(1) He pardons it, and
(2) with His mutinous troops He has achieved, and will achieve, many a glorious victory.
But there is a limit to His patience (see below). Though we sin often we must take heed to repent as often, and strive to do better for the future. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ,” at least in such a manner as to make him strive sedulously after obedience, “he is none of his”. (Rom_8:9) The best we can do is to ask Him to “renew our will from day to day,” that so, after each of our frequent falls, we may brace ourselves up to a renewed obedience. And thus, by virtue of His merits, not of our own, shall we be recognised as faithful soldiers of the true Joshua Jesus Christ.
II THAT THE LAW IS STILL “OUR SCHOOLMASTER TO BRING US TO CHRIST.” We must still “hearken to Moses” before we can hear the voice of Christ. Still in our childhood must we be subject to law, be under tutors and governors, have duties prescribed for us, obey precepts “contained in ordinances,” before we reach the glorious liberty of the children of God,” before we find the law “written in our hearts,” and a power existing within us prompting us to a spontaneous obedience. We must all know the period of struggle, when, “after the inward man,” we “delight in the law of God”, (Rom_7:22, Rom_7:23) but find another law in our members at conflict with it. So must we learn to find the only deliverance from “the body of this death,” in Jesus Christ our Lord, just as to follow Joshua was the only escape from the wilderness. And if we live up to the law that is set before us, we shall find through it a pathway to a better land, the land of promise. (Gal_3:18) For “the law is not against the promises of God, God forbid”. (Gal_3:21) It is “holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good”. (Rom_7:12) But its object was to show us “the exceeding sinfulness of sin,” and the terrible reality of our bondage to it, that we might learn the infinite value of the reconciliation which has been effected for us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
III “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.” This is recognised as a fact by the followers of Joshua. So the followers of Jesus must acknowledge the fact that to sin against Him, to refuse to obey His words, leads to destruction. And they must separate themselves from all that “walk disorderly”. (2Th_3:6 1Ti_6:5 2Ti_3:5) For they only who do His commandments “have right to the tree of life.” All they that do otherwise are “without,” shut out from the joys of eternal life, and condemned to the “second death”. (Rev_21:8 Rev_22:14, Rev_22:15)
As we hearkened unto Moses. Calvin remarks that the Israelites did not hearken unto Moses, but replies that, compared with the conduct of their fathers whose bodies lay in the wilderness, the conduct of this generation was obedience itself. It certainly appears as though for the last two years of the wandering in the wilderness there was far less rebellion against Moses than before; and after the solemn repetition of the precepts of the law to the new generation which had arisen, given in the Book of Deuteronomy, there seems to have been no rebellion at all. (see Num_26:63)
He shall be put to death – This was martial law; he who disobeyed the command of his general should be put to death. To this the people agreed, and it was essentially necessary in order that proper discipline should be kept up in this great army. By insubordination their fathers had suffered much in the wilderness; they rejected the authority of Moses, mutinied and made themselves a leader to conduct them back to Egypt. (See Num_14:4). And Joshua himself, for attempting to encourage them against their fears, was near being stoned to death. It was necessary, therefore, that they should give him the most positive assurance that they would not act as their fathers had done.
1. Notwithstanding the great honor God put on his servants Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, and Joshua, yet we find him using every means to induce the people to trust in himself alone. Hence he is ever showing them that even those great men had nothing but what they had received, and that they were as fully dependent upon himself as the meanest of the people. What was even Moses without his God?
2. Is it not strange that at the death of Moses utter despair had not overwhelmed the whole camp, as he whom they expected to give them rest had died before any conquest was made in Canaan? We find, however, that they are not discouraged; he who gave them Moses, has now given them Joshua in his place; and they had now fully learned that if God be for them, none could be successfully against them.
3. From all this we may learn, that when God has a great work to accomplish, he will provide himself suitable instruments; and though one which he has greatly honored, appear to fail, we should know that he is not confined to work by that one alone. He has way every where, and all things serve the purposes of his will. He will as surely support his Church on earth, as he will support the earth itself; and while the sun and moon endure, the Church shall flourish: this is for his own honor, and he certainly is more concerned for his own glory in the administration of justice, judgment, and salvation in the earth, than any of the children of men can possibly be.
4. Though God had so implicitly promised them his help, yet he strongly insists on their own co-operation. He requires the use of every power and talent he has given; even Joshua himself must be strong and very courageous, and the people must obey him in all things, in order that they may go over the Jordan to possess the good land; and without this they had never got into the promised rest.
Shall we suppose, then, that if we be not workers together with God we shall be saved? Vain expectation! He works in us to will and to do, i.e., he gives the principle of volition in things that are holy, and the principle of power to bring the acts of will into good practical effect; therefore, says the apostle, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Will, therefore, under the influence of the gracious principle of volition; act under the influence of the principle of power. Without the power you can neither will nor do; but having the power it is your duty to will and do. It is enough that God gives the power. It is our duty, when we receive these talents, to improve them. In a million of cases a man may be both able to will and to do, and yet do neither to the salvation of his soul.
Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment. A striking fulfilment of this promise appears in the case of Achan, who was put to death by the act of the whole congregation. (see Jos_7:25; and cf. Deu_17:12) Only be strong and of a good courage. The task of a leader in Israel is easy when he is sustained by the prayers of his people, and when their exhortations are an echo of the words of God (see vers. 6, 9).