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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Joshua 1

 

 

Verse 1

JOSHUA’S COMMISSION (Joshua 1:1-9).

(1) After the death of Moses . . . the Lord spake unto Joshua . . . Moses’ minister.—Joshua’s commission was the first of its kind, but not the last. No man before Joshua had received orders to regulate his conduct by the words of a written book. Abraham and his household had kept God’s laws. Moses had acted by Divine commission. But Abraham and Moses received their orders from the mouth of Jehovah. Joshua and all his successors must fulfil the orders of “this book of the law.” Thus Joshua was Moses’ minister in more than one sense. He was Moses’ confidential agent and personal attendant while he lived, and afterwards the executor of that which Moses had written. But the position of Joshua, though at first unique and without precedent, was the position designed for all his successors, more especially for that great Personage whose name Joshua was the first to bear. Joshua and the Book of the Law come before us together, without introduction, in the same passage of the law (Exodus 17:9), “Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek;” and in Joshua 1:14, “Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua.” The book was prepared for Joshua; Joshua came to fulfil the words of the book. Compare Psalms 40:7, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8; see also Matthew 5:17).

For the use of the word “minister” (Heb., m’shârêth) compare 2 Kings 4:43; 2 Kings 6:15; 2 Chronicles 9:4; Ezra 8:17; Psalms 103:21; Psalms 104:4; Proverbs 29:12; Ezekiel 44:11. From these references it will be seen that the word may signify a personal attendant, a minister of state, or a minister of religion.


Verse 3

(3) Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.—The conquest of Canaan was the special duty assigned to Joshua by the word of Moses. (Hence the order for the extermination of Amalek was written for Joshua [Exodus 17:14] as the representative conqueror, though he did not actually carry it out.) But the conquest of Canaan, as effected by Joshua, must be carefully defined. It was a limited conquest. He took a certain number of strongholds throughout the country, and utterly crushed the armies that were opposed to him in the field. He established the people of Israel in the position that he had won. (See Joshua 12:9-24 for an outline of the position.) He then divided to the tribes of Israel the whole territory, conquered and unconquered alike (see Joshua 13:1-7). The Philistines and Sidonians (or Phoenicians) are examples of two great nations not conquered by Joshua, but assigned to Israel for an inheritance. Thus it appears that what Israel would conquer, the sole of his foot must tread. The conquest which Joshua began for the people, must be carried out in detail by the several tribes themselves. For a further discussion of the relation of Joshua’s conquest to the whole history of Israel, see Note on Joshua 13:2.


Verse 4

(4) All the land of the Hittites.—The name Hittites may be used here to represent all the Canaanites; but it seems better to understand the land of the Hittites of the northern districts in which Hamath and Carchemish were situated—between Palestine proper and the Euphrates; but compare Note on Judges 1:26.


Verse 5

(5) I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.—Compare Genesis 28:15. And consider Hebrews 13:5 as a combination of the two Old Testament passages.

(6,7) Be strong and of a good courage . . . that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law.—This command to “be strong,” repeated again and again to Joshua, may perhaps be taken as reflecting light upon his natural character, which might not have led him to desire so prominent a position. But it may also be observed that courage was especially needed to carry out the conquest of Canaan in the way that was ordered by the law. For a discussion of this question and its difficulties, see Joshua 13


Verse 8

(8) Thou shalt meditate therein day and night . . . then thou shalt make thy way prosperous.—These words are taken up again in Psalms 1:2-3, and a blessing is pronounced on every man who takes Joshua’s position in relation to the written law of God (see Note, Joshua 1:1). Thus the true significance of Joshua’s position appears, and also the difference between Moses and all who followed him. Moses was the prophet “whom the Lord knew face to face.” Joshua and all his successors, from the least to the greatest, find their blessing and their portion in the careful study and fulfilment of the written word of God. It is also worthy of notice that God’s Word, from its very first appearance as a collective book (viz., the law), occupies the same position. It is supreme. It is set above Joshua. It is never superseded. And its authority is independent of its quantity. “The law of Moses,” “Moses and the prophets,” “The law, the prophets, and the Psalms,” are descriptions of the Bible differing in the quantity of the matter, but not differing in the authority they exercise or in their relation to the living church. “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of the prophecy of this book, and keep those things that are written therein,” are words that apply to Holy Scripture equally, in every stage, from the completion of the law of Moses to the completion of the entire book.


Verse 10

JOSHUA’S FIRST ORDERS (Joshua 1:10-15).

(10) Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people.—Joshua’s first orders to the people were to prepare for the passage of Jordan within three days. We may compare this event, in its relation to Joshua, with the giving of the law from Sinai to Moses. Both were preceded by a three days’ notice and a sanctification of the people. Both were means employed by God to establish the leaders whom He had chosen in the position which He designed for them. (Comp. Exodus 19:9; Exodus 19:11 with Joshua 1:11; Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:14.)


Verse 11

(11) Prepare you victuals.—The question may be asked, what preparation is intended, since they had the manna, which did not cease until several days after they passed the Jordan. But it does not seem possible to assign any other meaning to the word except that of provision for a journey or for a warlike expedition. Perhaps the order was intended to prepare the Israelites for the transition from the manna to other food. It may be also that the manna which supported them in their pilgrimage through the wilderness was not so fit to sustain them in the warfare which they were about to begin. For the phrase itself, compare Exodus 12:39 : “They were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.” When there was a difficulty in obtaining other provision, God gave His people manna. Now, when they could easily provide food for themselves, He would not support them in idleness; and perhaps this is the common-sense view of the order given in the text. If called to any expedition which would take them far from the camp, the manna would not be within reach of all.


Verse 12

(12) To the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua.—The reference to Numbers 32 explains this order. We have only to observe that these two tribes and a half were not forbidden to leave a sufficient number of their fighting men to protect their homes and families. (See on Joshua 4:12.)


Verse 13

(13) Hath given you rest.—Observe this phrase. as applied to the settlement of Israel in the land of promise, on either side of Jordan. Those who condemn the two and a half tribes (or the persons whom they suppose to be spiritually represented by them) for not going far enough, should notice that on both sides of Jordan equally there was the “rest of God.” But this “rest” is only the first stage of several in Israel’s history. We find it again in the reign of David (2 Samuel 7:1), Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:9), Esther (Joshua 9:16-18; Joshua 9:22), and we must not forget the comment in Hebrews 4, obtained from Psalms 95 : “For if Joshua had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day.” “These all received not the promise.” “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” The last rest is Sabbatical; the rests that precede it are halting-places on the way.


Verse 16

(16) They answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do.—This promise of obedience may be taken as the reply of the whole people to Joshua’s orders, not that of the two and a half tribes alone. It is remarkable that they repeat to him the words of Jehovah, as most appropriate in their judgment: “Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:18).

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-1.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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