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1. NOW these are the kings, etc This chapter does not need a lengthened exposition, as it only enumerates the kings of whose territories the Israelites gained possession. Two of them are beyond the Jordan, Og and Sihon, whose rule was extensive; in the land of Canaan there are thirty-one. But though each of those now summarily mentioned was previously given more in detail, there is very good reason for here placing before our eyes as it were a living picture of the goodness of God, proving that there had been a complete ratification and performance of the covenant made with Abraham as given in the words, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18) This living image of the grace of God is here set before us as if the reality were actually present. (123) Joshua was eighty years of age when he entered the land. In this aged man how could there be so much vigor (124) as to fit him for carrying on so many wars and enduring the fatigues of warfare, had not celestial virtue furnished him with more than mortal strength? And were not his uninterrupted career of victory, his success under all circumstances, the ease, free from doubt and uncertainty, with which he stormed cities, the rapidity of his movements, and his inflexible firmness — were not all these clear evidences of the hand of God, just as if it had appeared from heaven?
The object of defining the countries by their boundaries was to give a better display of the divine power by setting forth their extent; but this of course was only for those to whom their site was known. Hence, for any one not acquainted with the geography to dwell upon the names, would be vain and foolish curiosity. I admit, indeed, that it is useful to pay attention to the places with which, from their being often mentioned in Scripture, our knowledge ought to be somewhat more familiar, as when the boundaries are fixed by the brook Jabok, in the district of Lebanon and the lake of Gennesaret, here called the Sea of Cineroth, and elsewhere Cinereth. For a slight attention will help us to understand the narrative. If we cannot go farther, let us leave those who are better skilled to give a more searching discussion of what is beyond our reach. (125) But although the dominions of these petty kings were narrow and not very populous, we shall however see that many towns were annexed to their principal cities; their number may be ascertained especially from what is said of the lot of the Levites. On the other hand, if we reflect how one small territory could receive and maintain old men, women, and children, nay, a great part of the people with their domestic animals, we cannot fail to admire the inestimable goodness of God which prevented all things from being thrown into complete and irremediable confusion. (126)
(123) Latin, “ Quam si nos Deus in rem praesentem adduceret.” French, “ Comme si Dieu nous mettoit presentement sur le faict, pour nous faire voire la chose de nos yeux;” “As if God were putting us actually upon the spot to make us see the thing with our own eyes.” — Ed.
(124) French, “ Comment un povre vieillard pouvoit-il estre si vigoureux;” “How could a poor old man be so vigorous.” — Ed.
(125) It is evident from these remarks, that though in some other passages Calvin seems to speak rather disparagingly of the elucidation which the Scripture narrative may receive from geography, he did not so much underrate its importance as lament its imperfection at the period when he wrote. All complaint on this head has now been happily removed; and it may safely be affirmed, that nothing has done more to clear up obscurities in the Sacred Volume and triumphantly establish its strict and literal accuracy, then the labors and discoveries of recent travelers.
(126) Latin, “ Ne horribili confusione, omnia miscerentur.” French, “ Que tout ne vint a estre brouille pesle mesle d’une confusion horrible;” “That every thing was not hurled pell-mell into horrible confusion.” — Ed.
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29