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by John Gill
INTRODUCTION TO JOSHUA
The Jews distinguish the prophets into former and latter; the first of the former prophets is Joshua, or Sepher Joshua, the book of Joshua, as it is commonly called in the Hebrew copies; the Syriac inscription is,
"the book of Joshua, the son of Nun, the disciple of Moses:''
in the Arabic version it is reckoned a book of the judges, which adds,
"the first among the judges of the children of Israel was Joshua, the son of Nun, the twenty eighth from Adam, who reigned over Israel after the Prophet Moses.''
This book bears the name of Joshua, either because it is concerning him, his actions and exploits in the land of Canaan, or because it was written by him, or both; though some ascribe it to Ezra, and others to Isaiah; but it must have been written before the times of Ahab, as appears from 1 Kings 16:34; and even before the times of David, as is clear from Joshua 15:63, compared with 2 Samuel 5:6; for though mention is made in it of the mountains of Judah and of Israel, from whence some have concluded, that the writer must have lived after the times of Rehoboam, in whose days the kingdom was divided; yet we find the distinction of Israel and Judah took place before, even in the times of David and Asaph, Psalms 76:1; It is most likely that this book was written by Joshua himself, as the Jews in their Talmud a assert; and, indeed, who more fit for it than himself? and if written or put together by another, it is most probable that it was taken out of his diary, annals, or memoirs; and though there are some things recorded in it, which were done after his death, these might be inserted under a divine direction and influence by Eleazar, or Phinehas, or Samuel, to each of whom some ascribe the writing of this book, just as Joshua is supposed to add some verses concerning Moses at the end of the Pentateuch: however, be it wrote by whom it may, there is no doubt to be made of the divine inspiration and authenticity of it by us Christians, since some histories recorded in it are taken from it, or referred to, in
Hebrews 11:30; and the promise made to Joshua is quoted, and applied to every believer, Hebrews 13:5; and the Apostle James refers to the case of Rahab, her character and conduct in it, James 2:25. The subject matter of this book is Joshua's taking upon him the government of the children of Israel, after the death of Moses, by a divine commission, exhortation, and encouragement given him to engage in war with the Canaanites; his conquests of them, the division of the land of Canaan to the children of Israel, and their settlement in it. It is of great use not only to give us the geography of the land of Canaan, and the history of the church of God, from the death of Moses to the times of the judges; but shows the exact fulfilment of prophecy, and the faithfulness of God to his promises in giving the land of Canaan to Israel, according to those made to their fathers, and the justice of God in punishing the Canaanites for their abominable sins, as had been foretold; and the wonderful care, of God, and his love to the people of Israel in preserving and protecting them, and in settling them in such a good land, notwithstanding all their murmurings, ingratitude, and unbelief, in the wilderness; and may serve to lead us to Christ, whose type Joshua was in the whole affair here related: his name has the signification of the salvation of the Lord in and he is by the Greek writers, and so in the New Testament, called Jesus, a Saviour, Acts 7:45 Hebrews 4:8; and as they agree in their name, so they do in their state, condition, and character; Joshua was a servant of Moses, Christ was made under the law, and became subject to it, both moral and ceremonial; and also in their office, Joshua was the governor of Israel, and the commander of their forces, for which he was well qualified with wisdom, courage, and integrity; Christ is King of saints, the Leader and Commander of the people, who has fought their battles for them, being abundantly qualified, having the spirit of wisdom, counsel, might, and of the fear of the Lord, resting on him. Joshua was a type of Christ in various actions of his; in leading the people through the river Jordan, an emblem either of baptism, or of afflictions, or of death itself, in which Christ is with his people, and carries them through; in saving Rahab and her family, so Christ saves the worst and chief of sinners; in receiving the Gibeonites, who submitted to him, as Christ does all that come to him; in his conquest of the several kings of the Canaanites, so Christ has conquered all the spiritual enemies of his people, sin, Satan, and the world; in bringing and settling the people of Israel in the land of Canaan, their rest, and dividing it to them by lot, which Moses might not do; so Christ only brings souls into the true rest, into spiritual rest here, and eternal rest hereafter; in whom they obtain the inheritance of the heavenly glory by lot, and by whom only they enjoy salvation and eternal life, and not by the works of the law. This book contains an history of Joshua, of his government, his acts and deeds, from the death of Moses to his own; how long that was is not certain; the Jewish chronologers b observe, that the time of his principality we find not in the text; though they c say he succeeded Moses when he was eighty two years of age, and governed Israel twenty eight years; Eupolemus d, an Heathen writer, says thirty years. Christian writers commonly make his reign to be twenty seven years e; but an Arabic writer f stretches it further to thirty one years; he says, he took the government of the people in the seventy ninth year of his age, and reigned thirty one; but it seems more probable that he was ninety three years of age when Moses died, who lived to be an hundred ten, so that only seventeen years intervened between the death of the one and of the other; seven years Joshua was in subduing the land, and ten years more were taken up in dividing it to the people, and settling them in it, and in the government of them; after which Eleazar might rule ten years more, whose death is mentioned in it; so indeed the book may be reckoned an history of twenty seven years, though Joshua lived only seventeen of them. The Chronicle, to which the Samaritans give the name of the book of Joshua, is a spurious work; an epitome of which Hottinger g has compiled, and translated out of the Arabic exemplar into Latin.
a T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. b Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 7. 2. c Seder Olam Rabba, c. 12. p. 33. Juchasin, fol. 10. 1. d Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 30. e Tertullian, Lactantius, Eusebius, Augustin. apud Hottinger. Thesaur. Philolog. l . 2. c. 1. sect. 2. p. 960. so Ben Gersom in Jud. 11. 26. & Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 25. f Elmacinus apud Hottinger. p. 524. g Ad Calcem Exercitat. Antimorin.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17