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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

Introduction

The Book of Joshua recounts how the Lord kept His promises to deliver the land of Canaan to Israel. At first, the people served the Lord, but when the elders died out, they began to turn to idolatry. It was probably written by Joshua, except short passages at the end, and it takes’ its name from Israel’s great military commander. He is shown to be equal to his task in such incidents as crossing the flooding Jordan, conquering the great city of Jericho, and subjugating the strong Jebusite and Canaanite confederacies. However, there were times when his faith in the Lord faltered, as illustrated in his failure to consult the Lord before attacking Ai, and in concluding a treaty of friendship with the deceiving Gibeonites. Further, he appears to have been lax in launching out and dividing the land among the remaining tribes when the final campaign was completed.

The scope of events recounted in the Book of Joshua cover about thirty years (1400-1370 B.C.), though Unger gives about forty years to the period. Since he was in the first numbering of the tribes (Numbers 14:20­-30), it is certain that he was above twenty years of age at the exodus from Egypt. Thus he would have been at least sixty years old when the Israelites entered Canaan and was probably nearer eighty, the age of Caleb. Noting that Joshua was 110 years of age at death (Joshua 24:29 ff), it is concluded that the events of the book of Joshua must have been no more than thirty years.

The Book of Joshua begins with the Israelites camped at Shittim on the east side of the Jordan river, but they soon moved across into Canaan and camped at Gilgal, in the valley. From here they moved against Jericho, approximately five miles from the river. The campaign then spread to the central mountains, to the cities of Ai and Gibeon, to the coastal areas and southern Negev, then back to the north to the area of Tyre and Lebanon. The whole conquered area reached from the frontiers of Egypt almost to Damascus.

Joshua - Chapter 1

Joshua Commissioned, vs. 1-9

Moses had gone up Mt. Nebo alone and died in the presence of the Lord; now God apprises Joshua of the fact and assigns him the task of leading Israel into possession of Canaan.

The promises first made to Abraham are now made to Joshua and Israel. Every place their foot falls in the land will be given to them, from the wilderness of the south, to Lebanon in the north and far away to the Euphrates River and the borderland of Mesopotamia; and to the great sea (Mediterranean) on the west, all the land occupied by the Canaanite tribes.

Joshua was given the same assurance of divine leadership which Moses had enjoyed, so that no one was able to stand before him all the days of his life.

The Lord’s commission to Joshua is found in verses 6-9; the same commission which had previously been given him by Moses (Deuteronomy 31:7). He is to be strong and courageous in dividing the land as the Lord intends it to the tribes.

In order to do this Joshua is to abide strictly by the Law of the Lord as He gave it to Moses. It is to be his constant companion, that it might be in his mind in all his decisions as Israel’s leader.

He is to study it and ponder it that it may be a part of him and that he may be assured of prosperity in the things of the Lord. Verse 9 emphasizes the commission by reminding Joshua that it is the Lord who speaks thus to him.

In godly fear and courage he will be unafraid of men and he will not be dismayed; that is, he will not waver and be indecisive in what he should do. Every bit of this commission of Joshua is admonitory to every Christian today.

Verses 10-11

Officers Commanded, vs. 10-11

Joshua had received his commission; the Lord’s work does not provide for delay, and he is to set about immediately moving the Israelites across the river Jordan to possess the land.

As he moved among the officers of the various tribes, telling them that in three days they would move into Canaan to possess it, a great thrill of excitement must have surged through the people.

It had been promised to the patriarchs, the generations in Egypt had longed for it, the disobedient generation in the wilderness had been denied entrance into it, and now, at last, they are to receive what the Lord had given them in anticipation many generations before. The anticipation of heaven will also be one day realized by God’s children. (Hebrews 13:5)

Verses 12-15

Reminder to the Two and a Half Tribes, vs. 12-15

The two and a half tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had come to Moses before his death requesting their allotment on the east side of Jordan, from the territory conquered from Sihon, the king of the Amorites and from Og, king of Bashan.

Their reason for so requesting this was the lush pasturage it afforded for their numerous flocks and herds. However, initially it appeared they might be trying to settle down peacefully, leaving the conquest of Canaan to their brother tribes alone. (See Numbers chapter 32)

When Moses protested that they would bring the Lord’s anger down on all the people if they should do this, they had promised to go before all the other tribes with their armed men and participate in the battles until the land was conquered, though they were to be allowed to build folds and pens for their cattle and places of abode for their wives and children.

To this Moses had agreed, warning them in the famous text, "But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). So now Joshua reminds the leaders of these two and a half tribes of their promise and vow.

Verses 16-18

Promise Renewed, v. 16-18

Joshua could have expected no more than the captains of the two and a half tribes promised him.

First, they agreed to do all that Joshua commanded them and go wherever he sent them; secondly, they promised to be subordinate to his command as they had been to that of Moses, with the contingency (which was proper) that the Lord should be with Joshua as He had been with Moses; thirdly, they agreed to deal with all insubordination among them in the strictest manner, by condemnation of the offender; and finally, they encouraged Joshua by adding their admonition to that he had already received from the Lord and from Moses, to be strong and courageous for the work which lay before them. For the work which the Lord had placed on Joshua, then, they pledged themselves to full and earnest co-operation.

Such loyalty as these men demonstrated to Joshua is of the kind the Lord expects of His children today. Compare this incident to the admonition of Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1), "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."

From Joshua, chapter one, we may learn 1) when one leader passes off the scene, God always has one waiting to succeed him; 2) successful service of the Lord demands strict adherence to His Word; 3) because the Lord leads us we need not fear or vacillate in the work He has for us; 4) when we go forward doing the work of the Lord, there are others ready to follow our lead in fighting His battles.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Joshua 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/joshua-1.html. 1985.
 
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