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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Joshua 1

Verse 1

Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,

Now ... it came to pass, [ wayªhiy (H1961)] - and it was. The copulative waw (w), and, placed at the commencement of a book, is a nexus or link uniting that book with another, and, conjoined with the verb [ yªhiy (H1961)], implies that the mind of the writer was occupied with some leading ideas of known publicity that bore upon the statements he was about to make. The phrase in this passage points to the previous designation of Joshua to be, on the demise of Moses, the future leader of Israel; and thus betokens the work which it introduces to be not only a continuation of the history of the Hebrew people, but to be closely connected with the preceding book, though not necessarily composed by the same author. It is employed as the customary formula of beginning the later historical books, even where there is no direct reference to any prior writing (Ruth 1:1; Esther 1:1; Ezekiel 1:1). [Septuagint, kai (G2532) egeneto (G1096).]

After the death of Moses. Joshua having been already appointed and designated leader of Israel (Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28), in all probability assumed the reins of government immediately after the death of Moses, though no movement toward breaking up the encampment in Shittim was made.

The servant of the Lord. This phrase was used to describe not merely a worshipper of God, a pious Israelite, but one who had received a special call, or a commission to perform some important service. In the former sense it is applied to the angels (Job 4:18), to the children of Israel (Leviticus 25:42; Leviticus 25:55; Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 43:10), and to the prophets generally (2 Kings 9:7; 2 Kings 17:13; Ezra 9:11; Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 44:4; Daniel 9:6; Amos 3:7); and in the latter, to Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:16), Eliakim (Isaiah 22:20), Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10), Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:23), Abraham (Genesis 26:24), David (2 Samuel 3:18; 2 Samuel 7:5; 2 Samuel 7:8), Moses (Numbers 12:7-8; Malachi 4:4), Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3), and to the Messiah (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:6; Zechariah 3:8). It was used so generally in reference to Moses, in the form it bears in this passage (slightly altered in later times, 1 Chronicles 6:49; 2 Chronicles 24:9; Nehemiah 10:29; Daniel 9:11; Revelation 15:3), that it became his official title, as one invested with a special mission to make know the will of God: and it conferred great honour and authority.

The Lord spake - probably during the period of public mourning, either by a direct revelation to the mind of Joshua, or by means of Urim and Thummim (Numbers 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 Yahweh might not speak to him "mouth to mouth" (Numbers 12:8).

Unto Joshua the son of Nun, [ Yªhowshua` (H3091)]. [The original name was Howsheea` (H1954) (Numbers 13:8; Numbers 13:16); Yeeshuwa` (H3442) in later Hebrew (Nehemiah 8:17) (Septuagint, Ieesous (G2424): cf. Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8), which, having been, according to Eastern usage, changed, like those of Abram and Sarai (Genesis 17:5-15), into Jehoshua or Joshua - i:e., 'God's salvation,' or 'whose help is Yahweh' (Gesenius) - was significant of the services he was to render, and typified those of a greater Saviour.]

Moses' minister, [ mªshaareet (H8334) Mosheh (H4872), attendant, from shaarat (H8334), to wait upon, to serve, used specially in reference to sacred rites (Ezra 8:17: cf. Numbers 3:6; Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:9; Numbers 18:2; 1 Samuel 2:11; but sometimes to secular services also (1 Kings 1:15: cf. Genesis 39:4; Genesis 40:4). Septuagint, too hupourgoo Moousee, the underworker to Moses] - his official attendant, who, from being constantly employed in important services, and early initiated into the principles of the government, must have been well trained for undertaking the leadership of Israel.

Verse 2

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan. Joshua's mission was that of a military leader. This passage records his call to begin the actual work to which he had been previously designated. The address contains a literal repetition of the promise made to Moses (Deuteronomy 11:24-25), and by him conveyed to Joshua a short time before the close of his career (Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Deuteronomy 31:23). But in the divine commission now given to Joshua, there is a change of expression adapted to the altered circumstances; for whereas the words used to Moses were, Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours," the terms of the address to Joshua are, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you," referring to the approaching fulfillment of the promise. "This Jordan" indicates that the river was in full view of the Hebrew camp in Shittim.

Verse 3

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

Every place, of course, means, not universal dominion, but only the territory comprised within the boundaries here described (see the note at Deuteronomy 19:8-9).

As I said unto Moses, (see the note at Deuteronomy 11:24, cf. Exodus 23:30-31).

Verse 4

From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

From the wilderness and this Lebanon. It is observable that, instead of tracing the limits of the promised land with exact precision, certain prominent points only are noticed as determining the extent south and north, east and west. "The wilderness" is the extensive desert which lies on the south of Canaan; Lebanon is on the north. It is called "this Lebanon," as mount Lebanon - i:e., anti-Lebanon, or Hermon-was a conspicuous object in the horizon of Joshua. The great river, the river Euphrates," was on the east; and the great sea toward the going down of the sun" was the Mediterranean. The ocean is designated "the great sea," Psalms 104:25. But this term is occasionally applied, as here to the sea which washed the western coast of Canaan (cf. Joshua 15:12; Numbers 34:6; Ezekiel 47:20), to distinguish it from the sea of Tiberias and the Dead Sea. It is called by other names, Exodus 23:21; Deuteronomy 11:24,

All the land of the Hittites. These occupied the southern extremities, and were the dominant tribe, of Canaan. Their superior power and the extent of their dominions are attested by the mention of them under the name of Khita on the Assyrian inscriptions, and still more frequently on the Egyptian inscriptions of the 18th and 19th dynasties. What life and encouragement must have been imparted to Joshua by the assurance that his people, who had been overwhelmed with fear of that gigantic race, were to possess "all the land of the Hittites!" But this name is evidently used here as representing the Canaanite tribes generally, as it is also in 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; Ezekiel 16:3. The clause is not found in the Septuagint.

Verse 5

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee. Canaan had been promised to Israel by a divine grant; and the renewed confirmation of that grant to Joshua, when about to lead the people into it, intimated not only a certain, but an easy, conquest. It is remarkable, however, that his courage and hope of victory were made to depend (like those of the future king: see the note at Deuteronomy 17:19) on his firm and inflexible adherence to the law of God; not only to that regarding the extirpation of the Canaanites, but to the whole precepts of the divine code.

Verses 6-9

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 10

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people. Thus divinely commissioned and encouraged, the new leader inaugurated his work by issuing orders to the Shoterim (see the notes at Exodus 5:10; Deuteronomy 20:5), whose duty it was to keep a regular genealogical register of the people in their divisions and sub-divisions, to allot to each one his share of public work, by levying men for military service, and noting those who claimed exemption.

Verse 11

Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

Prepare you victuals. This was the proclamation those officers were charged to make, that the people should lay in a store of what was required for their sustenance [ tseedaah (H6720) or tseeydaah (H6720), provision], not manna, which is called poetically by this name, Ps. 77:25 , and which, though it still fell, would not keep, but grain, sheep, and articles of food, procurable as natural produce in the conquered countries (Joshua 9:11; Genesis 42:25; Genesis 45:21; Exodus 12:39; Judges 7:8; Judges 20:10; 1 Samuel 22:10).

For within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan - i:e., the third day, according to Hebrew idiom (Genesis 40:13; Genesis 40:19-20). The import of these words apparently is, that the people would cross the river within the specified time. But the precautionary measure of despatching spies to reconnoitre Jericho shows such a conclusion to be wrong; because it is expressly said (Joshua 2:23-24) that the scouts lay in hiding three days among the mountain fastnesses, returning to the camp on the morning of the fourth day; and that it was not until after their return that Joshua removed from Shittim (Joshua 3:1). Various methods have been proposed for harmonizing the several incidents that transpired previous to the passage of the Jordan. Some writers maintain that the reconnoitring party had been sent a considerable time before, though the fact was not recorded until now; while many others, following Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 5: ch. 1:), are of opinion that the mission of the spies was contemporaneous with the orders issued to the people to prepare for decamping. The explanation which appears the simplest and freest from difficulties (see the note at Joshua 3:2) is, that the statement in Joshua 1:11 refers to the time allotted for the people getting ready, ere the encampment in Abel-shittim was broken up, and they removed to the desert bank of the river, where no victuals could be obtained (Hess, Geschicte Josua, Erstes Buch, 'Zweytes Capitel,' p. 31).

Verse 12

And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,

And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua. At this time also Joshua himself convened the two and a half tribes which had settled east of Jordan, to remind them of their engagement (Numbers 32:1-42) to assist their brethren in the conquest of Western Canaan.

Verses 13-15

Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.

Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying. The words spoken by Joshua are not a literal quotation, but the substance only of what was addressed by Moses (Deuteronomy 3:18-20) to the two tribes and a half, reminding them of their obligation to aid their brethren in the war of invasion.

On this side Jordan - i:e., on the east side. [ `eeber (H5676) is rendered sometimes on this, sometimes on the other side Jordan, its proper meaning in any passage being determined by the position of the writer or speaker. It is used in Deuteronomy, and also in Joshua (Joshua 5:1; Joshua 12:7; Joshua 22:7), to describe the western region, obviously on account of the only home as yet possessed by the Hebrews being on the east. But most frequently it denotes the east country, because Canaan proper was always regarded as the principal or central portion of the promised land (see Hengstenberg's 'Contrib.,' 3:, p. 313; also 'Balaam,' p. 27, English translation); and in this book, where it is used as a geographical term, an additional word is sometimes subjoined to give it greater precision and distinctness, as in Joshua 1:15, "toward the sun rising;" or, in the passages referred to above, where it denotes the west, yaamaah (H3220), westward, is added.]

Ye shall pass before your brethren armed, (see the note at Joshua 4:12) [ chªmushiym (H2571)] - (see the note at Exodus 13:18 for the various interpretations given of this word). [The Septuagint renders it as: euzoonoi, well girt: cf. Numbers 32:20; Deuteronomy 3:18.]

All the mighty men of valour. The word all is frequently used in a loose or general sense; and here it must be viewed as indefinite; for, considering the numbers of fighting men in the eastern tribes (Numbers 36:7), and the comparatively small levy of soldiers who actually went over to Canaan (see the note at Joshua 4:13), we must conclude that the "all" comprised the flower or choice of their warriors.

Verse 16

And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.

All that thou commandest us we will do. Their readiness to redeem their pledge, and the terms in which they answered the appeal of Joshua, displayed to great advantage their patriotic and pious feelings at so interesting a crisis.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/joshua-1.html. 1871-8.