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Jos 23:1 And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old [and] stricken in age.
Ver. 1. Joshua waxed old. ] And so more fit to give counsel than now to act great exploits, εργα νεων, βουλαι δε γερονων . Howbeit he was willing to show that although he was old and withering, yet "the root of the matter was in him"; and like the rose, he kept his sweet savour, though he had lost his lovely colour.
Jos 23:2 And Joshua called for all Israel, [and] for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old [and] stricken in age:
Ver. 2. I am old and stricken in age. ] Audite senem iuvenes, quem iuvenem senes audierunt, said old Augustus to his mutineers, and settled them.
“ Tanta fuit quondam capitis reverentia cani,
Inque sou precio ruga senilis erat. ”
Jos 23:3 And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God [is] he that hath fought for you.
Ver. 3. And ye have seen all that the Lord your God. ] Joshua intituleth God to all his conquests so did David, and our Richard I. So have we vanquished the king of France at Gisors, said he in his letter to Philip Bishop of Duresme; howbeit, we have not done the same, but Dieu et mon droit God and our right, by us. And the like did our Henry V at the battle of Agincourt; and our late thrice noble generals in their highest achievements at home and abroad. a
a Hoveden, fol. 445. Speed, 799.
Jos 23:4 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.
Ver. 4. With all the nations that I have cut off. ] That is, God by my hands, as Jos 23:3 for he it was who taught mine hands to war, and my fingers to fight.
Jos 23:5 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.
Ver. 5. And drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess. ] The same Hebrew word Jarash here signifieth to possess and to dispossess. Canaanites shall be cast out of what they get or detain from God’s people.
Jos 23:6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom [to] the right hand or [to] the left;
Ver. 6. Be ye therefore very courageous. ] Get good store of spiritual mettle, which is got by prayer, and maketh a man invincible. Of cowards they were wont to say in Rome, that there was nothing Roman in them: of many amongst us it may be said, There is nothing Christian in them.
Jos 23:7 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear [by them], neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
Ver. 7. That ye come not among these nations. ] For if ye once give way to come amongst them and converse with them, you will easily and quickly be drawn to do worse; even all that is here mentioned, to make honourable mention of their gods, to swear by them, to serve them, &c. Sin is wondrous catching, and contagious, and Nemo repente fuit turpissimus.
Jos 23:8 But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.
Ver. 8. As ye have done unto this day, ] viz., Since I have had the governance of you, Vita Principis censura est, imo Cynosura: the life of the prince is the loade star of the Commonwealth, Magnates magnetes; good governors make good people: and on the contrary, Qualis rix, talis grex.
Jos 23:9 For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but [as for] you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
Ver. 9. For the Lord hath driven out. ] He hath and he will, if you hinder not your own happiness by breach of covenant.
No man hath been able to stand before you. ] None of all those who either have assailed you, or have been assaulted by you.
Jos 23:10 One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he [it is] that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.
Ver. 10. He it is that fighteth for you. ] He who alone is a whole army of men, van and rear, both. Isa 52:12 He who "strengtheneth" and weakeneth "the arm" of either party, Eze 30:24 and rendereth their weapons vain or prosperous. Isa 54:17
Jos 23:11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.
Ver. 11. Take heed therefore unto yourselves. ] Heb., To your souls, that chief part of yourselves, the welfare whereof lieth upon it.
Jos 23:12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, [even] these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
Ver. 12. Else, if ye do in any wise go back. ] Apostates cannot choose to themselves a worse condition; there is martial law for such: they "draw back to perdition." Heb 10:39
And cleave unto the remnant. ] It is not safe to seek the association of others in a sinful way. Jehoshaphat smarted for joining with Ahab: Hunniades, for cleaving to that perjured Popish king at the battle of Varna: the Greek Church, for calling in the help of the Latin Church against the Turk; subjecting themselves to the Bishop of Rome.
Jos 23:13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out [any of] these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
Ver. 13. But they shall be snares and traps unto you. ] As the fowler catcheth birds, and the hunter wild beasts in their snares and traps; so shall these Canaanites catch you by their familiarity and commerce, and draw you to participate in their sins and plagues.
And scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes. ] They shall by their injuries vex and disquiet you, they shall with sharpest weapons prick and gore your tenderest parts, without mercy or measure.
Jos 23:14 And, behold, this day I [am] going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, [and] not one thing hath failed thereof.
Ver. 14. And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. ] I am a dying man: and the words of dying men are held to be living oracles: let therefore these last words of mine sink into your souls, and stick by you when I shall go hence and be no more seen. 2Pe 1:13
Jos 23:15 Therefore it shall come to pass, [that] as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
Ver. 15. So shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things. ] To the sweetness of the promises he fitly adjoineth the tartness of the menaces. Sour and sweet make the best sauce: promises and threatenings mingled serve to keep the heart in the best temper.
Jos 23:16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.
Ver. 16. And ye shall perish quickly from off the good land. ] This judgment Joshua inculcateth, Jos 23:13-16 because he knew it would be very grievous to them to forego so goodly a land so lately gotten, and so little a while enjoyed. In the beginning of a speech τα ηθη milder affections suit best; but toward the end thereof τα παθη , saith the orator, passionate and piercing passages. This rule Joshua here observeth, being ex utroque Caesar, no less an orator than a warrior, as hath been already observed.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 23". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent