§ 1. ORIGIN AND DATE OF THE BOOK OF JOSHUA.
EXCEPT perhaps, the Book of Daniel, there are no parts of Holy Scripture concerning the date and authorship of which so lively a controversy has raged as the first six books of the Old Testament. To mention all the various theories that have been advanced would be impossible. We will give a brief sketch of some of the most noticeable, and then proceed to examine more in detail the arguments which have been advanced to support them.
2. Keil and others regard it as a treatise of somewhat later date than the time of Joshua, composed about twenty-five or thirty years after his death.
3. Ewald's theory is a very elaborate one. He regards the book as a composition of the Deuteronomist in the time of Manasseh. This conclusion he bases on the very slight foundation that there is an allusion in Deuteronomy 28:68 to the condition of Judea in the time of Manasseh, or even later. This argument, again, rests upon the assumption that prophecy is impossible, a postulate which many will be indisposed to grant. But his method is, as he states, "scientific," which seems to mean that he takes everything for granted which is necessary to establish his theory. The many indications of earlier origin and authorship he quietly disposes of by assuming that they were portions of some earlier work, imbedded precisely as they stood in the mass of fiction which the writer of later times has evolved from his own moral consciousness. Not only so, but scientific criticism, he believes, can disintegrate these fragments with unfailing accuracy, and assign them to their proper owner. There are thus, he holds,
(1) a few fragments of contemporary works inserted verbatim in the midst of the mass of later history or tradition. These consist
(a) of a book quoted by name in Numbers 21:14, "The Book of the Wars of Jahveh," or Jehovah;
(b) the Biography of Moses; and
(c) the Book of Covenants, from which all the legal or quasi-legal matter is derived; written, as he says, in an age of confusion, when men tried to secure themselves by covenants with their neighbours. Then
(2) about the time of David comes the great Book of Origins. Lastly
4. Ewald has found various imitators, among whom the principal is Knobel. Adopting De Wette's view of the discrepancies in the text of the Pentateuch and Joshua, and Ewald's general method of explaining it, Knobel nevertheless proposes a different arrangement of the original materials from which the supposed mosaic of the Pentateuch and Joshua is made up. Knobel, like Ewald, also finds it possible to assign each of the various extracts of which the Pentateuch and Joshua are made up to their respective authors. But he has not only discovered by his analysis different authors to Ewald, but he assigns different portions to them. Ewala's system he pronounces "so complicated and obscure a fabric," so devoid of all tenable hypotheses, that it fails to convince; while he complains that critics like Hengstenberg and Havernick and Keil, because they do not accept his methods, convert a scientific inquiry into a theological controversy." Therefore he plays the part of Tycho Brahe to Ewald's Ptolemy, and invents a theory which renders a few of the latter's epicycles unnecessary. Thus there is
(1) an Elohistic document, clear, orderly, and historical, free from the marvellous occurrences in which the later works abound, which constitutes the groundwork of the whole narrative. Then follows
(2) a Book of Laws or first Jehovistic source. Then
(3) the Book of Wars, or second Jehovistic source. Then we have
(4) the Jehovist himself. Lastly
(5) the Deuteronomist arrears, to whom all Deuteronomy, with the exception of certain specified portions, and all the parts of Joshua which refer to Deuteronomy belong.
5. Noldeke subjects Knobel to a similar simplifying process to that which Knobel subjects Ewald. According to Noldeke, there are two sources;
(1) an outline history (Elohistic), and
(2) a history filling up that outline; composed
(a) by the second Elohist, and
(b) by the Jehovist.
Lastly, we have two editors. The first combined these into a consistent whole. The second added Deuteronomy and remodelled Joshua, bringing it into accordance with his fictitious additions to the Mosaic narrative.
6. Bleek feels himself compelled to still further reduce the number of histories, and thereby approaches nearer to a consistent and rational explanation of the facts. Documents existed, he believes, at an earlier period. But the first author, whom he calls the first Elohist, appeared at the time of Saul, and his history contains the greater part of Joshua. In the time of David appeared the Jehovist, who revised and rewrote, with the aid of earlier documents then existing, the greater portion of the Elohist. Lastly, at the time of Manasseh, or thereabouts, arose the Deuteronomist, who reduced the book into its present shape.
Such is an abstract of some of the chief theories which have been put forward regarding the authorship of Joshua. It is needless to say that the opponents of the authenticity and single authorship claim for their methods the exclusive title of scientific investigation. Ewald, with lofty infallibility, places Hengstenberg, Keil, Delitzsch, Kurz "outside of all science." But those who adopt his method, and venture only to question its application, fare scarcely more favourably at his hands. Thus, when he commences his researches, he examines what has been before written in the direction in which his predilections lead him. He finds that Ilgen takes a step on the right road, but always loses it again. "There was," he complains, "much perversity of attempt and aim mingled with" the otherwise praiseworthy attempts of these early investigators. They "were too easily satisfied with hunting out mere contradictions in the books and resolving everything into fragments," and were "unable to distinguish a real incongruity from a merely apparent discrepancy". Nor do his successors in the investigation please him any more than the pioneers who preceded him. Hupfeld and Knobel, we learn from a note to a later addition, are "unsatisfactory and perverse." We have already seen what Knobel's opinion of Ewald is. It may, therefore, not be entirely unscientific if we venture to suspend our judgment, and examine the facts anew, with the desire to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.
The industry and research which has been expended upon the task of establishing these theories is beyond all praise. Knobel, especially, has devoted the most minute attention to the words and phrases of the Hebrew Scriptures. But the objection is made, not to the utmost possible minuteness of study of the phrases of Holy Writ, but to the method pursued by the observers. In minuteness of observation the German critics have been anticipated and surpassed by the Rabbis, in whose hands this minute observation yields results in precisely the opposite direction. It is not mere minute observation, but the use that is made of it, which is required. And this so called "scientific" criticism is carried on by methods diametrically opposite to all which science has hitherto recognised. For if there be one principle better established in science than another, it is that in scientific processes nothing must be taken for granted but the most self-evident truths.
It must be confessed that these "scientific" theories, if not sound, are extremely ingenious. It is very difficult to reply conclusively to a critic who has a theory ready made to meet every emergency. Thus, if the author of the Book of Joshua displays an accurate and minute acquaintance with his subject, he is quoting an early and authentic document. If he states anything which is not at first sight easily reconcileable with what he has stated elsewhere, he has taken it out of another less early and less authentic one. If he quotes the Book of Deuteronomy, which according to all the laws of literary criticism proves it to have been in existence when he wrote, he was himself the author of it, and was engaged in the task of mingling its contents with real and veracious history. If a 'Book of the Wars of Jahveh' is quoted, as in Numbers 21:14, 15, it is an older document. If a 'Book of the Law of Jahveh,' he wrote it himself. This is not to inquire, it is to make inquiry impossible. It is to substitute dogma, the dogma of the destructive school, in the place of the dogma they have so persistently decried, which assumes that the books of Scripture, as a rule, were written by the persons whose names they bore. Is the one dogma one whir more scientific than the other?
The authenticity of the Book of Deuteronomy is a question on which we are of course precluded from entering. But the question of the hand the Deuteronomist had in the compilation of the Book of Joshua is one which falls within our limits. There is not the slightest evidence in the book itself to lead to the conclusion that it was a production of the time of Manasseh, a conclusion which the opponents of the genuineness of Deuteronomy have based upon the very slender foundation of the prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:68. If, as is assumed, the Deuteronomist embodied the references to his own work into the Book of Joshua, in order to facilitate the reception of his pretended laws of Moses, the question forces itself irresistibly upon us, Why did he not introduce more of them? Why did he confine his extracts from the 'Book of the Laws of Jahveh' to the passage at the end of Joshua 8., and a few exhortations to "be strong and of good courage," and the like, which is all we find elsewhere? These extracts are not enough for his purpose, were he introducing them for the purpose of gaining acceptance for the precepts he was desirous of enforcing.
We proceed briefly to notice some objections to the narrative of Joshua which meet us in the pages of Ewald, Dr. Davidson, and others. Ewald supposes Joshua to be the "ideal king" of the times of the Deuteronomist ('History of Israel,' 1:116). Now there is not one single trace of the kingly idea throughout the Book of Joshua. The severe simplicity of his life, the remarkable absence of anything like kingly claims, is one of the most striking features of the book. As well could we suppose the characters of Brutus or Cincinnatus to have been ideals of civic virtue called up to animate dying Roman patriotism in the days of Elagabalus, as to suppose that the writer of the Book of Joshua had the Oriental type of king before his eyes, such as existed in Judaea and the neighbourhood in the reign of Manasseh.
Next, Ewald remarks on the archaic character of Joshua 17:14-18, which he describes as "rough and hard as a stone." Yet Knobel, who was no mean Hebraist, assigns the passage to the "first Jehovist." And if Ewald's view be right, the passage may easily be explained on the hypothesis that we have here the ipsissima verba of Joshua himself.
In the pages of Dr. Davidson's well-known work other objections will be found. They are open to the same reproach that we have already brought against the other productions of his school, namely, their unduly dogmatic tone. And this is adopted, not merely towards those of an opposite school, but to his own allies. Thus (1:424) he complains that Knobel "has unwarrantably robbed the Deuteronomist of his due," a statement which we are apparently to take on Dr. Davidson's authority, since he vouchsafes no proof of it. But to proceed with his objections to the authenticity of the Book of Joshua as it stands, he tells us that the narrative at the end of Joshua 8. has got into the wrong place, and triumphantly asks, How, then, can the genuineness of the book be maintained? as if such a supposition as an error of the copyist were quite out of the question. A similar use is made of the discrepancy in numbers between Joshua 8:3 and Joshua 8:12, as though here again (see notes on the passage) a slip of the pen in very early times might not have caused all the confusion. Then we are told that the Levites in the historical portion of the book are called "the priests, the Levites," while in the geographical they are called "sons of Aaron," and that the former is a Deuteronomistic, the latter an Elohistic expression, as though the expression "sons of Aaron" in ch. 22. were not clearly opposed to "sons of Kohath, Gershom, and Merari." Joshua 6:26 contains, on the sup. position of the early date of Joshua, the record of a prophecy fulfilled long afterwards. It is assumed that the prophecy was invented after its supposed fulfilment. Yet, unless the writer of the book were a deliberate impostor, endeavouring to palm off his work as one of an earlier date — a rather strong supposition — is it conceivable that he would have avoided all mention of the fulfilment of the prophecy in this place? Again, we are told that the twelve stones could never have been placed in the middle of the Jordan. Ordinary attention to the words of the passage (see notes on Joshua 4:9) would show that they never were said to have been placed in the middle of Jordan, at least as we understand the words. The etymology of the word Gilgal, again, presents some difficulties (see note on Joshua 5:9). But it is surely cutting the Gordian knot in a very summary manner to assume that this etymology was invented at the time of Manasseh. The placing the tabernacle at Shechem is, we are told, another instance of inaccuracy. But without resorting to the hypothesis of a copyist's blunder again here, though it is less violent than Dr. Davidson's, is it quite inadmissible to adopt the explanation that the author was narrating facts, and did not stop to consider what difficulties his simple narrative might present to those who, many centuries after, were not in full possession of the details? Is not this far more probable than the theory that the redactor, or inventor, or by whatever name he be called, had quite forgotten, or never observed, what he had stated six chapters previously? Are we to believe that the compiler of the time of Manasseh never took the trouble to read over his own work, or that no one in his own day was likely to ask the questions which occur at once to every reader now? The Shoterim, again, we are told (see note on Joshua 1:10), were an institution of later date, and their place in Joshua's time was supplied by the fathers and heads of the tribes. No proof of this assertion is given. But is it credible that a vast invasion, in which their wives and families accompanied the warriors, can have been conducted without a considerable organisation, or that the Israelites could have lived in a civilised country like Egypt without being familiar with that principle of division and subdivision of labour without which no great undertaking can possibly be carried out? Then we are asked to observe the discrepancies between Joshua 11:16-23 and Joshua 13:1-6; between Joshua 10:36, 38; 11:21; 15:14-17, and Judges 1:10, 11; and between Joshua 15:63; 16:10, and 1 Kings 9:16. These questions will be found fully discussed in the notes. The only question which will be asked here is this. We have supposed that the later, or geographical, portion of the book is the expansion of the passage in Joshua 11:23, which concludes the historical portion. But if this explanation be not accepted, how comes it, we ask again, that such a bungling mass of contradictions could have been accepted in a civilised age like that of Manasseh, when ex hypothesi a large body of literature was in existence? There were the Chronicles, as we have seen, of the Kings of Israel and Judah. There was, according to Knobel, the "clear and orderly "narrative of the Elohist. The historian's calling, if we may trust Ewald, had become a special art ('History of Israel,' 1:59) which "needed ability and dexterity" (ib.), and the result is described as "elegant and perfect". The perfection of a method which gives, as we are required to believe, three inconsistent versions, from various sources, of the conquest of Hebron, Debir, and the Anakim, which describes the country as completely subdued when the work of subduing it had hardly begun, which displays so little literary skill as to copy out of an old record a statement which had ceased to be true for three centuries and a half, may seem a little doubtful. But if this be a mere question of taste, the more formidable difficulty remains behind, how such a narrative ever came to be received, in the later days of the Jewish kingdom, as authentic history.
On the whole, therefore, we conclude, as well from the arbitrary assumptions to which those are driven who assign the book to a later date, as from the internal evidence of the book itself, that it was written within forty or fifty years at the least of the death of Joshua; that its author was one of the priestly race; that he dwelt in the tribe of Judah, and most likely in the city of Hebron; that by his family connection with Phinehas, and his residence among the relatives of Caleb, he had the fullest opportunity of acquainting himself with the facts; and that we have therefore in this book an authentic account, by one every way qualified to write it, of the conquest and occupation by the Israelites of the Promised Land.
2. ON DIFFICULTIES IN THE BOOK OF JOSHUA.
The principal objections which have been made against the Divine inspiration of the Book of Joshua are of two kinds, moral and scientific. The first class of objections is raised against the slaughter of the Canaanites as inconsistent with the goodness and mercy we know to be attributes of the Divine Being. The second class take their stand on the inconsistency of miraculous parts of the history with the known laws of nature as revealed by science.
I. The moral objection admits of a very simple answer. How, it is asked, could the revolting and cruel command have been given by the God of love and mercy to Moses and Joshua, to massacre an unoffending population under circumstances of the grossest barbarity; involving aged men, weak women, and harmless children in the same slaughter with the warriors and leaders of the people?
(2) But we may carry the argument a step further. The conception of God which we now put forward as an objection to the morality of the Old Testament is derived from the teaching of the New. No such idea of God as that which we now entertain was entertained by earlier ages. Why this was the case we cannot tell. That it is a fact can hardly be denied. It can be no matter of wonder if men in those days acted according to their belief. They conceived of God as a God of strict and vigorous justice. No other view of Him had been as yet made known. Where is the inconsistency of their considering themselves, and acting as, the ministers of One who has shown, both before and since, that He does take terrible vengeance upon the sins of men? For more than four thousand years men were ignorant of the conception of God with which we are now familiar. This is an undeniable fact in the economy of Providence. it is surely unreasonable to require men to act upon any other principles than those which God had then permitted to be known.
(4) We are entitled, besides, to remember that the revelation of God through Moses was an immense advance in the moral education of the world. Perhaps we have been too much absorbed in its visible failure as regards the many, to observe that, as regards the few, it was as conspicuous a success.
Our minds have been so occupied with St. Paul's view of it as demonstrating to man his utter inability to satisfy God by exact compliance with the conditions of a rigid covenant of law, that we have omitted to notice what a vast stride it was in the moral education of the world. The history of the conquest of Palestine can compare favourably with the history of any other conquest the world has known, in the simplicity and absence of personal aims of its leader, in the absolute fairness and equity of his conduct, in the wisdom and humanity of the institutions it established, in the provision, not only for religious worship, but for the moral instruction of the people. The dispersion of the Levites throughout the ten tribes, with the duty of expounding and enforcing the Jewish law, was a means of moral elevation greater than any other nation possessed. Nor, though it did not succeed in securing the obedience of the nation at large, can it be held altogether to have failed. The schools of the prophets raised up men who for their energy, courage, moral grandeur, and sometimes (as in the case of Samuel) political capacity and honesty, can challenge comparison with any great men that have been produced elsewhere. David was a monarch of a type unknown to the world in that or even in far later times, and the one crime into which he was betrayed by irresponsible power would not have excited equal reprobation in an Alexander, a Caesar, a Charlemagne, a Charles V, or a Napoleon; though an honest and independent prophet could foresee that it would "cause the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" when committed by "the sweet Psalmist of Israel," the man who in his ingenuous youth was the "man after God's own heart." Thus the objection that Moses and Joshua were not in every respect in advance of their age would seem inconclusive, when weighed against the fact that in so many respects they were in advance of it. So far from the Jewish religion having introduced barbarity into the world, it greatly mitigated such a spirit, while the Jewish law was the seed plot from whence sprung that vast improvement, both in humanity and morality, which has contributed not a little to the happiness and the excellence of mankind.
II. A more formidable objection by far is raised to the miraculous portion of the Book of Joshua. The progress of modern physical science has altogether altered the position of miracles among the evidences of Christianity. In earlier ages the marvels that were believed to have been wrought by God at the inauguration both of the old covenant and the new, were regarded as among the most conspicuous proofs of the Divine origin of both. Now these very miracles are the greatest difficulties in the way of the reception of Christianity. The discovery of the laws of force by which the universe is governed, and the apparent invariability of their action, is calculated to throw considerable doubt on the accuracy of a narrative which records so startling a departure from the ordinary course of nature. The more what used to be considered wonders or portents in nature are brought within the range of nature's ordinary laws, the harder it becomes to believe that on some special occasion, and for special reasons, those laws were altogether set aside. And this view of things derives additional strength from two important facts: first, that, in the infancy of all nations alike, the occurrence of prodigies of the strangest nature was devoutly believed; and next, that, down to our own day, in countries where superstition is predominant, the same childish tendency to the marvellous is constantly observed. If we are to believe the stories of the miraculous passage of the Red Sea or of the Jordan, it is asked, If you wish us to accept the story of the appearance of the angels to the shepherds, or of the performance of a number of extraordinary miracles in Palestine at a certain epoch, on what grounds can we withhold our credence to the visions of Lourdes and La Salette, or the apparitions at Knock? And if every man of common sense rejects the latter, on what principles can the former be defended?
We come next to inquire which of these views is the most probable. And here, with Keil and Grotius, we may dismiss all notions from our mind of the impossibility of the miracle. He who holds the heavens in the hollow of His hand could arrest the revolution of the earth and prevent all the tremendous consequences (as they seem to us) of such a cessation, as easily as a man can arrest the progress of a vast machine more than ten thousand times as powerful as himself. The former event is not more antecedently incredible than the latter, but the contrary. But though it seems eminently unreasonable to doubt the possibility of such an occurrence, we may, with far more reason, doubt its probability. It is a fair question whether a miracle of so stupendous a kind were really worked for such a purpose by Him, the economy of whose means to His ends is one of the most striking features of His works. It may be reasonably doubted whether He who declined, at the suggestion of the tempter, to suspend the laws of nature that He might be fed, who never has suspended those laws in such a manner for the benefit of His creatures, would have suspended them for their slaughter. And while steadfastly maintaining the genuineness and authenticity of the Scriptures, and their accuracy on all the main points of their narrative, it has never yet been authoritatively decided that they were free from error on every point. From the time of St. Jerome downwards it has been held that mistakes in minor points might be admitted in them without invalidating their claim to be regarded as authoritative exponents of the will of God. Thus, then, the writer will have satisfied all the conditions of authentic history, if he tells us what was the current belief in his own day. The success of the Israelites was so far beyond their expectations, the slaughter of their powerful enemies so immense, that it may have been their firm belief that the day was miraculously lengthened on their behalf. But we are not driven to this view of the case. The quotation has an obviously poetic form, as every one must admit. The Book of Jasher (although Jarchi, as well as Targum, thinks it is the Pentateuch, and other Rabbis believe it to be the Books of Genesis and Deuteronomy respectively) has been very generally supposed to be a collection of national songs existing in early days, and receiving additions from time to time. This is Maurer's belief, and it has been adopted by Keil and others. We are not compelled therefore to regard Joshua's prayer and the whole paragraph as more literal than the apostrophe of Isaiah, "O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would flow down at Thy Presence," or the statement of Deborah and Barak that "the stars in their courses fought against Sisera." But, again, the words of the original have been singularly exaggerated. Literally translated (see notes on the passage) they amount simply to this:" Then spake Joshua to (or before, as Masius) Jehovah in the day when Jehovah gave the Amorite before the sons of Israel. And he said before the eyes of Israel, Sun, in Gibeon be still, and moon, in the vale of Ajalon. And the sun was still, and the moon stood till a nation was avenged of its enemies. Is not this written in the book of the upright? And the sun stood in the midst of heaven, and did not haste to go down, as (or like) a perfect day. And there was not a day like that before or after it, for Jehovah to hearken to the voice of a man, for Jehovah fought for Israel." It is obvious that the actual meaning of the author is involved in much obscurity. It is certainly not asserted that the sun remained in the heavens twenty-four, or twelve, or even one hour beyond its usual time. All that is stated is that Joshua in impassioned words demanded that the sun and moon should not set until his work was done, and that this (to the Israelites) extraordinary request was fulfilled. He had perfect day until Israel was avenged of their enemies. A vast league of civilized states, with all the best appliances of warfare banding together to resist a nation unused to military exploits, defeated with tremendous slaughter, and annihilated in a single day, would doubtless seem to Israel a stupendous work of God's hand. Well might they embody it among their national songs, and relate forever after how the sun remained above the heavens until the victory was more than complete, and how the moon continued to give her light until the scanty remnant of the mighty host were pursued to their strongholds. Nor is this view of the passage without corroboration. Hengstenberg does not fail to notice the fact that in all the allusions — and they are many — to the great things God had done for Israel, not one is found to this supposed miracle, until the time of the son of Sirach (ch. 46:4), save a very doubtful passage in Habakkuk 3. This is surely decisive as to the view Scripture itself has taken of the passage, and it is as true of the blew Testament as of the Old. Thus, therefore, we conclude that the whole passage is so obscure and difficult, besides being very probably a quotation — perhaps even an interpolation — from another book, that we are at least justified in considering its importance to have been exaggerated both by assailants and defenders. The interpretation which supposes it to refer to a vast natural convulsion, wrought by the Almighty in order to complete the defeat of the Canaanites, though a possible, is, as has been shown, by no means the only possible explanation of the words of the narrative. And this position once established, the whole fabric of controversy that has been raised on this much-vexed passage falls to the ground.
3. THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF PALESTINE.
4. THE SETTLEMENT OF PALESTINE.
A few remarks on the landed and governmental system of Palestine may not be out of place. The institutions of the people as a whole may of course best be studied in the Mosaic law, but it is not unimportant to endeavour to gain from the condition of Palestine after the conquest some idea of the way in which it was originally designed that this law should be administered. This question divides itself into two heads, the system of government and the tenure of land.
One feature of the Jewish land system seems to have approximated to the Aryan custom. A certain amount of pasturage was reserved for the Levites in the neighbourhood of the cities assigned to them. It seems to have been used in common by them, and not to have been accompanied by any assignment of arable land. As the Levites, we are frequently told, had no inheritance with the rest of their brethren, the view taken in the notes seems the most probable one, that they dwelt in the cities with their brethren of each tribe, the right of pasturage for their cattle being the only right reserved to them. The rest of their subsistence they derived from the offerings of the people (see ch. 13:14).
5. CONTENTS OF THE BOOK.
As has been already said, and as will be found in the notes on Joshua 1:1, the Book of Joshua is clearly a continuation of the Book of Deuteronomy. It commences (Joshua 1:1-9) with God's charge to Joshua, embracing
(1) the extent of the dominion to be given to the children of Israel, and
(2) instructions to himself as to the grounds of his confidence, and the way in which he is to seek it. He is to be successful if he studies and keeps the law of God.
In Joshua 1:10-15 we have Joshua's instructions to the people,
(1) to the officers to see that the necessary preparations were made, and
(2) to the tribes who had already received their inheritance, concerning the part they were to take in the impending struggle. Vers. 16-18 contain the people's acceptance of Joshua as leader in the place of Hoses, and their promise of a most implicit obedience.
Ch. 2. (see notes) is parenthetical. It contains the preparations Joshua had already made for the invasion of Canaan, by sending spies to reconnoitre the first city he intended to attack. They excited the suspicion of the king, and had to take refuge in the house of Rahab. There they learn the terror which the news of their approach had inspired in the hearts of the Canaanites, as a people believed to be under the protection of a mighty deity. They were hidden by Rahab under the stalks of flax (it being the time of the earlier harvest), were then let down the city wall, after having promised to save Rahab and her family in the sack of the city. Certain tokens were agreed upon for the performance of this promise, and then the spies departed, hid themselves in the mountains, thus escaping pursuit, and finally returned in safety to Joshua.
Ch. 3. contains the narrative of the crossing of the Jordan. The people followed the ark at a fixed distance, until they had reached the place appointed for crossing. The waters, as usual at the time of barley harvest, had overflowed the banks. The priests bearing the ark dipped their feet in the brim of the water at the point to which the waters had then reached; the course of the river was at once arrested and the Israelites crossed on dry land.
Ch. 4. contains the continuation of the narrative. Joshua gives orders for the erection of two memorials, one on the Canaan side of Jordan, where they first rested for the night, the other on the eastern side, at the spot on the brink of the swollen river where the priests had stood during the crossing. The first memorial consisted of large stones taken out of the bed of the Jordan. The others (whence they came we are not told) were set up in the shallow water where the priests had stood. The crossing complete, the priests cross with the ark, and as soon as they have reached the dry land on the other side the waters flow as before. The memorial is then set up at Gilgal, and its purpose is explained.
Ch. 5:1-9 relates the formal renewal of the covenant by the rite of circumcision, which appears (see notes) to have been suspended since the rejection of the people in Numbers 14. In vers. 10, 11 we read of the keeping of the passover, which may have been intermitted altogether, but had certainly not been kept by the whole nation for thirty-eight years. Ver. 12 notes the cessation of the manna.
We come next (Joshua 5:13-6:27) to the taking of Jericho. Joshua was near Jericho, either engaged in meditation or in reconnoitring the city, when a vision (ver. 13) appears to him in the shape of a man with a drawn sword, who (ver. 14) announces himself as the "captain of the Lord's host" and (ver. 15) as a Being of Divine nature. This Being proceeds to give directions for the capture of the city (Joshua 6:2-5), which, as the first step in the conquest of Canaan, was to be of an entirely supernatural character. The directions are abbreviated in the narrative, but we afterwards learn more fully what they were. The men of war, followed by seven priests bearing seven trumpets and the ark, and they, in their turn, by the rest of the people, were to march round the city once for six days. On the seventh they were to march round it seven times. Then a prolonged blast was to be blown on the Crumpets, the people were to raise the shout of victory, and the wall of the city would fall down and the people delivered into their hands. The spoil of the city was to be solemnly devoted to God. These directions (vers. 6-21) were fulfilled, and the result was as had been promised. We next (vers. 22-25) read of the destruction of the city and the fulfilment of the promise to Rahab. Verses 26, 27 relate the curse pronounced against any one who should rebuild Jericho, and the effect of its fall upon the rest of the people of the land.
Ch. 7. brings us to the episode of Achan. Joshua sent a small detachment to effect the capture of Ai, following the advice of his scouts, who pronounced it to be an insignificant place. The result was a slight repulse. This produced an effect on Joshua and the people which would have been altogether disproportionate had it not been regarded as a sign of Jehovah's displeasure (vers. 2-5). Joshua prays to God, and is told that such was actually the fact, for the ban on the spoil of Jericho had been transgressed. He was ordered to take the tribes, families, households, and lastly individuals by lot, and to burn the transgressor for his sin (vers. 6-15). Joshua fulfils the injunction (vers. 16-19) and Achan is discovered to be the transgressor (ver. 8). Adjured by Joshua, he confesses his misconduct, which is placed beyond doubt by the discovery of the secreted goods (vers. 19-23), and Achan is burnt, with all his family and goods, and a monumental heap raised to commemorate the event (vers. 24-26).
Joshua next (ch. 8.) proceeds to the capture of Ai. He now regards it as a task of importance sufficient to employ his whole force, and is instructed by God to do so (vers. 1-3). He gives directions for the attack, which was to consist of a feint by the main body of the Israelites to draw the defenders away from the city, while the real attack was to be made by a detachment placed in ambush (vers. 4-9). The stratagem succeeded. The detachment in ambush occupied the city, thus denuded of its defenders, and set it on fire, while the warriors of Ai, with the Israelite host turning upon them in front, and their city in flames in their rear, were seized with a panic, and were unable to offer any effectual resistance. Ai, its king and people, were utterly destroyed, and the city made a heap of ruins (vers. 10-29).
It is here that the majority of MSS. place the fulfilment of the instructions of Moses in Deuteronomy 11:29 and 27., to inscribe a copy of the law upon the altar at Ebal (Joshua 8:30-35), which was fulfilled in the presence of the people.
In Joshua 9. we read of the effect of these successes upon the people of the land. While they stirred the kings to resistance (vers. 1, 2) they induced the Gibeonite republic to prefer an accommodation. Aware, by some means, that the inhabitants of Canaan were doomed to destruction, they resorted to the expedient of representing themselves as a distant people, and the artifices are recorded whereby they sought to gain credence for this statement (vers. 8-13). The Israelites, not regarding the matter of sufficient importance to refer to Jehovah, fell into the trap. They afterwards discovered the fraud, and doomed the Gibeonites to perpetual servitude, sparing their lives on account of the oath they had taken to do so (vers. 14-27).
This submission of the Gibeonites appears to have disconcerted the preparations which were making for a general league of all the sovereigns of Palestine against the invaders. Startled by the imminence of the danger, the kings of southern Palestine hastily gathered their forces together, not to attack Joshua, but to reduce Gibeon. Their plans are disconcerted by the celerity of Joshua, who, on the receipt of tidings of the attack on Gibeon, falls suddenly upon the allies in the morning, and routs them with immense slaughter (vers. 6-10). A violent storm (ver. 11) assists in the discomfiture of his enemies, and Joshua adjures the sun and moon not to go down until his victory is complete, an adjuration which is fulfilled (vers. 12-14). We next read of the death of the five kings, and the pursuit of the flying enemy. Then come a series of sieges (vers. 28-43), those of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debit, as well as the annihilation of an expedition from Gezer, with the view of forcing Joshua to raise the siege of Lachish (ver. 33). The result of this was the subjugation of the country from Gibeon to Kadesh-barnea and Gaza.
Joshua 11. brings us to a combination of the cities of northern Palestine, under Jabin king of Hazor, to resist the progress of Joshua. The rendezvous appointed was at the lake Merom, not far from the Anti-Lebanon range (vers. 1-5). But once more the danger was averted by the promptitude of Joshua, who fell upon them before their preparations were complete, and totally routed them, and destroyed many of their cities (vers. 6-14). But the reduction of northern Palestine was a more serious matter than that of the south. We are expressly told that Joshua made war a long time with those kings (ver. 18). But the result was the reduction of the whole country with certain exceptions, of which we afterwards read. The supremacy of Israel was, however, not contested, as the payment of tribute shows (vers. 15-20). In vers. 21-23 we read of the destruction of the Anakim, who had probably taken refuge in Philistia, but who had clearly taken advantage of Joshua's prolonged campaign in the north to repossess themselves of their cities. It was not until a later period that this territory was given by lot to Judah, for this tribe must have been engaged with the rest in the campaign in the north. The reduction of the Anakim, exhausted by their previous defeats, does not seem to have been a difficult task.
Joshua 12. commences the second portion of the book, which relates to the territory conquered by Israel, and its distribution among the tribes. The district beyond Jordan, inhabited by Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, is first mentioned (vers. 1-6). In the remaining verses the territories of thirty-one kings are mentioned as conquered by Joshua.
Joshua 13. commences with the mention of the portions of Palestine as yet unconquered, and proceeds to a more minute specification of the conquered territory eastward of Jordan. The unconquered territory consisted
(1) of Philistia (vers. 2, 8);
(2) of the lowlands bordering on Sidon (see notes)
(3) the country near Aphek;
(4) the land of the Giblites; and
(5) the extreme northern portion of Palestine, including the great Lebanon range (vers. 4-6).
Joshua is now commanded to assign the land beyond Jordan, which is described in detail, with occasional references to the condition of the country when the book was written, and the remark, several times repeated, that the Levites had no share in the allotment (vers. 7-14). Then follows a still more detailed account of the territory beyond Jordan, and the races displaced (vers. 15-33).
Joshua 14. tells us that the inheritance was made by lot, and repeats, after the author's manner, the statements that the country beyond Jordan was given to the two and a half tribes, and that the Levites had no part in the distribution (vers. 1-5). The remainder of the chapter (vers. 6-15) is devoted to Caleb's request, and its fulfilment.
Joshua 15. divides itself into three parts. The first (vers. 1-12) traces out the border of the tribe of Judah. The second (vers. 18-19) narrates an interesting incident in the family of Caleb. The third (vers. 22-63) enumerates the cities of Judah.
Joshua 16. describes the border of Ephraim.
Joshua 17. begins by mentioning the families of the portion of the tribe whose inheritance was west of Jordan (vers. 1-6), specially noting the fact that "Manasseh's daughters" had an inheritance with his sons. Vers. 7-11 give a very imperfect outline of the territory of Manasseh. Vers. 12-18 record the complaint of Ephraim and Manasseh, that the portion allotted to them was not sufficient, and Joshua's answer.
Joshua 18, gives the account of the fresh survey ordered by Joshua (vers. 1-9), and the fresh division (ver. 10) in consequence. In ver. 11 begins the description of the border of Benjamin, which is continued to ver. 20. Then follows (vers. 21-28) an enumeration of the cities of Benjamin.
Joshua 19:1-9 names the cities in the territory of Simeon. The border of Zebulon follows (vers. 10-16), and is succeeded by the border of Issachar (vers. 17-28); Asher (vers. 24-31) follows; then Naphtali (vers. 32-39); and lastly (vers. 40-48), Dan, whose later migration northward when they found the territory too small for them, is here recorded. When all the allotments had been made, Joshua himself received his portion (vers. 49-51).
Joshua. contains the appointment of the cities of refuge; and ch. 21. that of the Levitical cities.
In ch. 22. the history is resumed. The two and a half tribes on their return, after a solemn farewell from Joshua, to their inheritance, fearing that they shall be regarded as outcasts beyond Jordan, erect an altar on their way homeward, as a token of their connection with Israel (vers. 1-10). The remaining tribes, regarding this act as an infraction of the law of Moses, gather together in assembly, prepare for war, but first send an embassy, consisting of the heads of the nine tribes and a half westward of Jordan, accompanied by Phinehas, as the representative of the priesthood, to remonstrate (vers. 11-20). They receive the unexpected reply that, so far from the erection of this altar being significative of an intention to break the law of Moses, it had precisely the contrary object, and was intended to show their deep reverence for that law, and an evidence of the right they had to consider themselves subject to it (vers. 21-24). The reply is regarded as eminently satisfactory (vers. 30-34), and is received with deep thankfulness by Israel at large.
Ch. 23, relates a charge given by Joshua to the children of Israel when advanced in age. He first (vers. 3-5) reminds them of what God has done and promises to do. Then (vers. 6-11) he reminds them of their duty in consequence, and warns them (vers. 12, 13) of the danger of neglecting it, concluding with a final appeal in which he alludes to his long career, in which God has signally fulfilled His promises, and his approaching death.
Ch. 24. contains the history of another great gathering, following, no doubt, closely on the former, in which Joshua seeks to bind the Israelites once more before his death, by a solemn ceremony, to their duty of obedience to God. He commences with a brief summary of the history of Israel (ver. 2-18), and while bidding them choose their gods for themselves, declares his fixed determination to serve Jehovah only (vers. 14, 15). The people reply by declaring that it is impossible for them to serve another god (vers. 16-18). Joshua reminds them of the difficulty of the task, yet without shaking their purpose (vers. 19-21). He calls them to witness against themselves that they have made the promise, to which they assent, bids them put away all strange gods, and writes the covenant then made in the book of the law, and places a great stone as a memorial of the event, after which the people separate (vers. 22-28). In the remaining verses we read of the death and burial of Joshua (vers. 29, 30), of the faithfulness of the children of Israel after his death (ver. 31), of the interment of the bones of Joseph (ver. 32), and lastly (ver. 33), of the death and burial of Eleazar.
6. CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL HELPS.
Those who find it easy to consult authors in the learned languages will find much help in ORIGEN'S Homilies on Joshua, which we have in a Latin dress. These, with the 'Questions' of THEODORET and AUGUSTINE, may be found in various editions. The commentary of RABBI SOLOMON JARCHI (Rashi) originally written in Rabbinic, has been translated into Latin, and is very brief, and often much to the point. CALVIN'S Commentary may be found in Latin and French, and an excellent English translation has been issued by the Calvin Society. His treatment of Joshua is neither so striking nor so suggestive as his works on the New Testament, but his sound masculine understanding is often displayed in valuable thoughts. MASIUS, GROTIUS, and others may be consulted in the 'Critici Sacri,' and the learning and industry of ROSENMULLER, as well as the brief and pregnant, though often hazardous, suggestions of MAURER, may either be consulted in their own works, or in BARRETT'S 'Synopsis.' CORNELIUS A LAPIDE is a most favourable specimen of the Jesuit commentator, and is terse, pointed, and acute. MICHAELIS' 'Anmerkungen fur Ungelehrte' are in German. There is a learned Commentary by CALMET. POOLE'S 'Synopsis' combines many of the older commentators with skill and accuracy. Of later aids to the critical study of the Book of Joshua we may mention KEIL, FAY (in Lange's Commentary), and the abbreviated and often improved edition of Keil in the volume containing Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, by Keil and Delitzsch. All these have been translated in Messrs. Clark's Series. KNOBEL'S learned and most valuable work can only at present be consulted in the original. BLEEK'S 'Introduction to the Old Testament' has been translated by Mr. Venables (Bell and Co.). Dr. DAVIDSON'S 'Introduction' contains much valuable matter, but the student must expect to find the "destructive criticism" in his pages. In EWALD'S 'History of Israel' the reader will find much light thrown upon the history of the period. The geography of Palestine has been profusely illustrated. The best known works are those of Dr. ROBINSON, Dean STANLEY, Mr. J. L. PORTER, and Canon TRISTRAM, while the latest information is to be found in the publications of the Palestine Exploration Fund. The Book of Joshua, by Dr. ESPIN, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' contains the latest information to be obtained on the subject, while of smaller works much geographical and general information may be found in Dr. MACLEAR'S 'Joshua,' in the Cambridge Bible for Schools.
The Book of Joshua does not seem to have been a favourite one for homiletic treatment, but much may be gathered in this department from the works of ADAM CLARKE and THOMAS SCOTT, and above all, from the pious and thoughtful labours of MATTHEW HENRY. HALL'S 'Contemplations' are a perfect mine of reflections on the particular points selected, while Dr. VAUGHAN'S 'Heroes of Faith,' and the late Bishop WILBERFORCE'S 'Heroes of Hebrew History,' will also be very useful to the preacher.
Note A., Introduction, p. 11.
The number of expressions found in Joshua and not in the Pentateuch given in Section I. is incomplete. We may add the peculiar form of the infinitive in Joshua 22:25, where see note. The word דְּאָגָה occurs first in Joshua 22:24, though many words for anxiety and fear are to be found in the Pentateuch. The use of חרשׂ adverbially occurs only in Joshua 2:1. The word תוׄדָה occurs first in Joshua 7:19. If the word signifies praise here, as it does elsewhere (as in Psalm 26:7, etc.), the use of the word is a very decided indication of different authorship from the Pentateuch.
And the sense confession appears to be quite a later one. It is only found in Ezra 10:11. The Hiphil of יצק in the sense of setting up, in the place of the original meaning, to pour out, is first found in Joshua 7:23. This use is only found elsewhere in Job, where it frequently means "molten," and thence "hard," "firm." The adverbial use of the infinitive הכן or הכין is peculiar to Joshua. The כידון or lance is first mentioned there. The Pentateuch has another word, ןאפל<sup> </sup> רמח for darkness is only found in Joshua 24:7. The word נכם for "goods" is almost peculiar to Joshua, and is described by Gesenius as a "word of the later Hebrew." But why it is found in Joshua and not in the Pentateuch is hard to explain on the Deuteronomist revision theory. It only occurs elsewhere in Chronicles and Ecclesiastes. Another word occurring first in Joshua is סרני for the lords of the Philistines, implying that now, for the first time, the Israelites had come in contact with them, and therefore a strong argument for the early date of Joshua and for the Pentateuch having been written before the invasion of Palestine. Other words not found in the Pentateuch are ציר (or if we read the Hithpahel of ציד the word is still, in this form, peculiar to Joshua — see note on Joshua 9:12), פשׂתי<sup> </sup> עץ stalks of flax; תקוה cord. The phrases פנה<sup> </sup> ערף and הפך<sup> </sup> ערף appear first in Joshua, and so does the verb תאר applied to a boundary line. But this last can hardly be quoted as in any way assisting to determine the date of the book, since the Pentateuch has little or nothing about boundaries, and that the word was previously in existence is shown by the noun תׄאַר, which is found in Genesis. On the whole the linguistic phenomena of Joshua are strongly corroborative of the view taken in Section I. The number of words occurring for the first time are few. Nearly ten times as many occur for the first time in Judges. But
(1) the Book of Joshua is a brief historical narrative, in which few unusual words would be likely to occur; and
(2) if written soon after the Pentateuch, when that was the only book of importance Hebrew literature possessed — a book, moreover (Joshua 1:8), which was held in the highest reverence — it would be likely to agree in its main features with the diction of its predecessor. Long settlement in Palestine, with a life of much greater liberty and dignity, would bring many new words into use. And such words we find in unusual numbers in the comparatively small Book of Judges.
Note B., p. 11.
To the passages indicating minute personal knowledge on the part of the author of the events he was describing, Joshua 17:14; 20:7; 21:2, 4; 22:8, 17, 22, may be added, beside many others referred to in the notes.
Note C., pp. 24., 27.
The conclusion to which a perusal of the latest authorities would lead the student is that Palestine was a congeries of nationalities gathered together for commercial purposes, that the Hittite element formed the larger portion of the people, and that in some way or other these independent communities had managed to escape subjection to the Hittite monarch at Carchemish, as also to Egypt.
It has been the object of the writer of the following exposition to gather together the notices of locality to be found in the Old Testament, so that if a preacher finds a name mentioned elsewhere he may turn to the Book of Joshua for additional information (see Geographical index).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Joshua". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Easter