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THE PROSECUTION OF THE WAR.—
And it came to pass. The political constitution of Palestine was, humanly speaking, the cause of its overthrow. The division of the country into a host of petty states, and the consequent want of cohesion and concert, made its conquest a comparatively easy task. Had the kings of the north rallied round the standard set up in Central Palestine by Adoni-zedek, a far more formidable opposition would have been offered to Joshua at Gibeon. Calvin takes us, however, at once to the fountain head, and remarks how God fitted the burden to those who had to bear it. In spite of the great things God had done to them, they might have been driven to despair (and every one knows how weak their faith was) by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. But by reason of the slackness of their opponents they were able to meet and overcome them in detail, without any opposition but what their weak faith enabled them courageously to confront. Jabin king of Hazer. Jabin (the Hebrew meaning of this word is intelligent) was, like Pharaoh in Egypt, the usual name for the king that reigned in Hazor (see Judges 4:2, Judges 4:23, Judges 4:24). He was a powerful monarch, and if not before, at least after, the Israelitish invasion became the acknowledged head of the league formed among the Canaanites against the Israelites. The first mention we have of Hazor in history is before the Exodus. The temple at Karnak, in Egypt, contains an account of an expedition into Palestine by Thotmes III; in which Kedeshu, Magedi, Damesku, Khatzor or Hazara, and other places are mentioned. We may no doubt identify these with Kedesh-Naphtali, Megiddo, Damascus, and Hazor. Hazor, like fort in French and German, caer in Welsh, and the termination cester in English (so also chester), signifies a castle or fortified town. Like the names above mentioned, it was by no means an uncommon name. Beside the present Hazer, which was in northern Palestine, two cities of that name are mentioned in the south (Joshua 15:23, Joshua 15:25). It rose from its ashes during the period of inaction which followed the death of Joshua, and though (Joshua 19:36) it was assigned to the tribe of Naphtali, became once more the centre of a strong Canaanitish organisation. It was, perhaps, the city Solomon is stated to have fortified (1 Kings 9:15), though this is not expressly stated. This becomes more probable when we find this Hazer among the cities of northern Israel captured by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29). "Yet still, in spite of the destruction by the Assyrians, the name lived on till the time of the Maccabees, and the great contest between King Demetrius and Jonathan the Maccabean took place upon the plain of Hazer" (Ritter, 2:225). Josephus also mentions the πεδίον Ἀσώρ in this connection. Robinson identifies it with Tel Khuraibeh, on the lake of Huleh, the ancient Merom. Conder regards it as represented by Jebel and Merj Hadireh, on the borders of this lake. Dean Stanley places it above the lake, while Vandevelde finds a place called Hazur, with extensive ruins, some distance westward. The names, however, Hazur and Haziri, are very common. Of Madon and Shimron nothing is known. Knobel would identify Achshaph with Aeco or Ptolemais. Robinson supposes it to be the modern Kesai. But this is not certain, for Aehshaph (Joshua 19:25) formed the border of Asher, while Kesaf is in the extreme north. According to Conder, it is the present el Yasif.
On the north of the mountains. Rather, to the northward, in the mountain district. Not necessarily the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon range, but the mountains of Galilee, which lay within the boundaries of Naphtali. The LXX. reads צדוֹן for צְפוֹן and therefore renders κατὰ Σιδῶνα adding τήν μεγάλην from Joshua 11:8. The plains south of Chinneroth. Rather, the Arabah south of Chinneroth (see note on Joshua 3:16). The word Arabah is given untranslated in Joshua 18:18. This was, no doubt, the great Ghor, or depression of the Jordan, or at least the northern part of it, extending for some distance south of the town of Chinneroth (Joshua 19:35; Deuteronomy 3:17). This town gave its name to the lake or inland sea now better known to the student of Scriptures as the sea of Tiberias, or lake of Gennesareth (see Numbers 34:11). "As we enter upon the geological character of the basin which contains the sea of Galilee, we see at once that it is simply one element of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, which extends due north and south for a distance of sixty hours. This is the Ghor, or Sunken Valley of the Arabah" (see note on Joshua 3:16)," extending from Hasbeya to the AElanitic gulf as a continuous cleft—the deepest one known to us" (Ritter, 2.241). He goes on to enumerate the various signs of volcanic agency in this region; the frequent earthquakes, the form of the basin of Gennesareth (though he denies it to be a crater), the hot springs, the frequent eaves, the naphtha deposits and springs, the hot water springs to be found even in the Dead Sea, the lofty crystalline masses of the Sinaitic peninsula, and the porphyritic dykes found at the southern end Of the Ghor, as well as the general conformation of the country east of Jordan. The sea of Chinneroth, or Tiberias, is stated by Conder to be 682.5 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. And in the valley. The Shephelah, or lowland district (see above Joshua 9:1). The borders of Dot. Rather, the heights, or highlands (נָפוֹת Vulg. regionibus) of Dor. This elevated position was a remarkable feature of the neighbourhood, though the various translations of the word (as "coast," Joshua 12:23; "region," 1 Kings 4:11) rather obscure the prominence given to this physical characteristic in the Scripture narrative. Rosenmuller would translate it the "promontory" of Dor, for Dot (now Tantura, Tortura, or Dandora) was upon the sea coast south of Carmel, and nine Roman miles north of Caesarea. Thus situated, its position on a hill, though the hill is not a lofty one, would strike the observer, and it accounts for the peculiar form of speech noticed above, which is so common that in the LXX. it is usually given as part of the proper name, Ναφεδδώρ (cf. Ναφαθδώρ, Joshua 12:23; Νεφθαδώρ, 1 Kings 4:11). And behind it are still higher rocky ridges, to which the name also applies. Dor, with its excellent harbour, was a noted place of commerce in ancient times, especially in the murex coccineus, from which the far famed Tyrian dye was obtained. These are a species of mussel, and Seetzen mentions two varieties, the murex trunculus of Linnaeus, and the Helix ianthina. The latter is of a whitish green, but when taken out of the water it passes from red to purple, and after death to violet. Its use has been superseded by that of the cochineal insect, but the Tyrian purple was in great demand in early times. Its costliness may be inferred from the fact that in each insect a little pouch behind the head, not the size of a pea, contains the dye. See Ritter, 4.280, 281; Pliny, ' Nat. Hist.' 9, 36 (60 in some editions); and' Epist.' 50, 10, 26. The allusions to it by Horace, Virgil, Juvenal, and other classical authors are too numerous for quotation. We may take as instances Virgil, Georg. 3.17: "Illi victor ego, et Tyrio conspectus in ostro" (cf. AEn. 4.262): and Juvenal, Sat. 7.134; "Spondet enim Tyrio stlataria purpura filo." The ruins of the ancient city still crown the steeps of its site (see Vandevelde's Memoir, and Conder's Handbook. Also Keil in loc). On the west. The LXX. renders, "And to the Amorites on the sea coast" (see last note), leaving out all mention of the Canaanites.
To the Canaanite (see note on Joshua 3:10). This confederacy was yet more formidable than the other (Joshua 11:5), but was as signally defeated by Joshua's promptitude (see verse 7). We are reminded of the swift march of our own Harold, and its results at Stamford Bridge; with this difference, however, that the enemy, instead of being engaged in triumphant festivity, was preparing for an expedition against a much dreaded enemy, who was believed to be far off. Napoleon had nearly achieved a similar surprise at Quatre Bras and Ligny. The Jebusite in the mountains. Jerusalem was not yet taken. From the neighbourhood of that as yet unconquered city, and probably from itself, Jabin drew his auxiliaries, while Joshua was as yet fully occupied in the south. Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. Mizpeh, or Ham-mizpah, as it is usually called (save in verse 8; Judges 11:29; 1 Samuel 22:3; Hosea 5:1), i.e; the watch-tower, was a common name among the Israelites. There was one in Judah (Joshua 15:38), in Benjamin (Joshua 18:26), in Gilead (Judges 11:29; of. Genesis 31:49; Joshua 13:26), and in Moab (1 Samuel 22:3). Ritter mentions the large number of watch towers, of which the ruins may still he traced, along the line of the great watershed of Judea. This one was probably far to the north, on the northwestern side of Hermon, commading a view of the plain of Coele Syria, which extended from southwest to northeast between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. This vast plain is still known as the Bukei'a (see note on Joshua 5:8), though Robinson denies that this Bukei'a is meant, because the Bukei'a properly so called was not under Hermon. This makes it possible that Mizpeh might have been on the south. eastern side of Hermon, where also an extensive view might be had. Ritter, however, says it can be no other than "the great plain which extends north of Lake Huleh, from its narrow western margin to Banias, that is, the plain south and southwest of Hermon. Some have supposed the meaning of Mizpeh to be equivalent to Belle Vue in modern days. But the meaning "watchtower" suggests ideas more in keeping with those rude times, in which our modern appreciation of scenery was a rare quality. It was not the beauty of the view which was valued, but its extent, as giving timely notice of the approach of an enemy. Mount Hermon has already been mentioned in the note on Joshua 1:4. Some further particulars may here be added. We find in Deuteronomy 3:9 that the Amorites call the mountain Shenir, and the Sidonians Sirion. It is very remarkable, and bears on the authorship of the Song of Solomon, that the Amorite name Shenir is given to Hermon in So Song of Solomon 4:8. Was the song addressed to a Hittite wife, or had Solomon an Amorite one? In Deuteronomy 4:48 Hermon is called Sion. With the former of these passages we may compare Psalms 29:6. But we must not confound (as even a writer so well informed as Bitter does) the Zion, or Tzion (sunny mount), of Psalms 133:1-3; where Hermon is mentioned, with the Sion, or "lofty mountain" (spelt with Sin, not Tzade), in Deuteronomy 4:48. Vandevelde asks why the mountain is called by so many names, and replies that it is because "it is a cluster of mountains many days' journey in circumference." A much better reason is suggested by the fact mentioned in our former note—that, as the .highest ground in Palestine, it was visible from every part of it. The name Sirion, or the coat of mail, was no doubt given from its glittering, surface. It is to be feared that the reason given above for the Sidonian name diminishes the probability of the remarkable argument in Blunt's 'Coincidences,' part 2.2, derived from the Sidonian settlement (Judges 18:1-31) at the foot of Hermon.
And they went out. Dean Stanley (Lectures, 1:259) compares this "last struggle" of the Canaanites with the conflict between the Saxons and the British chiefs "driven to the Land's End." The comparison is more picturesque than accurate. In the first place, it was by no means a "last struggle" (see Joshua 11:21; Joshua 18:3; Joshua 19:47; Judges 4:1-24. throughout). In the next, the Britons were never driven to the Land's End, but Dorsetshire, which retained its independence for 200 years, was treated by Ina as Gezer (Joshua 16:10), was treated by the Ephraimites, while Devonshire and Cornwall came very gradually and almost peacefully under the hands of the conquerors. And thirdly, even had it been otherwise, there is a vast difference between a handful of desperate men driven to bay on a tongue of land surrounded nearly on every side by the sea, and a powerful, though defeated, nation with a vast continent in its rear. Yet there are many features common to the history of the Israelites in Canaan, and of the Teutonic tribes in Britain (see Introduction). As the sand that is upon the sea shore. This poetic phrase is common in the Hebrew writings (see Genesis 22:17; Genesis 32:12; Jdg 7:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 1 Kings 4:20, etc). Solomon's capacious intellect is compared to the sand on the sea shore, in 1 Kings 4:29. The word translated "shore" is "lip" in the original, a word which adds to the poetry of the passage. And horses and chariots very many. Literally, many exceedingly. The Israelites appear to have held cavalry and chariots in great awe (see Exodus 14:18, and the song of triumph in Exodus 15:1-27.; cf. also Joshua 17:16, Joshua 17:18; Judges 1:19; Judges 4:3). In later times they appear to have become more used to them. See, for instance, 1 Samuel 13:5, where the historian gives their number, large as it was, instead of regarding it as past all computation. This battle must have taken place on level ground, or the chariots would have been useless. Accordingly the historian fixes its scene on the banks of "the waters of Merom," where such ground is to be found—another instance of his historical accuracy (see Vandevelde, Journey 2.413, who places the battle on the great plain southwest of the latter). The use of chariots in battle dates from an early period. Homer's heroes are described as driven to battle in them. But perhaps the scythe chariots are here meant, which are not found on early Egyptian monuments, but which Xenophon in his Cyropaedia says were introduced By Cyrus. We find them, however, in use in Britain, in the days of Julius Caesar, and they could hardly have obtained the idea from the Persians. Potter (Antiquities, bk. 3. 1 Samuel 1:1-28) says that they were gradually abandoned when they were found more dangerous to those who used them than to the enemy. That this kind of chariot is here meant seems pretty certain from the alarm they caused. No such alarm would have been caused by chariots simply used to convey the chieftains to the fight (see Gesenius, s.v. Xenophon, Cyr. 6.4; and 2 Macc 13:2). All their hosts. The LXX. reads מַלְכֵיהֶם their kings, for מַחֲנֵיהֶם.
The waters of Merom. Robinson and the later travellers generally identify this with the Samochonitis (Joseph, Ant. 5.1; Bell. Jude 1:3.9. 7; Jude 1:4. 1.1), now Huleh. Keil and Delitzseh deny this, but it may be regarded as established, on the authority of Ritter, Vandevelde, Tristram, in short of all who have visited Palestine during the last thirty years. But its name, "the waters of height," would seem to answer to this, the highest of the inland lakes of Palestine. The Jordan runs through it, and it is also the reservoir for numerous other streams. "In the centre of this plain, half morass, half tarn, lies the uppermost lake of the Jordan"—the little lake Phiala excepted—"about seven miles long, and at its greatest width six miles broad, the mountains slightly compressing it at either extremity, surrounded by an almost impenetrable jungle of reeds, abounding in wild fowl, the sloping hills near it scoured by herds of gazelles".
And the Lord said unto Joshua. The encouragement was not unnecessary. The task before Joshua was harder than any that had yet befallen him. The enemy was far more numerous and better equipped. And it is a well known fact that men of tried courage are often daunted by unaccustomed dangers. Therefore all Joshua's strength of mind was required to inspirit even men who had experienced God's wonderful support at the passing of the Jordan, at the siege of Jericho, at the battle before Gibeon, now that they were face to face with the unwonted spectacle of a vast host, furnished with all the best munitions of war known to that age. The Israelites had nothing to depend upon but their own tried valour, and the reliance they felt upon God's support. "Unequal in arms and tactics," says Ewald ('Hist. Israel.,' 2.2. C), "they could oppose to the Canaanites only courage and confidence." Tomorrow about this time. The promise was made on the eve of the encounter, but not, of course, as some have supposed, while Joshua was still at Gilgal. We are not told how long Joshua was on the march. Probably (as in Joshua 2:1-24) he had sent scouts forward, who brought him intelligence on the day before the battle of the vastness of the host, and the formidable nature of its equipment. The martial spirit Joshua had infused into the host, and the spirit of faith in God begotten of His recent acts of favour, contrast remarkably with the conduct of the Israelites described in Numbers 14:1-45. To each servant of God His own special gift is vouchsafed. Moses was the man to inspire the Israelites with a reverence for law. Joshua had the special aptitudes for the leader in a campaign. It is a confirmation of this view that, in the one successful engagement recorded during the forty years' wandering in the desert, Joshua, not Moses, was the leader of the troops, while the aged law giver remained at a distance, encouraging them by his prayers (see Exodus 17:8-13). But while we thus regard the secondary influences of individual character, we must not forget that the Israelites were also sustained at this moment by the assurances of Divine protection given at Jericho, at Ai, at Beth-horon, which had not been vouchsafed to them while under Moses's leadership in the wilderness. Will I deliver up. The "I" in the original is emphatic. And the use of the present participle in the Hebrew adds vividness to the promise. Slain. LXX. and Vulg; wounded.. Thou shalt hough their horses. To hough (or hoxe, Wiclif) is to hamstring, νευροκοπεῖν, LXX; to cut the sinews behind the hoofs, the hocks, as they are called. This rendered the horse useless, for the sinew could not reunite. The effects of the horses and chariots upon the mind of Joshua and his host, who had neither, is here traceable. "Those very horses and chariots, which seem to you so formidable, will I, the Lord of hosts, be tomorrow at this time delivering into your hand. The horses shall be forever useless to your enemies, and the dreaded chariots shall cease to be." Why should Joshua have destroyed the horses? Perhaps (as Keil, following Calvin, suggests) in order that the Israelites should not put their trust in chariots or in horses (Psalms 20:7; Psalms 147:10), but in God alone (cf. Deuteronomy 17:16). But more obvious considerations of policy may have dictated the measure. God never (see Matthew 4:1-7) makes use of supernatural means when natural ones are sufficient. Now the Israelites were unacquainted with the use of horses in warfare, while their enemies were not. To retain the horses while the country was as yet unsubdued would have been a double burden to them, for they would have had not only to keep them themselves, but to prevent the enemy from regaining them. On the same principle in modern warfare do we spike guns we cannot carry off, and destroy provisions we cannot convert to our own use.
Suddenly (see remarks in Introduction on Joshua's characteristics as a general. Also Joshua 10:9). And they fell upon them. This phrase denotes the rapidity of the onset. While they deemed him to be leagues away, he suddenly appeared at the head of his army, no doubt debouching from one of the mountain passes of Upper Galilee; and before they could set themselves in battle array, his troops, without giving the enemy time to rally, or themselves a moment's breathing-time, commenced the attack. The LXX. adds "in the hill country" here, an obvious blunder. The translator must have carelessly read בהר for בהם.
And the Lord delivered them (see Joshua 10:42). The issue of every battle is in God's hands. The natural man attributes it to human skill. The spiritual man, whether under the law or under the gospel, acknowledges the truth that "there is no restraint to the Lord, to save by many or by few" (1 Samuel 14:6). But if victory should ever side with numbers, if God appears not to "defend the right," it is that anxiety and sorrow may chasten the hearts of its upholders, lead them to "crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts," and so conduct them to a final victory when they are fitted to resist the intoxication of prosperity. Many a lesson in history has taught us that immediate success is by no means a blessing, even to those who are in the main fighting for a good cause. Great Zidon. So called, not to distinguish it from any other city, but to mark (so also Joshua 19:28) its importance as the capital of Phoenicia. This expression, "great Zidon," marks the early date of the Book of Joshua. In Homer's Iliad, Sidon is represented as the great home of the arts, though the historian Justin tells us that, even when Homer wrote, her superiority had passed to Tyre. In later years, Tyre, known only to the Book of Joshua as "the strong (literally, 'fortified') city." Tyre (Joshua 19:29) outstripped her rival, and from the time of David till that of Alexander the Great, in spite of her destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, retained her pre-eminence (see the vivid description of Tyre in Ezekiel 26:1-21; Ezekiel 27:1-36). Sidon, now called Saida, is still a commercial city of some importance, whereas Tyre is, or was, a few years ago, little better than a collection of huts. This is not difficult to explain. The pre-eminence of Tyre was due to her military strength in a time of warlike enterprise, that of Sidon to natural, position. "This ancient city of Phoenicia, 'the eldest born of Canaan'" (see Genesis 10:15), "stood on the northwest slope of a small promontory which runs into the sea, and its original harbour was formed by three low ridges of rocks, with narrow openings between them parallel to the shore in front of the city. On these islands there are remains of massive substructions, the work of the ancient Phoenicians. There is a spacious but unprotected bay on the south of the promontory … No traces of the ancient city can be seen on the mainland, but at a short distance to the north are sepulchral grottoes, which probably mark the necropolis." The plain of Sidon is prolonged as far as Sarepta, the Zarephath of the Old Testament, eight miles to the south, which stands on a rising ground near the sea, and shows the remains of ancient walls. Misrephoth Maim. Literally, burnings of waters. Kimchi conjectures that these were hot springs, whereas Jarchi more reasonably supposes them to have been salt pits, in which the water was evaporated and the salt left. Masius, whom most modern commentators follow, thinks that glass houses, of which there were several near Sidon ("constat enim eas apud Sidonem fuisse plurimas"), are meant. But it is difficult to translate the Hebrew with him and Gesenins, "burning near waters," and the idea of some that water stands here for glass is absurd. Knobel regards it as equivalent to water-heights, i.e; cliffs rising from the sea, and derives the word from an Arabic root, saraph, to be high. The LXX. renders it by a proper name. Symmachus, "from the sea," reading מִיַּם for מַיִם. The Chaldee has "fossas aquarum." Misrephoth Maim (see Joshua 13:6) was not far from Sidon. Valley. The word here, Bik'a, signifies an open, wide valley between mountains (see verse 17). Sometimes, as in Genesis 11:2, it is equivalent to plain.
Turned back. From his march toward Sidon. For Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms (see note on Joshua 11:1).
Utterly destroying them (see note on Joshua 6:17; so below, Joshua 6:12). There was not any left to breathe (see note on Joshua 10:40). And he burnt Hazor with fire. Comparing this verse with Joshua 11:13 and Joshua 11:21, there can be little doubt that Joshua had heard that the Anakim had succeeded in re-occupying the cities he had captured in the south. He resolved to prevent this in the case of Hazor, which had been the capital of the neighbourhood, though he did not think the same step necessary in the case of the inferior cities. Hazor was afterwards rebuilt and reoccupied by the Canaanites (Judges 4:2), though not in the time of Joshua. For the present, this destruction of the stronghold of Phoenician power in the north was a decisive measure, and would have been so permanently had the Israelites followed up the policy of Joshua.
The cities that stood still in their strength. This is the rendering of the Chaldee version. The LXX. has κεχωματισμένας, heaped up, i.e; defended with mounds. Rather, on their hill ("in collibus et in tumulis sitae," Vulg). As many of the towns in Italy, and the castles in Germany in the middle ages, so these Phoenician cities were placed upon hills, that they might be more easily defended. The various tribes of Palestine were no doubt continually at war, and, as regards these northern tribes at least, were not accustomed to subsist by commerce. Therefore each of these cities stood (the Hebrew עמד surely implies situation here) on its own hill, a detail possibly obtained from an eyewitness, who was probably struck by this feature of the district, a feature he had not observed before. The expression is used, however, as Masius observes, by Jeremiah (Jos Jeremiah 30:18). Knobel observes that all the early versions have no suffix here. What he calls the "free translation," however, of the LXX. (which has αὐτῶν) requires the suffix, though the Vulgate requires none. We must not adopt the very plausible explanation of Knobel and others that Joshua burnt the cities in the valleys, but spared the cities on the hills, because they could be more easily defended (see Joshua 17:16; Judges 1:19, Judges 1:34), since we read that Hazor alone was burnt. The word here translated hill (Tell, Arabic) is one with which we are familiar in the modern name of places in Palestine (see note on Joshua 8:28).
Took for a prey unto themselves (see Joshua 8:2, Joshua 8:27, and notes).
As the Lord Commanded Moses (see note on Joshua 10:40). So did Joshua. The implicit obedience of Joshua to all the commands he had received of God, whether directly or indirectly through Moses, is a striking feature of his character. Like most great soldiers, he possessed remarkable simplicity of disposition. He reminds us, in his rapidity of conception and execution, of Napoleon, but in his single minded eye to duty he is much more like our own Wellington. Only one instance in which he erred, that of the league with Gibeon, is recorded, and this was but an illlustration of the unsuspicious straightforwardness of his character (see notes on Joshua 19:49-51; Joshua 23:2; Joshua 24:15).
All that land. Rather, "all this land ;" the land, that is, which has been spoken of in all the previous narrative. It must not be pressed to mean the utter destruction of all the Canaanites, and the undisturbed possession of the country. The hills. The mountain country of Judah, in the south. The same word is translated "mountain" immediately afterwards, to the confusion of the sense, which contrasts the mountains of Israel with the mountains of Judah (see Joshua 11:21). This would seem at first sight to lead to the conclusion that the Book of Joshua was composed after the jealousy between Judah and the rest of Israel had sprung up in the time of David (see 2Sa 19:41 -48). But Dr. Edersheim has suggested another explanation. Judah, he says (see Joshua 14:6; Joshua 15:1), entered upon their inheritance, while the other tribes were still in Gilgal. In the same way Mount Ephraim is so called because it was given to that tribe, and occupied by them shortly after. While as the remaining seven tribes remained without their inheritance (Reuben and Gad as well as Manasseh and Ephraim being now provided for), the rest of the mountains were known as the mountains of Israel. This explanation is ingenious, but hardly satisfactory. Ephraim (see Judges 8:1, Judges 8:2; Judges 12:1) early acquired a preponderance over the other tribes. We should therefore expect a threefold division of the mountain district, the mountains of Judah, of Joseph, and of Israel, especially as Ephraim was the next after Judah to enter upon its inheritance. The internal evidence seems to prove that the Book of Joshua was written by one of the tribe of Judah, or by a Levite residing within the borders of that tribe. Perhaps this affords the best explanation, but is quite possible that the whole mountain district of Palestine is here meant. The south. The Negeb, or dry country (see Joshua 10:40). The valley. The Shephelah, or lowlands (see note on Joshua 9:1). This must have extended from Gaza northward to Joppa, while the Shephelah of Israel mentioned immediately below must be the lowland tract from Joppa to Mount Carmel. The plain. The Arabah (see note on Joshua 3:16). And the valley of the same. Rather, his (i.e; Israel's) lowland.
The Mount Halak. The smooth mountain. Literally," monte glabro," Vulg.; λεῖον, Symmachus. This may either be interpreted "the mountain bare of foliage," as opposed to Seir, the hairy or wooded mountain, as Masius and Rosenmuller suppose, or, as the latter also suggests, it may mean the mountain which has a smooth outline, as opposed to a precipitous cliff. This falls in with the character of the hills on the south of Palestine (see note on Joshua 10:40). The LXX. renders by a proper name. But this the article forbids. The Syriac interpreter renders "the dividing mountain." But חלק rather signifies in this sense to assign by lot. Keil would identify it with "the row of white cliffs which cuts the Arabah obliquely at about eight English miles to the south of the Dead Sea," and divides the great valley into two parts, the Ghor and the Arabah. He gives up the other "smooth" or "bald" mountains, because they do not "go up to Self." Later explorers have failed to settle its situation. Seir. This mountainous region was well known as the territory of Esau (see Genesis 32:2). Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon. For valley (בִּקְעָה) see note on Joshua 11:8. Baal-gad has been by some identified with Baalbek, or Heliopolis, a Syrian city, whose vast ruins strike the beholder with astonishment even now. But Baalbek lay considerably to the north of Palestine. It has therefore with greater probability been identified by Robinson, Von Raumer, and others, with Paneas or Caesarea Philippi. Baal-gad signifies "the lord of fortune," an aspect under which the Babylonian Baal or Bel was frequently worshipped. The word Gad, erroneously translated "troop" in our version (Genesis 30:11; Isaiah 65:11), is properly "fortune," and hence the god Fortune. The worship of Pan in later times supplanted that of Baal, but traces of both cults, in inscriptions and niches, may be found in the neighbourhood to the present day (see Tristram, 'Land of Israel'). All travellers speak with enthusiasm of the situation of Banias. Josephus says that it affords a profusion of natural gifts. Seetzen corroborates him. Dean Stanley compares it to Tivoli, and Canon Tristram thinks that in its rocks, caverns, and cascades there is much to remind the visitor of what is perhaps the loveliest place in all Italy. He continues, "The situation of Banias is indeed magnificent. With tall limestone cliffs to the north and east, a rugged torrent of basalt to the south, and a gentle slope for its western front, Banias is almost hidden till the traveller is among the ruins." Banias stands at the end of a gorge of the Hermon range with the wide range of the Huleh plain opening out before it, as the Campagna and Rome in the distance are seen from the mouth of the gorge at Tivoli. Vandevelds, however, identifies Banias with Beth-rehob, on the insufficient ground that Baal-gad is said to be in, not at, the mouth of the valley or Bik'ath of Lebanon. He prefers the castles either of Bostra or of Aisafa, the one an hour and a half, the other three hours north of Banias. It should be added that an arm of the Jordan rises and rushes through the gorge here, "praeceps," like the Anio at Tivoli. The valley of Lebanon is supposed by some not to be the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, but the country on the southern declivity of Mount Hermon. But the term בִּקְעָה here unquestionably means the well-known Bukei'a or Coele Syria, i.e; the tract between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon (see Knobel).
A long time. Hebrew, many days. The campaign in southern Israel lasted for weeks, perhaps even months. But the campaign in northern Palestine must have lasted longer. The vast host which gathered at the waters of Merom was destroyed, but the task of capturing the innumerable cities which dotted that region must have been a protracted one. We may, with Josephus, infer from Joshua 14:10 that it occupied five years, or perhaps, with other of the ancient Rabbis, seven years, since the wanderings in the wilderness after the rebellion of the Israelites lasted thirty-eight years.
To harden their hearts (cf. Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:23). Muller, 'Christian Doctrine of Sin,' 2.412, says that "Scripture never speaks of God's hardening men's hearts, save in connection with His revelations through Moses or Christ." This passage evidently had not occurred to him when writing. His explanation of the difficulty is hardly satisfactory. We are not to suppose that the free will of the Canaanites was in any way interfered with. God no doubt left them to themselves as the due punishment of their iniquities. Sin in general, by God's own appointment, and especially the sensual sins in which the Canaanites were steeped, has a tendency to produce insensibility to moral or even prudential considerations, and to beget a recklessness which urges on the sinner to his ruin. Some have argued that had they all come, like the Gibeonites, as suppliants, they must all have been massacred in cold blood. But this is not likely. Rather we must imagine that God foresaw that they would not believe the signs He would give in favour of the Israelites, and that by meeting them in battle they brought a swift and speedy destruction on themselves.
And at that time (see Joshua 11:18). What is meant is, during the continuance of the war in which the country above described was conquered. The destruction of the Anakim was the conclusion of the work, and was rendered necessary by their having reoccupied the places Joshua had taken (see notes on Joshua 10:36-39). The Anakims. Literally, the long-necked men. Called the "children of Anak" (Numbers 13:28, Numbers 13:33; also Joshua 15:13, Joshua 15:14). Gesenius would derive the German nacken and the English neck from this root. The word is used of the chains on the necks of camels (Judges 8:26. So also So Judges 4:9, of a necklace). They were men of gigantic stature (Numbers 13:32), and were no doubt a hill tribe of the Amorites. It is worthy of remark that to the two fearless men whose faith did not fail them at the sight of the walled cities, and of the giant forms of their inhabitants, was entrusted the task of overcoming these antagonists, and thus of proving the truth of their own words. Thus it ever is in the counsels of God. "To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away." To Joshua, who had confidence in God, the whole land of Canaan was given into subjection. From the Israelites, who had not that confidence, the inheritance of their fathers was taken away (cf. also Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:28). Many writers suppose that these Anakim (like the Rephaim of Joshua 12:4) were the aboriginal inhabitants, and of Turanian descent (see note on next verse). Anab. A town about ten miles southwest of Hebron (cf. Joshua 15:50). It was apparently one of the daughter cities of Debir, and there is still a place of that name in the immediate vicinity of Dhaharijeh. Mountains of Judah. For this and the "mountains of Israel" see note on verse 16.
Only in Gaza. This statement is confirmed by what we afterwards read. In Gath especially (1 Samuel 17:4; 2 Samuel 21:18-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8, the last passage preserving the true text, which has become hopelessly corrupt in the second Book of Samuel) we find the race of giants remaining till David's time. But it had almost died out. Goliath and his brethren seem to have been regarded by the Philistines, as much as by the Hebrews, in the light of prodigies. It may be that the race deteriorated in size and strength, when driven from the mountain district. Gaza (Hebrew Azzah, as in Deuteronomy 2:23; 1 Kings 4:24; Jeremiah 25:20) was a stronghold of the Philistines. We first find it mentioned as the border of Canaan in Genesis 10:19. It was the scene of the exploits of Samson, related in Judges 16:1-31. It, with Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, and Ashkelon, formed the five Philistine lordships mentioned in Joshua 13:5. Gaza does not appear in the list of cities captured by David, although Gath does. Perhaps the strength of its position (Azzah signifies strength) may have enabled it to resist David and Solomon, whose dominions are said to have extended to, but not to have included, Azzah. We read little more of it in the Old Testament. Jeremiah says that Pharaoh smote it; Amos and Zephaniah threatened it with punishment. It is mentioned in Acts 8:26 as a place of some importance. And it still exists, at about an hour's journey from the sea, and is now called Ghazzeh. (see also note on verse 41). Gath. Also one of the five Philistine lordships. In David's time it had a king, with whom David took refuge (1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2). It was afterwards conquered by David (2Sa 21:20; 1 Chronicles 18:1; 1 Chronicles 20:6). We find it in Solomon's jurisdiction, though under the government of one of its own royal family (1 Kings 2:39). Rehoboam fortified it (2 Chronicles 11:8). Hazael, the powerful king of Syria, wrested it from Jehoash, and was only bought air from assailing Jerusalem. Uzziah retook it once more (2 Chronicles 26:6). Hezekiah seems to have retained it (2 Kings 18:8). After this we hear no more of it. Modern travellers and commentators have identified it with Beit-Jibrin (the house of the mighty—perhaps a reminiscence of Goliath and his kindred), now Eleutheropolis (so Knobel). Others suppose it to be the Blanche Garde of the Crusaders, or Tell-es-Safieh, an opinion supported, among others, by Mr. J. L. Porter and Lieut. Conder. See, however, the note on Libnah, Joshua 10:29. Ashdod. Later Azotus, now Esdud. Here the ark was carried after the disastrous defeat related in 1 Samuel 4:1-22. It was conquered by Uzziah (no doubt it had formerly been reduced by David), who built forts to overawe it (2 Chronicles 26:6), but it fell into the hands of Sargon, king of Assyria, a little later (Isaiah 20:1). It is frequently mentioned by the prophets, and we find that Jonathan, the brother of Judas Maceabaeus, burnt the temple of Dagon there (1 Macc. 10:83, 84). It is mentioned as Azotus in Acts 8:40.
Joshua took the whole land. The word must not be pressed to mean that every Canaanitish stronghold was razed or appropriated. The word כֹל, as has been before remarked, has a very loose signification in Hebrew. What is meant is simply this. Joshua had established an unquestioned military preponderance in Palestine. He had broken down all resistance; but before he completed his conquests to their full extent, he had to provide for the peaceable settlement of the tribes in the territory he had seized. The complete extermination of the Canaanites formed no part of his commission or his plan (Deuteronomy 7:22; cf. Exodus 23:29, Exodus 23:30). To have effected it would have been to throw the land out of cultivation, and to expose its possessors to the usual inconveniences of depopulated districts. Therefore it was Joshua's policy to leave the Canaanites to be extirpated by degrees, and to encourage the Israelites to cultivate the arts both of war and of peace; to nourish a martial spirit by remembering that numerous and active enemies still dwelt in their midst, while yet they were not neglectful of the importance of a settled and civilised, an agricultural and pastoral life. See also Judges 3:1, Judges 3:2. This purpose was defeated, not only by the usual effects of civilisation upon hardy or savage tribes, but also by the Israelites becoming addicted to the pleasant but enfeebling vices of the races they had supplanted. We see in the Israelitish history the best exemplification of St. Paul's theory that the "law worketh wrath," although it is "holy, just, and good." The excellence of the moral precepts delivered by Moses did but serve to manifest more clearly the inherent depravity of our nature (Romans 3:20; Romans 5:20; Romans 7:7, Romans 7:8), and its need of a Saviour, who should render obedience possible by the gift of regeneration, and the infusion of His own Spirit. According to their divisions. Literally, their divisions by lot, the word being derived from the same root as the word Halak in Judges 3:7, because a smooth stone was usually employed in casting lots. Hence it came to mean any authoritative division or distribution, as the courses of the Levites (1 Chronicles 23:6), the classification for purposes of enlistment (1 Chronicles 27:1) and the like. And the land rested from war. That is to say, the Canaanites were so thoroughly cowed and dispirited that they dared offer no further resistance to the Israelites in their task of portioning out the land. They were quite contented to be allowed to live in peace in such of their cities which remained, and had no disposition to court an overthrow such as took place at the battles of Gibeon and Merom, with its inevitable results of the absolute extermination, not only of every one who took up arms, but of every human being in the city to which they belonged. Thus the Israelites were able to give their whole attention to the survey and apportionment of the territory according to the relative size and importance of the tribes.
The continuation of the struggle.
The same class of thoughts is suggested by this chapter as by the former. We have, as before
(1) the confederacy of evil against good,
(2) the conflict,
(3) the victory,
(4) the utter destruction of the enemy.
But the course of the narrative gives a somewhat different form to our reflections.
I. JOSHUA NEEDED SPECIAL ENCOURAGEMENT ONCE MORE, in spite of his previous signal victory. This was because he had a new class of enemies to contend against. These kings, with the king Hazor at their head, seem to have possessed a higher civilisation than the southern tribes. We read (Joshua 11:4, Joshua 11:6) of their chariots, and these, as we have seen (see Exposition), seem to have been regarded with peculiar terror by the Israelites. So it is ever with the Christian Church. It was so at the beginning. At first she had only to contend with the obstinate jealousy and prejudice of the Jews, but as her sphere of operations enlarged she had to contend with the whole force of the civilised Roman empire. It is so still. The Church has confronted the barbarism of the middle ages, the superstition and formalism that followed it. But now she has to contend with modern civilisation, with its horses and chariots of iron—that is to say, its modern developments of physical force, as well as knowledge. These have to be attacked and brought under Christ's yoke.
II. THE PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY INVITES COMBINATION AMONG HER ENEMIES. This, too, was the case at the outset of Christianity. As soon as our religion was seen to be a power in the world, capable of surviving the execution of its leader, and the punishment of His followers, and of spreading nevertheless from city to city, from country to country, a widespread combination, formed of elements the most opposite, arose against it. Jew joined with Gentile to put it down. The emperor waged war against it, because it had formed a secret society, dangerous, he thought, to the stability of his throne. The lawyer and statesman opposed it, because it had taken upon itself to exist without the permission of the law. The priest opposed it, because it set up an altar against his. The philosopher opposed it, because it struck a blow at his proud exclusiveness, and combated some of his favourite dogmas. The tradesman opposed it (Acts 19:27), because it struck at his gains. The mob opposed it, because it robbed them of their spectacles and brutalising amusements. The man of vicious life opposed it, because it put a curb upon his habits of sinful indulgence. Yet our heavenly Joshua led his forces against these enemies, and the unholy combination was utterly defeated. Nor is it altogether different now. To Christianity as a creed no such opposition is offered. But let us strive to put the practical precepts of Christianity in operation, and we still meet on many points with the combined opposition of various sections of society. The statesman is indifferent to measures which will array an interested opposition against him, or diminish his sources of revenue. The philosopher derides the movement, because success, from a human point of view, is improbable, or because it offends against the canons of his school of philosophy. The man of rank, perhaps, opposes it because it strikes a blow at his privileges; the man of fashion because he is incapable of earnest thought, and hates everything that gives him trouble. The vicious does his utmost against it for the same reason as of old; while it is still not impossible to array against it the clamours of an unthinking mob. Yet here, as elsewhere, perseverance is success.
III. JOSHUA NOW WAS AT WAR WITH CIVILISATION. This is one of the enemies which must be brought under the yoke of Christ.
(a) Civilisation increases luxury. and luxury is a foe to Christian self denial. Luxury leads to ease and self pleasing, and ease and self pleasing are the very opposite of the Christian spirit. One great work of the Christian Church will be to teach men thankfully to accept the good gifts of their heavenly Father, and yet to consecrate those gifts to His service, and not to the formation of selfish habits.
(b) Civilisation augments enormously the power of man for evil as well as for good. Who can predict the tremendous results for evil which may result from modern discovery, unless, under our Joshua, we manfully confront its advance, destroy its power for evil, and convert what it might misuse into instruments of good? Again
(c) Modern discovery exalts the pride of man. And the first requirement of Christianity is that he shall lay that pride aside. Therefore it is our duty to show modern knowledge its limits, to remind him who is puffed up by it that there is a gulf which his highest efforts cannot pass. tie can but tell us what is; he cannot tell us how it is. He may consider himself entitled to overleap the barrier which separates us from the unknown, but the attempt involves as great an assumption as it ever did. The barrier is as wide as ever, though the ground on this side of it is undoubtedly better surveyed. Concerning God, we shall be always in need of a revelation, however much He may reveal Himself in His works. So that it is still as true as it ever was, in reference to our spiritual condition, that truth is hidden from the "wise and prudent" in their own sight, and is "revealed unto babes."
IV. JOSHUA HAD STILL TO COMBAT NATURAL STRENGTH. To the men against Jabin succeeded the campaign against the uncivilised but powerful Anakim. So civilisation does not destroy our natural passions. It may
(a) give them another direction, but it rather augments them than otherwise. The refinements of civilised life are unfavourable to brutal violence, but brutal indifference is not less common, and not less cruel. Against vulgar license the civilised man sets his face, but is refined licentiousness less destructive to the soul? History has proved that civilisation, unchecked by Christianity, does but increase the natural appetite for sinful pleasure. And it is Christianity alone that keeps the temptations incidental to a life of luxury within bounds. Remove that obstacle, and Nature will assert her power, and the animal in man will once more dominate civilisation to its own cruel appetites, as in past times. But
(b) it is a noteworthy fact that civilised life has everywhere a fringe of aggravated naturalism. In the element that we call "rough," which is ever found where society is most highly organised, we find the most shocking perversion of natural appetites, combined with their utmost strength. Is there any place upon earth where brutality, ferocity, recklessness, animal indulgence, rages more uncontrolled by any moral considerations, than in the "slums," as we have named them, of our greatest cities? This is the direct product of the thoughtlessness, the selfishness, the recklessness of civilisation, which thrusts out of sight all that is foul and hideous of its own creation, and leaves it to fester alone. Civilisation may be won to Christianity; but there remains a long and terrible conflict with the Anakim, those giant perverted natural forces which hang on the outskirts of civilisation.
V. JOSHUA DID NOT BURN ALL THE CITIES. That is to say, there are uses to which the discoveries of civilisation and the force of natural temperament may be put. Hazor, the centre of the combination against Joshua, was burnt. So civilisation and natural disposition, so far as they are employed for self, instead of for God and mankind, must be rooted out. But where discovery is used, not to exalt men's pride, but to increase his knowledge of God's ways; not to manufacture luxuries and enjoyments to be the exclusive privilege of the few, but to augment the happiness of all, then need we not destroy but welcome them. So natural disposition need not be destroyed, but converted to a good purpose. Thus the ardent temperament of a St. Paul, diverted from its misuse in fierce persecution, became the parent of burning zeal for the diffusion of Christianity. A cold, critical spirit may become useful in ridding the true cause of false allies. A calm, unimpassioned judgment may make its possessor an useful guide to the passionate and impulsive. The quiet, contemplative soul may furnish abundant stores of thought for those who have no leisure to think for themselves, and a busy, active disposition may find scope for its energies in the multiplicity of good works which our complicated state of society has brought into being. And even those passions which, wrongly directed, will cause widespread misery through sensual indulgence, may burn with a restrained and steady and harmless flame in the charities of family life.
VI. THE WAR LASTED MANY DAYS. So does the struggle
(1) of the Christian Church against evil, and
(2) that of the Christian soul against temptation.
It is not
(1) until the final consummation of all things, and
(2) till the close of life, that "the land" can "rest from war."
VII. GOD IS SAID TO HARDEN MEN'S HEARTS, but only in the sense in which this is done by the operation of His laws. He has so ordained, that if a man's heart is not softened by His loving kindness, it is hardened. The man who resists the pleadings of His Spirit becomes insensible to their influence. The man who succumbs to temptation becomes incapable of resistance, indifferent to the beauty of holiness. The man who apologises for vice sees no excellence in virtue. The man who is puffed up by a sense of his own sufficiency is unable to perceive the evidence for God's truth. And this is in a sense God's doing, because He has willed that it shall be so. It is not an arbitrary law. It exists by a moral necessity. We can see that it is but an effect following a cause. "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good." And if that which is good works evil to any, we may not blame God, but man, who has turned his meat into poison, and extracted death from God's most righteous law.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
Another league is here. One in the south destroyed; another in the north is formed. A formidable one scattered; one more so gathers. Four kings are mentioned, and probably a dozen others of those mentioned in the following chapter are associated with them. They marshal all the fighting power of the northern half of Palestine. As the land was then (as repeatedly afterwards) very populous; as war was the most familiar of all employments; as numbers of the cities—almost impregnable by nature—were fortified as well; as the army gathered was strong in chariots and horses, and had taken up a position on the great plain of Jezreel, where cavalry could operate with ease—it seemed as if the outlook for Israel were very dark indeed. A nation of fugitive slaves assailing a Phoenician people of vast wealth, enterprise, civilisation, and numbers! What chance of success was there? But they unite only for their easier destruction. Cheered by God, falling thereon suddenly, the terrific shock of Israel's charge was irresistible, and this "battle of the league" at once leads to Israel's easy conquest of the whole of this half of the kingdom. Take this story as an example of the way in which God's warriors have always "many adversaries." And observe—
I. THE NATURAL CHANCES ARE ALWAYS AGAINST GOD'S PEOPLE. The sacred history is little more than a list of conflicts of one sort and another, fought invariably against great odds, but followed invariably by victory. The chances were many against Israel getting away from Egypt, taking Jericho, winning at Beth-boron, gaming a victory here. It was not otherwise in the case of Jephthah, of Deborah, of Gideon. Who would have ventured to describe David as having a single chance in his conflict with Goliath? How pathetic is Elijah's estimate of the odds against him in his fight for truth. Baal's prophets and Astarte's prophets are numbered by hundreds, backed by the whole power of the court and the perversity of the people. But "I am left alone, and they seek my life." The odds were heavily against Daniel and his three friends—say 10,000,000 to 1. Neither Ezra nor Nehemiah felt they had anything approaching a level chance. The Babe of Bethlehem had all superstitions, vices, prejudices of the world against His cause. The Apostle of the Gentiles had all the philosophies, religions, and weaknesses of men against him and his simple gospel. The great theologian of the early centuries lamented that he stood "Athanasius against the world." Luther had Church and State throughout all Europe against him. Every missionary to a heathen land, every philanthropist seeking to remove abuses, have had the same experience. The Church today sometimes deems herself "hardly bested" by science, secularism, the preoccupation of men with their necessary cares, the sluggishness of the human heart to adopt a higher principle of life. Each Christian man finds such weaknesses and perversities within him and such obstacles without that it seems often as if it would be impossible to hold his ground, much less to make advance. Be not astonished if, in the part of the field assigned to you, the odds are altogether and absolutely against you. They always are against God's people and God's children. But observe secondly, though the chances are against them—
II. THE WINNING FORCES ARE ON THEIR SIDE. Inward forces are on their side. The heart makes the hero. Nelson's Methodists were his best sailors. God infuses such energy of purpose, confidence, self sacrifice, that these intensify natural force a hundredfold. [See Shakespeare's 'Cymbeline,' for illustration of effect of moral energy in war.] Good is the strongest and sturdiest thing under heaven; evil, cowardly and self ashamed in its presence. Duty, peace, hope, gracious memories, self respect, God's smile—these are forces which the world can never match, and which all operate in the direction of victory. Outward forces are also on their side. Divine guidance is imparted, Providence aids them, concurrently with their efforts the efforts of God are put forth. When God fights His battles of mercy there is no lukewarmness in His conflict. He uses us. The weapons of our warfare are heavenly, while the weapons of His warfare are often earthly. And so, while the world has the appearance, the Church has the reality, of a preponderant weight on her side. Is it a case of a battle of the northern league with you? Fight on, for they that are with you are far more than they flint are with them.—G.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
God's commandment and man's faithfulness.
I. GOD'S COMMANDMENT IS ENDURING. The commandment to Moses is transmitted to Joshua. God's will is changeless. What is right is right eternally. We must not regard God's laws as obsolete when they are ancient. The precepts of the Bible are not the less binding upon us because they are old (Psalms 119:160; Isaiah 40:8). Nevertheless
(a) what God commands relative to certain circumstances will be modified if those circumstances are changed;
(b) a larger commandment coming later exonerates from the observance of the details of a smaller commandment when these are by their nature preparatory to the larger. Thus the larger Christian law of love frees us from the narrower preparatory law of ordinances (Romans 13:10).
II. FAITHFULNESS TO GOD CONSISTS IN SERVING GOD IN OBEDIENCE TO ALL HE COMMANDS US.
(1) Faithfulness is shown in devotion to God. Moses and Joshua regarded themselves as God's servants. The Christian is not to live for self, but for Christ (Romans 14:8).
(2) This devotion must be exercised in active service. Belief, religious feeling, and acts of worship will not satisfy God. We are called to do His will (Matthew 7:24-27).
(3) Faithful service is obedient service. We must not simply work for God, but work for God in His way, doing His will, and fulfilling His commandments. Self will is fatal to the merit of the most zealous service. Much of our most devoted service is spent in serving God according to our own will instead of simply doing His will (Psalms 40:8; John 6:38).
(4) Perfect fidelity requires obedience in all things. We are tempted to choose our favourite commandments for obedience, and to neglect others. Some are not obvious; we should search for them. Some are difficult; we should seek special strength to do them. Some are dangerous; we should be brave and firm before them. Some are distasteful; we should sacrifice our feelings to God's will.
(5) Perfect fidelity will make us endeavour to secure the fulfilment of God's commandments by others when we cannot accomplish all ourselves. Moses transmitted the commandment to Joshua. We should think more of the execution of the work than of the honour of the agent. Jealousy sometimes leads us to refuse sympathy for a good work if we cannot do it ourselves.
(6) The justifying grace of God in Christ does not free us from the obligation of perfect fidelity. No man is perfectly faithful. As Christians, we are accepted by God, not on account of our fidelity, but for the sake of Christ and through the mercy of God. But the receipt of God's forgiving grace brings upon us the greater obligation to be faithful to Him in the future (Romans 6:1).
(7) The liberty of the gospel does not exonerate us from the duty of fidelity. We are freed from the bondage of the letter of the law that we may obey the spirit of it. We are delivered from the legal servitude of fear that we may serve the better in the "sweet lawlessness of love" (Romans 8:3, Romans 8:4).—W.F.A.
Hearts hardened by God.
I. WHEN GOD HARDENS A MAN'S HEART IT IS BECAUSE HIS CHARACTER IS SUCH AS TO TURN GOD'S RIGHTEOUS ACTION TO THIS RESULT. The same act of Providence which hardens one heart softens another. Prosperity will harden one in selfish, worldly satisfaction, and soften another to grateful devotion and active benevolence. Adversity will harden one in discontent and unbelief, while it softens another to penitence and trust. The experience of life will deaden the spiritual insights of one, and quicken that of another. The effects of God's work with us is thus largely determined by the condition of our own minds. God never hardens a man's heart except through his own abuse of providential actions and spiritual influences which are kindly and wholesome in themselves, and prove themselves so to these who receive them aright (Matthew 13:11-15).
II. GOD HARDENS I MAN'S HEART NOT BEFORE, BUT AFTER, HE HAS SINNED. The Canaanites had hardened their hearts in sin before God hardened them for judgment. God never predisposes a man to sin, nor does He harden a man in sin against any desire for amendment. The Divine hardening of the heart is not a cause of sin but a fruit of it.
III. GOD DOES NOT HARDEN A MAN'S HEART SO MUCH BY MAKING THE WILL STUBBORN AS BY BLINDING THE EYES TO PRESENT DANGER AND FUTURE CALAMITY. The Canaanites were not made more wicked, they were only rendered blind to their danger and doom, so that they resisted where resistance was hopeless, and attempted to make no terms with the invader. When a man will not repent in obedience to conscience, it may be best that lie should not find a means of escaping punishment through the exercise of prudence. So long as conscience is blind it is better for all moral purposes that prudence also should be blind. Note, however, as a warning, while sin tends to blind us to its approaching punishment, we are not the less in danger because we feel a sense of security.
IV. WHEN THE CONSCIENCE IS DEAD TO GOD'S LAW IT MAY BE WELL THAT THE INTELLECT SHOULD BE BLIND TO HIS TRUTH. It is better not to receive the truth into the intellect than to hold it with a disobedient heart. Otherwise
(1) we shall misunderstand, abuse, and misapply it;
(2) we shall deceive ourselves by supposing we are the better for knowing what is good although we do not practise it; and
(3) we shall be less susceptible to the influence of truth when it comes at the right moment to reveal our guilt and direct the way to redemption. Christ expressly said that He spoke in parables that they who were in a wrong condition of heart to benefit by His teaching might not receive it to their hurt and its dishonour (Matthew 13:13).—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
Doomed to destruction.
The evil men do often appears to be attributed in Scripture to the Divine will and agency (Exodus 4:21; Jud Exo 1:14 :4; 1 Kings 12:15; Romans 9:17, Romans 9:18). Reason and conscience, indeed, confirm the view St. James gives of the history of all transgression (James 1:13-15). Every man's sin is emphatically his own—born of his own inward impulse, nourished by influences to which he freely and wilfully yields himself, and its deadly issue is his just and natural recompense. God has nothing to do with it but to condemn and punish. How, then, can it be said of any form of evil that it is "of the Lord," or that a man does it because the Lord "has hardened his heart"? Is it so that the wrongdoer is after all but the passive instrument of a Divine purpose, and his life the working out of a Divine decree? The perfect solution of this difficult problem may be beyond us; but there are considerations that will shed much interpreting light upon it, and under the guidance of which we may
"assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to man."
I. THE HARDENING OF MEN'S HEARTS IN EVIL COURSES IS THE RESULT OF CERTAIN LAWS OF WHICH GOD IS THE AUTHOR. A suggestive analogy is found in the realm of material things. Nature has its stern impartial laws, its latent dangers, destructive powers, deadly poisons, etc. If a man deals wantonly and recklessly with these, he arms them all against himself; but the blame of the mischief thus done cannot be laid on Him who made or ordained them. What is man's business in this world but just to utilise for good ends—to "use and not abuse"—the laws and resources of the sphere in which the Creator has placed him? So, morally, the circumstances of our existence upon earth work out good or evil results according as we are voluntarily disposed to use them. The very influences that in one case tend to nourish the principles of a true and noble life, in another case harden the heart in sin. God's part in this is simply to determine the conditions under which the process shall go on. The evil men do is their own; the powers they prostitute to their base purposes, the place they occupy among their fellow men, the advantages that favour the working out of their designs, the laws that govern the development of their sin to its fatal issues, are "of the Lord."
II. WHEN MEN SHOW THAT THEY ARE RESOLUTELY BENT ON EVIL COURSES, GOD MAY SEE FIT TO LEAVE THEM TO THEMSELVES. There is in morals, as in mechanics, a law of inertia by virtue of which we remain in a chosen state, or continue to move in a chosen direction, unless some stronger force is brought to bear upon us. Will and habit rivet the chain of iniquity. When a man's heart is thoroughly "set in him to do evil," God sometimes abandons him to his own choice, leaves him to become the prey of his own wayward and wicked infatuation (Proverbs 1:31). In such a case the law of sin is simply left to take its course. The Divine act is negative rather than positive. It lies in the withholding of restraining or delivering grace. And there is no injustice in this—nothing unrighteous in God thus allowing the heart to harden itself. Moreover, it is by the operation of a law of our nature that he who will net turn from his evil way shall at length come to a point at which he cannot (Jeremiah 13:23).
"Sins lead to greater sins, and link so straight,
What first was accident, at last is fate."
And God, who established that law, is often said in Scripture to do that which takes place by virtue of it, or which results from it. He has framed the whole constitution of things under which it comes to pass that the impenitent sinner gradually becomes obdurate and closes against himself the door of hope. In this sense only can it be true that "it is of the Lord to harden men's hearts."
III. GOD OFTEN WORKS OUT, THROUGH THE WORST FORMS OF HUMAN EVIL, HIS GRANDEST ISSUES OF GOOD. In tracing the course of earthly affairs, we have to draw a very distinct line of separation in our minds between the wicked will and purpose of man, and the overmastering will and purpose of God. The sovereignty of the latter is most triumphantly asserted when the former has been suffered to reach its utmost limits, and work its deadliest work. The utter destruction of these Canaanites, aggravated by their own mad resistance, was essential to a full display of the majesty of the God of Israel, and the vindication of eternal righteousness. How important a part it has played in the general progress of humanity, who shall say? The triumph of redeeming mercy was brought about through the most heinous of all human crimes. "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," etc. (Acts 2:23). The "hands" were none the less "wicked" because through them God accomplished His holy and loving will. The Son of man was born into the world to be betrayed and crucified and slain; but that does not lighten the curse that falls on the betrayer and the murderer. Across the dark thunder cloud of man's evil, God casts the bright and beautiful rainbow of hope. The darkness is man's—the hope is from Him "who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all."—W.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
The extermination of the Canaanites.
The terrible extermination of the Canaanitish nations remains a mystery too hard for us to understand. "It was of the Lord," we read (Joshua 11:20). The history of Israel is designed to bring out in an impressive manner, by outward and visible facts, the constant intervention of God in human destinies. The history of our race is a fearful drama of blood and tears, in which ruin and devastation meet us on every hand. The Old Testament teaches us that in this history the purposes of Divine justice are carried out. It shows us the great Justiciary perpetually working. We might almost say that the veil which usually conceals His operation is lifted, so that we see that "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). If we look into the causes of this extermination of the Canaanites, we see that it was brought about by the excessive corruptness of the life of these people, under the influence of their impure idolatries. The same conditions are found today at the root of all the woes that afflict humanity. The sin is always greater than the suffering. The just God is also the God of love. His justice paves the way for His mercy. The triumph of Israel is to be turned to the account of the human race, since the establishment of the sons of Abraham in the land of promise is a necessary condition and antecedent of the universal salvation. We do net for a moment deny that an awful mystery rests upon these dark records of the Old Testament. It is impossible to think without shuddering of these myriads of human beings, swept away in a deluge of blood. But surely we may believe that even in this there was some hidden secret of love Divine, and may cling with the early Church to the "larger hope," that redemption may have come to them in that mysterious abode of spirits in prison to which Jesus Christ went to preach (1 Peter 3:17). We do not see why the victims of the first deluge should have been the only ones thus privileged. Alike in public and private misfortunes, let us ever recognise the justice of the Holy God. Let us bow beneath His mighty hand, remembering that it is at the same time the hand of our Father, and that "all things work together for good to them that love Him."—E.DE P.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
Joshua 11:21, Joshua 11:22
The destruction of the giants.
These giants had been the terror of Israel. In the evil report of the unfaithful spies they are mentioned last in the ascending scale of difficulties which seemed to make the conquest of the land an impossibility. The dread of their prowess had provoked the mutiny in the wilderness which led to the forty years of homeless journeying. But here we have the account of their destruction; the brevity of the account itself suggesting what everything subsequently stated confirms, that the most dreaded was not the most arduous part of their task, but somehow a part which was done like all the rest, without hitch or strain. There is much here that is very suggestive.
I. THERE ARE GIANTS THAT WE HAVE TO RIGHT. The spies had made a true report. Their report erred not in the measurement of the difficulty, but in the estimate of the nation's power with God's help to overcome it. It was true enough that scattered over the land were these tribes or families of great stature—Anakim, Emim, Zamzummims, Rephaim, as they are variously called. The Israelites being probably a people of less than ordinary stature found themselves thus face to face with a most stalwart and lordly race, with a people whose strength is still evinced in those marvellous remains of "the giant cities of Bashan," which impress all who behold them. And the land cannot be theirs until these giant tribes in their mountain fastnesses are destroyed. It is with them as it is with all men—all have to fight some giants in their fight of life. Our outlook should be made hopeful by faith, not by illusion. There are giants before us whom we shall have to fight if we are faithful. Difficulties, temptations, huge griefs, loneliness of spirit, impulses of wrong, cares and anxieties, still make a great tribe of the children of Anak. We shall find them scattered all over the land—in Bashan and in Hebron, and throughout all the hill country. Wherever the conquest would be hard enough without them, there are they found to make it harder still. It is well to abjure self deception. The way of righteousness is hard, and many a battle will try all our nerve and all our endurance. Life itself is stern and fun of conflict. Be not surprised if the strain on you be terrific, if the number and force of the enemy alike distress you; there has nothing new happened to you. All have had giants to fight with in their course through life. Israel could not possess the land until the giants were conquered, and your apprehensions of the future are so far accurate that you will have to encounter them without doubt. Secondly observe—
II. WE CANNOT HELP BEING. AFRAID OF THEM, BUT WE MUST KEEP THE FEAR WITHIN PROPER LIMITS. It is useless to forbid fear, and perhaps unwise. Useless, because so long as our nervous system is what it is, and the possibilities of life are so solemn and various, it is inevitable that solicitude should be awakened. It would be unwise, for the fear, kept within proper limits, is one of the most valuable of all our instinctive emotions. The eye, by a sort of fear instinctively operative in it, brings down its lid over it whenever anything approaches it. And by the physical apprehensiveness of the organ itself its delicate arrangements are protected. And what is done for that organ by its nerves of peculiar sensibility is done for our lives in all their complexity by an instinctive apprehensiveness which "scents the danger from afar." While there are giants it is desirable that there should be some fear of them. For fear, within bounds, makes men brace up their energies—take all precautions against surprise, sends them to God for guidance and for help, sets them to repair their weak point, whatever it may be. It is only in excess that fear is mischievous—that is, when it occupies the entire thought, paralyses all the energies of the life, and itself directly aids the overthrow it was meant to avert. It may perhaps be expressed accurately thus: Fear is a good servant but a bad master. So long as it does not rule us, but only suggests precautions and helps to make our protection complete, so long it is a blessing. Whenever it becomes master, and commands instead of merely advising us, then our manhood is destroyed, and the ills we fear overtake us all the faster for our alarm. Israel did not do wrong in fearing the Anakim, but only in letting their fear exceed its proper limits, and fill their souls to the exclusion of all faith in God and hope of His help. Do not needlessly blame yourself for the agitation and apprehension produced by the possibilities of the future, only limit these things by faith and prayer and watchfulness, so that, thus kept in its place, your fear may serve you well. Thirdly observe—
III. ISRAEL HAS NOT TO FIGHT THE GIANTS TILL IT IS STRONG ENOUGH TO CONQUER THEM. Somehow—we hardly know how—the fight with the Anakim comes last. Perhaps because they occupied the fortresses formed by Nature—the mountain fastnesses; and naturally the first attention was given to the more regular and more numerous combatants inhabiting the cities. Whatever the reason, they were five years in the land before Caleb led the first attack on them (see Joshua 14:10). And only when they were flushed with victory, every man a conqueror—when the prestige of their miraculous forces conquered men's hearts before a sword was drawn—only then are they exposed to the strain of what seemed such an unequal conflict. And meeting them when they were thus grown in courage and prowess, their defeat requires no more effort than many of the lesser struggles which taxed their less developed powers. There seems something here characteristic of a universal experience. God's Israel are never unequal for a conflict, when the time has come for it. There is always such growth of force, or such heavenly aid, that when the fight comes it is found that fitness for it has come before it. You perhaps look forward with extreme solicitude to the giants that will dispute your passage. Remember, there is some distance between you and them, and much may happen before you reach them. You are gathering strength every step you take on the right road. And every lesser victory is giving you force and nerve to win a greater one. And should the giants not die before you get to them, you will find that, like Israel, you have grown fit to fight them before you are called to fight them. You will be strong enough for victory over them before you are required to enter into conflict with them. Lastly observe—
IV. THEY FOUND OUT THAT THE WORST PART OF THE GIANTS WAS THE TERROR THEY COULD INSPIRE. The great power of the giants was over the imaginations of their foes. And they had no real force at all equal to the terror they excited. Israel saw in imagination the size of the men, heard with alarm of the length of their spears and the weight of their armour. They did not remember that in any match between a great soul and a big body, the big body has but little chance. And so they were overpowered by the mere imagination of their enemy's force. But when they actually face them, they find that valour avails more than muscle, energy than height, faith than armour, soul than body. By beating them they found that the chief power of the giant was his power of affecting the imagination of his opponent. So is it still. "The worst ills are those that never happen," as the French proverb says. They threaten us, alarm us, agitate us, and after all turn off in some other direction, and do not come to us. And so is it with our giants. Their worst part is something which exists only in our imagination. They kill us by frightening us, and they frighten us by the powers they borrow from our imagination. Let us be of good courage and not afraid. And if giants many and strong threaten us let us keep fear in the bounds of faith, let us remember on warfare is ordained for us except where victory is possible, and let us put a check on the too easily affected imagination which needlessly dreads a foe, whose outward bigness is no accurate measure of the dimensions of his real force.—G.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
Rest from war.
These words bring us a grateful sense of relief. We are weary of reading the long catalogue of bloody victories—how of one city after another it is said, "They smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was not anything left to breathe." We are ready to say with the Prophet, "O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet?" (Jeremiah 47:6). If it were not for our conviction that an all wise and righteous Divine purpose determined all this (Carlyle's distinction between the "surgery" of God's judgments and "atrocious murder"), we should turn with loathing from the sickening tale of slaughter. Certain thoughts about war are suggested.
I. THE CAUSES OF WAR. The baser passions of human nature are the sources from which it always more or less directly springs. These are the root of all its practical wickednesses. "Whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 4:1). Vain ambition, the desire for territorial aggrandizement, the thirst for power, jealousy, revenge, etc.—these are the demons that kindle its destructive fires. Other and more plausible motives are but the false veil that hides their hatefulness. There is no real exception. Self defence is no doubt an imperious instinct of nature, and there are interests (liberties, sanctities of social life, principles of eternal righteousness) which it may often be a noble thing for a nation, even by utmost force of arms to guard. But there would be no need to defend if there were no lawless lust or cruel wrong to endanger them. These "wars of the Lord" are no exception to the rule. They were waged by the Divine command, but their cause lay in the moral evil that cursed the land—those foul iniquities which, to the view of Infinite Wisdom, could be wiped out only by such a baptism of blood.
II. THE MISERIES OF WAR. It is the very symbol of almost all the woes of which human nature is capable, and that can darken with their shadow the field of human life.
(1) The frenzy of malignant passions,
(2) physical suffering,
(3) the cruel rending of natural ties,
(4) the arrest of beneficent industries,
(5) the imposition of oppressive burdens,
(6) the increase of the means and instruments of tyranny.
These are some of the calamities that follow in the track of wax. Their sadness and bitterness cannot be exaggerated.
III. THE POSSIBLE BENEDICTIONS OF WAR. It is a marvellous proof of the Divine beneficence that reigns supreme over all human affairs that even this deadly evil has something like a fair side to it, and is not unmixed with good.
(1) It developes certain noble qualities of character—self reliance, self control, resolution, fortitude, mastery of adverse circumstances, etc.; so much so that men have been led to look upon the experience of great wars as essential to the vigorous life of nation, necessary to save it from the lethargy of moral indifference and the enervating influence of self indulgence. We may give due weight to those heroic qualities that war calls forth, and yet feel that they in no way counterbalance the crimes and horrors that attend it.
(2) It prepares the way for new and better conditions. As storms clear the air, as a great conflagration in the city destroys its dens of shameful vice and loathsome disease, so wars which dislocate the whole frame of society, and let loose lawless passions, and inflict unspeakable miseries, do, nevertheless, often bring about healthier conditions of national life, and clear the ground for the spread of truth and righteousness. God" makes the wrath of man to praise him," though in itself it "worketh not his righteousness." And when the land rests from war there often arises a benign power of restoration that soon changes the face of things
"softening and concealing,
And busy with its hand in healing,"
the rents and ravages the sweep of the destroyer may have made.
IV. THE CURE FOR WAR. There is no cure but that which is supplied by the redeeming influence of the Prince of Peace.
(1) It will uproot and destroy those hidden evils in the heart of man from which all war arises, substituting for them that "love which worketh no ill to his neighbour."
(2) It will turn those energies of our nature to which war gives a false and fatal impetus into worthier directions, enlisting them in a purely moral conflict with the abounding evils of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4, 2 Corinthians 10:5; Ephesians 6:12-18).—W.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
Victory and rest.
I. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN WARFARE IS DESTINED TO END IN VICTORY.
(1) Victory is promised in God's Word. From the first promise that "the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent" (Genesis 3:15), to the latest assurance of a "crown of life" to those who are "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10), success is assured to the faithful soldier of God. So the land was taken "according to all that the Lord said unto Moses."
(2) Victory is secured by God's help. In the passage of the Jordan, the fall of the walls of Jericho, and the success of the battlefield, it is everywhere indicated that God was aiding His people. In our spiritual warfare we are victorious because God is fighting for us (Psalms 118:6), and gives us strength to fight (Psa 117:1-2 :14), and because Christ has first conquered our enemies (John 16:33; 1 Corinthians 15:57).
(3) Victory is attained through our fighting. "Joshua took the land" after hard fighting. The Christian must fight to win (Ephesians 6:10, Ephesians 6:11; 1 John 5:4).
II. WHEN VICTORY IS ATTAINED IT WILL BE AS AMPLE COMPENSATION FOR THE HARDSHIPS OF THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE.
(1) The fact of victory will in itself be a great reward. To have conquered sin and mastered self and to be independent of the world will be attainments full of blessing.
(2) Victory will introduce us to a great inheritance. We have our Canaan to possess after the baffle of life is over. Heaven will be a great inheritance to us, as
(a) the home of our souls and the abode of our Father,
(b) the "land flowing with milk and honey," wherein our souls will receive all needful nourishment and inspiration;
(c) the place for peaceful, honourable service. After fighting the Israelites had leisure to till the soil and tend their flocks; after our fighting will come the happy service of heaven.
(3) Victory will secure to us rest from further warfare. "The land rested from war." War is always an evil, though sometimes a necessary evil. Happy the land that has "rest from war"! The Christian is not to live forever in the toils and dangers of spiritual warfare. In heaven he will be free from the assaults of evil. Note: True rest is not rest from service—idleness, but rest from war—peace.—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
The promise fulfilled.
It is well to note the absolute fulfilment of God's promises. That which He has done for others He will do for us, if we trust Him. All who commit the keeping of their souls and the guidance of their life to Him have a promised land—the enjoyment of which seems often so distant as to move them to despair. Here we see a great promise grandly redeemed. God promised safe deliverance from Egypt, safe conduct to the promised land, and the possession of the whole of Canaan. And now we find Joshua took (verse 18) "all that land, the hills and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same, even from Mount Halak that goeth up by Seir, down to Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon." It took him several years—seven at least—to make the conquest. Even when made, and the enemies subdued, they were still in various localities in sufficient force to dispute the possession and enjoyment of certain points of the country. But the land of Canaan had become the possession of Israel, and was to continue to be theirs for more than a thousand years to come. It is a bright and conspicuous instance of God's faithfulness. Consider this fulfilment of promise. Observe—
I. IT DID NOT COME AS THE YOUNG MAN HOPED. When Joshua first came from Egypt he had doubtless his roseate dreams. To him the projected conquest would seem the easiest of all things. A journey of a few weeks, a bold entrance, a vigorous blow, the strenuous efforts of a united nation, helped by the enthusiasm of grace and the assistance of Providence—such would seem to him all that was requisite for complete and grand success. Even when he had traversed the land he still believed in the perfect possibility of its conquest, and had all a hero's difficulty in believing in anything tending to prevent it. But God's promise came, not as the young man hoped or expected. Youth sails too fast, underrates the difficulties to be surmounted, does not realise its own weakness, and the weakness of coadjutors, so that five-and-forty years elapse before the promise receives its ripe fulfilment. God's promises to us will all find realisation, but not quite so swiftly, perhaps, as in our youth we dream. Perfect victory over sin within ourselves will not be achieved in one conflict, and abuses will not be destroyed by one assault. The might of God's help is greater than ever we deem it, but our own weakness and faultiness are inadequately known. Our scheme of philanthropy will meet stouter opposition and a feebler backing than we anticipate. Be not discouraged. God's promises will all be fulfilled, though not so fast as the young expect them. Observe secondly—
II. GOD'S PROMISE WAS FULFILLED EARLIER THAN THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN DARED TO HOPE FOR. I expect Joshua felt the years of pilgrimage longer than any one else felt them. "When would the nation be fit to strike for its earthly home?" Some centuries of bondage had been required to give them unity; would a similar stretch of wandering be required to produce courage and faith? To his eye, doubtless, virtues grew far too slowly. And when he witnessed their murmurings, their readiness to decline to lower paths and viler practices, there could hardly fail to rise within him the feeling that the conquest of the land was daffy becoming a more distant thing. And when he saw three of the hardiest tribes settle on the east of Jordan, and saw a great reluctance on the part of the rest to cross that river, doubtless he began to think the promise of God tarried, and to wonder whether he would ever see his people settled. But faith sufficient to cross the Jordan and courage sufficient to take the land did not require centuries to grow. God's purposes ripened faster than the faith of even His most believing servants, and accordingly, in all probability, long before Caleb and Joshua would have dreamed the people ready for the task, Canaan is won. God sees more than we see. He hastes not, but He tarries not. Our despairing thoughts are not our wise ones. More forces are working on our side than we imagine. God sleeps not. The desire of your heart will come sooner than, in your despondency, you deem either likely or possible. And when, perhaps, hope deferred has made the heart sick, then, like a morning without clouds, it comes in all its fulness. Lastly observe—
III. WHEN GOD FULFILS HIS PROMISES, HE DOES SO GRANDLY. It is not half done, or three-quarters. All the land is given them. Nay, good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over. On the south their territory extends to Seir; on the east it passes over Jordan and embraces almost all within the edge of the desert. It is given easily. They have war, but no defeat; difficulties, but none insuperable; much left to be done (as in a new house there always is!, but still the conquest is complete. Won far more easily than any could have imagined, the land is theirs. So in God's own time—i.e; the really fittest time—every promise will be fulfilled. The promise of answers to our prayers, of the heart's desire, of a blessing on our work, of growth in grace, of the abundant entrance into the inheritance of the saints in light—all will be given to us at last, more richly, more fully, more easily than we have ever dared to hope.—G.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Joshua 11". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter