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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

- Joshua

by Editor - Joseph Exell


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.

1. There is the view that the book is a contemporary document. This is the early Jewish tradition. The Talmud states that it was written by Joshua himself; that Eleazar wrote the account of Joshua's death, and that Phinehas added the verses containing the narrative of the death of Eleazar.[1] This view has been maintained, among later authors, by the learned Havernick, at least in its main features; for he holds that the first part of the book, up to ch. 12., and the last chapters, were written by Joshua, the passage relating to the deaths of Joshua and Eleazar having, of course, been added by a later hand.

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

(3) we have the prophetic narratives, written by the prophets subsequently to David's time. Among these we have a third, fourth, and fifth narrator, and finally, the Deuteronomist of a time later than the reign of Manasseh, who reduced the whole into shape,[2] not by rewriting the whole from the materials before him, but by inserting bodily into his compilation passages from older authors, and adding his own generally fictitious narrative, composed with a view of imposing the author's own view of the law of Moses upon a corrupt and decaying people.

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.
For first of all it may be remarked that the conclusions of writers like Ewald, Knobel, and Noldeke are extremely improbable in themselves, and would require very clear and cogent evidence before a truly scientific mind could be induced to adopt them. We are required to believe that in a nation which had early reached a high degree of civilisation, which in the clays of Solomon had added to that civilisation a considerable amount of material prosperity,[3]which even in its decline maintained no small amount of intercourse with the great nations around it (see, for instance, 2 Kings 20:12), which still possessed great wealth and resources (Isaiah 2:7; Isaiah 3:18-23; Isaiah 7:23), a historical document came into existence which at once obtained credit, and superseded the regular chronicles which, we are repeatedly assured, were regularly kept in those days. This document was made up of disconnected fragments of earlier compositions of various dates, and thrown together without the slightest attempt to fuse together differences of style, or to harmonise the most glaring contradictions. So badly was the work done that it is possible, after a lapse of 2,500 years, to disintegrate the whole and to assign the various fragments, with an accuracy beyond dispute, to their respective authors. Yet neither the patchwork character of the history, nor its frequent and palpable contradictions, were able, in an age of some pretensions to cultivation, to hinder its immediate reception as authentic and even inspired history. All this is necessary to the theory; and we have also to explain the very remarkable historical and psychological fact that the law, to which the Jews have for centuries cherished so profound and even passionate attachment, and for the neglect of which they conceive their banishment from their own land to be owing, never, according to this theory, existed at all, but was the invention of the priests in the hour of national degradation, to account for the miseries suffered by the people, and that this fable was greedily swallowed, and has ever since been most firmly believed among them. Surely so unique a fact in the world's history ought to be established on better evidence than this.

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.
Now the "scientific" critics of the Old Testament proceed upon two assumptions which can by no means be regarded as self-evident truths. First, they assume that there is no such thing as the supernatural in revelation, that all prophecies were written after the event, and all miracles are the result of legends gradually gathering round the facts of history in later ages. And next, they assume that it is possible, on purely subjective grounds, to determine without risk of error the authors of the respective fragments of which the Hebrew Scriptures are composed. But it may be observed, in reference to this second point, that in no two hands do the same premises yield the same results, a fact which in any other branch of science would lead us to suspect the accuracy either of the data or of the method. As to the method itself, when we find Knobel assigning, for instance, without the smallest doubt or hesitation, a passage in which בַּעֲבוּר occurs to one author, בִּגְלַל to another, and על־אׄדוּׄת to a third, we are naturally driven to ask what would be the result if a similar process were applied to an English author who uses indifferently the phrases on account of, because of, by reason of, and the like. Again, in science it is usual, when a law is believed to be established by a sufficiently wide induction, to reverse the process, assume the truth of the law, apply it to known facts, and see if the results correspond to observation.[4] Have the so-called "scientific" critics of the Old Testament done this? Will their methods enable us to analyse historians like Motley or Macaulay, and to assign without fail the various portions of their history to the sources from which they have avowedly obtained them? Is there any method in existence which will enable us, without risk of error, to assign to Shakspere and his contemporaries the various portions of the works known to have been written by them in common? And if no method has been discovered which will enable us to do this in the case of authors whose works we know, and who wrote in a language we are daily using, how shall such a method be infallible when applied to records written thousands of years ago, in a dead language, and when a million helps to the right understanding of the history have irrecoverably perished?

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, Numbers 21:15, 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 8:0. 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, Joshua 10:38; Joshua 11:21; Joshua 15:14-17, and Judges 1:10, Judges 1:11; and between Joshua 15:63; Joshua 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.

It is not contended that no difficulties are presented by the history as it stands. What is denied is that what has been called the "destructive criticism" has found a way out of them. On the contrary, it involves us in far greater difficulties than it removes. When dealing with a narrative of such remote antiquity, which does not pretend to be an exhaustive record of everything that happened, it would be strange indeed if we did not find difficulties. And we must be content to leave them unsolved, for the simple reason that we have not sufficient information at hand to explain them. The theory that some of the passages that suggest a later date were interpolations is an arbitrary one. But it cannot therefore be dismissed, as is dismissed with lofty scorn by Ewald, as entirely untenable. It offers at least a possible solution of some of the difficulties that beset us. And it is by no means impossible that the greatest difficulty of all in the way of the earlier origin of the Book of Joshua, the citation of the Book of Jasher, may be thus explained. The most natural interpretation of 2 Samuel 1:18 would lead us to conclude that the Book of Jasher was not composed till the time of David. Therefore its citation in Joshua proves that book not to have been written earlier than the time of David, unless we believe the passage to have been an interpolation. The only other alternative is to adopt the explanation of Maurer and Keil, that the Book of Jasher was a collection of national songs, to which additions were made from time to time?[5]

We proceed to enumerate the reasons for believing that the Book of Joshua was composed at an early date. The first is, the entire absence of any allusion to the later condition of Israel in it. We have already noticed how entirely the idea of regal pomp or authority is absent from the whole conception of Joshua's character, and from the whole treatment of the subject. That it was written before the time of David seems clear from the statement that the Jebusites dwelt among the children of Israel "until this day." The mention of the place which Jehovah" should choose" implies, not only that the temple was not yet built, but that its site had not yet been fixed upon. The mention of the Gibeonites without any reference to Saul's neglect of the solemn promise made to them in God's name would lead to the belief that it was written before the time of Saul. We have a yet more distinct intimation of an early date in Joshua 16:10. It could hardly be said that the inhabitants of Gezer serve under tribute "unto this day" when Israel was groaning under Canaanitish oppression. Such language could hardly have been used, at least after the time of Othniel. Nor do the other occasions on which the words "unto this day" are used of necessity imply a very remote future.[6] Again, it is not denied that the author of the book, whoever he was, must have had access to authentic contemporary information. Is it probable that information of the precise, yet by no means minute, character that the book contains could have been drawn up in its present form four or five hundred years after the events recorded, when Israel and Judah had been long divided, when the former kingdom had been carried away captive, and when confusion and disorder reigned in the latter? The last half of the book points clearly to an earlier period, and, whether we admit occasional interpolations or not, must have existed at that early period in something very near its present form.

The style of the book strongly supports this conclusion. Even those who study it in a translation only cannot fail to be struck with one characteristic it has in common with the books of Moses. This is the peculiar habit the author has of repetition, which marks an age of great literary simplicity. We lose this feature to a very great extent in the later historical books. As greater polish of style was attained, the writer learned how to impart emphasis to his sentences by other means. This repetition is chiefly found in the earlier portion of the book, which, tried by this test, should be pronounced the older portion. But it may also be detected in the later.[7]

Verbal criticism is a more difficult task. Yet though we may safely take exception to the theory that it is possible by verbal criticism alone to resolve the Book of Joshua into its component parts, yet there is a whole class of phenomena which have been somewhat unjustly passed over by those who have devoted most time to a verbal analysis. No satisfactory attempt has been made to explain the fact that in the Pentateuch there is but one form for the masculine and feminine of the demonstrative pronoun הוא, and that the feminine form first presents itself in Joshua. A more interesting instance of the gradual development of the inflexions of a language can scarcely be found. In the Pentateuch, the archaic form אל (these) is often met with for אלה. This ancient form leaves us in Joshua. It may also be asked, if Joshua be a redaction of earlier documents by the hands of the Deuteronomist, why he always used ירחו for Jericho in the Pentateuch and the fuller form יריחו in Joshua? So we have ממלכת and קנא in the Pentateuch and ממלכות and )קנוא in Joshua. הצית for "to kindle a fire," and צנח, "to alight," are not found in the books of Moses, nor is the term קצין for a prince or captain. Such phenomena as these cannot justly be left out of the account in a fall investigation of the question of the authorship and date of this book. And their force is being silently recognised in Germany. Later writers, like Stahelin and Bleek, have been forced considerably to modify the violent theories of Ewald and Knobel, and the former, so Keil tells us, in the later editions of his work, has quietly dropped out much which he had embodied in the former. We may regard this as the earnest of a time rapidly approaching, when the advance of criticism in England shal have produced the same result among ourselves.[8]

But we are not without some nearer indications of authorship. The far greater familiarity displayed with the concerns of the tribe of Judah than any other indicates that the author was resident within the limits of that tribe. And not only so, bat his acquaintance with the personal history of Caleb, and with the city of Hebron in particular, seems to mark him out as a resident there. But Hebron was one of the priestly cities. Combining this with the repeated mention of the fact that no inheritance was given to the tribe of Levi, we infer that the writer was himself a priest. He was not Phinehas himself, for we find by Joshua 24:33 that Phinehas dwelt in Mount Ephraim. But the writer may well have been intimately acquainted with him. He refers to the settlement of the Danites at Laish, with the events resulting from which we know, from the last three or four chapters of the Book of Judges, Phinehas was largely mixed up.[9] His description of the scene between the tribes on the occasion of the erection of the altar bears evident tokens of the presence of an eyewitness. And such we know Phinehas was; and our author may have heard the story front his lips. Living at Hebron, the author would no doubt have been on terms of friendly intercourse with Othniel, and from him had heard the story of the allotment of the springs to Achsah.

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.


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?

(1) We reply, in the same spirit as Bishop Butler, that, whatever objection applies to the God of Revelation on this ground applies equally to the God of Nature. If it be of any force at all, it proves that the Supreme Being is a cruel being.[10] For it is one of the most palpable facts of history that He has permitted such massacres to take place throughout the whole coarse of the world, from the beginning until our own time. And not only so, but massacres with wicked refinements of cruelty which cannot be charged against the Jews. We may go further still. The God of Nature has not merely permitted such atrocities, He may be said, in a sense, to have enjoined them. For it has been an invariable law of His providence that when civilised peoples steeped in luxury, vice, and immorality have become the prey of peoples simpler and purer than themselves, these cruelties, and far more than these, have always taken place. Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian conquerors were not more, but far less merciful than Joshua. The Greeks and Romans alone can be said to have been milder; but even the progress of their arms has not been unstained by crimes from which Joshua was wholly free. The violation of women and children, and even crimes of a fouler kind, have not been unknown. The dedication of captives to the impure worship of Mylitta or Aphrodite (see 'Records of the Past,' 3:36, 39-50)[11] was almost universal. And it is quite possible that death itself may have been preferable — and by many it was regarded as preferable — to a life-long bondage. The miserable condition to which such slaves were often reduced is touchingly represented in the Hecuba of Euripides, where the desolate mother, once a queen, now bereft of husband, sons, friends, a bondslave in a foreign land, is driven in her desperation to appeal to the only hope left, her daughter, who is permitted, though not a lawful wife, to share the bed of Agamemnon. And though this is but fiction, we can hardly doubt that it is fiction in which fact is not too highly coloured. But if Roman and Greek ambition had learned that extending privileges of citizenship to the vanquished would largely increase the power of the victor, we have a return, and more than a return, to the older order of things at the downfall of the Roman Empire. The worst atrocities of the early ages found a parallel in the scenes of bloodshed, lust, and rapine which marked the steps of the barbarian swarms who destroyed the remains of Roman power. Goths, Vandals, Huns, Lombards, Franks, Saxons, Bulgarians, and Turks vied with one another in pitiless cruelty. Even later times still have known a "Spanish fury" and a sack of Magdeburg. And were civilisation again to fall into decay, and the savage tribes of Africa or Asia once more to gain the mastery, the old law would once more assert its force, and the sins of races enervated by luxury would receive their usual punishment, Thus, then, we are face to face with the same vast difficulty whether Joshua received any command from God or not. We have the same question to answer, how God could permit, nay, even apparently arrange for the commission of, these awful crimes, with the intense suffering which they must necessarily bring in their train,[12] and yet retain His character for mercy and loving kindness. And the only answer that can be found is that there is another order of things in the future, whereby it is His will to remedy whatever inequalities He has permitted to exist here.

(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.

(3) For it must be remembered that the severe punishment inflicted by Joshua upon the Canaanites who fell into his hands was not a mere outburst of savage cruelty. The institutions and principles of the Jews were far more humane than those of any other nation in those early times.[13] The precept to exterminate the Canaanites owed its origin to a stern indignation against vices which were sufficient of themselves, according to God's righteous order, to destroy by a more lingering, and therefore a more cruel, death any nation who yielded to them. It was a part of God's curse against that sin, the existence of which has been in many ways man's greatest difficulty in comprehending God. The awful catalogue of abominations which we scarcely venture to read in Leviticus 18.-20., are distinctly said to have been committed by "the men of the land" (Leviticus 18:24-30; Leviticus 20:23), and the land was "defiled" therewith, and God "abhorred" it. The power of grown up women to lead the Israelites into such sins had been already fatally proved (see Numbers 26:0.). In days before men were endowed with supernatural strength from on high, there seemed no safeguard against the seductive influences of the sensual creed of Palestine but the destruction of those who professed it. The neglect to to carry out the command was at once followed by a relapse into these abominable idolatries, and as lust and cruelty are strangely and nearly allied, the land was filled with bloodshed, and injustice, and crime, culminating in the atrocious custom of the sacrifice of innocent children at the altar of the infernal Moloch. It may even be questioned whether, in view of the inevitable results of a cultus like that of Palestine, severity might not have been, as it often is, the truest kindness; whether, had the Jewish law been fulfilled, the Canaanites extirpated, and Jewish ascendancy been established from Lebanon to the wilderness, from Euphrates to the river of Egypt, the principles of humanity now gaining ground among us might not have been antedated, and the inhabitants of Palestine have been socially and politically almost as much gainers by the Jewish polity as the world at large by the religion of Christ.

(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?

It cannot be denied that there is force in this argument. For if the facts of Jewish history are guaranteed by the festivals of the Jewish nation, by the evident sincerity and steadfastness of its belief, which has survived the lapse of time, and a long course of trials and vicissitudes which might have shaken the stoutest faith; if the truth of the Christian miracles be confirmed by the Christian sacraments,[14] and attested by the affirmations of competent witnesses, we have also respectable evidence for a long list of cures at Lourdes, La Salette, Knock, and elsewhere; and we find in the pilgrimages to these places the clearest proof that the evidence for them has secured acceptance at the hands of some of the most cultivated and intelligent persons in Christendom. And nothing makes it harder to defend revelation, whether under the Old Covenant or the New, than these eccentricities of its professed allies. Yet it is only fair to notice that the cases are not exactly parallel. Paley's argument that miracles are the only way in which a revelation can be shown to be such, if over stated, is not without its force. At least those who impugn it ought to state how, in their judgment, a revelation could be recognized as such without the aid of miracles. This, so far as we know, they have never done. If, then, Mosaism and Christianity were both special interventions of God in the moral and spiritual order of the world — and this, though denied, is not disproved — it seems at least highly probable that they would be attested by some miraculous occurrences, some signs of a Hand overruling the natural, as these revelations have unquestionably largely affected the moral and spiritual, order of things. It will be observed, in conformity with this view, that the promulgation of the Mosaic law and the settlement of Israel in Palestine were attended with a greater display of the miraculous than at any earlier or later period in Jewish history. That the miraculous element was not entirely withdrawn throughout the greater part of the Jewish history previous to our Lord's coming, that portent and prophecy were still to be met with, may be accounted for by the unique position of the Jews as the only people to whom a revelation had been vouchsafed, and the necessity of extraordinary aids to sustain the faith of a people placed in so peculiar and difficult a position. The renewed manifestation of the miraculous which attended the preaching of the Gospel has in it nothing surprising, if our Lord were really what He represented Himself to be — the Eternal Word of God, by whom all things were created. On the contrary, we could not expect so exalted a Being to manifest Himself without a display of the power inherent in Him. The gradual cessation of the miraculous after His ascension is satisfactorily accounted for by the fact that this was the last manifestation of His will. All that was necessary for the salvation of man had now been given, and since faith was to be the transforming power which was to fit men for their eternal inheritance, all further appeals to the senses would be out of place. No such reason exists, or is assigned, for the modern miracles of the Roman Catholic Church. It is not pretended that the perpetual visible appearance of God the Son on earth is necessary for the success of His scheme of salvation. It is not contended, even by themselves, that the principle of salvation by the operation of faith needs the perpetual visible intervention of the objects of faith, still less of any subordinate assistants in the work, if indeed the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph can be said any longer to be subordinate agents in the work of salvation.[15] Nor are the nature of the prodigies the same. The miracles of the Old Testament and the New were at least palpable undeniable facts, if we can believe the accounts that have been handed down to us. If there were any apparitions of celestial beings in a blaze of light, it was but to herald the appearance of One who, whatever may be thought of Him, was undeniably an historical personage. Nor, again, is the kind or the concurrent weight of such testimony the same. It is obviously suicidal, with the late Professor Mozley, to hold that, "if we hold certain doctrines to be false, we are justified in depreciating the testimony of their teachers to the miracles worked in support of them.[16] For then those who believe revealed religion to be false have as much right to reject without examination the Christian miracles as we those of the Roman Catholic Church. But in truth there is the utmost difference possible between the two cases. In the Roman Catholic Church we have an already existing institution, with a priesthood whose sacerdotal pretensions have received an altogether abnormal development, who are not entirely beyond the suspicion of pious fraud,[17] who rest mainly upon the support of a people credulous almost beyond belief,[18] and who resort to every expedient to maintain their influence over such people in order to hold their ground against the opposing forces of Protestantism and infidelity. If we inquire into the character of those on whose testimony these apparitions are believed, we are referred to a few children, not over distinguished for truthfulness, or an Irish housekeeper, who can scarcely be regarded as a first rate judge of evidence, backed up by the stout affirmations of a peasantry not regarded as altogether the most enlightened in Europe. And the Roman Catholic Church has invariably a reserve of enthusiasm to fall back upon ready to welcome any prodigy, however improbable, which might redound to the honour of their Church. The circumstances under which the Jewish and Christian miracles were worked was in every way different. In the latter case there was no reserve of enthusiasm to fall back upon, for the founding of the Christian society, even with the alleged support of these miracles, was a task of the utmost difficulty, and all the miracles were worked under the eyes of a band of prejudiced and most watchful opponents. The miracles themselves were of an altogether different character, such as precluded altogether the possibility of mistake. Even if we give up all the miracles of healing as due to the influence of imagination, there remains a host of others which cannot be so disposed of. And lastly, the character of the witnesses is altogether different. Not only had they every inducement to disbelieve what they saw, or to say they disbelieved it if they did not; not only did they gain no personal ends by maintaining to the last the truth of their story, but their whole subsequent career shows that we have in them no half crazy fanatics who were ready to throw away their lives for an idea, but hard-headed men of business, who set to work with the utmost coolness and shrewdness to attempt the morally impossible, and by dint of patience and practical tact, added to the force of an assured conviction, actually accomplished it. The miracles of the Old Testament are distinct either from those of the New or from the prodigies of later times. The evidence for them is more distant, the period one of less enlightenment. But if we may trust our histories, they were worked for a definite purpose, in the eyes of a whole people, and in a manner which admits of no mistake. They were no apparitions seen, or believed to be seen, by a few ignorant and credulous people; they were marvels publicly wrought on behalf of a nation in arms, and they facilitated one of the most memorable conquests to be found in all history. The evidence for them rests upon the credibility of the documents that relate them. And if we are not entitled to assume that these were contemporary documents, we have no right, on the other hand, to assume that, from the mere presence of the miraculous in them, they must be relegated to a later date. If the events related will generally stand the test of criticism, we cannot detach the miraculous portions from the remainder. The evidence that the writer had access to authentic information in one part of his work gives him at least serious claim on our attention throughout. At least, therefore, we are entitled to contend that the Scripture miracles must be allowed to stand on an altogether different basis than occasional apparitions to women and children, occurring for reasons of which it is impossible to give a rational explanation.

It is with pain that in the foregoing remarks we have felt ourselves compelled to reflect with severity upon the religion of a vast number of our brethren in Christ. No good can be done by going out of the way to attack the belief of one's neighbours. And nothing but a deep conviction of the cruel injury done to the cause of revealed religion among the thoughtless and superficial by this endless crop of spurious wonders would have justified these reflections. But in view of the way in which these supposed miracles have been used to discredit revelation, it has become necessary to show that the miracles of the Bible rest on altogether different grounds to those of the Roman Catholic Church. It remains to deal with an objection to the miracles of the Old and New Testament alike, that they are contrary to the laws by which modern discovery has proved that the physical universe is governed. Those laws, we are told, are invariable, and any statement, it is added, asserting that their action has been suspended must be discredited. It would lead us too far were we to enter upon the full consideration of this question. The question of the possibility of the miraculous has been ably dealt with by others.[19] Suffice it here to say that science has not only proved the invariability of forces and their laws, it has proved much more. It has proved.that invariable forces, acting by invariable laws, are the most plastic instruments possible in human hands. The most extraordinary physical and moral results are being produced upon the face of the globe by the moral agent will, when at work upon the physical agencies whose action is said to be invariable. All that is claimed for God in these pages is the possession of what is unquestionably possessed by man, the power, without suspending the action of a single force, so to control its operation as to produce the results He desires. If man can drain marshes at his will, and turn them into fruitful fields, why should not God be able, at His will, to make a path across the sea, or arrest the course of a river? If man can, by touching a wire, cause an explosion that might lay half London in ruins, how can we assert it to be impossible for the Creator of heaven and earth to bring the walls of Jericho to the ground by means the secret of which is known to Him, but which is, and may forever remain, hidden from us? So far from the discoveries of science rendering the belief in miracles impossible, it is, in fact, supplying the defenders of revelation with the strongest evidence in the opposite direction. For if during the last few years man has become possessed of powers the existence of which, previous to their discovery, would have seemed in the highest degree incredible, there is the best reason for believing that Nature possesses powers and possibilities yet unknown, which, in the hands of the Author of Nature, may produce results which appear to us beyond measure extraordinary and portentous.

It now remains to consider the vexed question of Joshua's command to the sun and moon to stand still, which has been so great a difficulty, not only to commentators, but to all apologists of revealed religion. It may be well first to state the various interpretations which have been given of the passage, before discussing it more particularly. Maimonides (a mediaeval writer, be it remembered), whom Rabbi ben Gerson among the Jewish, Grotius[20] and Masius among the earlier, and Hengstenberg among the later Christian commentators follow, regards it as simply a poetic way of saying that the day was long enough to enable the Israelites to complete the slaughter of their enemies. We read in his 'Moreh Nevochim' (2:35): "Sieur diem integrum mihi videtur intelligi dies maximus et longissimus (Thamim enim idem est quod schalem, perfectus), et idem esse si dixisset quod dies ille apud ipsos in Gibeone fuerit sieur dies magnus et longus in aestate." Masius is very confident in this view, and says that if Kimchi thinks otherwise, it is only a proof how little the Jews of his day knew of their own scriptures. The earlier Rabbis are unanimous that the sun literally stood still, though they differ, like the Fathers, as to the time that it remained above the horizon. David Kimchi thought that the period was twenty-four hours, and that after the sun had set, the moon still remained stationary that Joshua might complete the slaughter of his foes.[21] The Fathers generally take the literal view of the passage, and suppose the sun to have literally stood still in the heavens, some for a longer, some for a shorter period, some supposing it to be forty-eight, some thirty-six, some twenty-eight hours (as Cornelius a Lapide, whose commentary is of course based on the patristic writings). Keil seems finally to have decided in favour of what he calls a "subjective" lengthening of the day. He believes that the day was supposed by the Israelites to have been lengthened, they being too fully engaged in the conflict with their enemies to take any very accurate note of time. Curiosities of interpretation, such as that of Michaelis,[22] who supposed that the lightning which accompanied the hailstorm was prolonged far into the night; or that of Konig,[23] who supposes that the hailstorm which, according to the history, preceded the standing still of the sun, was a consequence of that occurence, need only be noticed to be rejected.

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 3:0. 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.


The people who inhabited Palestine at the time of the Israelite invasion are regarded in history from two very opposite points of view. To the Israelites, in whom the moral sense strongly predominated over culture, they appeared as monsters of iniquity, deserving of nothing but absolute extirpation. To profane history, regarding mankind from a more material point of view, they appear as the parents of civilization, the founders of literature and science, the pioneers of commerce, the colonists of the Mediterranean. These views may be to a certain extent harmonized. It is not necessary to regard the Jews as the opponents of all culture, because they were stern avengers of moral depravity. The time when the Phoenician power attained its utmost height was coincident, as recent discoveries show, with the time of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt. Civilization, as it usually does, brought luxury, and luxury demoralization; and the same fate attended the Phoenician supremacy which attended the supremacy of all the great empires of the ancient world, a dissolution of morals and consequent decay. The severe lesson taught by Joshua's invasion seems not to have been without its effect upon the Sidonians and Tyrians, who retained their commercial pre-eminence to a considerably later date.[24] But the rest of Phoenicia seems gradually to have sunk from that time, and her supremacy in literature and the arts was irrecoverably gone.

Modern research has only just recovered for us a great deal of the history of the Phoenicians which had long been lost. We knew of them as the race who introduced letters to the Greeks from the legend of Cadmus, and the ancient Hebrew letters were no doubt borrowed from their system. We knew that Phoenician colonies had been found at Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, Asia Minor, Sicily, Sardinia; and that Carthage derived its appellation of Punic, and even its language, from them.[25] We knew from the Bible that they were a Turanian race.[26] But what we did not know was that under the name of Hittites, or rather Chittites (a name preserved at the town of Citium, now Chitti, in the Phoenician colony of Cyprus, the abode, according to Scripture, of the Chittim), they were among the leading peoples of the world at an early period; that Carchemish was their capital, and that they had there held a position of equality both with the Babylonian and Egyptian powers. The recent researches at Carchemish, discovered in 1874-75 by Mr. Skene, the British consul at Aleppo,[27] on the west bank of the Euphrates, have established this fact. Previous to these discoveries the only authentic account of them, as distinct from tradition, was to be found in the monuments and records of those who had subdued them.[28] They appear to have been originally known to the Egyptians as Ruten or Rutennu.[29] Afterwards they were known as the Kheta or Khatti, and many fierce and destructive wars were waged against them by the Babylonians and Egyptians.[30] Their power received a rude shock in the occupation of the southwestern portion of their empire under Joshua, and the final blow to their pre-eminence was dealt by Rameses II. in his expedition against the Syrians.[31] Their Turanian origin cannot be said to be disproved by their adoption of the Semitic language. In whatever difficulties such a theory may involve us, we are not entitled to contradict the plain assertion of Scripture (see above). It is corroborated by the fact that traces of a Turanian occupation of Palestine are to be found in Phoenician words.[32] Moreover, that Turanians and Semites were much intermingled in those regions is an admitted fact. Recent investigation has conclusively established the truth of the Scripture statement, that Babylon was originally inhabited by a Turanian race,[33] and that this race was afterwards subjugated by a Semitic one.[34] Instances of nations abandoning their language and adopting another are not unknown. The Bulgarians and the Northmen are cases in point.[35] Lenormant[36] thinks that though their language can scarcely be distinguished from Hebrew, it was not necessarily confined to the Semitic races, and he remarks on similar phenomena, as they appear to him, in the languages of ancient Babylonia. Movers, who inclines on the whole to regard them as the primitive inhabitants of the land, in spite of the Greek traditions which speak of their having emigrated from the shores of the Bed Sea, notices that they were not connected together by any very close genealogical ties.[37] He remarks[38] that the fact that the Israelites, while they speak of the B'ney, or sons of Israel, Moab, Ammon, always, with one remarkable exception, speak of the inhabitants of the land as the Canaanite, Amorite, Jebusite, etc. The one exception is the B'ney Khet, or Heth, which is in accordance with what we know from other sources, that they were a powerful people beyond the borders of Palestine. This view is confirmed, he believes, by the thirty-one kingly cities which are mentioned in Joshua 2:9-24, as having been taken by Joshua. It is still farther confirmed by the fact that Gibeon was differently governed from the rest,[39] as well as by another fact which Movers points out, that the Hivites were scattered over Palestine.[40] The term Canaanite is regarded by Movers as referring, not to a genealogical descent, but to the situation of the inhabitants in the lowlands of Palestine, while Perizzite in his opinion means the separated or scattered agricultural families (see Joshua 3:10). Thus it seems not at all improbable that a variety of races may have emigrated to the shores of the Mediterranean, have adopted the same language, manners, and religious customs,[41] and constituted what has been known to history as the Phoenician people.

The Phoenician religion seems to have been the parent of the religions of Greece and Rome. Baal seems to have been equivalent to Zeus, and Ashtaroth[42] to have combined the characteristics of Artemis and Aphrodite. Asherah was the prototype of Rhea or Cybele, and her rites seem to have consisted in a combination of the phallic worship with the idea of the fecundity of nature. The worship of Moloch was not known to the Israelites till later times, and he is thought by some to have been an Ammonite deity and identical with Milcom. Yet it is probable that in the worship of the Phoenician representatives of Crones, the bloody rites ascribed in the Scripture to Moloch were observed.[43] Thammuz,[44] known later as Adonis, was fabled to have died on Lebanon, and the temple at Apheka, or Aphaca, was dedicated to the mourning Aphrodite. The remainder of the chief deities known to Greece had their place in the Phoenician, as they appear to have done also in the Babylonian, pantheon. The general character of the worship, as described by Lenormant in his 'Manual of the Ancient History of the East,' fully justifies all that is said of it in the books of Moses. "The Canaanites," he says, "were remarkable for the atrocious cruelty that stamped all the ceremonies of their worship, and the precepts of their religion. No other people ever rivalled them in the mixture of bloodshed and debauchery with which they thought to honour the deity. As the celebrated Creuzer has said, 'Terror was the inherent principle of this religion; all its rites were bloodstained, and all its ceremonies were surrounded by bloody images.'"[45]

Of their political institutions we know but little. They seem, like ancient Greece, to have been split up into a number of separate states, the great majority of which seem to have adopted a monarchical, but some, as Gibeon, a republican government. Society, as has been intimated, was highly organized among them. They had already reached a high degree of civilization and culture. The land had long fallen into the hands of private landholders. The slight glimpses we get (as in Joshua 2:1, Joshua 2:2; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 10:1, Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:5; Joshua 11:1, Joshua 11:2) into the interior life of the cities leads us to believe that the kings possessed autocratic power, nor do we read of any assembly of their people in the Book of Joshua. This agrees with the picture of a king given in Deuteronomy 17:14-18, taken, no doubt, from the kings of Canaan. The character of the inhabitants seems on the whole to have been peaceful, as we might naturally expect from their mercantile pursuits,[46] though there seems to have been considerable cohesion among them, since the leagues formed by the northern and southern tribes after Joshua's invasion were apparently formed without any difficulty. This slight tendency to defection, however, may have been due to Joshua's unconcealed purpose of extermination, of which the Gibeonites were obviously aware. It seems probable that the kings of Palestine had owed a sort of feudal allegiance to their Hittite head at Carchemish. But he seems to have had no power to aid them in the time of Joshua. Possibly, therefore, the great Hittite power was already on the wane. The centre was losing its hold on the extremities, and the confederacies of which Jerusalem and Hazor were the heads had become in a great measure independent of the central power. This accounts for the fact which otherwise would be surprising, that no attempt was made by the Hittites beyond Palestine to regain their lost territory. Of their literary activity we know but little. Yet the legend of Cadmus, the ancient name of Debir, Kirjath-Sepher, the city of the book, as well as the recent discoveries at Carchemish, prove them to have attained a high pitch of cultivation. Their commercial achievements are better known. Tyre and Sidon retained (see note) to a much later period their mercantile pre-eminence. The colonial development of the Phoenicians arose out of the commercial. It was for trading purposes that these settlements were formed. And so enterprising were they, that while other nations — the Jews among the rest — sought the seas with fear and trembling, the Phoenicians ventured beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and set on foot a brisk trade with the inhabitants of these otherwise unknown islands for tin and other metals. Against such a people was Joshua's memorable expedition directed. Of its leader, and the singular military skill he displayed in the choice of a spot for the invasion, and in his conduct of the enterprise, nothing need be said here. Those subjects will be found fully discussed in the notes. The moral aspect of the invasion has already been considered. It remains only to add that, many as are the memorable conquests on record, conquests whose results have had an abiding influence upon after ages, this one is the most memorable of all. The occupation of this small strip of territory scarcely larger than Wales, though it led to no further results in the way of conquest, has nevertheless to a great extent moulded the moral and religious history of the world. Christianity and Mohammedanism have alike sprung from it; and though at first the latter seemed to have surpassed the former in political and warlike activity, supremacy has at length fallen unchallenged into Christian hands. Thus the Israelite conquest of Canaan was in fact an event of primary importance to mankind. It was one which might well have been ushered in with portent and prodigy, and certainly it was one which will always occupy a foremost place in men's minds. No amount of destructive criticism can dispose of the fact that the subjugation of Palestine was achieved by a people without a rival in the influence it has exerted on the destinies of the human race.


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.

I. What the system of government was in Joshua's time is clear enough. It was virtually what we now call a constitutional monarchy, though rather of the type which such a monarchy took at the time of William III. than that which exists among us at the present day. Joshua was supreme, yet simply by force of character, not from any supposed inherent right he possessed to such supremacy, still less, like many successful soldiers, by a military despotism. For great as his authority unquestionably was, he never acted alone. Whenever we see him discharging the functions of chief magistrate, he reminds us of an early Anglo-Saxon sovereign. His Witenagemot, his council, the representatives of the tribes, the high officers of Church and State, were always around him (Joshua 8:33; Joshua 18:1; Joshua 22:11-14; Joshua 23:2; Joshua 24:1). But after his death the tribes assumed a form more like the United States in Holland and America. Each one had its own defined portion of territory, apportioned to it by lot, and was sovereign within its own borders, but common dangers and common interests were discussed at a general assembly. There appears, however, to have been no organized system of united action, no fixed time for the general assembly to meet, but such assemblies were only held under the pressure of extraordinary need (Judges 20:1). Therefore, when the personal influence of the "elders that over lived Joshua" was removed, the acknowledgment of the theocracy, the provision for united worship, was not found sufficient to band the tribes together, and the once formidable confederacy soon fell to pieces. Its integrity was seriously threatened as early as the events recorded in Judges 20:0. It had already ceased to exist in the time of Deborah and Barak. The internal unity of each tribe or clan was much better preserved. Its organization was extremely complete. The tribe was divided into its מַשְׁפְחוׄת or serfs, its בֵית־הָאָבוׄת or families, and its גְבָרִים or heads of households. The אֲלוּפִים or thousands, which have been held to correspond to the מִשְׁפָחוׄת, were probably a military division parallel to, but independent of, the genealogical one, and bore some analogy to the hundred or wapentake of our own island. The question which has been learnedly argued concerning Anglo-Saxon institutions, whether the national system was one of aggregation or subdivision, does not arise here. For Israel was, as the name implies, a family, the family of Jacob. From hence the minor divisions arose by subdivision, the tribe into the sept, the sept into the family, the family into the household. Thus the political unit, which in early English society was the mark or village, in Palestine was the tribe. The government thence arising was partly aristocratic, partly representative. The heads of the tribes had no doubt to summon to the council all the heads of the households,[47] but they themselves, as the lineal descendants of the eldest son, had the greatest weight in the decision. The powers of the head of a household were great, though by no means so absolute as in many of the primitive Aryan communities,[48] where the house father had an absolute power of life and death. The Mosaic law knew nothing of the fierce rigours of this patriarchal tyranny. It did not subsist in the households of Abraham, Israel, and Jacob. If it had had a tendency to grow up in Egypt, the Mosaic law would have checked it. It is clear from Exodus 21:15-17, from Leviticus 20:9, from Deuteronomy 27:16, and above all from Deuteronomy 21:18-21, that the Jewish head of a household had not, like the Aryan house father, the power of life and death over his children. Though the members of his family had no representative at the general council of the tribe, he was responsible for his treatment of them to the laws of the land. By whom those laws were administered we know not. The judges were originally (Exodus 18:25) appointed by Moses. No doubt Joshua continued to appoint them during his lifetime. But we hear of no provision for their appointment after his death. Possibly they were appointed by the general assembly of the tribe, but in the rapid disintegration of Jewish institutions which followed, we find their office usurped by the military leader who had for a time retrieved the fallen fortunes of Israel.

II. The land system of Israel differed much from the Aryan land systems. There, originally, land appears to have been held in common by the inhabitants of the mark, and to have been divided into three parts, for wheat, spring crops, and fallow, beside the pasture grounds; and originally to have been shifted from time to time, when exhausted.[49] The Semitic and Turanian tribes seem to have differed from the Aryans in having grasped much earlier the idea of private property in land. The Egyptians, by Joseph's advice, had converted the vast bulk of Egyptian proprietors then existing into the tenants of the crown. In Palestine, as early as the time of Abraham, the Hittites appear also to have recognized the rights of private proprietors. It is impossible to read the narrative of Genesis 23.,[50] and fancy that we are reading of an account of the permanent acquisition by Abraham of a portion of the ager publicus.[51] The ground was evidently the property of Ephron, and the other children of Heth were but the witnesses and guarantors of the legality of the transaction. A similar purchase is recorded in Genesis 33:19.[52]But the land system of Palestine received a remarkable modification when it fell into the hands of the Jews. Jehovah Himself became the actual owner of the land; each head of a household received his inheritance in fief and in perpetuity from Him. The institution of the year of release secured that no property should be permanently alienated from its owner. Thus every Israelite was a landed proprietor; and not only so, but a landed proprietor in perpetuity. Each had, therefore, an equal stake in the community. No system could be better adapted to the stability of the commonwealth. But there is reason to suppose that it was not long maintained. First, the repeated invasions of Israel, and next the usurpations of kings (1 Kings 21:8), destroyed it, and in the later days of the Jewish history we find that even the person of the Israelite was no longer sacred from slavery (Jeremiah 34:8-11).

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).


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 14:0. 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 5:13-27) 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 9:0. 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 11:0. 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 12:0. 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 13:0. 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 14:0. 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 15:0. 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 16:0. describes the border of Ephraim.

Joshua 17:0. 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 18:0, 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.


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 Psalms 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 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 עץ stalks of flax; תקוה cord. The phrases פנה ערף and הפך 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; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:2, Joshua 21:4; Joshua 22:8, Joshua 22:17, Joshua 22:22, 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.

General Note.

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).

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