Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua

Book Overview - Joshua

by Daniel Whedon

COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT.

Intended for Popular Use VOLUME 3.

 

BOOK OF JOSHUA,

BY D. STEELE, D.D.

 

BOOKS OF JUDGES TO 2 SAMUEL.

BY REV. M.S. TERRY, A.M. D.D.

 

WHEDON, LL.D., EDITOR.

 

NEW YORK: NELSON & PHILLIPS.

CINCINNATI: HITCHCOCK & WALDEN. 1873

 

PREFACE.

THE present volume is one of a series intended to furnish a Manual Commentary on the Old Testament corresponding with Whedon’s on the New. It is designed, in accordance with the plan of the entire series, to be strictly and concisely exegetical; treating the true text of Scripture as divinely inspired and authoritative, and embodying the latest results of sound biblical criticism and research.

The Notes on Joshua and the first three chapters of Judges were first prepared by Dr. Steele; but, under the pressure of numerous official duties as Professor and Vice-President of the Syracuse University, he felt unable to complete Judges and revise Joshua without greatly delaying the work. Upon his recommendation, and by approval of the general Editor, the entire volume, with Dr. Steele’s manuscript, was assigned to the present writer to prepare for the press. In this final revision many changes have been made both by erasure and addition. The principal additions are inclosed in brackets [-] and braces {-}, the latter designating notes added by the general Editor. Special thanks are due to Dr. Strong, of Drew Theological Seminary, for many valuable suggestions.

All accessible works, ancient and modern, bearing on this portion of Holy Scripture, have been duly consulted. Among those principally used, such as have been constantly on our table, consulted at nearly every step, and frequently referred to in the notes, the most important are the following.

Commentaries.

CRITICI SACRI, and POOLE’S SYNOPSIS.

CLERICUS. (Le Clerc.) Ver. Test. Libri Historici, cum commentario philologico, etc. Amsterdam. 1708.

KEIL. Commentary on Joshua. Edinburgh. 1857.

KEIL and DELITZSCH. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Edinburgh. Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1868; Samuel, 1866.

KNOBEL on Joshua; BERTHEAU on Judges and Ruth, and THENIUS on Samuel, in the Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch. Leipsic.

FAY on Joshua, and CASSEL on Judges and Ruth, in LANGE’S Bibelwerk. Also, the American translation of the same by BLISS and STEENSTRA. New York. 1872.

BUSH. Notes on Joshua and Judges. Boston. 1870.

BACHMANN. Das Buch der Richter. Mit besonderer Ruchsicht auf die Geschichte seiner Auslegung und kirchlichen Verwendung erklart. Berlin. 1868-69. (This noble work is not yet completed.)

The Commentaries of PATRICK, HENRY, SCOTT, CLARKE, and WORDSWORTH.

Works on Palestine.

ROBINSON, Biblical Researches. Boston. 1860. STANLEY. Sinai and Palestine. New York. 1868. TRISTRAM. The Land of Israel. London. 1866.

RITTER. Geography of Palestine. Translated by GAGE. New York. 1870. THOMSON. The Land and the Book. New York.

WILSON and WARREN. The Recovery of Jerusalem. A Narrative of Exploration, etc., in the Holy Land. New York. 1871. PALMER. The Desert of the Exodus. New York. 1872. MENKE. Bibelatlas in Acht Blattern. Gotha. 1868.

KIEPERT. Bibelatlas nach den neuesten und besten Hulfsquellen. (Von LIONNET.) Berlin. 1865.

VAN DE VELDE. Map of the Holy Land, and accompanying Memoir. Gotha. 1858.

And especially SMITH’S Dictionary of the Bible, KITTO’s Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, (New Edition,) and M’CLINTOCK and STRONG’S Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.

Of more general works, KITTO’S Daily Bible Illustrations, STANLEY’S History of the Jewish Church, and EWALD’S History of Israel, are worthy of particular mention; and various Theological Reviews, both American and Foreign, have often been of great service. — M.S.T.

JOSHUA

INTRODUCTION

General Character of the Historical Books.

IN the Hebrew Canon the Book of Joshua is the first of the Prior Prophets, which division comprises the Books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. These books were probably so named because they were written by prophets, and are so largely devoted to the history and work of the prophetical order in Israel. And a deeper reason may be found in the fact that they are a history written from the prophetic or theocratic stand-point. In the arrangement of books in our English Bible they form, together with Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, the division appropriately called the “Historical Books of the Old Testament;” but they contain THEOCRATIC HISTORY, and through them all, as through the other Scriptures, runs a unity of purpose and of general form in which we may trace the gradual unfolding of the plan of man’s redemption. None but prophets could write such books as these; none but those who have communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit can read them with proper appreciation.

The inspired penmen wrote not in order to preserve great historical facts from oblivion, nor to furnish an exhaustive record of their times and people, but to show the hand of God in all the affairs of men — Jehovah in history.

Very noticeable is the anonymous character of these sacred books. The writers sought not to immortalize themselves as authors, nor seem they to have once thought that their readers in after times would be curious to know their names. But, whether conscious or unconscious of the purpose they were serving, they have written books of instruction for all time. More than a hundred generations have already found them “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

We are not to suppose that these writers attempted to compose an original history, in the modern sense: still less should we presume to test the value of these ancient records by the standard of modern historical composition, or assume that in any event the narrator has given us a full account of all he knew. The sacred writers evidently had within their reach a large number of books and documents, from which they gathered such material as suited their purpose. Old documents, such as genealogical tables, songs, public addresses, and perhaps, in some cases, narratives of particular events, were transferred entire, or with slight modification, to their pages. Sometimes the writer acknowledged his sources of information or of quotation, and sometimes not. It serves no useful purpose to attempt, with De Wette, Ewald, and other kindred spirits, to decide on purely subjective grounds the date and authorship of all the ancient sources from which the present books of Scripture were compiled. The results of such criticism are at best only a confusing mass of more or less plausible conjectures.

The biblical writers often omit the details of many interesting facts of which they evidently had abundant knowledge, and aim to give prominence to such persons and events as noticeably helped or hindered the cause of divine truth. Thus Keil truly says: “All the efforts of the people to perfect trades, arts, and sciences, also domestic, municipal, and political arrangements, are either passed over entirely, or are intimated briefly, and only in so far as they stand in connexion with the higher aims of the theocracy.” Hence they are truly a sacred history, and not merely a secular history of a chosen race. But while magnifying the wonders of the Lord’s hand, there is ample reason for believing that they never deviate from the strictest fidelity to fact. They seek to hide no sin of their immortal heroes, nor to cover any reproach that ever visited the chosen people. And herein lies much of the real greatness and imperishable worth of these inspired histories.

As to the general style of the Hebrew historians, several peculiarities in the matter of arrangement and chronology are very noticeable, and attention to them will often obviate difficulties which some critics have been prone to magnify. The exact order of events is often disregarded, and facts with their moral lessons are made prominent, as if the writer took it for granted that his readers would either know the order of events, or at least need no information on that point. The very fact that the Hebrew language has only two tenses, past and future, is evidence of a lack of precision among the Hebrews in their habits of designating time and the succession of events. In commencing a narrative the Old Testament writers sometimes announce a summary, or else the result of the whole affair, and then go on to record details in a way that might easily lead to the impression that they had passed on to narrate other events, when in fact they are only enlarging on the details of events already in substance told. At other times they anticipate events, and record them out of their proper chronological order because they are associated, in place, name, or other circumstance, with what the writer has at the time in hand. Hence the order in which a series of events is narrated is not in all cases a certain guide to the chronology of the several events.

The Historical Books, and other parts of the Old Testament Canon, contain much internal evidence to show that they were edited and arranged in their present form by a later hand. An ancient and very probable tradition assigns that work to Ezra and the Great Synagogue.

Name, Author, and Date.

The Book of Joshua takes its name from the great hero whose achievements in the conquest and settlement of the Promised Land it records. “It is not often,” says Stanley, “either in sacred or common history, that we are justified in pausing on anything so outward, and usually so accidental, as a name. But if ever there be an exception, it is in the case of Joshua. His original name Hoshea (Salvation) is transformed into Jehosua or Joshua, (God’s Salvation;) and this, according to the modification which Hebrew names underwent in their passage through the Greek language, took, in the later ages of the Jewish Church, sometimes the form of Jason, but more frequently that which has now become indelibly impressed upon history as the greatest of all names — JESUS. (Hebrews 4:8.) The first Joshua was to save his people from their actual foes; the second was to ‘save his people from their sins.’” Among most Christian nations human reverence has long prevented its bestowal, in its New Testament form, on any human individual. (See note, Matthew 1:21.)

The distinguished chieftain of whom this history treats is already familiar to the reader of the last four books of Moses. He may be humanly styled the Conqueror of Canaan. Born about the time of Moses’ flight to Midian, he must have grown up a serf in the brickyards of Egypt, and afterwards have witnessed the miracles of the Exodus. His first appearance is in the war with Amalek, (Exodus 17:9,) and it is noticeable that he is there introduced to us as already a valiant soldier of Jehovah. During the sublime events at Sinai he repeatedly appears as the confidential servant and companion of Moses, (Exodus 24:13; Exodus 32:17; Exodus 33:11;) and before the death of the great lawgiver Joshua was solemnly invested with authority, and designated as his successor, Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 31:23. His courage, sagacity, and faith appear conspicuously in the minority report which he and Caleb boldly urged after exploring the land of the Canaanites, (Numbers 14:6-10,) and for their noble faith and heroism on that occasion they only, of all the thousands of Israel, twenty years old and upwards, who saw the miracles of the Exodus, were permitted to enter the Land of Promise. Numbers 14:30. In his history of the Vandal War, Procopius relates that when the Phenicians found Joshua’s invading forces irresistible, they migrated first to Egypt, and thence westward along the northern coast of Africa, and built Tingis in Mauritania, near which, in the sixth century, was found a monument bearing in the Phenician language the inscription, “We are those who fled from the face of Joshua the robber, the son of Nun.” But modern scholars quite generally reject the whole story.

It does not follow, because the book bears the name of Joshua, that it was written by that great commander; but portions of it bear evidence of having been composed by an eye-witness of the events it records. Joshua 5:1; Joshua 5:6. The concluding portion, containing the account of Joshua’s death, must, of course, have been written by a later hand; and Keil very plausibly supposes that the entire work was written by one of the elders who outlived Joshua. He argues, quite conclusively, that the conquest of Hebron by Caleb, of Debir by Othniel, and of Leshem by the Danites, did not take place during Joshua’s life-time. Comp. Joshua 15:13-19; Joshua 19:47, with Judges 1:10-15; Judges 1:18. But the date of the book must be before the time of David, for the Jebusites still held the citadel of Jerusalem, (Joshua 15:63;) and even before the death of Rahab, for, according to Joshua 6:25, she was still dwelling in Israel when our author wrote. The oft-recurring phrase, unto this day. cannot be used to prove a date long after Joshua’s time, nor even after his death; for in Joshua 22:3; Joshua 22:17, and Joshua 23:9, it is used of time previous to his death, and in no instance in the book is its use incompatible with the supposition that Joshua was still living. The authorship cannot be authoritatively decided. There is much to render probable the Jewish tradition that the main portion of the book was written at various times by Joshua; but a later hand appended the account of Joshua’s death, and inserted a few other passages in different parts of the work. We may reasonably suppose that Moses’ minister succeeded his master in the use of the pen, as well as in command.

Design and Value of the Book of Joshua.

The design of this book was evidently to record the leading events in the history of Israel from the death of Moses to the death of Joshua; to record the conquest and settlement of Canaan; and especially to magnify the inviolable faithfulness of Jehovah as a covenant-keeping God. The central idea on which the whole work rests is announced in Joshua’s divine commission at the very beginning of the book. Chap. Joshua 1:1-9. Hence the importance of this book as a connecting link between the Book of the Law and the subsequent history of Israel in Palestine cannot be over estimated. It holds a relation to the Pentateuch similar to that which the Acts of the Apostles holds to the four Gospels.

A large portion of the work is invaluable for the study of sacred geography. It is a complete Doomsday-book of Palestine, and all modern research and discovery tend more and more to confirm its accuracy.

The general authenticity of the narrative has not been questioned except in its supernatural events. But the a priori assumption that “no amount of testimony can render a miracle credible,” precludes all argument so far as these records are concerned, and the discussion of the possibility of miracles is beside the purpose of this work. The alleged contradictions and discrepancies of the Book of Joshua are fully explained in our notes on the passages where they occur.

The book is readily divided into Two Parts, the first containing the History of the Conquest, the second the Allotment of the Promised Land. The following Table of Contents will serve both for an analysis and a convenient index of the whole:

Part First The Conquest of Canaan. Chaps. 1-12.

JOSHUA’S DIVINE COMMISSION Joshua 1:1-9

PREPARATIONS FOR THE MARCH Joshua 1:10-11

ADDRESS TO THE TRANS-JORDANIC TRIBES Joshua 1:12-15

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO JOSHUA Joshua 1:16-18

THE ADVENTURES OF THE TWO SPIES Joshua 2:1-24

THE PASSAGE OF THE JORDAN Joshua 3:1-17

BUILDING MONUMENTS Joshua 4:1-24

CONSTERNATION OF THE CANAANITES Joshua 5:1

CIRCUMCISION RESTORED Joshua 5:2-9

THE THIRD PASSOVER AND CEASING OF THE MANNA Joshua 5:10-12

THE CAPTAIN OF THE LORD’S HOST REVEALED Joshua 5:13 to Joshua 6:5

THE CONQUEST OF JERICHO Joshua 6:6-21

THE SALVATION OF RAHAB Joshua 6:22-25

JOSHUA’S ADJURATION AND FAME Joshua 6:26-27

THE TRESPASS AND PUNISHMENT OF ACHAN Joshua 7:1-26

THE CONQUEST OF AI Joshua 8:1-29

THE MEMORIAL ALTAR AND SERVICE ON MOUNT EBAL Joshua 8:30-35

THE CANAANITES CONFEDERATED Joshua 9:1-2

THE FRAUD AND PUNISHMENT OF THE GIBEONITES Joshua 9:3-27

FIVE KINGS WAR AGAINST GIBEON Joshua 10:1-5

THE GIBEONITES APPEAL FOR AID Joshua 10:6

JOSHUA’S NIGHT MARCH TO GIBEON Joshua 10:7-9

THE GREAT BATTLE OF GIBEON AND BETH-HORON Joshua 10:10-11

THE SUN AND MOON STAND STILL Joshua 10:12-15

THE PURSUIT AND SLAUGHTER OF THE AMORITES Joshua 10:16-21

THE FIVE KINGS EXECUTED Joshua 10:22-27

CONQUEST OF SOUTHERN CANAAN Joshua 10:28-43

THE GREAT BATTLE OF MEROM Joshua 11:1-15

SUMMARY OF JOSHUA’S CONQUESTS Joshua 11:16-23

LIST OF THE TRANS-JORDANIC CONQUESTS Joshua 12:1-6

LAST OF THE KINGS SUBDUED BY JOSHUA Joshua 12:7-24

Part Second The Division and Settlement of Canaan. Chaps. 13-24.

LIST OF UNCONQUERED CITIES AND DISTRICTS Joshua 13:1-6

THE TRANS-JORDANIC ALLOTMENTS REVIEWED Joshua 13:7-14

REUBEN’S LOT Joshua 13:15-23

GAD’S LOT Joshua 13:24-28

MANASSEH’S (EASTERN) LOT Joshua 13:29-33

ORIGINAL LOT OF JUDAH Joshua 15:1-63

OUTLINE OF JOSEPH’S LOT Joshua 16:1-4

EPHRAIM’S BORDERS Joshua 16:5-10

MANASSEH’S (WESTERN) LOT Joshua 17:1-13

COMPLAINT OF THE CHILDREN OF JOSEPH Joshua 17:14-18

THE TABERNACLE ERECTED AT SHILOH Joshua 17:1

THE FURTHER SURVEY AND DIVISION OF THE LAND Joshua 18:2-10

BENJAMIN’S LOT Joshua 18:11-28

SIMEON’S LOT Joshua 19:1-9

ZEBULUN’S LOT Joshua 19:10-16

ISSACHAR’S LOT Joshua 19:17-23

ASHER’S LOT Joshua 19:24-31

NAPHTALI’S LOT Joshua 19:32-39

DAN’S LOT Joshua 19:40-48

JOSHUA’S INHERITANCE Joshua 19:49-51

THE CITIES OF REFUGE Joshua 20:1-9

DESIGNATION OF THE LEVITICAL CITIES Joshua 21:1-42

THE DIVINE PROMISES FULFILLED Joshua 21:43-45

THE TRANS-JORDANIC TRIBES DISMISSED Joshua 22:1-9

THE ALTAR OF WITNESS AT THE JORDAN Joshua 22:10-34

JOSHUA’S ADDRESS TO ISRAEL Joshua 23:1-16

JOSHUA’S FAREWELL ADDRESS AT SHECHEM Joshua 24:1-24

THE GREAT STONE OF WITNESS Joshua 24:25-28

JOSHUA’S DEATH AND BURIAL Joshua 24:29-30

CONCLUDING STATEMENTS Joshua 24:31-33

CONQUEST OF CANAAN. — CHAPTERS 1-12.

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