Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 23:12

For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Company;   Fear of God;   Fellowship;   Miscegenation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Marriage;   The Topic Concordance - Enemies;   Marriage;   Snares;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Alliance and Society with the Enemies of God;   Canaanites, the;   Jews, the;   Marriage;   Protection;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Judges, book of;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Destroy, Destruction;   Holman Bible Dictionary - God;   Joshua, the Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Alliance;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Else if ye do - go back - The soldier who draws back when going to meet the enemy, forfeits his life. These were the Lord's soldiers, and if they drew back they drew back unto perdition, their lives being forfeited by their infidelity.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-23.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Else if you do at all go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you; know for a certainty that Jehovah your God will no more drive these nations out of your sight; but they shall be a snare and a trap unto you, and a scourge in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which Jehovah your God hath given you."

These verses indicate that the Promised Land was to belong to Israel only so long as the people were faithful to God. Failing in that faithfulness, God here, through Joshua, promised that Israel should "perish from off this good land." People who believe that God gave Israel a permanent title to Palestine regardless of what Israel did are grossly mistaken. God actually did dispel Israel from Palestine, and despite the fact that a remnant returned from Babylon, that was only a temporary measure that was necessary until the Messiah should be born. After the birth of Christ Israel (in the secular sense) lost all further right to Palestine, nor do they have any such right today.

Blair pointed out that, "God's continued help of Israel was contingent on Israel's faithfulness to the covenant. Apostasy would mean the turning of all the good they had ever known into terrible evil."[6]

These terrible words are an exact blueprint of what really happened to Israel. They intermarried with the pagan populations they left remaining in the land. Next, they accepted the worship of those pagan gods; even a king named his son after Baal (1 Chronicles 8:33; 9:39). In time, the true worship of God was abandoned altogether, and Israel degenerated into a condition exactly like that of the Canaanites they and displaced. In fact, Hosea (Hosea 12:7) denominates Israel as "a Canaanite." The word in our version is "trafficker," but the true meaning of it is "Canaanite!" (See Vol. 2 of my minor prophets commentary, pp. 198,199.) The result was exactly what was prophesied here: "God REMOVED them from that good land." Why? They deserved to he removed, no less than the shameful nations God had driven out before them!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-23.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Else if ye do in any wise go back,.... From the Lord and his worship, from his word and ordinances:

and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even those that remain among you; in cities not taken, or in several which the Philistines were in possession of, or lived among them as tributaries to them, if they should take to them, and be free and familiar with them, which may lead on to nearer connections in civil and religious matters:

and shall make marriages with them; marry their daughters to the sons of Canaanites, or admit the daughters of Canaanites to be married to their sons:

and go in unto them, and they to you; which is expressive of the consummation of marriage, and of the performance of the conjugal duty,

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-23.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

Go back — From God, and from his worship and service.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-23.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 23:12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, [even] these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

Ver. 12. Else, if ye do in any wise go back.] Apostates cannot choose to themselves a worse condition; there is martial law for such: they "draw back to perdition." [Hebrews 10:39]

And cleave unto the remnant.] It is not safe to seek the association of others in a sinful way. Jehoshaphat smarted for joining with Ahab: Hunniades, for cleaving to that perjured Popish king at the battle of Varna: the Greek Church, for calling in the help of the Latin Church against the Turk; subjecting themselves to the Bishop of Rome.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-23.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

If ye go back, from God, and from his worship and service.

Go in unto them; the phrase notes the matrimonial act.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-23.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.Make marriages — This most intimate form of alliance was forbidden in Exodus 34:12-16, as a precaution against temptation. Thus Christians are forbidden to wed infidels or pagans. 2 Corinthians 6:14. The affections largely determine religious opinions and practice. The heart makes theology.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-23.html. 1874-1909.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Else. The Hebrew accent (Legarmeh) puts the pause or emphasis on this word, as marking the solemn alternative.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-23.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

Else, if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations. By 'going back' is meant transgression of the divine law; and as marriage connections with the idolatrous Canaanites would present many and strong temptations to transgress it, these were strictly prohibited (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3). With his eye, as it were, upon those prohibitions, Joshua threatens them with the certain withdrawal of the divine aid in the further expulsion of the Canaanites-a threat founded on Exodus 23:33; Numbers 33:55; Deuteronomy 7:16.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-23.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
go back
Psalms 36:3; 125:5; Isaiah 1:4; Ezekiel 18:24; Zephaniah 1:6; Matthew 12:45; John 6:66; Hebrews 10:38,39; 2 Peter 2:18-22; 1 John 2:9
cleave
Genesis 2:24; 34:3; 1 Samuel 18:1-3; 1 Kings 11:2; Romans 12:9
shall make
Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3; 1 Kings 11:4; Ezra 9:1,2,11,12; Nehemiah 13:23-26; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Reciprocal: Genesis 6:2 - and they;  Numbers 33:55 - shall be pricks;  Joshua 13:13 - expelled;  Joshua 23:5 - he shall;  Joshua 23:7 - That ye come;  Joshua 24:20 - he will turn;  1 Kings 16:31 - took to wife;  Ezra 10:3 - at the commandment;  Psalm 106:34 - did not;  Malachi 2:10 - by;  Malachi 2:12 - cut;  Romans 6:12 - Let not;  Hebrews 2:1 - the more

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-23.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

12.Else if you do in any wise go back, etc According to the usual method observed in the Law, he adds threatening, in order that if they are not sufficiently allured by the divine goodness, they may be aroused by fear to the performance of their duty. It is, indeed, disgraceful for men, when God graciously condescends to invite them, not at once to run forward and meet the invitation by prompt and alert obedience; but such is the lethargy of the flesh, that it always requires to be stimulated by threats. Joshua, therefore, adopts the usual method of the Law, while he reminds the Israelites of the terrors of the Lord, provided they do not of their own accord embrace his offered favor. Moreover, it is not once only that, he sets before them the denunciation that the nations of Canaan will be scourges to their sides and thorns in their eyes if they become familiar with them. First, inasmuch as God had consecrated the land to himself, he wished it to be purged of all impurities; and secondly, inasmuch as he saw how prone the people were to be corrupted by bad example, he wished also to provide a remedy for this evil. Then, while on the one hand the people counted it as nothing that the land should be contaminated by impious superstitions, and that idols should be worshipped in it instead of the true God, and on the other hand, eagerly contracted contagion from their vices, it was only a just punishment of this gross contempt that they should experience molestation and hostility from those whom they had improperly (191) spared.

That the threatening which both Moses and Joshua thus denounced were openly accomplished, is but too plain from the Book of Judges. And yet this promulgation of the divine vengeance was not altogether useless; for after Joshua was dead, they became courageous enough to engage in war. Their ardor, however, proved evanescent, (192) and they shortly after were initiated in nefarious Gentile rites. Hence, we perceive in the human mind an intemperate longing for perverse worship, a longing which no curbs are able to restrain.

It is now proper to consider how far this doctrine is applicable to us. It is true a special command was given to the ancient people to destroy the nations of Canaan, and keep aloof from all profane defilement’s. To us, in the present day, no certain region marks out our precise boundaries; nor are we armed with the sword to slay all the ungodly; we have only to beware of allowing ourselves to become involved in fellowship with wickedness, by not keeping at a sufficient distance from it. For it is almost impossible, if we mingle with it, spontaneously to avoid receiving some spot or blemish. But this point having been elsewhere expounded, I now merely advert to it in passing.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 23:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-23.html. 1840-57.