Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 5:1

Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amorites;   Canaanites;   Cowardice;   Jordan;   Miracles;   Thompson Chain Reference - Canaanites;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amorites, the;   Canaanites, the;   Jordan, the River;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Circumcision;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Beyond;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Gilgal;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jericho;   Joshua;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Canaanitish;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Amorites ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Am'orite, the Am'orites;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Amorites;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beyond;   Joshua, Book of;   Sea, the Great;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Amorites;   Canaanites, the;   Joshua, Book of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The Amorites which were on the side of Jordan westward - It has already been remarked that the term Amorite is applied sometimes to signify all the nations or tribes of Canaan. It appears from this verse that there were people thus denominated that dwelt on both sides of the Jordan. Those on the east side had already been destroyed in the war which the Israelites had with Sihon and Og; with those on the west side Joshua had not yet waged war. It is possible however that the Amorites of whom we read in this verse, were the remains of those who dwelt on the east side of the Jordan, and who had taken refuge here on the defeat of Og and Sihon.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The Amorites were the principal of those nations which occupied the hill country of Judaea (Genesis 10:16 note); the Canaanites of those that dwelt on the coast and low lands. These words are therefore equivalent to “all the kings of the highlanders, and all the kings of the lowlanders:” i. e. the kings of all the tribes of the country.

Until we were passed over - The use of the first person has been noted here, and in Joshua 5:6 (compare Acts 16:10), as suggesting the hand of one who himself shared in what he describes. But the text as read (though not written) by the Jewish authorities here, has the third person; as have some manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate, etc.: and a change of person like this in Hebrew, even if the text stand, does not of itself warrant the inference. (Compare Psalm 66:6.)

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Joshua 5:1

Their heart melted . . . because of the children of Israel.

Divine control over all

Kings and princes, captains and nobles, are most perfectly under the control of God; not only their counsels and operations, but their very spirits are subject to the influence of His secret and all-pervading dominion; they are restrained by cowardice, or incited by courage; intimidated by fear, or emboldened by valour, as best may promote the purposes of Providence and the interests of the Church. More has often been effected by this, wherein has appeared no human agency, than could have been by all the advantages of physical strength. It has been seen in the procedure of the Divine government, and opening of the secret counsels of heaven, that turns the most peculiar and results the most momentous have proceeded from this invisible working of God. But for this, the condition of Israel, as frequently appeared in review, would have inspired their adversaries, and, in the mere opposing of force to force, insured to them triumph. A spirit of blindness and infatuation has been permitted to seize the enemies of the Church, and to fall upon the powers of the world, or the Lord’s people had again and again been swallowed up. The expedients of infinite wisdom, and resources of almighty power, never fail: they are innumerable, and always at command; not confined to the common laws of nature, but comprehend the secret dominion of spirits, and that unlimited range of omnipotence, by which, in special operations, all things are possible with God, and present to instant adoption, as the purposes of His love may require, or the counsel of His will determine. (W. Seaton.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 5:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/joshua-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And it came to pass when all the kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, that were by the sea, heard how that Jehovah had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel."

"Until we had passed oven ..." Along with, "that he would give us," in Joshua 5:6, these usages of the first person plural identify the author as an eye-witness and participant in the events here narrated. Plummer speaks of those who have "emended the text,"[1] but our own view of "scholarly emendations" is that they are absolutely irresponsible and should be rejected. Who has licensed any "scholar," of whatever ability, to change the Sacred Text from what is written to that which he believes God SHOULD HAVE written? Of course, we receive Joshua himself as the author of the Book that bears his name. The oldest traditions that have descended through history affirm this, and the speculative guesses of 20th century unbelievers are no sufficient ground for denying it.

"Amorites ... Canaanites ..." "All of the various peoples of Canaan "are here grouped together under the names of `Amorites' and `Canaanites.'"[2] "Roughly speaking, the Amorites represented the dwellers in the highlands district, and the Canaanites referred to the dwellers on the maritime plain."[3] Sometimes, "Canaanites, in a broader sense, means Palestine in general."[4]

The panic in view here doubtless came about, as Jamieson suggested, from the fact that, "The kings had probably reckoned on the swollen river as being, for a time at least, a sure barrier against the invasion, but they were completely paralyzed by what happened, which was incontestable proof that God was on the side of the invaders."[5]

As the hosts of Israel were deployed upon the plains of Jericho, their status was marvelously different from what it had been in the wilderness. Matthew Henry described it thus:

"The church in the wilderness has now come up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved, and looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. How terrible she was in the eyes of her enemies, and how fair and clear she was in the eyes of her friends."[6]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward,.... On the side the Israelites were now on; and this is observed, to distinguish them from the other kings of the Amorites beyond Jordan, on the eastern side, who were already conquered by the Israelites, Sihon and Og, who seem to be a colony that went over from the Amorites in Canaan, and possessed themselves of that part of the land of Moab. These seem to be put for several others of the nations of the land not mentioned, who doubtless were as much dispirited as they; and they are the rather mentioned, because they were a principal nation, and a very powerful and warlike one, see Amos 2:9.

and all the kings of the Canaanites which were by the sea; the Mediterranean sea; the Septuagint version calls them the kings of Phoenicia; and that which was strictly and property so lay on that coast, in which were the cities of Tyre and Sidon, though the whole land of Canaan was sometimes so called; unless this is to be understood, either of the dead sea, or of the sea of Galilee; of which Canaanites, see Numbers 13:29; however, be they the one or the other, or both, as most likely, when they

heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted,

neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel; they lost all their courage, and never recovered it any more; concluding it was all over with them, since such wonderful things were done for them by the Lord: the word "we" shows that the writer of this history was one that passed over Jordan, and who can be supposed but Joshua himself? this circumstance, I think, strongly corroborates that opinion.

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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 5:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the a Amorites, which [were] on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which [were] by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

(a) The Amorites were on both sides of Jordan, of which two kings were slain already on the side toward Moab.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Joshua 5:1. The Canaanites afraid.

the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea — Under the former designation were included the people who inhabited the mountainous region, and under the latter those who were on the seacoast of Palestine.

heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan  …  that their heart melted — They had probably reckoned on the swollen river interposing for a time a sure barrier of defense. But seeing it had been completely dried up, they were completely paralyzed by so incontestable a proof that God was on the side of the invaders. In fact, the conquest had already begun in the total prostration of spirit among the native chiefs. “Their heart melted,” but unhappily not into faith and penitent submission.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-5.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This is a very interesting Chapter, and contains several very memorable events. Israel is now entering the frontiers of Canaan. The Canaanites are alarmed. Israel is animated. The Lord, as if to remind them of his covenant engagements, commands the rite of circumcision to be renewed, which had been long omitted. The feast of the Passover also, after eight and thirty years neglect is again celebrated. The Lord victuals the camp with the good things of the land of Canaan. The manna ceaseth. The captain of the Lord's host appeareth to Joshua.

Joshua 5:1

Observe the terror induced in the minds of God's enemies: and no wonder. The mighty stream of Jordan yet more mighty than usual, from the season of the year overflowing its banks, had opened a passage for Israel, and evidently in a miraculous manner. The kings of Canaan recollected the circumstance of the Red Sea also. Who can stand when God opposeth? Reader! do not fail to spiritualize this passage, as the Holy Ghost, it should seem, hath done before you. For when the church of the Lord Jesus, is represented as coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved; that is, resting on him and his righteousness, the world of carnal men, like these kings of Canaan, is represented as beholding the sight, and exclaiming, Who is this that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? Song of Solomon 6:10. Such, dear Jesus! is thy church, viewed in thy strength, and complete in thy righteousness!

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-5.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

Amorites — These and the Canaanites are mentioned for all the rest, as being the chief of them for number, and power, and courage.

Westward — This is added to distinguish them from the other Amorites, eastward from Jordan, whom Moses had subdued.

Canaanites — So the proper place of this nation was on both sides of Jordan.

The sea — The midland sea, all along the coast of it, which was the chief seat of that people, though divers colonies of them were come into, and settled in other places.

Jordan — Which was their bulwark on the east-side, where the Israelites were; for it is very probable they had taken away all bridges near those parts; and the Israelites having been so long in that neighbouring country, and yet not making any attempt upon them, they were grown secure; especially now, when Jordan swelled beyond its ordinary bounds; and therefore they did not endeavour to hinder their passage.

Melted — They lost all their courage, and durst attempt nothing upon the Israelites; not without God's special providence, that the Israelites might quietly participate of the two great sacraments of their church, circumcision and the passover, and thereby be prepared for their high and hard work, and for the possession of the holy and promised land; which would have been defiled by an uncircumcised people.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-5.html. 1765.

(5:1-14)Ритуальные приготовления. Каждый из разделов в этой главе выявляет сходство между Моисеем и Иисусом, представляя убедительную параллель между двумя вождями во время становления Израиля как нации. Они оба вселили страх во врагов Израиля (1, ср.: Исх. 15:10-13), оба совершили обрезание перед тем, как окончательно войти в землю обетованную (2–9; ср.: Исх. 4:24–26), оба праздновали Пасху по пути в святую землю (10–12; ср.: Исх. 12) и оба сняли обувь свою перед Господом (13-15; ср.: Исх. 3:5).

(5:1) Введение. Этот стих, отражающий реакцию хананеев на переход реки Иордан, связывает данную главу со стихом 4:24, предсказывая реакцию и других народов. Цари Лморрейские (т. е. правители городов–государств в горах, которые жили по эту сторону Иордана к морю) и цари Ханаанские (т. е. правители городов–государств на равнине, которые при море) являются представителями семи народов из 3:10. Эти мятежные цари знали о великих делах Господа, но вместо того, чтобы прилепиться к Нему в вере, как Раав, они ужаснулись и уже не могли сопротивляться (ср.: 2:10; 11:20).

 

 

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 5:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which [were] on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which [were] by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

Ver. 1. Heard that the Lord, &c.] Aι βλαβαι ποδωκεις: Ill news is swift of foot, and, like ill weather, cometh before it is sent for.

That their heart melted.] This fearfulness and faintheartedness had utterly unmanned them, expectorated all their courage, and so fitted them for desolation. [Deuteronomy 28:7] Metals melted lose their hardness: so men their hardiness by fear, that cowardly passion.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 1. And it came to pass when all the kings of the Amorites We have before remarked, that these were the most valiant of all the Canaanites. The next clause seems added to shew, that besides the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, whom the Israelites had already subdued, on the east of Jordan, there were other kings of the same nation on the west side of the river, where the Israelites now were. And it is not improbable, that these kings commanded the Hittites, Hivites, and Jebusites, as well as the Amorites.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-5.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

JOSHUA CHAPTER 5

The Amorites and Canaanites hear of this, and are afraid, Joshua 5:1. The males born in the wilderness are circumcised, Joshua 5:2-9. The passover is celebrated, Joshua 5:10. They eat of the corn of the land, and the manna ceaseth, Joshua 5:11,12. Christ appeareth to Joshua in form of a man of war; he worships him; the place of his presence holy ground, Joshua 5:13-15.

The Amorites and the Canaanites are mentioned for all the rest, as being the chief of them for number, and power, and courage.

Westward: this is added to distinguish them from the other Amorites, eastward from Jordan, whom Moses had subdued.

All the kings of the Canaanites; so the proper place of this nation was on both sides of Jordan.

By the sea; the midland sea, all along the coast of it, which was the chief seat of that people, though divers colonies of them were come into and settled in other places.

Jordan was their bulwark on the east side, where the Israelites were; for it is very probable they had taken away all bridges near those parts; and the Israelites having been so long in that neighbouring country, and yet not making any attempt upon them, they were grown secure; especially now, when Jordan swelled beyond its ordinary bounds; and therefore they did not endeavour to hinder their passage.

Their heart melted; they lost all their courage, and durst attempt nothing upon the Israelites; not without God’s special providence, that the Israelites might quietly participate of the two great sacraments of their church, circumcision and the passover, and thereby be prepared for their high and hard work, and for the possession of the holy and promised land, which would have been defiled by an uncircumcised people.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-5.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Commentary on The Book of Joshua - chapters 5-8.

In this section the circumcision of the men of Israel is accomplished, followed by the observance of the Passover. Then commences the initial parts of the invasion. First Jericho is taken, and then a contingent moves up the pass to capture Ai, only to be driven back because of their arrogance in taking only a limited number of soldiers for the purpose. As a result the sin of Achan is discovered in that he had kept for himself what had been dedicated to YHWH. Joshua having repented of his failure, and Achan having been dealt with for his blasphemy, Joshua takes the whole army back up the pass and Ai is captured, and the army of Bethel defeated. Joshua then arranges a covenant ceremony at Shechem.

Chapter 5. Circumcision and Passover - The Captain of YHWH’s Host.

The Canaanites having been devastated by learning of the passage of the children of Israel through Jordan, Joshua is ordered to circumcise such of the people of Israel as were uncircumcised, so that they might eat the Passover, which they were now to observe. Meanwhile, the people having a sufficiency of corn from the land, the manna ceased. As Joshua was considering how to take Jericho a man appeared who said that he was the captain of the host of YHWH, who encouraged and directed him as to what to do with regard to the conquest of the land, and particularly of Jericho.

Joshua 5:1

And so it was that when all the kings of the Amorites, who were beyond Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that YHWH had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.’

News of the crossing of Jordan had reached the ears of the Amorites and the Canaanites east of Jordan, that is those in Canaan itself. The fact that the Canaanites are described as ‘by the sea’ suggests that at this stage the Philistines had not yet arrived. The news devastated them. This confirmed all that they had heard about the God of these people, and His amazing power. They were filled with fear and lost heart, terrified of the prospect that they must now face. God had thus sent His hornet to prepare the way (Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20 compare Joshua 24:12). These descriptions were intended to signify all the peoples in Canaan, both the Canaanites who were the plain dwellers and the Amorites who were mountain dwellers.

“Until we were passed over.” The ‘we’ indicates that the writer was alive at the time of the crossing of the Jordan, and there is no sound reason for doubting that almost the whole book comes from his hand. It would probably be some priestly scribe to whom Joshua committed the task of recording the victories of YHWH, at least partially under his direction.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-5.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

CONSTERNATION OF THE CANAANITES, Joshua 5:1.

1.It came to pass — Immediately after the Israelites had crossed, the miracle was heralded to all the kings of the land. This verse is closely related to the last verse of the preceding chapter, showing how the miracle of the Jordan at once made the neighbouring nations know the power of Jehovah’s hand. It also serves to show why Joshua might, without fear of attack, embrace this opportunity to circumcise the people.

Amorites — See note on Joshua 2:10.

On the side of Jordan westward — Literally, beyond Jordan seaward. The Amorites east of the Jordan, ruled by Sihon and Og, had been already defeated.

The Canaanites, which were by the sea — The various heathen tribes and nations along the Mediterranean Sea. A narrow plain extends along this sea from Gaza in the south to the northern limits of Phenicia. The Amorites and Canaanites, because of their superiority in numbers and political power, are put here apparently for all the nations of the land.

We were passed over — This expression naturally implies that the writer was an eye-witness of the scene described.

Their heart melted — Their hope and courage died within them, for they despaired of conquering an almighty foe.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-5.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

This verse at first might seem more appropriate as a conclusion to the previous chapter. However it explains how the Israelites were able to take several days to perform an operation that rendered them very vulnerable to their enemies militarily. Israel"s foes feared them greatly as a result of the miracle of the Jordan crossing, and they did not attack.

This reference to the Amorites and Canaanites groups all the native tribes together. The people who possessed the South and the mountains of the land were mainly Amorites. Many of them had lived in Transjordan and were the mightiest of the warriors among the tribes. Those who lived in the North, in the lowlands by the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Valley of Jezreel, were mainly Canaanites. The Canaanites were traders rather than warriors. The writer sometimes put all the native people in one or the other of these two groups. This depended on the area in which they lived (South or North, highlands or lowlands) or the general characteristic of the people that occupied most of that area (warlike or peaceful). Reference to the Amorites and Canaanites is probably a merism, a figure of speech in which two extremes represent the whole (e.g, "heaven and earth" means the universe).

"From the human standpoint, if ever there was a time to strike at the Canaanites it was right after the Israelites had gained entrance to the land. Fear had taken hold on the inhabitants of Palestine. But divine plans are not made according to human strategy." [Note: Carl Armerding, Conquest and Victory, p62.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-5.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 5:1. Amorites — These and the Canaanites are mentioned for all the rest, as being the chief of them for number, and power, and courage. On the side of Jordan westward — This is added to distinguish them from the other Amorites, eastward from Jordan, whom Moses had subdued. Which were by the sea — The midland sea, all along the coast of it, which was the chief seat of that people, though divers colonies of them were come into and settled in other places. That the Lord had dried up Jordan — Which was their bulwark on the east side, where the Israelites were; for it is very probable they had taken away all bridges near those parts; and the Israelites having been so long in that neighbouring country, and yet not making any attempt upon them, they were grown secure; especially now, when Jordan swelled beyond its ordinary bounds; and therefore they did not endeavour to hinder their passage. Their heart melted — They lost all their courage, and durst attempt nothing upon the Israelites. This did not happen without God’s special providence, that the Israelites might quietly participate of the two great sacraments of their church, circumcision and the passover, and thereby be prepared for their high and hard work, and for the possession of the holy and promised land; which would have been defiled by an uncircumcised people.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-5.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the LORD. Hebrew Jehovah. App-4.

children = sons.

we. So written, but read "they". Some codices have "they", both written and read, with three early printed editions, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.

melted. See note on Joshua 2:9, Joshua 2:11.

spirit. Hebrew. ruach. App-9.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

The kings of the Amorites ... and ... Canaanites ... by the sea. Under the former designation were included the people who inhabited the mountainous region in the center and the south, a gigantic race (Deuteronomy 4:47; Deuteronomy 31:4; Joshua 9:10; Amos 2:9), including the Hittites and Hivites; and under the latter, those who were on the seacoast of Palestine as far south as Dor, and inland over the plain of Esdraelon, and inhabiting some places also in the Jordan valley, as Beth-shean, Zoar, and Sodom. The Amorites were the highlanders, or mountaineers; and the Canaanites were the lowlanders [Septuagint, di' basileis tees Foinikees, the kings of Phoenicia (cf. Exo. 15:35, Septuagint)], the name "Canaanites" being sometimes used synonymously with 'Phoenicians' (Kenrick's 'Phoenicia,' pp. 42, 52).

On the side of Jordan westward, [ yaamaah (Hebrew #3220)] - seaward; i:e., westward. The author uses the word, from his point of view, to denote the western side, adding 'west' to prevent mistakes.

Their heart melted. They had probably reckoned on the swollen river interposing for a time a sure barrier of defense; but seeing it had been completely dried up, they were utterly paralyzed by so incontestible a proof that God was on the side of the invaders. In fact, the conquest had already begun in the total prostration of spirit among the native chiefs. "Their heart melted," but unhappily not into faith and penitent submission.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

V.

(1) The Amorites . . . and . . . Canaanites.—Two principal nations seem to be here mentioned as representatives of the rest.

We.—See Note on Joshua 5:6.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
all the kings
12:9-24; 24:15; Genesis 10:15-19; 15:18-21; 48:22; Judges 11:23; 2 Samuel 21:2; Ezekiel 16:3; Amos 2:9
Canaanites
17:12,18; Genesis 12:6; Exodus 23:28; Judges 1:1; 4:2; Ezra 9:1; Psalms 135:11
which were by
Numbers 13:29; Judges 3:3; Zephaniah 2:4-6
heard
2:9-11; Exodus 15:14,15; Psalms 48:4-6; Revelation 18:10
neither was
1 Samuel 25:37; 1 Kings 10:5; Isaiah 13:6-8; Ezekiel 21:7; Daniel 5:6
Reciprocal: Genesis 35:5 - GeneralLeviticus 26:36 - I will send;  Numbers 14:14 - they have;  Deuteronomy 11:25 - There shall;  Deuteronomy 28:10 - and they shall;  Joshua 2:11 - our hearts;  Joshua 2:24 - faint;  Joshua 7:5 - wherefore;  Joshua 9:1 - on this;  Judges 7:14 - into his hand;  2 Chronicles 14:14 - the fear;  2 Chronicles 20:29 - the fear;  Nehemiah 6:16 - for they perceived;  Psalm 76:12 - He shall;  Isaiah 41:5 - the ends

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-5.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

PREPARATION FOR THE LORD'S WAR

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Jos . Amorites] Deriv. from Amar = "high," "lofty." The people were "dwellers in the mountains" (cf. Num 13:29, and chap. Jos 11:3). Kurtz and Frst think that the word has an allusion to the large stature of the race: "lofty, high-towering, gigantic" men. Sometimes, and apparently in this verse, the term Amorites is applied to the inhabitants of the land generally. In chap. Jos 10:5, the king of Jerusalem, who ruled over Jebusites, is mentioned as one of five kings of the Amorites. Spirit] Lit. "breath." The stopping or taking away of the breath is indicative of the extreme astonishment and fear by which they were overwhelmed.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Jos

THE FEAR OF THE UNGODLY

In the facts of which this verse assures us, and in the history to which it refers us:—

I. We have conviction coming through the manifest working of God.

1. The occasion of man's idolatry and sin is ever found in low and poor thoughts of God. Let God be distant and remote from a man's consciousness, let Him be thought of infrequently and feebly, and the result will soon be seen in a following after "other gods." Joshua's predecessor, through whom God was so manifestly present before the Israelites, had not left the people six weeks ere they said unto Aaron, "Up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, we wot not what is become of him." The history of these Canaanites must have contained a similar experience. Sons of Noah though they were, and intense as must have been the religious remembrances of their fathers, Ham and Canaan, the power and goodness and justice and the very being of God had become a mere tradition. On the basis of the Usherian chronology, barely nine hundred years had elapsed since the awful deluge. In the antediluvian age this was only about the period of a lifetime, and if in the subsequent generation the sons of Ham lived as long as the sons of Shem—a term of some four hundred and thirty years—Canaan himself would possibly have been living, to teach the fear of the Lord among his descendants, for nearly half the period between the days of the flood and the crossing of the Jordan. Nor had the Canaanites been left without at least one solemn intervening remonstrance. Just about midway between the time of the flood and the entrance of the Israelites into their land, and possibly not fifty years after the death of Canaan, another and an awful judgment had told these people of an all-seeing and omnipotent God, who was determined to punish sin. It was on the families of the Canaanites that God poured out the terrible fire of Sodom and Gomorrah (comp. Gen with Genesis 19) God ought not to have been so absent from the thoughts of these men; but they had long suffered His very name to become merely a story of the past, and on neither name nor story did they trouble themselves much to think. Hence they went after idols, the idols being, as idols always are, the embodiment of the wicked and corrupt desires which ever follow forgetfulness of God, With no consciousness of God's presence, they had long been led to unrestrained idolatry and unchecked wickedness. He who, in these days, loses the sense of God's presence and power and goodness and purity, loses all that can keep him from idolatry and its consequent degradations. The very name EMMANUEL—God with us—tells where our danger most lies, and wherein the blessedness of following Christ so much consists.

2. The manifest interposition of God, in great works for His people, brings conviction to the most hardened and abandoned of men. So long as men only hear of God, they can disbelieve Him, and more or less undisturbedly pursue their own way; but when God works in a manner for which no human hand or name is a sufficient explanation, immediately the unbelieving are arrested. The great cause of all that is different between the disciples of Christ and the unbelieving in the present day is given in the Saviour's own words—"Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more, but ye see Me." The one effort of such modern scientists as are virtually atheists seems to be to account for such works as are too great for man by some other name than that of GOD. If "protoplasm" could only account for life; if "development" would but be sufficiently agreeable to stand as an equivalent for its various forms; if the movements of life would only allow themselves to be called "automatic;" and if human consciousness, which will keep looking upward, and lisping that great word GOD, could only be taught to pronounce the obscure and ugly compound "anthropomorphism," then, surely, the world, and even its more wicked sons and daughters, might have peace. True, some of us might still want a long word to explain fulfilled prophecies, and shew us how Nature taught some of her more reverent children to "shew us things to come," and to shew them in marvellous fulness of detail seven or eight centuries—not to say more—before they came to pass. The more anthropomorphic of us might require a good many Greek vocables, and tax rather tiresomely the patience and scholarship of the learned sons of science to put them pleasantly together, ere we could keep that great word GOD from speaking within and echoing through our consciousness, when we read together, as making one chapter, the well-authenticated works and CLAIMS and CHARACTER of Jesus Christ. There might be a few other things which, in the event of insufficient explanation, we should require to read of in awkward and unnatural phrases ere we could persuade ourselves that they were the outcome merely of Nature. Meanwhile, like the Amorites and Israelites before the divided Jordan, we behold many wonderful works around us in life and behind us in history, for which we can only find one equivalent cause, and that cause GOD.

3. History shews us that when standing immediately before the greater and more manifest works of God, men hare ever felt that from them there was no appeal. At the Red Sea the long enslaved Israelites sang, "The Lord is my strength and song." Their history but too sadly proves their readiness to forget Jehovah; they could not but own Him there, and on many similar occasions afterwards. The assembled people on Carmel waited all day in the spirit of judgment; we feel their indecision and unformed conclusions in their very silence. The whole attitude of the host was one of expectancy and waiting. The very act of pronouncing their verdict tells us that they were at least not biessed before it was given. It was only after the laboured failure of the Baalites, the scorn and confidence of Elijah, and after seeing the fire of heaven lick up the water and attack the sacrifice, that they cried with one accord, "Jehovah, He is the God." However much he might have doubted before or after, amid the solemn darkness, the rending earthquake, and the awful words of Calvary, the centurion could only feel and say, "Truly this was the Son of God." The arrogant Sanhedrin, who thought they had disposed for ever of the Master, and could do as they would in contemning the work of the disciples, "when they saw the lame man healed, could say nothing against it." It is easy enough to try and dismiss numberless cases like these by saying that such conclusions of men are not spoken in calmness, but under the influence of excitement and awe. That is the very difficulty. How is it that ever, when the heart stands in awe before unusual power, it remembers God, and is troubled? We can understand the relapse into the normal unbelief when the sounds of the call to faith have died away in the distance. How is it that whenever the supernatural is present, men invariably stand convinced of the unseen God? It is no answer to this question to talk of superstition; when all the talk about superstition is ended, it still remains to be asked, "Why should superstition ever lead men into the presence of God, and never choose to leave them elated or abashed before the majesty of Nature? There can be only one answer: The soul is responding to the voice of its Maker, and that Maker is God.

II. We see conviction invariably working fear. Insensibly and instantaneously, as these Canaanites behold the river divided, and remember the overthrow of Sihon and Og, and the miracle at the Red Sea, they are filled with fear of the Lord God of Israel. It is ever thus with those who have forgotten Jehovah, and turned to devices of their own.

1. The fear which comes from ignorance. Not "seeing Him who is invisible," men cannot endure the works which declare His presence.

2. Fear as intensified by sin. Sinful Adam heard the voice of God, and, for the first time, so far as we know, he was afraid. When guilty Herod heard of the fame of Jesus, he said, "John the Baptist is risen from the dead." Conscience, as Trench has pointed out, is, in its very structure, a solemn word. "It is from ‘con' and scire.' But what does that ‘con' intend? Conscience is not merely that which I know, but that which I know with some one else.… That other knower whom the word implies is God." So, when we transgress, we have only to be brought by some of His works into the consciousness of the Lord's presence, and sin intensifies fear at once. We feel that the guilt which we know, He knows also. And from this law none escape:

"What art thou, thou tremendous Power,

Who dost inhabit us without our leave;

And art within ourselves another self,

A master-self, that loves to domineer,

And treat the monarch frankly as the slave?"—Young.

3. Fear as a Divine provision and ordinance. God had determined and appointed this very melting of heart which the Amorites now suffered. Forty years previously God had said to Moses, about this very trepidation, "I will send my fear before thee." The fear of the wicked is no less God's ordinance now than it was of old.

III. The fear thus wrought by God is seen becoming helpful to speedy salvation, or accessory to sudden destruction. Rahab feared, and believed, and sought deliverance, and was saved; the Canaanites feared, and resisted, and were destroyed. Montaigne said, "Fear sometimes adds wings to the heels, and sometimes nails them to the ground, and fetters them from moving." Happy is he in whom the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Where this is not so, fear is often immediately preliminary to overthrow. It is the awful gloom of coming destruction which is seen overshadowing those whom it hardly waits longer to involve, and the very fear of the coming calamity hastens the end which it so solemnly predicts.

OUTLINES AND COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

Jos .—RELIGIOUS CONVICTION.

I. The essence of true religious conviction is conviction of the presence of God. For want of that, these men had turned idolaters. Had they always felt the God of Israel as near as they felt Him now, the worship of their idols would have been an impossibility. When we get and continue to know and feel that God is round about us, all else in religious life will follow.

1. Assured of God's presence, we shall immediately feel the reality and guilt of sin. Job said, "Now mine eye seeth Thee, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Isaiah in his vision saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and cried, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Peter, beholding the Deity of Christ through His mighty working, started back abashed, saying, "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man." So it has ever been: to see God present is to feel that sin is very real and very offensive.

2. Assured of God's presence, we have no peace till we feel that sin is put away by forgiveness. With deep and true insight Milton tells us how the prince of darkness was troubled in the presence of holiness—

"Abashed the devil stood,

And felt how awful goodness is."

So must unforgiven men ever feel troubled by the presence of God. When Peter first saw the Deity of the Saviour, he had no peace in that holy and to him awful presence; after he had been a long time with Jesus, and had learned of Him, and when he was in the rapture or a diviner mood, he cried as he beheld the glory of the transfigured Son of God, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles." It is only when we have learned the love and forgiveness of the Saviour, and come ourselves somewhat into the mind of Christ, that we are able to endure His presence. Then that presence is no longer our keenest pain, but becomes our deepest peace.

3. A growing sense of God's presence is the essential accompaniment of a religious life. When Nathanael came to Christ, he came sceptically, nor did he care to conceal his doubts. With that frank guilelessness on which he seems to have prided himself, and which, as far as it was good, even Christ admired, he bluntly told out his unbelief in the question, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" How did the Saviour convict this man of the Divine presence? Christ told him his secrets; He looked into his heart, and exposed this conceit of an open and transparent nature, on which this guileless Jew prided himself, as being so unlike many of his nation. "Behold," says the Saviour, "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Nor was this all; Christ told the honest Jew how he had been praying under that secluded fig-tree, as pious Jews were wont to withdraw for prayer—praying but a short time before, and praying, it may be, about this very matter of the coming Messiah, to which the thoughts of his more godly countrymen were at this time so earnestly directed. It was enough: Nathanael felt that God was there. Very much under the influence which, in a similar case, had made the Samaritan woman exclaim, "He told me all things that ever I did," Nathanael cried out, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." Did the Saviour intimate that this conviction was sufficient, and that the matter of this man's new-found faith might rest there? Quite the contrary. Belief was to go on. Christ Himself might withdraw; but to this, as to every truly religious soul, conviction of the Divine presence was to become a growing thing. When Christ as manifest in the flesh was far away, when no one was near, this belief should go on till he could say with his great countryman, "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.… Thou hast beset me behind and before." Conviction of a present God was to be a growing thing; so Christ says, "Your faith now is only the beginning of the faith of the future; you shall see greater things than these. Through my mediatorial work you shall see heaven and earth united. Hereafter ye—you and such as believe with you—shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

Thus conviction first feels God near through some extraordinary manifestation; and, given that God's mercy spares, and His grace still plies the convicted one, the religious life goes on to all its future developments in the consciousness that God is round about it. The first feeling arising from a sense of that Presence is fear, the after feelings are love and joy, while the culmination is peace, even in the grim presence of death: "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." These Canaanites only knew that sense of God's presence which precedes judgment and destruction: every living man, in the one way or the other, must awake to a sense of that presence sooner or later.

II. The medium of this conviction of God's presence is God's working. The Canaanites heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan, and forthwith they believed in a "God nigh at hand." (Cf. instances in previous outline.) Jacob beheld the wonders of God in his dream, and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." The centurion at the cross, and the jailor of Philippi, looked each on supernatural things, and each at once told out his faith. The chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death, because "by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus." The present attempts which are being made in the name of Science to banish God's working from the faith of men, touch the question of religion in a point most vital and important. Where "the arm of the Lord is not revealed," God's servants still have to ask, "Who hath believed our report?" Give the name of "eternal laws" or "evolution" to account for the works of God; get men to believe that which the terms imply, and then there is no need for God at all. How much we lose, if the arm of the Lord is not revealed to us! Think of Belshazzar and his lords, when they held high carnival in Babylon. It may be that some among the thousand courtiers at the feast only saw the writing on the wall, and not the hand that wrote. But "the king saw the part of the hand that wrote: then the king's countenance was changed." To him the words would have an awful meaning. It makes all the difference, in our reading of life around us, whether the arm of the Lord which does the writing is hidden or revealed.

In view of the somewhat lofty tone of some modern scientists it may be allowable to ask, How much right have these who speak most dogmatically to speak on this question at all? It may be remarked:

1. Every man is born with the faculty, or capacity, of spiritual perception. We each come into the world with powers which, if cultivated, will presently enable us to see God. Men are born with capacities for seeing mathematics, poetry, and music; yet the work of a senior wrangler, of Tennyson, or Beethoven, would be utterly incomprehensible to an ordinary farm labourer.

2. Of all human powers of perception, the God-seeing sense is the most refined. Other faculties must be trained by a suitable experience, but this most of all. Let a man live forty or fifty years as if there were no such things as arithmetic, poetry, or music, and, practically, there will be no such things. May it not be so in the matter of these spiritual perceptions? Untaught men cannot look over and read a music score of a dozen staves like Costa and Barnby, or Stainer and Best. Can a man who ignores God year after year be in a position to see God?

3. If not, how utterly incompetent unspiritual men are to pronounce on spiritual things! Some men act as if mental and spiritual insight are identical; why should they be identical, any more than physical and mental perception? Each kind of eve is only good for its own sphere. Some men seem to think that scientific culture and spiritual culture are one and the same thing. They have mistaken spectrum analysis for spiritual vision. It is like using the microscope to find out if there is any music in the Old Hundredth or the Twelfth Mass. It is much the same as climbing to the top of the Matterhorn, where there is a wide outlook, in order to see through a mathematical problem. It is as though a man should take a telescope to try and perceive if his friend loved him, or seize on an opera glass to discover the exquisite pathos of the twenty-third Psalm. The philosophers appear to have forgotten what they of all men should remember,—the eye and the world must fit; the power of perception, and the sphere in which it is exercised, must be appropriate. Meanwhile we may feel thankful that men who have given a lifetime to find out God do not pronounce against His existence. We might be alarmed if Abraham and Moses and Isaiah, if John and Peter and Paul, if Luther and Baxter and Wesley, if Newton and Simpson and Farraday joined to say, "We have thought on this question reverently and devoutly for many years, we have tried to live in that spiritual purity which is said to be, and which, from the nature of the case, must be necessary in order to see God, and we come to the conclusion that while there may be a God, or may not be, we have no data by which to form any conclusion." Without judging others, it is a matter for devout gladness that in all the pages of history we have no names of men who, having followed after God throughout life in that reverence which alone becomes such a pursuit, and which alone could hope to succeed in finding Him, have turned round at the close of life, and pronounced their faith mistaken. It is at least significant that history as well as Scripture always shews the path of such as one that "shineth more and more." This world has tempted many to deny the faith; we cannot recollect that the grave has so tempted one.

"A candle wakes some men, as well as a noise; the eye of the Lord works upon a good soul, as well as His hand; and a godly man is as much affected with the consideration, ‘Thou God seest me,' as with ‘The Lord strikes me.'" [Dr. Donne.]

"Fear is entirely based on a consideration of some possible personal evil consequence coming down upon me from that clear sky above me. Love is based upon the forgetfulness of self altogether. The very essence of love is that it looks away from itself and to another."

"Fill the heart with love, and there is an end to the dominion of fear. The love of God entering into a man's heart, destroys all tormenting fear of Him. All the attributes of God come to be on our side. He that loves has the whole Godhead for Him." [Mac Laren.]

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/joshua-5.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.And it came to pass when, etc The recognition of the fearful power of God had such an effect upon them that they were astonished and fainted with terror, but it did not incline their minds to seek a remedy for the evil. Their heart was melted inasmuch as destitute of counsel and strength they did not bestir themselves, but in regard to contumacy they remained as hard-hearted as before. We have already seen elsewhere how unbelievers, when smitten with fear, cease not to wrestle with God, and even when they fall, continue fiercely to assail heaven. Hence the dread which ought to have urged them to caution had no other effect than to hurry them on headlong. They were, however, terrified from above for the sake of the people, that victory might be more easily obtained, and the Israelites might be emboldened when they saw they had to do with an enemy already broken and stricken with dismay. Thus God spared their weakness, as if he had opened up the way by removing obstacles, because they had already proved themselves to be otherwise more sluggish and cowardly than was meet. The substance then is, that before the conflict commenced, the enemy were already routed by the terror which the fame of the miracle had inspired.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-5.html. 1840-57.