Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 8:31

just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord , and sacrificed peace offerings.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Altar;   Commandments;   Curse;   Law;   Peace Offerings;   Stones;   Thompson Chain Reference - Altars;   Burnt-Offerings;   Dedication;   Iron;   Offerings;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Altars;   Iron;   Peace-Offerings;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Samaritans;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Altar;   Joshua the son of nun;   Moses;   Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Government;   War, Holy War;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Deuteronomy;   Ebal;   Gerizim;   Pentateuch;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bible;   Ebal;   Pentateuch;   Thank Offering;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ark of the Covenant;   Covenant;   Deuteronomy, the Book of;   Ebal;   Gerizim and Ebal;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Shechem;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Torah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Clean and Unclean;   Israel;   Joshua;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Ebal;   Gerizim;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ebal;   Gerizim;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Tabernacle;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Stone;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Altar;   Ebal;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bible, the;   Deuteronomy;   Law, Judicial;   Moses;   Teach;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Capital Punishment;   Deuteronomy;   Ebal;   Torah;  

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses,.... Deuteronomy 27:5,

an altar of whole stones, on which no man hath lift up any iron; See Gill on Exodus 20:25; see Gill on Deuteronomy 27:5, and; see Gill on Deuteronomy 27:6,

and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings; by way of thanksgiving for the good land they were introduced into, and this was what they were ordered to do by Moses, Deuteronomy 27:6.

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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 8:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-8.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

an altar of whole stones — according to the instructions given to Moses (Exodus 20:25; Deuteronomy 27:5).

over which no man hath lifted up any iron — that is, iron tool. The reason for this was that every altar of the true God ought properly to have been built of earth (Exodus 20:24); and if it was constructed of stone, rough, unhewn stones were to be employed that it might retain both the appearance and nature of earth, since every bloody sacrifice was connected with sin and death, by which man, the creature of earth, is brought to earth again [Keil].

they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings — This had been done when the covenant was established (Exodus 24:5); and by the observance of these rites (Deuteronomy 27:6), the covenant was solemnly renewed - the people were reconciled to God by the burnt offering, and this feast accompanying the peace or thank offering, a happy communion with God was enjoyed by all the families in Israel.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-8.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

The Reader will find this command twice given. Deuteronomy 11:29-30; Deu_27:2. And what day so proper, as the day made remarkable by a plenitude of mercies!

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-8.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 8:31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up [any] iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Ver. 31. Over which no man hath llft up any iron.] To polish or garnish it; for this was to defile it. [Exodus 20:25 Deuteronomy 27:5] In God’s service we must neither be curious nor careless. Holy things must be handled Sancte magis quam scite, neither is it for men to worship God as they please.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-8.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 31. And they offered thereon burnt-offerings, &c.— They renewed for the third time the covenant with God, as has been elsewhere observed. See on Deuteronomy 27:10.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-8.html. 1801-1803.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 8:31 a

‘As Moses the servant of YHWH had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of hewn stones on which no man had lifted up any iron.’

Joshua was carefully carrying out the instructions that he had received from Moses. The altar of unhewn stones was as instructed in Exodus 20:25. The forbidding here of iron probably represents iron as a foreign and ‘new’ metal, not native to Israel. But in fact all tools were forbidden.

Joshua 8:31 b

‘And they offered on it burnt offerings to YHWH, and sacrificed peace offerings.’

Having built the altar, worship was now offered, both in the form of dedicatory, atoning whole burnt offerings (Leviticus 1), and in atoning sacrifices in a form in which the people could participate by eating of the peace offerings (Leviticus 3; Leviticus 7:11-18). This was both in thanksgiving for victory and in preparation for renewal of the covenant, and acceptance into it of the people of Shechem (Deuteronomy 27:6-7).

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-8.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

31.An altar of whole stones — That is, stones on which no tool of iron had been used to chisel down or polish. According to the law of Exodus 20:25, a stone altar must not be built of hewn stones, for the touch of an iron tool upon it was regarded as a pollution. And an unhewn stone would the better symbolize that Living Stone, (1 Peter 2:4.) cut out of the mountain without hands, (Daniel 2:45,) which has become the head of the corner, (Ephesians 2:20,) and certainly owes none of its excellence to human culture or polish.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-8.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Iron. Spencer complains that the Protestants have not translated barzel, "iron tool," as [in] Deuteronomy xxvii. 5. This translation is found in their more ancient editions of 1537-49, &c. (Kennicott) --- But the difference is very unimportant. The reason of this prohibition is given, Exodus xx. 25. --- He offered; so we read that he wrote, blessed and cursed, &c., because these things were done at least by his authority. It is not necessary to suppose that he engraved the words of the law with his own hands, or that he passed from Garizim, where he had been pronouncing the blessings, to Hebal, in order to denounce the curses. (Haydock) --- He probably commissioned some of the princes on Hebal to perform the office of cursing, after he had repeated the blessings himself from Garizim; and the select company of Levites before the ark, having answered or repeated the words, the whole multitude stationed at the foot of Hebal, giving their consent that the transgressors should be cursed. (Kennicott) --- Hence Josue must have sacrificed by the hands of the priests. (Haydock) --- Various instances are produced to show that princes and prophets have, on extraordinary occasions, performed this office themselves, 1 Kings vi. 15., and vii. 9., and 3 Kings xviii. 32. (Calmet) --- But these must have either received a dispensation from God, or they must have employed the ministry of the legal priests; or, in fine, their actions, like that of Saul, (1 Kings xiii. 9,) of Absalom, (1 Kings i. 9,) Herod, &c., may have been deserving of blame. (Haydock) --- The Jews assert that in the desert no one was permitted to sacrifice, except in the tabernacle; but that this prohibition ceased at Galgal, as the ark had no fixed abode, and thus Josue might offer sacrifice himself. Afterwards the law was enforced, while the ark was at Silo. But upon its being removed to Nobe, Maspha, and Gabaon, people resumed their former liberty; and hence there was nothing to hinder Samuel, Saul, and David from offering sacrifice, till the temple was erected. (Outram de Sac. i. 2; Grotius in Deuteronomy xii. 8.) This sacred office was formerly exercised by kings, particularly at Athens, where, after the people became more numerous, Theseus appointed the king of sacrifices to keep up the memory of the ancient practice. (Demost. c. Neream.) (Calmet) The like was done at Rome under the republic. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-8.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Moses the servant of the LORD. See note on Deuteronomy 34:5.

children = sons.

as = according as.

Book of the Law. See note on Exodus 17:14; Exodus 24:4; and App-47. So that Joshua had a copy of Deuteronomy.

whole stones. Compare Exodus 20:25. Deuteronomy 27:5.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-8.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Of whole stones - according to the instructions given to Moses (Exodus 20:25; Deuteronomy 27:5).

Over which no man hath lift up any iron - i:e., iron tool. The reason of this was, that every altar of the true God ought properly to have been built of earth (Exodus 20:24); and if it was constructed of stone, rough unhewn stones were to be employed. that it might retain both the appearance and nature of earth, since every bloody sacrifice was connected with sin and death, by which man, the creature of earth, is brought to earth again (Keil). Another and perhaps more urgent reason was, that the artificially-built altars of the pagan were frequently inscribed with the name or symbol of the god to whom they were dedicated, and their skies ornamented with bas-reliefs of gods, or sculptured figures of idolatrous rites and festive scenes.

They offered thereon burnt offerings ... and sacrificed peace offerings. This had been done when the covenant was established (Exodus 24:5); and by the observance of these federal rites (Deuteronomy 27:6) the covenant was solemnly renewed-the people were reconciled to God by the burnt offering, whilst, by this feast accompanying the peace or thank offering, a happy communion with God was enjoyed by all the families in Israel.

Copyright Statement
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 8:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-8.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.
as it is
34,35; 1:8; 2 Kings 14:6; 22:8; 2 Chronicles 25:4; 35:12; Ezra 6:18; Nehemiah 13:1; Matthew 12:26
altar
Exodus 20:24,25; Deuteronomy 27:5,6; 1 Kings 18:31,32
and they offered
Exodus 18:12; 24:5; Deuteronomy 27:6,7
Reciprocal: Joshua 11:12 - as Moses;  Hebrews 3:5 - as

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-8.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"... an altar of whole stones, aver which no man hath lift up any iron."Joshua 8:31

This is a point in the spiritual education of man.—We must think ourselves back to the time when such mechanical exactitude was part of personal and national religion.—The uses of such studies may be to show how far we have advanced, and to inquire into the methods by which our progress has been realised.—We do not advance from those points unless we have really been at them ourselves, either literally or sympathetically.—It is not enough to know that the Israelites were at the point of literal detail, such as is indicated in the text; we must ourselves have been at that point in some clearly recognised sense; we do not descend upon great spiritual privileges, but we work up to them through processes of subservience; we are not born into this household of grace and liberty, but are brought into it by long processes of self-rebuke, self-chastisement, and self-denial; all men must begin at the alphabet, and pursue their way into the delights of literature.—It is the same with religion as it is with education.—We are born into a great literary estate, full of philosophy, poetry, history, and imagination; yet though we are born into this inheritance and have certain rights to it, we can only claim the inheritance by becoming patient inquirers and students: when the philosopher leaves his philosophy to the world, even his own children must begin at the alphabet, and toil up the ascent upon which the great fortune stands.—Passages of this kind rebuke the idea that religion now is a merely off-handed exercise, a pleasure that can be taken up or laid down: a species of luxury which may be languidly enjoyed or languidly declined.—To build the altar is not to create the God.—To build the church is not to unfold the revelation.—There is a wonderful co-operation in the whole process of religion.—God will, so to say, be met half-way.—He will come to the top of the mountain, and meet us at the end of our opportunity.—A beautiful thought is this, that God sometimes will come no further down than to the top of the mountain; if he remained one league above it, we could not reach him; but it is in accord with his mercy that he begins where man ends; man toils to the top of the mountain, and cannot proceed one step further, and it is in this extremity that God creates his own opportunity.—Although altar-building may now have been done away, and much of mechanical process may have been abrogated, yet still there remains the great fact that man must always make some preparation to meet God and enter into the full enjoyment of religious privileges.—The preparation indicates the spirit of the worshipper.—When called upon to offer hospitality to a king, we prepare according to the dignity of the guest; when summoned to the presence of some great one, all our preparations are made with a view to the greatness of the man whom we have to meet.—We have only to apply these facts in a religious direction to discover what we ought to do when we are called upon to commune with Heaven.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 8:31". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/joshua-8.html. 1885-95.