Joshua 1

Verse 29. Happy art thou, &c.] ashrey. O the

happiness of Israel! it is ineffable, inconceivable, because they

are a people saved by the Lord-have such a salvation as it becomes

the infinite perfections of God to bestow; he is their help-their

never-failing strength, and the shield of that help-he defends

their defence, saves them and preserves them in the state of


Sword of thy excellency] Or whose sword-his all-conquering WORD,

is thine excellency, in its promises, threatenings, precepts, &c.,

&c. St. Paul, in his exhortation to the Christians at Ephesus, uses

the same metaphor, Take unto you the SWORD of the SPIRIT, which is

the WORD of GOD.

Thine enemies shall be found liars] Who said thou shouldst

never be able to gain the possession of this good land; for thou

shalt tread on-subdue, their high places-even their best fortified


THE blessings contained in this chapter belong also to the

spiritual Israel of God, who, according to the Divine promise,

shall have a complete victory over all their spiritual foes, shall

have all their inward enemies, the whole of the carnal mind,

destroyed, (for the blood of Jesus Christ, applied by the energy

of the eternal Spirit, shall not only blot out all their sin, but

purify their hearts from all unrighteousness;) and thus, being

delivered from their enemies, they shall love God with all their

heart, and serve him in righteousness and true holiness, without

fear before him all the days of their life. There are many

circumstances and expressions in this ode similar to several in

the prophetical blessing pronounced by Jacob on his twelve sons,

Gen. xlix., for the subject is the same in both chapters, the

reader is therefore requested to compare the two places, and to

consider the notes on each, as they have some tendency to cast

light on each other. Both these chapters constitute a part of

those Scriptures which, according to St. Paul, Ro 15:4, were

written for our learning; and, as to instruct the reader and make

him wise unto salvation was the gracious design of God, we should

particularly beg of him "that we may in such wise hear them, read,

mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and

comfort of his holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the

blessed hope of everlasting life which he has given us in our

Saviour Jesus Christ"-Collect for the second Sunday in Advent.




-Year before the common Year of Christ, 1451.

-Julian Period, 3263.

-Cycle of the Sun, 10.

-Dominical Letter, B.

-Cycle of the Moon, 10.

-Indiction, 15.

-Creation from Tisri or September, 2553.


Moses being dead, God commissions Joshua to bring the people

into the promised land, 1, 2.

The extent of the land to be possessed, 3, 4.

Joshua is assured of victory over all his enemies, and is

exhorted to courage and activity, 5, 6;

and to be careful to act, in all things, according to the law of

Moses, in which he us to meditate day and night, 7, 8.

He is again exhorted to courage, with the promise of continued

support, 9.

Joshua commands the officers to prepare the people for their

passage over Jordan, 10, 11.

The Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, are put in

mind of their engagement to pass over with their brethren,


They promise the strictest obedience, and pray for the prosperity

of their leader, 16-18.


Verse 1. Now after the death of Moses] vayehi, and it was

or happened after the death of Moses. Even the first words in this

book show it to be a continuation of the preceding, and intimately

connected with the narrative in the last chapter in Deuteronomy,

of which I suppose Joshua to have been the author, and that

chapter to have originally made the commencement of this book. See

the notes there. The time referred to here must have been at the

conclusion of the thirty days in which they mourned for Moses.

Verse 2. Moses my servant] The word, servant, as applied both to

Moses and Joshua, is to be understood in a very peculiar sense. It

signifies God's prime minister, the person by whom he issued his

orders, and by whom he accomplished all his purposes and designs.

No person ever bore this title in the like sense but the Redeemer

of mankind, of whom Moses and Joshua were types.

Go over this Jordan] The account given by Josephus of this river

may not be unacceptable here. "Panium is thought to be the

mountain of Jordan, but in reality it is carried thither in an

occult manner from the place called Phiala. This place lies on the

road to Trachonitis, and is one hundred and twenty furlongs from

Caesarea, not far out of the road, on the right hand. It has its

name Phiala, (a bowl or basin,) very justly, from the roundness of

its circumference, being round like a wheel. It is always full,

without ever sinking or running over. This origin of the Jordan

was not known till the time of Philip, tetrarch of Trachonitis,

who having ordered some chaff to be thrown in at Phiala, it was

found at Panium. Jordan's visible stream arises from this cavern,

(Panium,) and divides the marshes and fens of the lake Semechon;

and when it has run another hundred and twenty furlongs, it first

passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the middle of

the lake Gennesareth, after which, running a long way over the

desert, it empties itself into the lake Asphaltites."-WAR, book

iii. chap. x., sect. 7. See Clarke on Nu 34:12.

Verse 3. The sole of your foot shalt tread upon] That is, the

whole land occupied by the seven Canaanitish nations, and as far

as the Euphrates on the east; for this was certainly the utmost of

the grant now made to them; and all that was included in what is

termed the promised land, the boundaries of which have already

been defined. See De 34:1-4, and see Jos 1:4 below. It has been

supposed that the words, Every place that the sole of your foot

shall tread upon, were intended to express the ease with which

they were to conquer the whole land, an instance of which occurs

in the taking of Jericho. It was only their unfaithfulness to God

that rendered the conquest in any case difficult.

Verse 4. From the wilderness and this Lebanon] Joshua appears to

be standing with his face towards the promised land, and pointing

out the different places, or their situation, with his hand, THIS

Lebanon, &c. The utmost of their limits should be from the

desert of Arabia Petraea on the SOUTH to Lebanon on the NORTH: and

from the Euphrates on the EAST to the Mediterranean Sea on the

WEST. The Israelites did not possess the full extent of this grant

till the days of David. See 2Sa 8:3, &c., and 2Ch 9:26.

Land of the Hittites] These are generally reputed to have been

the most hardy and warlike of all the Canaanitish nations; and as

they occupied the mountainous countries on the south of the land

of Canaan, it is natural to suppose that they would be the most

difficult to subdue, and on this account, it is supposed, God

particularly specifies these: "Ye shall subdue and possess even

all the land of the Hittites," but it is probable that under this

one term all the other nations are included, as it is certain they

are in other places under the term Amorites.

Great sea: The Mediterranean, called great in respect of the

lakes in the land of Judea, such as the sea of Gennesareth, or

the sea of Tiberias, and the Dead Sea, which were comparatively

small lakes; but the Hebrews gave the name of sea, yam,

to every large collection of waters.

Verse 5. Be able to stand before thee] Because God shall be with

thee, therefore thou shalt be irresistible. This promise was most

punctually literally fulfilled.

Verse 7. Only be thou strong, and very courageous] ισχυεουν

καιανδριζουσφοδρα.-Sept. Be strong therefore, and play the man

to the uttermost. Though God had promised him that no man should

be able to stand before him, yet it was on condition that he

should use all his military skill, and avail himself to the

uttermost of all the means, natural and providential, which God

should place within his reach. God will not have them who refuse

to help themselves.

Verse 8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth]

The law which had already been written by Moses, and from which he

and the people were to take all those precepts by which their

lives were to be governed. Though there was a copy of the law laid

up in the sanctuary, yet this was not sufficient. Joshua must have

a copy for himself, and he was to consult it incessantly, that his

way might be made prosperous, and that he might have good success.

If he kept God's word, God would keep him in body and soul; if he

should observe to do according to that word, then God would cause

all his way to be prosperous. Those who are obedient to God lack

no manner of thing that is good.

Verse 10. Commanded the officers] shoterim. These were

different from the shophetim, who were judges among the

people, and whose business it was to determine in all civil cases.

The shoterim have been supposed to be subordinate officers, whose

business it was to see the decisions of the shophetim carried into

effect. Calmet conjectures that the shoterim here may have been

the heralds of the army like those so often met with in Homer, who

were called the messengers both of the gods and men; who bore

sceptres, and whose persons were ever held sacred. See on

De 1:13, 16.

Verse 11. Prepare you victuals] tsedah, such prey or

provisions as they had taken from the conquered countries, such

as corn, oxen, sheep, &c.; for the word signifies prey, or what is

taken by hunting, &c. This was necessary, as they were about to

undergo considerable fatigue in marching, and in making

preparations for the passage of the Jordan; for although the manna

had not ceased to fall, yet such other provisions as are mentioned

above were necessary on this occasion.

For within three days ye shall pass] Calmet contends, with great

appearance of truth, that these three days should be reckoned from

the first day of their encamping at Jordan, three days after the

return of the spies, i.e., on the eighth day of the first month,

on the tenth of which they passed over Jordan. The text therefore

is supposed to mean, Prepare victuals for three days' march, for

"on the third day after your decampment from Shittim ye shall pass

over this Jordan."

Verse 13. Remember the word] He puts the Reubenites, &c., in

remembrance of the engagements they had made with Moses (See

Nu 32:20) when he granted them their portion on the east side

of Jordan.

Verse 14. Your wives, your little ones] And with these it

appears, from Nu 32:17, were left behind 70,580 effective men to

guard them and their property; only 40,000 having passed over

Jordan to assist the nine tribes and half to conquer the land. See

Jos 4:13.

Armed] chamushim, by fives; in several lines, five

in front, probably the usual method of marching; but it seems to

signify arrayed, equipped, accoutred, well-armed, and ready for

battle. See Clarke on Ex 13:18.

Verse 15. Toward the sun-rising.] This is the EAST, as toward

the going down of the sun signifies the WEST.

Verse 16. All that thou commandest us we will do] Here they

acknowledge the Divine mission of Joshua, as they had done that of

Moses, and consequently promise to follow his directions in all


Verse 17. Only the Lord thy God be with thee] Provided God be

with thee, as he was with Moses, we will implicitly obey thee. The

words however may mean no more than an earnest prayer for Joshua's

prosperity: May God be with thee, as he was with Moses!

Verse 18. He shall be put to death] This was martial law; he who

disobeyed the command of his general should be put to death. To

this the people agreed, and it was essentially necessary in order

that proper discipline should be kept up in this great army. By

insubordination their fathers had suffered much in the wilderness;

they rejected the authority of Moses, mutinied and made themselves

a leader to conduct them back to Egypt. (See Nu 14:4.) And Joshua

himself, for attempting to encourage them against their fears, was

near being stoned to death. It was necessary, therefore, that they

should give him the most positive assurance that they would not

act as their fathers had done.

1. NOTWITHSTANDING the great honour God put on his servants

Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, and Joshua, yet we find him using every

means to induce the people to trust in himself alone. Hence he is

ever showing them that even those great men had nothing but what

they had received, and that they were as fully dependent upon

himself as the meanest of the people. What was even Moses without

his GOD?

2. Is it not strange that at the death of Moses utter despair

had not overwhelmed the whole camp, as he whom they expected to

give them rest had died before any conquest was made in Canaan? We

find, however, that they are not discouraged; he who gave them

Moses, has now given them Joshua in his place; and they had now

fully learned that if God be for them, none could be successfully

against them.

3. From all this we may learn, that when God has a great work to

accomplish, he will provide himself suitable instruments; and

though one which he has greatly honoured, appear to fail, we

should know that he is not confined to work by that one alone. He

has way every where, and all things serve the purposes of his

will. He will as surely support his Church on earth, as he will

support the earth itself; and while the sun and moon endure, the

Church shall flourish: this is for his own honour, and he

certainly is more concerned for his own glory in the

administration of justice, judgment, and salvation in the earth,

than any of the children of men can possibly be.

4. Though God had so implicitly promised them his help, yet he

strongly insists on their own co-operation. He requires the use of

every power and talent he has given; even Joshua himself must be

strong and very courageous, and the people must obey him in all

things, in order that they may go over the Jordan to possess the

good land; and without this they had never got into the promised

rest. Shall we suppose, then, that if we be not workers together

with God we shall be saved? Vain expectation! He works in us to

will and to do, i.e., he gives the principle of volition in

things that are holy, and the principle of power to bring the acts

of will into good practical effect; therefore, says the apostle,

work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Will,

therefore, under the influence of the gracious principle of

volition; act under the influence of the principle of power.

Without the power you can neither will nor do; but having the

power it is your duty to will and do. It is enough that God gives

the power. It is our duty, when we receive these talents, to

improve them. In a million of cases a man may be both able to will

and to do, and yet do neither to the salvation of his soul.

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