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Joshua 24:1-14

1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

1. Congregavit itaque 194194     The “itaque“ is here inserted without authority, but Calvin, as he explains in the commentary on the verse, thinks it necessary, in order to keep up the connection with the previous chapter, to show, according to his hypothesis, that both chapters contain the account of only one meeting. On the contrary, as has been observed in note, p. 264, the whole tenor of the narrative here given seems to indicate that it refers not to a continuation of the former meeting, but to one held on a subsequent occasion, and for a still more solemn purpose. — Ed. Josue omnes tribus Israel in Sichem, vocavitque seniores Israel, et capita ejus, judicesque ejus, ac praefectos ejus: steteruntque coram Deo.

2. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

2. Dixitque Josue ad universum populum, Sic dicit Jehova Deus Israel, Trans flumen habitaverunt patres vestri a seculo, ut Thare pater Abraham, et pater Nachor, servicruntque diis alienis.

3. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

3. Et tuli patrem vestrum Abraham e loco qui erat trans flumen, et deduxi per universam terram Chanaan: multiplicavique semen ejus, et dedi ei Isaac.

4. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

4. Et dedi ipsi Isaac Jacob et Esau: tradidique ipsi Esau montem Seir, ut possideret eum: Jacob autem et filii ejus descenderunt in Aegyptum.

5. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.

5. Misique Mosen et Aharon, et percussi Aegyptum, quemadmodum feci in medio ejus, et postea eduxi vos.

6. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and you came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.

6. Et eduxi patres vestros ex Aegypto, deveniestique ad mare, et persequuti sunt Aegyptii patres vestros cum curribus, et equitibus usque ad mare rubrum.

7. And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and you dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

7. Tum clamaverunt 195195     There is here a very abrupt transition from the first to the third person in the verbs “they cried” — “he put” — “he brought” — “he covered,” as if Joshua had ceased to deliver an actual message, and became merely a narrator. The message, however, is immediately resumed, “Your eyes have seen what I have done.” The Septuagint, at the commencement of the verse, renders “ἀνεβοήσαμεν,” “we cried,” and thereafter uses the narrative from to the end of Joshua 24:13, saying, in Joshua 24:8, “he brought,” and in Joshua 24:10, “the Lord your God would not.” — Ed. ad Jehovam, et posuit caliginem inter vos et Aegyptios: induxitque super eum mare, ac operuit eum: et viderunt oculi vestri quae feci in Aegypto, et habitastis in solitudine in diebus multis.

8. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.

8. Postea adduxi vos ad terram Aemorrhaei habitantis trans Jordanem: praeliatique sunt vobiscum, et tradidi eos in manum vestram: possedistisque terram eorum, ac delevi eos a facie vestra.

9. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:

9. Surrexit autem Balac filius Sippor rex Moab, et praeliatis est cum Israel: misitque et vocavit Bileam filium Beor, ut malediceret vobis:

10. But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.

10. Et nolui audire Bileam, sed benedixi benedicendo vobis, et liberavi vos e manu ejus.

11. And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

11. Transistisque Jordanem, et venistis ad Jericho: pugnaveruntque contra vos viri Jericho, Aemorrhaeus, et Perizaeus, et Chananaeus, et Hittaus, et Girgasaeus, et Hivaeus, et Jebusaeus: tradidique eos in manum vestram.

12. And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

12. Et misit ante vos crabrones, qui expulerunt eos a facie vestra duos reges Aemorrhaei, non gladio tuo, nec arcu tuo.

13. And I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you built not, and you dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which you planted not do you eat.

13. Dedique vobis terram in qua non laborastis, et urbes quas non aedificastis, et habitastis in eis: vineas et oliveta quae non plantastis, comedetis.

14. Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve you the LORD.

14. Nunc ergo timete Jehovam, et servite ei in perfectione, et veritate, et auferte deos quibus servierunt patres vestri trans flumen, et in Aegypto, et servite Jehovae.


1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes, etc He now, in my opinion, explains more fully what he before related more briefly. For it would not have been suitable to bring out the people twice to a strange place for the same cause. Therefore by the repetition the course of the narrative is continued. And he now states what he had not formerly observed, that they were all standing before the Lord, an expression which designates the more sacred dignity and solemnity of the meeting. I have accordingly introduced the expletive particle Therefore, to indicate that the narrative which had been begun now proceeds. For there cannot be a doubt that Joshua, in a regular and solemn manner, invoked the name of Jehovah, and, as in his presence, addressed the people, so that each might consider for himself that God was presiding over all the things which were done, and that they were not there engaged in a private business, but confirming a sacred and inviolable compact with God himself. We may add, as is shortly afterwards observed, that there was his sanctuary. Hence it is probable that the ark of the covenant was conveyed thither, not with the view of changing its place, but that in so serious an action they might sist themselves before the earthly tribunal of God. 196196     Latin, “Terrestre Dei tribunal.” French, “Le siege judicial que Dieu avoit en terre;” “The judicial seat which God had on earth.” — Ed. For there was no religious obligation forbidding the ark to be moved, and the situation of Sichem was not far distant.

2. Your fathers dwelt on the other side, etc He begins his address by referring to their gratuitous adoption by which God had anticipated any application on their part, so that they could not boast of any peculiar excellence or merit. For God had bound them to himself by a closer tie, having, while they were no better than others, gathered them together to be his peculiar people, from no respect to anything but his mere good pleasure. Moreover, to make it clearly appear that there was nothing in which they could glory, he leads them back to their origin, and reminds them how their fathers had dwelt in Chaldea, worshipping idols in common with others, and differing in nothing from the great body of their countrymen. Hence it is inferred that Abraham, when he was plunged in idolatry, was raised up, as it were, from the lowest deep.

The Jews, indeed, to give a false dignity to their race, fabulously relate that Abraham became an exile from his country because he refused to acknowledge the Chaldean fire as God. 197197     One of the fables here alluded to is, that Terah was not only a worshipper but a maker of idols, and that Abraham, convinced of the absurdity of idolatrous worship, destroyed all his father’s idols. After doing so he labored to convince his father of the propriety of his conduct by a series of arguments which are gravely recorded, but not having succeeded in his pious endeavors, was forced to flee, and thus became a wanderer. — Ed. But if we attend to the words of the inspired writer, we shall see that he is no more exempted from the guilt of the popular idolatry than Terah and Nachor. For why is it said that the fathers of the people served strange gods, and that Abraham was rescued from the country, but just to show how the free mercy of God was displayed in their very origin? Had Abraham been unlike the rest of his countrymen, his own piety would distinguish him. The opposite, however, is expressly mentioned to show that he had no peculiar excellence of his own which could diminish the grace bestowed upon him, and that therefore his posterity behooved to acknowledge that when he was lost, he was raised up from death unto life.

It seems almost an incredible and monstrous thing, that while Noah was yet alive, idolatry had not only spread everywhere over the world, but even penetrated into the family of Shem, in which at least, a purer religion ought to have flourished. How insane and indomitable human infatuation is in this respect, is proved by the fact that the holy Patriarch, on whom the divine blessing had been specially bestowed, was unable to curb his posterity, and prevent them from abandoning the true God, and prostituting themselves to superstition.

3. And I took your father Abraham, etc This expression gives additional confirmation to what I lately showed, that Abraham did not emerge from profound ignorance and the abyss of error by his own virtue, but was drawn out by the hand of God. For it is not said that he sought God of his own accord, but that he was taken by God and transported elsewhere. Joshua then enlarges on the divine kindness in miraculously preserving Abraham safe during his long pilgrimage. What follows, however, begets some doubt, namely, that God multiplied the seed of Abraham, and yet gave him only Isaac, because no mention is made of any but him. But this comparison illustrates the singular grace of God towards them in that, while the offspring of Abraham was otherwise numerous, their ancestor alone held the place of lawful heir. In the same sense it is immediately added, that while Esau and Jacob were brothers and twins, one of the two was retained and the other passed over. We see, therefore, why as well in the case of Ishmael and his brother as in that of Esau, he loudly extols the divine mercy and goodness towards Jacob, just as if he were saying, that his race did not excel others in any respect except in that of being specially selected by God.

4. But Jacob and his children went down, etc After mentioning the rejection of Esau, he proceeds to state how Jacob went down into Egypt, and though he confines himself to a single expression, it is one which indicates the large and exuberant and clear manifestation of the paternal favor of God. It cannot be doubted, that although the sacred historian does not speak in lofty terms of each miracle performed, Joshua gave the people such a summary exposition of their deliverance as might suffice. First, he points to the miracles performed in Egypt; next, he celebrates the passage of the Red Sea, where God gave them the aid of his inestimable power; and thirdly, he reminds them of the period during which they wandered in the desert.

8. And I brought you into the land, etc He at length begins to discourse of the victories which opened a way for the occupation of their settlements. For although the country beyond the Jordan had not been promised as part of the inheritance, yet, as God, by his decree, joined it to the land of Canaan as a cumulative expression of his bounty, Joshua, not without cause, connects it with the other in commending the divine liberality towards the people, and declares, not merely that trusting to divine aid, they had proved superior in arms and strength, but had also been protected from the fatal snares which Balak had laid for them. For although the impostor Balaam was not able to effect anything by his curses and imprecations, it was, however, very profitable to observe the admirable power of God displayed in defeating his malice. For it was just as if he had come to close quarters, and warred with everything that could injure them.

The more firmly to persuade them that they had overcome not merely by the guidance of God, but solely by his power, he repeats what we read in the books of Moses, (Deuteronomy 7:20) that hornets were sent to rout the enemy without human hand. This was a more striking miracle than if they had been routed, put to flight, and scattered in any other way. For those who, contrary to expectation, gain a victory without any difficulty, although they confess that the prosperous issue of the war is the gift of God, immediately allow themselves to become blinded by pride, and transfer the praise to their own wisdom, activity, and valor. But when the thing is effected by hornets, the divine agency is indubitably asserted. Accordingly, the conclusion is, that the people did not acquire the land by their own sword or bow, a conclusion repeated in the 44th Psalm, and apparently borrowed from the passage here. Lastly, after reminding them that they ate the fruits provided by other men’s labors, he exhorts them to love God as his beneficence deserves.

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