Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV

In this book and those that follow to the end of Esther, we have the history of the Jewish nation. These books, to the end of the second book of Kings, the Jewish writers call, the first book of the prophets: as being wrote by prophets, men divinely inspired. Indeed it is probable they were collections of the authentic records of the nation, which some of the prophets were divinely directed and assisted to put together. It seems the substance of the several histories was written under divine direction, when the events had just happened, and long after put into the form wherein they stand now, perhaps all by the same hand. In the five books of Moses we had a full account of the rise and constitution of the Old Testament church, the miracles by which it was built up, and the laws and ordinances by which it was to be governed. And any nation that had statutes and judgments so righteous, one would think, should have been very holy. But alas! a great part of the history is a representation of their sins and miseries. For the law made nothing perfect; that was to be done by the bringing in of the better hope. The book of Joshua, if not written by him, was at least collected out of his journals or memoirs. It contains the history of Israel under the command of Joshua: how he presided over them,

  1. In their entrance into Canaan, chap. 1 - 5.
  2. In their conquest of Canaan, chap. 6 - 12.
  3. In the distribution of the land among the tribes of Israel, chap. 13 - 21.
  4. In the establishment of religion among them, chap. 21 - 24.

In all which he was a great example of wisdom, courage, fidelity and piety. And in this history we may see,

  1. Much of God and his providence; his power in the kingdom of nature; his justice in punishing the Canaanites; his faithfulness to his covenant with the patriarchs; his kindness to his people:
  2. Much of Christ and his grace: Joshua being in many respects an eminent type of him.

Chapter I

In this chapter,

  1. God appoints Joshua to govern in the stead of Moses, and gives him instructions and encouragement, ver. 1 - 9.
  2. He enters on his office immediately, giving orders to the officers, and to the two tribes and an half, ver. 10 - 1 5.
  3. The people accept him as their governor, ver. 16 - 18

1 After the death of Moses - Either immediately after it, or when the days of mourning for Moses were expired. Joshua was appointed and declared Moses's successor in the government before this time; and here he receives confirmation from God therein. The servant of the Lord - This title is given to Moses here and Jos 1:2, as also Deut 34:5, and is repeated not without cause, to reflect honour upon him, to give authority to his laws and writings, in publishing whereof he acted as God's servant, in his name: and that the Israelites might not think of Moses above what was meet, remembering that he was not the Lord himself, but only the Lord's servant; and therefore not to be too pertinaciously followed in all his institutions when the Lord himself should come and abolish part of the Mosaical dispensation; it being but reasonable that he who was only a servant in God's house, should give place to him who was the son, and heir, and Lord of it. The Lord spake - Either in a dream or vision, or by Urim, Numb 27:21. Moses's minister - Who had waited upon Moses in his great employments, and thereby been privy to his manner of government, and so prepared for it.
2 Now therefore arise - Let not the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours. When God has work to do, he will either find or make instruments fit to carry it on. Moses the servant is dead; but God the master is not: he lives forever. This Jordan - Which is now near thee, which is the only obstacle in thy way to Canaan. Which I give - That is, am now about to give thee actual possession of it, as I formerly gave a right to it by promise.
3 Every place - That is, within the following bounds.
4 This Lebanon - Emphatically, as being the most eminent mountain in Syria, and the northern border of the land: or this which is within thy view. Hittites - Of the Canaanites, who elsewhere are all called Amorites; (Gen 15:16) and here Hittites, the Hittites being the most considerable and formidable of all. The greater - The midland sea, great in itself, and especially compared with those lesser collections of waters, which the Jews called seas. "But the Israelites never possessed all this land." I answer:
  1. That was from their own sloth and cowardice, and disobedience to God, and breach of those conditions upon which this promise was suspended:
  2. Though their possessions extended not to Euphrates, yet their dominion did, and all those lands were tributary to them in David's and Solomon's time.
5 With Moses - To assist him against all his enemies, and in all the difficulties of governing this stiff - necked people, which Joshua might justly fear no less than the Canaanites. Forsake thee - I will not leave thee destitute either of inward support, or of outward assistance.
6 Be strong and of a good courage - Joshua, though a person of great courage and resolution, whereof he had given sufficient proof, yet needs these exhortations, partly because his work was great, and difficult, and long, and in a great measure new; partly because he had a very mean opinion of himself, especially if compared with Moses; and remembering how perverse and ungovernable that people were, even under Moses, he might very well suspect the burden of ruling them would be too heavy for his shoulders.
7 Commanded thee - Remember, that though thou art the commander of my people, yet thou art my subject, and obliged to observe all my commands. To the right hand or to the left - That is, in any kind, or upon any pretence; which plainly shews, that God's assistance promised to him and the Israelites, was conditional, and might justly be withdrawn upon their breach of the conditions. Whithersoever thou goest - That is, whatsoever thou doest. Mens actions are often compared to ways, or steps by which they come to the end they aim at.
8 Out of thy mouth - That is, thou shalt constantly read it, and upon occasion discourse of it, and the sentence which shall come out of thy mouth, shall in all things be given according to this rule. Day and night - That is, diligently study, and upon all occasions consider what is God's will and thy duty. The greatness of thy place and employments shall not hinder thee from this work, because this is the only rule of all thy private actions, and publick administrations.
9 I commanded thee - I whom thou art obliged to obey: I who can carry thee through every thing I put thee upon: I of whose faithfulness and almighty power thou hast had large experience?
10 The officers of the people - These who commanded under Joshua, in their respective tribes and families, attended him for orders, which they were to transmit to the people.
11 Prepare you victuals - For although Manna was given them to supply their want of ordinary provisions in the wilderness; yet they were allowed, when they had opportunity, to purchase other provisions, and did so, Deut 2:6,28. And now having been some time in the land of the Amorites, and together with Manna used themselves to other food, which that country plentifully supplied them with; they are warned to furnish themselves therewith for their approaching march. Three days - These words, though placed here, seem not to have been delivered by Joshua 'till after the return of the spies; such transpositions being frequent in scripture. And hence it comes, that these three days mentioned here below, after the history of the spies, are again repeated Josh 3:2.
13 Commanded you - His charge to you, and your promise to him. Rest - That is, a place of rest, as that word signifies.
14 Before their brethren - In the front of all of them; which was but reasonable; because they had the advantage of their brethren, having actually received their portion, which their brethren had only in hope, because they were freed from those impediments which the rest were exposed to, their wives, and children, and estates being safely lodged; and to prevent their withdrawing themselves from the present service, which they otherwise would have had temptation to do, because of the nearness of their habitations. Armed - For by this time they were well furnished with arms, which they had either from the Egyptians, Amalekites, or Amorites, from whom they had taken them; or by purchase from those people by whose borders they passed. Men of valour - All such were obliged to go over if occasion required it, but Joshua took only some of them, because they were sufficient for his purpose, and because some were fit to be left, both to secure their own wives, children, and possessions, and to prevent their enemies on that side from giving them disturbance in their enterprise upon Canaan.
16 And they answered - Not the two tribes and an half only, but the officers of all the people, in their name, concurring with the divine appointment, by which Joshua was set over them. Thus must we swear allegiance to our Lord Jesus, as the captain of our salvation.
17 Unto thee - The same obedience which we owed, to Moses, we promise unto thee. With Moses - This is not a limitation of their obedience, as if they would not obey him any longer than he was prosperous, but an additional prayer for him. As we have hereby promised thee our obedience, so our prayer shall be, that God would bless and prosper thee, as he did Moses.

Chapter II

Joshua sends spies to Jericho, ver. 1. Rahab receives and conceals them, ver. 2 - 7. Her agreement with them for the safety of herself and family, ver. 8 - 21. The return of the spies, and the account given by them, ver. 22 - 24.

1 Sent - Or, had sent: See note ... "Jos 1:11" Two men - Not twelve, as Moses did, because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it. To spy - That is, to learn the state of the land and people. It is evident Joshua did not this out of distrust; it is probable, he had God's command and direction in it for the encouragement of himself and his army. Secretly - With reference not to his enemies, that being the practice of all spies, but to the Israelites; a good caution to prevent the inconveniency which possibly might have arisen, if their report had been discouraging. Jericho - That is, the land about Jericho, together with the city. Heb. The land and Jericho, that is, especially Jericho. Harlot's - So the Hebrew word is used, Judg 11:1, and so it is rendered by two apostles, Heb 11:31 Jam 2:25, such she either now was, or rather, had been formerly. Lodged - Or, lay down; as the same word is rendered, Jos 2:8, composed themselves to rest; but they were hindered from that intention.
2 To night - This evening.
3 Probably Israel had but one friend in all Jericho: and God directed them to her! Thus what seems to be most accidental, is often over - ruled, to serve the great ends of providence. And those that acknowledge God in their ways, he will guide them with his eye.
4 And the woman - Or, But the woman had taken - and had hid them, before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours, that there was a suspicion of the matter, and guessed that search would be made. And this is justly mentioned as a great and generous act of faith, Heb 11:31, for she apparently ventured her life upon a steadfast persuasion of the truth of God's word and promise given to the Israelites. Whence they were - Her answer contained in these and the following words, was false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; tho' her intention was good therein. But it is very probable, she being an Heathen, might think, that an officious lie is not unlawful.
6 Roof - Which was flat after their manner. Upon the roof - That they might be dried by the heat of the sun.
7 Fords - Or passages, that is, the places where people used to pass over Jordan, whether by boats or bridges. The gate - Of the city, to prevent the escape of the spies, if peradventure Rahab was mistaken, and they yet lurked therein.
8 Laid down - To sleep as they intended.
9 Your terror - That is, the dread of you.
11 Melted - That is, were dissolved, lost all courage.
12 By the Lord - By your God who is the only true God: so she owns his worship, one eminent act whereof is swearing by his name. My father's house - My near kindred, which she particularly names, Jos 2:13, husband and children it seems she had none. And for herself, it was needless to speak, it being a plain and undeniable duty to save their preserver. True token - Either an assurance that you will preserve me and mine from the common ruin: or a token which I may produce as a witness of this agreement, and a means of my security. This is all that she asks. But God did for her more than she could ask or think. She was afterwards advanced to be a princess in Israel, the wife of Salmon and one of the ancestors of Christ.
13 All that they have - That is, their children, as appears from Jos 6:23.
14 For yours - We will venture our lives for the security of yours. Our business - That is, this agreement of ours, and the condition of it, lest others under this pretence, should secure themselves. By which they shew both their piety and prudence in managing their oath with so much circumspection, that neither their own consciences might be ensnared, nor the publick justice obstructed.
15 Town - wall - Which gave her the opportunity of dismissing them when the gates were shut. Upon the wall - Her particular dwelling was there: which may possibly be added, because the other part of her house was reserved for the entertainment of strangers.
16 The mountain - That is, to some of the mountains wherewith Jericho was encompassed, in which also there were many caves where they might lurk. Three days - Not three whole days, but one whole day, and part of two days.
17 Said - Or, had said; namely, before she let them down; it being very improbable, either that she would dismiss them before the condition was agreed on; or that she would discourse with them, or they with her, about such secret and weighty things after they were let down, when others might overhear them. Blameless - That is, free from guilt or reproach if it be violated, namely, if the following condition be not observed.
18 Into the land - That is, over Jordan, and near the city. This line of scarlet - Probably the same with which she was about to let them down. Window - That it may be easily discerned by our soldiers.
19 Upon his head - The blame of his death shall rest wholly upon himself, as being occasioned by his own neglect of the means of safety. Our head - We are willing to bear the sin, and shame, and punishment of it. Be upon him - So as to kill him.
21 In the window - Forthwith, partly that the spies might see it hung out before their departure, and so the better know it at some distance; partly lest some accident might occasion a neglect about it.
22 Three days - Supporting themselves there with the provisions, which Rahab had furnished them with. The ways - That is, in the road to Jordan, and the places near it, but not in the mountains.
23 Passed over - Jordan unto Joshua.

Chapter III

The people decamp from Shittim, and are directed to follow the ark, and sanctify themselves, ver. 1 - 5. The priests are ordered to go first, ver. 6. Joshua being encouraged and directed as God, tells the people what God is about to do, ver. 7 - 13. Jordan is divided, and Israel marches through, ver. 14 - 17

1 In the morning - Not after the return of the spies, but after the three days, Jos 1:11, as it follows, ver. 3:2. Lodge there - That night, that they might go over in the day time, that the miracle might be more evident and unquestionable, and strike the greater terror into their enemies.
2 After three days - Either at the end of them, or upon the last of them. Through the host - The second time to give them more particular directions, as they had given them a general notice, Jos 1:10,11.
3 Commanded the people - In Joshua's name, and by his authority. Priests and Levites - Who were not only Levites, but priests also. For altho' the Levites were to carry the ark, Numb 4:1 - 15, yet the priests might perform that office, and did so upon some solemn occasions. Go after it - Towards Jordan, to go over it in such a manner as I am about to describe. 'Till this time the ark went in the middle of the cloudy pillar, now it goes in the front. Probably the pillar of fire and cloud was still hovering over the ark.
4 Two thousand cubits - A thousand yards, at which distance from it the Israelites seem to have been encamped in the wilderness. And because they generally went from their tents to the ark to worship God, especially on the sabbath - days; hence it hath been conceived, that a sabbath - day's journey reached only to two thousand cubits. But that may be doubted; for those who encamped nearest the ark, were at that distance from it, and came so far; but the rest were farther from it, and their sabbath - day's journey was considerably longer. Near unto it - Partly from the respect they should bear to the ark; but chiefly, that the ark marching so far before you into the river, and standing still there 'till you pass over, may give you the greater assurance of your safe passage. Ye have not passed this way heretofore - While we are here, we must expect unusual events, to pathways that we have not passed before: and much more when we go hence, when we pass thro' the valley of the shadow of death. But if we have the assurance of God's presence, what have we to fear?
5 And Joshua said - Or rather, had said, the day before their passage; for it follows, to - morrow. Sanctify yourselves - Both in soul and body, that you may be meet to receive such a favour, and with more reverence observe this great work, and fix it in your hearts.
6 Take up - Namely, upon your shoulders; for so they were to carry it, Numb 7:9. Before the people - Not in the middle of them, as you used to do.
7 Magnify thee - That is, to gain thee authority among them, as the person whom I have set in Moses's stead, and by whom I will conduct them to the possession of the promised land.
8 The brink - Heb. to the extremity, so far as the river then spread itself, which was now more than ordinary, Jos 3:15. In Jordan - Within the waters of Jordan, in the first entrance into the river; Where they stood for a season, 'till the river was divided, and then they went into the midst of it, and there abode 'till all the people were passed over.
9 Come hither - To the ark or tabernacle, the place of public assemblies. The Lord your God - Who is now about to give a proof that he is both the Lord, the omnipotent governor of heaven and earth, and all creatures; and your God, in covenant with you, having a tender care and affection for you.
10 Ye shall know - By experience and sensible evidence. The living God - Not a dull, dead, senseless God, such as the gods of the nations are; but a God of life, and power, and activity to watch over you, and work for you. Among you - Is present with you to strengthen and help you.
12 Twelve men - For the work described, Jos 4:2,3.
13 The ark of the Lord - That so it may appear this is the Lord's doing, and that in pursuance of his covenant made with Israel. Of all the earth - The Lord of all this globe of earth and water, who therefore can dispose of this river and the adjoining land as he pleaseth. Cut off - The waters which now are united now shall be divided, and part shall flow down the channel towards the dead sea, and the other part that is nearer the spring of the river, and flows down from it, shall stand still. An heap - Being as it were congealed, as the Red - Sea was, Exod 15:8, and so kept from overflowing the country.
15 All the time of harvest - This is meant not of wheat - harvest, but of the barley - harvest, as is manifest from their keeping the passover at their first entrance, Jos 5:10, which was kept on the fourteenth day of the first month, when they were to bring a sheaf of their first - fruits, which were of barley. So that this harvest in those hot countries fell very early in the spring, when rivers used to swell most; partly because of the rains which have fallen all the winter, partly because of the snows which melt and come into the rivers. And this time God chose that the miracle might be more glorious, more amazing and terrible to the Canaanites; and that the Israelites might be entertained at their first entrance with plentiful and comfortable provisions.
16 Adam - The city Adam being more obscure, is described by its nearness to a more known place, then eminent, but now unknown. The meaning is, that the waters were stopped in their course at that place, and so kept at a distance from the Israelites whilst they passed over. Against Jericho - Here God carried them over, because this part was,
  1. The strongest, as having in its neighbourhood an eminent city, a potent king, and a stout and war - like people.
  2. The most pleasant and fruitful, and therefore more convenient both for the refreshment of the Israelites after their long and tedious marches, and for their encouragement.
17 Stood firm - That is, in one and the same place and posture; their feet neither moved by any waters moving in upon them, nor sinking into any mire, which one might think was at the bottom of the river. And this may be opposed to their standing on the bank of the water when they came to it, commanded, Jos 3:8, which was but for a while, 'till the waters were divided and gone away; and then they were to go farther, even into the midst of Jordan, where they are to stand constantly and fixedly, as this Hebrew word signifies, until all were passed over. The midst of Jordan - In the middle and deepest part of the river.

Chapter IV

Twelve stones taken up out of the midst of Jordan, and twelve set up there for a memorial, ver. 1 - 9. The march of the people through Jordan, ver. 10 - 13. God magnifies Joshua, who commands the priests to come out of Jordan, ver. 14 - 17. The waters close again, ver. 18, 19. Joshua erects twelve stones for a memorial, ver. 20 - 24.

1 Spake - This was commanded before, Josh 3:12, and is here repeated with enlargement, as being now to be put in execution.
2 Out of every tribe a man - For the greater evidence, and the more effectual spreading the report of this marvellous work among all the tribes.
3 Lodge this night - That is, in Gilgal, as is expressed below, ver.19,20.
4 Prepared - That is, appointed for that work, and commanded to be ready for it.
5 Before the ark - That is, go back again to the place where the ark stands.
6 A sign - A monument or memorial of this day's work.
9 Twelve stones - These stones are not the same with those which a man could carry upon his shoulder, ver.5. They might be very much larger; and being set up in two rows one above another, might be seen, at least when the water was low, especially where it was shallow, as it was ordinarily, though not at this time, when Jordan overflowed all its banks. Add to this, that the waters of Jordan are very clear; therefore these stones might be seen in it, either by those who stood upon the shore, because the river was not broad; or by those that passed in boats. Unto this day - This might be written, either
  1. by Joshua who probably wrote this book near 20 years after this was done: or,
  2. by some other holy man divinely inspired, who inserted this and some such passages both in this book and in the writings of Moses.
10 Commanded Joshua - Not particularly, but in general; because he commanded Joshua to observe and do all that God had commanded him by Moses, and all that he should command him any other way. Hasted - That is, passed over with haste, an argument of their fear, or weakness of their faith; as on the contrary, the priests are commended that they stood firm, and settled in their minds, as well as in the posture of their bodies.
13 Before the Lord - Either,
  1. before the ark, or,
  2. in the presence of God who observed whether they would keep their covenant made with their brethren, or not.
16 Out of Jordan - For being now in the middle, and deepest place of the river, they are most properly said to go up to the land.
17 The priests - Who stayed contentedly in the river, 'till God by Joshua called them out.
18 Their place - Returned into their proper channel, according to their natural and usual course.
19 The first month - Namely, of Nisan, which wanted but five days of forty years from the time of their coming out of Egypt, which was on the fifteenth day of this month. So punctual is God in the performing of his word, whether promised or threatened. And this day was very seasonable for the taking up of the lambs which were to he used four days after, according to the law, Exod 12:3,6. Gilgal - A place afterwards so called, Jos 5:9.
20 In Gilgal - Probably in order, like so many little pillars, to keep up the remembrance of this miraculous benefit.
23 Before us - That is, myself and Caleb, and all of us here present; for this benefit, though done to their fathers, is justly said to be done to themselves, because they were then in their parent's loins. It greatly magnifies later mercies, to compare them with former mercies; for hereby it appears, that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Chapter V

The Canaanites terrified, ver. 1. Circumcision renewed, ver. 2 - 9. The passover kept, ver. 10. The Israelites eat corn, and the manna ceases, ver. 11 - 12. Christ appears to Joshua, ver. 13 - 15.

1 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.
2 At that time - As soon as ever they were come to Gilgal, which was on the tenth day; and so this might be executed the eleventh day, and that in the morning: on the thirteenth day they were sore of their wounds, and on the fourteenth day they recovered, and at the even of that day kept the passover. Make - Or, prepare, or make ready, as this word sometimes used. As it was not necessary for those who had such knives already to make others for that use; so it is not probable that such were commanded to do so, but only to make them sharp and fit for that work. The second time - He calleth this a second circumcision, not as if these same persons had been circumcised before, but with respect to the body of the people, where of one part had been circumcised before, and the other at this time, which is called a second time, in relation to some former time wherein they were circumcised, either, in Egypt, when many of the people, who possibly for fear or favour of the Egyptians, had neglected this duty, were by the command of Moses circumcised. Or at Sinai, when they received the passover, Numb 9:5, which no uncircumcised person might do.
3 And circumcised - That is, he caused this to be done; and, because it was to be done speedily, the passover approaching, it was necessary to use many hands in it. Children of Israel - That is, such of them as were uncircumcised. And, though it be not mentioned, it is more than probable, that the Israelites beyond Jordan were circumcised at the same time.
4 Out of Egypt - This is to be restrained to such as were then above twenty years old, and such as were guilty of that rebellion, Numb 14:1 - 25, as it is expressed below, Jos 5:6.
5 Them - Either their parents, or the rulers of Israel, by Divine permission and indulgence; because they were now on a journey, in which case the passover also might be neglected, Numb 9:10,13. Rather, it was a continued token of God's displeasure against them, for their unbelief and murmuring: a token that they should never have the benefit of that promise, whereof circumcision was the seal.
6 The people - The Hebrew word commonly signifies the Gentiles; so he calls them, to note that they were unworthy the name of Israelites. Shew them - That is, not give them so much as a sight of it, which he granted to Moses, much less the possession.
7 Circumcised - Which God would have done,
  1. As a testimony of God's reconciliation to the people, and that he would not farther impute their parents rebellion to them.
  2. Because the great impediment of circumcision was now removed, their continued travels, and frequent and uncertain removal.
  3. To prepare them for the approaching passover.
  4. To distinguish them from the Canaanites, into whose land they were now come.
  5. To ratify the covenant between God and them, whereof circumcision was a sign and seal, to assure them that God would now make good his covenant, in giving them this land; and to oblige them to perform all the duties to which that covenant bound them, as soon as they came into Canaan, Exo 12:25 Lev 23:10 Num 15:2.
8 Whole - Free from that pain and soreness which circumcision caused, it was indeed an act of great faith, to expose themselves to so much pain and danger too, in this place where they were hemmed in by Jordan and their enemies.
9 The reproach of Egypt - That is, uncircumcision, was both in truth, and in the opinion of the Jews, a matter of great reproach, and although this was a reproach common to most nations of the world, yet it is particularly called the reproach of Egypt, either,
  1. because the other neighbouring nations, being the children of Abraham by the concubines, are supposed to have been circumcised, which the Egyptians at this time were not, as may be gathered from Exod 2:6, where they knew the child to be an Hebrew by this mark. Or
  2. because they came out of Egypt, and were esteemed to be a sort of Egyptians, Numb 22:5, which they justly thought a great reproach; but by their circumcision they were now distinguished from them, and manifested to be another people. Or
  3. because many of them lay under this reproach in Egypt, having wickedly neglected this duty there for worldly reasons; and others of them continued in the same shameful condition for many years in the wilderness. Gilgal - That is, rolling.
10 The passover - Which was their third passover: the first was in Egypt, Exod 12:11 - 24, the second at mount Sinai, Numb 9:1 - 5, the third here; for in their wilderness travels, these and all other sacrifices were neglected, Amos 5:25. While they were in the wilderness, they were denied the comfort of this ordinance, as a farther token of God's displeasure. But now God comforted them again, after the time that he had afflicted them.
11 Old corn - The corn of the last year, which the inhabitants of those parts had left in their barns, being fled into their strong cities, or other remoter parts. The morrow - That is, on the sixteenth day; for the passover was killed between the two evenings of the fourteenth day, and was eaten in that evening or night, which, according to the Jewish computation, whereby they begin their days at the evening, was a part of the fifteenth day, all which was the feast of the passover; and so the morrow of the sixteenth day, was the morrow after the passover, when they were obliged to offer unto God the first sheaf, and then were allowed to eat of the rest. Parched corn - Of that year's corn. which was most proper for that use. Self - same day - Having an eager desire to enjoy the fruits of the land. And this corn came very seasonably; for after the passover, they were to keep the feast of unleavened bread, which they could not do, when they had nothing but manna to live upon.
12 The manna ceased - Which God now withheld, to shew that Manna was not an ordinary production of nature, but an extraordinary and special gift of God to supply their necessity. And because God would not be prodigal of his favours, by working miracles where ordinary means were sufficient. The morrow - That is, on the seventeenth day.
13 By Jericho - Heb. In Jericho, that is, in the territory adjoining to it; whither he went to view those parts, and discern the fittest places for his attempt upon Jericho. A man - One in the appearance of a man. Drawn - In readiness to fight, not, as Joshua thought, against him, but for him and his people.
14 As captain - I am the chief captain of this people, and will conduct and assist thee and them in this great undertaking. Now this person is not a created angel, but the son of God, who went along with the Israelites in this expedition, as their chief and captain. And this appears,
  1. By his acceptance of adoration here, which a created angel durst not admit of, Rev 22:8,9.
  2. Because the place was made holy by his presence, Jos 5:15, which was God's prerogative, Exod 3:5.
  3. Because he is called the Lord, Heb. Jehovah, Jos 6:2. My Lord - I acknowledge thee for my Lord and captain, and therefore wait for thy commands, which I am ready to obey.
15 From thy foot - In token of reverence and subjection. Holy - Consecrated by my presence. The very same orders which God gave to Moses at the bush, when he was sending him to bring Israel out of Egypt, he here gives to Joshua, for the confirming his faith, that as he had been with Moses, so he would be with him.

Chapter VI

Directions given to Joshua concerning Jericho, ver. 1 - 5. The people compass the city seven days, ver. 6 - 14. The taking it, with the charge to destroy it utterly, ver. 15 - 21. The preservation of Rahab and her relations, ver. 22 - 25. A curse pronounced on any that should rebuild it, ver. 26, 27.

3 Round about the city once - At a convenient distance, out of the reach of their arrows. Six days - Every day once. This and the following course might seem ridiculous and absurd, and is therefore prescribed by God, that they might learn to take new measures of things, and to expect success not from their own valour, or skill, but merely from God's appointment and blessing; and in general, not to judge of any of God's institutions by mere carnal reason, to which divers of their ceremonies would seem no less foolish than this action.
5 The wall - Not all of it; which was unnecessary, and might have given the people better opportunity of escaping, but only a considerable part of it, where the Israelites might fitly enter: for Rahab's house was not overthrown, ver.22. Flat - Heb. under it, it was not battered down with engines which would have made part of it fall out of its place; but it fell of its own accord, and therefore in the place it did formerly stand in. God chose this way, to try the faith and obedience of the people: whether they would observe a precept, which to human policy seemed foolish, and believe a promise, which seemed impossible to be performed: whether they could patiently bear the reproaches of their enemies, and patiently wait for the salvation of God. Thus by faith, not by force, the walls of Jericho fell down.
6 Of rams horns - Of the basest matter, and the dullest sound, that the excellency of the power might be of God.
7 Him that is armed - God would have them armed both for the defense of themselves and the ark, in case the enemies should make a sally upon them, and for the execution of the Lord's vengeance upon that city.
9 The rereward - Which being opposed to the armed men, may seem to note the unarmed people, who were desirous to be spectators of this wonderful work.
10 Ye shall not shout - Because shouting before the time appointed, would be ineffectual, and so might give them some discouragement, and their enemies matter of insulting.
16 Shout - To testify your faith in God's promise, and thankfulness for this glorious mercy; to encourage yourselves and brethren, and to strike a terror into your enemies. Given you the city - It is given to them, to be devoted to God, as the first, and perhaps the worst of all the cities of Canaan.
17 Accursed - That is, devoted to utter destruction. This he speaks by direction from God, as is evident from 1Kings 16:34. To the Lord - Partly because the first - fruits were appropriated to God; partly lest the soldiers being glutted with the spoil of the rich city, should grow sluggish in their work; and partly to strike the greater terror into the rest of their enemies.
18 A curse - By provoking God to punish them for your sin, in which they may be one way or other involved; or the whole camp having sins of their own, God might take what occasion he saw fit to inflict this punishment.
19 Vessels of brass and iron - Except that of which images were made, which were to be utterly destroyed. Unto the Lord - Being first made to pass through the fire, Numb 31:22,23. Treasury of the Lord - To be employed wholly for the uses of the tabernacle, not to be applied to the use of any private person or priest.
21 Young and old - Being commanded to do so by the sovereign Lord of every man's life; and being informed by God before that the Canaanites were abominably wicked, and deserved the severest punishments. As for the infants, they were guilty of original sin, and otherwise at the disposal of their creator; but if they had been wholly innocent, it was a great favour to them to take them away in infancy, rather than reserve them to those dreadful calamities which those who survived them were liable to.
22 Harlot's house - Which together with the wall upon which it leaned, was left standing, by a special favour of God to her.
23 Without the camp of Israel - 'Till they were cleansed from the impurities of their Gentile state, and instructed in the Jewish religion, and solemnly admitted into that church, for which Rahab's good counsel and example had doubtless prepared them.
25 The harlot olive - For that general command of rooting out the Canaanites seems to have had some exception, in case any of them had sincerely and seasonably cast off their wickedness, and submitted to the Israelites.
26 Adjured them - Or, made them to fear; caused the people, or some in the name of all, to swear for the present and succeeding generations, and to confirm their oath by a curse. Before the Lord - That is, from God's presence, and by his sentence, as they are said to cast lots before the Lord, Josh 18:8,10, that is, expecting the design from God. He intimates, that he doth not utter this upon a particular dislike of that place, but by divine inspiration. God would have the ruins of this city remain as a standing monument of God's justice against this wicked and idolatrous people, and of his almighty power in destroying so great and strong a city by such contemptible means. Buildeth - That is, that shall attempt to build it. So this curse is restrained to the builder, but no way belongs to those who should inhabit it after it was built, as is evident from 2Kings 4:18 Luke 19:1,5. In his youngest son - That is, he shall lose all his children in the work, the first at the beginning, others in the progress of it by degrees, and the youngest in the close of it, when the gates use to be set up. This was fulfilled, 1Kings 16:34.
27 The word of the Lord was with him - (So the Chaldee:) Even Christ himself, the same that was with Moses. Nothing makes a man appear more truly great, than to have the evidences of God's presence with him.

Chapter VII

We have here the sin of Achan in taking the accursed thing, ver. 1. The defeat of Israel before Ai, ver. 2 - 5. Joshua's humiliation and prayer, ver. 6 - 9. God's directions to him, ver. 10 - 15. The discovery, conviction, and execution of the criminal, ver. 16 - 26.

1 The children of Israel - That is, one of them, by a very usual figure, as Matt 26:8, where that is ascribed to the disciples, which belonged to Judas only, John 12:4. Accursed thing - That is, in taking some of the forbidden and accursed goods. Zabdi - Called also Zimri, 1Chron 2:6. Zerah - Or, Zarah, who was Judah's immediate son, Gen 38:30, who went with Judah into Egypt: and so for the filling up the 256 years that are supposed to come between that and this time, we must allow Achan to be, now an old man, and his three ancestors to have begotten each his son at about sixty years of age; which at that time was not incredible nor unusual. Against the children of Israel - Why did God punish the whole society for this one man's sin? All of them were punished for their own sins, whereof each had a sufficient proportion; but God took this occasion to inflict the punishment upon the society, partly because divers of them might be guilty of this sin, either by coveting what he actually did, or by concealing his fault, which it is probable could not be unknown to others; or by not sorrowing for it, and endeavoring to purge themselves from it: partly to make sin the more hateful; as being the cause of such dreadful judgments: and partly to oblige all the members of every society to be more circumspect in ordering their own actions, and more diligent to prevent the miscarriages of their brethren, which is a great benefit to them, and to the whole society.
2 To Ai - They were not to go into the city of Ai, but into the country belonging to it, to understand the state of the place; and the people.
3 Go up - Which was done by the wise contrivance of Divine providence, that their sin might be punished, and they awaked and reformed with as little mischief and reproach, as might be: for if the defeat of these caused so great a consternation in Joshua, it is easy to guess what dread it would have caused in the people if a host had been defeated.
4 They fled - Not having courage to strike a stroke, which was a plain evidence that God had forsaken then; and an useful instruction, to shew them what they were when God left them: and that it was God, not their own valour, that gave the Canaanites into their hands.
5 About thirty and six men - A dear victory to them, whereby Israel was awakened and reformed, and they hardened to their own ruin. The going down - By which it seems it was a down - hill way to Jericho, which was nearer Jordan. As water - Soft and weak, and full of fluctuation and trembling.
6 Rent his clothes - In testimony of great sorrow, for the loss felt, the consequent mischief feared, and the sin which he suspected. His face - In deep humiliation and fervent supplication. Until the even - tide - Continuing the whole day in fasting and prayer. Put dust upon their heads - As was usual in case of grief and astonishment.
7 Over Jordan - This and the following clause, tho' well intended, yet favour of human infirmity, and fall short of that reverence and modesty, and submission, which he owed to God; and are mentioned as instances that the holy men of God were subject to like passions and infirmities with other men.
8 What shall I say - In answer to the reproaches of our insulting enemies. When Israel - God's people, which he hath singled out of all nations for his own.
9 Thy great name - Which will upon this occasion be blasphemed and charged with inconstancy, and with inability to resist them, or to do thy people that good which thou didst intend them. The name of God is a great name, above every name. And whatever happens, we ought to pray, that this may not be polluted. This should be our concern more than any thing else: on this we should fix our eye: and we cannot urge a better plea than this, Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name? Let God in all be glorified, and then welcome his whole will!
10 Upon thy face - This business is not to be done by inactive supplication, but by vigorous endeavours for reformation.
11 Israel - Some or one of them. Transgressed my covenant - That is, broken the conditions of my covenant which they have promised to perform, whereof this was one, not to meddle with the accursed thing. Stolen - That is, taken my portion which I had reserved, Josh 6:19. Dissembled - Covered the fact with deep dissimulation. Possibly Achan might be suspected, and being accused, had denied it. Among their own stuff - Converted it to their own use, and added obstinacy to the crime.
12 Were accursed - They have put themselves out of my protection, and therefore are liable to the same destruction which belongs to this accursed people.
13 Sanctify yourselves - Purify yourselves from that defilement which you have all in some sort contracted by this accursed fact, and prepare yourselves to appear before the Lord, expecting the sentence of God for the discovery and punishment of the sin, and that the guilty person might hereby be awakened, and brought to a free confession of his fault. And it is a marvellous thing that Achan did not on this occasion acknowledge his crime; but this is to be imputed to the heart - hardening power of sin, which makes men, grow worse and worse; to his pride, being loath to take to himself the shame of such a mischievous and infamous action; and to his vain conceit, whereby he might think others were guilty as well as he, and some of them might be taken, and he escape.
14 The Lord taketh - Which shall be declared guilty by the lot, which is disposed by the Lord, Prov 16:33, and which was to be cast in the Lord's presence before the ark. Of such use of lots, see 1Sam 14:41,42 Jon 1:7 Acts 1:26.
15 Shall be burnt with fire - As persons and things accursed were to be. All that he hath - His children and goods, as is noted, ver.24, according to the law, Deut 13:16. Wrought folly - So sin is often called in scripture, in opposition to the idle opinion of sinners, who commonly esteem it to be their wisdom. In Israel - That is, among the church and people of God who had such excellent laws to direct them, and such an all - sufficient and gracious God to provide for them, without any such unworthy practices. It was sacrilege, it was invading God's rights, and converting to a private use that which was devoted to his glory, which was to be thus severely punished, for a warning to all people in all ages, to take heed how they rob God.
17 The family - Either,
  1. the tribe or people, as the word family sometimes signifies, or,
  2. the families, as ver. 14, the singular number for the plural, the chief of each of their five families, Numb 26:20,21. Man by man - Not every individual person, as is evident from Jos 7:18, but every head of the several houses, or lesser families of that greater family of the Zarhites, of which see 1Chron 2:6.
19 My son - So he calls him, to shew, that this severe inquisition and sentence did not proceed from any hatred to his person, which he loved as a father doth his son, and as a prince ought to do each of his subjects. The Lord God of Israel - As thou hast highly dishonoured him, now take the blame to thyself, and ascribe unto God the glory of his omniscience in knowing thy sin, of his justice in punishing it in thee, and others for thy sake; of his omnipotency, which was obstructed by thee; and of his kindness and faithfulness to his people, which was eclipsed by thy wickedness; all which will now be evident by thy sin confessed and punished.
20 Indeed I have sinned - He seems to make a sincere and ingenuous confession, and loads his sin with all just aggravations. Against the Lord - Against his express command, and glorious attributes. God of Israel - The true God, who hath chosen me and all Israel to be the people of his peculiar love and care.
21 When I saw - He accurately describes the progress of his sin, which began at his eye, which he permitted to gaze upon them, which inflamed his desire, and made him covet them; and that desire made him take them; and having taken, resolve to keep them; and to that end hide them in his tent. Babylonish garment - Which were composed with great art with divers colours, and of great price, as appears both from scripture, and Heathen authors. Two hundred shekels - To wit, in weight, not in coin; for as yet they received and payed money by weight. The silver under it - That is, under the Babylonish garment; covered with it, or wrapt up in it.
22 Sent messengers - That the truth of his confession might be unquestionable, which some, peradventure might think was forced from him. And they ran - Partly longing to free themselves and all the people from the curse under which they lay; and partly that none of Achan's relations might get thither before them, and take away the things. It was hid - That is, the parcel of things mentioned, ver.21 and 24.
23 Before the Lord - Where Joshua and the elders continued yet in their assembly waiting for the issue.
24 His sons, and his daughters - Their death was a debt they owed to their own sins, which debt God may require when he pleaseth; and he could not take it in more honourable circumstances than these, that the death of a very few in the beginning of a new empire, and of their settlement in the land, might be useful to prevent the deaths of many thousands who took warning by this dreadful example, whom, if the fear of God did not, yet the love of their own, and of their dear children's lives would restrain from such pernicious practices. And it is very probable they were conscious of the fact, as the Jewish doctors affirm. If it be pretended that some of them were infants; the text doth not say so, but only calls them sons and daughters. And considering that Achan was an old man, as is most probable, because he was the fifth person from Judah, it seems most likely, that the children were grown up, and so capable of knowing, and concealing, or discovering this fact. His oxen, and his asses, and his sheep - Which, though not capable of sin, nor of punishment, properly so called, yet as they were made for man's use, so they are rightly destroyed for man's good; and being daily killed for our bodily food, it cannot seem strange to kill them for the instruction of our minds, that hereby we might learn the contagious nature of sin, which involves innocent creatures in its plagues; and how much sorer punishments are reserved for man, who having a law given to him, and that excellent gift of reason and will to restrain him from the transgressions of it, his guilt must needs be unspeakably greater, and therefore his sufferings more severe and terrible. Farther, by this enumeration it appears, that he had no colour of necessity to induce him to this fact.
25 With stones - And burned him with fire; which is easily understood both out of the following words, and from God's command to do so. They were stoned (which was the punishment of such offenders, Lev 24:14 Numb 15:35,) and not burned to death; but God would have their dead carcases burned to shew his utmost detestation of such persons as break forth into sins of such a public scandal and mischief.
26 A great heap of stones - As a monument of the sin and judgment here mentioned, that others might be warned by the example; and as a brand of infamy, as Josh 8:29 2Sam 18:17. The valley of Achor - Or, the valley of trouble, from the double trouble expressed, Jos 7:25.

Chapter VIII

Here is God's encouragement to Joshua, ver. 1, 2. Joshua's orders to the men of war, ver. 3 - 8. The stratagem succeeds, ver. 9 - 22. Joshua takes and destroys the city, ver. 23 - 29. The solemn writing and reading of the law before all Israel, ver. 30 - 35.

1 Take all the people - That all of them might be partakers of this first spoil, and thereby encouraged to proceed in their work. The weak multitude indeed were not to go, because they might have hindered them in the following stratagem; and it was but fit that the military men who run the greatest hazards, should have the precedency in the spoils.
2 To Ai - That is, the city and people of Ai. Unto Jericho and her king - That is, overcome and destroy them. This was enjoined to chastise their last insolence, and the triumphs and blasphemies which doubtless their success had produced: and to revive the dread and terror which had been impressed upon the Canaanites by Jericho's ruin, and had been much abated by the late success of Ai.
3 To go up against Ai - That is, to consider about this expedition; not as if all the people of war did actually go up, which was both unnecessary and burdensome: but it seems to be resolved by Joshua and all the council of war, that the thirty thousand here following should be selected for the enterprize. Either,

1, the thirty thousand now mentioned; or, 2. part of them; namely, such as were to lie in wait; and these were

only five thousand men, as is expressed, ver.12.

4 Them - The same party last spoken of, even the five thousand mentioned ver.12, there are only two parties engaged in the taking of Ai, and but one ambush, as plainly appears by comparing ver.9, with ver.12, which speaks only of five thousand, who are justly supposed to be a part of those thirty thousand named, ver.3.
5 That are - Or, that shall be: for at present he sent them away, ver.9, but the next morning followed, and joined himself with them, ver.10,11. That we - I and the twenty five thousand with me.
9 Sent them - The same party. Among the people - Heb. that people, the people of war as they are called, ver.11, that is, the main body of the host consisting of thirty thousand.
10 The people - Heb. that people, not all the people of Israel; which was needless, and required more time than could now be spared; but the rest of that host of thirty thousand, whereof five thousand were sent away; the remainder are numbered, to see whether some of them had not withdrawn themselves, taking the advantage of the night, and of the design of laying an ambush; and that it might be evident, this work was done without any loss of men, whereby they might be encouraged to trust in God, and to proceed resolutely in their work. The elders of Israel - The chief magistrates and rulers of Israel under Joshua; and these, I suppose, went with Joshua, and with the army, to take care that the cattle and the spoil of the city, which was given by God to all Israel for a prey, ver.2, 27, might be justly and equally divided between those that went to battle, and the rest of the people.
11 That were with him - Namely, the thirty thousand mentioned, ver.3, or the most of them.
12 And he took - Or rather, but he had taken, namely, out of the said number of thirty thousand, for this is added by way of recapitulation and farther explication of what is said in general, ver.9.
13 Joshua went - Namely, accompanied with a small part of the host now mentioned, that is, very early in the morning, when it was yet dark, as is said in a like case, John 20:1, whence it is here called night, though it was early in the morning, as is said, Jos 8:10, for it seems most probable, that all was done in one night's space, and in this manner; Joshua sends away the ambush by night, ver.3, and lodgeth that night with twenty - five thousand men, ver.9, not far from the city. But not able or willing to sleep all night, he rises very early, ver.10, and numbers his men, which by the help of the several officers was quietly done, and so immediately leads them towards Ai; and while it was yet duskish or night, he goes into the midst of the valley, ver.13, and when the day dawns he is discovered by the king and people of Ai, who thereupon rose up early to fight with them, ver.14. The valley - Which was near the city, thereby to allure them forth.
14 His people - Namely, all his men of war, for the rest were left in Ai, ver.16. At a time appointed - At a certain hour agreed upon between the king and people of Ai, and of Bethel too, who were their confederates in this enterprize, as it may seem from ver.17. Possibly they might appoint the same hour of the day on which they had fought against Israel with good success, looking upon it as a lucky hour. Before the plain - That is, towards or in sight of that plain or valley in which the Israelites were, that so they might put themselves in battle - array. Against him - The former success having made him secure, as is usual in such cases; God also blinding his mind, and infatuating him, as he useth to do with those whom he intends to destroy.
15 Made as if they were beaten - That is, fled from them, as it were for fear of a second blow. The wilderness - Which lay between Ai and Jericho, whither they now seemed to flee.
16 All the people - Namely, all that were able to bear arms, for old men and children were unfit for the pursuit or fight; and that they were yet left, may seem from ver.24, 25.
17 Not a man - Namely, fit for war. Bethel - Which, being a neighbouring city, and encouraged by the former success, had sent some forces to assist them; and now, upon notice sent to them of the flight of their common enemies, or upon some other signal given, all their men of war join with those of Ai in the pursuit.
18 Stretch out the spear - This was, either,
  1. for a sign to his host present with him, to stop their flight, and make head against the pursuers: or,
  2. for a signal to the liers in wait, or,
  3. as a token of God's presence and assistance with them, and of their victory.
19 Set the city on fire - Not all of it, as appears from ver.28, and because then they had lost that prey which God had allowed them; but part of it, enough to raise a smoke, and give notice to their brethren of their success.
21 All Israel - That is, all the Israelites there present.
22 The other - They who lay in ambush.
23 Took alive - Reserving him to a more ignominious punishment.
24 Smote it - That is, the inhabitants of it, the men, who through age or infirmity were unfit for war, and the women, ver.25.
25 Of Ai - Not strictly, but largely so called, who were now in Ai, either as constant and settled inhabitants, or as sojourners and such as came to them for their help.
26 Drew not his hand back - He kept his hand and spear in the same posture, both stretched out and lifted up, as a sign both to encourage them, and to direct them to go on in the work.
29 Hanged on a tree - He dealt more severely with the kings of Canaan than with the people, because the abominable wickedness of that people was not restrained and punished (as it should have been) but countenanced and encouraged by their evil examples; and because they were the principal authors of the destruction of their own people, by engaging them in an obstinate opposition against the Israelites. Down from the tree - According to God's command in that case, Deut 21:22. The gate of the city - Which place he chose either as most commodious, now especially when all the city within the gate was already turned in to an heap of stones and rubbish; or because this was the usual place of judgment; and therefore proper to bear the monument of God's just sentence against him, not without reflection upon that injustice which he had been guilty of in that place.
30 Then - Namely, after the taking of Ai. For they were obliged to do this, when they were brought over Jordan into the land of Canaan, Deu 11:29 27:2,3, which is not to be understood strictly, as if it were to be done the same day; for it is manifest they were first to be circumcised, and to eat the passover, which they did, and which was the work of some days; but as soon as they had opportunity to do it, which was now when these two great frontier cities were taken and destroyed, and thereby the coast cleared, and the bordering people under great consternation, so that all the Israelites might securely march thither. And indeed this work was fit to be done as soon as might be, that thereby they might renew their covenant with God, by whose help alone they could expect success in their great and difficult enterprize. Built an altar - Namely, for the offering of sacrifices, as appears from the following verse. Mount Ebal - God's altar was to be but in one place, Deut 12:13,14, and this place was appointed to he mount Ebal, Deut 27:4,5, which also seems most proper, that in that place whence the curses of the law were denounced against sinners, there might also be the tokens and means of grace, and peace, and reconciliation with God, for the removing of the curses, and the procuring of God's blessing to sinners.
32 Upon the stones - Not upon the stones of the altar, which were to be rough and unpolished, ver.31, but upon other stones, smooth and plaistered, as is manifest from Deut 27:2. The law of Moses - Not certainly the whole five books of Moses, for what stones and time would have sufficed for this, but the most weighty parts of the law, and especially the law of the ten commandments.
33 All Israel - That is, the whole congregation, old and young, male and female. That side - Some on one side of it, and some on the other. Mount Gerizim - These two places were in the tribe of Ephraim, not far from Shechem, as appears both from scripture, and from other authors. Bless - Or curse, which is easily understood out of the following verse.
34 Afterward - After the altar was built, and the stones plaistered and writ upon. He read - That is, he commanded the priests or Levites to read, Deut 27:14. Blessings and cursings - Which words came in not by way of explication, as if the words of the law were nothing else besides the blessings and curses; but by way of addition, to note that these were read over and above the words of the law.
35 Read not - Therefore he read not the blessings and curses only, as some think, but the whole law, as the manner was when all Israel, men and women, were assembled together, or the ten commandments. Among them - Who were proselytes, for no others can be supposed to be with them at this time.

Chapter IX

The confederacy of the kings of Canaan against Israel, ver. 1,2. The confederacy of the Gibeonites with Israel, ver. 3 - 18. Their employment, ver. 19 - 27.

2 Together - They entered into a league to do this. Tho' they were many kings of different nations, and doubtless of different interests, often at variance with each other, yet they are all determined to unite against Israel. O that Israel would learn this of Canaanites, to sacrifice private interests to the public good, and to lay aside all animosities among themselves, that they may cordially unite against the common enemy.
3 Gibeon - A great and royal city of the Hivites.
4 Been ambassadors - Sent from a far country.
6 The camp at Gilgal - The place of their head - quarters. Men of Israel - To those who used to meet in council with Joshua, to whom it belonged to make leagues, even the princes of the congregation. Now therefore - Because we are not of this people, whom, as we are informed, you are obliged utterly to destroy.
7 The Hivites - That is, the Gibeonites who were Hivites, Josh 11:19. Among us - That is, in this land, and so are of that people with whom we are forbidden to make any league or covenant.
8 Thy servants - We desire a league with you upon your own terms; we are ready to accept of any conditions. From whence came ye - For this free and general concession gave Joshua cause to suspect that they were Canaanites.
9 Name of the Lord - Being moved thereunto by the report of his great and glorious nature and works; so they gave them hopes that they would embrace their religion. In Egypt - They cunningly mention those things only which were done some time ago, and say nothing of dividing Jordan, or the destruction of Jericho and Ai, as if they lived so far off that the fame of those things had not yet reached them.
13 The bottles - Leathern bottles.
14 The men - That is, the princes. Their victuals - That they might examine the truth of what they said. The mouth of the Lord - As they ought to have done upon all such weighty occasions. So they are accused of rashness and neglect of their duty. For though it is probable, if God had been consulted, he would have consented to the sparing of the Gibeonites; yet it should have been done with more caution, and an obligation upon them to embrace the true religion. In every business of importance, we should stay to take God along with us, and by the word and prayer consult him. Many a time our affairs miscarry, because we asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Did we acknowledge him in all our ways, they would be more safe, easy and successful.
15 To let them live - That is, they should not destroy them. That this league was lawful and obliging, appears,
  1. Because Joshua and all the princes, upon the review concluded it so to be, and spared them accordingly.
  2. Because God punished the violation of it long after, 2Sam 21:1.
  3. Because God is said to have hardened the hearts of all other cities, not to seek peace with Israel, that so he might utterly destroy them, Jos 11:19,20, which seems to imply that their utter destruction did not necessarily come upon them by virtue of any peremptory command of God, but by their own obstinate hardness, whereby they refused to make peace with the Israelites.
16 Three days - That is, at the last of them, or upon the third day, as it is said, ver.17.
17 And Kirjath - jearim - Which cities were subject to Gibeon, the royal city, chap.10:2.
18 Against the princes - Both from that proneness which is in people to censure the actions of their rulers; and from their desire of the spoil of these cities.
21 Unto all the congregation - That is, Let them be public servants, and employed in the meanest offices, (one kind being put for all the rest) for the use of the congregation; to do this partly for the sacrifices and services of the house of God, which otherwise the Israelites themselves must have done; partly for the service of the camp or body of the people; and sometimes, even to particular Israelites.
22 Called for them - Probably not only the messengers, but the elders of Gibeon were now present.
23 Ye are cursed - You shall not escape the curse of God which by divine sentence belongs to all the Canaanites; but only change the quality of it, you shall feel that curse of bondage, which is proper to your race by virtue of that ancient decree, Gen 9:25. Bond - men - The slavery, which is upon you shall be entailed on your posterity. The house of my God - This only service they mention here, because it was their durable servitude, being first in the tabernacle, and then in the temple, whence they were called Nethinim, 1Chr 9:2 Ezra 2:43, whereas their servitude to the whole congregation in a great measure ceased when the Israelites were dispersed to their several habitations.
25 In thine hand - That is, in thy power to use us as thou wilt. Unto thee - We refer ourselves to thee and thy own piety, and probity, and faithfulness to thy word and oath; if thou wilt destroy thy humble suppliants, we submit. Let us in like manner submit to our Lord Jesus, and refer ourselves to him; saying, We are in thy hand; do unto us as seemeth right unto thee. Only save our souls: give us our lives for a prey; and let us serve thee, just as thou wilt!
27 The altar of the Lord - By which appears, that they were not only to do this service in God's house, but upon all other occasions, as the congregation needed their help.

Chapter X

In this chapter we have an account of the confederacy against Gibeon, and the request of the Gibeonites to Joshua, ver. 1 - 6. Of Joshua's marching and defeating the confederate kings, ver. 7 - 11. Of the sun's standing still, ver. 12 - 14. Of the execution of the kings, ver. 15 - 27. Of the taking their cities, and conquering all that country, ver. 28 - 42. Of the return of the army to Gilgal, ver. 43.

1 Among them - That is, were conversant with them, had submitted to their laws, and mingled interests with them.
2 Thy - That is, he and his people, the king being spoken of ver.1, as a publick person representing all his people. Royal cities - Either really a royal city, or equal to one of the royal cities, though it had no king, but seems to have been governed by elders, chap.9:11.
3 Adoni - zedek sent - Either because he was superior to them, or because he was nearest the danger, and most forward in the work.
5 Of the Amorites - This name being here taken largely for any of the Canaanites, as is frequent; for, to speak strictly, the citizens of Hebron here mentioned, ver.3, were Hittites. It is reasonably supposed, that the Amorites being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan poured forth colonies into the land of Canaan, subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.
6 Slack not thy hand - Do not neglect or delay to help us. Whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty as thou art our master; and by thy owns interest, we being part of thy possessions; and in ingenuity, because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection. In the mountains - ln the mountainous country.
7 Joshua ascended - Having no doubt asked advice of God first, which is implied by the answer God gives him, ver.8. All the mighty men - That is, an army of the most valiant men picked out from the rest; for it is not probable, either that he would take so many hundred thousands with him, which would have hindered one another, or that he would leave the camp without an army to defend it.
9 Came suddenly - Though assured by God of the victory, yet he uses all prudent means. All night - It is not said, that he went from Gilgal to Gibeon in a night's space; but only that he travelled all night; unto which you may add part either of the foregoing or of the following day. It is true, God had promised, that he would without fail deliver the enemies into his hand. But God's promises are intended, not to slacken, but to quicken our endeavours. He that believeth doth not make haste, to anticipate providence; but doth make haste to attend it, with a diligent, not a distrustful speed.
10 At Gibeon - Heb. in Gibeon, not in the city, but in the territory belonging to it.
11 Great stones - That is, hailstones of extraordinary greatness, cast down with that certainty, as to hit the Canaanites and not their pursuers the Israelites. Josephus affirms, that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Hab 3:11. They had robbed the true God of his honour, by worshipping the host of heaven, and now the hosts of heaven fights against them, and triumphs in their ruin. Beth - horon lay north of Gibeon, Azekah and Makkedah, south, so that they fled each way. But which way soever they fled, the hailstones pursued them. There is no fleeing out of the hands of God!
12 Spoke Joshua - Being moved to beg it out of zeal to destroy God's enemies, and directed to it by the motion of God's spirit, and being filled with holy confidence of the success, he speaks the following words before the people, that that they might be witnesses. In the sight - That is, in the presence and audience of Israel. Over Gibeon - That is, in that place and posture in which now it stands towards, and looks upon Gibeon. Let it not go down lower, and by degrees, out of the sight of Gibeon. It may seem, that the sun, was declining, and Joshua perceiving that his work was great and long, and his time but short, begs of God the lengthening out of the day, and that the sun and moon might stop their course, He mentions two places, Gibeon and Ajalon, not as if the sun stood over the one and the moon over the other, which is absurd especially these places being so near the one to the other; but partly to vary the phrase, as is common in poetical passages; partly because he was in his march in the pursuit of his enemies, to pass from Gibeon to Ajalon; and he begs that he may have the help of longer light to pursue them, and to that end that the sun might stand still, and the moon also; not that he needed the moon's light, but because it was fit, either that both sun and moon should go, or that both should stand still to prevent disorder in the heavenly bodies. The prayer is thus exprest with authority, because it was not an ordinary prayer, but the prayer of a prophet, divinely inspired at this very time for this purpose. And yet it intimates to us the prevalency of prayer in general, and may mind us of that honour put upon prayer, concerning the work of my hands command you me.
13 Avenged them on their enemies - That is, till they bad utterly destroyed them. Book of Jasher - This book was written and published before Joshua wrote his, and so is fitly alluded here. But this, as well as some other historical books, is lost, not being a canonical book, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care as they were. The sun stood - Here is no mention of the moon, because the sun's standing was the only thing which Joshua desired and needed; and the moon's standing he desired only by accident to prevent irregularity in the motions of those celestial lights. And if it seem strange to any one, that so wonderful a work should not be mentioned in any Heathen writers; he must consider, that it is confessed by the generality of writers, Heathens and others, that there is no certain history or monument in Heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan war, which was a thousand years after Joshua's time; and that all time before that, is called by the most learned Heathens, the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time. A whole day - That is, for the space of a whole day. Understand an artificial day between sun - rising and sun - setting; for that was the day which Joshua needed and desired, a day to give him light for his work.
14 No day like that - Namely, in those parts of the world in which he here speaks, vain therefore is that objection, that the days are longer near the northern and southern poles, where they are constantly longer at certain seasons, and that by the order of nature; whereas the length of this day was purely contingent, and granted by God in answer to Joshua's prayer. The Lord hearkened to a man - Namely, in such a manner to alter the course of nature, and of the heavenly bodies, that a man might have more time to pursue and destroy his enemies. The Lord fought - This is added as the reason why God was so ready to answer Joshua's petition, because he was resolved to fight for Israel, and that in a more than ordinary manner. But this stupendous miracle was designed for something more, than to give Israel light to destroy the Canaanites. It was designed to convince and confound those idolaters, who worshipped the sun and moon, by demonstrating, that these also were subject to the command of the God of Israel: as also to signify, that in the latter days, when the world was covered with darkness, the sun of righteousness, even our Joshua, should arise, and be the true light of the world. To which we may add, that when Christ conquered our enemies upon the cross, the miracle wrought on the sun was the reverse of this. It was then darkened, as if going down at noon. For Christ needed not the light of the sun, to compleat his victory: so he made darkness his pavilion.
15 Joshua returned - Not upon the same day, but after he had dispatched the matter which here follows; as appears by ver.43, where the very same words are repeated. And they are put here to close the general discourse of the fight which begun ver.10, and ends here; which being done he particularly describes some remarkable passages, and closeth them with the same words.
16 A cave - A place of the greatest secrecy; but there is no escaping the eye or hand of God. At Makkedah - Heb. in Makkedah, not in the city, for that was not yet taken; but in the territory of it.
19 Enter their cities - Whereby they will recover their strength, and renew the war. God hath delivered them - Your work will be easy, God hath already done the work to your hands.
20 The children of Israel - That is, a party of them by the command of Joshua; for Joshua himself went not with them, but abode in the siege before Makkedah, ver.21.
21 To the camp - To the body, of the army which were engaged there with Joshua to besiege that place. None moved his tongue - Not only their men of war could not find their hands, but they were so confounded, that they could not move their tongues in way of insult, as doubtless they did when the Israelites were smitten at Ai; but now they were silenced as well as conquered: they durst no more provoke the Israelites.
24 Put your feet on the necks - This he did not from pride and contempt; but as a punishment of their impious rebellion against their Sovereign Lord; in pursuance of that curse of servitude due to all this people, and as a token to assure his captains, that God would subdue the proudest of them under their feet.
27 Took them down - That neither wild beasts could come to devour them, nor any of their people to give them honourable burial. Thus that which they thought would have been their shelter, was made their prison first, and then their grave. So shall we surely be disappointed, in whatever we flee to from God.
28 And that day - On which the sun stood still. Nor is it strange that so much work was done, and places so far distant taken in one day, when the day was so long, and the Canaanites struck with such a terror.
29 All Israel - Namely, who were with him in this expedition.
35 On that day - On which they first attempted it.
36 Unto Hebron - The conquest of Hebron is here generally related, afterwards repeated, and more particularly described, chap. 15:13,14.
37 All the cities - Which were subject to its jurisdiction; this being, it seems, a royal city as Gibeon was, ver.2, and having cities under it as that had.
38 Joshua returned - He is said to return thither, not as if he had been there before, but because having gone as far westward and southward as he thought fit, even as far as Gaza, ver.41, he now returned towards Gilgal, which lay north - ward and eastward from him, and in his return fell upon Debir.
40 All that breathed - That is, all mankind, they reserved the cattle for their own uses. As God had commanded - This is added for the vindication of the Israelites, whom God would not have to suffer in their reputation for executing his commands; and therefore he acquits them of that cruelty, which they might be thought guilty of, and ascribes it to his own just indignation. And hereby was typified the final destruction of all the impenitent enemies of the Lord Jesus, who having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath.
41 Kadesh - barnea - Which lay in the south of Canaan, Numb 34:4 Deut 1:19 Josh 15:3. Gaza - Which was in the south - west of Canaan. So he here signifies, that Joshua did in this expedition subdue all those parts which lay south and west from Gilgal. Goshen - Not that Goshen in Egypt, but another in Judah.

Chapter XI

The confederacy of many kings against Israel, ver. 1 - 5. God's encouragement to Joshua, and his conquest of them and their cities, ver. 6 - 20. The destruction of the Anakims, ver. 21 - 23.

1 Hazor - The chief city of those parts, ver.10. Had heard - This was a remarkable instance of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence, which so governed the minds of the Canaanites, that they were not all united under one king, but divided amongst many petty kings; and next, that these did not all unanimously join their counsels and forces together to oppose the Israelites at their first entrance, but quietly suffered the destruction of their brethren, thereby preparing the way for their own.
2 On the north - The general designation of all the particular places following: they were in the northern parts of Canaan, as those mentioned chap.10:1 - 43, were in the southern parts; in the mountain, either in or near the mountain of Lebanon, called the mountain by way of eminency; or in the mountainous country. Cinneroth - Heb. in the plain lying southward from Cinneroth, or the lake of Genesareth. Dor - A place upon the coast of the midland - sea.
3 The Canaanite - The Canaanites properly so called, lived part of them on the east near Jordan, and part on the west near the sea, and both are here united. The Hivite - That dwelt under mount Hermon in the north of Canaan, whereby they are differenced from those Hivites who lived in Gibeon. Mizpeh - That Mizpeh which was in the northern part of Gilead. But there are other cities called by that name, which signifying a watching - place, might be easily applied to several places of good prospect.
5 Merom - A lake made by the river Jordan in the northern part of it, which was in the territory of the King of Schimron, near Hazor, Jabin's royal city, and almost in the middle of these confederate kings.
6 Hough their horses - Cut their hamstrings that they may my be unfit for war. For God forbad them to keep many horses, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, who besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.
7 Suddenly - When they least expected them, intending there to refresh, and prepare, and order themselves for the offensive war which they designed.
8 Great Zidon - A great city in the northwest part of Canaan, upon the sea. Misrephoth - maim - A place not far from Zidon, supposed to be so called from the salt or glass which they made there. Valley of Mizpeh - Under mount Hermon, as appears by comparing this with ver.3, and 17. where it seems to be called the valley of Lebanon. This lay on the east, as Zidon did on the west; and so it seems they fled several ways, and the Israelites also divided themselves into two bodies, one pursuing east, and the other west.
10 The king - In his royal city, to which he fled out of the battle. Head of these kingdoms - Not of all Canaan, but of all those who were confederate with him in this expedition.
11 Not any left - That is, no human person.
13 In their strength - Heb. with their fence, walls or bulwarks, that is, which were not ruined with their walls in taking them. Save Hazor - Because this city began the war, and being the chief and royal city, might renew the war. If the Canaanites should ever seize upon it: which in fact they did, and settled there, under a king of the same name, Judges 4:2.
16 All that land - Of Canaan, whose parts here follow. The hill - Or, the mountain, that is, the mountainous country, namely, of Judea. A considerable part of Judea was called the hilly or the mountainous country, Luke 1:39,65. The south country - That is, not only the mountainous part, but all the country of Judea, which lay in the southern part of Canaan, and often comes under the name of the south. The vale - The low countries. The plain - The fields or campaign grounds. The mountain of Israel - The mountains or mountainous country of Israel.
17 To Seir - That is, To the country of Seir or Edom; namely, that part of it which was south from Judea, not that which was eastward from it, as appears from hence, that here is mention of the two extreme bounds of the land conquered by Joshua; whereof the other which follows being in the north, this must needs be in the south of the land. Baal - Gad - A part of mount Lebanon.
18 A long time - For divers years together, as is evident by the following history. And this is here expressed, lest it should be thought that as all these wars are here recorded in a short narration, so they were dispatched in a short time. And God would have the land to be conquered gradually, for many weighty reasons;
  1. Lest the sudden extirpation of those nations should have made a great part of the land desert, and thereby have increased the number of wild beasts, Deut 7:22.
  2. Lest being done suddenly and easily, it should soon be forgotten and despised, as the nature of man is apt to do in those cases.
  3. That by long exercise the Israelites might grow skilful in the art of war.
  4. For the trial and exercise of their patience and courage, and trust in God.
  5. To oblige them to the greater care to please God, whom they yet need for their help against their enemies.
19 All other - Namely, all that were taken by Joshua, were taken by the sword, and therefore it is no wonder that the war was long, when the enemy was so obstinate.
20 To harden their hearts - It was the design of God's providence not to soften their hearts to a compliance with the Israelites, but to give them up to their own animosity, pride, confidence and stubbornness; that so their abominable and incorrigible wickedness might be punished, and that the Israelites might not be mixed with them, but be entire among themselves in the possession of the land.
21 At that time - In that war, but in divers years. The mountain - Or, mountains, the singular number for the plural; these barbarous and monstrous persons either chose to live in the dens or caves, which were frequent in the mountains of those parts, or else they were driven thither by the arms and success of the Israelites. From Debir - From the territories belonging to these cities, as we have often seen in this history, cities mentioned for the country subject to them. The mountains of Israel - It doth not follow from hence, that this book was written by some other person long after Joshua's death, even after the division of the Israelites into two kingdoms. of Israel and Judah; but only that this was one of those clauses which were added by Ezra or some other prophet; though that be not necessary: for since it was evident to Joshua, from Gen 49:10, &c. that the tribe of Judah was to be the chief of all these tribes, and some dawnings of its eminency appeared in that time, in their having the first lot in the land of Canaan, chap.15:1, and the largest inheritance, chap.19:9, it is no wonder that it is mentioned apart, and distinguished from the rest of the tribes of Israel, though that also be one of them. But how could Joshua utterly destroy these, when Caleb and Othniel destroyed some of them after Joshua's death? chap.14:12 Judg 1:10 - 12. This might be, either
  1. Because these places being in part destroyed and neglected by the Israelites, were repossessed by the giants, and by them kept 'till Caleb destroyed them. Or rather
  2. Because this work, though done by the particular valour of Caleb, is ascribed to Joshua as the general of the army, according to the manner of all historians; and therefore it is here attributed to Joshua, though afterwards, that Caleb might not lose his deserved honour, the history is more particularly described, and Caleb owned as the great instrument of it, chap.14:6 - 15 and Judg 1:12 - 20.
23 The whole land - That is, the greatest and best part of it, for some parts are expressly excepted in the following history. All that the Lord said unto Moses - God had promised to drive out the nations before them. And now the promise was fulfilled. Our successes and enjoyments are then doubly comfortable, when we see them flowing to us from the promise. This is according to what the Lord hath said: our obedience is acceptable, when it has an eye to the precept. And if we make a conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise.

Chapter XII

The conquests of Israel, under Moses, ver. 1 - 6. Under Joshua, ver. 7 - 24.

1 Plain on the east - On the east of Jordan, called the plain, Deut 1:1.
2 Middle of the river - It is not unusual even among us, for a river to be divided between two lords, and for their territories or jurisdictions to meet in the middle of the river: and besides, here is a very particular reason for this expression, because the city Ar, which was no part of Sihon's dominions, but belonged to the Moabites, Deut 2:9,18, was in the middle of the river Arnon, Deut 2:36 3:16, and therefore the middle of the river is properly here mentioned, as the bound of Sihon's dominion on that side. Half Gilead - Heb. and the half Gilead, that is, half of the country of Gilead; this doth not denote the bound from which his dominion began, but the country, over which his dominion was, which began at Arnon, and took in half Gilead, and ended at Jabbok, beyond which was the other half of Gilead which belonged to Og.
3 On the east - Which words describe the situation not of the sea of Cinneroth, which was part of the western border of Sihon's dominion, but of the plain, which is here said to lie eastward from the sea of Cinneroth, and also eastward from the salt sea. And this was indeed the situation of the plains of Moab, which are here spoken of; they lay between the two seas, that of Cinneroth and the salt sea, and eastward to them both. Sea of the plain - The salt sea was a famous plain, pleasant and fruitful, before it was turned into a sea.
4 Ashtaroth and Edrei - Sometimes at the one, sometimes at the other city; both being his royal mansions. But Israel made one grave serve him, who could not be contented with one palace.
6 Smile - Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies: nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church, diminish the just honour of those that went before them. Joshua's services were confessedly great. But let not those under Moses be forgotten. Both together proclaim God to be the Alpha and Omega of his peoples salvation.
8 The wilderness - This word here and elsewhere in scripture notes not a land wholly desert and uninhabited, but one thin of inhabitants, as 1Kings 2:34 9:18 Matt 3:1,3. The Gargashites either were now incorporated with some other of these nations, or as the tradition of the Jews is, upon the approach of Israel under Joshua, they all withdrew and went unto Africk, leaving their land to be possessed by the Israelites, with whom they saw, it was fruitless to contend.
23 King of Gilgal - Not of that Gilgal where Joshua first lodged after his passage over Jordan; where it doth not appear, that there was either king or city; but of a city of the same name, probably in Galilee towards the sea, where divers people might possibly resort for trade and merchandise, over whom this was a king, as formerly Tidal seems to have been, Gen 14:1.
24 Thirty one - Each being king only of one city or small province belonging to it, which was by the wise and singular providence of God, that they might be more easily conquered. But what a fruitful land must Canaan then be, which could subsist so many kingdoms! And yet at this day it is one of the most barren and despicable countries in the world. Such is the effect of the curse it lies under, since its inhabitants rejected the Lord of glory!

Chapter XIII

God informs Joshua what parts of the land were yet unconquered, and orders him to divide what was conquered, ver. 1 - 7. A repetition of the division made by Moses, first, in general, ver. 8 - 14. then in particular: the lot of Reuben, ver. 15 - 23. Of Gad, ver. 24 - 28. Of the half tribe of Manasseh, ver. 29 - 33.

1 Thou art old - Therefore delay not to do the work which I have commanded thee to do. It is good for those that are stricken in years, to be remembered that they are so: that they may be quickened to do the work of life, and prepare for death which is coming on apace.
2 Remaineth - Unconquered by thee, and to be conquered by the Israelites, if they behave themselves aright. All Geshuri - A people in the northeast of Canaan, as the Philistines are on the southwest.
3 Counted to the Canaanites - That is, which though now possessed by the Philistines, who drove out the Canaanites the old inhabitants of it, Deut 2:23 Amos 9:7, yet is a part of the land of Canaan, and therefore belongs to the Israelites. The Avites - Or, the Avims, as they are called, Deut 2:23, who though they were expelled out of their ancient seat, and most of them destroyed by the Caphtorims or Philistines, as is there said, yet many of them escaped, and planted themselves not very far from the former.
4 From the south - That is, from those southern parts of the sea - coast, now possessed by the Philistines, all the more northern parts of the sea - coast being yet inhibited by the Canaanites, almost as far as Sidon. The Amorites - The Amorites were a very strong and numerous people, and we find them dispersed in several parts, some within Jordan, and some without it, some in the south and others in the north, of whom he speaks here.
6 Will I drive out - Whatever becomes of us, however we may be laid aside as broken vessels, God will do his work in his own time. I will do it by my word; so the Chaldee here, as in many other places: by the eternal word, the captain of my host. But the promise of driving them out from before the children of Israel, supposes that the Israelites must use their own endeavours, must go up against them. If Israel, thro' sloth or cowardice let them alone, they are not likely to be driven out. We must go forth on our Christian warfare, and then God will go before us.
8 Which Moses gave them - By my command, and therefore do not thou disturb them in their possessions, but proceed to divide the other possessions to the rest.
9 Medeba unto Dibon - Two cities anciently belonging to the Moabites, and taken from them by the Amorites, Numb 21:30, and from them by the Israelites; and after the Israelites were gone into captivity, recovered by the first possessors, the Moabites.
11 And Maacathites - Whose land God had given to the Israelites without Jordan, though they had not yet used the gift of God, nor taken possession of it, as is noted, ver.13.
12 These did Moses smite - Not all now mentioned, but Sihon and Og, and their people, and the generality of them.
14 He gave - That is, Moses. None inheritance - Namely, in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites and Gadites and Manassites; and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and an half, as was said, ver.7, because Levi was otherwise provided for. Made by fire - Which are here put for all the sacrifices and oblations, including first - fruits and tithes, that were assigned to the Levites; and this passage is repeated, to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with, from the malice, envy and covetousness of their brethren.
15 According to their families - Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families; but this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser distributions to the several small families was done by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses gave them.
19 In the mount of the valley - In the mountain bordering upon that valley, which then was famous among the Israelites; whether that where Moses was buried, which was near to Beth - peor, Deut 34:1,6, or some other. And this clause is thought to belong to all the cities now mentioned.
21 Cities of the plain - Opposed to the cities of the mountain of the valley. All the kingdom of Sihon - A great part of it; in which sense we read of all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, Mat 3:5, and all Galilee, Mat 4:23. Whom Moses smote - Not in the same time or battle, as appears by comparing Num 21:23,24, with Num 31:8, but in the same manner. And they are here mentioned, partly because they were slain not long after, and upon the same occasion, even their enmity against Israel; and partly because of their relation and subjection to Sihon. Dukes of Sihon - But how could they be so, when they were kings of Midian? Numb 31:8. There were divers petty kings in those parts, who were subject to greater kings; and such these were, but are here called dukes or princes of Sihon, because they were subject and tributaries to him, and therefore did one way or other assist Sihon in this war, though they were not killed at this time. It is probable, that when Sihon destroyed those Moabites which dwelt in these parts, he frighted the rest of them, and with them their neighbours and confederates, the Midianites, into some kind of homage, which they were willing to pay him. Dwelling in the country - Heb. inhabiting that land, namely Midian, last mentioned; whereby he signifies, that tho' they were subject to Sihon, yet they did not dwell in his land, but in another.
22 Were slain by them - This was recorded before, Numb 31:8, and is here repeated, because the defeating of Balaam's purpose to curse Israel, and the turning that curse into a blessing, was such an instance of the power and goodness of God, as was fit to be had in everlasting remembrance.
23 The border thereof - That is, those cities or places which bordered upon Jordan.
25 The cities of Gilead - That is, all the cities of eminency; all the cities properly so called, which lay in that part of Gilead; and so this may well agree with ver.31, where half the country of Gilead is said to be given to the Manassites; but there is no mention of any cities there. The land of the children of Ammon - Not of that which was now theirs, for that they were forbidden to meddle with, but of that which was anciently theirs, 'till taken from them by the Amorites, from whom the Israelites took it. Aroer - The border between them and Moab. Rabbah - The chief city of the Ammonites.
26 Ramath - mizpeh - Called Ramoth - Gilead, or Ramoth in Gilead. Mahanaim - Exclusively; for Mahanaim was in the portion of Manasseh, beyond Jabbok, which was the border of Gad and Manasseh.
27 The rest of the kingdom - The northern part of his kingdom.
29 Of Manasseh - Not that thou desired it, as Reuben and Gad did, Numb 32:1, but partly as a recompence to Machir the Manassite, for his valiant acts against Og; and partly for the better defence of the other two tribes, by so considerable an accession to them, which also was without any inconvenience to them, because the country was too large for the two tribes of Reuben and Gad.
30 Of Jair - Who, though of the tribe of Judah, by the father, 1Chron 2:21,22, yet is called the son of Manasseh, Numb 32:41, because he married a daughter of Manasseh, and wholly associated himself with those valiant Manassites; and with their help took sixty cities or great towns, Deut 3:4,14, which thence were called the towns of Jair.
31 Children of Machir - Whom before he called the children of Manasseh, he now calls the children of Machir, because Machir was the most eminent, and as it may seem, the only surviving son of Manasseh, Numb 26:29 1Chron 7:14 - 16.

Chapter XIV

The method of dividing the land, ver. 1 - 5. Caleb demands Hebron, ver. 6 - 12. which Joshua grants, ver. 13 - 15.

1 Eleazar the priest - He best understood the laws of God by which this division was to be regulated. Heads of the fathers - Twelve persons, each the head of his tribe, who were appointed and named by God, Numb 34:19, and if any of them were now dead, no doubt Joshua and Eleazar, by God's direction, put others in their stead.
2 By lot - This course God ordained, partly to prevent discontents, enmities and quarrels among the tribes, and partly to demonstrate the truth and wisdom of his providence, by which alone those parts fell to each of them, which Jacob long since, and Moses lately, foretold; so that as a learned man saith, he must be more stupid than stupidity, that doth not acknowledge a Divine hand in this matter. The lot did only determine the several parts to the several tribes, but did not precisely fix all the bounds of it; these might be either enlarged or diminished according to the greater or smaller number of the tribes.
4 Were two tribes - That is, had the portion of two tribes, and therefore though Levi was excluded, there remained nine tribes and a half, to be provided for in Canaan.
5 They - That is, the persons named, ver.5, who acted in the name of the children of Israel, divided it, either now, or presently after.
6 Then - When Joshua and the rest were consulting about the division of the land, though they did not yet actually divide it. The heads of that tribe who were willing thus to shew respect to him; and to testify their consent, that he should be provided for by himself, and that they would not take it as any reflection on the rest of the tribe. In Gilgal - Where the division of the land was designed and begun, though it was executed and finished at Shiloh. The Kenezite - Of the posterity of Kenaz. The Lord said - In general, the promise he made us of possessing this land; and for my part, that which is expressed here, ver.9.
7 As it was in mine heart - I spake my opinion sincerely, without flattery and fear, when the other spies were biased by their own fears, and the dread of the people, to speak otherwise than in their consciences they believed.
8 I wholly followed the Lord - Which self - commendation is justifiable, because it was necessary, as being the ground of his petition. Therefore it was not vain glory in him to speak it: no more than it is for those, who have God's spirit witnessing with their spirits, that they are the children of God, humbly and thankfully to tell others, for their encouragement, what God hath done for their souls.
10 Forty - five years - Whereof thirty - eight years were spent in the wilderness, and seven since they came into Canaan. The longer we live the more sensible we should be, of God's goodness to us in keeping us alive! Of his care in prolonging our frail lives, his patience in prolonging our forfeited lives! And shall not the life thus kept by his providence, be devoted to his praise?
11 For war - Not only for counsel, but for action; for marching and fighting. And therefore this gift will not be cast away upon an unprofitable and unserviceable person. To go out, and to come in - To perform all the duties belonging to my place. Moses had said, that at eighty years old, even our strength is labour and sorrow. But Caleb was an exception to this rule: At eighty - five years old, his strength was still ease and joy. This he got by following the Lord fully.
12 This mountain - That is, this mountainous country. He names the country rather than the cities, because the cities were given to the Levites, chap.21:11,13. Thou heardest - Didst understand, both by the reports of others, and by thy own observation. Hearing, the sense by which we get knowledge, is often put for knowing or understanding. If the Lord will be with me - A modest and pious expression, signifying both the absolute necessity of God's help, and his godly fear, lest God for his sins should deny his assistance to him; for although he was well assured in general, that God would crown his people with success in this war, yet he might doubt of his particular success in this or that enterprize. To drive them out - Out of their fastnesses where they yet remain, Caleb desires this difficult work as a testimony of his own faith, and as a motive to quicken his brethren to the like attempts.
13 Blessed him - Prayed to God to bless and help him according to his own desire.
15 A great man - In stature, and strength, and dignity, and authority, as being the progenitor of Anak, the father of those famous giants called Anakims.

Chapter XV

The bounds of the inheritance of Judah, ver. 1 - 12. The assignment of Hebron to Caleb and his family, ver. 13 - 19. The cities of Judah, ver. 20 - 63.

1 The lot - For the general understanding of this, it must be known
  1. That casting lots was transacted with great seriousness and solemnity, in God's presence, with prayer and appeal to him for the decision of the matter.
  2. That although exact survey of this land was not taken 'till chap.18:4,5, yet there was, and must needs be a general description of it, and a division thereof into nine parts and an half; which, as far as they could guess, were equal either in quantity or quality.
  3. That the lot did not at this time so unchangeably determine each tribe, that their portion could neither be increased or diminished; as is manifest, because after Judah's lot was fixed, Simeon's lot was taken out of it, chap.19:9, though after the land was more distinctly known and surveyed, it is likely the bounds were more certain and fixed.
  4. That the lot determined only in general what part of the land belonged to each tribe, but left the particulars to be determined by Joshua and Eleazar. For the manner of this, it is probably conceived, that there was two pots, into one of which were put the names of all the tribes, each in a distinct paper, and into the other the names of each portion described; then Eleazar or some other person, drew out first the name of one of the tribes out of one pot, and then the name of one portion out of the other, and that portion was appropriated to that tribe. And with respect to these pots, in the bottom of which the papers lay, these lots are often said to come up, or come forth. Of Judah - Whose lot came out first by God's disposition, as a note of his preeminency above his brethren. Of Edom - Which lay south - east from Judah's portion. Judah and Joseph were the two sons of Jacob, on whom Reuben's forfeited birthright devolved. Judah had the dominion entailed upon him, and Joseph the double portion. Therefore these two tribes are first seated: and on them the other seven attended.
2 The bay - Heb. the tongue: either a creek or arm of that sea; or a promontory, which by learned authors is sometimes called a tongue. Every sea is salt, but this had an extraordinary saltness, the effect of that fire and brimstone which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah: the ruins of which lie buried at the bottom of this dead water, which never was moved itself by any tides, nor had any living thing in it.
5 The end of Jordan - That is, the place where Jordan runs into the salt - sea.
6 The stone of Bohan - A place so called, not from Bohan's dwelling there, (for the Reubenites had no portion on this side Jordan) but from some notable exploit which he did there, though it is not recorded in scripture.
8 Went up - Properly; for the line went from Jordan and the salt sea, to the higher grounds nigh Jerusalem; and therefore the line is said to go down, chap.18:16, because there it takes a contrary course, and goes downward to Jordan and the sea. Valley of Hinnom - A very pleasant place, but afterward made infamous. Of the Jebusites - Of the city of the Jebusites, which was anciently called Jebussi. Jerusalem - It may seem hence, that Jerusalem properly, or at least principally, belonged to Benjamin; and yet it is ascribed to Judah also; either because a part of the city was allotted to Judah; or because the Benjamites desired the help and conjunction of this powerful tribe of Judah, for the getting and keeping of this most important place. And when the Benjamites had in vain attempted to drive out the Jebusites, this work was at last done by the tribe of Judah, who therefore had an interest in it by the right of war; as Ziglag which belonged to the tribe of Simeon, being gotten from the Philistines by David, was joined by him to his tribe of Judah, 1Sam 27:6.
10 Mount Seir - Not that of Edom, but another so called from some resemblance it had to it.
13 He - Joshua. City of Arba - Or, Kirjath - arba. Not the city, which was the Levites, but the territory of it, chap.21:13.
14 Drove thence - That is, from the said territory, from their caves and forts in it. These giants having either recovered their cities, or defended themselves in the mountains. Three sons of Anak - Either the same who are mentioned, Numb 13:33, and so they were long - lived men, such as mainly were in those times and places: or their sons, called by their father's names, which is very usual.
15 Debir - The same mentioned above, ver.7. The name was Kirjath - sepher - This clause seems to be added to distinguish this from the other Debir subdued by Joshua, chap.10:38,39.
16 To wife - Which is to be understood with some conditions, as, if he were one who could marry her by God's law; and if she were willing; for though parents had a great power over their children, they could not force them to marry any person against their own wills. He might otherwise be an unfit and unworthy person; but this was a divine impulse, that Othniel's valour might be more manifest, and so the way prepared for his future government of the people, Judg 3:9.
18 As she came - Or, as she went, namely, from her father's house to her husband's, as the manner was. She moved him - She persuaded her husband, either,
  1. That he would ask: or rather,
  2. That he would suffer her to ask, as she did. She lighted - That she might address herself to her father in an humble posture, and as a suppliant, which he understood by her gesture.
19 A blessing - That is, a gift, as that word signifies, Gen 33:11. A south land - That is, a dry land, much exposed to the south wind, which in those parts was very hot and drying, as coming from the deserts of Arabia. Springs of water - That is, a field, wherein are springs of water, which in that country were of great price; she begs a well moistened field, which also might give some relief to that which was dry and barren. Upper and nether springs - Or two fields, one above and the other below that south and dry ground which she complained of, that by this means it might be watered on both sides.
32 Twenty nine - Here are thirty seven or thirty eight cities named before; how then are they only reckoned twenty nine? There were only twenty nine of them, which either,
  1. properly belonged to Judah; the rest fell to Simeon's lot; or
  2. Were cities properly so called, that is, walled cities, or such as had villages under them, as it here follows; the rest being great, but unwalled towns, or such as had no villages under them.
48 The mountains - That is, in the higher grounds called mountains or hills, in comparison of the sea - coast.
55 Ziph - Which gave its name to the neighbouring mountains, 1Sam 26:1.
62 City of salt - So called either from the salt sea, which was near it; or from the salt which was made in, or about it.
63 Inhabitants of Jerusalem - For though Jerusalem was in part taken by Joshua before this; yet the upper and stronger part of it, called Zion, was still kept by the Jebusites, even until David's time; and it seems from thence they descended to the lower town called Jerusalem, and took it so that the Israelites were forced to win it a second time; yea, and a third time also: for afterwards it was possessed by the Jebusites, Judg 19:11 2Sam 5:6,7. Could not drive them out - Namely, because of their unbelief, as Christ could do no mighty work, because of the peoples unbelief, Mark 6:5,6 Matt 13:58, and because of their sloth, and cowardice, and wickedness, whereby they forfeited God's help. The children of Judah - The same things which are here said of the children of Judah, are said of the Benjamites, Judg 1:21. Hence ariseth a question, To which of the tribes Jerusalem belonged? It seems probable, that part of it, and indeed the greatest part, stood in the tribe of Benjamin; and hence this is mentioned in the list of their cities, and not in Judah's list; and part of it stood in Judah's share, even mount Moriah, on which the temple was built; and mount Sion, when it was taken from the Jebusites. To this day - When this book was written, whether in Joshua's life, which continued many years after the taking of Jerusalem; or after his death, when this clause was added by some other man of God. But this must be done before David's time, when the Jebusites were quite expelled, and their fort taken.

Chapter XVI

The lot of Ephraim and Manasseh, ver. 1 - 4. Of Ephraim in particular, ver. 5 - 10.

1 Children of Joseph - That is, of Ephraim, and the half tribe of Manasseh, which are here put together in one; because in these first verses he speaks of them in common; and then of their several portions.
4 Manasseh - That is, half Manasseh. Their inheritance - Their several portions which here follow. It is said, they took their inheritance, which also Judah had done before them, because the tribes of Judah and Joseph did take their inheritances before the rest; and it was fit they should do so, for the security of the main camp, and the body of the people which were at Gilgal, chap.18:5.
5 East - side - That is, the north - east side. It is no wonder, if some of these descriptions are dark to us at this distance of time; there having been so many alterations made in places, and so many circumstances, being now altogether undiscoverable. But this is certain, that all the descriptions here mentioned, were then evident to the Israelites, because these were the foundations of all the possessions which then they took, and peaceably possessed in succeeding ages.
6 Toward the sun - The midland sea, towards the west.
7 To Jericho - Not to the city of Jericho, which belonged to Benjamin's lot, chap.18:21, but to its territory.
9 The separate cities - That is, besides those cities which were within Ephraim's bounds, he had some other cities, to which all of all their territories were annexed out Manasseh's portion, because his tribe was all here, and was larger than Manasseh's.

Chapter XVII

The families of Manasseh, ver. 1 - 6. The country that fell to their lot, ver. 7 - 18. Their request for more land, ver. 14 - 18.

1 The first born of Joseph - The sense is, though Ephraim was to be more potent and numerous, yet Manasseh was the first - born, and had the privilege of the first - born, which was translated to Joseph, namely, a double portion; and therefore though this was but half the tribe of Manasseh, yet they are not made intimates to Ephraim, but have a distinct lot of their own, as their brethren, or other half tribe had beyond Jordan. For Machir - The only son of Manasseh, who therefore is here, put for the whole tribe. The first - born - So even only sons are sometimes called, as Matt 1:25. He - That is, Machir, had given great proof of his valour (though the particular history be not mentioned) and his posterity were no degenerate sons, but had his valiant blood still running in their veins. Gilead and Bashan - Part of these countries; for part of them was also given to the Reubenites, and part to the Gadites. This may be added as a reason, either,
  1. why he got those places from the Amorites: or
  2. why they were allotted to him or his posterity, because this was a frontier country, and the out - works to the land of Canaan, and therefore required valiant persons to defend it.
2 A Lot - A distinct inheritance. The rest - Namely, those of them which had not received their possessions beyond Jordan. Male - children - This expression is used to bring in what follows, concerning his female children.
4 He - That is, Eleazar, or Joshua, with the consent of the princes appointed for that work.
5 Ten portions - Five for the sons, and five for the daughters; for as for Hepher, both he and his son Zelophehad was dead, and that without sons, and therefore had no portion; but his daughters had several portions allotted to them.
6 The daughters - Not less than the son, so the sex was no bar to their inheritance.
9 Three cities - Tappuah, and the cities upon the coast descending to the river, &c. last mentioned. Among the cities of Manasseh - That is, are intermixed with their cities, which was not strange nor unfit, these two being linked together by a nearer alliance than the rest.
10 His border - Manasseh's, whose portion is here described, and whose name was last mentioned. In Asher - That is, upon the tribe of Asher; for though Zebulon came between Asher and them for the greatest part of their land; yet it seems there was some necks of land, both of Ephraim's and of Manasseh's, which jutted out farther than the rest, and touched the borders of Asher. And it is certain there were many such incursions of the land of one tribe upon some parcels of another, although they were otherwise considerably distant one from the other.
11 Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher - As Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh, and as it was not unusual, when the place allotted to any tribe was too narrow for it, and the next too large, to give away part from the larger to the less portion; nay, sometimes one whole tribe was taken into another; as Simeon's was into Judah's portion, when it was found too large for Judah. Inhabitants of Dor - Not the places only, but the people; whom they spared and used for servants. Three countries - The words may be rendered, the third part of that country; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned are a third part of that country, that is, of that part of Issachar's and Asher's portion, in which those places lay.
14 Children of Joseph - That is, of Ephraim and Manasseh. Spake unto Joshua - That is, expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted them, and found it much short of their expectation. One portion - Either,
  1. because they really had but one lot, which was afterwards divided by the arbitrators between them. Or,
  2. because the land severally allotted to them, was but little enough for one of them.
15 A great people - He retorts their own argument; seeing thou art a great and numerous people, turn thy complaints into action, and enlarge thy borders by thy own hand, to which thou mayest confidently expect God's assistance. The wood - country - To the mountain, as it is called, ver.18, where among some towns there is much wood - land, which thou mayest without much difficulty possess, and so get the more room. And cut down - The wood, for thy own advantage; in building more cities and towns; and preparing the land for pasture and tillage. The Perizzites - Supposed to be a savage and brutish kind of people, that lived in woods and mountains. Giants - Who lived in caves and mountains, now especially when they were driven out of their cities. If mount Ephraim - Or, seeing mount Ephraim is too narrow for thee, as thou complainest; take to thyself the rest of that hilly and wood country. Mount Ephraim was a particular portion of the land, belonging to the tribe of Ephraim. And this seems to be here mentioned, for all the portion allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh, as appears from their complaint, which was not, that this part, but that their whole portion was too strait for them.
16 Is not enough - Heb. the hill will not be found, that is, obtained by us; those fierce and strong people the Perizzites and the giants will easily defend themselves, and frustrate our attempts, having the advantage of the woods and mountains. The Canaanites that dwell - That is, and if thou sayest, that if the hill either cannot be conquered, or is not sufficient for us, we may go down and take more land out of the pleasant and fruitful valleys, we shall meet with no less difficulty there than in the mountains. Chariots of iron - Not all made of iron, but armed with iron, not only for defence, but for offence also, having as it were scythes and swords fastened to them, to cut down all that stood in their way.
17 One lot only - Thou needest and deservedst more than that lot, of which thou art actually possessed, and thou hast power to get more; which if thou endeavourest to do, God will bless thee, and give thee more.
18 The out - goings of it - The valleys and fields belonging or adjoining to it, for there the Canaanites were, ver.16.

Chapter XVIII

The setting up of the tabernacle at Shiloh, ver. 1. Joshua's stirring up the seven remaining tribes to look after their lot, ver. 2 - 7. The division of the land into several lots assigned to those several tribes, ver. 8 - 10. The lot of Benjamin, ver. 11 - 28.

1 Set up the tabernacle - By God's appointment. It was removed from Gilgal, partly for the honour and conveniency of Joshua, that he being of the tribe of Ephraim, and seating himself there, might have the opportunity of consulting with God as often as he needed; and partly for the conveniency of all the tribes, that being in the center of them, they might more easily resort to it from all places. Here the tabernacle continued for above three hundred years, even 'till Samuel's days, 1Sam 1:3. Shiloh was the name given to the Messiah in dying Jacob's prophecy. So the pitching the tabernacle in Shiloh intimated to the Jews, that in that Shiloh whom Jacob spoke of, all the ordinances of this worldly sanctuary should have their accomplishment, in a greater and more perfect tabernacle.
3 How long are you slack - This slackness is supposed to arise from an opinion of the impossibility of making any regular distribution of the parts, 'till the whole were more exactly surveyed, which accordingly is here done. Likewise, being weary of war, and having sufficient plenty of all things, they were unwilling to run into new hazards.
4 Three men - Three, not one, for more exact observation both of the measure and quality of the several portions, and for greater assurance of their care and faithfulness in giving in their account. Of each tribe - One of each of these tribes, who were yet unprovided for.
5 Seven parts - Which were of equal extent or worth: for no tribe was so great, but one of these parts in its full extent would abundantly suffice them; and there was no reason why the portions should be greater or less according as the tribes at present were more or fewer in number, because of the various changes which happened therein successively; it being usual for one tribe to be more numerous than another in one age, which was fewer in the next. And if the several tribes had increased more, and not diminished their numbers by their sins, they might have sent forth colonies, and taken any part of the land, even as far as Euphrates, all which the Lord of the whole earth had given them a right to, which when they pleased they might take possession of. Judah shall abide on the south - They shall not be disturbed in their possession, but shall keep it, except some part of it shall be adjudged to another tribe. Joseph on the north - In respect of Judah, not of the whole land; for divers other tribes were more northern than they.
6 Before the Lord - That is, before the ark or tabernacle, that God may be witness and judge, and author of the division, that each may be contented with his lot, and that your several possessions may be secured to you as things sacred.
9 By cities - Or, according to the cities, to which the several parties or territories belonged.
11 And the children of Joseph - Wherein we see the wisdom of Divine Providence, this being the only place in which that prophecy, Deut 33:12, could have been accomplished. Providence cast Benjamin next to Joseph on the one hand, because Benjamin was own and only brother to Joseph, and next to Judah on the other hand, that this tribe might hereafter unite with Judah, in an adherence to the throne of David, and the temple at Jerusalem.
14 Kirjath - jearim - The Israelites changed the name, to blot out the remembrance of Baal.
16 The end of the mountain - The place where the mountain ends, and the valley begins. Before the valley - That is, in the prospect of that valley. In the valley on the north - Which extends unto this other valley on the north - side of it. Of Jebusi - To that part where the Jebusites lived, which was in and near Jerusalem.
21 Jericho - For tho' the city was destroyed, the territory remained.

Chapter XIX

The lot of Simeon, ver. 1 - 9. Of Zebulon, ver. 10 - 16. Of Issachar, vet 17 - 23. Of Asher, ver. 24 - 31. Of Naphtali, ver. 32 - 39. Of Dan, ver. 40 - 48. The inheritance assigned to Joshua and his family, ver. 49 - 51.

1 Within the inheritance of Judah - This was so ordered by God's providence, partly to fulfil that threatning that he would divide and scatter this tribe in Israel, Gen 49:7, which was hereby done in part, because they had no distinct lot, but were as inmates to Judah; partly, because now upon the more exact survey of the land, it appeared, that the part given to Judah did far exceed the proportion which they needed, or which the other tribes could expect. And this was the least of the tribes, Numb 26:14, and therefore fittest to be put within another tribe.
11 Toward the sea - The lot of this tribe was washed by the midland sea on the west, and by the sea of Tiberias on the east, answering Jacob's prophecy, Zebulun shall be an haven of ships; trading ships on the great sea, and fishing ships on the sea of Galilee. Before Jokneam - Supposed to be Kishon.
15 Beth - lehem - Not that where Christ was born, which was in Judah, but another. Twelve cities - There are more numbered here, but the rest either were not cities properly so called, or were not within this tribe, but only bordering upon it, and belonging to other tribes.
18 Jezreel - The royal city, 1Kings 21:1. This tribe, because it lay between Benjamin on the south, and Zebulun on the north, is not here described by its borders, which were the same with theirs; but by some of its cities.
26 Carmel west - ward - Or, Carmel by the sea, to distinguish it from Carmel in the tribe of Judah. This was a place of eminent fruitfulness, agreeable to the prophecy concerning Asher, Gen 49:20.
27 Cubal - A city so called. Left hand - That is, on the north, which, when men look towards the east, as is usual, is on their left hand.
28 Kenah - Namely, Kenah the greater, in the upper Galilee; not Kenah the less, which was in the lower Galilee. Zidon - Called great for its antiquity, and riches, and glory. The city either was not given to the Israelites, or at least was never possessed by them; not without a singular providence of God, that they might not by the opportunity of so good a port, be engaged in much commerce with other nations; from which, together with wealth, that great corrupter of mankind, they might contract their errors and vices.
29 To Ramah - From the north southward. To Tyre - Exclusively, for this city was no part of the land given them. But this was not the same city we read of afterwards. For that was built on an island, this on the continent. Probably into these strong holds Tyre and Sidon, many of the Canaanites fled, when Joshua invaded them.
30 Twenty two cities - Here are more named, but some of them were not within this tribe, but only bordering places.
33 Their coast - Their northern border drawn from west to east, as appears, because when this coast is described and brought to its end, the coast is said to turn from the east westward, ver.34. The out - goings - The end of that coast.
35 Cinnereth - Whence the lake of Cinnereth or Genesareth received its name.
41 Of their inheritance - Which is here described only by its cities, not its borders, which are in part the same with Judah's, and their inheritance is in good part taken out of Judah's too large portion; as appears from divers of the cities here mentioned, which are also reckoned in Judah's portion.
47 Went up to fight - This was done after Joshua's death, and seems to be here inserted, that all the chief places where the Danites dwelt, tho' far distant, might be mentioned together; and to give an account of this strange accident, why they removed from their appointed portion to so remote a place; which may be this, that being much molested by their bad neighbours, they thought fit to go to some place remote from them, which also they were in a manner constrained to do, because otherwise they must have taken some part of the portions of other tribes, whereas now going to the very utmost northern point of the land, they took that which did not belong to any other tribe.
49 The children of Israel - That is, they are said to give it, because the whole land was given to Joshua, and Eleazar, and the princes, as joint trustees, acting in the name, and for the good of the people: so that even Joshua could take nothing without their gift.
50 The word of The Lord - As God had promised, or commanded; either formerly, or at this time by Eleazar. He built - That is, repaired and enlarged it, in which sense Nebuchadnezzar is said to have built Babylon, Dan 4:30.

Chapter XX

The laws concerning the cities of refuge, ver. 1 - 6. The appointment of those cities, ver. 7 - 9.

2 Appoint - The possessions being now divided among you, reserve some of them for the use which I have commanded. Cities of refuge - Designed to typify the relief which the gospel provides for poor, penitent sinners, and their protection from the curse of the law and the wrath of God, in our Lord Jesus, to whom believers fly for refuge.
3 Unwittingly - Heb. Through ignorance, or error, or mistake, and without knowledge. The same thing twice repeated to cut off all the expectations that wilful murderers might have of protection here; God having declared, that such should be taken even from his altar, that they might be killed. It is strange that any Christians should make their sanctuaries give protection to such persons whom God hath so expressly excepted from it! Avenger - The nearest kinsman, who had right or power to demand, or take vengeance of the slaughter.
4 The gate - Where the judges used to sit. His cause - Shall give them a true relation of the fact, and all its circumstances. They shall take him - If they are satisfied in the relation he makes, concerning the fact, otherwise it had been a vain thing to examine. Give a place - Which they might well allow him, because God gave them the city with a reservation for such persons.
6 Stand - Which was the posture of the accused and accusers. The congregation - The council appointed to judge of these matters, not the council of the city of refuge, for they had examined him before, ver.4, but of the city to which he belonged, or in or nigh which the fact was committed, as appears from Numb 35:25.
7 And they appointed - Concerning these cities note,
  1. That they were all upon mountains, that they might be seen at a great distance, and so direct those who fled thither.
  2. That they were seated at convenient distance one from another, for the benefit of the several tribes; for Kedesh was in the north, Hebron in the south, and Shechem between them.
  3. That they all belonged to the Levites; partly that these causes might be more impartially examined, and justly determined by them who are presumed best able to understand the law of God, and most obliged to follow it and not to be biass'd by any affection or corrupt interest, and partly, that their reputation with the people, and their good counsels, might lay a restraint upon revengeful persons, who might be inclined to follow the man - slayer thither, and endeavour to kill him there. It was likewise an advantage to the poor refugee, that when he might not go up to the house of the Lord, yet he had the servants of God's house with him, to instruct him, and pray for him, and help to make up the want of public ordinances.
8 They assigned - Or, had assigned or given; for they were given by Moses, Deut 4:41, &c. or, they applied them to that use to which Moses designed them.
9 The stranger - Not only proselytes, but others also; because this was a matter of common right, that a distinction might be made between casual man - slayers, and wilful murderers.

Chapter XXI

The motion of the Levites, to have their cities appointed, which is done, ver. 1 - 8. A catalogue of those cities, ver. 9 - 42. A testimony, that God had fulfilled his word, ver. 43 - 45.

1 Then - When the whole land was distributed to the several tribes, but not actually possessed by them; which was the proper season for them to put in their claim. Fathers of the Levites - The fathers of the Levites were Kohath, Gershom, and Merari, and the heads of these were the chief persons now alive of these several families.
2 The Lord commanded - Observe: the maintenance of ministers is not an arbitrary thing, left purely to the good will of the people. No: as the God of Israel commanded, that the Levites should be provided for, so hath the Lord Jesus ordained, (and a perpetual ordinance it is) that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
3 The children of Israel gave - Probably they gave the Levites promiscuously such cities as God commanded, and the lot appropriated them to their several houses or families. Out of their inheritance - That is, out of their several possessions; that the burden might be equally divided; and, that the Levites being dispersed among the several tribes, according to Jacob's prediction, Gen 49:7, might more easily, and effectually teach the Israelites God's law and judgments, which they were engaged to do, Deu 33:10, and that the people might upon all occasions resort to them, and enquire the meaning of the law at their mouths. And suburbs - Not only the use, but the absolute dominion of them, as is manifest both from ver.Jos 21:11,12, where a distinction is made between the city and suburbs of Hebron, and the fields and villages thereof; (the former given to the Levites, the latter to Caleb;) and from the return of these cities in the Jubilee, unto the Levites as to their proper owners, Lev 25:33,34.
4 Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin - Which three tribes were nearest the temple, where their business lay. Thirteen cities - For though the priests were now few enough for one city, yet respect was to be had to their succeeding numbers; this division being made for all future generations. And seeing the Levites might sell their houses until the Jubilee, Lev 25:33, much more might they let them; and therefore it is probable their cities were not long uninhabited, many being inclined to dwell with them by virtue of relations contracted with them; or out of respect to the service of God, and the good of their souls.
5 Children of Kohath - Who were of Aaron's family. Ephraim, Dan, and Manesseh - Which tribes are nearest to the three former, and so the Kohathites are placed next to their brethren the Aaronites. Ten cities - Fewer than they gave out of the three former tribes, because their inheritance was less than the former.
9 Judah and Simeon - These are mentioned together, because the cities of Simeon lay within Judah's portion.
10 Families - That is, of the family, the plural number for the singular, which is not unusual.
12 The fields and villages - That is, all beyond the two thousand cubits expressed, Numb 35:5. This is here mentioned, not as his peculiar case, but as one eminent instance, to shew, that it was so in all the rest of the cities here named; that the fields and villages thereof still belonged to the several tribes from whom the cities and their suburbs were taken; and to make the rest of the Israelites more chearfully resign part of their possessions to the Levites, because even Caleb did so, though his possession had been long before promised, and now actually given to him by God's special command, as a mark of honour and compensation for his long and faithful service.
16 And Ain - Ain and Gibeon, and some others here named are not named, 1Chron 6:59. Either they were destroyed in some of those invasions wherewith their land was grievously wasted before that time; or they appear there under other names.
20 Which remained - Over and above those who were priests.
25 Half the tribe - Namely, that half which dwelt in Canaan.
41 Forty eight cities - Why hath this tribe, which was the least of all, more cities than any of them? First, it doth not appear that they had more: for though all the cities of the Levites be expressed, it is not so with the other tribes, but divers of their cities are omitted. Secondly, the Levites were confined to their cities and suburbs; the rest had large territories belonging to their cities, which also so they were in a capacity of improving, which the Levites were not; so that one of their cities might be more considerable than divers of the Levites. Thirdly, God, was pleased to deal liberally with his ministers, to put honour on those whom he foresaw many would be prone to despise; and, that being free from outward distractions, they might more entirely and fervently devote themselves to the service of God.
43 All the land - He gave them the right to all, and the actual possession of the greatest part of it, and power to possess the rest, as soon as it was needful for them, which was when their numbers were increased, and the absolute dominion of all the people remaining in it.
44 Gave them rest - Namely, all the days of Joshua; for afterwards it was otherwise with them.
45 All came to pass - Such an acknowledgment as this, here subscribed by Joshua, in the name of all Israel, we afterward find made by Solomon; and all Israel did in effect say amen to it, 1Kings 8:56. The inviolable truth of God's promise, and the performance of it to the uttermost, is what all believers in Christ have been always ready to bear their testimony to. And if in any thing it has seemed to come short, they have been as ready to take all the blame to themselves.

Chapter XXII

Joshua's dismission of the two tribes and an half, and their return to their own country, ver. 1 - 9. The altar they built on that side of Jordan, which offended the other tribes, ver. 10 - 20. Their apology, with which the rest were satisfied, ver. 21 - 34.

4 Your tents - That is, to your settled habitations. Tho' their affections to their families could not but make them very desirous to return, yet like good soldiers, they would not move 'till they had orders from their general. So, tho' we desire to be at home with Christ ever so much, yet we must stay here till our warfare is accomplished, wait for a due discharge, and not anticipate the time of our removal.
5 Take heed - Watch over yourselves and all your actions. Commandment and law - Two words expressing the same thing, the law of commandments delivered by Moses. All your heart and soul - With the whole strength of your minds, and wills, and affections.
8 With your brethren - That is, with them who stayed beyond Jordan for the defence of their land, and wives, and children, who therefore were to have a share, though not an equal share with these. But for them, 1Sam 30:24, their share was equal, because their danger was equal.
10 Built an altar - About that time when they came to them, they designed it, and as soon as they were got over Jordan, which was in a very little time, they effected and perfected it. They built it, no doubt, on their own side of the water: for how could they build on other men's land, without their consent? And it is said, in the following verse, to be over against the land of Jordan. Nor would there have been cause to suspect that it was designed for sacrifice, if they had not built it among themselves.
11 At the passage - Where they passed over Jordan, either at their first entrance into Canaan, or afterwards, and usually.
12 The children of Israel - Not in their own persons, not by their elders, who used to transact all affairs of this kind in the name of all the people. Against them - As apostates from God, according to God's command in that case, Deut 13:13. &c.
16 The congregation - Who do and are resolved to cleave unto that God from whom you have revolted. What trespass - How heinous a crime is this! This day - That is, so soon after God hath obliged you by such wonderful favours, and when God is now conducting you home to reap the fruits of all your pains and hazards. Rebel - With a design to rebel against God, and against his express command of worshipping him at one only altar.
17 Of Peor - That is, of our worshipping of Baal - peor, Numb 25:3. Probably this is mentioned the rather, because Phinehas, the first commissioner in this treaty, had signalized himself in that matter: and because they were now at or near the very place, where that iniquity was committed. Are not cleansed - For though God had pardoned it, as to the national punishment of it, Numb 25:11, yet they were not yet throughly purged from it; partly because the shame and blot of that odious practice was not yet wiped off: and partly, because some of that corrupt leaven still remained among them, and though smothered for a time, yet was ready to break forth upon all occasions, See Jos 24:33. And God also took notice of these idolatrous inclinations in particular persons, and found out ways to punish them.
18 To - morrow - That is, suddenly, as that word is often used. Congregation - With you for doing so, and with us for suffering, or not punishing it.
19 Be unclean - If you apprehend it to be so for want of the tabernacle and altar there; as the following words imply: if you now repent of your former choice in preferring the worldly commodities of that country before the advantage of God's presence, and more frequent opportunities of his service. Among us - We will readily resign part of our possessions to you for the prevention of this sin and mischief. Against us - For all the tribes were united in one body politick, and made one commonwealth, and one church; and each tribe was subject to the laws and commands of the whole society, and of the chief ruler or rulers thereof; so its disobedience to their just commands was properly rebellion against them.
20 Of Zerah - That is, one of his posterity. Not alone - But brought destruction upon his whole family, and part of our forces sent against Ai.
22 The Lord - That Jehovah, whom we no less than you acknowledge and adore as the God of gods, infinitely superior to all that are called gods. The multiplying of his titles, and the repetition of these words, shew their zeal and earnestness in this matter. He knoweth - To him we appeal who knoweth all things, and the truth of what we are now saying. Not only our present words, but our future and constant course shall satisfy all Israel of our perseverance in the true religion. In rebellion - If this have been done by us with such design, or in such a manner. Save us not - Thou, O Lord, to whom we have appealed, and without whom we cannot be saved and preserved, save us not from any of our enemies, nor from the sword of our brethren. It is a sudden apostrophe to God, usual in such vehement speeches.
23 Require it - That is, call us to an account and punish us for it.
24 With the Lord - You have no relation to him, nor interest in him, or his worship.
25 A border - To shut you out of the land of promise, and consequently from the covenant made between God and our fathers. No part - Nothing to do with him; no right to serve him or expect favour from him. Cease from fearing the Lord - For they that are cut off from public ordinances, usually by degrees lose all religion. It is true, the form and profession of godliness, may be kept without the life and power of it. But the life and power will not long be kept, without the form and profession of it.
27 Before him - That we and ours may have and hold our privilege of serving and worshiping God, not upon this altar, but in the place of God's presence, in your tabernacle, and upon your altar.
28 The pattern - An exact representation and resemblance. A witness - That we both serve one God, and approve and make use of one and the same altar.
30 Pleased them - They were fully satisfied with this answer.
31 Is among us - By his gracious presence, and preventing goodness, in keeping you from so great an offence, and all of us from those calamities that would have followed it. Hand of the Lord - That is, from the wroth and dreadful judgments of God, by avoiding that sin which would have involved both you and us in a most bloody war; you have delivered us from the evils we feared. He that prevents an approaching disease or mischief, doth as truly deliver a man from it, as he that cures or removes it after it hath been inflicted.
33 Destroy the land - As they were by the law of God obliged to do, if they had been guilty and persisted therein; as afterwards they did the tribe of Benjamin for the same reason.
34 The altar Ed - That is, a witness: a witness of the relation they stood in to God and Israel, and of their concurrence with the other tribes in the common faith, that Jehovah he is God. It was a witness to posterity, of their care to transmit their religion pure and entire; and would be a witness against them, if ever they should turn from following the Lord their God.

Chapter XXIII

Joshua reminds the people, assembled for that purpose, of what God had done, and what he would do for them, ver. 1 - 5. Exhorts them resolutely to persevere in their duty to God, ver. 6 - 8. which he enforces by former benefits, and by promises, ver. 9 - 11. and by threatnings, ver. 12 - 16.

1 A long time - About fourteen years after it.
2 Joshua called - Either to his own city, or rather to Shiloh, the usual place of such assemblies, where his words being uttered before the Lord, were likely to have the more effect upon them. All Israel - Not all the people in their own persons, but in their representatives, by their elders, heads, judges and officers. Probably he took the opportunity, of one of the three great feasts. You will not have me long to preach to you; therefore observe what I say, and lay it up for the time to come.
3 Because of you - For your good, that you might gain by their losses.
4 That remain - Not yet conquered. An inheritance - You shall certainly subdue them, and inherit their hand, as you have done the rest, if you be not wanting to yourselves. All the nations - That is, with the land of those nations; the people put for their land, as we have seen before; and as sometimes on the contrary, the land is put for the people. The great sea - Where the Philistines, your most formidable adversaries yet survive; but them also and their land I have given to you, and you shall undoubtedly destroy them, if you will proceed vigorously in your work.
6 Very courageous - For it will require great courage and resolution to execute all the commands of Moses, and particularly, that of expelling and destroying the residue of the Canaanites. The right hand or the left - That is, in one kind or other, by adding to the law, or diminishing from it.
7 Come not - That is, avoid all familiar converse and contracts, but especially marriages with them. Name their gods - To wit, unnecessarily and familiarly, lest the mention of them breed discourse about them, and so by degrees bring to the approbation and worship of them. Nor cause - Nor require nor compel the Gentiles to swear by them, as they used to do; especially in leagues and contracts. It is pity, that among Christians, the name of the Heathen God's are so commonly used, especially in poems. Let those names which have been set up in rivalship with God, be forever loathed and lost. Nor bow - Neither give them any inward reverence, or outward adoration. Here is an observable gradation, whereby he shews what notable progress sin usually makes, and what need there is to look to the beginnings of it, forasmuch as a civil and common conversation with their persons was likely to bring them, and indeed did actually bring them, by insensible steps, to the worship of their gods. So it is no wonder, if some things not simply and in themselves evil, be forbidden by God, as here the naming of their gods is, because they are occasions and introductions to evil.
8 Cleave to the Lord - By constant obedience, entire affection, faithful service and worship of him alone. To this day - To wit, since you came in to Canaan; since which time the body of the people (for of them he speaks, not of every particular person) had behaved themselves much better than they did in the wilderness, and had not been guilty of any gross and general apostacy from God, or rebellion against him.
9 No man - To wit, whom you have invaded; otherwise some of those people did yet remain unconquered.
10 He fighteth - Impute not this therefore to your own valour, as you will be apt to do, but to God's gracious and powerful assistance.
11 Take heed - Now it requires more watchfulness and diligence than it did in the wilderness, because your temptations are now stronger; from the examples and insinuations of your bad neighbours, the remainders of this wicked people; and from your own peace and prosperity: and the pride, security, forgetfulness of God, and luxury, which usually attend that condition.
12 Go back - From God, and from his worship and service.
13 Traps to you - By your converse with them, you will be drawn by degrees into their errors, and impieties, and brutish lusts. Thorns in your eyes - When they have seduced, and thereby weakened you, then they will molest and vex you, no less than a severe scourge doth a man's sides which are lashed by it, or than a small thorn doth the eye when it is got within it. Till ye perish - They shall so persecute you, and fight against, you with such success, that you shall be forced to quit your own land, and wander you know not whither; which must needs be very terrible to them to think of, when they compared this present ease, and plenty and safety, with the pains, and weariness, and hazards, and wants of their former wanderings.
14 Of all the earth - That is, of all flesh, or of all men; the way which all men go; I am about to die, as all men must. To die is, to go a journey, a journey to our long home. And Joshua himself, tho' he could so ill be spared, cannot be exempted from this common lot. He takes notice of it, that they might look on these as his dying words, and regard them accordingly. Ye know - That is, you know assuredly; your own experience puts it out of all question.
15 Evil things - The accomplishment of God's promise is a pledge that he will also fulfil his threatnings; both of them depending upon the same ground, the faithfulness of God.
16 It will aggravate their perdition, that the land from which they shall perish is a good land, and a land which God himself had given them: and which therefore he would have secured to them, if they had not thrown themselves out of it. "Thus the goodness of the heavenly Canaan, says Mr. Henry, and the free and sure grant God has made of it, will aggravate the misery of those that shall forever be shut out and perish from it. Nothing will make them see how wretched they are, so much as to see, how happy they might have been." Might have been! What on the supposition of absolute decrees? How happy might a person not elected have been? And if he was elected, how could he be wretched for ever? What art of man can reconcile these things? Again, shall any of the elect perish for ever? or has God made to any others, a free and sure grant of the heavenly Canaan? If not, how can the misery of those that perish be aggravated, by a free and sure grant which they never had any share in?

Chapter XXIV

Joshua assembling the people, recounts what great things God had done for them, ver. 1 - 13. Exhorts them to serve God, which they engage to do, ver. 14 - 28. His age, death, and burial, ver. 29 - 31. The burying of Joseph's bones, ver. 32. The death and burial of Eleazar, ver. 33.

1 All Israel - Namely, their representatives. Shechem - To the city of Shechem, a place convenient for the purpose, not only because it was a Levitical city, and a city of refuge, and a place near Joshua's city, but especially for the two main ends for which he summoned them thither.
  1. For the solemn burial of the bones of Joseph, and the rest of the patriarchs, for which this place was designed.
  2. For the solemn renewing of their covenant with God; which in this place was first made between God and Abraham, Gen 12:6,7, and afterwards renewed by the Israelites at their first entrance into the land of Canaan, between the two mountains of Ebal and Gerizzim, Jos 8:30, &c. which were very near Shechem: and therefore this place was most proper, both to remind them of their former obligations to God, and to engage them to a farther ratification of them.
Before God - As in God's presence, to hear what Joshua was to speak to them in God's name, and to receive God's commands from his mouth. He had taken a solemn farewell before: but as God renewed his strength, he desired to improve it for their good. We must never think our work for God done, 'till our life is done.
2 The people - To the elders, by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither. He spake to them in God's name, and as from him, in the language of a prophet, Thus saith the Lord. Jehovah, the great God, and the God of Israel, whom you are peculiarly engaged to hear. The flood - Or, the river, namely, Euphrates, so called by way of eminency. They served - That is, Both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in, or had been done by their progenitors, was wholly from God's free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness.
3 I took - I snatched him out of that idolatrous place, and took him into acquaintance and covenant with myself, which was the highest honour and happiness he was capable of. And led - That is I brought him after his father's death into Canaan, Gen 12:1, and I conducted and preserved him in all his travels through the several parts of Canaan. And multiplied - That is, gave him a numerous posterity, not only by Hagar and Keturah, but even by Sarah and by Isaac. Gave Isaac - By my special power and grace to be heir of my covenant, and all my promises, and the seed in or by which all the nations were to be blessed.
4 Mount Seir - That he might leave Canaan entire to his brother Jacob and his posterity, Gen 36:7,8. Into Egypt - Where they long lived in grievous bondage; which God having delivered us from, I shall now pass it over.
7 Your eyes - He speaketh this to the elders, ver.1, who were so, not only by power and dignity, but many of them by age; and there being now not sixty years past since those Egyptian plagues, it is very probable that a considerable number of those present, had seen those things in Egypt, and being not twenty years old, were exempted from that dreadful sentence passed upon all who were older, Numb 14:29.
9 Balak warred - Balak warred, tho' not by open force, yet by crafty counsel and warlike stratagems, by wicked devices.
10 Unto Balaam - Who hereby appears to have desired of God leave to curse Israel; and therefore it is not strange, that God who permitted him simply to go, was highly angry with him for going with so wicked an intent, Numb 22:20,22,32. Delivered you - That is, from Balak's malicious design against you.
11 Deliver them - Namely, successively; for in these few words he seems to comprise all their wars, which being so fresh in their memory, he thought it needless particularly to mention.
12 Sent the hornet - When they were actually engaged in battle with the Canaanites. These dreadful swarms which first appeared in their war with Sihon and Og, tormented them with their stings and terrified them with their noise, so that they became an easy prey to Israel. God had promised to do this for them, Exod 23:27,28, and here Joshua observes the fulfilling the promise.
14 The gods - Whereby it appears, that although Joshua had doubtless prevented and purged out all public idolatry, yet there were some of them who practised it in their private houses and retirements. Your fathers - Terah, and Nahor, and Abraham, as ver.2, and other of your ancestors. In Egypt - See Ezek 23:3,8,19,21,27. Under these particulars, no doubt he comprehends all other false gods, which were served by the nations amongst whom they were, but only mentions these, as the idols which they were in more danger of worshipping than those in Canaan; partly because those of Canaan had been now lately and palpably disgraced by their inability to preserve their worshippers from total ruin; and partly, because the other idols came recommended to them by the venerable name of antiquity, and the custom of their forefathers.
15 Seem evil - Unjust, unreasonable or inconvenient. Choose ye - Not that he leaves them to their liberty, whether they would serve God or idols; for Joshua had no such power himself, nor could give it to any other; and both he and they were obliged by the law of Moses, to give their worship to God only, and to forbear all idolatry in themselves, and severely to punish it in others; but it is a powerful insinuation, whereby he both implies, that the worship of God is so highly reasonable, necessary and beneficial; and the service of idols so absurd, and vain, and pernicious, that if it were left free for all men to take their choice, every man in his right wits must needs chuse the service of God, before that of idols; and provokes them to bind themselves faster to God by their own choice. He will - But know this, if you should all be so base and brutish, as to prefer senseless and impotent idols, before the true and living God, it is my firm purpose, that I will, and my children, and servants (as far as I can influence them) shall be constant and faithful to the Lord. And that, whatever others do. They that resolve to serve God, must not start at being singular in it. They that are bound for heaven must be willing to swim against the stream, and must do, not as most do, but as the best do.
19 Ye cannot - He speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them had been vain) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he alledgeth not to discourage them from God's service, but to make them more considerate in obliging themselves; and more resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God's service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused; and withal your proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you, while I live, and while the obligations which God had laid upon you in this land, are fresh in remembrance; I cannot but fear that after my decease you will think the service of God burdensome, and therefore will cast it off and revolt from him, if you do not carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry. A jealous God - In the Hebrew, He is the holy Gods, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not endure a partner in his worship; you can not serve him and idols together. Will not forgive - If you who own yourselves his people and servants, shall wilfully transgress his laws, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what you do, when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as if you be sincere and faithful in God's service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world.
20 Will turn - That is, he will alter his course and the manner of his dealing with you, and will be as severe as ever he was kind and gracious. He will repent of his former kindnesses, and his goodness abused will be turned into fury.
21 The Lord - Namely, him only, and not strange gods.
22 Against yourselves - This solemn profession will be a swift witness against you, if hereafter you apostatize from God.
23 Strange gods - Those idols which you either brought out of Egypt, or have taken in Canaan, which some of you keep contrary to God's command, whether for the preciousness of the matter, or rather for some secret inclination to superstition and idolatry.
25 A statute - He set or established that covenant with them, that is, the people, for a statute or an ordinance, to bind themselves and their posterity unto God for ever.
26 These words - That is, this covenant or agreement of the people with the Lord. In the book - That is, in the volume which was kept in the ark, Deut 31:9,26, whence it was taken and put into this book of Joshua: this he did for the perpetual remembrance of this great and solemn action, to lay the greater obligation upon the people to be true to their engagement; and as a witness for God, against the people, if afterward he punished them for their defection from God, to whom they had so solemnly and freely obliged themselves. Set it up - As a witness and monument of this great transaction, according to the custom of those ancient times. Possibly this agreement was written upon this stone, as was then usual. By the sanctuary - That is, near the place where the ark and tabernacle then were; for tho' they were forbidden to plant a grove of trees near unto the altar, as the Gentiles did, yet they might for a time set up an altar, or the ark, near a great tree which had been planted there before.
27 It hath heard - It shall be as sure a witness against you, as if it had heard. This is a common figure, whereby the sense of hearing is often ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures.
32 The bones of Joseph - Joseph died two hundred years before in Egypt, but gave commandment concerning his bones, that they should not rest in a grave, 'till Israel rested in the land of promise. Now therefore they were deposited in that piece of ground, which his father gave him near Shechem. One reason why Joshua called all Israel to Shechem, might be to attend Joseph's bones to the grave. So that he now delivered as it were both Joseph's funeral sermon, and his own farewell sermon. And if it was in the last year of his life, the occasion might well remind him, of his own death now at hand. For he was just of the same age with his illustrious ancestor, who died being one hundred and ten years old, Gen 50:26.
33 Given him - By special favour, and for his better conveniency in attending upon the ark, which then was, and for a long time was to be in Shiloh, near this place: whereas the cities which were given to the priests, were in Judah. Benjamin, and Simeon, which were remote from Shiloh, tho' near the place where the ark was to have its settled abode, namely, at Jerusalem. It is probable Eleazar died about the same time with Joshua, as Aaron did in the same year with Moses. While Joshua lived, religion was kept up, under his care and influence, but after he and his contemporaries were gone, it swiftly went to decay. How well is it for the gospel church, that Christ, our Joshua, is still with it by his Spirit, and will be always, even to the end of the world?