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God’s Commission to Joshua


After the death of Moses the servant of the L ord, the L ord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2“My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. 3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 8This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. 9I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the L ord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Preparations for the Invasion

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11“Pass through the camp, and command the people: ‘Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the L ord your God gives you to possess.’ ”

12 To the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13“Remember the word that Moses the servant of the L ord commanded you, saying, ‘The L ord your God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.’ 14Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan. But all the warriors among you shall cross over armed before your kindred and shall help them, 15until the L ord gives rest to your kindred as well as to you, and they too take possession of the land that the L ord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land and take possession of it, the land that Moses the servant of the L ord gave you beyond the Jordan to the east.”

16 They answered Joshua: “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the L ord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18Whoever rebels against your orders and disobeys your words, whatever you command, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

1. Now, after, etc Here, first, we see the steadfastness of God in watching over his people, and providing for their safety. The sanction given to Joshua’s appointment, as new leader by a renewed commission, 1313     “A renewed commission.” Latin, “Repetitis mandatis.” French, “En reiterant les articles de sa commission;” “By reiterating the articles of his commission.” — Ed. was intended to indicate the continuance of his favor, and prevent the people from thinking themselves forsaken in consequence of the death of Moses. Joshua, indeed, had already been chosen to rule the people; and not only invested with the office, but also endowed with spiritual gifts. But as the most valiant, however well provided, are apt to halt or waver when the period for action arrives, the exhortation to Joshua to make ready forthwith for the expedition was by no means superfluous. Still, however, the call thus formally given was not so much on his own account, as to inspire the people with full confidence in following a leader whom they saw advancing step by step in the path divinely marked out for him. 1414     Or rather, “Who they saw, did not advance a single step till the Lord had preceded him.” — Ed.

2. Moses my servant, etc A twofold meaning may be extracted — the one, since Moses is dead, the whole burden has now devolved upon thee, take the place of him to whom thou has been appointed successor; the other, although Moses is dead, do not desist, but go forward. I prefer the former, as containing the inference that he should, by right of succession, take up the office which Moses had left vacant. 1515     “Which Moses had left vacant.” Latin, “Ex qua decesserat Moses.” French, “De laquelle Moyse estoit sorti ayant fait son temps;” “Which Moses had left, having held his own time of it.” — Ed. The epithet or surname of servant applied to Moses, has respect to his government of the people and his exploits; for it ought to be accommodated to actual circumstances. 1616     “To actual circumstances.” Latin, “Ad circumstantiam loci.” French, “A la circonstance du passage;” “To the circumstance of the passage.” — Ed. The allusion here is not to the Law but to the leadership, which had passed to Joshua by the decease of Moses, and God thus acknowledges his servant, not so much with the view of praising him, as of strengthening the authority of Joshua, who had been substituted in his place. And as the people might not have acquiesced sufficiently in a bare command, he promises, while ordering them to pass the Jordan, to give them peaceable possession of the whole country, and of every spot of it on which they should plant their foot. For as nothing tends more than distrust to make us sluggish and useless, so when God holds forth a happy issue, confidence inspires us with rigor for any attempt.

It may be added, that he does now begin for the first time to give them good hopes, by making a promise of which they had not previously heard, but recalls to their remembrance what Moses had formerly testified. He says, therefore, that the time had now come for exhibiting and performing that which he had promised to Moses. Should any one object that the same thing had been said to Abraham long before Moses was born, nay, that the perpetual covenant deposited with Abraham included everything which was heard by Moses four hundred years after; 1717     The French here gives the same meaning in a paraphrastic form, “Ou mesmes qu’a parler proprement, tout ce qui a este dit a Moyse dependoit de l’alliance perpetuelle que Dieu avoit mise en garde entre les mains d’Abraham quatre cens ans auparavant.” “Or even, to speak properly, all that was said to Moses depended on the perpetual covenant which God had deposited in the hands of Abraham four hundred years before.” — Ed. I answer, that here no notice is taken of the ancient promise which was everywhere known and celebrated, and that Moses is produced as a witness whose memory was more recent, and by whose death the confidence of the people might have been shaken, had not God declared that the accomplishment of all which he had said was at hand.

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