Here is the history of Israel's passing into the land of Canaan, conquering and dividing it, under the command of Joshua, and their history until his death. The power and truth of God in fulfilling his promises to Israel, and in executing his justly threatened vengeance on the Canaanites, are wonderfully displayed. This should teach us to regard the tremendous curses denounced in the word of God against impenitent sinners, and to seek refuge in Christ Jesus.
The Lord appoints Joshua to succeed Moses. (1-4) God promises to assist Joshua. (5-9) Preparation to pass over Jordan. (10-15) The people promise to obey Joshua. (16-18)
Verses 1-4 Joshua had attended upon Moses. He who was called to honour, had been long used to business. Our Lord Jesus took upon him the form of a servant. Joshua was trained up under command. Those are fittest to rule, who have learned to obey. The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be the more diligent in doing good. Arise, go over Jordan. At this place and at this time the banks were overflowed. Joshua had no bridge or boats, and yet he must believe that God, having ordered the people over, would open a way.
Verses 5-9 Joshua is to make the law of God his rule. He is charged to meditate therein day and night, that he might understand it. Whatever affairs of this world we have to mind, we must not neglect the one thing needful. All his orders to the people, and his judgments, must be according to the law of God. Joshua must himself be under command; no man's dignity or dominion sets him above the law of God. He is to encourage himself with the promise and presence of God. Let not the sense of thine own infirmities dishearten thee; God is all-sufficient. I have commanded, called, and commissioned thee to do it, and will be sure to bear thee out in it. When we are in the way of duty, we have reason to be strong and very bold. Our Lord Jesus, as Joshua here, was borne up under his sufferings by a regard to the will of God, and the commandment from his Father.
Verses 10-15 Joshua says to the people, Ye shall pass over Jordan, and shall possess the land; because God had said so to him. We honour the truth of God, when we stagger not at the promise of God. The two tribes and a half were to go over Jordan with their brethren. When God, by his providence, has given us rest, we ought to consider what service we may do to our brethren.
Verses 16-18 The people of Israel engage to obey Joshua; All that thou commandest us to do we will readily do, without murmuring or disputing, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go. The best we can ask of God for our magistrates, is, that they may have the presence of God; that will make them blessings to us, so that in seeking this for them, we consult our own interest. May we be enabled to enlist under the banner of the Captain of our salvation, to be obedient to his commands, and to fight the good fight of faith, with all that trust in and love his name, against all who oppose his authority; for whoever refuses to obey him must be destroyed.
Joshua 1:1-18 . THE LORD APPOINTS JOSHUA TO SUCCEED MOSES.
1. Now after the death of Moses--Joshua, having been already appointed and designated leader of Israel ( Numbers 27:18-23 ), in all probability assumed the reins of government immediately "after the death of Moses."
the servant of the Lord--This was the official title of Moses as invested with a special mission to make known the will of God; and it conferred great honor and authority.
the Lord spake unto Joshua--probably during the period of public mourning, and either by a direct revelation to the mind of Joshua, or by means of Urim and Thummim ( Numbers 27:21 ). This first communication gave a pledge that the divine instructions which, according to the provisions of the theocracy, had been imparted to Moses, would be continued to the new leader, though God might not perhaps speak to him "mouth to mouth" ( Numbers 12:8 ).
Joshua--The original name, Oshea, ( Numbers 13:8 ), which had been, according to Eastern usage, changed like those of Abram and Sarai ( Genesis 17:5-15 ) into Jehoshua or Joshua (that is, "God's salvation") was significant of the services he was to render, and typified those of a greater Saviour ( Hebrews 4:8 ).
Moses' minister--that is, his official attendant, who, from being constantly employed in important services and early initiated into the principles of the government, would be well trained for undertaking the leadership of Israel.
2-9. now therefore arise, go over this Jordan--Joshua's mission was that of a military leader. This passage records his call to begin the work, and the address contains a literal repetition of the promise made to Moses ( Deuteronomy 11:24 Deuteronomy 11:25 , Deuteronomy 31:6-8 Deuteronomy 31:23 ).
3, 4. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon that have I given you--meaning, of course, not universal dominion, but only the territory comprised within the boundaries here specified
4. all the land of the Hittites--These occupied the southern extremities and were the dominant tribe of Canaan. Their superior power and the extent of their dominions are attested by the mention of them under the name of Khita, on the Assyrian inscriptions, and still more frequently on the Egyptian inscriptions of the eighteenth and nineteenth Dynasties. What life and encouragement must have been imparted to Joshua by the assurance that his people, who had been overwhelmed with fear of that gigantic race, were to possess "all the land of the Hittites"!
5-9. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee--Canaan was theirs by a divine grant; and the renewed confirmation of that grant to Joshua when about to lead the people into it, intimated not only a certain but an easy conquest. It is remarkable, however, that his courage and hope of victory were made to depend on his firm and inflexible adherence to the law of God, not only that regarding the extirpation of the Canaanites, but the whole divine code.
10-18. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people--These were the Shoterim
11-13. command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals--not manna, which, though it still fell, would not keep; but corn, sheep, and articles of food procurable in the conquered countries.
for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan--that is, the third day, according to Hebrew idiom--the time allotted for getting ready before the encampment in Abel-Shittim broke up and they removed to the desert bank of the river where no victuals were available. At the same time Joshua himself convened the two and a half tribes which had settled east of Jordan, to remind them of their promise ( Numbers 32:1-42 ) to assist their brethren in the conquest of western Canaan. Their readiness to redeem their pledge and the terms in which they answered the appeal of Joshua displayed to great advantage their patriotic and pious feelings at so interesting a crisis.
14. ye shall pass . . . armed--that is, officered or marshalled under five leaders in the old and approved caravan order
all the mighty men of valour--The words are not to be interpreted strictly as meaning the whole, but only the flower or choice of the