The book of Joshua heads in the Hebrew arrangement of the Old Testament Scriptures, that division which is called "the former Prophets." It is the first book in the Bible which bears in its title the name of a person.
Joshua means "Jehovah is Saviour"; the Greek name for Joshua is Jesus. In our study of the previous books, beginning with Exodus, we have met his name at different times and have learned much of this great man of God. He was the Son of Nun, an Ephraimite (Num. 13:8), grandson of Elishama (1 Chron. 7:26-27). In Exodus we saw him as the leader of Israel against Amalek. He is mentioned as Moses' servant and attendant (Ex. 24:13; 32:17-18); as the servant of Moses, he did not depart out of the tabernacle (Ex. 33:11). He went with Moses, up into the mount of God.
We meet him again in Num. 11:27-29. In Num. 13:8, 16 we find him as one of the spies sent to Canaan. With Caleb he had confidence in God and His promises, and bravely exhorted the people to trust the Lord and go forward. His name, however, is not given at all during the thirty-eight years' wandering in the wilderness. In Deuteronomy he is divinely pointed out as Moses' successor. Moses and Joshua presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, and after the Lord had announced the approaching death of Moses, Joshua hears the charge from the lips of the passing leader of God's people. "Be strong and of a good courage; for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land, which I sware unto them; and I will be with thee" (Deut. 31:23). In the analysis and annotations of the book itself we shall have abundant occasion to study the character of Joshua more fully.
The Authorship of the Book
Jewish tradition makes Joshua the author of the book which bears his name. There is no reason why this should be denied. No other person was more fitted to write down the great events, connected with the entrance of Israel into the land, than Joshua. As Moses by inspiration wrote the account of how the Lord brought out His people from Egypt, so Joshua is the instrument, divinely chosen and equipped, to give the story of how the Lord brought them in. That another person should be the author of the book of Joshua appears unreasonable.
The modern critics, however, deny that Joshua had anything whatever to do with the book as we possess it. These wise men have discovered what equally learned and pious men of passed generations, seemingly did not know. They tell us that the date of the composition of Joshua is very late and that it is not the work of one man at all, but a compilation from the same sources that have been utilized in the Pentateuch. These are termed Jehovist (J.); Elohist (E.); Priestly Code (P.); Deuteronomist (D.) and still another Deuteronomist, termed D2. This So-called "science," higher criticism, tries to show which is which. And to these must be added a number of redactors, revisors and editors, who all had a hand in putting the book of Joshua into the shape in which we have it now. (The letters behind the names are used by the critic to indicate these different sources. W.H. Bennett in 1895 published Joshua in a number of colors, indicating the various documents.) Well has it been said:
"One is tempted to say of this complicated but confidently maintained scheme, that it is just too complete, too wonderfully finished, too clever by half. Allowing most cordially the remarkable ability and ingenuity of its authors, we can hardly be expected to concede to them the power of taking to pieces a book of such vast antiquity, putting it in a modern mincing machine, dividing it among so many supposed writers, and settling the exact parts of it written by each!"
And now we must mention in connection with the authorship of the book of Joshua, the Hexateuch theory.
The Hexateuch Theory
The word "Hexateuch" means "six-fold book." The five books written by Moses, Genesis to Deuteronomy, are called "Pentateuch," that is, "five-fold book." The critics claim that the book of Joshua belongs properly to the five books of the law, thereby adding a sixth book. This combination they call the Hexateuch. In itself this appears harmless. However, a closer examination reveals that this invention is the offspring of unbelief. They call attention to the fact that throughout the Pentateuch the land of Canaan and its final conquest and inheritance by Israel is mentioned and presupposed. The following passages are generally pointed out: Gen. 13:14-17; 15:13-16; 26:3; 28:13-15; Ex. 3:8, 17; 32:13; 33:1-3; Num. 13:17, 27:18-23; Deut. 1:38; 3:21; 31:3-6. Upon those passages predicting the future occupation and possession of Canaan, the critics base the claim that the same person or persons who wrote the Pentateuch must have also written the book of Joshua. We quote the exact words of one of the leading critics. "It is self-evident that a writer who has commenced his narrative by the brilliant promises made to the patriarchs, is bound to conclude it by showing us their accomplishment; to say the least, it would be impossible for him to pass that accomplishment in silence."
Such a claim involves the denial of the possibility of prediction of future events. This denial is in very fact the whole foundation of the destructive criticism of the Bible; and such a denial is unbelief. To explain, in a scientific way, as it is termed, the predictions found in the Bible, all kinds of theories have been invented. These theories attempt to explain away the supernatural in the Word of God. Thus different Isaiahs have been invented, because the one Isaiah, who wrote the book which bears his name, must be denied an account of such a marvellous prediction as the mention of Cyrus, the king unborn, when Isaiah lived. Daniel is rejected as the author of the book of Daniel and a "pious Jew" (without a definite name) living hundreds of years after Daniel, has to pose as the author of that prophetic book, because, according to the critics, Daniel could not have foretold the events recorded in his prophecies. And the book of Joshua, for the same reason, must have been composed by the same author or authors, compiler or compilers of the Pentateuch. Of course the critics deny that Moses had anything to do with the writing of the first five books of the Bible. If they were to assign the composition of the book of Joshua to Joshua, and the Pentateuch to Moses, the denial, that there can be no genuine prediction, could not be sustained. And this supposed "Hexateuch," the six-fold book, is relegated to a very late period.
But all this Hexateuchal invention is easily disproven. The Hebrews always reverenced the five books, universally ascribed to Moses. They look upon them, and rightly so, as standing by themselves in solitary grandeur. The Hebrew Old Testament has three parts, Thora (Pentateuch), Neviim (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah to Malachi, except Daniel), and Kethubim (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles). To link Joshua with the five books of Moses is a thing unknown among the Hebrews. The book of Joshua was never bound together with the law. No manuscript has ever been found which links Joshua with the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch always stood alone by itself and was jealously guarded by the Hebrews. The critics are unable to furnish any proof that originally the Pentateuch and Joshua were combined.
We state another fact, which overthrows the Hexateuch theory. The Pentateuch is the model of the entire Bible. The five-fold division can be traced in both Testaments. The Book of Psalms, for instance, in the Hebrew Bible has five divisions. The ancient Hebrews called therefore the Psalms "the Pentateuch of David." Each division corresponds in a remarkable degree with the character of the different books written by Moses. The New Testament also has five parts which correspond to the Pentateuch: Gospels (Genesis); Acts (Exodus); Pauline Epistles (Leviticus); General Epistles (Numbers); Revelation (Deuteronomy). All this shows that the Hexateuch is a man-made theory pure and simple. It is invented by such, who refuse to accept the supernatural in the Bible.
We cannot follow the different other objections made against the book of Joshua, as being written by Joshua. These objections are easily answered and we need not to burden our readers with these controversial matters which are of no value at all. We shall, however, in our annotations, call attention to some questions raised by the critics. The study of the book itself will furnish continued evidence, that it is written by inspiration.
The Historical Events and their Typical Meaning
The book of Joshua records the entrance of the people Israel into the promised land, how this entrance was effected by the power of God, the conflicts which arose when they came into the land, the partial conquest and the division of the land among the tribes. All this is fully given in our analysis and followed in the annotations of the different chapters.
There is no other historical book in the Bible so rich in typical foreshadowings as the book of Joshua. It is inexhaustible and full of blessed meaning and encouragement to every child of God, because these historical events typify Christian position, Christian experience and Christian conflict. We shall find that a part of Joshua illustrates for us in a typical way the Epistle to the Ephesians. We point out a few of the leading types; the annotations will give the details and touch upon others as well.
Joshua is, of course, a type of Him whose earthly Name he bears. He is the first one in the Word of God who bears that ever blessed Name. As already stated Joshua is the same as "Jesus," the Greek form for Joshua. Joshua therefore typifies Christ. The earthly people Israel typifies the heavenly peoples and the earthly possession promised and given to Israel is the type of the heavenly possession given to His heavenly people. However, Canaan is not the type of heaven, the place into which the believer enters in the future. Canaan could not be the type of heaven for two reasons. The first is, Israel's conflict when they came into the land. They had to fight their way through the land. Their battles, so to speak, began after they had crossed Jordan. They got into the land without even lifting a single sword or spear. But no sooner were they in the land, their fighting began. This can never be said of heaven. When we reach the Father's house all conflicts will be forever ended and Satan will be completely bruised under our feet.
The second reason why Canaan cannot mean heaven is, that Israel could be driven out of the land. This is not possible with heaven. It is impossible that the place into which God's grace brings us could ever be lost to a child of God. Canaan is the type of the heavenly position and possession which the believer has in Christ Jesus. It corresponds to that which in Ephesians is called "in heavenly places," or as better rendered "in the heavenly." It is the heavenly sphere, the heavenly, spiritual blessings given to us in Christ Jesus.
Jordan is not the type of the death of the believer, but Jordan typifies in Joshua the death of Christ, by which we are separated into this blessed heavenly possession. We are brought into it by the death of Christ, as Israel was brought into Canaan through the passage of Jordan.
The passage of Jordan, the erection of the memorial stones, the events at Gilgal, all find a most blessed typical application, illustrating our redemption in Christ as well as our privileges and responsibilities.
The enemies of Israel, the Canaanites, were usurpers of a land which did not belong to them. They were steeped in wickedness. Immoralities of the most abominable nature were connected with their idolatries. They practised sorcery, divinations; they asked the dead and had familiar spirits. Satan and his demons had complete control over them. They are the types of the "wicked spirits" with which a heavenly people wage their warfare. See Ephesians 6:10-13. All these typical applications we shall make in the annotations.
The division of the land among the tribes has its many typical lessons for us, who are called to possess and enjoy our heavenly possession.
The Dispensational Aspect
The book of Joshua has also a marked dispensational aspect. Israel is yet to possess the promised land in the dimensions in which they never possessed it. God brought them in under Joshua, the second one. The first one, Moses, could not bring them in. When our Lord Jesus Christ appears the second time, He will gather His people from the wilderness of the nations and will give them the land and they shall occupy their full inheritance.
The fall of Jericho, the overthrow of Israel's enemies, the battle at Gibeon, the division of the land, the rest which followed, all have their striking and most interesting dispensational meaning.
May it please God to make the study of the book of Joshua a blessing to the hearts of His people.
The Division of the Book of Joshua
The division of the book of Joshua is not difficult to make. The opening chapters are taken up with a description of the entrance of the people into the promised land and the conflicts with the enemies. This is followed by the record of the division of the land among the tribes. The book closes with the last words of Joshua, as Deuteronomy closed with the final words of Moses. The death and burial of Joshua and a few other historical statements are added to the book. These, of course, were not written by Joshua.
I. THE ENTRANCE OF THE PEOPLE INTO CANAAN AND THE CONFLICTS
1. The Entrance Commanded and Success Promised (1:1-18) 2. The Spies and Rahab's Faith (2:1-24) 3. The Passage of Jordan (3:1-17) 4. The Memorial Stones (4:1-24) 5. At Gilgal (5:1-15) 6. The Fall of Jericho (6:1-27) 7. Achan's Sin and Israel's Defeat (7:1-26) 8. The Overthrow of Ai (8:1-35) 9. The Gibeonites and their Victory (9:1-27) 10. The Victorious Conquest (10-12)
II. THE DIVISION OF THE LAND
1. Instructions Given: The Two and a Half Tribes (13:1-33) 2. Caleb's Request and Inheritance (14:1-15) 3. The Portion of Judah (15:1-63) 4. The Portion of Ephraim (16:1-10) 5. The Portion of Manasseh (17:1-18) 6. The Portion of the Rest of the Tribes (18-19) 7. The Cities of Refuge (20:1-9) 8. The Portion of the Levites (21:1-45)
III. THE FINAL WORDS OF JOSHUA AND THE EPILOGUE
1. The Two and a Half Tribes (22:1-34) 2. Joshua's Two Addresses (23:1-24:28) 3. The Epilogue (24:29-33)
Analysis and Annotations
I. THE ENTRANCE OF THE PEOPLE INTO CANAAN AND THE CONFLICTS
1. The Entrance Commanded and Success Promised
1. The Lord speaks to Joshua (1:1-9) 2. Joshua speaks to the people (1:10-15) 3. The answer of the people (1:16-18)
The little word "now" with which this book begins is in the Hebrew "and." It links the book with Deuteronomy and the other books of the Pentateuch. It also shows that the previous books were in existence, for the mention of Moses, his death, and Joshua, the minister of Moses, presupposes that the reader knows all about them. But there is a stronger evidence in the eighth verse of the chapter, that the Pentateuch was then completely written. The term "This book of the law" applies to the five books written by Moses.
Joshua begins with the statement of Moses' death and ends with the record of Joshua's death. The book which follows, the book of judges, begins with the statement of Joshua's death. Moses and Joshua are closely linked together. Both are beautiful types of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses, the servant, is the type of Christ, the perfect servant of God. Joshua typifies Christ in and among His people in the power of His Spirit.
He leads His people victoriously into the promised possession. Moses' death also typifies Christ. The people could not enter the land as long as this servant of God was living. After his death the land could be possessed. So after the death of Christ the heavenly inheritance is thrown open.
The Lord mentions once more the death of His servant. "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His Saints" (Ps. 116:15). After that the command to enter the land is given. The land promised to the seed of Abraham is God's gift. "The land which I do give unto them." They beheld that land across the river with its beautiful hills and mountains and its fertile valleys. The third verse contains a condition. "Every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." They had to appropriate what God had given and as they appropriated it, they would possess and enjoy the land. If they made it their own by putting their feet upon the land, whether mountain or valley, it became theirs in reality. This required energy. As stated in our introduction, Canaan typifies the heavenly places mentioned in the Epistle to the Ephesians. We are blessed "in Christ" with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). All is the gift of the grace of God. Unsearchable riches, far greater than that land, even in its widest dimensions, belong to us. The unsearchable riches of Christ are by the death of Christ put on our side. We must take possession in the energy of faith, as Israel had to plant their feet upon the territory and conquer it. If we are apprehended of Jesus Christ, we also must apprehend. "I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am also apprehended of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:12). Israel failed in the wilderness and Israel failed in the possession of the land. And greater still is our failure in not claiming in faith our possessions "in Christ".
The words the Lord addressed to Joshua are extremely precious. "I will be with thee," stands first. He was with Joshua and gave him the promise "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life." And this is true of us. He is with us, indwelling us; His Spirit is with us and His power on our side. God is for us; who can be against us? "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." He never fails His people. Divine strength and power are on our side. In the midst of the conflict He will never forsake His people.
After these assuring and encouraging words come the exhortations to obedience. "Be strong and very courageous." Notice the courage is linked with the law (the Word of God) and obedience to it, as well as meditation in it day and night. Joshua was put in dependence on the written Word. So are we. Spiritual growth and enjoyment are impossible apart from meditation in the Word and obedience to it. The Word and obedience to it, separates us, and keeps us separated. And we need courage to obey. It requires courage in an ungodly age, a blinded world with its eyeblinding god (Satan) "to observe to do according to all that is written." It becomes more difficult as the present age draws to its close, to fight the good fight of faith, to appropriate in faith the spiritual blessings, to stand and withstand the wiles of the devil. But if we are obedient His strength will sustain us and give us victory. We constantly need the courage of faith, which looks to God and which is expressed by obedience to His Word. "God's strength is employed in helping us in the paths of God's will, not out of it. Then no matter where we go, what the difficulties are, how long the journey seems, He makes our way prosperous."
Joshua addressed the officers of the people and especially the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. They had made their choice and had found rest on this side of Jordan. But they were not to be exempt from the approaching warfare; they are commanded to help their brethren by passing with them over Jordan. Then after their brethren had found rest, they were to return to their rest. They could not escape the conflict, though they had no reward in the land itself.
2. The Spies and Rahab's Faith
1. The spies sent forth (2:1) 2. Rahab's faith and works (2:2-14) 3. The escape of the spies and assurance given (2:15-21) 4. The return of the spies (2:22-24)
The historical account needs not to be restated. Joshua, who was one of the spies sent out by Moses, now sends two spies to view the land, even Jericho. Jericho was the great stronghold of the enemy, surrounded by high walls. Jericho means "fragrance" and is a type of the world. (It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew Jericho differs in its spelling in Joshua from that in Numbers. This proves certainly a different authorship.) It is situated near Jordan, the river which typifies death and judgment. The King of Jericho is the type of Satan, the god of this age. The city was grossly immoral, so that it is not strange that the spies came to the house of an harlot. Some have tried to change her character by making her to be an innkeeper. But it cannot be done on account of the word used in the record here and also in the New Testament. Why should even such an attempt be made? Rahab, the harlot, is a beautiful type of the power of the gospel of grace. "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace" (Hebrews 1:31). Her faith she witnessed to by works. "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?" (James 2:25) Rahab belonged to the doomed race, the race against which the curse had been pronounced. In the doomed city she practised her vile occupation. But she heard the report and she believed. She confessed her faith in Jehovah, the God of the heaven above and of the earth beneath. She had a reason for this faith, for she said, "We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt" (verse 10). She prayed for mercy for herself and her father's house. She knew judgment would overtake Jericho, that she was a sinner and needed salvation. She believed in Jehovah and believed, that while He is a holy God, who had dealt in judgment with Egypt, that He is also merciful. She trusted in that mercy and appealed to it in her prayer. She claims assurance of salvation and that of her house and she received it in positive terms.
The scarlet-line by which the spies escaped is bound by herself in the window. It was a token to her and a sign to the coming executioners of judgment, when Jericho fell. They saw that scarlet-line; but she was not told to look upon it. How scarlet speaks of the blood needs hardly to be mentioned. It is the type of being sheltered by the blood. "When I shall see the blood, I will pass over you," was spoken to Israel, behind the blood-sprinkled door posts. The scarlet-line has the same meaning. And we must not forget that two living witnesses gave her the assurance of Salvation. Thus we have our assurance in Him, who died for our sins and who was raised on account of our justification.
By hiding the spies and lying to the King of Jericho, she shows her faith and the weakness of it. To her was also given a place of honor in the first chapter of the New Testament as one of the ancestors of Him who, according to the flesh, is the Son of David.
Dispensationally the application is equally interesting. When Israel is about to be restored to their land, a witness is sounded forth once more, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 24:14). Before the judgments of the Lord are executed in the world, those will be saved during the end of the age who, like Rahab, hear and believe this last kingdom message. They will do good to the Jewish messengers of this final testimony, before the coming of the Lord in power and in glory, as Rahab did good to the spies, the messengers of Joshua. They are those to whom the Lord will say, "What ye have done to the least of these, My brethren, that have ye done unto Me." Rahab was saved and remained in the land to enjoy the earthly blessings with Israel. So the Gentiles, who hear and believe the last message, who have done good to the messengers of the King, the Lord's brethren, will be saved from the wrath to come. For a more complete unfolding of this interesting theme, we refer the reader to the exposition of the Olivet discourse in the Gospel of Matthew.
3. The Passage of Jordan
1. The Ark of Jehovah going before (3:1-6) 2. Jehovah's words to Joshua (3:7-8) 3. Joshua's words to the people (3:9-13) 4. The passage accomplished (3:14-17)
The River Jordan divided the people from the promised land. To be in the land Jordan had to be crossed. Jordan, overflowing all its banks at that time (verse 15), rolled its dark waters between them and their God-given possession. Only the power of God could bring them through those dark waters. It was a miracle which took place, when a way was opened and "the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap ... and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt-sea, failed and were cut off" (verse 16). Unbelief has always branded this miracle as a legend. The destructive criticism has done the same. This is the second time the Lord made a way for His people through the waters. He made first a way for them through the Red Sea, by which Israel was separated from Egypt and from their enemies. The passage of Jordan separated them from the wilderness and brought them into the land.
Both, the Red Sea and Jordan, are types of the death of Christ in its blessed results for His people. The Red Sea experience typifies the fact that the believer, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, is dead to sin and dead to the law. The passage through Jordan is the type of the fact, that the death and resurrection of Christ brings us into the heavenly places; we are seated together in Christ in heavenly places.
And how was the passage accomplished? We read now nothing more of the movement of the pillar of cloud and of fire, so prominent at the Red Sea and during the wilderness journey. The ark of the covenant of the Lord appears in the foreground to lead the way and made a way through the overflowing waters. Taken up by the priests, carried towards the river, as soon as the priests touched the brim of it, the waters were stemmed back, till all the people had passed over on dry ground. The ark with the blood-sprinkled mercy seat is the type of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the type of our Lord going into the deep waters of death to make a way through them for His people. The distance between the ark and the people was to be two thousand cubits. It illustrates the fact that our Lord had to do this work alone. Peter declared that he would go with Him into death, but the Lord told him, "Thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me hereafter." There was none with Him, when He made the way, but He takes all His people through death into resurrection life and glory.
In the midst of Jordan, the mighty waters standing as a heap above, the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. It was a dry way, not a drop of the dark, muddy waters were left. It shows the truth, that the power of death (typified by the waters of Jordan) is completely gone; nothing is left of it. The work is accomplished for all His people. Not one is left behind; the weakest and the smallest pass over. What effect it must have had upon the enemies, and especially upon Jericho! Jericho was but five miles away. No doubt they watched the hosts of Israel before the passage. They felt secure on account of the mighty waters of Jordan, which seemed to bar the Israelitish invasion. How panic-stricken they must have become when they saw or heard of the great miracle and that God's people had reached the other shore! But one person was calm in Jericho. One enjoyed peace and rest and did not fear. The one from whose window there streamed the scarlet line.
4. The Memorial Stones
1. The first memorial (4:1-8) 2. The second memorial (4:9) 3. The return of the priests with the ark (4:10-18) 4. The encampment at Gilgal (4:19-24)
Jehovah commanded that the great event should be remembered by a memorial. From the river-bed, where the priest's feet stood firm, twelve men, one from each tribe, were to carry twelve stones and leave them at the first lodging place in the land, that is, at Gilgal. These memorial stones were to tell subsequent generations the story of God's faithfulness and power in bringing His people through Jordan into the land. Another memorial of twelve stones was set up by Joshua in the midst of the river, where the priests stood with the ark. This whole record has been much questioned by the critics; it has been charged that there are two different accounts. Professor George Adam Smith states: "For instance, in the story of the crossing of Jordan, as told in Joshua 3 and 4, there are two accounts of the monument set up to commemorate the passage. One of them builds it at Gilgal on the west bank with stones taken from the river-bed by the people; the other builds it in the bed of the river with twelve stones set there by Joshua. (The same view is held by Friedrich Bleek; no doubt Prof G.A. Smith has it from him.) Such criticism reveals the astonishing weakness of that entire school. Why should the ninth verse of the fourth chapter be looked upon as an interpolation, or as another account of one transaction? There is nothing in the text to warrant such a statement. The fact is there are two transactions. The one by the twelve men, who take the twelve stones and set them up at Gilgal. The other by Joshua, who puts twelve stones in the river-bed.
But if these critics but knew a little more of the spiritual and typical significance of all these events and transactions, they would soon learn better. What do these two memorials mean? They tell out the story what God has done for His people. In the midst of Jordan the children of Israel could see the pile of twelve stones Joshua had put there as a memorial. As they looked upon them and the waters rushing about them, they remembered that where these stones are, there the ark halted and the waters were cut off and His people passed over.
The typical application is not hard to make. The twelve stones in the river-bed tell out the story of the death of Christ and our death with Him. We are dead to sin and to the law as well as crucified unto the world. We must, therefore, reckon ourselves dead unto sin.
The other memorial was erected at Gilgal. As they looked upon these stones and their children asked them, "What mean these stones?" they could point to them and say, as these stones were taken out of Jordan on the dry land, so had they been brought out of Jordan into this land of promise. This memorial is the type of the fact "that we are alive unto God in our Lord Jesus Christ." We are a new creation in Christ Jesus, the old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. It is the memorial which tells us, that we are raised up and seated in Christ in the heavenly places. These two great truths seen in this double memorial must ever be remembered by God's people, as Israel was charged to remember the passing over Jordan and the bringing into the land.
5. At Gilgal
1. The terrified enemies (5:1) 2. Circumcision commanded and executed (5:2-9) 3. The Passover kept (5:10) 4. The old corn of the land (5:11-12) 5. The captain of Jehovah's host (5:13-15)
The events at Gilgal are of much interest. Jehovah had brought His people over Jordan. All His promises were kept. He had promised to deliver them out of Egypt and to bring them into the land of Canaan. All is now accomplished. The wilderness is behind them and they face the marvellous land with its riches and resources, the land flowing with milk and honey. The advance and the conquest is next in order. At the Red Sea their enemies were slain by the power of God, but now, after the power of God had brought them into the land, the real conflict begins.
Gilgal, the new ground gained and occupied by the people brought over Jordan, is the type of the resurrection-ground upon which our feet have been planted. That we are risen with Christ and seated in Him in the heavenly places must be constantly remembered, as Israel could never forget at Gilgal that they had been brought over Jordan into the land. The memorial stones served as a constant reminder.
But before they could advance a number of things took place. First we read of the fear which took hold on the kings of the Canaanites. Their hearts melted. They were the instruments of Satan under whose control they were; their fear denotes Satan's fear. He knew the power of Jehovah, which had brought them into the land. The enemy is defeated by the death and resurrection of our Lord. Through death He has annulled him, who has the power of death, that is the devil. Being in Christ, risen with Christ and seated in Him in the heavenly places, we can look upon the enemy as conquered. Yet it is only in the Lord and in the power of His might that we are strong. Apart from Him we become the easy prey of our enemy. What an encouragement to Israel it must have been, when they learned, as no doubt they did, that the mighty enemies, who had inspired such terror to their fathers over thirty-eight years ago, were now trembling. Israel's fear was gone, because God's power was on their side. What confidence we should have when we remember that "we are translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love"! Victory is on our side. All we need to do is to put on the whole armour of God, to resist the devil and he will flee from us.
Circumcision is next commanded by Jehovah. "At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time." This command was carried out at once and the reproach of Egypt was rolled away. Therefore the place was called Gilgal, which means "rolling." The circumcision was carried out on all the males, who were born in the wilderness (verses 5 and 7). The rite of such deep meaning had been neglected. No doubt they had plenty of excuses for that during the wilderness journey. No command was given to circumcise during the thirty-eight years' wandering. It was suspended; it may have been a punishment for their unbelief But now all is changed. They are in the land. The Passover, the great memorial feast, was about to be kept. The uncircumcised could not eat the Passover. The reproach of Egypt, for as uncircumcised they were the same as in bondage in Egypt, in no covenant with Jehovah, is rolled away. The visible token of belonging to Jehovah was now borne by every male in the camp.
Joshua exhibited the courage of faith in circumcising the thousands of Israelites at that time. His action has been called "most unmilitary." He put the vast majority of his fighting men into an unfit condition. What if these Canaanites should have fallen upon the settlers in their territory? May Joshua not have remembered the dastardly crime of the sons of Jacob? See Genesis 34:24-26. He knew no fear, his first concern was to yield obedience to God. They tarried for several weeks at Gilgal.
What are the typical lessons of all this? Circumcision stands for the carrying out of the sentence of death to the flesh. The death of Christ is for His people a circumcision. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2:11). But this fact that we are dead to sin by the circumcision, the death of Christ must be carried out practically. The sharp knife has to be applied to the flesh and the things of the flesh. The members, which are on earth, must be mortified, which means, put into the place of death, where the death of Christ has put them. If it is not done the reproach of Egypt will rest upon His people and they are unfit to enjoy their heavenly possession, and unable to advance in the things of Christ.
Gilgal, therefore, stands for the judgment of self. This is the place of our strength and power. Israel had always to return to Gilgal; when they did not they were defeated. Defeat, failure in our walk, always drives us back to self-judgment and humiliation. Victory and blessing may keep us from it; and that is our real spiritual danger.
Passover is kept next. See Numbers 9 and our annotations there. What blessed memories must have come to them? They remembered that fearful night in Egypt and how Jehovah had passed over them, when He saw the blood of the lamb. Notice the difference between these two Passovers. The first they kept as guilty; they needed protection. But now they keep it as delivered and brought into the land. And we have a feast of remembrance likewise, the Lord's table. "Do this in remembrance of Me." It must be kept by us on resurrection-ground, realizing that we are dead with Christ and risen with Him; self-judgment is needed as well.
"The remembrance of the past is often an excellent preparation for the trials of the future, and as often it proves a remarkable support under them. It was the very nature of the Passover to look back to the past, and to recall God's first great interposition on behalf of His people. It was a precious encouragement both to faith and hope. So also is our Christian Passover. It is a connecting link between the first and second comings of our Lord. The first coming lends support to faith, the second to hope. No exercise of soul can be more profitable than to go back to that memorable day when Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. For then the price of redemption was paid in full, and the door of salvation flung wide open. Then the Son sealed His love by giving Himself for us. What blessing, whether for this life or the life to come, was not purchased by that transaction? Life may be dark and stormy, but hope foresees a bright tomorrow. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Professor W.G. Blaikie).
Then the manna ceased and they ate the old corn of the land. Both foods are typical of Christ, the food God has given to His people. The manna is the type of Christ, on earth, in humiliation. The old corn is Christ in Glory. May we constantly feed on both.
Then Joshua meets before Jericho the man with the drawn sword. What a courageous man Joshua was! He meets the stranger alone. Most likely he had no sword, while the man had his sword drawn. He soon hears who the stranger is. It is the same One who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, to Abraham at Mamre, to Jacob at Peniel and to others afterward. It is Jehovah in visible form. These theophanies were surely not incarnations, yet they foreshadowed the incarnation of the Son of God. Here Jehovah who in the fulness of time became Man, appears as a man of war, as Captain of the host of the Lord. The host are Israel. And He is the Captain of our salvation.
The book of Joshua is the book of conflicts and conquests. The sword is freely used in carrying out the divine judgments upon the ungodly tenants of the land. Yet the first drawn sword, mentioned in the book, is in the hand of the Lord as He appeared unto Joshua. He fights for His people. He will yet execute the righteous judgments in the earth, It will be when He appears the second time.
6. The Fall of Jericho
1. The divine instruction (6:1-5) 2. The instructions followed (6:6-19) 3. The fall of Jericho (6:20-21) 4. Rahab remembered (6:22-25) 5. The curse upon Jericho (6:26-27)
We do not enlarge upon the history of the chapter, which needs no comment. The fall of Jericho by the power of God, as described in this chapter, has also been ridiculed by infidels. Others have tried to explain the occurrence in a natural way. It has been said that the marching Israelites, by tramping around the city for seven days, weakened the walls, and the trumpet blasts and shouting of the people brought about their collapse. How utterly ridiculous! But what are the typical and dispensational lessons of this interesting chapter?
Jericho is the type of the world, as already stated in the annotations of the second chapter. As Jericho falls and is laid in ruins as soon as Israel is in the land, so the world is laid in ruins for the believer who apprehends his position in Christ. Our faith is the victory which overcometh the world. It was faith which obtained the victory over Jericho. A faith which trusted in the Lord; a faith which acted in obedience to the divinely given instructions. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days" (Hebrews 11:30). And we must walk in faith and in the power of His Spirit, as crucified unto the world and the world crucified unto us. The world must remain in ruins for the believer who walks in the Spirit, as Jericho was not to be rebuilt.
It is a remarkable circumstance, in various aspects, that Jericho, the first and the strongest city of the land, is taken in this peculiar manner, without a single stroke of the sword. This result was intended, on the one hand, to furnish the faith of the Israelites with unquestionable evidence of the success of their future warlike movements, which now commenced, and, on the other hand, to secure them in advance, from a carnal reliance on their own strength, and from all vainglorious tendencies to ascribe their success to their own courage, their own intelligence, and their own power.
We must also think here of the walls, the hindrances, the obstacles in our lives as believers, as we pass through the world. The enemy often tries to terrify us by these, as he discouraged Israel at Kadesh by the walled cities. Alas! we often do what Joshua did not do before Jericho. We measure the walls, we study the difficulties, we are occupied with our perplexities and trials. We reckon with the walls, instead of reckoning with the Lord and His power. By faith walls still fall down.
Richer is the meaning of the fall of Jericho viewed in the light of prophecy. Jericho is the type of the world ripe for judgment. The high walls are types of the walls of unbelief, apostasy, wickedness and self-security. Seven days Israel had to march around the walls. Seven priests with seven trumpets were there. On the seventh day they had to march around seven times and blow the seven trumpets. Note the number "seven." It stands for divine completion. How it all reminds us of the last book of the Bible with its seven seals, seven trumpets and seven vials. The trumpets, however, in Joshua are the trumpets of jubilee. The great jubilee, the time of blessing for this earth comes, when judgment is executed. As the walls of Jericho fell, so comes the day, when all the high and exalted things will be laid low (Isaiah 2:10-22) The stone will fall out of heaven (Christ in His second coming) smiting the image, representing the world-power. Complete ruins will be the result, never to be built again; but the smiting stone becomes a mountain, filling the earth. It is the prophetic picture of the coming kingdom.
"The details of the fall of Jericho seem not, however, to be facts of present experience, but prophetic of actual judgment when it comes; and this is quite as we might expect. We see by them, however, that the people of God have to maintain the testimony as to these things: compassing the city and blowing the trumpets until the city falls; although it be only in the meantime to awaken the scorn of the men of the world, as they hear the frequent alarm of that which seems never to come. But it comes, comes steadily nearer, is surely even now at the door, and how urgent should be our testimony, which, if of no effect upon the mass, yet helps to fill Rahab's house, where the true scarlet-line, as despicable in men's eyes as that of old, shields with the power of the Almighty the prisoners of hope" (F.W. Grant).
How blessedly the promise was kept to Rahab and her house! No doubt that scarlet line was the object of ridicule in Jericho. She alone and her house escaped the dreadful judgment. The entire walls fell; but one small portion was kept standing, the portion upon which her house stood.
Jericho was built three times and three times razed to the ground. It was first destroyed under Joshua. Then Hiel, the Beth-elite rebuilt it in Ahab's reign (822-790). He experienced the curse of Joshua. Compare Joshua 6:26 with 1 Kings 16:34. Hiel's city was destroyed by the Herodians in 3 B.C. The next year Archelaus built Jericho again, the Jericho standing in the days of our Lord. This was destroyed by Vespassian 68 A.D.
7. Achan's Sin and Israel's Defeat
1. The defeat of Israel (7:1-5) 2. The source of the defeat revealed (7:6-15) 3. The transgressor found out (7:16-23) 4. The judgment of Achan (7:24-26)
The insignificant place Ai brings defeat. Joshua sent men to view Ai. What authority was given to him to do so? There was no need to send spies once more, for the Lord had said, that the whole land was given to them. They report Ai a place without walls and recommend that only two or three thousand men be sent up. Defeat follows.
Ai means "ruins." It is mentioned for the first time in Genesis 12. Abraham built his altar between Bethel (House of God) and Ai. Ai is another type of the world. But the source of the defeat was Achan's sin. The shekels of silver and gold, the Babylonian garment, had blinded his eyes. These things were to be "accursed," which literally means devoted; devoted to the treasury of the Lord (6:19). Joshua had given the command that such should be the case, and also announced, that disobedience would bring trouble upon Israel. Achan's sin was responsible for the defeat of the people. He confesses, "I saw--I coveted--I took." The same old story, first enacted in the garden of Eden. The evil in the midst of the people of God, unjudged, becomes the most powerful agent against Israel and withholds God's power and blessing. It is so still. As soon as we cling to the things of the world, the enemy gets an advantage over us, and we have little power and cannot advance in the things of Christ. Ah! the Achans in our lives! Judge self, bring the evil thing into the light and victory and blessing will follow. Joshua's prayer and Jehovah's answer; Achan's sin discovered and forced confession; the judgment which falls upon him and his house; the heap of stones raised over him--all is of interest and instruction, which our limited space forbids to follow in detail.
The valley of Achor is mentioned in Hosea 2:15 as a door of hope. The place and door of hope is in Him, who died not for his sins, but who took the sin and guilt of the nation upon Himself.
"The valley of Achor was not only the place of national repentance, and of a national repudiation of sin, but it was also the place of a great and tragic national expiation. Israel had sinned, and so Israel had suffered, but it was the sin of one man that had brought judgment on the camp. Now, observe, the sin of a single man was imputed to Israel, and became Israel's sin, and because of that imputation of sin, the wrath of God fell on the whole nation. But when the sin of that one man was discovered, and when it was confessed before God, then the sin imputed to the congregation reverted on to the head of the one criminal. Thus the penalty due to a national sin was actually carried out upon him whose guilt had involved the nation in judgment; and as the deadly stones were hurled upon him, that man in his death was not only reaping the reward of his disobedience, but the sin of the nation was being expiated in the death of the individual; and thus was opened 'a door of hope' through 'the valley of trouble,' whereby Israel might enter the land of promise, and find her vineyards from thence."--Aitken.
8. The Overthrow of Ai
1. The advance commanded (8:1-2) 2. The strategy of Joshua (8:3-13) 3. Ai's defeat (8:14-29) 4. Joshua's obedience (8:30-35)
Sin confessed, judged and put away restored communion with the Lord. If any burden remained upon the mind of Joshua, it was removed by the repeated words of comfort and cheer. "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed." The failure is no longer mentioned, but instead, comfort and assurance is given and victory promised. He deals in the same gracious way with us, whenever we have failed and humbled ourselves before Him in self-judgment. However, their former presumption is not overlooked by Jehovah. The capture of Ai is hard work for them. They had to learn the lesson. Their pride and self reliance was dealt with by Jehovah, who ever wants His people in the place of lowliness and weakness. Instead of 3,000 men, ten times as many had to go up and engage in the warfare.
The Lord commanded Joshua to stretch out the spear toward Ai. This corresponds to the uplifted hands of Moses in the warfare against Amalek in Exodus 17. It was a token of the presence of divine power in securing the complete victory. We read nothing of Joshua's arm with the spear becoming weak, as it was with the uplifted hands of Moses. "For Joshua drew not his hand back wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai" (verse 26). It was an act of faith, and divine power supported the out stretched arm.
Then, after the victory, Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel, in Mount Ebal. He is doing this in obedience to the previously given command. See Deuteronomy 27:2-8. What an impressive scene it must have been when "he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law."
"Both mounts belong to the range of Mount Ephraim; the elevated valley of Shechem lies between them. The transaction probably took place in the following manner. Six tribes occupied each mount; the priests, standing below in the valley with the ark of the covenant in their midst, turned toward Mount Gerizim as they solemnly pronounced the words of blessing, and then, looking towards Mount Ebal, repeated the words of cursing; all the people responded to each of the words, and said: 'Amen!' Ebal, the Mount of cursing, is naked and bald; Gerizim, the mount of blessing, is green and fertile. The circumstance that the mount of cursing was assigned for the writing of the law, the erection of the altar, and the offering of sacrifice, is highly significant; the cause lies in the intimate relations existing between the curse, on the one hand, and the Law and Sacrifice, on the other--the former brings a curse, or gives a sharp point to it, the latter abolishes it" (J.H. Kurtz).
9. The Gibeonites
1. The confederacy of the enemies (9:1-2) 2. The deception of the Gibeonites (9:3-13) 3. The failure (9:14-15) 4. The deception discovered (9:16-27)
Israel now comes face to face with the other inhabitants of the land. These enemies, which Israel encountered, are the types of our enemies, and the conflict of God's earthly people is typical of our conflict. There is, however, a difference. Israel's enemies were flesh and blood; ours are not. Israel's conflict was in the land; ours is with the wicked spirits in the heavenly places. Israel was asked to drive them out; we are not asked to do this, but to resist the devil. Israel's land rested from the conflict; we shall not rest till we are with Him, when Satan will be bruised under our feet. Read Ephesians 6:10-17.
The Canaanites are the types of the evil powers, with whom we have to wage our warfare. As the Canaanites opposed the possession and enjoyment of the land, so the aim of the wicked spirits is to keep us back, to hinder us in possessing and enjoying our spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
The Gibeonites were Hivites. They came with deceptions, knowing well what was their lot. The deceptions were inspired by the father of lies.
In Ephesians 6, we are especially warned against the wiles of the devil. We are to stand against the wiles of the devil. Elsewhere we read that he transforms himself into an angel of light. The Gibeonites illustrate these wiles of the devil. Not alone had they their mouldy bread and old wineskins, as a kind of credential to back up their lies, but they talked very piously. What are these wiles of the devil? We have to turn to the so-called "religious world" to find them. The "religious world," which speaks piously of God and Christ, is at best hypocrisy, phariseeism. Ritualism, Galatianism, manmade ordinances, belong to the wiles of the devil. Philosophies, traditions of men, delusive doctrines, cunningly devised fables, all these belong to the wiles of the devil (Colossians 2). Such systems as Christian Science, spiritism, Russellism, Bahaism, higher criticism, theosophy and others belong to the wiles of the devil. So does "social-reform." These world reformers, "Christian" socialists, talk piously like the Gibeonites, but the devil's wiles are underneath.
And these wiles of the devil are multiplying. Satan, knowing that his time is short, does all he can to keep God's people from enjoying their blessings and from advancing in spiritual things.
The Gibeonites, with their pious talk, were received into the congregation of Israel, just as the professing church is receiving the world into the church. The failure was with Israel. They asked not counsel of the Lord. Had Joshua gone in the presence of the Lord, He would soon have exposed the deceptions of the Gibeonites. Here is where our failure comes in likewise. Never can Satan, with his superior knowledge and his wiles, get an advantage over us, if we hold closely to the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, and if we ask counsel of the Lord through His Word and in prayer. The covenant made had to stand. It would have been unrighteousness, if Israel had acted differently. How many unequal yokes there are among God's people, entered into without having asked counsel of the Lord!
And there is generally no escape, but suffering in consequence. Israel had to stand much on account of the unholy alliance with the Gibeonites. What a man sows that he will reap. Read 2 Samuel 21:1-6.
10. The Victorious Conquest
1. Adoni-zedec and his confederacy (10:1-6) 2. The war (10:7-11) 3. The miracle (10:12-15) 4. The victory won (10:16-21) 5. The five kings slain (10:22-27) 6. Further conquests (10:28-43)
The name Jerusalem is mentioned here for the first time in the Bible. (Salem in Genesis 14:18, is generally taken to be Jerusalem. See Psalm 76:2. The ancient tablets give the name as Ur-Salim. But the name "Jerusalem" is found the first time in Joshua 10:1.) It is in connection with war, and the next time we find Jerusalem on fire (judges 1:8). This may be taken as a prophecy of the history of that city. Yet something better is in store for Jerusalem. Adoni-zedec is here the King of Jerusalem. His name means "lord of righteousness." He represents the counterfeit king in opposition to Him who is Jerusalem's true King, the true Melchizedec, King of righteousness and King of peace. He is a type of Anti-christ. On account of Gibeon having gone over to Israel, Adoni-zedec forms an alliance, which he heads as leader. His confederates are given by name. We give the meaning of their names in parenthesis, which will be helpful in a deeper study of these types. Horam (the noise of a multitude), King of Hebron; Piram (the wild ass), King of Jarmuth; Japhia (causing brightness); King of Lachish; Debir (an oracle), King of Eglon. This satanic alliance was aimed at Gibeon and at Israel as well. And Gibeon appealed to Joshua for help.
Notice that they sent to Gilgal, the first camp of Israel. Joshua and the people were at Gilgal and from Gilgal they ascended. At Gilgal they saw the memorials of God's power, and encouraged by a direct message from Jehovah they went forth to war. Blessed are we, if in our spiritual warfare we go forth from Gilgal (the place of self-judgment and of power).
The great miracle of the standing still of the sun and the moon occurred then. The way this miracle has been held up to ridicule is known to everybody. Infidels of all generations have sneered at it. Critics have followed, as they always do, close in their footsteps. But even good men have found difficulties here and tried to explain it with their human wisdom. One explanation given is that the Hebrew word _dum, to stand, means rather that the sun was to cease to give its light. Upon this the statement is made, that Joshua's command was that the sun and moon should cease giving their light, and not that they should cease continuing their apparent motion. Herder in his "Hebraische Poesie" says:
"It is astonishing that this fine passage has been so long misunderstood. Joshua attacked the Amorites in the early morning, and the battle continued till night; that is, for a long day, which seemed to protract itself into night, to complete the victory. The sun and moon were witnesses of Joshua's great deeds, and held their course in the midst of heaven till the triumph was perfect. Who does not recognize this as poetry, even if it had not been quoted from the Book of Poems on Heroes. In the usual language of the Hebrews such expressions were neither bold nor unusual."
These are the attempts of man, by which he tries to explain the supernatural by the natural. The occurrence is a miracle. It says the sun stood still. But how is that when science tells us the sun does not move? We give the answer from Kurtz in his Sacred History, because it is the most concise statement we have ever seen:
"A voucher from the Old Testament for the promise in Mark 11:23, 24, 'Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, etc..' is furnished by Joshua's bold word of faith with its fulfilment. It was his prayer that the light of day might be prolonged, and the darkness of night be retarded, until he had secured the object for which he pursued the enemy: he obtained the answer which he sought by the miraculous power of his faith. No investigation respecting the natural means which produced this supernatural effect can furnish valuable results. The command of faith is pronounced in the sense which Joshua assigns to the words; the divine answer is given in the sense in which God understands them. No arguments that are either favorable or unfavorable to any particular system of astronomy are furnished by the occurrence."
The miracle must have stricken with terror the fighting nations, for they worshipped the sun and the moon.
Signs in heaven are frequently mentioned in the Word.
Read and study carefully the following passages: 2 Kings 20:11; Isa. 38:8; Amos 8:9; Isa. 13:10, 60:20; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12; 8:12; 9:2; 16:8. When the age ends with the battle of Armageddon and the Lord Jesus Christ appears the second time in great power and glory, these signs as predicted in some of these passages will be fulfilled. The sun and moon will be darkened. What terror will take hold upon the great masses of Christendom, who reject the miracle and Christ! Read Revelation 6:12-17.
What is the book of Jasher, mentioned in verse 13?
The Book of Jasher (or, of the Upright, that is, Israel) was a collection of sacred war-songs, and may have, possibly, formed a continuation, in a certain sense, of the "Book of the Wars of the Lord" (Numbers 21:14; 2 Samuel 1:18). The collection was probably commenced in the wilderness, and, at different periods, received additions.
The fact that it is no longer in existence proves its noninspiration.
Great are the victories described in this chapter. See verse 41 as to the territory which was covered. From Kadesh-barnea unto Gaza, all the country of Goshen unto Gibeon. And why? Because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel (verse 42). If God is for us, who can be against us! "And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp of Gilgal." How wonderful it is to return after our victories to Gilgal, the place of self-judgment and confessed weakness. How often our victories and blessings are more dangerous than our failures and defeats!
1. Jabin and his confederacy (11:1-5) 2. The divine encouragement (11:6) 3. The victory (11:7-14) 4. The obedience of Joshua (11:15) 5. The continued conflict with the kings (11:16-23)
The Kings of the north formed the second confederacy, headed by Jabin, King of Hazor. Jabin means "understanding" and Hazor, "an enclosure." He with other kings, and with them "much people even as the sand that is upon the seashore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many," came to fight against Israel. These different confederacies opposing the rightful owners of the land may be taken as types of the opposition from confederate nations which Israel will have to face during the great tribulation.
Did Joshua fear in the presence of such a powerful enemy? If he feared, his fear must have vanished completely when Jehovah said, "Be not afraid of them, for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel; thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire." The Lord assured Joshua, and with such an assurance he rushed at once against the enemy by the waters of Merom. It does not matter how strong the enemy is, how cunningly his plans are laid, how he may come upon us with an host to terrify; if we are right with the Lord and on the Lord's side, we shall be more than conquerors. The victory is complete; their chariots are burned and the horses were disabled by cutting the sinews of their legs. The latter no doubt had for its purpose to make it impossible for His people to trust in human resources. If they had used these horses, they might have put their confidence in them. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we will remember the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7).
At Hazor, as in other cities and places, the divine command of utter extermination of all human beings was literally carried out. "There was not any left to breathe." An awful picture indeed it is! Infidels have made the best of it by denouncing these records and blaspheming the righteous and holy God. Others again have tried to excuse the Israelites by saying that it was the customary thing 1,500 years before Christ to treat conquered nations in this way. But it was God Himself who commanded their extermination. Joshua and Israel had no choice whatever in the matter. They acted in obedience to the divine will. God's time for the execution of His righteous judgments had come and He used Israel as His instrument. To Abraham the word was spoken concerning his seed, "in the fourth generation they will come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." The iniquity of these nations had reached such a degree, that God's wrath and holy vengeance had to fall upon them. They were given to the most awful abominations and practised unspeakable immoralities. The hour of judgment had come. The whole race was to be swept away. And who dares to question God's sovereign right to do so. Should not the judge of all the earth do right?
Nor must we forget that the judgment of Canaan, as well as the judgment of Egypt, is prophetic. Judgment and wrath are in store for this earth. The divine sword will some day be unsheathed again. The conditions of the earth are such that God must judge. Thousands are hardening their hearts; ere long, as it was with the Canaanites (verse 20), the Lord will harden their hearts. These judgments are written in language which cannot be misunderstood.
Notice Joshua's obedience. He left nothing undone. He obeyed the Word; he followed closely the divine instructions. That led to success and blessing.
The Conquered Kings
1. The kings on the other side of Jordan (12:1-6) 2. The kings on this side of Jordan (12:7-24)
"The land rested from war" is the concluding statement of the previous chapter. It was after Joshua had made war a long time with all those kings (11:18). Deut. 6:10-11 was also fulfilled. "And it shall be, when the LORD Thy God shall have brought thee into the land, which He sware unto thy Fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not." The list of kings which is given in this chapter needs no comment. Thirty-one are mentioned as conquered by Joshua. The land was only 150 miles from north to south, and 50 miles from east to west. Criticism has also objected to this, as if so many kings could not exist in so small a territory. Professor Maspero, one of the foremost archaeologists, fully confirms the Bible-record. We quote from him:
"The Canaanites were the most numerous of all these groups, and had they been able to amalgamate under a single king, or even to organize a lasting confederacy, it would have been impossible for the Egyptian armies to have broken through the barrier thus raised between them and the rest of Asia; but, unfortunately, so far from showing the slightest tendency towards unity or concentration, the Canaanites were more hopelessly divided than any of the surrounding nations. Their mountains contained nearly as many states as there were valleys, while in the plains each town represented a separate government, and was built on a spot carefully selected for purposes of defence. The land, indeed, was chequered by these petty states, and so closely were they crowded together, that a horseman travelling at leisure could easily pass through two or three of them in a day's journey." Of the richer country towards the north he writes: "Towns grew and multiplied upon this rich and loamy soil."
II. THE DIVISION OF THE LAND
The divine record concerning the division of the land, as it is before us in these chapters, is often looked upon merely as history barren of any spiritual meaning. Many expositors pass over the greater part of it or give only geographical information. However, a deeper meaning must be sought here; there are many and blessed lessons in spiritual and dispensational truths hidden in these chapters. Why should the Holy Spirit have recorded all these things if they have no meaning whatever? It is written, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). This surely applies to all Scripture, including the chapters which contain nothing but names. Again it is written, "Now all these things happened unto them (Israel) as types, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). We dare not deny these chapters in Joshua a spiritual application in the light of these plain words of the Spirit in the New Testament.
In the study of the previous books we have discovered (especially in Genesis) the fact that the meaning of the Hebrew names are of deep significance and often helpful in the types as well as the spiritual and dispensational lessons. Here is a wide field, which has been but little covered. Hundreds of names are found in this second part of Joshua. They all have a meaning and through these names we can learn the lessons the Spirit of God has written there for our learning. Yet caution is needed. While some ignore this study entirely, others swing into the opposite direction and are fanciful in their application. This must be avoided.
We are sorry that the scope of our work does not permit a more detailed exposition and research. If we were to give way to the desire to do this we would have to write a volume. But we hope, with His gracious help, to give such hints which will help in a more extended, private study. (F.W. Grant in the Numerical Bible gives excellent help, both in the meaning of the names and in application. We know of no other attempt in this direction and acknowledge our own indebtedness to him. This, of course, does not mean that we endorse all the translations or applications he gives.)
1. Instruction Given: The Two and One-half Tribes
1. Jehovah speaks to Joshua (13:1-7) 2. Inheritance of the two and one-half tribes (13:8-33)
About seven years had gone by since the passage over Jordan and Joshua, being old and advanced in years, is addressed by the Lord. He takes care of His servants in their old age and provides for their comfort. Much land was yet to be possessed. Israel never responded to the fulness of God's gift to them. How great their failure, as well as our failure as His spiritual people, to possess our possessions, which God's grace has put on our side!
The unpossessed land is described in verses 2-7. It was never possessed in full by Israel, nor did they ever have the land, as promised to them from the Red Sea to the River Euphrates. God's gifts and calling being without repentance (Romans 11:29) the time must yet come when they receive that land in the dimensions as promised in Exodus 23:31. When their restoration comes with the coming of their once rejected King, our Lord, this promised land will be possessed by the nation.
These undisposed enemies may well be taken as the types of our spiritual enemies. The Philistines, who were not Canaanites, stand in the foreground. Their origin may be traced in Genesis. They were sons of Ham and sprang from Egypt. The name "Palestine" is derived from "Philistine." They typify the power of corruption to the people of God. The Philistines today, which keep God's people back from the enjoyment of their inheritance, are the corrupt forms of Christianity, Rome and her daughters. Note the five princes of the Philistines and their residence. Gaza (strong); Ashdod (I will spoil); Ashkelon (the fire of infamy); Gath (wine-press, a type of wrath); Ekron (uprooting). These names describe the character of these powerful enemies of Israel. We leave it with the reader to apply them to that powerful ecclesiastical world-system, Rome. The Avites belonged to the gigantic races, which dwelt in the land. The name means "perverters." Satan with his powerful agencies perverts the truth and keeps God's people in bondage.
And the Lord promises to drive them out (verse 6). With His own power He was ready to dispossess these wicked usurpers, if Israel was but willing to advance in faith and act upon His promise. Here is where they failed. Oh! that we might see that God is on our side in the conflict and in the possession of our inheritance.
The inheritance of the two tribes and a half, Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh is then restated and confirmed.
2. Caleb's Request and Inheritance
1. The inheritance by lot (14:1-5) 2. Caleb's request (14:6-15)
Judah's portion comes first, and as they draw near to Joshua to receive their inheritance by lot (See Proverbs 16:33 and Acts 1:26) at Gilgal (note the recurrence of this place and its significance), Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, steps to the front. It was not forwardness or love of the preeminence which led him to do this, but the burning zeal in that old, yet youthful soul. He comes to claim the inheritance, which forty-five years ago Moses had promised unto him. Caleb was eighty-five years old. "As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; as my strength was then even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out and to come in." One can almost see him standing before Eleazar, Joshua and the heads of the tribes. What a beautiful testimony he gives to the faithfulness of the Lord! He could say, "I wholly followed the LORD my God." He stands for the man who trusts his God, who reckons not with earthly circumstances and conditions, but with the Lord and His promised power. They that honor Me, I will honor. Forty years old was Caleb when he was put among the spies and when, with Joshua, he honored God and His Word. The reward of faith became evident in his life. Mental vigor and physical strength remained unimpaired. And now he claims his inheritance. Patiently he had waited for forty-five years. The hour has come. He claims the mountain with its Anakim, the giants, the fenced cities, the great cities. That beautiful mountain with its strenuous task is the claimed inheritance. Old age is often characterized by "the pride of life." The lust of the flesh is peculiar to youth; the lust of the eyes, the desire of increase in earthly things to enjoy them, comes with middle life, and in old age temptation is "the pride of life." But not so with the man of faith. Listen to his humble language. He does not pride himself on his faith and trust in God; he knows nothing of self-confidence. "If so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said."
In our day of departure from God and unbelief, may we be like Caleb, "wholly following the LORD." We, too, wait in faith and in patience for the promised inheritance, which some day will be ours, when He comes to reward His Saints. Then as Israel's land had rest from war (verse 15) we shall enter into our rest from strife and conflict.
3. The Portion of Judah
1. The south-border of Judah's portion (15:1-4) 2. The eastern and northern border (15:5-11) 3. The western border (15:12) 4. Caleb's conquest (15:13-19) 5. Inheritance according to families (15:20-63)
This is a chapter which contains many names; nearly one hundred and fifty are recorded. With the help of a good concordance, or dictionary of Hebrew names, the English meaning may be ascertained. However, many of these names may be derived from different roots and have therefore a different meaning, while the meaning of others is rather obscure. For the reason already stated we cannot follow the possible meaning and application of these names. The lesson, however, is that the Lord distributed the inheritance to His people and placed them as it pleased Him. He knew their faithfulness and their ability, and accordingly they received their portion. And we, too, as members of His body, receive our portion and inheritance from Himself, "dividing to every man severally as He will" (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Caleb's conquest is of additional interest. In the previous chapter we learned of his faith and how he honored the Lord. He acknowledged that the Lord had kept him alive; by His mercy he had been spared (14:10). He claimed His portion, and in humility of faith he expected success and victory. He gets Hebron, which means "communion." The application in spiritual lines is interesting. Faith longs for Hebron, for communion. But the giants, the Anakim, are there, to keep away from real communion with God. They must be dispossessed. Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak. Their names are Sheshai, which means "my fine linen," reminding us of our own righteousness (Shesh is the Hebrew word used for the fine linen in the tabernacle. In this way we get "Sheshai," my fine linen); Ahiman, the meaning of this word is "who is my brother?" which may be applied to pride of desent; Talmai, the third son of Anak, means "abounding in furrows," the pride of achievement. Pride in different forms is the hindrance to real communion with God. Pride has to be dethroned in the heart and in the life of His people. Only as we follow the Lord wholly, as Caleb did, shall we conquer and enjoy our Hebron in the Lord Jesus Christ. And he also had Debir (Oracle--the voice speaking); Kirjath-sepher means "city of the book." Thus Hebron, communion, is closely linked with the written Word and the voice which speaks there. And in Achsah, Caleb's daughter, we have another side of faith represented. When Caleb said unto her, "What wouldest thou?" she answered, "Give me a blessing, for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs and the nether springs." It is faith which asks much and receives much.
4. The Portion of Ephraim
1. The lot for the children of Joseph (16:1-4) 2. Ephraim's portion (16:5-9) 3. Ephraim's failure (16:10)
A wonderful lot was that of Joseph, beginning at Jordan, the river of death, up to Bethel, which means "the house of God." Then the portion of Ephraim comes first. Ephraim with the blessed inheritance to be "doubly fruitful" (the meaning of Ephraim) fails. "They drove not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer." Josephus, the Jewish historian, remarks on this: "They grew effeminate as to fighting any more against their enemies, but applied themselves to the cultivation of the land, which producing them great plenty and riches, they indulged in luxury and pleasure." No doubt this tradition is correct. How this has been repeated in Christendom! What Ephraim became, joined to idols, we read in the prophet Hosea.
5. The Portion of Manasseh
1. Their names (17:1-6) 2. Their border (17:7-13) 3. The complaint and the answer (17:14-18)
Half of the tribe of Manasseh had their inheritance on the other side of Jordan, having joined themselves to Reuben and Gad. The rest of Manasseh are now named according to their families. These are: Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida, The son of Hepher, Zelophehad, had no sons (see Numbers 27:1-11); the names of the five daughters are given here again. They claim now the inheritance which the Lord had given to them. They, too, exhibit the courage of faith. May we also claim in faith that inheritance which belongs to us through the grace of God.
The complaint of the children of Joseph shows dissatisfaction with their lot; it was selfishness. Joshua takes them by their word. His answer reminds us of the divine command given in chapter 13. "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." Yonder were the stately forests, the wooded hills and mountains, inhabited still by the Perizzites and the giants. All they needed to do was to go there and drive them out and they would possess a larger portion. But this answer but brings out their unbelief and failure. They plead weakness; it was nothing less than unbelief, for they looked to the iron chariots the Canaanites possessed, instead of looking to the Lord and trusting His power. They refused to meet the enemy and have their borders enlarged under these conditions. What a contrast with bold and humble Caleb! And yet Joshua encourages them. He urges them to go forward and possess the forest and cut it down. It was his challenge to their faith. Faith does not reckon with chariots, with difficulties.
6. The Portion of the Rest of the Tribes
1. The tabernacle at Shiloh (18:1) 2. The remaining seven tribes (18:2-10) 3. The lot of Benjamin (18:11-28)
The tabernacle of the congregation is now set up at Shiloh. Shiloh means "peace," "security." The land was then subdued before them. Shiloh is now the center. From there the operations proceed. Seven times after this Shiloh is mentioned in the book of Joshua: Chapter 18:8, 9, 10; 19:51; 21:2; 22:9, 12. Read these carefully and see what happened in connection with Shiloh, the place of rest. The tabernacle remained at Shiloh till the Philistines came and took the ark, as recorded in 1 Samuel 4:11. Then it was at Nob in the days of Saul, then at Jerusalem, at Gibeon in the beginning of Solomon's reign (2 Chronicles 1:3). It never got back to this first resting-place.
At that time seven tribes still remained without an inheritance. They seemed to be content without any inheritance whatever. Most likely they had also become tired of war. Theirs had been a strenuous experience. It was difficult work to go forth and conquer, to occupy new territory and meet the enemies. They must likewise have come into possession of many things for their comfort, which were unknown to them in the wilderness; and with the natural and plentiful resources of the land they became self-indulgent and were at ease. Joshua's earnest appeal suggests such a state of the people. "How long are ye slack to go to possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?" And their negligence in not possessing the land avenged itself, for the unpossessed land with its enemies became "scourges in their sides and thorns in their eyes." What ingratitude it was, after God's wonderful power had brought them in, that they should neglect to avail themselves of so great a gift! Such is man, always a failure in himself. It needs hardly to be said, that all this finds an application with ourselves, whom the Lord has brought into a better land and richer inheritance. How slack we are to go to possess the land! How many neglect so great salvation! Joshua then gave instructions and the men selected walked through the land and made a survey of it.
The inheritance of Benjamin is described in the remaining portion of this chapter. Their lot fell into a steep, mountainous country; many of the cities they received were in high places, indicated by such names as Gibeon (hilly); Gibeath (a hill); Gaba (elevation); Ramah (the height); Mizpeh (watch-tower), etc. May we ascend the heights of glory we have in Christ, and walk in our high-places, with feet as swift as the hinds' feet (Habakkuk 3:19). And we too have our "Mizpeh," the place of watching and waiting for Him, who will lead us into our wonderful inheritance in the day of His coming glory.
"Benjamin was counted the least of the tribes (1 Samuel 9:21), and when, with other tribes, it was represented by its chief magistrate, it was rather disparagingly distinguished as 'little Benjamin with their ruler' (Psalm 68:27). Yet it was strong enough, on one occasion, to set at defiance for a time the combined forces of the other tribes (judges 20:12, etc.) It was distinguished for the singular skill of its slingers; seven hundred, who were left-handed, 'could every one sling stones at an hair-breadth and not miss' (Judges 20:16). The character of its territory, abounding in rocky mountains, and probably in game, for the capture of which the sling was adapted, might, in some degree, account for this peculiarity.
"Many famous battles were fought on the soil of Benjamin. The battle of Ai; that of Gibeon, followed by the pursuit through Bethhoron, both under Joshua; Jonathan's battle with the Philistines at Michmash (1 Samuel 14), and the duel at Gibeon between twelve men of Saul and twelve of David (2 Samuel 2:15, 16); were all fought within the territory of Benjamin. And when Sennacherib approached Jerusalem from the north, the places which were thrown into panic as he came near were in this tribe. 'He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Michmash he layeth up his baggage; they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeah of Saul is fled. Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! Hearken, O Laishah! O thou poor Anathoth! Madmenah is a fugitive, the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee. This very day shall he halt at Nob; he shaketh his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:28-32, R.V.). In later times Judas Maccabeus gained a victory over the Syrian forces at Bethhoron; and, again, Cestius and his Roman troops were defeated by the Jews" (Expositor's Bible).
The tribe counted the least, "little Benjamin," came into possession of the richest inheritance, which is abundantly witnessed to by the names of the different cities, if we diligently search out their meaning. God delights to take up what is little and make it great. (Saul of Tarsus, our great Apostle Paul (Paul means "little"), was of the tribe of Benjamin. He possessed and enjoyed his inheritance in the heavenlies.)
1. The inheritance of Simeon (19:1-9) 2. The inheritance of Zebulun (19:10-16) 3. The inheritance of Issachar (19:17-23) 4. The inheritance of Asher (19:24-31) 5. The inheritance of Naphtali (19:32-39) 6. The inheritance of Dan (19:40-48) 7. The inheritance of Joshua (19:49-51)
The many names of cities and villages, the inheritance of the remaining six tribes, we must leave untouched. Blessed and deep spiritual lessons are written in all these names. Simeon's inheritance is closely connected with that of Judah. "Their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the children of Judah." Simeon means "hearing" and Judah means "praise." Thus the two are linked together. If our hearts are open to hear and our faith appropriates we praise and worship and enjoy our God-given inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the different cities have a blessed meaning. Diligent and prayerful searching will discover the hidden treasures which faith prizes more than gold, and which are "sweeter than honey." Let us glance briefly at Asher to give a little illustration of this. Asher means "happy," commonly translated by "blessed" (Psalm 1:1; 32:1; 119:1).
The Lord's people must be a happy people. Moses had pronounced them so (Deuteronomy 33:29). A few of the cities and boundaries of Asher and their meaning will show in what the happiness of God's people consists. Helkath means "portion"; the Lord Himself is the portion of His people. He is our joy and happiness. Hali means "an ornament worked out with pain." We possess that which Christ has worked out for us in His death. Ahamelech means "God is King." This is a sweet morsel to faith. Amad, "an eternal people," speaks of our security, that we belong to God and nothing can separate us from Him. Misheal, "feeling after God," tells of the longing of the new nature, which finds happiness in God. Hammon, "sunny"; Kanah, "He has purchased"; Zidon, "taking the prey"; Hosah, "trust"; Ummah, "union"; Aphek, "strength"-these and others are easily seen as giving spiritual lessons on the happiness of the people of God who enjoy in faith the inheritance.
After all had received their portions Joshua received his. It was Timnath-serah, which means "an abundant portion." The portion of Joshua is the blessed type of the inheritance, which the Lord Jesus Christ has received. We must not overlook the fact that the children of Israel gave Joshua the inheritance. Christ is our inheritance and we are His inheritance. He has an inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:18). May we give Him that inheritance.
7. The Cities of Refuge
1. The ordinance repeated (20:1-6) 2. The cities named (20:7-9)
The reader will find the meaning of the ordinance of the cities of refuge in Numbers and Deuteronomy, so that we do not need to repeat it here. But only three cities are mentioned in the Pentateuch. Here the three cities in the land are added. Kedesh was in Naphtah, Kedesh means "sanctuary," and Naphtali means "wrestler-struggler." Christ is the refuge for the struggling sinner. Shechem means "shoulder," and is the type of service. He who is the perfect servant, who ministered and gave His life, is the place of refuge. Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, is the third, and Hebron means "communion." This we find in Him. Bezer (defense), Ramoth (heights) and Golan (rejoicing) were the other three beyond Jordan, named already in the Pentateuch.
8. The Portion of the Levites
1. The Levites, the children of Aaron, and their portions (21:1-8) 2. Kohath (21:9-26) 3. Gershon (21:27-33) 4. Merari (21:34-40) 5. The Lord's faithfulness (21:41-45)
In chapters 13:14, 33 and 14:3, 4 the statement is made that Moses gave no inheritance to the Levites. The Lord was their inheritance. After the tribes had received their allotments the heads of the fathers of the Levites came to Joshua and Eleazar with a petition. They based their petition upon the Word of God spoken to Moses. "Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them" (Numbers 35:2). The people were obedient and gave them cities out of their several inheritances. But the cities were also assigned by lot, so that the Lord assigned them their habitations. How it must have pleased Him to see His Word remembered, obeyed and acted upon! They were scattered throughout the entire domain of Israel. The Kohathites and the children of Aaron had thirteen cities in the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Simeon, and two more in Ephraim, Dan and Manasseh. The Gershonites were placed in cities in eastern Manasseh, Issachar, Asher and Naphtali. The Merarites were in Zebulun and among Gad and Reuben. The divine purpose in scattering them over the land was, no doubt, that they might exercise a beneficent influence in divine things to exhort the tribes to worship Jehovah, to remind them of His goodness and to restrain them from idolatry. At the close of this chapter we read of the faithfulness of the Lord. He gave them the land; He gave them rest; He gave them victory. "There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken." All God's promises will be in due time accomplished.
III. THE FINAL WORDS OF JOSHUA AND THE EPILOGUE
1. The Two and One-half Tribes and the Altar Ed
1. Joshua's address (22:1-6) 2. The tribes dismissed and their return (22:7-9) 3. The great altar erected (22:10) 4. War proposed (22:11-12) 5. The mission of Phinehas and the explanation (22:13-29) 6. The explanation accepted (22:30-31) 7. The altar Ed (22:32-34)
A beautiful scene is before us. Joshua, the aged servant of God, called the Reubenites, the Gadites and half of Manasseh. Their selfish choice is selecting their portion on this side of Jordan is found in Numbers. They had, however, to pass over Jordan with the other tribes and help them in the conflict (chapter 1:12-18). The promise they had made was conscientiously kept and the time for their return to their habitations had come. Joshua commends them for their faithfulness, and exhorts them to love the Lord, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to cleave unto Him and to serve Him. May we also heed these words. Only as we walk in all His ways and are obedient to His Word can we enjoy the fellowship and the spiritual blessings which belong to us. They returned with great riches, with silver, gold, brass, iron and raiment.
They erected, after their homegoing, a great altar (Hebrew: An altar great to the sight). It was of immense size, so that it might be seen far and wide as a silent witness. When the rest of Israel heard of this altar, and thinking that it meant a separate worship, instituted by these two and a half tribes, they were ready to go to war. They exhibited great zeal for the Lord and were ready to carry out His Word. See Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:8-9; Deuteronomy 7:5-13; 8:7-13. But while they were zealous, they also exhibited wisdom and sent Phinehas with ten princes to investigate the supposed apostasy. The explanation follows and is accepted. The altar was then called Ed, which means "witness." It was to bear witness between them, that the Lord is God, and that the tribes, though separated by Jordan, are one people. But where is today the witness in Christendom that there is one body? That witness seems to have been lost.
2. Joshua's Two Addresses
The First Address
1. The people gathered (23:1-2) 2. God's faithfulness remembered (23:3-5) 3. Exhortations to obedience (23:6-11) 4. Warning (23:12-13) 5. Conclusion of first address (23:14-16)
It was about eight years after the Lord had given rest unto Israel, that the aged Joshua called for all Israel and their elders to assemble in his presence. He was very old and the time of his departure at hand. The purpose of his first address is to remind the people and their elders of the Lord's faithfulness in keeping all His promises, and to exhort them to be faithful to Him and to warn them of the results of apostasy. He exhorts them with the same message, which the Lord had given to him in the beginning of the book. Compare verse 6 with chapter 1:7. He had been obedient to this command and the Lord had done all for him He had promised. Joshua was a man of faith and courage, an excellent character.
"He is characterized by conscientious fidelity to the Law, and unclouded theocratical sentiments. He is deliberate and prudent when he acts himself, for he conducts the wars of the Lord; but he becomes prompt, bold and decided, when the Lord sends him. His courage is humility, his strength is faith, his wisdom is obedience and the fear of the Lord. He has a gentle spirit, but does not betray weakness; the evidence of the latter is furnished by his strict judgment in the case of Achan, and the scrupulous exactness with which he executes the Lord's sentence respecting the Canaanites. Such a union of gentleness and rigor, of simplicity and prudence, of humility and grandeur of sentiment, presents evangelical features. This peculiarity of his character, combined with the peculiarity of that age of the kingdom of God in which he lived, and also of the position which he occupied, adapts both himself and the work which he performed to be highly significant types of the future. He conducts the people into the land of promise and of rest; but there remains a better rest into which his archetype, who bears the same name, conducts the people of God (Hebrews 4:8, 9); he carries on the wars, and executes the judgments of the Lord, in which are shadowed the victories and judgments of Christ.
"The sentiments which govern Joshua, pervade the people in general in his day. The whole history of the chosen people presents no other period in which they were generally animated by such zeal in the cause of the theocracy, by such conscientious fidelity to the Law, by such vigorous faith and sincere fear of God as that generation manifested. It was the period of first love, and, in this aspect, may be compared with the first centuries of the Christian Church." (J.H. Kurtz, Sacred History)
And we need, as His people, the courage of faith to stand for the Lord and for His Word in the days of departure from God. And Joshua's warning was sadly fulfilled in the subsequent history of Israel.
The Second Address
1. The gathering at Shechem (24:1) 2. Historic retrospect and exhortations (24:2-15) 3. The answer given by Israel (24:16-18) 4. Joshua's answer (24:19-20) 5. The promise made (24:21) 6. Joshua's appeal and the repeated promise (24:22-24) 7. The covenant made and Joshua's final word (24:25-28)
In Joshua's second and last address to the people at Shechem we have first a historic retrospect. It must not be overlooked, that the words of Joshua are not his own, but the words given to him by the Lord. "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel," is the manner in which he begins. The retrospect is a marvel in terse statements and rehearsal of the entire history of Israel, beginning with the call of Abraham. Its object is to remind the assembled congregation once more of the mercies and faithfulness of Jehovah. How soon they may be forgotten! Yet upon remembering what we are by nature and what the Lord in His infinite grace has done for us, depends a true walk with God. The Spirit of God, through Joshua, shows that Abraham was called away from idolatry and traces all Jehovah did for him and his seed. Notice the different acts of the Lord. I took your father Abraham--I led him--I multiplied his seed--I gave him Isaac--I gave--I sent Moses--I plagued Egypt--I brought you out--I brought you into the land. All the promises made in Exodus and Deuteronomy concerning the possession and conquest of the land had been fulfilled. Read Exodus 23:28 and Deuteronomy 7:20 and compare with verse 12. He gave them a land for which they did not labor.
The covenant is then renewed. Beautiful are Joshua's words, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." He had served Him all his life and on the eve of his departure, he renews his vow. With such an enthusiastic, consecrated and successful leader, the people could only answer in the affirmative. They renewed their previous promise to serve the Lord. The answer they gave is an echo of Joshua's words. They repeat what Jehovah had so graciously done unto them. Joshua's answer to the enthusiastic reply of the people was "Ye cannot serve the LORD." He well knew by the light of the Spirit of God that this people, so stiffnecked in the past, would soon depart from this resolution and follow other gods. Besides this, Joshua knew the final words of Moses, the great prophecies concerning the apostasy of the nation, their deep fall into idolatries and their coming dispersion among the Gentiles. With the Word of God before him, he could not believe that the future of the people, whom Jehovah had brought out and brought in, would be a future of obedience and blessing. He is not deceived by the enthusiasm which had taken hold of the assembled congregation. We also have in the New Testament the predictions and the warnings concerning the course of the professing church on earth during the present age. We do well to heed these. If not we shall be deceived in expecting that which is nowhere promised for this age.
"The predictions of the Church's course have so little ambiguity that it is marvelous that the smooth preaching of peace, and the comforting assurance of progressive blessing, could ever gain credence with those who boast in an 'open Bible,' But the Bible can be but little 'open' as long as man's pride and self seeking hang their imaginative veil before it; and the Church, believing herself heir to Israel's promises, has largely refused to accept the lessons of Israel's career, which she has so closely followed. Thank God, we are near the end of the strange history of almost two millennia; and for us the end is the coming of the Lord" (F.W. Grant).
The covenant was thus renewed and a great stone set up as a witness. How long did it last? Our next book gives the answer: "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baalim" (judges 2:11). "And they forsook the LORD and served Baal and Ashtaroth" (verse 13).
3. The Epilogue
1. Joshua's death and burial (24:29-31) 2. The bones of Joseph buried (24:32) 3. Eleazar's death (24:33)
Moses, the instrument through whom the law was given, was buried by the Lord, no doubt a hint that some day the Lord would put away the law, with its curse, as we learn in the New Testament. Joshua was buried by the people in his own inheritance; he died ten years younger than Moses, that is 110 years old. Joseph had reached the same age, having died some 200 years before. Genesis 50:25, Exodus 13:19 and Hebrews 11:22 must be consulted to understand the burial of his bones recorded here. They had carried those bones all through the wilderness and never attempted to bury them till they were settled in the land. The book closes with the account of Eleazar's death.
THE DISPENSATIONAL ASPECT OF THE BOOK OF JOSHUA
The book of Joshua foreshadows the great coming events in which Israel, Israel's land and the nations are concerned. Everything in Israel's history is prophetic. The events connected with the lives of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as the story of Joseph, have a prophetic dispensational meaning. Israel in the furnace of Egypt foreshadows Babylon, and also the great dispersion in which they are now. Their persecutors then were Gentiles, who hated them and would not let them go; Gentiles are still troubling them and will persecute them during the time of the end. Their remarkable experiences and preservation in Egypt are the types of their miraculous keeping, and no less miraculous increase among all the nations of the world, among whom they have been scattered. The plagues which fell upon Egypt are typical of the judgments of God, which will fall upon the world at the close of the present age. Their Exodus from Egypt teaches similar lessons. The passage through the Red Sea, their slain enemies and the song of praise, as given in Exodus 15, have likewise a dispensational aspect. So has the visible presence of Jehovah. As He was there with His people, so will He be with them again.
As we have seen in the study of Numbers, the parables of Balaam are great prophecies touching the future of Israel. When the dying people were looking upon the brazen serpent, and the healing which resulted, may also be taken as a type of their future looking upon Him, whom they have pierced. There is therefore also a dispensational foreshadowing in the book of Joshua. We shall mention seven things.
I. The Possession of the Land
That goodly land in its great dimensions is still Israel's land, the land of promise. They have yet to possess it from the Euphrates to the River Nile. To say that Israel will never receive the land and possess it in the future as a redeemed people, would mean the same as accusing God of breaking His promise and oathbound covenants.
As surely as we are in Christ the heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ, so surely will Israel inherit and possess the land. As there was a definite time for Israel to cross Jordan and possess the land, so is there a definite time when God will bring them in again. It will be when the measure of wickedness of the nations, who are the present possessors of the land, is filled up, as the wickedness of the Canaanites was filled up in Joshua's days. When that time comes God will once more remember the covenant, and He will give the land back to His people and bring them in through Joshua.
The land is God's gift. We have often talked with Jews and Zionists. Some years ago a Zionistic leader mentioned in our presence their plans of getting the land back gradually, and eventually buy the whole land. We asked him: "What would you think, if your horse had been stolen by a thief, and you knew the thief, went to him and offered him a hundred dollars to buy your horse back? Would it not be the most nonsensical as well as unjust dealing? You Zionists are trying to buy back the land from the power which has no right to have the land." That power holds stolen property. And, besides, this land, according to the law, is not to be bought nor to be sold. Today the power which holds Palestine, Turkey, is crumbling to pieces. It is only the question of time when the fate of Palestine has to be decided.
II. Joshua Their Leader
As we have mentioned before in the annotations, Joshua means "Jehovah is Saviour." Moses, the first one, could not bring them in, but Joshua, the second divinely appointed leader, brought them in. Moses is the type of Christ's first coming, and Joshua the type of the second coming of Christ. It is at the second coming of our Lord that Israel will receive the land. He will restore to them the God-given inheritance.
Under Joshua the people were no longer stiff-necked, but obedient and submissive, willing followers of Him who led them forth. This will be the case when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Then they will be His willing people (Psalm 110:3). Joshua was magnified before the eyes of all Israel, even as Christ will be magnified when He comes again. At the close of the fourth chapter of Joshua we read that all the people may know and fear the Lord. This surely will be the result of the second Coming of our Lord.
III. The Spies and Rahab
God's abounding grace is illustrated in the salvation of Rahab and her house. In the New Testament we find her with three other Gentile women in the genealogy of our Lord in Matthew's Gospel. We read of her in Hebrews 11 and in the Epistle of James. The meaning of these passages has already been pointed out. The scarlet line, and her security and salvation from judgment, we have also seen in the annotations. But the story has still another application.
The two spies entered the land in advance of the whole nation. They were faithful and courageous men, and took their lives into their own hands. They may well be taken as a type of the faithful remnant, which will be a kind of an advance guard entering into the land, before the rest of Israel is taking possession. The King of Jericho, who seeks their lives, is the type of that wicked one, the counterfeit king and messiah. Their flight to the mountains reminds us of the word of warning given by our Lord in His Olivet discourse, "Let them that be in Judea flee unto the mountains." Rahab, who believed and hid the spies and was saved on account of it, foreshadows those of the nations, who believe the last message concerning the coming of the King and the judgment in store for this earth. They will do good to the Jewish remnant, as Rahab did hide the spies. When the Lord comes and takes the seat upon the throne of His Glory, He will say to them: "What ye have done to the least of these, My brethren, ye have done unto Me." Rahab remained in the land and enjoyed blessings with Israel. So the nations, who believe during the great tribulation, will remain on the earth, and not be swept away by the divine judgments.
IV. The Events at Gilgal have a Prophetic Significance
The circumcision of Israel, as carried out by Joshua, is the type of the spiritual circumcision which the Lord will effect for the whole nation. Of this the Word of prophecy speaks: "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live" (Deuteronomy 30). "Behold I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in My anger, and in My fury and great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them" (Jeremiah 32:37-39). "Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and all your idols will I cleanse you. And a new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:25-28). Then the reproach, which has rested upon them for so long, will be rolled away. They will become the head of all the nations of the world.
V. The Fall of Jericho and the Overthrow of Israel's Enemies
As stated in the annotations, Jericho is the type of the world ripe for judgment. The number seven, in its frequency in the fall of Jericho, the reader will find more fully described in the annotations of chapter 6. The walls of Jericho fell without a single sword being lifted up. The breath of Jehovah laid them flat. So shall the day come when the power of God will throw down the high and lofty things.
The warfare which Israel carried on is likewise prophetic. Israel was used to execute God's vengeance upon the wicked nations of Canaan. It will be repeated in the future. "Thou art My battle-ax and weapons of war, for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms" (Jeremiah 51:20). Read also Micah 5:8-9; Ezekiel 39:10; Zechariah 2:6; Zechariah 14:14.
VI. Battle at Gibeon
It was the most remarkable battle in Israel's history. There was no day like it, nor ever after, because the Lord hearkened unto the voice of Joshua. The Lord fought for Israel. The sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. This is a prophetic type of the coming day of the Lord. What will happen in that day? Habakkuk, seeing that day and describing its detail, tells us, "The sun and the moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows, as they went, at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation; thou didst thresh the nations in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundest the head of the house of the wicked by laying bare the foundations to the neck" (Habakkuk 3).
VII. The Division of the Land and Israel's Rest
They came into the land, and the land was divided unto them by lot. Though it was not a permanent rest, yet the land had rested from wars for a time, and the tabernacle was set up at Shiloh. The prophetic Word tells us, that when Israel is brought in, they shall no more be plucked out of the land. There is in store for them a great Sabbath, a great jubilee, when His people and His land will have rest. It will be after the Lord has come. Then the land will be re-divided. See Ezekiel 47-48. Israel's land will then become, with its magnificent temple, the gloryland of this earth, the center of the Kingdom.