JOSHUA CHAPTER 1.
Joshua Assumes Command of Israel.
joshua formally commissioned. — V. 1. Now, after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, after the completion of the thirty days' mourning for this great prophet whom the Lord so signally distinguished, Num. 12, 7. 8; Deut. 34, 5. 8, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses' minister, not his servant, but his assistant, who had been pointed out some 'time before as the successor of Moses, Num. 27, 15-23, had been expressly designated as such by Moses, Deut. 31, 7, and had appeared before the people in that capacity, saying, v. 2. Moses, My servant, is dead; now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel, for Canaan proper was always spoken of as including the territory west of the Jordan only. These words were not spoken to Joshua through the high priest's Urim and Thummim, upon which he had been told to rely in case of difficult questions, Num. 27, 21, but were an immediate revelation of the divine will, in the same way in which the Lord had communicated with Moses. V. 3. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses, Deut. 11, 24. V. 4. From the wilderness, the Desert of Arabia on the south and southeast, and this Lebanon, the mountain range in the north, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, who apparently had been overlords of this entire region at one time and were still occupying the country northwest of the Sea of Chinnereth, afterward that of Galilee, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, the Mediterranean Sea, shall be your coast. Cp. Deut. 11, 24. 25. V. 5. There shall not any man, namely, of the kings and inhabitants of the country, be able to stand before thee, withstand him successfully, all the days of thy life, Deut. 31, 8. As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, let him sink down in helplessness by withdrawing his hand, nor forsake thee. V. 6. Be strong, firm, mighty in the trust of Jehovah, and of a good courage, altogether undismayed; he must lay hold boldly and with a strong hand, and when he has done so, allow nothing to drive him from his position of firm adherence to Jehovah; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Cp. Deut. 31, 7. 23. This condition is still further expanded. V. 7. Only be thou strong and very courageous, said with greater emphasis than in v. 6, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law which Moses, My servant, commanded thee, for the leader of the people must be an example to all his followers. Turn not from it, namely, from the roll of the written Law as it was preserved in the Ark of the Covenant, to the right hand or to the left, as the slightest deviation was a transgression, that thou mayest prosper, make use of the proper wisdom and thus be successful, whithersoever thou goest. V. 8. This book of the Law, as it had been written by Moses and delivered into the hands of the priests, Deut. 31, 26, shall not depart out of thy mouth, he should teach it, study it, discuss it; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, trying to penetrate ever more deeply into its scope and meaning, and thus becoming qualified to speak more clearly, pointedly, and powerfully to the people, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein, namely, in the thoughts of the heart and in the deeds of the hands; for then thou shall make thy way prosperous, make headway on the path of duty before him, and then thou shalt have good success, because of the application of practical wisdom given by the Lord. The Lord now summarizes His charge to Joshua, introducing it by a rhetorical question for the sake of greater effect. V. 9. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord, thy God, is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Thus the assurance gains in strength when to the positive command to be courageous is added the negative to lay aside all fear, as in Deut. 31, 6. 8. We Christians have a similar promise of victory over all our enemies and the eventual enjoyment of the heavenly happiness. But we also have the command of God to read, study, and hear the Word of God to arrange our whole life in accordance with its precepts. Then we also shall have success in the things we undertake under the guidance of God.
the first general order of joshua. — V. 10. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, v. 11. Pass through the host and command the people, for as keepers of the genealogical records they were also superintendents of the mustering and were primarily concerned with any order pertaining to the mobilizing of the army, saying, Prepare you victuals, food for a journey or campaign; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, along whose eastern banks their encampment extended, to go in to possess the land which the Lord, your God, giveth you to possess it. This order went forth on the seventh of Nisan, chap. 4, 19. V. 12. And to the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to half the tribe of Manasseh spake Joshua, saying, v. 13. Remember the word which Moses, the servant of the Lord, this being the usual manner in which he is now referred to, commanded you, saying, The Lord, your God, hath given you rest, having permitted them to settle in peace, and hath given you this land, they had their possession on the east side of Jordan. V. 14. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, fully equipped and arrayed in battle order, all the mighty men of valor, and help them, v. 15. until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as He hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord, your God, giveth them. Then ye shall return unto the land of your possession and enjoy it, make use of all the owners' privileges, which Moses, the Lord's servant, gave you on this side Jordan toward the sun-rising. Cp. Num. 32,17-27. V. 16. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go, a fine expression of allegiance and loyalty, of obedience and brotherly love. V. 17. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the Lord, thy God, be with thee as He was with Moses. With this assurance and guarantee they were ready to follow Joshua anywhere. V. 18. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death; only be strong and of a good courage, a call with which the two and one half tribes intended to give Joshua the assurance which he needed at the beginning of his difficult work that he could depend upon the people whom the Lord had given into his charge. In the New Covenant it is also the will of God that His children help one another in the severe spiritual battles which they must fight, giving one another all possible encouragement at all times. They are assured, even now, of eventual entrance into their rest. "He who follows the Word of God acts wisely and happily, but he who follows his own reason acts unwisely and to no profit." (Luther.)