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Expository notes on the book of Joshua online

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of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in She-
chem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of
the sons of iiamor the father of Shechem for an hun-
dred pieces of silver; and it became the inheritance of
the children of Joseph.

where Jacob had purified his family. This was
" the sanctuary of Jehovah " in Shechem.

Vee. 27. It hath heard. Compare, for this bold
figure, Hab. ii. 11, and our Saviour's own words,
Luke xix. 40.

Ver. 30. Timnath-serah. (See on chap. xix.

The hill of Gaash is not identified. It is prob-
ably the hill of Deir Abu Meshal.

Ver. 32. The burial of Joseph's bones, though
mentioned here to save interrupting the story of
Joshua, yet was doubtless made so soon as Israel
gained possession of the soil.

WJiich Jacob bought. (See Gen. xxxiii. 19.)


33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they
buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son,
"which was given him in mount Ephraim.

Ver. 33. In a liill that pertained to Phinehas.
Rather, "in Gibeath Phinehas," a place so called
from his son. Perhaps it is the present Jihia, near
the central Gilsfal.



I. The Chronological Question.

The date in 1 Ki. vi. 1, is one of great importauce in
arranging any system of Old Testament chronology. We
are there told that from the exodus to Solomon's acces-
sion there were four hundi'ed and seventy-six years. Sol-
omon's accession can be very proximately timed by the
notices of reigns between his own and the destruction of
Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, where by the help of Baby-
lonian and the later Persian records all is made plain.
According to these data, Usher's date of 1015 for Solo-
mon's accession is quite correct, and hence the year of the
exodus would be B.C. 1491. Now this date would make
the exodus to have occurred in the reign of Thotmes III.
of Egypt, according to the Egyptian chronology of Wil-
kinson and others. But this hinge passage in 1 Kings is
supposed to be an interpolation, from the fact that Origen
quotes the passage immediately following, but omits this,
and from the additional fact that Josephus and the early
Christian historians seem not to have known it. Now if
we take away the date in 1 King?, we are left to two
courses : either to go with Brugsch, and lessen the time
between the exodus and Solomon, putthig the exodus in the
reign of Merneptah, son of the great Rameses (b.c. 1289-
1269) ; or to heed the almost necessity of the chronology
of the Book of Judges, and lengthen the time between the


exodus and Solomon, putting the exodus back in the
seventeenth djmasty (b.c. 1651-1580*). We thus have
a range of four hundred years, with regard to which we
are in uncertainty as to the right place of the exodus.
A difficulty of the first two dates has been suggested in the
fact that the times immediately after Thotmes III. and
Merneptah were so prosperous and warlike in Egyptian
affairs as scarcely to permit the conquest of Canaan by
Joshua. The last date might suit in this particular, if
we accept* the shorter Egyptian chronology, and put the
exodus in the latter part of the seventeenth dynasty ; but
we use the longer chronology of Lepsius, we are then, if
with our longer Israelitish chronology, only brought back
to Thotmes III., and meet the old difficulty. Thus two
hypotheses bring us to Thotmes, and it may be best to
hold provisionally his date for the exodus, and to take
Canon Cook's ingenious explanation of the difficulty. (See
Speaker's Commentary, vol. i. pp. 459, 460.) In the prog-
ress of Egyptian discovery, we may hereafter find more
solid data than any we now have.

If we take the whole of the disputed period of four
hundred years from (say) B.C. 1660-1260, we find that
the Chaldean kingdom made no impression upon the Pal-
estine region during it, for the temporary raiding sway of
Chedorlaomer was long before, and that of Chushan-risha-
thaim (if he be Chaldean) was afterward. We find, also,
that the Assyrian monarchy during these centuries had not
ventured its strength beyond the Euphrates. Egypt was
the only great kingdom that could have interfered with
the progress of Israel to Canaan and its peaceful settle-

* This is Wilkinson's data; Lepsius and Brugsch make it 1706
B.C., one hundred and twenty-six years earher, and so gi^e an
earUer date to Rameses than Wilkinson's years above.


ment ; and from the fact that no mention of Egypt is made
in the whole narrative, and no hostile attack of Egypt is
noted till Rehoboam's day, five centuries after the exodus,
we may conclude that Egypt adopted the policy of leaving
Israel untouched in her frequent invasions of Syria during
the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first dyn-
asties. This may have been a policy of the great empire,
(providentially ordered by God for the protection of his
people), by which to put a barrier between the Rutennu and
Cheta on the north and Egypt on the south. Such an
hypothesis would explain the wonderful security of Israel
for centuries, while so near their old and powerful
oppressor in the height of its grandeur. Certainly, it is a
most marvellous fact that from Israel we hear nothing of
Egypt for five centuries, in which such monarchs as
Thotmes III., Amenotep II. and III., Seti, Rameses I.,
IL, and III., were overrunning western Asia. This is
perhaps one of the strongest arguments for putting the
exodus at a late date, just before the depressed state of
Egypt which seems to have followed the reign of Rameses
III. Yet strong as it is, it is too solidly met by the
demand for a much longer time between the exodus and
Solomon for us to accept it, and we therefore • fall back
upon our hypothesis, above stated, for the non-appearance
of Egypt in Israelitish history between the time of the
Pharaoh of the exodus and Shishak.

IL The Miracles.

The grand miracles of the dividing of the Jordan, the
fall of Jericho's walls, and the standing still of the sun and
moon, have received an unusual share of infidel attack.
They really formed part of the same series of miracles
which began with the plagues of Egypt, and was contin-


ued in the dividing of the Red Sea, the guidance of the
cloud, and the daily furnishing of the manna. It was the
period of founding a great church by the God of Salva-
tion, and he surrounded its founding with glorious evi-
dences, as afterward he surrounded the founding of the
Christian Church, its development, with like miraculous
evidences for the conviction of mankind. "We should look
just to such epochs as those in which marvels from God's
hand should be dealt out to the world. That a miracle
is impossible, is an absurdity to any mind that believes in
God, and, if possible, then here is just the place for mira-
cles. Further, that a miracle cannot be proved by evi-
dence, is an absurdity to any one who believes in man. If
men are good witnesses to a steamer's explosion, they are
equally good witnesses to a rapid river ceasing its flow
for several hours, and then resuming its fulness and force.
As to the miracles of the Book of Joshua, the evidence for
each is the same ; and yet it is strange how many who
accept the miracle of the Jordan and of Jericho, hesitate
at the sun's standing still, and endeavor to explain it
away. They say it is poetry. But if it be poetry, it is
quoted as history by the sacred historian in a most matter-
of-fact narrative. To introduce a mere flight of poetry in
such a narrative would be not only awkward but false.
But, beside this, no poetry would dare to make a mere
wish of Joshua's, or a retrospective rejoicing of Israel, take
the form of this quotation from the Book of Jasher; thus
(Josh. X. 12-14), "Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the
day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the
children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun,
stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the
valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon
stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon


their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?
So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted
not to go down about a whole day. And there was no
day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened
unto the voice of a man : for Jehovah fought for Israel."
Surely if the sun and moon continued their apparent
courses, this would be poetry run mad. The quotation
from Deborah's triumphant song is often used as a parallel,
" The stars in their courses fought against Sisera," but
this would be a perfectly legitimate hyperbole for the
shrouding of the stars in darkness, by which God may have
made the night too dark for successful fliojht. The detailed
statements of our passage in Joshua bear no comparison
with this poetry of Deborah. But still further, it is highly
improbable that the passage, after the mention of the Book
of Jasher, is either quotation or poetry. It is rather the
sacred historian's comment on the quotation, and his repe-
tition of its main truth.

The argument against the miracle, that it is never again
mentioned, has no force whatever, even were it true, for
many wonderful manifestations of God's power are men-
tioned but once. But it is not true, for in Hab. iii. 11,
the reference to this event is unmistakable.

As to the miracle itself, no one for a moment would
suppose that a literal standing still of sun and moon is
necessarily intended. To argue from this phraseology,
that it shows an ignorance of astronomy, and is therefore a
part of a false record, is puerile, and should be so held by
every one who says " the sun rises " and " the sun sets."
There was an apparent stoppage of the apparent courses
of the sun and moon, whether by action through the laws
of refraction or otherwise it matters little. God could do
it, that's enough. This apparent stoppage of sun and


moon occurred early in the day, as the sun stood still over
Gibeon, and the army of Joshua was at the west of that
city. This shows that the ordinary reason for the miracle
(that the day should be prolonged and give more time for
the pursuit) is incorrect. The miracle was wrought early
in the day, probably as an encouragement to Israel, to
whom it was announced by Joshua as a sign of Jehovah's
presence and blessing. The stoppage may have continued
only a few hours, long enough to serve its purpose as a
divine sign. The phrase, " hasted not to go down about
a whole day," does not militate against tliis view, for that
passage, strictly rendered, should read, " hasted not to go
down as a perfect day," i.e., tarried, and did not hurry on,
as it does on every ordinary day.

III. The Moral Question.

The cruelty of the destruction of the Canaanites has
been always emphasized by the opponents of the Scriptures,
and has been one of the most plausible arguments against
revelation. The manner in which the objection is put is
this : that the slaughter by the Israelites of hundreds of
thousands of innocent children and women, as well as men
in arms, in order to clear a laud for the settlement of
themselves, is a piece of selfishness and barbarism not to be
equalled by any fact in the history of violence and rapacity,
and that such conduct could never have been sanctioned by
a just and holy God, but must have received his righteous
reprobation ; hence any mark of God's approval as here
recorded is a falsehood, and the whole history is proved to
be a fraud. This specious reasoning is very apt to carry
away a superficial thinker, because its parts hold well
together, and you vainly strive to find a weak link in the
chain. If the statement be true, the conclusion is irresist-


ible. But it is in the statement the treachery lies. The
Israelites did not slaughter women and children in order
to clear a land for themselves, but they did it in order to he
faithful to God. The act was not theirs at all, but God's ;
and they even resisted its performance, and spared the
Canaanites again and again, in opposition to the divine
commandment. God had ordered the extermination of
the Canaanites at their hand, both directing it to be fully
done, in spite of their promptings to spare, and also declar-
ing that the judgment upon Canaan had nothing to do
with Israel's superiority or any right on Israel's part
(Deut. vii. 2, xx. 16-18, as compared with ver. 10, also
Deut. ix. 4-6). We are therefore to consider Israel as
an obedient instrument in God's hand, and view the action
as entirely God's. This takes it out of the analogy of
human actions, and prohibits our condemning verdict.
Are we ready to condemn God for causing the death of
women and children ? Are we ready to blame him for
using the pestilence, the wasting fever, the racking pains
of inflammation and rheumatism, in dissolving the human
body ? What are we, that we can enter into the counsels of
the Most High, and act the critic there ? Does it not become
us to be dumb and submissive, confiding in his infinite truth ?
This is the state of the question. God is •not sanctioning
cruelty in man by this exceptional action through Israel
any more than the State is sanctioning cruelty in man by
its charge to the sheriff for the execution of a thousand
criminals. God especially fortified Israel against receiv-
ing a taste or tendency for cruelty from these peculiar
circumstances by the merciful provisions of the Mosaic
law, and the careful details of the religious life of the
nation. The people were watched over with the assiduity
and constant provision of a nurse with her child, and


could thus be safely entrusted with a commission which to
other nations would have been injurious. The above rea-
soning would hold good if every Canaanite had been
destroyed ; but the instance of Rahab reveals a principle
of exception that must not be overlooked. The depraved
people of Palestine had for forty years been warned of the
coming judgments, and called to the true God by the
events occurring almost at their doors. The grand evi-
dences of Jehovah's presence and will in the plagues of
Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the guidance of the
cloud, and the daily supply of manna, were well known to
all tlie tribes of Canaan. God was near them, and coming
toward them to punish them, and in his mercy he gave
them forty years to turn unto him. But all this warning
display of the Divine purpose produced in the Canaanites
(as such long-suffering threaten ings are wont to do with
wilful man) a strange mingling of fear and resistance,
instead of penitence and faith. Rahab, however, was an
instance of the penitence and faith, and her statement
throws great light on the whole subject of Canaan's warn-
ing. It is this : " I know that Jehovah hath given you
the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that
all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you ; for
we have heard. how the Lord dried up the water of" the
Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt [i.e., forty
years before] ; and what ye did unto the two kings of the
Amorites that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and
Og, whom ye utterly destroyed [z.e., only the preced-
ing year]. And as soon as we had heard these things, our
hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage
in any man, because of you ; for Jehovah your God, he is
God in heaven above and in earth beneath " (Josh. ii. 9-
11). How many of Canaan's inhabitants acted as Rahab,


and were spared, we know not. There may have been
thousands. But we know this additional fact of God's
mercy amid his righteous judgments, that Rahab's faith in
Jehovah secured from Canaan's fate not only herself, but
her father and motiier, her brothers and sisters, and all
belonging to their families (" all that they have," chap. ii.
13 ; "all her kindred," cliap. vi. 23). The Mosaic system,
which made ample provision for the stranger as well as
the Hebrew, may have embraced in Palestine many thou-
sands of these believing and spared Canaanites.

IV. The Spiritual Lessons of the Book.

The book is a grand lesson of trust in a covenant Jeho-
vah, whose strength is assured to his people. It shows
his tenderness at the same time with his holy severity
asrainst wanton disrecrard of his commandments. Pre-
sumptuous Achan is cut off, but Israel, failing to destroy
the Canaanites, not from presumptuousness, but from lack
of fliith and courage, is not cut off, but is plagued by its
own weakness. The power of a pure piety to cement
brethren together is also demonstrated in this story of
Israel's purest period, and the relation of the two (love to
God and love to the brethren) is beautifully illustrated in
the action and reaction between the tribes touching the
altar-monument erected by the trans-Jordanic tribes in the
Jordan valley. Everywhere in the book the ritual is
shown to be subservient to the spiritual, and the service of
God is the obedient heart and the loving devotion of the
whole man. In God's words to Joshua, in Achan's sad
story, in the scene at Ebal, in the parting of the trans-
Jordanic tribes, and in the two valedictories of Joshua, the
deep heart-religion of the Mosaic system is especially evi-


Nor can we ignore the lessons that come to us through
a symbolism which we are taught by the Apostle Paul and
the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. We see, not
as a poetic imagination, but as a heavenly instruction, the
entrance into Canaan symbolizing the believer's entrance
into rest, not the rest of heaven, but the rest which even
here he has in Jesus Christ. We see that in this rest he
may be disturbed by his own lack of faith, the results of
which failure will be thorns in his side, and that only by a
complete commitment of himself to the will of God will
his rest be made perfect. We see, moreover, how our
Joshua (Jesus) is the sole guide to this rest, so that as
Jesus is both priest and sacrifice, both foundation and
builder, so is he both the Rest and the Guide to it.

In the light of the New Testament, this book of Joshua
will prove full of spiritual comfort and edification to every
seeking believer. God has placed it in the canon not to
praise Joshua or Israel, but to teach and bless his dear peo-
ple to the end of time.

Cambridge : Press of John W^ilson aud Son.





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Online LibraryHoward CrosbyExpository notes on the book of Joshua → online text (page 14 of 15)