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territory being bounded on the west by the lime-
stone heights, of which Kuruntul is most conspic-
uous. The region near the fountain is to-day very
green and fertile. A few Arab houses, and a ruined
castle called Eriha or Er-Riha, may be considered
the sorry representation of the famous Jericho.

Behold, there came men in hither to-night. The
speed with which the news reached the king
shows, what we should naturally expect, that the



JOSHUA, CHAP. n. 23

3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying,
Bring forth the men that are come to thee, whicli are
entered into thine house: for they be come to search
out all the country.

4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them,
and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist
not whence they ivere:

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of
the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out:
whither the men went, I wot not: pursue after them
quickly ; for ye shall overtake them.

greatest vigHance was used against the vast host of
Israelites that threatened the border. A great ter-
ror had seized upon the Canaanitish kings, as they
knew that this strange and numerous people, who
had for forty years been dwelling in the southern
desert, and regarding whom they had heard such
stories of wonder, was about to move upon them
and invade their land. (See ver. 9-11.) The only
safety could be in the most thorough vigilance.

Ver. 3. For they be come to search out all the
country. The king takes for granted that Rahab
is ignorant of the true object of the two men, and
is therefore wholly unprepared for her ruse. This
makes her task the easier.

Ver. 4, 5. / wist not, &c. Rahab 's lie is not to
be defended. She was ignorant of the moral ini-
quity of a lie, as she was probably of that of
her own style of life. The depravity of Canaan
had certainly lowered the standard of morality in
the minds of all ; but this should not lead us to
justify Rahab, however much the flagrancy of her
offence be modified. God regarded her faith and
overlooked her lie, as in the case of Jael.



24 COMMENTABY ON

6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the
house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she
had laid in order upon the roof.

7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jor-
dan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued
after them were gone out, they shut the gate.

Ver. 6. Hid them with the stalks of flax. Lit.,
''buried them in the flax of wood." The word
translated "hid" is entirely different from the
word so translated in the fourth verse. This
verb, taman^ signifies a hiding by putting down
under something. On the house-top (the flat roof
of an oriental house) Rahab had piles of woody
flax^ or flax-stalks, and under these she put the
two young men.

Ver. 7. The men, i.e., the messengers of the
king.

The way to Jordan unto the fords. The Jordan
has several fording-places over against Jericho, all
of which, however, are impassable when the river is
full. At this time the river was full (chap. iii. 15).
Hence, we may suppose the Jericho people felt
tolerably secure against any immediate attack from
the Israelites. The Arabs swim across the river ;
but, owing to the great swiftness of the current, it
is not an easy matter. Swimming across for an
armed host would be impossible. The river is
from eighty to one hundred feet wide at this part.

They shut the gate. A mark of time. (Comp.
ver. 5.) The time of gate-shutting would naturally
be when day-light was entirely past, say at seven
o'clock in the evening at the season indicated in



JOSHUA, CHAP. n. 25

8 ^ And before they were laid down, she came up
unto them upon the roof;

9 And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord
hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen
upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the laud faint
because of you.

the narrative. Rahab had represented the young
men as leaving about gate-shutting time, that is,
just before the messengers arrived. The messen-
gers hurry away, and pass out the gate exactly at
gate-shutting. Jericho may have had only one gate
(like Osiout, the capital of Upper Egypt, to-day) ;
or " the gate " may mean the particular gate in
question, i.e.^ that on the side toward the Jordan.

Ver. 8. Laid down^ i.e.^ to sleep, after leaving
their hiding-place under the flax. They would lie
down to sleep on the flat roof, according to oriental
custom.

Ver. 9. / know that the Lord. Lit., " I know
that Jehovah." Rahab here shows that she had
watched the course of God with Israel, and had
been convinced that Israel's God, Jehovah, was the
only true God, and had prepared her heart for his
providential dealings, which now meet her in
mercy. Her description of the effect of Israel's
history upon the people of Canaan gives us a
graphic idea of the consternation which the stu-
pendous facts of Israel's wilderness life had pro-
duced upon surrounding nations. The people of
Canaan especially were agitated, as they knew that
they would be the direct objects of attack.

Faint. Heb., " melt," as in Ex. xv. 15. So in
2



26 COMMENTARY ON

10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the
water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of
Egypt; and wliat ye did unto the two kings of the
Amorites that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon
and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 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 the Lord
your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth
beneath.

12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the
Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will
also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give
me a true token:

13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my
mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that
they have, and deliver our lives from death.

ver. 24. Comp. chap. vii. 5, for the fuller expres-
sion, but with another Hebrew verb. It betokens
extreme discouragement.

Ver. 10. The two events that signalized the
beginning and the end of Israel's course from
Egypt to Canaan are mentioned by Rahab as
equally well known to the Canaanites. Doubtless
all between was also well known.

Ver. 11. Melt. A different Hebrew word from
that translated "faint" in ver. 9, but having about,
the same signification.

Courage, Lit., '' breath " or "life."

Fo7' the Lord your Crod^ he is God, This is
not the conclusion the Canaanites came to, but
that to which Rahab came. She argued from Is-
rael's guidance and from Canaan's fear.

Ver. 12. Rahab's request shows her perfect con-
fidence in the taking of Jericho by Israel, and also
her tender regard for her own kindred. Her faith



JOSHUA, CHAP. n. 27

14: And the men answered her. Our life for yours, if
ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when
the- Loud hath given us the land, that we will deal
kindly and truly with thee.

15 Then she let them down by a cord through the
window: for her house was upon the town-wall, and
she dwelt upon the wall.

IG And she said unto them, Get you to the moun-
tain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves
there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and
afterward may ye go your way.

in Jehovah had, doubtless, revived affections that
her course of life may have marred.

A true token. Lit., "a sign of truth," ^.g., a
promise under oath, which would assure her of
its truth, and make her confident of their faithful-
ness.

Ver. 14. If ^e utter not tJiis our business. That
is, '' if ye make not known the object of our visit."

Deal kindly and truly with thee. Lit., " do to
thee mercy and truth ; " i.e.^ do thee the favor
asked and keep our pledge.

Ver. 15. This anticipates verses 16-21, for we
cannot suppose the conversation there given oc-
curred while she was at the window and the men
below on the ground.

Ver. 16. The mountain would be Kuruntul or
Quarantana, only two miles away westward. This
mountain rises precipitously from the plain, a wall
of rock, twelve hundred feet high, full of caverns,
in some one of which the spies may have hid them-
selves. The mountain gets its present name from
a late tradition that it was the scene of our Lord's
forty days' fasting.



28 COMMENTARY ON

17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless
of this thine oath ^vhich thou hast made us swear.

18 Behold, ichen we come into the land, thou shalt
bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which
thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt brinor thy
father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy
father's household home unto thee.

19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of
the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall
he upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and who-
soever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall
be on our head, if any hand be upon him.

20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will
be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to
swear.

21 And she said. According unto your words, so be
it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and
she bound the scarlet line in the window.

Three days. See note on chap. i. 11.

Ver. 17. They wish to secure their own word
by making the way plain to its performance : only
her remissness will prevent its accomplishment.

Ver. 18. This line of scarlet thread. Rather
" the cord of this crimson thread," i.e,^ made of
crimson thread. Crimson is a color easily dis-
tinguishable at a distance, and therefore would be
an appropriate color for the object designed. It
was the very cord by which she let them down,
as we see by the demonstrative " this." Is the
thought, which many have expressed here, too
strained, that this crimson cord of salvation, sav-
ing both the spies and Rahab's family, represented,
in this strangely typical history, the saving blood
of our Lord Jesus ? The analogy between this and
the paschal blood is observable.

Ver. 21. According unto your words. She would



JOSHUA, CHAP. n. 29

22 And they went, and came unto the mountain,
and abode there three days, until the pursuers were
returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all
the way, but found them not.

23 •[[ So the two men returned, and descended from
the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua
the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell
them:

24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord
hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all
the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.

bind the crimson cord in the window on the wall,
visible to Israel's army, as it encamps before the
town ; she would, moreover, bring her entire family
into the house, and she would keep the whole mat-
ter a profound secret.

Ver. 24. These two spies act, as Caleb and
Joshua had done thirty-eight years before (Num.
xiii. 30, and xiv. 6-9). They took no note of Jeri-
cho's great walls, and of her vigilant king, but of
the Lord's preparation for Israel's victory.



30 CO^VEMENTAKY ON



CHAPTER III.

rrr. Joshua's Ultimate Preparations for Crossing
Jordan. (Ver. 1-13.)

1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and th^y
removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and
all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they
passed over.

Ver. 1. Early in the morning of the day after
the spies returned, the ninth of Nisan.

Came to Jordan, The host moved from its line
on Wady Hesban northward and westward to the
river bank opposite Jericho. It was a movement
of perhaps six miles for the most distant man in
the host. The entire day is taken for tliis grand
preparatory arrangement of two millions of people.
At the Jordan they remain in position, and spend
the night on the east side. The chronology of
these three chapters I take to be this : —

6th Nisan, Spies sent out.

7th ,, Joshua's first command (chap. i. 11)
8th ,, Spies return.
9th ,, Movement from Shittim.
10th ,, Crossing.

By this scheme, the "three days" of chap. i. 11,
would be from the seventh to the tenth, and the
" three days " of chap. iii. 2, would be the same.
The ''three days" of chap. ii. 16, 22, would be



JOSHUA, CHAP. ni. 31

2 And it came to pass after three days, that the offi-
cers went through the host;

3 And they commanded the people, saying. When
ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lokd your God,
and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall
remove from your place, and go after it.

from the sixth to the eighth, the parts of three days
beuig in the Orient called by the unqualified
phrase ''three days." The spies would reach Jeri-
cho and leave it on the same day in which they
left the camp of Israel.

Ver. 2. After three days. (See preceding note.)
The absence of the article does not (as Keil sup-
poses) preclude the reference to the "three days"
of chap. i. 11. Comp. Josh. vi. 3, 14, for a like
instance. So also 1 Sam. x. 8, with xiii. 8, and
Dan. i. 12, 15.

Officers. (See note on chap. i. 10.) This pass-
ing of the officers through the host (see note on
chap. i. 11) takes place the evening before the
crossing, as we see by ver. 5, after the arrival of the
host in position before the river. The orders given
through these officers come, of course, from Joshua.

Ver. 3. Arid they commanded the people. The
one object of this special order was, that the host
should be guided by the movement of the ark of
the covenant, following it in their regular column
at a distance of about a half mile. This ma}^ have
been the distance usually observed in the wilder
ness encampments between the tents of Israel (ex-
clusive of Levi) and the tabernacle, but the passage
in Num. ii. 2, does not 'give us the distance, but



32 COMMENTARY ON

4 Yet there shall he a space hetween you and it,
ahout two thousand cubits by measure: come not near
unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must
go; for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify your-
selves: for to-morrow the Lokd will do wonders among
you.

only uses the expression, " far off," or, strictly,
" over against." The people had been used to
follow the pillar of cloud as their guide (Ex. xl.
36, and Num. ix. 17). But now that guide is
withdrawn, the desert life being over. The peo-
ple, therefore, need a special command to regard
the ark borne by the priests as their new signal of
motion.

The priests the Levites, (See Deut. xvii. 9, xxiv.
8, xxxi. 9, 25, and Jer. xxxiii. 21.) This peculiar
expression seems to emphasize the tribal character
of the priests as against any attempt at leadership
by other tribes.

Ver. 4. Two thousand cuhits. (See preceding
note.) This distance was made not as a mark of
reverence to the ark, but that the ark might be
so far advanced before the host as to be clearly
seen by a great number. This reason is given in
the text, " Come not near unto it, that ye may know
the way hy which ye must go.^'*

Ver. ^. Sanctify yourselves. After the first proc-
lamation, carried through the host by the officers,
that Israel should be guided by the movements of
the ark, Joshua issues another, for Israel to sanctify
itself, in readiness for a special manifestation of
divine power on the next day. This sanctification



JOSHUA, CHAP. ni. 33

6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take
up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the •
people. And they took up the aik of the covenant,
and went before the people.

7 ^ And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will
I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that
they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be
with thee.

8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the
ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the
brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in
Jordan.

is, of course, a ritual sanctification, such as is so
constantly intended in the history of the Jewish
economy. (For examples, see Ex. xix. 10, 22, 23 ;
Lev. xxvii. 14, 16 ; Joel ii. 16.) It consisted of
certain negative abstinences and positive purifica-
tory rites, all which were, indeed, an emblem of
inward purity, but had no necessary essential con-
nection therewith. These rites were calculated to
impress the mind and prepare the thoughts of
Israel for any peculiar display of the divine glory
in their behalf.

Ver. 6. Here begins the record of a new day,
the tenth of Nisan. Joshua gives the order for the
priests with the ark to start, and adds (see ver.
8), " When ye come to the brink of the waters of
the Jordan, ye shall stand still at the Jordan.'*
Their standing still would be the signal for the
miracle, although Joshua may as yet have been
ignorant of the issue.

Ver. 7, 8. These parenthetical verses tell us of
a second appearance of God to Joshua, probably
during the preceding night. The first appearance
2* c



34 CO]VIMENTARY ON



9 ^ And Joshua said unto the children of Israel,
Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your
God.



had taken place three days before, and is recorded
in chap. i. 1-9. These appearances may have
been like that recorded in chap. v. 13, when God
assumed a human form, or they may have been in
dreams. Indeed, we assume that they were appear-
ances at all. They may have been nnmistakable
suggestions from within, or audible words, or even
some form of revelation by Urim and Thummim,
of which we know so little. Still the probabilities
are in favor of a visible appearance, from the pas-
sage above referred to.

In this interview God announces to Joshua that
he would put him that day on the same high plane
of respect before Israel that Moses had occupied.
He was about to perform a stupendous miracle
before Israel, under Joshua's guidance, of the same
character as that at the Red Sea, which had so
manifested both the glory of God and the head-
ship of Moses over the people. The crossing of
the Red Sea was to be renewed in the crossing
of the Jordan. As yet probably both Joshua and
the people supposed they would cross Jordan by
fording.

Ver. 9. When the priests had started with the
ark, to move at least a half mile before Israel
should follow, Joshua calls the "children of Is-
rael " together ; that is, he summons their officers
and representatives.



JOSHUA, CHAP. III. 35

10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the
living God is among you, and that he will without fail
drive out from before you the Canaanites, and tlie Hit-
tites, and the Ilivites, and the Perizzites, and the Gir-
gashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of
all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.

12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the
tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of
the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord,
the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of
Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from
the waters that come down from above; and they shall
stand upon an heap.

Ver. 10-13. A grand evidence of God's guid-
ing presence was to be given them, as Avas given
their fathers at the Red Sea. As they had prob-
ably seen the pillar of cloud depart from them,
such a new sign was very important to sustain
their faith. He points them to the ark already
on its way ("passeth over " = "is now passing
over" before you to Jordan), and bids them select
twelve men to represent the twelve tribes, for a
purpose afterward to be disclosed. He further
tells them that, when the priests' feet touch the
water that has overflowed on the lowest bank,
the water of the river shall on one hand stand
up as a hill, and the water on the other hand
shall run off to the Dead Sea and disappear, thus
leaving a dry bed of at least four miles in the
river's length.

Ver. 10. The living God. One who is active
in all the works of nature and grace ; one who is
not dead, like the idols of the heathen, or, we may



36 COMMENTAKY ON

add, like the abstractions of the philosophers and
WiQ forces of the scientists.

Canaanites, &c. The Canaanites are first men-
tioned, and the land is called the land of Canaan,
because this special tribe bore the old ancestral
name. We find from Gen. x. 15, that from Ca-
naan, Ham's son, eleven nations had their origin :
the Sidonians, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Gir-
gashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Ze-
marites, and Hamathites. Six of these do not
appear (by name) in Israel's Canaan ; to wit, the
Sidonians, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites,
and Hamathites. The other five we find as in this
list in our text ; to wit, the Hittites, Jebusites,
Amorites, Girgashites, and Hivites. The Canaanites
(as a distinct tribe) may have been a mixed tribe,
taking the ancestral name. The only tribe of this
list not found in the tenth of Genesis is the " Per-
izzites." These ma^ be the same as the Zemarites,
as we find a city called Zemaraim in Benjamin
(Josh, xviii. 22), and a Mount Zemaraim, probably
in the same vicinity (2 Chron. xiii. 4). We also
find that the Perizzites occupied this portion of
Palestine (Josh. xvii. 15 ; Judg. i. 4, 5).

From Gen. xv. 19, 20, we see that four other
tribes occupied, with these Canaanitish tribes, the
region between Egypt and the Euphrates ; to wit,
the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, and Pephaim,
who may have been Ham's descendants by another
son than Canaan, or may have been of an entirely
different stock, Turanian for example. Of all these



JOSHUA, CHAP. in. 37

14 ^ And it came to pass, when the people removed
from their tents to pass over Jordan, and the priests
bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15 And as they that bear the ark were come unto
Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark
were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan over-
floweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

tribes the Hittites seem to have waxed largest and
strongest, and to have extended farthest northward
and eastward. (See note on chap. i. 4.)

The miraculous crossing of the Jordan was to be
God's pledge to the Israelites that they should
overcome the seven nations.

Ver. 13. Shall he cut off. Read this whole pas-
sage thus : " The waters of the Jordan shall be cut
off, namely, the waters running down from above,
and they (i.e.^ the portion from which these are
cut off') shall stand up one heap." (Comp. Ex.
XV. 8.)



IV. The Crossing. (Ver. 14 — chap. v. 1.)

Ver. 14. The actual movement of the whole
host here begins.

Ver. 15. Jordan overfloivetJi. The Jordan has,
at this part of its course, three distinct banks.
Upon the first or lowest grows a dense thicket of
bushes and trees ; on the second is but little growth
of any kind, and on the third is the desert of the
Arabah. The first bank is but a few inches above
the water. The second bank is about six feet high.
The third bank is fifty feet high. The river is



38 COMMENTARY ON

nearly a hundred feet wide, and about twelve feet
deep. The following outline will help the reader
understand this description.



V



lA 4J



The outer banks are half a mile apart. Here
the proportion in the outline fails. It will be at
once seen by this outline that the entrance of the
ark into the river could not be seen by Israel, for
the high banks would prevent a view. They could
only, as they approached the margin, see the water
gone from the river-bed, and the ark standing in
the middle.

The words translated " overfloweth " mean *' fill-
eth upon," and refer to the complete filling up of
the river's bed, so tliat the water would appear upon
the level which we have designated by the words
" green thicket." No greater overflow of the Jor-
dan than this is known. But this overflow * of the
lower level occurs every year in April and May.

* Tlie " swelling of Jordan " mentioned in Jer. xii. 5, xlix. 19,
1. 44, is the same as " the pride of Jordan " in Zech. xi. 3, and
refers not to the waters overflowing, but to the rich green thicket
and foliage of the river banks.



JOSHUA, CHAP. III. 39

16 That the waters which came down from above
stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city
Adam, that is beside Zaretan; and those that came
down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea,
failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over
right against Jericho.

Ver. 16. Very far from the city Adam. This
should read, " very far off at the city Adam ; " that
is, very far from the crossing-place. Of the city
Adam we know nothing, but Zaretan (or Zere-
dathah, 2 Chron. iv. 17) is accurately described in
1 K. iv. 12, as near Beth-shean and " under


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Online LibraryHoward CrosbyExpository notes on the book of Joshua → online text (page 2 of 15)