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Jezreel." This must fix its position as far north
as the Wady Mujeidah, which is forty-four miles
north in a straight line from the place of crossing,
and twice that distance by the windings of the
river. Van de Velde's position at Kurn Sartabeh
is entirely too far south. We must suppose that it
took the host at least four hours to cross. As the
Jordan runs with a current of six miles an hour,
and is between ten and twelve feet deep, and as
the spot where Wady-Mujeidah enters the Jordan
is four hundred and fifty feet higher level than the
crossing-place, a stoppage of the Jordan's flow at
the crossing-place that would reach in its effects
the Wady-I\Iujeidah would only in the space of
four hours make the river three feet deeper for the
distance between the two extremities of the dis-
turbance. Thus the wall of water on the north
side of the crossing host would be, when at its
greatest, but fifteen feet high.



40 COMMENTAKY ON

17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant
of the Loud stood firm on dry ground in the midst
of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry
ground, until all the people were passed clean over
Jordan.

Ver. 17. (Comp. chap. iv. 10.) The ark seems
to have taken its station close by the wall of water
and in the middle of the river-bed, while the host
of Israel passed over below, their right wing being
two thousand cubits from the ark (ver. 4). The
twelve men chosen from the tribes (ver. 12) would
naturally remain somewhere in the vicinity of the
ark, awaiting their special orders.



JOSHUA, CHAP. IV. 41



CHAPTER IV.

«

1 And it came to pass, when all the people were
clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto
Joshua, saying,

2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of
every tribe a man,

Ver. 1. When all the people were clean passed
over Jordan, In the Hebrew style, this protasis or
preface, while only belonging to ver. 5 and the
following verses, is placed before the statement of
ver. 1-3. It is idiomatic. We should say, after
these words, '' the Lord having spoken unto Joshua,"
&c., parenthetically, but the Hebrew uses the finite
verb without parenthesis, '* that the Lord spake^^^
&c.,- although this command of God to Joshua
must have been given before Joshua's command to
Israel in ver. 12 of the third chapter, and was
probably part of the orders given in the divine
interview recorded in chap. iii. 7, 8. It may be
that some token was given to Joshua at the time
for the accomplishment of this act, and that thus
the command was virtually repeated. Such a sup-
position would account for the words " hence " and
'• where the priests' feet stood,'' instead of '' thence "
and "' where the priests' feet shall stand," as the
phrases would be if the command had been given
only before the miracle.



42 COMMENTARY ON

3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence
out of the midst of Jordan, out of tlie place where
the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall
carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodg-
ing-place where ye shall lodge this night.

4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had
prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a
man :

5 And Joshua said unto them. Pass over before the
ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan,
and take you up every man of you a stone upon his
shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the
children of Israel:

6 That this may be a sign among you, thai when
your cljildren ask their fathen-.s in time to come, saymg,
What mean ye by these stones?

7 Then ye shall answer them. That the waters of
Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of
the Loud; when it passed over Jordan, the waters
of Jordan were cut of£: and these stones shall be for a
memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

Ver. 3. Twelve stones. These were only of such
size as that one man could carry each several miles.
A rude and small monument was to be made of
them.

Ver. 4. Now the twelve men are to know why
the}^ were selected. (Comp. chap. iii. 12.) They
had probably waited on the east bank till now.

Ver. 5. Before the ark, i.e., to the front of the
ark, now standing at the base of the watery wall.

Ver. 6. A sign among you. A memorial to be
preserved in their new country, by which coming
generations should be reminded of God's miracu-
lous care and guidance of the people.

In time to come. Lit., " to-morrow."

Ver. 7. These stones shall be for a memorial.
The Oriental custom of throwing ujd a pile of stones



JOSHIJA, CHAP. IV. 43

8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua com-
manded, and took up twelve stones out of tlie midst of
Jordan, as the Loud spake unto Joshua, according to
the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and
carried them over with them unto the place where they
lodged, and laid them down there.

(or erecting one large stone, as the case may be)
in commemoration of some important event still
prevails, as any traveller in the East has had abun-
dant opportuni*;v to learn. The Scotch " cairn " is
of like character, although generally marking a
sepulchre rather than an event. For Bible in-
stances like the one in our present passage, see
Gen. xxviii. 18, xxxi. 46-48, xxxv. 14 ; Josh,
xxiv. 26 ; 1 Sam. vii. 12. These stones, thus
reared or piled, were counted sacred by the people
of a land. A reference to this fact seems to be
had in Isa. viii. 14.

Ver. 8. The ii>lace where they lodged. We see
from ver. 19 that this was Gilgal. Gilgal means
a " rolling ; " and we are told that this place re-
ceived its name because the reproach of the new
generation of Israel, that they were uncircumcised,
was here rolled away. (See chap. v. 2-9.) There
was another Gilgal six miles north of Bethel, con-
nected with the lives of Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings
ii. 2). From the frequent appearance of Jiljilieh
(the mod. equivalent) in the modern topograph}^
of Palestine, we may see that there were several
towns of the name of Gilgal, the name in these
other instances referring to the rolling character of
the ground. The places mentioned in Deut. xi.



44 COMMENTARY ON



9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of
Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which
bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there
unto this day.



80, and in Josh. xii. 23, xv. T, are some of these.
Josephus puts the Gilgal of this narrative six
miles from the Jordan and one from Jericho. Later
writers have put it two, five, and seven miles from
Jericho. It is highly probable that it was directly
en route between the crossing-place of Jordan and
Jericho, but whether nearer to the one or the other
we have no date to decide. It was probably on
the line of Wady Kelt.

Ver. 9. Set up twelve stones in the midst of Jor-
dan. Why were these set up where the water of
the river would cover them ? For with the words,
"the midst of Jordan," as repeated seven times
(chap. iii. 17, iv. 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 18), we can-
not believe the priests' place of standing with
the ark was where they first touched the river
(chap. iii. 18), as Keil alleges. The Heb., bethok,
means "in the middle," and cannot refer to one
side or bank of the river. Why, then, were these
stones set up where the river would cover them ?
They could scarcely have formed a monument high
enough to overtop the twelve feet of water in the
mid-channel, and so to be seen by those on the
bank. They were hastily brought together, and
probably formed, like those in Gilgal, a mere cairn.
As they, therefore, could not be intended to re-
mind the passing generations of the crossing, may



JOSHUA, CHAP. rv. 45

10 ^ For the priests which bare the ark stood in the
midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that
the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people,
according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and
the people hasted and passed over.

11 And it came to pass, when all the people were

we not believe that their use is yet in the future,
and that they may yet be laid bare as testimony to
the minute accuracy of this Old Testament history?
Have not Nineveh, Babylon, and their sister-cities
been made by God's providence to do this same
work?

They are there unto this day^ Le.^ the day of the
writing. (Comp. Judg. i. 26.) There is no proof
in the phrase, that it was well known at the day of
writing. From chap. vi. 25, we may consider
^'this day" as not more than fifty years after the
occurrence, perhaps much earlier.

Ver. 10. According to all that Moses commanded
Joshua. We are nowhere told that Moses gave
any commands to Joshua regarding the details of
the crossing of Jordan. The phrase refers to the
general submission of Joshua to the divine direc-
tion, and of the people to Joshua, in accordance
with the command of Moses (Deut. xxxi. 3, 7).

Hasted. The movement was a rapid one. God's
miraculous works are connected with the rational
use of man's faculties. The people were not to
abuse God's favor by carelessness or delay. Their
celerity of movement was a token of their co-oper-
ation with God's favor, in the great work before
them.



46 COMMENTARY ON

clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed
over, and the priests in the presence of the people.

12 And the children of lleuben, and the children
of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over
armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake
unto them:

13 About forty thousand prepared for war, passed
over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of
Jericho.

14 ^ On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the
sight of all Israel, and they feared him as they feared
Moses, all the days of his life.

15 And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,

16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the
testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.

17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying,
Come ye up out of Jordan.

Ver. 12, 13. PareDthetic verses. (See notes
on chap. i. 13, 14.)

Prepared for war. Rather, " selected troops."
(Comp. vi. 7.)

Ver. 14. See on chap. iii. 7.

Ver. 15-17. A special signal, such as we sup-
posed at ver. 2, is given b}^ God for Joshua to
command the end of the miracle by the exit of the
ark from the river's bed. It is not necessary to
suppose a new appearance of God, or a vision, on
each occasion when the phrase is used, " the Lord
spake unto Joshua."

Ver. 16. Arh of the testimony. In chap. iii. 3,
11, 17, iv. 7, 18, the ark is called the ark of
the covenant of Jehovah^ or the ark of the covenant
of the Lord (^Adon'). In chap. iii. 6, 8, 14, iv. 9,
it is called simply the ark of the covenant. In
chap. iii. 13, iv. 5, 11, it is called simply the ark
of Jehovah. Here it is called the ark of the testi-



JOSHUA, CHAP. IV. 47

18 And it came to pass, •^,^^hen the priests that bare
the ariv of the covenant of the Lord, were come up out
of the midst of Jordan, and tlie soies of the priests'
feet were hfted up unto the dry kind, that the waters
of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over
all his banks, as they did before.

many. In Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, it
is generally styled "the ark of the testimony.'' It
is the name first given to it (see Ex. xxv. 16,
21, 22), as containing the "testimony," or "two
tables of testimony" (Ex. xxxi. 18), written with
the finger of God. In Deuteronomy, the usage
appears to call it "the ark of the covenant^'' as
carrying the testimony on which God's covenant
with his people was based. This covenant was
with God, as against any covenant w^ith the Ca-
naanites. (See Ex. xxxiv. 10-15, and compare
with ver. 27-29 of the same chapter.) In Deuter-
onomy, when Moses addresses the people on ap-
proaching Canaan, it is natural to emphasize the
covenant., and this is followed in Joshua. Only in
this instance in Joshua is the ark called by its old
title of "ark of the testimony." The ark was, as
it were, the holy chest containing Israel's title-deed
to Canaan, with the conditions annexed. It was
the testimony of a covenant with God. (Comp.
Josh. i. 7, 8.)

Ver. 18. Lifted up. The word is translated
"rooted out," in Job xviii. 14. It means, "to be
torn or dragged away with difficulty," and here
refers to the drawing of the feet out of the muddy
bottom and sides of the river-bed. The river-bed



48 COMIMENTARY ON

19 Tf And the people came up out of Jordan on the
tenth daij of the first month, and encamped m Gilgal,
in the east border of Jericho.

20 And those twelve stones which they took out of
Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying,
When your children shall ask their fathers in time to
come, saying. What ynean these stones?

22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying,
Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

23 For the Loud your God dried up the waters of
Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as
the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried
up from before us, until we were gone over:

24 That all the people of the earth might know the
hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might
fear the Lord your God for ever.

had been made dry, only so far as that no running
water flowed through it, but God had not carried
the miracle so far as to turn the mud into arid soil.
The " economy of miracles," as it is called, is to be
seen in this.

Ver. 19. Tenth day. The day for setting apart
the paschal lamb (Ex. xii. 3).

Gilgal. See note on ver. 8.

In the east border of Jericho, i.e., at the eastern
edge of the territory under the sway of the King
of Jericho. This would lead us to suppose that
Gilgal was very near the Jordan.

Ver. 20-24. See note on ver. 7.
. Pitch. Rather, " set up."

Ver. 24. God intended that the miraculous cross-
ing of the Jordan should show the people of the
land that Jehovah (and not men) was dealing with
them, and should beget in Israel a deep reverence
for their God, and a fear of disobeying his will.



JOSHUA, CHAP. V. 49



CHAPTER V.

1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the
Amorites which luere on the side of Jordan westward,
and all the kings of the Canaanites, which ivere by the
sea, heard that the Lokd had dried up the waters of
Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were
passed over, that their heart melted ; neither was there
spirit in them any more, because of the children of
Israel.

Yer. 1. Amorites. The Amorites were probably
the largest Canaanitish tribe in this portion of the
lands of the children of Canaan, as the Hittites
were the largest in the region of Lebanon and the
Euphrates. Hence they are here spoken of as rep-
resenting in general the tribes in the mountain-
region. The name " Canaanites " is also used here
in like manner for all the tribes along the Mediter-
ranean Sea, on the low plains. The other four
tribes — the Hivites, PerizZites, Girgashites, and
Jebusites — were of inferior importance ; and the
Hittites in Palestine proper were but few in number.
It will be remembered that Sihon's kingdom on the
east of Jordan, conquered by Israel, was an Amor-
itish kingdom (Num. xxi. 21-31.)

Melted. As in chap. ii. 11.

Spirit. Lit., "breath." The melting of the heart
and the stopping of the breath are most strong and
natural expressions for utter despair.



60 COMMENTARY ON



V. Preparations for the Conquest. (Ver. 2 to
chap, vii.)

1. Circumcision and Passover.

2 ^ At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make
thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of
Israel the second time.

Ver. 2. The Lord's words here, and in ver. 9,
may have been given to Joshua at one revelation
after crossing the Jordan, the words in ver. 9
being proleptic.

Sharp knives. In Ps. Ixxxix. 43, " tsur cherev "
means " edge of the sword." Hence our trans-
lators have translated the phrase here " charvoth
tsurim," ''swords of edges," or "sharp knives."
But it is better, with our margin, to take " tsur-
im " in its ordinary meaning of '* stone " or " rock,"
and translate the words by " knives of stone." So
the Septuagint has it. And in Herodotus (ii. 86),
we see that the ancients used stone knives for such
purposes. (Comp. Ex. iv. 25.)

Circumcise again the- children of Israel the see*
ond time. They were all circumcised who came
out of Egypt, but there had been no circumcis-
ing since. The "second time" only means that
once they had been a circumcised people. It does
not mean that this was a second general circum-
cision. For this Hebrew usa of the phrase, " sec-
ond time," see Isa. xi. 11, where it refers to the
first recovery of a people once before in their own
land.



JOSHUA, CHAP. V. 51

3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circum-
cised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise:
All the people that came out of Egypt, that ivere males,
even all the men of war died in the wilderness by the
way, after they came out of Egypt.

^ 5 Now all the people that came out were circum-
cised; but all the people that were born in the wilder-
ness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, the7n
they had not circumcised.

6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in
the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war
w^hich came out of Egypt were consumed, because they
obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the
Lord sware that he would not shew them the land
which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would
give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

7 And their children, tvho7n he raised up in their
stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncir-
cumcised, because they had not circumcised them by
the way.

Yer. 3. mil of the foreskins. Heb., " Gibrah
haaraloth." Identical with Gilgal, as we see by
ver. 9.

Ver. 4-7. The fact is stated here, that no child
was circumcised in the desert, but the reason is not
stated. Some deny the fact, and say the word
"all "in ver. 5 must not be pressed, that it was
only all who were horn after the sinful unbelief and
rebellion^ for which God made them dwell thirty-
eight years longer in the desert, and hence that
the lack of circumcision was part of the frown of
God. But this seems very forced. We should
have expected some allusion to it in the narrative,
had this been the case. We, therefore, take the
fact literally, and consider the ordinary reason sup-
posed a good one, that the unsettled style of life



52 COMMEKTARY ON

8 And it came to pass when tliey had done circum-
cismg all the people, that they abode in their places in
the camp, till they were whole.

9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have
I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you :
Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto
this day.

10 ^" And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal,
and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the
month at even, in the plains of Jericho.

in the desert exempted them, by some special per-
mission of God not recorded.

Ver. 8. All the people, i.e., who needed circum-
cision. Those men who had left Egypt under
twenty years of age, and who were now over forty,
had been circumcised in Egypt. And we may esti-
mate these at three hundred thousand, an ample
force to defend the camp while the rest were dis-
abled, and to perform the rite. So there was no
remarkable exposure to the enemy, as many have
supposed.

Ver. 9. The y^eproach of Egypt. That is, the
reproach which Egypt cast upon Israel (as in Ex.
xiv. 3), that they were entrapped in the desert.
(Comp. Ex. xxxii. 12 ; Num. xiv. 13 ; Deut. ix. 28 ;
also Zeph. ii. 8.) The reproach was rolled away by
their entry upon the promised land and celebrating
the covenant, now fulfilled in its first instalment,
by the adoption of its mark.

Ver. 10. On the fourteenth day of the month.
Three days after the circumcision, the passover is
kept, a second solemn acknowledgment and con-
firmation of the covenant, whose glorious issues
they were now beginning to enjoy.



JOSHUA, CHAP. Y. SJ*

11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on
the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and
parched corn in the self -same day.

12 T[ And the manna ceased on the morrow after
they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had
the children of Israel manna any more ; but they did
eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

13 ^ And it came to pass when Joshua was by Jeri-
cho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold,
there stood a man over again?t him with his sword
drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and
said unto him, Arti\iQ\i for us, or for our adversaries?

Ver. 11. The country in which they encamped
at Gilgal is arid and barren. So it is not till they
had been there five days that they obtained some of
thQ produce of the land, perhaps by a foraging raid.

Old corn. Rather, " produce." So in the next
verse.

Ver. 12. The manna ceases on the sixteenth of
Nisan, and now the provision prepared on the east
of Jordan stands them in good part, until they can
obtain a full supply from their new land. (See note
on chap. i. 11.)

2. The Special Appearance of God.

Yer. 13. Was hy Jericho. The occasion of this
vision must have been a time of retirement on the
part of Joshua, and very probably a time of prayer.
The place may have been near Gilgal, as the head-
quarters of Israel seem to have continued at Gilgal
during all the remarkable siege of Jericho. " Near
Gilgal " would be equivalent to ^- by Jericho." A
warrior suddenly appears before Joshua. Israel's
hero instantly challenges him. The doubting char-



54 COMMENTARY ON

14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of
the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his
face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him,
What saith my lord unto his servant?

15 And the captain of the Lord's host said unto
Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place
whereon thou standest is holy: and Joshua did so.

acter of his question suggests the notion that it
was in the night-time, and that therefore Joshua
could not readily discern whether it was an Isra-
elite or not.

Ver. 14. Lit., iVa?/, hut I, prince of the host of
Jehovah^ have now come. " Prince of the host of
Jehovah " would be understood by Joshua to be a
ruler of angels. And therefore he immediately
offers him obeisance. The worship is only such
worship as one created being might offer another.
He calls him " my lord," which is not the title (in
the Hebrew) he would have used if he had sup-
posed the angel to be the Divine Angel, coequal
with God.

Ver. 15. Loose thy shoe, &c. Now the command
of the angel, the pronouncing of the ground holy
where such an interview was held, and the likeness
in all this to the interview of God with Moses at
the bush, must have convinced Joshua that this
was indeed God himself, and not the person of a
created angel, that stood before him.



JOSHUA, CHAP. VI. 65



CHAPTER VI.

1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up, because of the
children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given
into thine hand Jericlio, and the king thereof, and the
mighty men of valour.

Ver. 1. Merely parenthetical.

Ver. 2. The Lord, Lit., " Jehovah," the same
as the prince of the host of the Lord^ in chap. v. 15.
It is Jehovah-Jesus, the Lord of angels, " the
brightness of the Father's glory, the express image
of his person " (Heb. i. 3). He appears as a war-
rior, because he wishes to impress upon Joshua
that he, the Lord, is fighting with Israel against
Canaan. It is not Israel's war, but God's war,
against a depraved and God-defiant people. (Com-
pare the appearance of our Lord as against sinners,
represented in Rev. xix. 11-16.)

Ver. 2. I have given. Notice how often God
repeats the thought to Israel that all their action
against Canaan was as his agents, and not at all as
of themselves. Vengeance or cruelty in their con-
quest had no more place necessarily than the same
qualities are necessarily found in a sheriff who
executes a capital sentence.



66 co:m]mentaey on

3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war,
and go round about the city once: thus shalt thou do
six days.

4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven
trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall
compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow -
with the trumpets.

5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a
long blast Nvith the rani's horn, and when ye hear the
sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a
great shout: and the wall of the city shall fail down
flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight


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Online LibraryHoward CrosbyExpository notes on the book of Joshua → online text (page 3 of 15)