Page images
[blocks in formation]

the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.

29 God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.

27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.

30 ¶ And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them.

31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: 'now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.

32¶ And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.

33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.

34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar 10 Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.

28 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of

6 Heb. To morrow. 7 Gen. 31. 48. Chap. 14. 27. Verse 34. 8 Heb. it was good in their eyes. 9 Heb, then. 10 That is, A witness.

Verse 8. "Divide the spoil...with your brethren.”—This directs their attention to the regulation concerning the division of spoil, by which they were required to impart a fair proportion of the wealth they had acquired to those who, although they had not been actual parties in the war west of the Jordan, had rendered the most essential service by guarding the families and possessions of the warriors during the long period of their absence. See the note on Num. xxxi. 27.

10. "In the land of Canaan."—" Opposite the land of Canaan," as Dr. Boothroyd reads. It is evident from the following verse, that the altar was erected on the eastern border of the Jordan. The present reading seems to place it on the western.

"A great altar to see to."-This was doubtless a great mass of earth or stones, such as it was usual, among different nations, to set up in memory of important events, and the principle of which we have already had occasion to explain. (See Gen. xxxv. 20.) This principle is clearly announced in verses 24-28; and is precisely similar to "the heap of witness" which was erected by Jacob at Mizpah (Gen. xxxi. 46-48). The old heroes of antiquity were, in the same manner, accustomed to rear up vast heaps of earth or stones-the labour of collected multitudes-to leave in particular spots as standing memorials of their victories or travels. The present heap, large as it was, evidently exhibited the same general form which the law prescribed for the altars on which sacrifices were offered to Jehovah. The motive of its erection was excellent; and its unwieldy size ought to have prevented the suspicion which the tribes west of Jordan so hastily entertained; although we have no cause to regret a mistake which afforded the eastern tribes the opportunity of making a statement so honourable to themselves and so replete with right feeling and devout sentiment. They ought, indeed, to have declared their intention before they set out on their return home; but it is probable that the idea of such a structure did not occur to them till they had arrived at the Jordan. The promptitude of the western

iribes, in calling those of the east to account for the insult which appeared to have been offered to Jehovah, and the zealous and effective vindication made by the latter, is equally creditable to both parties, and affords an exhibition of such fidelity to the true God and zeal for his honour, as, unhappily, the future history of the Israelites will not often present to our notice as a national feeling. When we meet with something like it hereafter, it is generally as manifested in individuals or in comparatively small bodies of men.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

AND it came to pass a long time after that
the LORD had given rest unto Israel from
all their enemies round about, that Joshua
waxed old and 'stricken in age.

2 And Joshua called for all Israel, and
1 Heb. come into days.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

for their elders, and for their heads, and for unto them, I am old and stricken in age: their judges, and for their officers, and said

3 And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.

4 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inherit

Exod. 14, 14.

ance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea 'westward.

5 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.

6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, 'that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

7 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither 'make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:

8 But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.

9 For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.

10 One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.

11 Take good heed therefore unto your'selves, that ye love the LORD your God.

12 Else if you do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you,

and shall make marriages with them, and in unto them, and they to you:


13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that "not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pas unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

Heb. at the sunset. 4 Deut. 5. 32, and 28. 14. 5 Psal. 16. 4. 6 Or, For if you will cleave, &c. 7 Or, Then the LORD will drive. 8 Levit. 26. 8. Deut. 32. 30. 9 Heb. souls. 10 Exod. 23. 33. Num. 33. 55. Deut. 7. 16. 11 Chap. 21. 45.

Verse 1. "A long time after."—It is generally agreed that this and the following exhortation were delivered towards the end of Joshua's life;-perhaps both in its last year. The common chronology seems to assign too short a duration to the period from the passage of the Jordan to the death of Joshua ;-not more than about eight years. We have seen however that probably about six years took place from the passage of the Jordan to the first division of lands, and an equal period from the first to the second division, which was followed by the return home of the eastern tribes, as recorded in the preceding chapter. This, together, will make about twelve years; and the account which admits this, but conceives that Joshua did not long survive the second division of the lands, places his death fourteen years from the passage of the Jordan, so that these exhortations would then seem to have been delivered in the fourteenth year. But it would appear that even this interpretation must make the "long time" of the present text look back to the period which had elapsed since the first division of the lands, rather than to that since the second division and the return home of the two tribes and a half, as recorded in the last chapter. Much depends on the year from which we date the commencement of this "long time." Upon the whole it would be perhaps safest to date it from the second division; for that the expression, "a long time after the Lord had given them rest from all their enemies round about," more naturally dates from the latter than the former event, seems clear from the fact that the eastern tribes did not return home till after the second division, which seems to show that till then their services in the war could not be dispensed with, and that the "rest," from which the date commences, had not till then been attained. As they had no interest in either division of the land, and as they must have been anxious to return home to their families as soon as they could be spared, there seems no way of accounting for their waiting so long, if rest had been attained at the first division; particularly as their prolonged stay, under such circumstances, would not have tended to the increase but to the consumption of the wealth (the spoil of the Canaanites) which they had acquired. But if the "long time" be dated from the second division, as followed by the return of the two and half tribes, the expression does not seem compatible with the account which makes the death of Joshua very soon follow these circumstances. On this view, we are therefore thrown upon the account of Josephus, who states that the first division took place five years after the passage of the Jordan, and that Joshua survived this event twenty years-in all, twenty-five years. This would make him to have lived thirteen or fifteen years after the second division of the lands; and this period might well be described as a "long time." The Jewish chronology gives the duration of twenty-seven years to Joshua's administration; and Dr. Hales takes the mean between these two accounts, giving twenty-six years. We think the above observations may tend. to confirm this account; but we are not very anxious about it, as no essential point of chronology is affected. The same period is made out by all parties: for those who take the shorter accounts of the administration of Joshua, fill out the required period, by prolonging, in proportion, the government of "the elders who outlived Joshua" (chap. xxiv. 31); whilst those who prolong the duration of Joshua's government, subtract in proportion from that of the sur viving elders.


1 Joshua assembleth the tribes at Shechem. 2 A

brief history of God's benefits from Terah. 14 He reneweth the covenant between them and God. 26 A stone the witness of the covenant. 29 Joshua's age, death, and burial. 32 Joseph's bones are bu ried. 33 Eleazar dieth.

AND Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, 'Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and 'gave him Isaac.

4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought

you out.

6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.

7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.

9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and 10sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:

10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.

11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought

against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

12 And "I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat

14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;

17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we whom we passed:

18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

23 Now therefore put away, said he, the

1 Gen 11. 31. Judith 5. 6. 7. 2 Gen. 21. 2 3 Gen. 25. 26. • Gen. 36. 8. 5 Gen. 46. 6. 6 Exod. 3. 10.

Num. 21. 33. 10 Num. 22. 5. Deut. 23. 4.

11 Exod. 23. 28. Deut. 7. 20.

8 Exod. 14. 9.

7 Exod. 12, 37. 12 Chap. 23. 15.

[blocks in formation]

26¶ And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.

vant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the ser

30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that "overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.

32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred "pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

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.

13 Chap. 19. 50. Judges 2.9. 14 Heb. prolonged their days after Joshua.
Or, lambs.

15 Gen, 50. 25. Exod. 13. 19.

16 Gen. 33, 19.

Verse 1. "Shechem."-There are many who think that here, and wherever else "Shechem" occurs in this chapter, except verse 32, we ought to read "Shiloh;" as it seems evident, from verse 26, that the convention was held at the place where the tabernacle was; and we have previously seen that it was removed from Gilgal to Shiloh. To this, however, it is answered, that although Shiloh were the fixed place of the ark, there was nothing to prevent its temporary removal to Shechem on this important occasion. This is the opinion of Kimchi and Abarbinel, as well as of many Christian commentators. The learned Joseph Mede has, however, a notion that the sanctuary here mentioned does not mean the tabernacle, but a sort of oratory or house of prayer, which the Ephraimites had erected in this placeselecting it the rather, perhaps, for such an erection, because the Lord had there appeared to Abraham, and promised to his descendants the inheritance of that land in which he was a stranger. This seems to us the least probable of the three conjectures.

2. "The flood."-The river Euphrates is intended.

"They served other gods."-From this it seems clear that Abraham's grandfather and father-and possibly himself in the first instance-worshipped the idols of the country in which they lived. By this, however, we are probably not to understand that they had no knowledge of, or reverence for, the true God, but that they did not render to him that exclusive worship which was his due. In fact, we may conclude them to have been in much the same condition as Laban, who, at a subsequent period, represented that part of the family which remained beyond the Euphrates, and who certainly reverenced Jehovah, but who also had idols which he called his gods, and the loss of which filled him with anger and consternation. The tale of the Jews on the subject is, in substance, that men began to worship images in the days of Terah; and that he himself became a chief priest, and a maker and seller of images. They add, that he went one day abroad, leaving the care of his shop to Abraham, who, suspecting the impotency of the idols, broke them all in pieces, except one. Terah, on his return, was so enraged on discovering what had been done, that he dragged his son before Nimrod, the king, who ordered him to be cast into a burning furnace, that it might be ascertained whether the God he served were able to save him. While he was in the furnace, his brother Haran was questioned concerning his belief. He said, that if Abraham came forth unhurt, he should believe in his God; but if otherwise, he should believe in Nimrod. On this, he also was thrown into the furnace, and instantly perished; whereas Abraham came forth safe and untouched before them all. This story has been adopted by the Mohammedans, with sundry amplifications and improvements; and is so common in the East, that it seemed well to notice it here. Terah, according to the same authorities, would seem to have been a sort of founder; for he was not only a manufacturer of images, but is said to have discovered the art of coining money.

12. "I sent the hornet before you.”—This expresses the fulfilment of what had been twice promised (Exod. xxiii. 28; Deut. vii. 20). There are some interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, who are disposed to understand these texts figuratively; believing them either to refer to fears and apprehensions, which led the Canaanites to flee when the Israelites approached, or else to plagues and diseases which were sent upon them, and which produced the same result. If it be so, it seems rather singular that this sort of figure should be confined strictly to this single series of texts, all referring to the same subject. We take these texts to mean literally what they express; and shall therefore confine our attention, in this note, to the insect; and, in that which follows, to the results of its operation against the enemies of Israel. First, for the insect:-the Hebrew name is (tzirah), and probably expresses its loud buzzing noise. Until the time of Bruce, interpreters were content to identify the insect with that called the hornet; but the account which that traveller has given of the zimb, or dog-fly, of Abyssinia, offers so many analogies to that terrible insect which is mentioned in Scripture under the particular name of izirah and the general one of zebub, that although we may not be able to say positively that they are the same, the statement concerning the zimb may, at the least, be taken to

« PreviousContinue »