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Commentary On Joshua by Jean Calvin

Joshua 1:10-18

10. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,

10. Tunc praecepit Josue praefectis populi dicendo,

11. Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days you shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God give you to possess it.

11. Transite per medium castrorum et praecipite populo, dicendo, Parate vobis annonam: quia post tres dies transibitis Jordanem hunc, ut intretis et possideatis terram, quam Jehova Deus vester dat vobis possidendam.

12. And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spoke Joshua, saying,

12. Ad Reubenitas vero et Gaditas et dimidiam tribum Manasse locutus est Josue, dicendo,

13. Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God has given you rest, and has given you this land.

13. Recordamini verbi quod praecepit vobis Moses servus Jehovae, dicendo, Jehova Deus vester reddidit vos quietos et dedit vobis terram hanc:

14. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but you shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valor, and help them;

14. Uxores vestrae, parvuli vestri, et pecora vestra residebunt in terra quam dedit vobis Moses trans Jordanem; vos autem transibitis armati ante fratres vestros, quicunque erunt viri bellicosi, juvabitisque eos.

15. Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he has given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God give them: then you shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD'S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

15. Donec quietem praestiterit Jehova fratribus vestris sicut vobis et possideant ipsi quoque terram quam Jehova Deus vester dat eis: et tunc redibitis ad terram haereditatis vestrae, possidebitisque eam quam dedit vobis Moses servus Jehovae ultra Jordanem ad exortum solis.

16. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commands us we will do, and whithersoever thou send us, we will go.

16. Tunc responderunt, dicendo, Omnia quae praecepisti nobis faciemus, et ad omnia ad quae miseris nos, ibimus.

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.

17. Sicut in omnibus obedivimus Mosi, sic obediemus tibi: tantum sit Jehova Deus tuus tecum sicut fuit cum Mose.

18. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commands him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

18. Quisquis fuerit qui rebellaverit ore tuo, nec verbis tuis aquieverit in omnibus quae ei mandaveris, interficiatur. Tantum confirmare et roborare.

10. Then Joshua commanded etc It may be doubted whether or not this proclamation was made after the spies were sent, and of course on their return. And certainly I think it not only probable, but I am fully convinced that it was only after their report furnished him with the knowledge he required, that he resolved to move his camp. It would have been preposterous haste to hurry on an unknown path, while he considered it expedient to be informed on many points before setting foot on a hostile territory. Nor is there anything novel in neglecting the order of time, and afterwards interweaving what had been omitted. The second chapter must therefore be regarded as a kind of interposed parenthesis, explaining to the reader more fully what had happened, when Joshua at length commanded the people to collect their vessels.

After all necessary matters had been ascertained, he saw it was high time to proceed, and issued a proclamation, ordering the people to make ready for the campaign. With the utmost confidence he declares that they will pass the Jordan after the lapse of three days: this he never would have ventured to do, without the suggestion of the Spirit. No one had attempted the ford, nor did there seem to be any hope that it could be done. There was no means of crossing either by a bridge or by boats: and nothing could be easier for the enemy than to prevent the passage. The only thing, therefore, that remained was for God to transport them miraculously. This Joshua hoped for not at random, nor at his own hand, but as a matter which had been divinely revealed. The faith of the people also was conspicuous in the promptitude of their obedience: for, in the view of the great difficulties which presented themselves, they never would have complied so readily had they not cast their care upon God. It cannot be doubted that He inspired their minds with this alacrity, in order to remove all the obstacles which might delay the fulfillment of the promise.

12. And to the Reubenites, etc An inheritance had been granted them beyond the Jordan, on the condition that they should continue to perform military service with their brethren in expelling the nations of Canaan. Joshua therefore now exhorts them to fulfil their promise, to leave their wives, their children, and all their effects behind, to cross the Jordan, and not desist from carrying on the war till they had placed their brethren in peaceable possession. In urging them so to act, he employs two arguments, the one drawn from authority and the other from equity. He therefore reminds them of the command given them by Moses, from whose decision it was not lawful to deviate, since it was well known to all that he uttered nothing of himself, but only what God had dictated by his mouth. At the same time, without actually asserting, Joshua indirectly insinuates, that they are bound, by compact, inasmuch as they had engaged to act in this manner. He next moves them by motives of equity, that there might be no inequality in the condition of those to whom the same inheritance had been destined in common. It would be very incongruous, he says, that your brethren should be incurring danger, or, at least, toiling in carrying on war, and that you should be enjoying all the comforts of a peaceful settlement.

When he orders them to precede or pass before, the meaning is, not that they were to be the first to enter into conflict with the enemy, and in all emergencies which might befall them, were to bear more than their own share of the burden; he only in this way urges them to move with alacrity, as it would have been a kind of tergiversation to keep in the rear and follow slowly in the track of others. The expression, pass before your brethren, therefore, does not mean to stand in the front of the battle, but simply to observe their ranks, and thereby give proof of ready zeal. For it is certain that as they were arranged in four divisions they advanced in the same order. As he calls them men of war, we may infer, as will elsewhere more clearly appear, that the aged, and others not robust, were permitted to remain at home in charge of the common welfare, or altogether relieved from public duty, if in any way disabled from performing it.

16. And they answered, etc They not only acquiesce, but freely admit and explicitly detail the obedience which they owe. Our obligations are duly discharged only when we perform them cheerfully, and not in sadness, as Paul expresses it. (2 Corinthians 9:7.) If it is objected that there is little modesty in their boast of having been obedient to Moses whom they had often contradicted, I answer, that though they did not always follow with becoming ardor, yet they were so much disposed to obey, that their moderation was not only tolerable, but worthy of the highest praise, when it is considered how proudly their fathers rebelled, and how perversely they endeavored to shake off a yoke divinely imposed upon them. For the persons who speak here were not those rebellious spirits of whom God complains (Psalm 95:8-11) that he was provoked by them, but persons who, subdued by the examples of punishment, had learned quietly to submit.

Indeed, it is not so much to herald their own virtues as to extol the authority of Joshua, when they declare that they will regard him in the same light in which they regarded Moses. The groundwork of their confidence is at the same time expressed in their wish or prayer, that God may be present to assist his servant Joshua as he assisted his servant Moses. They intimate that they will be ready to war under the auspices of their new leader, because they are persuaded that he is armed with the power and hope that he will be victorious by the assistance of God, as they had learned by experience how wonderfully God assisted them by the hand of Moses. We may infer, moreover, that they actually felt this confidence, both because they call to mind their experiences of God's favor to animate themselves, and because they regard Joshua as the successor of Moses in regard to prosperous results.

The epithet thy God is not without weight, as it evidently points to a continued course of divine favor. The form of expression also is intermediate between the confidence of faith and prayer. Accordingly, while they intimate that they cherish good hope in their minds, they at the same time have recourse to prayer, under a conviction of the arduousness of the work. Immediately after, when they of their own accord exhort him to constancy, they show that they are ready to follow and to imitate him in his confidence. Here, it is to be observed, that though Joshua was a model of courage, and animated all, both by deed and precept, he was in his turn stimulated onwards, that his own alacrity might be more effectual in arousing that of the people.

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