Argument of the Book of Judges

The author of this book is not certainly known, whether it was Samuel, or Ezra, or some other prophet; nor is it material to know. 1. It matters not who was the king’s secretary, or with what pen it was written, if it be once known that it was the king who made the order or decree: it is sufficient that unto the Jews were committed to the oracles of God, Romans 3:2, that is, the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, one part of which this was, by confession of all; and that the Jews did not falsify their trust therein, but kept those holy books themselves, and delivered them to the world, entire, without addition or diminution; for neither Christ nor his apostles, who severely rebuke them for their mistakes and misunderstandings of some passages of Scripture, ever charge them with any perfidiousness about the canon or books of the Scripture. This book is called the Book of Judges, because it treats of the judges, or of the state of the commonwealth of Israel under all the judges, except Eli and Samuel, who being the last of the judges, and the occasions or instruments of the change of this government, are omitted in this book. The judges were a sort of magistrates inferior to kings, and could neither make new laws, nor impose any tributes, but were the supreme executors of God’s laws and commands, and the generals of their armies.

Prolegomena to Judges

This book contains the various events of the Israelite republic through the space of two hundred and ninety-nine years under thirteen Judges, of which the first was Othniel, and the last was Samson (Lapide,[1] Bonfrerius[2]); to whom Eli and Samuel succeeded; who, nevertheless, are not treated in this book (Lapide).  Question 1:  Who then is the writer of this book?  Response:  It is entirely uncertain (Lapide, Bonfrerius).  Initially it was not a single book, but several histories and registers were composed (Tostatus[3]).  It is likely that Ezra, or rather Samuel, gathered these things from the old journals and annals that one or the other Judge wrote in his time, and by writing reduced them into this book (Lapide, similarly Tostatus, Bonfrerius).  The Hebrews say that Samuel wrote this book[4] (Vatablus[5]).  Question 2:  What then was the office of the Judges?  Responses:  1.  They were generals in war.  2.  Not only that, but they were also put in charge of the administration of justice, and composing the lawsuits of their fellow citizens (Bonfrerius, Lapide).  For some Judges are not found to have conducted any wars, such as Tola,[6] Ibzan, Elon, Abdon[7] (Lapide).  Neither did Eli lead the army, 1 Samuel 4.  Nor did Samuel fight, except with spiritual arms.  Moreover, in Judges 4, Deborah judged the people.  Josephus, in his Antiquities 5:8,[8] testifies to the same (Bonfrerius).  Question 3:  What then was the form of the Republic under the Judges?  Response:  Monarchical (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Serarius[9]).  Nevertheless, Kings were differing from Judges in many things.  For Judges were not able to compose new law (but they were administrating the republic according to the laws of God, and in weightier matters they were bound by the decrees of the Sanhedrin), nor to impose tribute on the people, as Kings are able (Lapide, Bonfrerius).  Kings were Lords; Judges not likewise (Bonfrerius, Tostatus).  And hence in the time of the Judges God called Himself King of the people, but not so in the time of the Kings, 1 Samuel 8:7; 12:12.  And Gideo was refusing the Sovereignty of Kingship, who nevertheless was holding the administration of Judge, or Prince. (Bonfrerius).  A Judge was not a Lord, but only a Caretaker and Conservator of the Republic.  Therefore, the power of the Judges was greatly restricted.  These were dictators, of which sort were those of the Romans, but perpetual.[10]  To the Judges were similar the ἄρχοντες/archons among the Athenians,[11] and now Doges among the Venetians[12] (Lapide).  Now, the right of a King is fuller, 1 Samuel 8, he will take your sons, etc.; all which is done by them, if not rightfully, certainly actually, and with some appearance of right, by reason of the dominion of jurisdiction, which is competent to them with respect to their subjects.  Moreover, Kings were anointed; likewise (as a sign of absolute supremacy) they were using the diadem and Royal insignia, and were surrounded by a guard.  Finally, Kings were coming to power by succession; but Judges by election (Bonfrerius).  Judges were always liberating the people, which Kings often wasted.  The people under the Judges, although repeated oppressed on account of their sins, were never led away into captivity.  And so that age was able to be called golden, as it were.  Few Kings were upright and pious, but almost all the Judges were (Martyr[13]).  Among the Hebrews, Tyrians, and Carthaginians, the highest Magistrates were called שׁוֹפְטִים/Judges κατ᾿ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence (for otherwise the term extends more broadly), whom the Greeks here call κριτὰς/judges, Josephus δικαστὰς/judges in the affairs of the Tyrians, the Latins by the Punic term שפט/Suffetes;[14] αὐτοκράτορες ἡγεμόνες, autocratic leaders, in Josephus.  Concerning these see what things are on Judges 5:13, and on Deuteronomy 17:9.  Now, it appears that in these times through carelessness the creation of the Sanhedrin of seventy-two was neglected, just as also before the times of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:5.  And so, when God did not rouse such men extraordinarily, the body of the republic was dissolved, and nothing was done for the common interests.  The individual Tribes were handling their own affirs.  Such was the state of Greece, with the Achaean Council dissolved by the arts of the Romans;[15] and of Gaul before the times of Cæsar; but also of Germania and Brittania much later (Grotius[16]).

[1] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar.  His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome.  Although his commentaries (covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms) develop the four-fold sense of Scripture, he emphasizes the literal.  His commentaries demonstrate a profound knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the history of interpretation.

[2] Jacobus Bonfrerius (1573-1642) joined the order of the Jesuits in 1592.  He enjoyed a long tenure as a professor of the Scriptures and Hebrew at Douay, France.  Although he is said to have written commentaries on almost all the books of Scripture, only his commentaries on Genesis-Ruth survive.

[3] Alonso Tostado, or Tostatus (c. 1400-1455), also known as Abulensis, was a Spanish, Roman Catholic churchman and scholar.  He was trained in philosophy, theology, civil and canon law, Greek, and Hebrew; and wrote commentaries on Genesis through 2 Chronicles and the Gospel of Matthew, filled, not only with exegetical, but also with dogmatic, material.

[4] Babylonian Talmud Bava Bathra 14b.

[5] Francis Vatablus (c. 1485-1547) was a prominent Hebrew scholar, doing much to stimulate Hebraic studies in France.  He was appointed to the chair of Hebrew in Paris (1531).  Because of some consonance with Lutheran doctrine, his annotations (Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum), compiled by his auditors, were regarded with the utmost esteem among Protestants, but with a measure of suspicion and concern by Roman Catholics.  Consequently, the theologians of Salamanca produced their own edition of Vatablus’ annotations for their revision of the Latin Bible (1584).

[6] Judges 10:1, 2.

[7] Judges 12:8-15.

[8] Flavius Josephus (37-93) was a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, a Jewish general, and an eyewitness to the final siege of Jerusalem.  Josephus’ works are invaluable to the student of Jewish antiquities and of the history of the fall of Jerusalem.

[9] Nicholas Serarius (1555-1610) was a Jesuit theologian and exegete.  He served as Professor of Theology at the University of Mainz. Commentarius in Librum Josuæ, Judicum, Ruth, Regum, et Paralipomenon.

[10] The Roman Dictator was a magistrate invested with plenary powers in times of emergency.

[11] That is, a governor of a province.

[12] That is, the chief elder and military leader.

[13] Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) began his career as an Augustinian monk, preacher, and lecturer in Italy.  Through personal study of the Scripture and the Reformers, he came to embrace the Protestant doctrines.  He settled in England and served as Professor of Divinity at Oxford and as Canon of Christ Church.  Unhappily, he was forced to flee from England as well, when Mary Tudor took the throne.  He settled in Zurich and became Professor of Divinity there.

[14] That is, the annual chief magistrates at Carthage.

[15] The Achaean League was a confederation of Greek city-states of the northern and central Peloponnese.  Its first manifestation appeared in the fifth century BC.  In the second century, Rome manipulated the League in various ways, and finally defeated and dissolved it in 146 BC.

[16] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis.  He was a strict practitioner of the historical-contextual method of exegesis, and both his methods and conclusions are on display in his influential Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum.  He is also remembered for his role in the Arminian controversy, siding with the Remonstrants, and for his governmental theory of atonement.

Joshua 24:33: The Death and Burial of Eleazar

[circa 1420 BC] Verse 33:[1] And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to (Ex. 6:25; Judg. 20:28) Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.

[Eleazar also] At almost the same time, as it is likely, since in all of life they had been most intimately connected. God governs human affairs in such a way that in one age there is a great crop of men most illustrious for virtue, in another, on the other hand, an astonishing scarcity. For when mortals neglect goodness of this sort, when it is present, and abuse it unto torpor, He thereupon closes His bountiful hand, etc. (Masius).

[They buried him in Gabaath-Phinehas his son, which was given to him in mount Ephraim[2]] It was given to him; to whom? Eleazar (Masius, Tostatus in Lapide). For he was the High Priest while Joshua was living (Bonfrerius). Or, Phinehas (Vatablus and Jerome in Lapide). This is supported by the fact that the place received its name from him (Bonfrerius). But we have already often said that the writers of the Sacred history generally name places with the names of their own age. Therefore, since Phinehas both lived for a very long time, and dwelt there, it is not strange the place took its enduring name from him, not from Eleazar, who had inhabited it for only a few years (Masius). Question: How was it given to Phinehas? Response 1: Through his wife: for Levites were not having private fields in their name. See a similar thing in 1 Chronicles 2:21-23 (Grotius, Hebrews in Masius). But that hill is mentioned as given, not as appointed for a dowry; and it was unlawful for women endowed with ancestral lands to marry outside of their own tribe (Masius). Response 2: It is rightly remembered as given to him, namely, beyond his lot (for all the priestly cities were either in Judah, or Simeon, or Benjamin, as it is evident out of Joshua 21 [Masius, Bonfrerius]), so that the habitation of the High Priest might not be far from the Tabernacle (which at that time was in Shiloh), nor from Joshua, who ought to administer public business according to the counsel of the High Priest (Bonfrerius out of Masius). Here I make an end of commenting, on my birthday, Saint Andrew’s Day,[3] in the year of Christ 1563, says the Most Illustrious Masius [would that he were wrong, and had not made an end of commenting here, but had proceeded to the following books, which he indicates that he had in his heart].

Which was given him in mount Ephraim: By special favour, and for his better conveniency in attending upon the ark, which then was, and for a long time was to be, in Shiloh, which was near to this place; whereas the cities which were given to the priests were in Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon, which were remote from Shiloh, though near to the place where the ark was to have its settled abode, to wit, to Jerusalem.

[1] Hebrew: וְאֶלְעָזָ֥ר בֶּֽן־אַהֲרֹ֖ן מֵ֑ת וַיִּקְבְּר֣וּ אֹת֗וֹ בְּגִבְעַת֙ פִּֽינְחָ֣ס בְּנ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִתַּן־ל֖וֹ בְּהַ֥ר אֶפְרָֽיִם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּקְבְּר֣וּ אֹת֗וֹ בְּגִבְעַת֙ פִּֽינְחָ֣ס בְּנ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִתַּן־ל֖וֹ בְּהַ֥ר אֶפְרָֽיִם׃.

[3] Saint Andrew’s Day is a feast of Saint Andrew, the disciple that introduced his brother, Peter, to Jesus.  Saint Andrew’s Day begins the Advent season.

Joshua 24:32: The Burial of Joseph’s Bones in the Land of Promise

Verse 32:[1] And (Gen. 50:25; Ex. 13:19) the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground (Gen. 33:19) which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver (or, lambs[2]): and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

[The bones of Joseph also…they buried] For Joseph made arrangements for his bones to be removed unto Canaan, Genesis 50:25, just as Jacob had also made arrangements for his, Genesis 49:29. Evidently, they were doing this, so that they might confirm their faith in the promises of God in the minds of their own people; and that sort of faith belonged to them that not even death had been able to snatch it away (Masius). Now, I am inclined to believe that what is here related had already happened year earlier, namely, after the peace bestowed upon them after the wars (Bonfrerius): or, when at first among the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim the Israelites confirmed the covenant with God; for that place was near to the grave (Masius). For there is no reason why they would have delayed unto this time. And so that, they buried, I translate, they had buried (Bonfrerius). But it is commemorated now because here the sepulchers of other great men are shown (Masius).

[In Shechem] For Jacob had desired that part of the field to belong to Joseph outside of his lot; but it was customary to those ancient Fathers that each one be buried in his own possession. And, although a region far separated had fallen to the lot of Joseph, nevertheless at the same time they were going to reckon this field to him as ancestral by hereditary right (Masius). But this field was indeed set within the bounds of Ephraim, yet they possessed it, not by the casting of lots of Joshua, but by donation of Jacob (Bonfrerius).

In Shechem; not in the city of Shechem, but in a field near and belonging to it, as appears from the following words, and from Genesis 33:18, and from the ancient custom of the Israelites to have their burying-places without cities, in fields or gardens.

[For a hundred young sheep, בְּמֵאָ֣ה קְשִׂיטָ֑ה] For a hundred lambs, or sheep (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Montanus). Rather, coins (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Masius), as it is evident from Acts 7:16, τιμῆς ἀργυρίου, a sum of silver (Masius). Lambs, that is, coins; perhaps because they had the form of a lamb impressed on them (Vatablus). [But concerning this and other sorts of coins see the tractate concerning Coins to be stitched together, Lord willing, and to be placed among the Appendices. Moreover, Masius explains those δυσνόητα/difficult passages, namely, Genesis 48:22 and Acts 7:16 compared with Genesis 33:19, concerning which see the things either brought together or to be brought together on those passages.]

[And it was for a possession of the sons of Joseph] Hebrew: And they were (that is, granted) to the sons of Joseph for a possession,[3] understanding, his own; that is, It was done in such a way that they considered the bones of the father buried in his own possession (Vatablus). The consent of the Divine foreknowledge, whereby Jacob had determined this place as a sepulcher of his son, and of the lot, which assigned that to Joseph, is covertly shown. Moreover, as with other nations, so with the Hebrews, it was custom that illustrious men be buried among their own. For thus by domestic example each family and tribe was greatly urged on to virtue. The Syrians relate that Noah conscientiously received the bones of Adam into the Ark, and afterwards divine them among his sons. Which I commemorate not for this reason, that I would wish any bones to be worshipped superstitiously: For I know that except for the one God nothing, neither in heaven nor on earth, is to be worshipped [Let the rest of the Papists note this, who roundly profess λειψανολατρείαν, that is, the worship of relics, and also of Angels, Saints, Images, etc.]; and that in Christ alone ought to be placed all our hope of salvation. [Let them also note this, who place at least some hope of salvation in merits, both their own, and of the Saints; and let them hear this, their most learned brother, from whom the force of truth alone has extorted these sayings.] Nevertheless, to me the bonds of the most holy men appear always to have had a just veneration among all the pious (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְאֶת־עַצְמ֣וֹת י֠וֹסֵף אֲשֶׁר־הֶעֱל֙וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל׀ מִמִּצְרַיִם֮ קָבְר֣וּ בִשְׁכֶם֒ בְּחֶלְקַ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר קָנָ֧ה יַעֲקֹ֛ב מֵאֵ֛ת בְּנֵֽי־חֲמ֥וֹר אֲבִֽי־שְׁכֶ֖ם בְּמֵאָ֣ה קְשִׂיטָ֑ה וַיִּֽהְי֥וּ לִבְנֵֽי־יוֹסֵ֖ף לְנַחֲלָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: קְשִׂיטָה.

[3] Hebrew: וַיִּֽהְי֥וּ לִבְנֵֽי־יוֹסֵ֖ף לְנַחֲלָֽה׃.

Joshua 24:31: The Limit of the Obedience of Israel

Verse 31:[1] And (Judg. 2:7) Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua (Heb. prolonged their days after Joshua[2]), and which had (see Deut. 11:2; 31:13) known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.

[All the days of Joshua and the elders, etc.] But not longer, as it is evident from Judges 2:8-10. So far prevails the recent memory of their benefactors, and the authority of their honored men. See a similar thin in 2 Chronicles 24:2, 16-18. Hence it appears that this book was written some time after Joshua (Grotius) [or, at least, that these and similar things were written by another sacred writer, as was previously noted more than once]. This passage teaches how much influence may be placed in the uprightness of one man that governs in the commonwealth (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲבֹ֤ד יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֔ה כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ וְכֹ֣ל׀ יְמֵ֣י הַזְּקֵנִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֙ר הֶאֱרִ֤יכוּ יָמִים֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ וַאֲשֶׁ֣ר יָדְע֗וּ אֵ֚ת כָּל־מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יְהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: הֶאֱרִ֤יכוּ יָמִים֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ.

Joshua 24:29, 30: The Death and Burial of Joshua

[circa 1426 BC] Verse 29:[1] (Judg. 2:8) And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

[He died] In what year of his government it is not evident (Lapide). Nothing certain is able to be established, since Scripture says nothing of that matter. Nevertheless, although it be so, and there be a certain obscurity in the years of the Judges; still no difficulty appears for the Sacred Chronology, when in 1 Kings 6:1 is found the number of years from the exodus out of Egypt unto the beginning of the edification of the Temple (Bonfrerius). Serarius enumerates here twelve opinions, of which two are more probable. The first give to him seventeen or eighteen years; the second, twenty-seven or twenty-eight (Lapide). Maimonides only gives him fourteen years; but I attribute to him twenty-eight years (Masius out of the Hebrews). But, that it is not possible to ascribe to him more than seventeen or eighteen years, is evident from the years of the Judges, etc. (Bonfrerius), and from that general sum of four hundred and eighty years from the exodus out of Egypt to the foundation of the Temple, which, moreover, Sacred Scripture distributes into these parts; forty years in the desert, two hundred and ninety-nine of the Judges, forty of Eli, forty of Samuel and Saul, forty of David, and four of Solomon unto the beginning of the edification of the Temple. The total sum of these is four hundred and sixty-three. Thus it is necessary that the government of Joshua lasted for seventeen years (Lightfoot). [Concerning these things Bonfrerius, Masius, and others, here debate at length. But I am unwilling to immerse myself in the ocean of chronological questions, except when the untying of some textual difficulty requires it. Perhaps I might place the rest of this sort back at the end of our Work among the Appendices, if God should provide life and strength.]


Verse 30:[2] And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in (Josh. 19:50; Judg. 2:9) Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

[And they buried him] The care of bodies to be buried, ever customary among all nations, indicates a certain sense in them, that it is going to be that finally the bodies are going to revive, and are going to be restored to their souls. Hence in the Poets souls are not able to rest except with their bodies duly preserved; hence they, as if in the body, among the dead take cognizance of all their affairs. Moreover, in the Sacred Books we often see it recorded in what places the monuments of illustrious men were built. Not only concerning good men, but also concerning the wicked, is this observed; 1. so that there might be an inviolable confidence in the history: 2. so that the common experience of men might be perfectly attested by every memory of the other life: 3. so that men such as these, as if they were remaining in their graves, might be perpetually represented to the eyes of their descendants in a certain measure as examples of virtues to be followed, or of vices to be fled. For it is lawful to preserve the monuments of the saints only for the imitation of their lives, not for religious worship also (Masius).

[In Timnath-Serah, בְּתִמְנַת־סֶרַח[3]] With the letters transposed, it appears that it is to be called תִּמְנַת חֶרֶס, Timnath-heres,[4] as in Judges 2:9. Now, this name was imposed upon the city of Joshua from an image of the Sun erected here by the Israelites in memory of the miracle. See what things we have on Joshua 10. For חֶרֶס signifies Sun, and תְּמוּנָה, a figure (Masius). There is no mention here of the lamentation and grief of the people, as in Genesis 50 and Deuteronomy 34 (Menochius). And so they render גַּעַשׁ/Gaash as tremor,[5] and the Hebrews invent a story that the mountain was shaken violently in the burial of Joshua, because the Jews had not wept over the death of such a man (Munster). But it is to be believed that memorial rites were observed for Joshua in mourning, although it be not expressed (Menochius, Lapide).

[On the north side of the hill Gaash] It is likely that this was a part of mount Ephraim, set over against that city on the South: Judges 2:9 (Masius, Jerome and Adrichomius in Lapide, Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י אַֽחֲרֵי֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וַיָּ֛מָת יְהוֹשֻׁ֥עַ בִּן־נ֖וּן עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה בֶּן־מֵאָ֥ה וָעֶ֖שֶׂר שָׁנִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּקְבְּר֤וּ אֹתוֹ֙ בִּגְב֣וּל נַחֲלָת֔וֹ בְּתִמְנַת־סֶ֖רַח אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּהַר־אֶפְרָ֑יִם מִצְּפ֖וֹן לְהַר־גָּֽעַשׁ׃

[3] תִּמְנָה/Timnah signifies portion or territory; סֶרַח/abundance, from סָרַח, to exceed.

[4] חֶרֶס/heres signifies sun.

[5] גָּעַשׁ signifies to tremble.

Joshua 24:26-28: Memorials of Covenant Renewal

Verse 26:[1] And Joshua (Deut. 31:24) wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took (see Judg. 9:6) a great stone, and (see Gen. 28:18; Josh. 4:3) set it up there (Gen. 35:4) under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

[He wrote all these words] That is, the words of this covenant (Drusius). The forms of words of the stipulation of God and the solemn promise of the people (Masius, Serarius, Bonfrerius). He wrote, 1. for a perpetual memorial (Lapide out of Masius); 2. so that the people might be mindful that those things are on record, and therefore might cultivate with greater reverence faithfulness for the future, willingly given (Masius).

[In the scroll of the law] That is, which was in the Ark (Vatablus, Grotius, similarly Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). See Deuteronomy 17:18; 31:26. Joshua ordered that the priests enter it into the book of the Law of God, which was in their hands, and also into that public book that God had commanded to the Prince to be written out (Malvenda out of Junius).

These words, that is, this covenant or agreement of the people with the Lord. In the book of the law of God, that is, in that volume which was kept in the ark, Deuteronomy 31:9, 26, whence it was taken and put into this book of Joshua. This he did, partly, for the perpetual remembrance of this great and solemn action; partly, to lay the greater obligation upon the people to be true to their engagement; and partly, as a witness for God, and against the people, if afterwards he severely punished them for their detection from God, to whom they had so solemnly and freely obliged themselves.

[He brought an exceedingly great stone] Which would be to coming generations a monument of the matter conducted, and of the covenant renewed (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). There is a similar thing in Genesis 28:18 and Joshua 4:20 (Bonfrerius). Indeed, Moses set up twelve stones near the Altar,[2] so that by that symbol the Israelites might understand that, although some of them were admitted to come closer, others appeared farther off, some stood in a higher degree, others in a lower, nevertheless they were all equally dear to God. But here only the heads of the people were summoned, and they were all easily able to stand near the Ark. Besides, this stone was a monument; not so those twelve stones (for what need was there of a monument in those place to which the Israelites were never going to return?), but they were only representing the twelve Tribes (Masius).

Set it up there, as a witness and monument of this great transaction, according to the custom of those ancient times, as Genesis 28:18; 31:45; 35:14; Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 27:2; Joshua 4:3; 8:32. Possibly this agreement was written upon this stone, as was then usual.

[Under the oak] Some maintain that it is the same oak as that of Jacob in Genesis 35:4, and as that near which God first appeared to Abraham, and promised him that land (Masius out of the Hebrews). But who would believe that the same oak had endured for five centuries (Bonfrerius)? You will say that in Deuteronomy 16:21 it is prescribed, thou shalt not plant a grove or any tree near the altar: How then was this oak in the Tabernacle near the Altar? Responses: 1. Understand, where the Tabernacle and Altar were remaining fixed, not, where it was only raised temporarily. 2. Only a planting done deliberately unto that end is prohibited, in the manner of the Gentiles, to exercise every indecency under them (Bonfrerius). He forbids that a tree be planted, but not that the Tabernacle be erected near a tree already planted (Lapide).

[That was in the sanctuary of the Lord] Question: What is the meaning of this? Responses: 1. That place is called the Sanctuary of the Lord that Abraham had first consecrated in Canaan, since there he had received that most joyous announcement from the Lord; moreover also that place where Jacob had seen visions is called Beth-el,[3] Genesis 28:19 (Masius). 2. Thus he calls the place in which the Ark of the Lord was, which was sanctified by the presence of the Ark (Vatablus, Bonfrerius). This oak was contained in the courtyard of the Tabernacle (Junius, Lapide, Tirinus, Menochius); or near the courtyard (Rabbis in Tirinus). Now, the Sanctuary in the Scriptures is everywhere taken for the holy place, although not the most holy (Junius). This oak was, of course, in Shiloh (Menochius); or, in Shechem, to which the Ark had been moved from Shiloh, as has been said (Lapide).

Under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord, that is, near to the place where the ark and tabernacle then were; for though they were forbidden to plant a grove of trees near unto the altar, Deuteronomy 16:21, as the Gentiles did, yet they might for a time set up an altar, or the ark, near a great tree which had been planted there before.


Verse 27:[4] And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be (see Gen. 31:48, 52; Deut. 31:19, 21, 26; Josh. 22:27, 28, 34) a witness unto us; for (Deut. 32:1) 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.

[That stone shall be to you for a testimony] That is, It shall testify that the covenant with the Lord God is void (Vatablus).

[For it hath heard, etc.] This is Personification, whereby hearing is attributed to the stone (Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Drusius). Those words are similar, Give ear, O ye heavens and earth, Deuteronomy 32:1. The stones shall cry out, Luke 19:40 (Bonfrerius). Feignings of persons of this sort, in which we see a sense of the Divine word attributed to inanimate objects, show the marvelous force of that word, and at the same time implicitly accuse the stupidity of men (Masius). It signifies that this stone is going to be a witness and memorial of the covenant (Lapide). As Moses willed that Law, as public Tables, to remain as a witness of the perfidy of the people, if they should revolt, etc.; so Joshua says that this pillar, as if conscious, is going to be a witness of the solemn promise made; so that, while the Table of Moses lie hidden, that might daily strike the eyes (Masius). Junius and Tremellius thus translate it, it was present, etc.; Hebrew, it heard:[5] An expression transferred from witnesses living, present, and hearing, to stone (Junius).

[It hath heard all the words of the Lord that He spoke to you] At the same time it is understood to have heard what the people responded; for in these two things consists the covenant renovation, of which the stone is said to be a witness (Bonfrerius). The words of Jehovah, etc., that is, the words of the covenant which we composed with the Lord: that is, Those Laws were related near that stone (Vatablus).

It hath heard; it shall be as sure a witness against you as if it had heard. This is a common figure, called prosopopœia, whereby the sense of hearing is oft ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures, as Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 2:12.

[And it shall be a witness against you, etc.] That is to say, In its own way it shall accuse you, lest perhaps afterwards ye should lie, that is, ye should say that ye did not compose the covenant with the Lord with these laws (Vatablus).


Verse 28:[6] So (Judg. 2:6) Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּכְתֹּ֤ב יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה בְּסֵ֖פֶר תּוֹרַ֣ת אֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיִּקַּח֙ אֶ֣בֶן גְּדוֹלָ֔ה וַיְקִימֶ֣הָ שָּׁ֔ם תַּ֚חַת הָֽאַלָּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּמִקְדַּ֥שׁ יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Exodus 24:4.

[3] That is, House of God.

[4] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־כָּל־הָעָ֗ם הִנֵּ֙ה הָאֶ֤בֶן הַזֹּאת֙ תִּֽהְיֶה־בָּ֣נוּ לְעֵדָ֔ה כִּֽי־הִ֣יא שָׁמְעָ֗ה אֵ֚ת כָּל־אִמְרֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר עִמָּ֑נוּ וְהָיְתָ֤ה בָכֶם֙ לְעֵדָ֔ה פֶּֽן־תְּכַחֲשׁ֖וּן בֵּאלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

[5] Hebrew: שָׁמְעָה.

[6] Hebrew: וַיְשַׁלַּ֤ח יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם אִ֖ישׁ לְנַחֲלָתֽוֹ׃

Joshua 24:22-25: Joshua’s Covenant Renewal with Israel

Verse 22:[1] And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that (Ps. 119:173) ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

[Ye are witnesses] After the Commander-in-Chief thinks that the assembly has deliberated sufficiently, he proceeds further; and he, as God’s treaty-maker, extracts an oath in solemn utterances, etc. (Masius).

Ye are witnesses against yourselves; this solemn profession will be a swift witness against you, if hereafter you apostatize from God.


Verse 23:[2] Now therefore (Josh. 24:14; Gen. 35:2; Judg. 10:16; 1 Sam. 7:3) put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.

[Remove the strange gods in your midst, הָסִ֛ירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֥י הַנֵּכָ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם] Put away the strange gods that are in your midst (Junius and Tremellius). Strange gods, or, rather, gods of a strange, understanding, people; Genesis 35:2.[3] Thus, בְּנֵי נֵכָר, υἱοὶ ἀλλοτριότητος, sons of foreignness, that is, ἀλλότριοι/foreigners[4] (Drusius). The אֲשֶׁר/which/that is twofold, and is able to be referred either, 1. to the strange people that were yet living among them; or, 2. to the gods; which is more apt (Malvenda out of Masius). For in a similar oration that בְּתֹכְכֶם, among you, Moses has interpreted as בְּיָדָם, which were in their hands, Genesis 35:2, 4; which certainly is not able to be understood of barbarian men (Masius). Gods, that is, images that ye have seized from conquered cities, or have carried out of Egypt (Vatablus). Strange gods Augustine here understands of the opinions of men, absurd and foreign to the majesty of God. For it is not plausible, says he, that the images of gods were among them (Augustine in Masius). But he speaks of idols properly so called (Lapide, thus Masius, Bonfrerius). He supposes that the worshippers of idols are yet among them (Bonfrerius), at least covertly and secretly (Masius). Now, this was discovered to him either by revelation, or by arguments morally certain (Bonfrerius). Objection: But we do not here see any images being put away, as was elsewhere done, Genesis 35; etc. Response: No mention is made in the books of Moses of that idolatry of which Amos, Amos 5:26, and Stephen, Acts 7:43, accuse them. And furthermore, when the words here are the same as in Genesis 35, why are they interpreted in so diverse a sense (Masius)? [See more concerning these things on verse 14.]

The strange gods which are among you; those idols which you either brought out of Egypt, or have taken in Canaan, which I have too much reason to believe that some of you, contrary to God’s command, do keep, whether for the preciousness of the matter, or rather for some secret inclination to superstition and idolatry, as the following words imply. See verse 14.


Verse 24:[5] And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.


Verse 25:[6] So Joshua (see Ex. 15:25; 2 Kings 11:17) made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance (Josh. 24:26) in Shechem.

[He cut a covenant[7]] With sacrifices and other rites used, as in Exodus 24:5-8 (Masius). But this is not proven. It is one thing to enter newly into a covenant; it is another thing to renovate a former covenant; which is wont to be done with words and protestations alone (Bonfrerius).

[And he set forth to the people] Hebrew: he set for it[8] (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius); he established for them (Vatablus). That is to say, he set forth to them in a compendium the statues and judgments of the Divine Law (Menichius, similarly the Hebrews in Masius). He set forth to them the precepts, moral and ceremonial: he added nothing to the Law, but he taught them the conditions of this covenant (Vatablus).

Either, 1. He set, or propounded, or declared unto them the statute and ordinance, that is, the sum of the statutes and ordinances of God, which their covenant obliged them to. Or, 2. He set or established it, to wit, that covenant, with them, that is, the people, for a statute or an ordinance, to bind themselves and their posterity unto God for ever, as a statute and ordinance of God doth.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־הָעָ֗ם עֵדִ֤ים אַתֶּם֙ בָּכֶ֔ם כִּֽי־אַתֶּ֞ם בְּחַרְתֶּ֥ם לָכֶ֛ם אֶת־יְהוָ֖ה לַעֲבֹ֣ד אוֹת֑וֹ וַיֹּאמְר֖וּ עֵדִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֕ה הָסִ֛ירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֥י הַנֵּכָ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וְהַטּוּ֙ אֶת־לְבַבְכֶ֔ם אֶל־יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[3] Genesis 35:2:  “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you (הָסִ֜רוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַנֵּכָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּתֹכְכֶ֔ם), and be clean, and change your garments…”

[4] For example, Nehemiah 9:2:  “And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers (בְּנֵ֣י נֵכָ֑ר; υἱοῦ ἀλλοτρίου, in the Septuagint), and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.”

[5] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ הָעָ֖ם אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ אֶת־יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֵ֙ינוּ֙ נַעֲבֹ֔ד וּבְקוֹל֖וֹ נִשְׁמָֽע׃

[6] Hebrew: וַיִּכְרֹ֙ת יְהוֹשֻׁ֧עַ בְּרִ֛ית לָעָ֖ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא וַיָּ֥שֶׂם ל֛וֹ חֹ֥ק וּמִשְׁפָּ֖ט בִּשְׁכֶֽם׃

[7] Hebrew: וַיִּכְרֹ֙ת יְהוֹשֻׁ֧עַ בְּרִ֛ית.

[8] Hebrew: וַיָּ֥שֶׂם ל֛וֹ.

Revelation 1:5b: The First Begotten of the Dead

Verse 5:[1] And from Jesus Christ, (John 8:14; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 3:14) who is the faithful witness, and the (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18) first begotten of the dead, and (Eph. 1:20; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him (John 13:34; 15:9; Gal. 2:20) that loved us, (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7) and washed us from our sins in his own blood…

[The firstborn, etc., ὁ πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν] That firstborn (that is, raised in the first place [Pareus], for the resurrection is a certain sort of birth, or a regeneration [Pareus, Grotius, similarly Ribera, Cotterius, Cluverus]):  see Matthew 19:28 and Acts 13:33 [Pareus, Grotius]) of the dead (Beza, Piscator).  This is concisely expressed, in the place of, of those who rise again from the dead (Brightman):  who was reawakened, first of the dead (Grotius, thus Cotterius, Cluverus), namely, either, by His own power (Pareus, thus Durham), by which also He reawakened others (Durham, thus Brightman); or, unto life immortal (Grotius, Cotterius, Cluverus, Menochius, Pareus), and blessed (Menochius):  For those saints in Matthew 27:52, 53 did not come forth from their tombs before Christ was awakened, as it is expressly affirmed in verse 53 (Cotterius).  See 1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18, and the things mentioned there (Grotius).  This pertains unto the priesthood of Christ, by which He conquered death by death, made full expiation of sins, and rose again for our justification, Romans 4:25 (Brightman, Pareus).  This also pertains to our consolation (Pareus), so that the many that were going to suffer might despise death, knowing that they were going to rise again after the example of Christ (Ribera, similarly Pareus).

And the first begotten of the dead; that is, who first rose from the dead, namely, by his own power, John 10:18, and to die no more: see Acts 13:34; 1 Corinthians 15:20.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. τῷ ἀγαπήσαντι ἡμᾶς, καὶ λούσαντι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ.

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