Joshua 23:12, 13: Threats Discouraging Disobedience

Verse 12:[1] Else if ye do in any wise (Heb. 10:38, 39; 2 Pet. 2:20, 21) go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall (Deut. 7:3) make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you…

[But if ye desire, etc., כִּ֣י׀ אִם־שׁ֣וֹב תָּשׁ֗וּבוּ] For if (or, but if [Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, similarly Pagnine], else if [Munster, English]) by turning away ye turn away (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic) (or, ye draw back [Arabic], ye shall turn back [Jonathan], ye fall away), understanding, from God (Vatablus). For if by turning around ye change the design, etc. שׁוּב signifies to go back, but it is often transferred to the soul, and is to depart from the design, to change the manner of life (Masius). [What things follow in Masius, and the explanation of the remaining part of this verse, see on verse 7.]

If ye go back, from God, and from his worship and service. Go in unto them; the phrase notes the matrimonial act.


Verse 13:[2] Know for a certainty that (Judge. 2:3) the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; (Ex. 23:33; Num. 33:55; Deut. 7:16; 1 Kings 11:4) 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.

[They shall be for a pit, לְפַח[3]] For a snare [thus all interpreters]. But the Latin appears to have read פַּחַת/pit (Masius).

[And a snare, וּלְמוֹקֵשׁ[4]] And for a stumbling-block (Montanus, Munster, Pagnine, English, Dutch, Jonathan, Syriac), a snare (Osiander, Dutch); and for a trap (Junius and Tremellius, English), an obstacle (Castalio).

They shall be snares and traps unto you: by your indulgence to them, and converse with them, you will be enticed and drawn by degrees into their errors, and impieties, and brutish lusts.

[And a stumbling-block at your side, וּלְשֹׁטֵ֤ט בְּצִדֵּיכֶם֙] A scourge in your sides [thus nearly all interpreters]; that is, with which your sides are beaten, or flogged (Vatablus). There was an ancient custom of beating the sides, Ecclesiasticus 30:12;[5] 42:5[6] (Junius, Drusius, Grotius). שׁוֹטֵט is the same as שׁוֹט/scourge/whip (Drusius); and it signifies that by which we prod and beat one, so that we might urge to movement (Masius). Spurs in your sides (Tigurinus, Castalio). Ἥλους, that is, nails, is used in the place of spurs by the Septuagint (Masius); spears in your times (Syriac). In Numbers 33:55 it is read, and for thorns in your sides[7] (Vatablus).

[And stakes in your eyes, וְלִצְנִנִ֣ים בְּעֵינֵיכֶ֔ם] And for thorns in your eyes (Montanus) [thus nearly all interpreters]; barbs (Syriac), darts (Septuagint); for knives/points, Numbers 33:55. Moses said, thorns (or knives/points) in your sides; see the annotation there; that is, with which your sides are jabbed; which is to say, afflicting you in extraordinary manner (Vatablus). The Chaldean, in the place of scourge, said, troops taking up arms against you; and, in the place of thorn, etc., rendered it, armies surrounding you: evidently because the verb שָׁטַט sometimes signifies to wander and to roam here and there for the sake of taking prey; and since צִנָּה is used, not only of a thorn, but also of a shield; he transferred it to an army that surrounds its enemies, as a shield does the body of a man, says Rabbi Salomon. Moreover, it is clear enough why these metaphors would be used of idolaters. For by the traps and snares of alluring pleasure progress in the worship of God is first impeded: Then, after the soul is once bound fast by that pleasure, it is easily impelled to every shameful thing by that, as by a whip: But soon, he is also so blinded that he is no longer able to see the shining light of truth. Now, it is evident that all these things happened to them (Masius). First, they are going to be for a trap, etc., that is, by their friendly behavior and marriages they are going to seize you, so that you might become entangled in their impieties, just as a fowler captures birds, or a hunter wild animals, with a trap and snare. Then, these nations shall nevertheless become troublesome to you: gradually they shall recover their strength, and afflict you: and they shall be the scourges of God, as it were, by which He would put you to grief; and, like thorns in your eyes, they shall become intolerable to you (Osiander). This passage is able to be taken, not only of the stumbling-block of Divine punishment and vengeance, but also of the stumbling-block of guilt (Lapide).

Scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes: when they have inveigled, and seduced, and thereby weakened you, then they will molest and vex you, no less than a severe scourge doth a man’s sides which are lashed by it, or than a small thorn doth the eye when it is got within it.

[Until He remove you…from the land, etc.] This was goading their souls exceedingly. For, while after the greatest hardships, which they had endured in another’s land, they, having at last gained their own possessions, appeared to themselves to be altogether happy, and in them were resting most pleasantly, no case more bitter to them was albe to be set before their eyes than a new exile (Masius on verse 3).

Until ye perish from off this good land: they shall so persecute you, and fight against you with such success, that you shall be forced to quit your own land, and wander you know not whither; which must needs be very terrible to them to think of, when they compared this present case, and plenty, and safety, with the pains, and weariness, and hazards, and wants of their former wanderings.

[1] Hebrew: כִּ֣י׀ אִם־שׁ֣וֹב תָּשׁ֗וּבוּ וּדְבַקְתֶּם֙ בְּיֶ֙תֶר֙ הַגּוֹיִ֣ם הָאֵ֔לֶּה הַנִּשְׁאָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה אִתְּכֶ֑ם וְהִֽתְחַתַּנְתֶּ֥ם בָּהֶ֛ם וּבָאתֶ֥ם בָּהֶ֖ם וְהֵ֥ם בָּכֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: יָדוֹ֙עַ֙ תֵּֽדְע֔וּ כִּי֩ לֹ֙א יוֹסִ֜יף יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֗ם לְהוֹרִ֛ישׁ אֶת־הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָאֵ֖לֶּה מִלִּפְנֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָי֙וּ לָכֶ֜ם לְפַ֣ח וּלְמוֹקֵ֗שׁ וּלְשֹׁטֵ֤ט בְּצִדֵּיכֶם֙ וְלִצְנִנִ֣ים בְּעֵינֵיכֶ֔ם עַד־אֲבָדְכֶ֗ם מֵ֠עַל הָאֲדָמָ֤ה הַטּוֹבָה֙ הַזֹּ֔את אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֔ם יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

[3] A פַּח is a bird-trap.

[4] מוֹקֵשׁ, a fowler’s trap or its bait, is derived from the verbal root יָקשׁ, to lure.

[5] Ecclesiasticus 30:12:  “Bow down his neck while he is young, and beat him on the sides while he is a child, lest he wax stubborn, and be disobedient unto thee, and so bring sorrow to thine heart.”

[6] Ecclesiasticus 42:5:  “And of merchants’ indifferent selling; of much correction of children; and to make the side of an evil servant to bleed.”

[7] Numbers 33:55:  “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes (לְשִׂכִּים֙ בְּעֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם), and thorns in your sides (וְלִצְנִינִ֖ם בְּצִדֵּיכֶ֑ם), and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.”

Joshua 23:9-11: Promises Encouraging Obedience

Verse 9:[1] (Deut. 11:23) For the LORD hath driven out (or, then the LORD will drive out[2]) from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, (Josh. 1:5) no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.

[And no man will be able to resist you,וְאַתֶּ֗ם לֹא־עָ֤מַד אִישׁ֙ ] And you, a man hath not stood, etc. (Jonathan, Montanus). For, as for you, he hath not stood, etc. (Junius and Tremellius, English, Dutch).

No man hath been able to stand before you: To wit, whom you have invaded; otherwise some of those people did yet remain unconquered.


Verse 10:[3] (Lev. 26:8; Deut. 32:30; see Judg. 3:31; 15:15; 2 Sam. 23:8) One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, (Ex. 14:14; 23:27; Deut. 3:22) as he hath promised you.

[One…shall chase a thousand] In accordance with the promises of God, Leviticus 26:3, etc.; Deuteronomy 28:7. Compare Deuteronomy 32:30 (Masius).

He it is that fighteth for you; impute not this therefore to your own valour, as you will be apt to do, but to God’s gracious and powerful assistance.


Verse 11:[4] (Josh. 22:5) Take good heed therefore unto yourselves (Heb. unto your souls[5]), that ye love the LORD your God.

[This only attend to with all diligence, that ye love the Lord, etc. (thus Pagnine, English, similarly the Septuagint, Syriac),וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם לְאַהֲבָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה] And take good heed unto your souls (that is, yourselves [English], or, for your souls [Munster]), that ye love the Lord (Vatablus, Jonathan, English, similarly Munster, Dutch). It is common among the Hebrews to conjoin with the verb, to take heed, those words, unto your souls, in the place of a second or third person pronoun; which signifies nothing other than, take diligent heed, that ye love, etc. (Vatablus). Observe ye therefore, as your soul is dear to you, that ye love, etc. (Tigurinus). Wherefore it is necessary that ye keep yourself in the love of God (Arabic). Some join that, unto your souls, to what follows; Look diligently that from the soul ye love the Jehovah (Vatablus). Not so properly, because the Atnah accent (֑) is affixed to the word, unto your souls[6] (Malvenda).

Take good heed therefore unto yourselves: Now it requires more watchfulness and diligence than it did in the wilderness, because your temptations are now more and stronger; partly from the examples and insinuations of your bad neighbours, the remainders of this wicked people; and partly from your own peace and prosperity, and the pride, security, forgetfulness of God, and luxury which usually attend upon that condition, as God had warned them, Deuteronomy 6:10-12.

[1] Hebrew: וַיּ֤וֹרֶשׁ יְהוָה֙ מִפְּנֵיכֶ֔ם גּוֹיִ֖ם גְּדֹלִ֣ים וַעֲצוּמִ֑ים וְאַתֶּ֗ם לֹא־עָ֤מַד אִישׁ֙ בִּפְנֵיכֶ֔ם עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיּ֤וֹרֶשׁ יְהוָה֙ .

[3] Hebrew: אִישׁ־אֶחָ֥ד מִכֶּ֖ם יִרְדָּף־אָ֑לֶף כִּ֣י׀ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֗ם ה֚וּא הַנִּלְחָ֣ם לָכֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר לָכֶֽם׃

[4] Hebrew: וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם לְאַהֲבָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

[5] Hebrew: לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם.

[6] The Atnah accent (֑) is the strongest disjunctive within a verse, which here suggests that לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם, unto your souls, is to be joined with what precedes, and disjoined from what follows.

Joshua 23:6-8: Aged Joshua’s Exhortation

Verse 6:[1] (Josh. 1:7) Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, (Deut. 5:32; 28:14) that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left…

[Take courage, וַחֲזַקְתֶּם] Ye shall take courage (Montanus). It is very common among the Hebrew to use the future in the place of the imperative. See what things are on Joshua 1:7 concerning these words (Masius).

Be ye therefore very courageous; for it will require great courage and resolution to execute all the commands of Moses, and particularly that of expelling and destroying the residue of the Canaanites.

[And not decline from them, מִמֶּנּוּ] From it, understanding, the book; that is, from those things that are written in that (Vatablus).

[To the right hand, etc., יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאול׃] Right hand and left hand (Malvenda). Here ו/and means אוֹ/or, as in this, he that cursed father and mother, that is, or mother.[2] Neither unto the right hand, etc., that is, in neither direction. Rabbi Levi understands by the right hand whatever is added to the Law; and by the left hand whatever is taken from it (Drusius).

To the right hand or to the left, that is, in one kind or other, by adding to the law, or diminishing from it, as Moses speaks.


Verse 7:[3] That ye (Ex. 23:33; Deut. 7:2, 3; Prov. 4:14; Eph. 5:11) come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither (Ex. 23:13; Ps. 16:4; Jer. 5:7; Zeph. 1:5; see Num. 32:38) make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them…

[Lest, after ye come among the nations…ye swear, etc. (similarly Munster, Tigurinus, Castalio, Osiander) [who all suspend the sense, and refer this first clause unto what follows: but others take is distinctly],לְבִלְתִּי־בוֹא֙ בַּגּוֹיִ֣ם הָאֵ֔לֶּה וגו״] Verbatim: Lest ye come to, or, enter among, those nations (Masius). Lest ye mingle with those nations (Pagnine, similarly Vatablus, Jonathan, Syriac). Lest ye come together (Junius and Tremellius). Lest ye have intercourse, etc. (Masius). Lest ye dwell with them, or, in them, or, among them (Drusius). All familiarity with them is here restrained, but especially that which is contracted through marriages, as it is evident from verse 12 (Masius on verses 7 and 12, similarly Bonfrerius, Piscator). That בוֹא, to come into, is used of Sexual Intercourse.[4] (See what things are on Joshua 2:3[5] [Masius].) But I doubt whether בוֹא, to come into, constructed with a ב, is thus to be taken. For usually it is construced with אֶל/unto, הַ֭בָּא אֶל־אֵ֣שֶׁת רֵעֵ֑הוּ, he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife[6] (Drusius). Moreover, the דָּבַק in verse 12 signifies to cleave,[7] and is used by Moses in Genesis 2:24 of the union between husband and wife[8] (Masius on verse 12).

Come not among these nations, that is, avoid all familiar converse and contracts, but especially marriages, with them, as it is explained, verse 12, and as the Hebrew word intimates, being oft used of coming or going in to a woman.

[Neither make mention of the name of their gods] Consult Ephesians 5:3 (Masius), and that saying of David, Psalm 16:4, I will not take up their names into my lips; likewise in Hosea 2:16, thou shalt not call me בַּעְלִי/BAALI, but אִישִׁי/ISHI: Both signify the same thing,[9] but Baal is a name common to idols. Therefore, the Jews do not even name Swine in the presence of their children, lest they should desire its flesh; for, when they speak of that, they say, דָבָר אַחֵר, another thing (Drusius). The more religious Jews even now so strictly observe this that they never name idols or gods, Jove, Venus, Mars, etc. Let Christians hear and imitate this, in whose mouth Hercules, Jupiter, Venus, etc., frequently sounds; let them see that this is sin (Lapide). Indeed, the Jew do not even take up the names of heretics in writing, unless they first ask for peace and pardon, by that symbolic stroke of brevity, חס ושׁלום, Chas veshalem, O pardon, and let there be peace. Which is worthy of observation by those that always have in their mouths, By Hercules!,[10] By Castor!,[11] By the god of truth!, the Day of Jove,[12] the Day of Venus,[13] etc. (Tirinus). It is scarcely able to be happen, that those things of which we often make mention would have no affect on us, nor cleave to our consciousness. And so, in the end, from that custom of appealing to the gods a suspicioun could easily be conveyed to the mind that they are something (Masius).

Neither make mention of the name of their gods, to wit, unnecessarily and familiarly, lest the mention of them breed discourse about them, and so by degrees bring a man to the approbation and worship of them. Compare Exodus 23:13; Deuteronomy 12:3; Psalm 16:4; Ephesians 5:3.

[That ye might not swear (thus Montanus [but not Pagnine, as Drusius maintains], Jonathan, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus, Castalio, Masius [which is strange, since the verb is passive[14] (Drusius)]), וְלֹ֣א תַשְׁבִּ֔יעוּ] That ye not cause to swear (Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, English, Bonfrerius), understanding, others by their idols (Vatablus); causing them [that is, the nations] to commemorate them, Exodus 23:13; Deuteronomy 12:3 (Junius). That ye might not swear: For what we swear, we establish, even unintentionally, that some Deity is involved in it. Moreover, those, ye worship, ye adore, are even more grevious. And so, in the order a progression is made; from familiarity with Barbarians to the naming of their gods, hence to swearing, hence to service, and finally from worship to adoration. For each subsequent thing of those is generally wont to be born from the preceding thing, unless great caution is employed, and the Holy Spirit of God rules over our hearts, etc. (Masius). By certain degrees men gradually sink into idolatry. And it is certainly not very laudable that some Christian in their songs invoke and celebrate Jove and the other vain deities of the nations (Osiander). Or perhaps this is the σχῆμα, rhetorical form, that they call ἐξήγησιν/exegesis, that is, Interpretation, inasmuch as the latter things explain the former. For to worship and to adore differ little from each other. Now, to swear is put in the place of to worship. But to name a God is the same thing as to worship, as it is evident out of 2 Timothy 2:19, let every one that nameth the name of Christ be averse to iniquity; and out of Psalm 16:4, their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into m lips; which marvelously agrees with this place (Masius). That ye might not make mention of the name: Understand this of honorific commemoration, whereby either it is indicated that those gods give pleasure to one’s self, or they are praised, or even, with an oath interposed, are summoned as witnesses (Bonfrerius).

Nor cause to swear by them; nor require nor compel the Gentiles to swear by them, as they used to do; especially in leagues and contracts, which therefore the Israelites are here implicitly forbidden to make with them. Neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them; neither give them any inward reverence, or outward adoration. Here is an observable gradation, whereby he shows what notable progress sin usually makes, and what reason there is to look to the beginnings of it, forasmuch as a civil and common conversation with their persons was likely to bring them, and indeed did actually bring them, by insensible steps, to the worship of their gods. So it is no wonder if some things not simply and in themselves evil be forbidden by God, as here the naming of their gods is, because they are occasions and introductions to evil.


Verse 8:[15] But (Deut. 10:20; 11:22; 13:4; Josh. 22:5) cleave unto the LORD your God (or, for if ye will cleave unto the LORD your God[16]), as ye have done unto this day.

[But that ye might cleave] To cleave to the Lord is to place all hope in Him alone, and to expect no help from elsewhere (Masius).

Cleave unto the Lord, by firm affiance, constant obedience, entire affection, faithful service and worship of him alone.

[As ye have done unto this day] For, while Joshua was living, the people generally kept the laws of Moses: for the sins of individual men are not treated here (Masius). Moreover, he sets forth their praise as the sharpest spur. For praised virtue increases, and glory has an immense spur[17] (Masius on verse 3).

As ye have done unto this day, to wit since you came into Canaan; since which time the body of the people (for of them he speaks, not of every particular person) had behaved themselves much better than they did in the wilderness, and had not been guilty or any gross and general apostacy from God, or rebellion against him.

[1] Hebrew: וַחֲזַקְתֶּ֣ם מְאֹ֔ד לִשְׁמֹ֣ר וְלַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַכָּת֔וּב בְּסֵ֖פֶר תּוֹרַ֣ת מֹשֶׁ֑ה לְבִלְתִּ֥י סוּר־מִמֶּ֖נּוּ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאול׃

[2] Exodus 21:17:  “And he that curseth his father, or his mother (אָבִ֛יו וְאִמּ֖וֹ), shall surely be put to death.”  Leviticus 20:9:  “For every one that curseth his father or his mother (אֶת־אָבִ֛יו וְאֶת־אִמּ֖וֹ) shall be surely put to death:  he hath cursed his father or his mother (אָבִ֧יו וְאִמּ֛וֹ); his blood shall be upon him.”

[3] Hebrew: לְבִלְתִּי־בוֹא֙ בַּגּוֹיִ֣ם הָאֵ֔לֶּה הַנִּשְׁאָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה אִתְּכֶ֑ם וּבְשֵׁ֙ם אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֤ם לֹא־תַזְכִּ֙ירוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א תַשְׁבִּ֔יעוּ וְלֹ֣א תַעַבְד֔וּם וְלֹ֥א תִֽשְׁתַּחֲו֖וּ לָהֶֽם׃

[4] See, for example, Genesis 38:18:  “And he said, What pledge shall I give thee?  And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand.  And he gave it her, and came in unto her (וַיָּבֹ֥א אֵלֶ֖יהָ), and she conceived by him.”

[5] Joshua 2:3:  “And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house (הַבָּאִ֤ים אֵלַ֙יִךְ֙ אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֣אוּ לְבֵיתֵ֔ךְ):  for they be come to search out all the country.”

[6] Proverbs 6:29.

[7] Joshua 23:12:  “Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave (וּדְבַקְתֶּם) unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you…”

[8] Genesis 2:24:  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave (וְדָבַק) unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh.”

[9] Namely, my husband.

[10] A form of oath used by men.

[11] A form of oath used by women.  Castor was one of the Gemini twins and renowned as a great horseman and soldier.

[12] Dies Jovis, the Day of Jupiter, is Thursday, Thor being equated with Jupiter.

[13] Dies Veneris, the Day of Venus, is Friday, Frigga, wife of Odin and goddess of love, being equated with Venus.

[14] Specifically, in the Hiphil conjugation.

[15] Hebrew: כִּ֛י אִם־בַּיהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם תִּדְבָּ֑קוּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר עֲשִׂיתֶ֔ם עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[16] Hebrew: כִּ֛י אִם־בַּיהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם תִּדְבָּ֑קוּ.

[17] Ovid’s Ex Ponto 4:2:35, 36.

Joshua 23:5: Joshua’s Reminder of What God Would yet Do for Israel

Verse 5:[1] And the LORD your God, (Ex. 23:30; 33:2; 34:11; Deut. 11:23; Josh. 13:6) he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, (Num. 33:53) as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.

[1] Hebrew: וַיהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם ה֚וּא יֶהְדֳּפֵ֣ם מִפְּנֵיכֶ֔ם וְהוֹרִ֥ישׁ אֹתָ֖ם מִלִּפְנֵיכֶ֑ם וִֽירִשְׁתֶּם֙ אֶת־אַרְצָ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֛ר יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם לָכֶֽם׃

Joshua 23:3, 4: Joshua’s Reminder of What God Had Done for Israel

Verse 3:[1] And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the (Ex. 14:14; Josh. 10:14, 42) LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.

[What the Lord has done, etc.] That is to say, It is therefore fair that ye cultivate piety in return, and reciprocate the love of so beneficent a God (Masius). That is to say, Consider, call again into mind (Vatablus).

Because of you; for your sake and good, that you might gain by their losses.


Verse 4:[2] Behold, (Josh. 13:2, 6; 18:10) I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward (Heb. at the sunset[3]).

[And now because, etc., רְאוּ] Look ye. Propose to the eyes of your soul. The ordering of the words is more confused here (Masius).

[הִפַּ֙לְתִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶֽת־הַ֠גּוֹיִם הַנִּשְׁאָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֛לֶּה בְּנַחֲלָ֖ה לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶ֑ם] By lot I have distributed (I have cause to fall [Montanus], I have overthrown [Tigurinus], I have subjected [Munster]) to you those nations remaining (or, persisting, that survive, that is, are not yet conquered) for an inheritance for your tribes, or, according to your tribes, etc. (Pagnine, English, similarly Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan, Arabic).

These nations that remain, not yet conquered. To be an inheritance for your tribes; you shall certainly subdue them, and inherit their land, as you have done the rest, if you be not wanting to yourselves.

[From the eastern part of Jordan, etc.,מִן־הַיַּרְדֵּ֗ן וְכָל־הַגּוֹיִם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הִכְרַ֔תִּי וְהַיָּ֥ם הַגָּד֖וֹל מְב֥וֹא הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃] From Jordan, and all the nations (together with the land of all nations) that I cut off, or, destroyed, unto the great sea (or, and to the great sea [Tigurinus, Arabic]) toward the setting (or, and the setting [Munster]) of the sun (Pagnine, English, Munster, Tigurinus). From Jordan, both all nations that I have cut off, and the nations of the great sea toward the setting of the sun (Junius and Tremellius). Namely, those dwelling by the sea; which nations remained to be cut off, even if the Israelites were undisturbed by them. See on Joshua 22:2 (Junius). This is the meaning of the entire sentence; By lot I have distributed to you both those nations that have not yet been driven out, and those that I myself have already cut off throughout all Canaan between Jordan…and the great sea. That מִן־הַיַּרְדֵּן, from Jordan, is not set down in its proper place. He calls to mind those that have not yet been driven out, so that he might increase their courage to overthrown them; from the ease of it. For the Divine lot itself was as an earnest and pledge of God’s altogether certain counsel, as it is explained in the next verse (Masius).

With all the nations that I have cut off, that is, with the land of those nations; the people put for their land, as we have seen before; and as sometimes, on the contrary, the land is put for the people. Westward, where the Philistines, your most formidable adversaries, yet survive; but them also and their land I have given to you, and you shall undoubtedly destroy them, if you will proceed vigorously in your work.

[1] Hebrew: וְאַתֶּ֣ם רְאִיתֶ֗ם אֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֙ר עָשָׂ֜ה יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֛ם לְכָל־הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָאֵ֖לֶּה מִפְּנֵיכֶ֑ם כִּ֚י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֔ם ה֖וּא הַנִּלְחָ֥ם לָכֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: רְאוּ֩ הִפַּ֙לְתִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶֽת־הַ֠גּוֹיִם הַנִּשְׁאָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֛לֶּה בְּנַחֲלָ֖ה לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶ֑ם מִן־הַיַּרְדֵּ֗ן וְכָל־הַגּוֹיִם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הִכְרַ֔תִּי וְהַיָּ֥ם הַגָּד֖וֹל מְב֥וֹא הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃

[3] Hebrew: מְב֥וֹא הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃.

Joshua 23:1, 2: Aged Joshua Assembles Israel

[circa 1427 BC] Verse 1:[1] And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD (Josh. 21:44; 22:4) had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua (Josh. 13:1) waxed old and stricken in age (Heb. come into days[2]).

[With much time having passed] That is, thirteen years after the wars, and the time of the distribution of the land (Junius). It appears that these words were spoken in the last year of Joshua (Bonfrerius). While the people, wearied with war, were embracing a retired life, rather than willing to claim their inheritance (Masius). [What things Masius adds here will more opportunely be met in their own places.] This is a different assembly than that in chapter 24, although it is able to appear the same to some. Evidently pious Joshua at every opportunity often exhorted his own to piety, etc., although those two admonitions alone have been consigned to letters (Masius).

A long time; about fourteen years after it.


Verse 2:[3] And Joshua (Deut. 31:28; Josh. 24:1; 1 Chron. 28:1) called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age…

[He called] Question: To what place? Response: Either, 1. to Joshua’s city, Timnath-serah (Serarius, Menochius, Masius); or, 2. to Shiloh (Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). We see everywhere in Sacred Scripture the assemblies of the people held in the more sacred place (Bonfrerius).

Joshua called; either to his own city, or rather to Shiloh, the usual place of such assemblies, where his words being uttered before the Lord, were likely to have the more effect upon them.

[All Israel] Now, this universality is applied to those that were representing all the people (Masius). He explains himself, when he says, their elders, etc. (Drusius). Some from the individual tribes and cities, as they were able with convenience (Bonfrerius).

[And those older with respect to birth, etc.] Elders that were furnished with prudence, even if they were not discharging any public office at that time (Bonfrerius). Others otherwise: There were four degrees of offices in each city (Dieu) [which all come together here]. 1. זְקֵנִים, Elders, or the Senate/ Eldership, or the Judges of the Sanhedrin (Masius, Drusius, Dieu). Whether this was only the primary Senate, or each municipal Senate as well, is not sufficiently demonstrated (Masius). 2. Princes, רָאשָׁיו: its Nobles (Junius and Tremellius). Who were in charge of the individual tribes (Masius, Drusius): who are also called the heads of thousands, or Chiliarchs (Drusius); and the heads of the people (Masius). Its heads (Malvenda, Bonfrerius), namely, the most honorable in each tribe and family (Bonfrerius). רָאשֵׁי אָבוֹת, heads of the fathers,[4] or of the families (Dieu). 3. Leaders, שֺׁפְטָיו, Judges, who were pronouncing the law (Dieu): not only those that adjudicate lawsuits, but who hold a principal magistracy among the people (Masius). 4. Magistrates, שֺׁטְרָיו: Attendants on a magistrate (Masius, Dieu). Who were executing the matters decided in judgment, and were driving the people to their duties with staff and whip (Dieu). [Concerning these see what things were said on Joshua 1:10 and elsewhere.]

For all Israel; not all the people in their own persons, who could not either come thither, or hear him there; but in their representatives, by their elders, heads, judges, and officers, which are here added for the restriction and explication of that general expression. And for, or, even for, etc.

[And he said, I have grown old, etc.] This is the exordium of the oration, by which he makes them attentive, etc. Nearly all by an instinct of nature revere the elderly, especially those distinguished with glory and authority (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיְהִי֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים אַ֠חֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר־הֵנִ֙יחַ יְהוָ֧ה לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מִכָּל־אֹיְבֵיהֶ֖ם מִסָּבִ֑יב וִיהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִֽים׃.

[3] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֤א יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ לְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לִזְקֵנָיו֙ וּלְרָאשָׁ֔יו וּלְשֹׁפְטָ֖יו וּלְשֹֽׁטְרָ֑יו וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אֲנִ֣י זָקַ֔נְתִּי בָּ֖אתִי בַּיָּמִֽים׃

[4] See Exodus 6:25; Joshua 14:1; 19:51; 21:1.

Joshua 23 Outline

Joshua being old assembles the people; declares the wonders God had wrought for them, and would work, in expelling the Canaanites, 1-5. Exhorts them to be courageous, to observe the law, and beware of idolatry, 6-8; which he enforces by former benefits, and promises, 9-11; by threatenings, 12-16.