Joshua 1:1: God Commands Joshua to Lead on, Part 1

[1451 BC] Verse 1:[1] Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ (Ex. 24:13; Deut. 1:38) minister, saying…

[And it came to pass[2]] The particle ו/AND either is superfluous, after the custom of the Hebrews at the beginning of books (Bonfrerius); or continues the narration (Masius), and connects this book with the end of Deuteronomy: for this book follows the Acts of that in order (Lapide). And Joshua, who wrote this books, also wrote the end of Deuteronomy (Vatablus).

[After the death] Either, immediately, although they had not yet honored Moses, lest they should lose more time there; and so that the Passover, which was nearly absent, in the Promised Land might be able to be celebrated with due observance (Masius). But concerning these things see verse 11. Or, after thirty days of mourning for Moses (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius out of Josephus,[3] Serarius); at which time it is not obscurely indicated that they rested, Deuteronomy 34 (certain interpreters).

After the death of Moses; either immediately after it, or when the days of mourning for Moses were expired. Joshua was appointed and declared Moses’s successor in the government before this time, and therefore doubtless entered upon the government instantly after his death; and here he receives confirmation from God therein.

[The Servant of the Lord] Thus Moses is called, not only the his painstaking diligence in duties, but because of the office of rule (Masius).

The servant of the Lord: this title is given to Moses here and verse 2, as also Deuteronomy 34:5, and is oft repeated, not without cause; partly, to reflect honour upon him; partly, to give authority to his laws and writings, in publishing whereof he only acted as God’s servant, in his name and stead: and partly, that the Israelites might not think of Moses above what was meet, remembering that he was not the Lord himself, but only the Lord’s servant; and therefore not to be worshipped, nor yet to be too pertinaciously followed in all his institutions, when the Lord himself should come and abolish part of the Mosaical dispensation; it being but reasonable that he who was only a servant in God’s house, should give place to him who was the Son, and Heir, and Lord of it, as Christ was. See Hebrews 3:3, 5, 6.

[The the Lord spake] Through an Angel, either spiritually, casting before his mind the notions of these words, or corporally, appearing in an assumed body. Either is plausible (Lapide). [Masius here discusses the various modes in which God revealed His will.] God imbued the mind of Joshua with the information of the matters that are here written, no otherwise than if he heard God speaking with him face-to-face with a most distinct voice (Masius).

The Lord spake; either in a dream or vision, or by Urim, Numbers 27:21.

[The son of Nun] Ναυῆ/Naue.[4] It appears to be an error of the scribes, in the place of Ναῦν/Naun (Grotius[5]).

[Minister] He does not call him עֶבֶד/servent, but מְשָׁרֵת/minister; for, as a man of the first rank, he had not been devoted to the servitude of Moses, but he had dutifully waited upon him as an attendant (Masius).

Moses’s minister, that is, who had waited upon Moses in his great employments, and thereby been privy to his managery of the government, and so fitted and prepared for it.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י אַחֲרֵ֛י מ֥וֹת מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ בִּן־נ֔וּן מְשָׁרֵ֥ת מֹשֶׁ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיְהִי.

[3] 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.

[4] Thus the Septuagint.

[5] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many scholarly disciplines, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis.  His exegetical talents are displayed in his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum.  His dual interest in international law and theology brought him into conflict with civil authorities:  Embracing Arminian doctrine, he was imprisoned from 1618-1621 after the Synod of Dort declared against the position.

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