Joshua 1:10, 11: Joshua Prepares for Jordan’s Crossing

Verse 10:[1]  Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying…

[The Princes, שֹׁטְרֵי[2]Prefects (Montanus); scribes (Septuagint); prefects and scribes (Syriac); exactors (Jonathan); the more eminent (Arabic); the governors of the people (Junius and Tremellius); heralds, attendants (Vatablus); counselors (Masius).  These discharged those duties, which among the Romans were performed by Apparitors,[3] Stators,[4] Heralds.  It belonged to them to divulge to the people what things please the Magistrate, and to coerce, if needful, or to impel the people to do something.  From Deuteronomy 16:18, it appears to have been brought to pass that their individual Judges had their שֹׁטְרִים/officers (Masius).  Concerning this word we treated in Exodus 18:25.  Yet here it appears to be taken more broadly, for whatever Magistrate or Judge, or (which I prefer) for the highest Judges and the supreme Magistrates of the tribes (Bonfrerius).


Verse 11:[5]  Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for (Josh. 3:2; see Deut. 9:1; 11:31) within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

[Prepare you rations[6]]   צֵידָהsignifies food taken in hunting[7] (Piscator[8]).  Nevertheless, it is often used for whatever sort of food (Masius), as in Genesis 42:25[9] (Malvenda).  They translate it, provision for a journey (Syriac, Arabic, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus); supplies (Jonathan); rations (Septuagint).  Question:  What then was this?  Response:  Either, 1.  Manna prepared through the usual beating and cooking (Menochius).  This does not satisfy.  1.  The Manna had not yet failed, Joshua 5:12:  is that, therefore, which was daily raining down, to be prepared?  2.  To preserve that was contrary to the precept of God, Exodus 16 (Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius).  Or, 2.  other rations or provisions beyond the Manna, which was nearly worthless to them (Malvenda out of Masius).  The more sumptuous provisions that they had bought from the neighboring peoples, Deuteronomy 2:6, 28 (Masius, Lapide).  Or, the booty that they had taken from the kingdoms of Og and Bashan:[10]  that is to say, slaughter, cook, salt, and preserve in vessels, the sheep and oxen taken there (Lapide).  Manna was to them in the place of bread, but צֵידָה was provisions (Kimchi[11] in Masius).  From here and Deuteronomy 29:6, it is not spoken of flesh, but only of bread and wine, ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine and strong drink (Lapide).  I understand flour of wheat and of barley, which they plundered from the Amorites, which, because it would not be in sufficient abundance for them, Manna is granted to them (Bonfrerius).  Or, 3.  whatever would be needful for the journey and for the approaching war (Rabbi Salomon[12] and Josephus in Masius, thus Junius).  But that notion of this word is unusual (Masius).  Question:  But for what purpose would rations be prepared, while Manna was still raining down?  Responses:  1.  He does not prescribe, but advises and permits, the eating of more sumptuous rations, so that they might not be able to complain (Bonfrerius).  He did not want them to complaim in their first entrance.  2.  Their enemies were able, as it were, to surround them in a ring, and to harass them with unremitting battle, and so to hinder them from that collection and preparation of the evaporating Manna[13] (Serarius).

Prepare you victuals; for although manna was given them to supply their want of ordinary provisions in the wilderness; yet they were allowed, when they had opportunity, to purchase other provisions, and did so, Deuteronomy 2:6, 28.  And now having been some time in the land of the Amorites, and together with manna used themselves to other food which that country plentifully supplied them with, they are warned to furnish themselves therewith for their approaching march.

[After the third day, etc.]  That is, not with the day of promulgation included (Vatablus).  But here a difficulty arises.  How is this true?  For in chapter 2 he sent spies, who, besides the time of going and returning, for three days were lying hidden in the mountains; and, with those having returned to Joshua, the Hebrews at the command of Joshua waited at Jordan another three days, Joshua 3:1, 2 (Lapide).  Thus seven days will have elapsed from that edict unto the crossing of Jordan.  But Moses died on the seventh day of the last month, or of Adar[14] (as the Hebrews assert):  That month has thirty days:  They mourned for Moses for thirty days:[15]  The mourning for Moses was ended on the sixth day of the first month, or of Nisan:  Therefore, the spies were not able to be sent away before the seventh day, etc. (for, while that mourning continues, they think it a sin to do other things).  But it is evident that on the tenth day they crossed the Jordan (Masius).  Response 1:  The time of the death of Moses is uncertain, and concerning it the Talmudists disagree, with some thinking (as Kimchi testifies) it to have occurred in the month of Shevat,[16] others in the month of Adar.  Therefore, it could be said that on the third day of the month Nisan the scouts were sent forth, and returned on the sixth day, and that on the ninth day the people were instructed to purify themselves for tomorrow’s crossing[17] (Masius).  Response 2:  Joshua sent the scouts before they mourned Moses:  Thus Rabbia Isaiah and Kimchi.  It is not doubtful that immediately after the death of Moses Joshua was intent upon the expedition with his whole mind, and he carefully procured what he thought to be needful for its accomplishment, and so he may have sent the spies out with the mourning not yet finished (Masius); so that it is plausible that what things are related in the whole of chapter 2 were conducted before that edict, and that it is ὕστερον πρότερον, a hysteron proteron,[18] which is not unusual in the Sacred history (Masius, Lapide); and that thus the whole second chapter is to be place before this precept of Joshua (Lapide).  Response 3:  It is not at all absurd, if we say that on the same day Joshua determined beforehand three days for the people and sent the spies away, namely, on the seventh day of Nisan.  From Shittim[19] to Jordan there were only sixty stadia,[20] as Josephus testifies, and from there it was five miles to Jericho.  They were easily able to traverse this space within a few hours, and thus before evening sufficiently to spy out the city.  Having been let down from the wall on the same evening by Rahab, they were lying hidden three days, Joshua 2:16, that is, unto the third day, that is, unto the night that was closing the eighth day, and which according to the Hebrews was pertaining to the ninth day; on which night they returned to their General (Masius).  This response does not satisfy Bonfrerius.  For they did not arrive at and withdraw from Jericho on the same day, since they are said to have slept there, Joshua 2:8 (Bonfrerius on Joshua 2:1).  In Hebrew it is בְּע֣וֹד׀ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים, which they translate within three days[21] (Drusius, Tigurinus, Masius, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius).  Thus בְּעוֹד is taken in 2 Samuel 12:22;[22] Jeremiah 15:9[23] (Masius); Genesis 4:12[24] (Drusius).  Yet three days (Septuagint); for from this point for three days (Syriac); at the end of three days (Jonathan).  But others:  after three days (Munster, Pagnine).

Within three days.  Question.  How can this be, when the spies, who were not yet sent away, continued three days hid in the mountains, Joshua 2:22, and the people passed not over till three days after the spies returned? Joshua 3:2.  Answer.  These words, though placed here, seem not to have been delivered by Joshua till after the return of the spies; such transpositions being so frequent in Scripture, that interpreters have formed this general rule, that there is no certain order, no former nor latter, in the histories of the Scripture.  And hence it comes that these three days mentioned here below, after the history of the spies, are again repeated, Joshua 3:2.  Besides, the Septuagint render the words yet three days; and the Chaldee, in the end of three days; others, after three days, as it is Joshua 3:2.  Or these three days may be the same with those Joshua 2:22, and the matter may be conceived thus:  Joshua gives the people notice of their passage over Jordan within three days here, and at the same time sends away the spies, who return ere those three days be ended. For the three days, Joshua 2:22, may be understood of one whole day, and part of two other days, as it is in that famous instance, Matthew 27:63, of which see more on that place, and on Matthew 12:40.  The spies came to Jericho in the evening of the first day, and intended to lie there, Joshua 2:8; but being disturbed and affrighted by the search made after them, they go away that night into the mountains, and there abide the time mentioned.  Joshua having delivered this message from God to the Israelites, and sent away the spies, removes from Shittim to Jordan, Joshua 3:1, being sufficiently assured of his safe passage over Jordan, whatsoever became of the spies; and after those three days mentioned here were past, Joshua 3:2, he sends the officers to the people with a second message about the manner of their actual passing over.

[Ye shall pass over[25]]  Hebrew:  passing over (Montanus, Malvenda, Vatablus), understanding, ye shall be, that is, ye shall be prepared to pass over (Vatablus); ye are going to pass over (Junius and Tremellius, Syriac).

[To possess, לָרֶשֶׁת[26]To possess by hereditary right (Junius and Tremellius, Masius); that is to say, ye go not to lay waste, or to spoil, as in Numbers 31, but so that by the right of inheritance ye might occupy and possess (Masius).

[Which the Lord, יְהוָה]  This signifies power; as your God,[27] His most favorable and paternal will.  But now, where will has been conjoined with power, nothing is so difficult that it is not easily furnished (Masius).

[1] Hebrew:  וַיְצַ֣ו יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ אֶת־שֹׁטְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם לֵאמֹֽר׃

[2] שֹׁטֵר/officer appears to be derived from the verbal root שׁטר, to write.

[3] Apparitors were civil servants, assisting the magistrates.

[4] Stators served the provincial governors as messengers.

[5] Hebrew: עִבְר֣וּ׀ בְּקֶ֣רֶב הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֗ה וְצַוּ֤וּ אֶת־הָעָם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הָכִ֥ינוּ לָכֶ֖ם צֵידָ֑ה כִּ֞י בְּע֣וֹד׀ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים אַתֶּם֙ עֹֽבְרִים֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֣ן הַזֶּ֔ה לָבוֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶ֖ם לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ׃

[6] Hebrew:  הָכִ֥ינוּ לָכֶ֖ם צֵידָ֑ה.

[7] Here, צֵידָה is being related to צוד/game, and the verbal root צוּד, to hunt.

[8] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine.  He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584).  His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther.  Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians.  He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator.

[9] Genesis 42:25:  “Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision (צֵדָה) for the way:  and thus did he unto them.”

[10] See Numbers 21; Deuteronomy 3.

[11] David Kimchi (c. 1160-1235) was a Spanish Rabbi.  He wrote commentaries on a large part of the Old Testament and a Hebrew grammar, as a result of which he has had an enduring impact upon the history of interpretation, Jewish and Christian..

[12] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time.  It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century.  He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation.  He also authored the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud.

[13] See Exodus 16:21.

[14] That is, February-March on the Gregorian calendar.

[15] Deuteronomy 34:8.

[16] That is, January-February on the Gregorian calendar.

[17] Joshua 3:5.

[18] Hysteron proteron is a rhetorical device which presents ideas in an order other than their logical or chronological.

[19] Shittim is almost seven miles east of the Jordan, over against Jericho.

[20] There are six hundred and seven feet in a stadium.  Sixty stadia would be just short of seven miles.

[21] Joshua 1:11b:  “Prepare you victuals; for within three days (בְּע֣וֹד׀ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים) ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it.”

[22] 2 Samuel 12:22a:  “And he said, While (בְּעוֹד) the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept…”

[23] Jeremiah 15:9a:  “She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down within (בְּעֹד) the day …”

[24] It appears that Genesis 4:12 is an erroneous citation.  Perhaps Genesis 40:13 is intended:  “Yet within three days (בְּע֣וֹד׀ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים) shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place:  and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.”

[25] Hebrew:  אַתֶּם֙ עֹֽבְרִים֙.

[26] יָרַשׁ signifies to take possession, or to inherit.

[27] Joshua 1:11b:  “Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God (אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם) giveth you to possess it.”

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