Joshua 18:3: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, (Judg. 18:9) How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

[How long will ye be weak with lethargy, מִתְרַפִּים[2]] The Hithpael Conjugation either intensifies the signification, and denotes a great and shameful idleness (Malvenda); or, signifies that the cause of the idleness was to be found in themselves (Masius). Are ye slow, remiss, negligent (Vatablus); will ye act remissly (Junius and Tremellius). Are ye of a remiss spirit, and are not entering to possess the land (Vatablus)?

How long are ye slack, etc.: This slackness is supposed to arise, partly, from their dissatisfaction in the portions already allotted, Judah’s being too large, as it appeared, and Joseph’s too narrow as they complained; partly, from an opinion of the impossibility of making any regular and equal distribution of the parts, till the whole were better known, and more exactly surveyed, which accordingly is here done; and partly, because being weary of war, and having sufficient plenty of all things in their present condition, they grew slothful and secure, and were unwilling to run into new hazards and wars, as they perceived, by Joshua’s answer to the tribe of Joseph, Joshua 17:15, etc., they were likely to do when they entered upon their several possessions.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל עַד־אָ֙נָה֙ אַתֶּ֣ם מִתְרַפִּ֔ים לָבוֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֔ם יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶֽם׃

[2] רָפָה signifies to relax.

1 thought on “Joshua 18:3: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Here, I. Joshua reproves those tribes which were yet unsettled that they did not bestir themselves to gain a settlement in the land which God had given them. Seven tribes were yet unprovided for, though sure of an inheritance, yet uncertain where it should be, and it seems in no great care about it, Joshua 18:2. And with them Joshua reasons (Joshua 18:3): How long are you slack? 1. They were too well pleased with their present condition, liked well enough to live in a body together, the more the merrier, and, like the Babel-builders, had no mind to be scattered abroad and break good company. The spoil of the cities they had taken served them to live plentifully upon for the present, and they banished the thoughts of time to come. Perhaps the tribes of Judah and Joseph, who had already received their inheritance in the countries next adjoining, were generous in entertaining their brethren who were yet unprovided for, so that they went from one good house to another among their friends, with which, instead of grudging that they were postponed, they were so well pleased that they cared not for going to houses of their own. 2. They were slothful and dilatory. It may be they wished the thing done, but had not spirit to stir in it, or move towards the doing of it, though it was so much for their own advantage; like the sluggard, that hides his hand in his bosom, and it grieves him to bring it to his mouth again. The countries that remained to be divided lay at a distance, and some parts of them in the hands of the Canaanites. If they go to take possession of them, the cities must be rebuilt or repaired, they must drive their flocks and herds a great way, and carry their wives and children to strange places, and this will not be done without care and pains, and breaking through some hardships; thus he that observes the wind shall not sow, and he that regards the clouds shall not reap, Ecclesiastes 11:4. Note, Many are diverted from real duties, and debarred from real comforts, by seeming difficulties. God by his grace has given us a title to a good land, the heavenly Canaan, but we are slack to take possession; we enter not into that rest, as we might by faith, and hope, and holy joy; we live not in heaven, as we might by setting our affections on things above and having our conversation there. How long shall it be thus with us? How long shall we thus stand in our own light, and forsake our own mercies for lying vanities? Joshua was sensible of the inconveniences of this delay, that, while they neglected to take possession of the land that was conquered, the Canaanites were recovering strength and spirit, and fortifying themselves in the places that were yet in their hands, which would make the total expulsion of them the more difficult. They would lose their advantages by not following their blow; and therefore, as an eagle stirreth up her nest, so Joshua stirs them up to take possession of their lot. He is ready to do his part, if they will but do theirs.’

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