Joshua 21:43-45: Israel’s Quiet Enjoyment of the Promised Land

Verse 43:[1] And the LORD gave unto Israel (Gen. 13:15; 15:18; 26:3; 28:4, 13) all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.

[And He gave…all the land] Question: How is this true, since the Canaanites were holding a great part of the land? Responses: 1. He gave with respect to right and dominion in the very distribution of the lots (Lapide, Bonfrerius). 2. And He gave a far greater part with respect to actual use and possession. 3. He gave all as He decreed and decided that He was going to give (Bonfrerius); not indeed at one and the same time, but successively, lest wild beasts multiply (Lyra, Lapide, Masius, Bonfrerius). See Joshua 13 (Lyra), and Exodus 23:29, 30 (Bonfrerius). Now, this condition, which He had added to His promise, was not burdensome, but advantageous, to the Israelites (Lapide out of Tostatus). He gave the land, as much as they were able to occupy to this point; and what parts the Canaanites hold, those they as tenants merely maintain and cultivate for the Israelites, as masters/owners, lest they run wild; and then the Canaanites were going to yield, when the Israelites, enlarged with offspring, were able themselves to come to occupy their estates. 4. The promises of God were according to the covenant, and under the condition that they fulfill their duty (Masius).

The LORD gave all the land, etc.: He gave them the right to all, and the actual possession of the greatest part of it, and power to possess the rest as soon as it was needful and convenient for them, which was by degrees, when their numbers were increased, etc., Exodus 23:29, 30, and the absolute dominion of all the people remaining in it.


Verse 44:[2] (Josh. 11:23; 22:4) And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and (Deut. 7:24) there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.

[And peace was given by Him, וַיָּ֙נַח יְהוָ֤ה לָהֶם֙] And He gave rest to them (Septuagint, Arabic, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius). Question: How is this true, since the Danites, driven into the mountains, were compelled to relinquish the valleys to the Canaanites? Response: It is true κατὰ συνεκδοχὴν, synecdochically, for most of the other Tribes were superior to their enemies. Just as in 1 Corinthians 15:5, He appeared to the twelve, although Judas, having been hanged, had burst asunder. But I, nothing doubting, would say that neither the Danites nor others fought with their enemies unsuccessfully, except after the death of Joshua and the elders, when with piety decaying the affairs of the Israelites also began to grow worse (Masius).

[And no one dared to resist] Hebrew: not a man stood…of all their enemies,[3] namely, whom the Israelites attacked, and were hostilely provoked by them (Junius, Malvenda).

There stood not a man of all their enemies before them: To wit, all the days of Joshua, by comparing Joshua 1:5, for afterwards it was otherwise with them.


Verse 45:[4] (Josh. 23:14) There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

[Not even one word…was void, לֹֽא־נָפַ֣ל דָּבָ֔ר] Not a word of every good word has fallen (Montanus, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac). No matter has perished (or, been omitted [Masius]) of all the good promises, etc. (Arabic, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Masius). The execution of that Divine benediction promised to the obedient, Deuteronomy 11:27, is here called a good matter (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּתֵּ֤ן יְהוָה֙ לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶת־כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖ע לָתֵ֣ת לַאֲבוֹתָ֑ם וַיִּרָשׁ֖וּהָ וַיֵּ֥שְׁבוּ בָֽהּ׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיָּ֙נַח יְהוָ֤ה לָהֶם֙ מִסָּבִ֔יב כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּ֖ע לַאֲבוֹתָ֑ם וְלֹא־עָ֙מַד אִ֤ישׁ בִּפְנֵיהֶם֙ מִכָּל־אֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם נָתַ֥ן יְהוָ֖ה בְּיָדָֽם׃

[3] Hebrew: וְלֹא־עָ֙מַד אִ֤ישׁ בִּפְנֵיהֶם֙ מִכָּל־אֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם.

[4] Hebrew: לֹֽא־נָפַ֣ל דָּבָ֔ר מִכֹּל֙ הַדָּבָ֣ר הַטּ֔וֹב אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל הַכֹּ֖ל בָּֽא׃

1 thought on “Joshua 21:43-45: Israel’s Quiet Enjoyment of the Promised Land

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘We have here the conclusion of this whole matter, the foregoing history summed up, and, to make it appear the more bright, compared with the promise of which it was the full accomplishment. God’s word and his works mutually illustrate each other. The performance makes the promise appear very true and the promise makes the performance appear very kind.

    I. God had promised to give the seed of Abraham the land of Canaan for a possession, and now at last he performed this promise (Joshua 21:43): They possessed it, and dwelt therein. Though they had often forfeited the benefit of that promise, and God had long delayed the performance of it, yet at last all difficulties were conquered, and Canaan was their own. And the promise of the heavenly Canaan is as sure to all God’s spiritual Israel, for it is the promise of him that cannot lie.

    II. God had promised to give them rest in that land, and now they had rest round about, rest from the fatigues of their travel through the wilderness (which tedious march, perhaps, was long in their bones), rest from their wars in Canaan, and the insults which their enemies there had at first offered them. They now dwelt, not only in habitations of their own, but those quiet and peaceable ones; though there were Canaanites that remained, yet none that had either strength or spirit to attack them, nor so much as give them an alarm. This rest continued till they by their own sin and folly put thorns into their own beds and their own eyes.

    III. God had promised to give them victory and success in their wars, and this promise likewise was fulfilled: There stood not a man before them, Joshua 21:44. They had the better in every battle, and which way soever they turned their forces they prospered. It is true there were Canaanites now remaining in many parts of the land, and such as afterwards made head against them, and became very formidable. But, 1. As to the present remains of the Canaanites, they were no contradiction to the promise, for God had said he would not drive them out all at once, but by little and little, Exodus 23:30. They had now as much in their full possession as they had occasion for and as they had hands to manage, so that the Canaanites only kept possession of some of the less cultivated parts of the country against the beasts of the field, till Israel, in process of time, should become numerous enough to replenish them. 2. As to the after prevalency of the Canaanites, that was purely the effect of Israel’s cowardice and slothfulness, and the punishment of their sinful inclination to the idolatries and other abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord would have cast out before them but that they harboured and indulged them. So that the foundation of God stands sure. Israel’s experience of God’s fidelity is here upon record, and is an acquittance under their hands to the honour of God, the vindication of his promise which had been so often distrusted, and the encouragement of all believers to the end of the world: There failed not any good thing, no, nor aught of any good thing (so full is it expressed), which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel, but in due time all came to pass, Joshua 21:45. Such an acknowledgment as this, here subscribed by Joshua in the name of all Israel, we afterwards find made by Solomon, and all Israel did in effect say Amen to it, 1 Kings 8:56. The inviolable truth of God’s promise, and the performance of it to the utmost, are what all the saints have been ready to bear their testimony to; and, if in any thing the performance has seemed to come short, they have been as ready to own that they themselves must bear all the blame.’

Leave a Comment