Joshua 23:14-16: Joshua’s Doctrine of the Two Ways

Verse 14:[1] And, behold, this day (1 Kings 2:2; see Heb. 9:27) I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that (Josh. 21:45; Luke 21:33) not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof…

[Today I am going into the way of all the earth,אָנֹכִ֤י הוֹלֵךְ֙ הַיּ֔וֹם בְּדֶ֖רֶךְ כָּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ] I am going to go today by the way of all the earth, that is, flesh: which is to say, today I am going to die, just as it is appointed for all men (Vatablus, Drusius). Thus 1 Kings 2:2, I go the way of all the earth, that is, I am dying. Plautus said, Who now depart unto the common place;[2] and, He entered unto the many.[3] For there are more dead than living. The way of the earth sometimes signifies sexual intercourse, Genesis 19:31. But by the Masters [that is, the Rabbis] even civil or political life is called the way of the earth (Drusius). [Junius and Tremellius translate it, I am going to depart soon; and they enclose this entire verse in parentheses, and connect verse 15 with verse 13.] He here impresses that the end of his life is near; evidently so that these words, as the last, they might take to heart and preserve in memory; and at the same time so that they might understand that after this they are going to have to live life for themselves in their own manner, and hence be circumspect, and more intent upon all the duties of life, since they are no longer going to have a counselor and guide for all their actions, in whose care they have hitherto been able to rest secure (Masius on verse 3).

Of all the earth, that is, of all flesh, or of all men; the way which all men go; I am about to die, as all men must, Hebrews 9:27. The same phrase is 1 Kings 2:2.

[And ye shall know with all your soul: that is, ye shall know fully and plainly; or, that is to say, attend with your whole soul (Lapide): וִידַעְתֶּם] Ye shall know (Montanus, Jonathan, similarly the Septuagint). Now, ye know, etc. (Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus). Know ye, therefore (Arabic, Pagnine). After ye have known, etc.; that is to say, I die most willingly now, since I see that ye have most securely been established concerning the trustworthiness and truth of the promises of God, so that ye might preserve His people in their duty; which matter I wish to be entrusted to you. See Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7, etc. (Junius).

Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that is, you know assuredly; your own experience puts it out of all question.

[Not one has been omitted, לֹא־נָפַל] It has not fallen (Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint) (perished [Junius and Tremellius], ceased [Syriac, Vatablus]); it was not void (Vatablus); it was not useless (Jonathan).

Not one thing hath failed. Question. How is this true, when so great a part of the promised land and people yet remain unconquered? Answer. God promised them to destroy all their enemies, and to give them the whole land, not at once, but by degrees, by little and little, as is expressed Deuteronomy 7:22, and as was most convenient for them.


Verse 15:[4] (Deut. 28:63) Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you (Lev. 26:16; Deut. 28:15, 16, etc.) all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

[Therefore, just as He hath fulfilled, etc.] That is to say, If the blessings have come to pass, as ye have experienced the very event; there is no reason why ye should be able to hope that the curses also are any less going to come to pass, Deuteronomy 28 (Masius on verse 3).

All evil things: The accomplishment of God’s promises is a pledge or assurance that he will also fulfil his threatenings; both of them depending upon the same ground, the faithfulness of God.


Verse 16:[5] When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

[Because ye will have transgressed the covenant of the Lord, etc., בְּעָבְרְכֶם וגו״] In transgressing (or, passing over [Jonathan]) you the covenant of the Lord[6] (Montanus). Seeing that ye have transgressed, etc. (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus). If ye transgress (Syriac, similarly the Arabic).

[From this land] There is emphasis below the surface; that is, which ye now possess, and acquired with much labor and time, and to which ye came with great desire (Menochius).

[Which God delivered to you] So that it might be distressing, to be spoiled of such a great blessing of God; so that it might be altogether ungrateful and criminal, to let it go by their guilt and sin (Menochius).

[1] Hebrew: וְהִנֵּ֙ה אָנֹכִ֤י הוֹלֵךְ֙ הַיּ֔וֹם בְּדֶ֖רֶךְ כָּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וִידַעְתֶּ֞ם בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֣ם וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁכֶ֗ם כִּ֣י לֹֽא־נָפַל֩ דָּבָ֙ר אֶחָ֜ד מִכֹּ֣ל׀ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הַטּוֹבִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֙ר דִּבֶּ֜ר יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם֙ עֲלֵיכֶ֔ם הַכֹּל֙ בָּ֣אוּ לָכֶ֔ם לֹֽא־נָפַ֥ל מִמֶּ֖נּוּ דָּבָ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃

[2] Prologue of Casina.

[3] Trinummus 2:2:14.

[4] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֗ה כַּאֲשֶׁר־בָּ֤א עֲלֵיכֶם֙ כָּל־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַטּ֔וֹב אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֛ר יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם כֵּן֩ יָבִ֙יא יְהוָ֜ה עֲלֵיכֶ֗ם אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדָּבָ֣ר הָרָ֔ע עַד־הַשְׁמִיד֣וֹ אוֹתְכֶ֗ם מֵ֠עַל הָאֲדָמָ֤ה הַטּוֹבָה֙ הַזֹּ֔את אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֔ם יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

[5] Hebrew: בְּ֠עָבְרְכֶם אֶת־בְּרִ֙ית יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה אֶתְכֶם֒ וַהֲלַכְתֶּ֗ם וַעֲבַדְתֶּם֙ אֱלֹהִ֣ים אֲחֵרִ֔ים וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶ֖ם לָהֶ֑ם וְחָרָ֤ה אַף־יְהוָה֙ בָּכֶ֔ם וַאֲבַדְתֶּ֣ם מְהֵרָ֔ה מֵעַל֙ הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר נָתַ֥ן לָכֶֽם׃

[6] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

3 thoughts on “Joshua 23:14-16: Joshua’s Doctrine of the Two Ways

  1. Robert Hawker’s “Poor Man’s Portions”: ‘”Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you.”—Josh 23:14

    Say, my soul, in looking back the past year, canst thou set thy seal to this truth? Is there a promise which thy God hath not fulfilled? Is there an instance in which God hath forfeited his word? Canst thou point to the time, or place, in any one trial, or under any one affliction, in which thou hast not found God faithful? Give then the Lord the honour due unto his name. If not one thing hath failed, proclaim his glory, set forth his praise, declare his truth, let the father to the children make known that God is faithful. And Oh let thine heart bear testimony to what must be said of all his Israel, in all ages, “What hath God wrought.”‘

  2. If you are wondering where you are headed, one of the surest ways to discern it is by the path of your feet. To what destination does this road run? The way of holiness and obedience runs to the destination of eternal life with Jesus. But be not deceived: The way of sin and disobedience runs to destruction and eternal ruin.

    Deuteronomy 30:9: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…”

    –Dr. Dilday

  3. Jonathan Edwards’ “History of Redemption”: ‘Hence we learn what great reason we have assuredly to expect the fulfilment of what yet remains to be fulfilled of things foretold in Scripture. The Scriptures foretell many great things yet to be fulfilled before the end of the world; but what great difficulties seem to be in the way! We seem at present to be very far from such a state as is foretold in the Scriptures; but yet we have abundant reason to expect, that these things, however seemingly difficult, will be accomplished in their season. We see the faithfulness of God to his promises hitherto; how true he has been to his church, and how he has remembered his mercy from generation to generation. We may say concerning what God has done hitherto for his church, as Joshua said to the children of Israel, Josh 23:14, “That not one thing hath failed of all that the Lord our God hath spoken concerning his church;” but all things are hitherto come to pass agreeable to the divine prediction. This should strengthen our faith in those promises, and encourage us, and stir us up to earnest prayer to God for the accomplishment of the great and glorious things which yet remain to be fulfilled.’

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