Joshua 24:3: Memorial of God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel, Part 1

Verse 3:[1] And (Gen. 12:1; Acts 7:2, 3) I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and (Gen. 21:2, 3; Ps. 127:3) gave him Isaac.

[I brough, therefore, your father Abraham[2]] I think that I took has been put in the place of I called out, so that the kindness of God might appear the more illustrious, who brought him to Himself, taking him by the hand, as it were, not only freely, but while he was drawing back and turning away in the worship of rival gods (Masius).

I took your father; I apprehended him by my grace, and snatched him out of that idolatrous and wicked place, and took him into acquaintance and covenant with myself, which was the highest honour and happiness he was capable of.

[From Mesopotamia, מֵעֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֔ר] From the farther part of the river (Syriac); from the place or region that is across the river (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Bonfrerius). By which periphrasis Chaldea is also able to be indicated (which is called Mesopotamia repeatedly, although improperly [Bonfrerius]). It is certain that he was first called from Chaldea (Bonfrerius, Masius). Now, when he had persuaded his father Terah and Nachor, etc., to depart with him, and had arrived at Haran, they stopped there a number of years, either with the Divine stimuli gradually fading in the soul of Abraham, or because the purpose was irksome to the others. But a sense of responsibility was easily restraining him, since he was unwilling to leave his aged father. Being stirred by the death of his father, or by fresh inspiration, or even being properly mindful of the above, he conveyed himself to Canaan. But concerning these things see more on Genesis 12:1 and Acts 7:4 (Masius).

[I led him unto the land of Canaan[3]] And I led him throughout all the land of Canaan (Junius and Tremellius). He brings the Israelites back to the memory of that admirable goodness of God whereby God formerly preserved their father Abraham, a stranger and pilgrim no less,[4] magnified him with the greatest wealth,[5] and made him to be revered even by Kings[6] (Masius).

Led him throughout all the land of Canaan, that is, I brought him after his father’s death into Canaan, Genesis 12:1, and I conducted and preserved him in safety in all his travels through the several parts of Canaan.

[And I multiplied his seed, verse 4,[7] and gave him Isaac] The latter member is ἐξηγητικὸν/exegetical of the former, and the language of seed has regard to one, even Isaac, according to Genesis 21:12, in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Romans 9:8. Thus he shows the marvelous grace of God toward them, who, with others repudiated, had to do with only one, even Isaac; so that now they are obliged to appear most ungrateful, if they are not kept in mutual charity and piety toward Him. But why is the seed of Abraham said to have been multiplied, since only one son, Isaac, is mentioned as being born to him? Response: The multitude has regard to the posterity of Isaac (Masius). And I gave to him Isaac, that is, after I gave to him Isaac; that is, through Isaac I gave to him a numerous offspring (Vatablus).

Multiplied his seed, that is, gave him a numerous posterity, not only by Hagar and Keturah, but even by Sarah and by Isaac, as it follows. Gave him Isaac, by my special power and grace, to be the heir of my covenant, and all my promises, and the seed in or by which all nations were to be blessed, Genesis 12:3; 21:2.

[1] Hebrew: וָ֠אֶקַּח אֶת־אֲבִיכֶ֤ם אֶת־אַבְרָהָם֙ מֵעֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֔ר וָאוֹלֵ֥ךְ אוֹת֖וֹ בְּכָל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וָאֶרֶב֙ אֶת־זַרְע֔וֹ וָֽאֶתֶּן־ל֖וֹ אֶת־יִצְחָֽק׃

[2] Hebrew: וָ֠אֶקַּח אֶת־אֲבִיכֶ֤ם אֶת־אַבְרָהָם֙ .

[3] Hebrew: וָאוֹלֵ֥ךְ אוֹת֖וֹ בְּכָל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן.

[4] See Psalm 105:9-14; Genesis 12:17; 20:3.

[5] See, for example, Genesis 13:2; 24:35.

[6] See Genesis 14; 20:14-18; 21:21-32.

[7] In the Vulgate.

1 thought on “Joshua 24:3: Memorial of God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel, Part 1

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘ The doctrinal part is a history of the great things God had done for his people, and for their fathers before them. God by Joshua recounts the marvels of old: “I did so and so.” They must know and consider, not only that such and such things were done, but that God did them. It is a series of wonders that is here recorded, and perhaps many more were mentioned by Joshua, which for brevity’s sake are here omitted. See what God had wrought. (1.) He brought Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, Joshua 24:2-3. He and his ancestors had served other gods there, for it was the country in which, though celebrated for learning, idolatry, as some think, had its rise; there the world by wisdom knew not God. Abraham, who afterwards was the friend of God and the great favourite of heaven, was bred up in idolatry, and lived long in it, till God by his grace snatched him as a brand out of that burning. Let them remember that rock out of which they were hewn, and not relapse into that sin from which their fathers by a miracle of free grace were delivered. “I took him,” says God, “else he had never come out of that sinful state.” Hence Abraham’s justification is made by the apostle an instance of God’s justifying the ungodly, Romans 4:5. (2.) He brought him to Canaan, and built up his family, led him through the land to Shechem, where they now were, multiplied his seed by Ishmael, who begat twelve princes, but at last gave him Isaac the promised son, and in him multiplied his seed. When Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau, God provided an inheritance for Esau elsewhere in Mount Seir, that the land of Canaan might be reserved entire for the seed of Jacob, and the posterity of Esau might not pretend to a share in it.’

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