Bible Commentaries
Joshua 1

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-18


The Conquest of the Land of Canaan

Joshua 1-12



The Preparation

Joshua 1:1 to Joshua 5:15

1. The Summons to the War,

Joshua 1:0

a. The Command of God to Joshua

Joshua 1:1-9

1Now [And1] after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord [Jehovah], it came to pass, that the Lord [Jehovah] spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore [and now2] arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto [into] the land which I do [omit: do] give to them, even [omit: even] to the children [sons3] of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said [דִּבַּרְתִּי properly: spoke] unto Moses. 4From the wilderness and this Lebanon even [and] unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast [border4]. 5There shall not any man be able to [Not a man shall] stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so [omit: so] will I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.5 6Be strong and of a good courage [strong and firm6]: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance [for a possession7] the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7Only be thou strong and very courageous [firm], that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or [Hebrews , 8] to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but [and] thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.9 9Have not I commanded thee? [,] Be strong and of a good courage [firm]; [?] be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord [Jehovah] thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

b. Joshua’s Command to the Leaders of the People, and to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the Half Tribe of Manasseh

Joshua 1:10-18

10Then Joshua commanded the officers [overseers10] of the people, saying, 11Pass through the host [camp] and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord [Jehovah] your God giveth you to possess it.

12And to the Reubenites [Reubenite], and to the Gadites [Gadite], and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 13Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord [Jehovah] commanded you, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] your God hath given [giveth] you rest, and hath given you this land. 14Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this [the other11] side [of the] Jordan; but ye shall pass [pass over] before your brethren armed [eager for war, or, in ranks12], all the mighty men of valour [strong heroes13], and help them; 15until the Lord [Jehovah] have given [shall give] your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed [shall possess] the land which the Lord [Jehovah] your God giveth them; then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy [possess] it, which Moses the Lord’s [Jehovah’s] servant gave you on this [the other] side [of the] Jordan toward the sun-rising. And they answered 16Joshua saying, All that thou commandest us, we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. 17According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things,14 so will 18we hearken unto thee: only the Lord [Jehovah] thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be [Every man] that doth rebel against thy commandment [literally, mouth], and will not hearken unto thy word, in all that thou commandest him [or, us] he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage [firm]


a. Joshua 1:1-9. The Command of God to Joshua. The history of the conquest of the land of Canaan, commencing here and constituting the first part of the Book of Joshua, connects itself closely with Deuteronomy. There, at the end, Joshua 34, the death of Moses is reported, Israel’s mourning for him described, and mention made of Joshua (Joshua 1:9) his successor, while yet Moses himself is once more celebrated in words of highest praise as a prophet and leader of the people without parallel in all the subsequent times. Only Samuel afterward in some sense reached the same level (Jeremiah 15:1). Here in Joshua 1:1, Moses, after notice of his death, is honorably entitled עֶבֶּד יי as in Joshua 1:7, as in Deuteronomy 34:5; Numbers 12:7-8, in a long series of places in our book (Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:13; Joshua 1:15; Joshua 8:31; Joshua 8:33; Joshua 9:24; Joshua 11:15; Joshua 12:6; Joshua 13:8; Joshua 14:7; Joshua 18:7; Joshua 22:2; Joshua 22:4-5), 1 Kings 8:56; 2Ki 18:12; 2 Kings 21:8; 2Ch 1:3; 2 Chronicles 24:6; Psalms 105:26. Sometimes also he is called עֶבֶד אֱלוֹהִים. Psa 90:1; 1 Chronicles 6:49; 2 Chronicles 24:9; Daniel 9:11; Nehemiah 10:29. Besides Moses there are so designated or so addressed by God: the Patriarchs,Deuteronomy 9:27, especially Abraham, Genesis 26:24; Psalms 105:6; Psalms 105:42; Job 1:8; Job 2:3; Job 42:7-8; Kings, as David (Psalms 18:1; Psalms 15:0 Psalms 36:1; Psa 78:70; 1 Kings 8:66; 2 Kings 8:19; Ezr. 37:24), and Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 31:16, as a theocratical leader, but Nebuchadnezzar also as one who executed God’s designs (Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10); Prophets, as Isaiah 20:3, whom God himself so names (Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:26; Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 26:5; Amos 3:7; Daniel 9:6, and often). Properly all the Israelites also are servants of God (Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 25:42-55) and recognize themselves as such, the authors of the Psalms most freely expressing this consciousness in their distinct individuality (Psalms 19:12; Psalms 19:14; Psa 34:23; Psalms 35:27; Psa 69:37; Psalms 90:16; Psalms 119:17; Psalms 119:65; Psalms 119:84; Psalms 119:122; Psalms 119:176; Psalms 135:14; Psalms 104:2). Hence in the second part of Isaiah, the whole people is so named (Isa 4:8-9; Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 44:1-2; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 48:20), and then again He who is the Israelite κατ’ ἐξοχήν, the Messiah, (Zechariah 3:8; Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:5; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 52:13-15; Isa 52:53). On the sense of this designation, see below under Doctrinal and Ethical.—Concerning Joshua see Introduction.

Moses’ Minister. Observe that Joshua is not spoken of as Moses’ servant, but as מְשָׁרֵח, minister; “adjutant,” we should now say, in so far as Moses was not law-giver but commander-in-chief. The formal installation of Joshua in this position is reported to us in Numbers 27:15 ff.

Jordan. הַיַּרְדֵּן, almost everywhere in the O. T. with the art., from the r. יָרַך “to go down,” or, when a stream is spoken of, “to flow.” “The Jordan therefore means, the ‘flowing’ [“the Descender,” Stanley], perhaps with allusion to its extremely abrupt fall and rapid course. At the present day it is called by the Arabs esh-Scheriah, ‘the drinking-place,’ occasionally with the addition el-Kebir, ‘the great.” The name el-Jurdun (Jordan), is however not unknown to the Arabic writers. ... The length of the Jordan from where it leaves the sea of Gennesaret to the Dead Sea is about sixty miles,” measured in a straight line [but following the sinuosities of the stream two hundred miles]. Furrer, Wanderungen, p. 155 Robinson, Phys. Geog. p. 144 ff. Von Raumer, Palästina, p. 54 ff.16

Joshua 1:4. Here the boundaries of Canaan are laid down very much as they are given in Deuteronomy 11:24. In the other passage, however, the wilderness, Lebanon, and the Euphrates are taken together as opposed to the great sea, while here, (1.) the wilderness and Lebanon (south and north), and then again (2.) the Euphrates and the great sea (east and west) are brought together. Substantially they amount to the same. The land should be bounded on the south by the Arabian desert, on the north by Mount Lebanon, on the east by the Euphrates, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, as was already promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21). Still more vaguely is it expressed (Exodus 23:31) “from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines,” and “from the desert unto the river” (Euphrates), while in Numbers 34:1-12; Joshua 8-19, the boundaries, stated only in a general way in our passage, are quite accurately fixed.

The territory to be occupied by the people of Israel is further and more exactly ascertained from the definition, “all the land of the Hittites.”

This Lebanon, as in Joshua 1:2 this Jordan, because the river was visible close at hand, and the mountain could be seen although at a great distance. הַלִּבָנוֹן (in prose always with the art.) is, from לָבַן “to be white,” the white mountain. Further particulars see in the Introduction, and in von Raumer p. 29 ff. Concerning the Hittites as well as the other Canaanitish peoples, comp. the Introduction, § 7.

Joshua 1:6. Be strong and firm. Luther translates finely but not accurately: “Be comforted and undismayed.” De Wette: “Be firm and strong.” Schroeder: “Be strong and firm,” Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 7:23. We prefer this rendering of חזק ואמץ, since the words, as J. H. Michaelis has noted, signify not firmness and strength in general, but the strength in the hands (חזק) and the firmness in the knees (אמץ, Isaiah 35:3, cf. Hebrews 12:12-13). Joshua must lay hold boldly and with a strong hand, and then when he has done so, allow nothing to drive him from his position. It will be noticed that in Joshua 1:6 we find simply repeated, in almost the same words, what has been said to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7; Deuteronomy 31:23, precisely as the promise Joshua 1:5 is a repetition of Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8.

Joshua 1:7-8, admonish Joshua to a careful observance of the law, in order that the great work laid on him by the Lord may be successfully accomplished. Not depart out of thy mouth, is the same as “to be continually in the mouth.” Joshua must, on the one hand, speak to the people in the words of the law, in order rightly to impress on them its sacred design, and on the other, must also ground himself always more deeply therein. Hence it is added:—

Thou shalt meditate therein day and night. We are not to think of this meditation as a learned study, but rather as a mature reflection upon the law by which Joshua penetrates more deeply into its meaning, and thus becomes qualified to speak more clearly, pointedly, and powerfully to the people. For to that particularly, and not to the “reading aloud,” as Bunsen explains it, is the reference in the command, that the law should not depart out of his mouth. Comp. Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Deuteronomy 17:19. Comp. further, Psalms 1:2, and on תצליח, Joshua 1:3 especially.

Joshua 1:9 : “The assurance gains in strength when to the positive חזק ואמץ there is added also the negative אל תערצ ואל־תחת, as in Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8.” Keil.

How did God speak to Joshua? By the Urim and Thummim, as Hess (Gesch. Jos. i. p. 29) supposes, appealing to Numbers 27:21, or, as most interpreters assume, immediately, by an inward revelation? Probably the latter, because, although we must admit that Joshua had been directed by God himself to employ the other means, and therewith the mediation of the high-priest, yet the Lord himself by whom—observe that—the initiative is here taken, was not bound to this means, as appears very clearly from the manifestation of the angel, Joshua 5:13-15. The Lord spoke to Joshua as he had spoken to Moses, and as he afterwards spoke to the prophets. Together with the divinely regulated office there went on this free communication of God’s purposes without disturbance to the functions of that office when they were in proper exercise, but sometimes also to awaken them to life when light and right was extinguished in Israel, 1 Samuel 3:0; Joel 1:13.

b. Joshua 1:10-18. The Command of Joshua to the Magistrates of the People as well as to the Reubenbenites, Gadites, and the Half Tribe of Manasseh.

After Joshua has received the command from God to cross the Jordan with the people, he adopts his plans and immediately enjoins upon the שִׁטרים (comp. Exodus 5:10; Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 16:18; Joshua 8:33; Joshua 23:2; Joshua 24:1) to go through the camp, and call on the people to provide themselves with victuals (the need of which is explained by the cessation of the manna, Joshua 5:12), since within three days the march would begin. This statement of time is not exact, since rather, as Keil also assumes, seven days in all intervene, namely, one day for the journey of the spies to Jericho, three days for their stay in the mountain, three days for the march from Shittim to the Jordan, and the delay there, after all which the crossing of the river took place. Keil says concerning this: “We give up the attempt to identify the three days in Joshua 3:2 with those mentioned in Joshua 1:11, since the text in Joshua 3:2 contains not the slightest hint of such a combination. The article is not found with ימים (Joshua 3:2) by which the שׁלשׁת ימים might be referred to Joshua 1:11; and we stand by the simple statements of the text, assuming that the spies were sent out immediately after the command in Joshua 1:11, probably on the same day, i. e. on the third of Nisan, that they returned after three full days, i. e. on the 6th of Nisan, at evening (Joshua 2:22), and that on the next morning, i. e. on the 7th of Nisan, Joshua broke up from Shittim, came on to the bank of the Jordan (Joshua 3:1), where he rested three days, and on the tenth effected the passage.” Not so Gerlach, who says rather: “As regards the chronological succession of these events, we see from Joshua 4:19 that the passage of the Jordan was effected on the tenth of the first month. That command of Joshua (Joshua 1:11) was given therefore on the 7th. Early the same day he sent out the spies, and they so quickly accomplished the journey of perhaps scarcely a dozen miles that they left Jericho before the approach of that night;” (but how does this agree with Joshua 2:2; Joshua 2:5 ff.?) “the three days which they spent in the mountain were not full days” (where are we told that?) “being the remainder of the 7th” (which must thus have been an uncommonly long day), “the 8th, and part of the 9th. On this last they returned to Joshua, and thus he was able, in accordance with his orders received early on the 7th, to cross over on the 10th. Thus we have a very satisfactory correspondence between the series of events and the successive dates.” The perplexity in which these two interpreters find themselves may be very simply cleared up if, with Knobel, we assume that the three days mentioned in Joshua 3:2 are identical with the three days here in Joshua 1:11, but that Joshua 2:0 was a separate report here worked in by the author, and in the insertion of which, attention was not paid to the exact determination of the dates.17

There follows now, Joshua 1:12-18, a special demand of Joshua upon the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. These had, according to Numbers 32:0 on account of their wealth in flocks and herds, received their possession in the land of the conquered Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, east of the Jordan. This was on the condition, however, that they should help the other tribes to conquer West Palestine; and Joshua now calls upon them to fulfill that condition and carry out the promise they had made. This they declare themselves ready to do.

Joshua 1:13. Remember the word which Moses commanded you, etc. Numbers 32:20-24 is quoted not literally but freely according to the sense, for מניח לכם does not occur in the passage cited,—a very beautiful expression: to afford rest, to cause to rest. It is the same as giving a dwelling-place secure and undisturbed by enemies (Deuteronomy 25:19), after the long, restless wanderings through the wilderness. The disobedient (Numbers 14:26 ff.) come not into this rest (Psalms 95:11); but not even this is the true rest, the full κατάπαυσις, the true σαββατισμός of the people of God, Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:8-9.

This land (Deuteronomy 3:18) as in Joshua 1:2, this Jordan, Joshua 1:4, this Lebanon: the land in which then the whole people as yet and the speaker also were, the land east of the Jordan,—while בּעבר, translated by Luther, De Wette, and Eng. Vers. “on this side,” means on that side, or beyond, and is employed from the writer’s point of view.

Joshua 1:14. חַמֵשִׁים is variously derived; either (Gesen.18 Fürst, [with whom agree Masius, De Wette, Keil]), from חֹמֶשׁ, lumbus, venter, tanquam, sedes, roboris = lumbis accincti, with which comp. Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:32חֲלוּצִים, or הֲלוּץ צָבָא); also Job 38:3; Luke 12:35; Eph 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13,—or, (Ewald) from חָמֵשׁ, five = arranged in fives, i. e., in companies. With this Knobel sides, in so far that in Exodus 13:18, he defines the word, which is met with only here and in Joshua 4:12; Exodus 13:18; Judges 7:11 (cf. also the חֻשׁים, Numbers 32:17, which should be amended to this form), as meaning, drawn together, collected, i. e., in separate divisions or fixed companies, as opposed to individual separateness and irregular dispersion. Knobel seeks the proper etymon in the Arabic with a comparison of the Heb. קָמַץ, to compress. We translate with Ewald, Knobel, and Bunsen, “arranged in companies.”19

But ye shall pass before, etc. So had they promised Numbers 32:17; Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:32.

All, not to be taken strictly, since according to Joshua 4:13, only forty thousand men went over, while the two and a half tribes had, according to Numbers 26:7; Numbers 26:18; Numbers 26:34, 110, 580 men.

Joshua 1:16-18 contain the joyful answer pervaded by the spirit of obedience and fraternal love, closing with the same call from the two and a half tribes, to be strong and firm, which God had addressed to Joshua. So David also addresses himself when he sings: Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thy heart, חֲזַק וְיַאְמֵץ לִבֶּךָ, Ps. 27:15.


1. If we would accurately determine the meaning of the distinguishing title “servant of Jehovah,” ascribed to Moses in Joshua 1:1, we cannot be content to say merely that it signifies a “worshipper of Jehovah” who may be also a messenger, an ambassador of Jehovah. We are concerned rather to know how it comes to pass at all that the pious worshippers and messengers of God are called his servants. The answer might be given in the following hints. In the first place, we must not forget that we are here on oriental ground, where kings and subjects stand related to each other as lords and slaves, where the inferior towards the superior studies the most humble submission and unconditional obedience, and expresses himself also in a proportionately humble manner (Genesis 44:27; Genesis 44:32; Daniel 10:17). And thus God himself appears only as under the figure of the Most High, the Ruler of all worlds, the Lord of Hosts, before whom all the world keeps silence (Hab. 3:20; Zechariah 2:13), before whom also on his throne, the seraphim veil their faces (Isaiah 6:0). He is, therefore, the master, men the servants. Those, however, among men (more particularly in Israel, the סִגֻלַּת יי, Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18) who serve him with special obedience, and, with extraordinary talent, like the angels in heaven (Job 4:18), perform his will, are called his servants in a preëminent sense. So Moses; before him Abraham; after him David, Hezekiah, the prophets; all Israel, moreover, in so far as they are, according to Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26; Isaiah 44:2, the Jeshurun, the beloved, pious people, who rightly (יְשֻׁרוּן from יָשָׁר) walk before Jehovah; and lastly the Messiah, since in Him all the excellences of his people are combined. In the second place, it is carefully to be considered that in the economy of redemption we are still on the ground of the old covenant, therefore on the ground of the Law, where God commands, and man has unconditionally to perform his dictates exactly to the letter, without any freedom whatever, hence as a slave, not as a child (Romans 8:15). Not even the most pious, therefore, can claim any higher distinction than this. A relation of freedom between God and man does not yet exist. Man stands yet under the law, not yet under grace (John 1:17); but precisely this absolute obedience leads to freedom. Moses is the instrument of effecting the deliverance of his people out of the slavery of Egypt, where they pined in the house of bondage (Exodus 20:2), the iron furnace (Deuteronomy 4:20); but the Messiah makes many righteous (Isaiah 53:11) and is a Servant, the Branch (Zechariah 3:9). In his time God gives holy increase, takes away the sins of the land in one day (Zechariah 3:9), and makes peace, so that one invites his neighbor under the vine and fig-tree (Zechariah 3:10). He is the true παῖς θεοῦ (Matthew 12:18; Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26; Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30), whom, on account of his obedience, God acknowledges as his Son; on which cf. Nitzsch, Treatise on the παῖς θεοῦ in the Acts (Studien u. Kritiken, 1828, 2).

2. The declaration in Joshua 1:4, that God has assigned to the people of Israel its portion of the earth, is in accordance with Deuteronomy 32:8 and Acts 17:26, in which passages he marks off to the nations their bounds. This is involved in God’s government of the world, which embraces everything, the least as well as the greatest, so that all accident is excluded. As He determines for each particular man his place on earth, by birth, education, external circumstances, so He determines for each people its habitation in congruity with the disposition and character which He has lent to them, and the design which He entertains concerning them. That was peculiarly the case with Israel, when He actually gave to them the land promised to the fathers, where they might in beautiful seclusion serve the Lord their God. True, the previous inhabitants must give way, but jure divino, because through their enervating idolatry they had forfeited the right to a historical existence. It is not just, therefore, in the manner of the Wolfenbüttler fragmentist, to charge God and his agents with cruelty and injustice, but rather to heed the fundamental laws of divine Providence, according to which also his judgments are executed. An analogy may be seen in the destruction of the Roman empire amid the storms of the northern invasions. See Introd. § 3.

3. The silent collection of one’s thoughts, holy meditation, is, in the over-busy activities of our time, an aid to all religious and moral life, which cannot be too earnestly recommended. It is enjoined upon Joshua in Joshua 1:8, in simple but very suitable words, and is necessary, in order that the soul may constantly remember its origin, that the heart may lose itself in God and his word, that from this inward concentration of the living faculties, word and deed may come forth in noble perfection. “Oratio, meditatio tentatio,” make not only the theologian, but in general every religious, pious, and, in his piety, morally capable, man.

4. The rest which God gives (Joshua 1:15) is, first, the secure possession of the land of Canaan which had been promised to the people of Israel. This מנוחה however is not, according to the view of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Joshua 4:8), the true rest, rather, since God long after Joshua offered through David (Hebrews 4:7) an entrance into rest, must go there still be another rest; “for if Joshua had brought them to the rest, He (God) would not speak of another day after this time” (Joshua 1:8). “Therefore,” the conclusion is from these arguments, “there yet remains (ἀπολείπεται) a Sabbath rest (σαββατισμός) for the people of God. For he who has entered into his (God’s) rest, has given himself also rest from his works” (i. e. the works of the labor-week). It is still to be carefully noted that to express this rest of God, not κατάπαυσις but, in allusion to Joshua 1:4, or to Genesis 2:2, the word σαββατισμός, occurring nowhere else in the N. T., is employed. The σαββατισμός is the completed κατάπαυσις, the holy and blessed Sabbath rest in eternity for the people of God, the Ισραήλ τοῦ θεοῦ, after the pilgrimage of life is finished with the toils of the hard week of our earthly existence. Of this rest the מנוחה in the earthly Canaan is a type. So speak the Rabbins also of the שַׁבֶּת הַנָּדוֹל (Tr. Thamid. f. 33, 2; Jabk. Rub. f. 95, 4). Compare also the beautiful, profoundly tender hymn by Jno. Sigmund Kunth (†1779), “A rest there is which yet awaits us.”


God’s command to Joshua that he should cross the Jordan, indicates (1) the task proposed to him; contains (2) the promise of his assistance in its accomplishment; but requires also (3) the conscientious observance of his law, in order to success; and closes (4) with another enlivening exhortation to the new leader of Israel.—As Moses was a servant of the Lord, so should we also be his servants, that we may be found faithful like him. (Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3:2)—Moses the servant of the Lord. Joshua as a type of a good servitor (not slave).—The earthly Canaan a type of the heavenly—God is faithful (Joshua 1:5). I will not fail thee nor forsake thee,—a promise; (1) its rich import; (2) under what conditions to be appropriated by a Christian to himself.—Be strong and firm, comforted and undismayed, a text in connection with Psalms 27, 46 of inexhaustible use for the field-worship of God.—Of fidelity to the commands of God.—How should a true general be characterized? (1) He should be strong and firm, but (2) also pious and conscientious, that all may go well with him.—Fear not, neither be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee in all which thou shalt do; to be well considered before the outbreak of a war, as well as before a battle.—Joshua and the Gileadite tribes; (1) his powerful appeal to them for fraternal assistance; (2) their cheerful answer (Joshua 1:12-18).—The Rest of the people of God: (1) Who gives it? (2) In what does it consist? (3) How do we attain to if? (Joshua 1:13). How beautiful when the call of a commander, or a governor of the people, meets with a joyful readiness on their part! Should we not so meet the claims which God himself by his Word makes on us, and especially those which call for brotherly help, even though sacrifices also be required?

Starke: O soul, remember here first of all the true Joshua, thy Saviour Jesus Christ, who has for thy good acquired the heavenly Canaan, to prepare for thee a place there, that thou also mayest dwell there and remain; fight, therefore, and subdue thy foes under the lead of thy Jesus, that thou mayest also one day take it. Whom God sends, him He also qualifies and procures for him authority and respect. The Bible and the sword with Christian rulers go very well together. O that these would also avail themselves rightly of both! One Christian should take upon him the necessity of another—and bear his burden. In the strife of Christianity also one should not be pusillanimous, but strong and firm (2 Timothy 2:3). A spirit that would all goods and blood fain for thy mere pleasure proffer, and the heart’s desires all offer, give me, Supreme Good, through thy precious blood.

Cramer: As the eyes of the servants are to the hands of their masters, and the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so should our eyes also look constantly to the Lord, Psalms 123:2. If God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). Christian rulers also are bound to submit themselves to God’s commands; it should not be with them, quod libet licet, i. e. what I please I do, 1 Kings 21:7.

Marginal note (of Luther): He who walks according to God’s words acts wisely and happily, but he who goes according to his own head acts unwisely and to no profit.

Bibl. Wirt.: In dangerous duties and circumstances there is no better comfort than when one has a regular call to the position, and God for his patron and protector. God’s command should be promptly performed without any long discussion as to whether we will do it or not; for God requires obedience.

Bibl. Tub: Consoling promise! O soul mark it well, for what God says to Joshua He says also to thee. Therefore be of good courage in the struggle with sin and Satan; God will stand by thee.

Osiander: We should (in many cases) firs care for our neighbors, for love seeks not her own, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Gerlach: The first revelation of God after the death of Moses installs Joshua formally in his office, gives him the double commission to lead the people into the promised land and to distribute this among them, renews the assurance of divine aid, and admonishes to steadfast fidelity towards God’s law and imperturbable confidence in Him (Joshua 1:1-9).

[Darby: “Every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon, that have I given you.” They must there, overcome the obstacles with the help and by the power of God, and take actual possession. .... They never took possession of all the land which God had given. Nevertheless to faith the promise was sure, Joshua 1:3. Spiritual strength and energy, the courage of faith, are necessary in order that the heart may be free from the influences, the fears, and the motives which act upon the natural man, and that he may take heed to the Word of God.

Matthew Henry: The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be so much the more diligent in doing good. Such and such are dead, and we must die shortly, therefore let us work while it is yet day. It is a great mercy if, when useful men are taken away in the midst of their usefulness others are raised up in their stead to go on where they broke off, Joshua 1:2. It is a great comfort to the rising generation of ministers and Christians that the same grace which was sufficient for those that went before them shall not be wanting to them if they be not wanting to themselves in the improvement of it (Joshua 1:5).—When God has given us rest we ought to consider how we may honor Him with the advantages of it, and what services we may do to our brethren who are unsettled, or not so well settled as we are (ver.15).—We must not so magnify them that are gone, how eminent so ever they were, either in the magistracy or in the ministry as to be wanting in the honor and duty we owe to those that survive and succeed them.

G. R. B.: As Joshua received and doubtless profited by the admonition of his Gileadite brethren, so may the leaders in Israel at all times gain benefit from the pious and well intended, even though superfluous, counsels of God’s “plain people.”—Tr.]


[1][Joshua 1:1. The obvious and exact rendering of the conjunction here by “and” seems required to in indicate the true grammatical relation of this to the preceding books. It is a circumstance of some, although perhaps not great, significance, in respect to the composition of the historical books of the O. T. that, as the first four books of the Pentateuch are closely joined together by the copulative conjunction at the beginning of each after the first, so the historical books, with out exception as far as to First Chronicles, are thus linked to each other, and all to the Pentateuch as parts of one great whole. The Chronicles appear to make a new beginning; and various reasons might be assigned why Deuteronomy should in this point differ from the three preceding books of Moses.—Tr.]

[2][Joshua 1:2.—ועתָּה. In rare instances the conj. in this compound needs to be understood in an illative sense; but generally it marks the simple succession of thoughts, and what there is of inference is equivalently expressed by our “and now.” So, invariably, De Wette and Fay; but the English Version almost always renders as in this passage—Tr.]

[3][Joshua 1:2.—כְּוֵי יִשׂ׳. Fay also translates: “children of Is.,” De Wette, always, “sons.” This is exact and much more faithful to the spirit of the East which now, precisely as in ancient times, names a people with reference to its males, “the Beni Hassan,” “Beni Sakkar,” etc. So the Hebrew nation were the Beni Israel, even when, in many instances, probably the women and children were distinctly thought of; but generally the men were considered in a political respect as instar omnium.—Tr.]

[4][Joshua 1:4.—The word “coast” is in this book synonymous with border (boundary line), except in the three places, Joshua 9:1; Joshua 12:23; Joshua 19:29, where it was intended to denote “coast” in our present sense, but incorrectly, as would appear, in the last two passages. “Border” is what we should now say, and that, especially in the plural, signifies figuratively, like the Hebrew, “territory,” “tract,” “country.”—Tr.]

[5][Joshua 1:5.—Gesen. s. v. רָפָה: I will not cast thee off and not forsake thee. So substantially Fay; De Wette, on the contrary: I will not withdraw myself from thee, etc. “Fail thee,” etc., in our familiar expression, is, perhaps, as near the Hebrew as anything proposed.—Tr.]

[6][Joshua 1:6.—חֲזִק וֶאֱמַץ“ ‘Verbum חזק proprie notat vires quæ sunt in manibus ad prehendendum retinendum que viriliter; sicut contra אמץ firmitudinem, quæ in genibus est, ad consistendum, ne ab alio quis evertatur,’ Michaelis; (conf. תְאַמֵּץ Job 4:4, התְאַמֵּץ, 1 Kings 12:18, אָמֹץ, equus alacer, Zechariah 6:3.” Maurer.—Tr.]

[7][Joshua 1:7.—Fay here renders “divide for an inheritance” with the English Version, but De Wette gives simply “to partition,” and Gesenius appears to be abundantly warranted in saying, s. v. נָחַל, that “the specific idea of inheritance in this verb is rare.”—Tr.]

[8][Joshua 1:8—The expression is stronger with “and,” and “that vav is put as a disjunctive between words, i. q. or, is hardly supported by a single probable example.” Gesen. Lex. p. 266, Robinson’s Trans. Fay after this “and” supplies [not].—Tr.]

[9][Joshua 1:9.—תַּשְׂכִּיל should in consistency with Joshua 1:7 be translated “shalt thou prosper,” and the whole clause might then perhaps be rendered “for then shalt thou have success in thy way, and then shalt thou prosper.”—Tr.]

[10][Joshua 1:10.—To indicate distinctly the office of the שֹׁטִרִים, is desirable, but perhaps (with our scanty data) scarcely possible. While etymologically (r. שָׁטַר) scribe or clerk, would suit very well, yet from the passages cited in the exegetical notes on this verse, and from many others, it appears that the name designates a kind of overseer of a section of the people, in some way ordering them, and on the other hand representing his charge to the judge, governor, or commander to whom he was subordinate. Thus in Egypt they stood between the people and the task-masters. According to Numbers 16:18, the shoterim appear then to have been chosen from the elders of the people, and to have constituted sometimes a council of advisers, with Moses, and sometimes (Deuteronomy 1:16; Deuteronomy 16:18) a sub-magistracy who, in connection with the “Judges” dispensed justice to the people. Superintendent, overseer, or director (Fay: Vorsteher, Ordner), probably gives substantially the sense, but is not so clearly specific as we could wish.—Tr.]

[11][Joshua 1:14.—בְּעֵבֶר הַי׳. This phrase constantly denotes the region beyond the Jordan where the speaker then was: “Scriptor ex eo, in quo ipse constitutus erat, loco, i. e. ex Palestina rem metitur.” Maurer.—Tr.]

[12][Joshua 1:14.—Fay, in Schaaren. See the authorities in exegetical note.—Tr.]

[13][Joshua 1:14.—De Wette, Fay: alle streitbaren Manner. But while the English phrase “mighty men of valor,” implies something too marvelous, it may well be doubted whether גִּבּוֹרֵי הַחַיִל does not often convey the idea of special ability in the military service, from natural endowments or extraordinary experience of war, something like “heroes,” or “veterans in war.”—Tr.]

[14][Joshua 1:17.—A little more exactly for the sense: In all respects as we hearkened unto Moses, etc.—Tr.]

[15][It will be noticed by the reader of the English Bible that in references to the Psalms, the title sometimes counts as one verse.—Tr.]

[16][The article on the Jordan in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, will be found quite full and satisfactory. See also the art. “Palestine” in the same work; Bibl. Sacra, Aug. 1848, p. 396 ff., Nov. 1848, p. 764 ff., Apr. 1850, p. 393 ff. Lynch’s Expedition to the Dead Sea; Cruise of the Rob Roy on the Jordan, N. Y. 1870.—Tr.]

[17] [In his later work (Bib. Com. in loc.) Keil still denying that the “three days” here, Joshua 1:11, are the same as in Joshua 3:2, seeks to reconcile the present date with the actual time of the crossing, by assuming first that it is not meant that they should pass over within three days, but only begin to move towards it; and secondly, that although Joshua did design to reach the Jordan and cross it within three days, his intention was frustrated by the delay which his spies unexpectedly experienced. He says: “The designation’ in three days’ (i. e., as appears from a comparison of Genesis 40:13; Genesis 40:19 with Joshua 1:20, reckoning from the day of giving this command, on the third day following) ‘shall ye pass over the Jordan,’ is not to be taken as an announcement of the time within which the crossing should actually take place, but, with Vatabl, and J. J. Hess, as the term against which the people should be prepared for the crossing; as if he had said: Prepare you victuals in order to go over the Jordan within three days, i. e., in order then to break up from Shittim, to cross the Jordan and be able to commence the conquest of Canaan. Thus apprehended this, statement agrees with chapters 2 and 3 For according to Joshua 2:0. Joshua sent from Shittim spies to Jericho, who after their escape from that city had to hide themselves three days in the mountain, before they could come to the camp of Israel. They were absent therefore certainly three or four days, and returned at the earliest on the evening or in the night of the fourth day from that on which they were sent out. Not until then did the Israelites break up from Shittim in the morning, and moved to the Jordan, where they still tarried, and then after three days more, crossed over the stream. At the least, therefore, eight full days, 4+1+3, must have passed between the first mission of the spies and the passage of the Jordan by the people. Without doubt Joshua designed to march to the Jordan within three days from the sending of the spies, and to go over the river; and simultaneously with his command to the people to prepare to cross over within three days, he had sent the spies, so that he was warranted in hoping that they would have accomplished their errand and returned within two or three days. But since they, through the unforeseen discovery of their arrival in Jericho, and the chase of the pursuers, were obliged to hide themselves three days in the mountain, Joshua could not until the day after their return break up from Shittim, and proceed to the Jordan. Neither then could he immediately cross the river, but must tarry yet three days after his arrival at the brink.”

As this provides for the less of only three days of the eight, it would appear that Joshua’s “design” must have been still a miscalculation by at least two days. In other respects the explanation is not as successful as could be desired.—Tr.]

[18][Gesenius derives the word not from חֹמֶשׁ but from an assumed root חָמֶשׁ, acrem, strenuum esse; and the sense in which he understands the partic. is strenuus, alacer. Thes. p. 494.—Tr.]

[19][After all is said, the derivation remains very obscure and the considerations in favor of the two principal renderings very evenly balanced. For the meaning “armed” the lexicographers give little authority.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.