Commentary on the First Three Chapters of Joshua

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Josh 1:1 (NIV) After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide:

Josh 1:1 CMTY The first sentence in this book begins with the word "and" which is common in Hebew. Note that two words here refer to service: both Moses and Joshua are identified as servants. We are to see these men - and pattern ourselves after them - not as heroic leaders, but humble servants.

Josh 1:2 "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites.

Josh 1:3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

Josh 1:4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates--all the Hittite country--to the Great Sea on the west.

Josh 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Josh 1:5 CMTY This promise is what enables Joshua to do and to be all the things in this book recorded. Living in the continual presence of God is the highest good, and all other good things follow from it. This promise, which enabled Joshua to be "strong and courageous" in the next verse, extends also to us, i.e. to all Christians, as we enter into our "Promised Land," i.e. as we journey toward Heaven.

Josh 1:6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.

Josh 1:6 CMTY The people did inherit the land which was promised to them; but they later lost the last, because they broke the contract which was part of that promise.

Josh 1:7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Josh 1:7 CMTY God says to Joshua, "...that you may be successful" or "...that you may prosper." The Hebrew verb used here means to "understand, be wise, consider, instruct, be prudent, have skill, teach, be circumspect, wisely understand, to look at or upon, have insight, to give attention to, ponder, have comprehension, to act circumspectly, act prudently, act wisely, have success." God is not saying that, if you obey the Law, then you will get what you desire; rather, God is saying that, if you follow the Law, then you will be wise and enlightened, and able to make good decisions.

Josh 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Josh 1:8 CMTY God promises that the continual meditation upon His Word will bring not only the ability and insight to consider and decide, but will enable Joshua to be successful in his undertaking: to follow God's commands. This is not success as we often think of it; God promises that, if we study and revere His Word, then we will be successful in living according to it. This is success as measured by God, not by us.

Josh 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Josh 1:9 CMTY The "your" in the phrase "the Lord your God" is here singular.

Josh 1:10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people:

Josh 1:11 "Go through the camp and tell the people, `Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'"

Josh 1:11 CMTY The "your" in the phrase "the Lord your God" is here plural.

Josh 1:12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said,

Josh 1:13 "Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: `The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land.'

Josh 1:13 CMTY The phrase "the Lord your God" occurs 27 times in the book of Joshua.

Josh 1:14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers

Josh 1:15 until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise."

Josh 1:15 CMTY The "your" in the phrase "the Lord your God" is here plural.

Josh 1:16 Then they answered Joshua, "Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.

Josh 1:17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses.

Josh 1:18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!"

Josh 2:1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

Josh 2:1 CMTY The word here for "harlot" or "prostitute" could also possibly be rendered "hostess" or "innkeeper" (perhaps "waitress"). Yet the most likely translation is "prostitute". According to the Talmud, Rahab was very beautiful. The passage begins with the fact that they were sent in secrecy; the term used is "cheresh." Since this term reminds us of the word "cheres" - Hebrew for earthenware - our Sages deduct that they took along pottery to disguise themselves as traveling earthenware merchants. The Chidushei HaRim explains that Joshua had reason to choose clay vessels as the ware for the disguise, in order to remind them not to stumble as had the previous spies. Earthenware vessels differ from other vessels in that they do not accept spiritual defilement unless their interior comes into contact with the spiritually defiled. This is because, unlike metal, wood or glass, the clay from which they are formed has no importance; its sole significance is due to its form as a vessel. Spiritual impurity passes only when it contacts the important aspect of an entity, so regarding clay vessels, unless it touches the interior, which symbolizes the usefulness, the impurity will not pass on. Joshua wished the spies to understand that a man is like an earthenware vessel: His significance lies in his duty, he has no self importance. This thought would prevent them from diverting from their assignment.

Josh 2:2 The king of Jericho was told, "Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land."

Josh 2:2 CMTY The first city to be conquered by Joshua and the Israelites, Jericho relied on its impenetrable fortifications to withstand any attack. After receiving his spies' report that the fear of Israel gripped the city's inhabitants, Joshua led his army in a march around Jericho's massive walls for seven days. On the seventh day the walls miraculously gave way, allowing the Israelites to conquer the city. The walls did not actually "come tumbling down" as the old spiritual has it. Since they were as thick as they were high, such a tumble would have been meaningless. They sank into the ground, with only a small portion remaining above the ground to mark the miracle.

Josh 2:3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: "Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land."

Josh 2:4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.

Josh 2:5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them."

Josh 2:6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)

Josh 2:7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Josh 2:8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof

Josh 2:9 and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.

Josh 2:10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.

Josh 2:11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Josh 2:12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign

Josh 2:13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death."

Josh 2:14 "Our lives for your lives!" the men assured her. "If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land."

Josh 2:15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.

Josh 2:16 Now she had said to them, "Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way."

Josh 2:17 The men said to her, "This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us

Josh 2:18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.

Josh 2:19 If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him.

Josh 2:20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear."

Josh 2:21 "Agreed," she replied. "Let it be as you say." So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

Josh 2:22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them.

Josh 2:23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them.

Josh 2:24 They said to Joshua, "The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us."

Josh 3:1 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over.

Josh 3:2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp,

Josh 3:3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.

Josh 3:4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it."

Josh 3:5 Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."

Josh 3:6 Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them.

Josh 3:7 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.

Josh 3:8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: `When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'"

Josh 3:9 Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.

Josh 3:10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.

Josh 3:11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.

Josh 3:12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.

Josh 3:13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD--the Lord of all the earth--set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."

Josh 3:14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.

Josh 3:15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge,

Josh 3:16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.

Josh 3:17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

Josh 3:17 CMTY Another "baptism": passing through the waters into God's promises.

Josh 4:1 (NIV) When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua,

Josh 4:2 "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe,


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