Joshua 23
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.
Ch. Joshua 23:1-16. Joshua’s first Farewell Address

1. had given rest] Comp. Joshua 21:43-44; Joshua 22:3-4.

waxed old] Comp. Joshua 13:1, “Now Joshua was old and stricken in years.”

stricken in age] Heb. come into days; “of ful eld age,” Wyclif.

And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age:
2. called for all Israel] Where we are not told. But perhaps at Timnath-serah (Joshua 19:50), or possibly at Shiloh. On the occasion of his second farewell discourse the tribes were convened at Shechem (Joshua 24:1).

and for their elders] The word “and” is not found in the Hebrew. If any word is to be supplied, it should be “even” or “namely”. The terms elders, heads, judges and officers are explanatory.

I am old] He begins by reminding them of his own advance in years.

And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.
3. the Lord your God is he] See Exodus 14:14. Of his own merits and exploits the modest hero makes no mention.

Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.
4. these nations that remain] Joshua reminds them that not only the nations who had been actually conquered, but the remnants still unsubdued, were delivered into their power.

And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
6. Be ye therefore very courageous] Joshua exhorts them to bravery and constancy in the same terms as he had been exhorted himself. See above, Joshua 1:7.

That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
7. That ye come not among these nations] He especially warns them against all intercourse with the heathen nations, and, above all, against any participation in their idolatries.

make mention of the name of their gods] “To make mention of the names of the gods (Exodus 23:13), to swear by them, to serve them with offerings, and to bow down to them, i.e. call upon them in prayer, represent the four expressions of divine worship.” See Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20.

But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.
For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
9. For the Lord] He again reminds them of the true Source of their strength, and to Whom they were indebted for their late victories.

One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.
10. One man of you] Comp. Leviticus 26:8; Jdg 3:31; Jdg 15:15; 2 Samuel 23:8.

Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.
Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
12. if ye do] “If ye do in any wise turn back, and cleave to the remnant of these nations, these that remain with you, and make marriages with them, and ye come among them, and they among you, know for a certainty that the protection of the Almighty will fail you, and His arm will no more give you success against them.”

Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
13. snares] The word thus rendered denotes (i) a net, trap-net, especially of a fowler; (ii) a snare such as seizes and holds beasts or men by the feet. Comp. Job 18:9, “the gin shall take him by the heel;” Jeremiah 18:22, “they have … hid snares for my feet.” The form of this trap-net appears from the passages Amos 3:5, and Psalm 69:22. It was in two parts, which, when set, were spread out upon the ground and slightly fastened with a stick, so that as soon as a bird or beast touched the stick, the parts flew up and enclosed the bird in the net, or caught the foot of the animal.

thorns in your eyes] The warnings of Joshua are severer even than those of Moses (Numbers 33:55), “nowe thanne wite зe that the Lord зoure God do hem not awey before зoure face, but to зow thei shulen be into a diche, and greene, and hurtynge of зoure side and a staak in зoure eyen, to the tyme that he doo зou a wey,” Wyclif.

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that 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.
14. I am going the way of all the earth] i.e. on the way to death, which a man goes and returns not; the way which all the earth, the whole world, must take, “into the land of darkness and the shadow of death.” Comp. Job 10:21; and 1 Kings 2:2, where the words are used by David in his last address to Solomon.

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 all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
15. it shall come to pass] He reiterates his solemn warning against backsliding, and recalls to their minds the promises and threats contained in the last address of Moses to the people.

all evil things] “whateuer thing of yuelis he manaasside;” Wyclif. Comp. Leviticus 26:14-39; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Deuteronomy 29:14-28; Deuteronomy 30:1-15. The sublimity of the denunciations of the Hebrew lawgiver contained in these passages “surpasses anything in the oratory or the poetry of the whole world. Nature is exhausted in furnishing terrific images; nothing, excepting the real horrors of the Jewish history—the miseries of their sieges, the cruelty, the contempt, the oppressions, the persecutions, which, for ages, this scattered and despised and detested nation have endured—can approach the tremendous maledictions which warned them against the violation of their Law.” Milman’s History of the Jews, i. 211.

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.
16. ye shall perish] The latter part of this 16th verse occurs word for word in Deuteronomy 11:17.

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