Joshua 23:12
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:
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(12,13) if ye . . . make marriages with them . . . the Lord your God will no more drive out.—The common-sense of this warning is manifest. The God of Israel cannot treat as His enemies those whom Israel has united with itself, unless He also makes war on Israel. It was a long time before Israel learned the lesson how to live in the world without being of the world. It was not learnt until after the Babylonish captivity, and when learnt, it soon developed into a Pharisaical exclusiveness, which produced the very opposite effect to that which the law was intended to have.

Joshua 23:12-13. If ye in any wise go back — From God, and from his worship and service. They shall be snares and traps to you — By your converse with them, you will be drawn by degrees into their errors, and impieties, and brutish lusts. Thorns in your eyes — When they have seduced, and thereby weakened you, then they will molest and vex you, no less than a severe scourge doth a man’s sides which are lashed by it, or than a small thorn doth the eye when it is got within it. Till ye perish — They shall so persecute you, and fight against you with such success, that you shall be forced to quit your own land, and wander, you know not whither. Which must needs have been very terrible to them to think of, when they compared their present ease, and plenty, and safety, with the pains, and weariness, and hazards, and wants of their former wanderings.

23:11-16 Would we cleave to the Lord, we must always stand upon our guard, for many a soul is lost through carelessness. Love the Lord your God, and you will not leave him. Has God been thus true to you? Be not you false to him. He is faithful that has promised, Heb 10:23. The experience of every Christian witnesses the same truth. Conflicts may have been severe and long, trials great and many; but at the last he will acknowledge that goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life. Joshua states the fatal consequences of going back; know for a certainty it will be your ruin. The first step would be, friendship with idolaters; the next would be, marrying with them; the end of that would be, serving their gods. Thus the way of sin is down-hill, and those who have fellowship with sinners, cannot avoid having fellowship with sin. He describes the destruction he warns them of. The goodness of the heavenly Canaan, and the free and sure grant God has made of it, will add to the misery of those who shall for ever be shut out from it. Nothing will make them see how wretched they are, so much, as to see how happy they might have been. Let us watch and pray against temptation. Let us trust in God's faithfulness, love, and power; let us plead his promises, and cleave to his commandments, then we shall be happy in life, in death, and for ever.All Israel, and for their elders - Omit "and," which is not in the Hebrew. The meaning is that Joshua summoned to him all Israel as represented by its elders, etc. Deuteronomy 1:15. This gathering probably took place at the tabernacle at Shiloh. Jos 23:12. By Threatenings in Case of Disobedience.

12, 13. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations—As marriage connections with the idolatrous Canaanites would present many and strong temptations to transgress it, these were strictly prohibited (Ex 34:12-16; De 7:3). With his eye, as it were, upon those prohibitions, Joshua threatens them with the certain withdrawal of the divine aid in the further expulsion of the Canaanites (a threat founded Ex 23:33; Nu 33:55; De 7:16).

If ye go back, from God, and from his worship and service.

Go in unto them; the phrase notes the matrimonial act.

Else if ye do in any wise go back,.... From the Lord and his worship, from his word and ordinances:

and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even those that remain among you; in cities not taken, or in several which the Philistines were in possession of, or lived among them as tributaries to them, if they should take to them, and be free and familiar with them, which may lead on to nearer connections in civil and religious matters:

and shall make marriages with them; marry their daughters to the sons of Canaanites, or admit the daughters of Canaanites to be married to their sons:

and go in unto them, and they to you; which is expressive of the consummation of marriage, and of the performance of the conjugal duty,

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.”

Verse 12. - Go back. Literally, return. Cleave. A word (see ver. 8) signifying close and intimate relationship. And the intimacy of the relationship is indicated, as in ver. 8, by the use of the preposition בְּ. Make marriages with them. No closer or more intimate relationship is possible than this. Nothing, therefore, would be more certain to draw the Israelites away from their allegiance to God, and to seduce them and their children into the false and corrupt worship of the nations around them. "Unde deprecor vos qui fidelis estis, ut ita vitam vestram et conversationem servetis, ne in aliquo vel ipsi scandalum patiamini vel aliis scandalum faciatis; sit in vobis summi studii, summaeque cautelae, ne quis in hanc sanctam congregationem vestram pollutus introeat" (Orig., Hom. 21 on Joshua). Go in unto them. Rather, go among them. Spoken of the familiar intercourse of friendship. It is equivalent to our words "associate with them." Joshua 23:12For this reason the Lord had driven out great and strong nations before the Israelites, so that no one was able to stand before them. The first hemistich points to the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 9:1; Deuteronomy 11:23; the second to that of Deuteronomy 7:24; Deuteronomy 11:25. ואתּם is placed at the beginning absolutely. - In Joshua 23:10, the blessing of fidelity to the law which Israel had hitherto experienced, is described, as in Deuteronomy 32:30, upon the basis of the promise in Leviticus 26:7-8, and Deuteronomy 28:7, and in Joshua 23:10 the thought of Joshua 23:3 is repeated. To this there is attached, in Joshua 23:11-13, the admonition to take heed for the sake of their souls (cf. Deuteronomy 4:15), to love the Lord their God (on the love of God as the sum of the fulfilment of the law, see Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:13). For if they turned, i.e., gave up the faithfulness they had hitherto displayed towards Jehovah, and attached themselves to the remnant of these nations, made marriages with them, and entered into fellowship with them, which the Lord had expressly forbidden (Exodus 34:12-15; Deuteronomy 7:3), let them know that the Lord their God would not cut off these nations before them any more, but that they would be a snare and destruction to them. This threat is founded upon such passages of the law as Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 7:16, and more especially Numbers 33:55. The figure of a trap, which is employed here (see Exodus 10:7), is still further strengthened by פּח, a snare (cf. Isaiah 8:14-15). Shotet, a whip or scourge, an emphatic form of the word derived from the poel of שׁוּט, only occurs here. "Scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes" (see Numbers 33:55). Joshua crowds his figures together to depict the misery and oppression which would be sure to result from fellowship with the Canaanites, because, from his knowledge of the fickleness of the people, and the wickedness of the human heart in its natural state, he could foresee that the apostasy of the nation from the Lord, which Moses had foretold, would take place but too quickly; as it actually did, according to Judges 2:3., in the very next generation. The words "until ye perish," etc., resume the threat held out by Moses in Deuteronomy 11:17 (cf. Josh Deu 28:21.).
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