Joshua 24:19
And Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) And Joshua said . . . Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is . . . jealous . . .—Jehovah will not consent to be served as one God among many: the very thing which Israel was doing at the moment, which they meant to do, and did do, with rare intervals, down to the Babylonish captivity, when the evil spirit of (literal) idolatry was expelled for evermore. Israel always maintained the worship of Jehovah (except in very evil times) as the national Deity, but did not abstain from the recognition and partial worship of other national deities of whom they were afraid, and whom they thought it necessary to propitiate. Therefore Joshua’s argument is perfectly intelligible, and was entirely necessary for those times.

Joshua

THE NATIONAL OATH AT SHECHEM

Joshua 24:19 - Joshua 24:28
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We reach in this passage the close of an epoch. It narrates the last public act of Joshua and the last of the assembled people before they scatter ‘every man unto his inheritance.’ It was fitting that the transition from the nomad stage to that of settled abode in the land should be marked by the solemn renewal of the covenant, which is thus declared to be the willingly accepted law for the future national life. We have here the closing scene of that solemn assembly set before us.

The narrative carries us to Shechem, the lovely valley in the heart of the land, already consecrated by many patriarchal associations, and by that picturesque scene {Joshua 8:30 - Joshua 8:35}, when the gathered nation, ranged on the slopes of Ebal and Gerizim, listened to Joshua reading ‘all that Moses commanded.’ There, too, the coffin of Joseph, which had been reverently carried all through the desert and the war, was laid in the ground that Jacob had bought five hundred years ago, and which now had fallen to Joseph’s descendants, the tribe of Ephraim. There was another reason for the selection of Shechem for this renewal of the covenant. The gathered representatives of Israel stood, at Shechem, on the very soil where, long ago, Abram had made his first resting-place as a stranger in the land, and had received the first divine pledge, ‘unto thy seed will I give this land,’ and had piled beneath the oak of Moreh his first altar {of which the weathered stones might still be there} to ‘the Lord, who appeared unto him.’ It was fitting that this cradle of the nation should witness their vow, as it witnessed the fulfilment of God’s promise. What Plymouth Rock is to one side of the Atlantic, or Hastings Field to the other, Shechem was to Israel. Vows sworn there had sanctity added by the place. Nor did these remembrances exhaust the appropriateness of the site. The oak, which had waved green above Abram’s altar, had looked down on another significant incident in the life of Jacob, when, in preparation for his journey to Bethel, he had made a clean sweep of the idols of his household, and buried them ‘under the oak which was by Shechem’ {Genesis 35:2 - Genesis 35:4}. His very words are quoted by Joshua in his command, in Joshua 24:23, and it is impossible to overlook the intention to parallel the two events. The spot which had seen the earlier act of purification from idolatry was for that very reason chosen for the later. It is possible that the same tree at whose roots the idols from beyond the river, which Leah and Rachel had brought, had been buried, was that under which Joshua set up his memorial stone; and it is possible that the very stone had been part of Abram’s altar. But, in any case, the place was sacred by these past manifestations of God and devotions of the fathers, so that we need not wonder that Joshua selected it rather than Shiloh, where the ark was, for the scene of this national oath of obedience. Patriotism and devotion would both burn brighter in such an atmosphere. These considerations explain also the designation of the place as ‘the sanctuary of the Lord,’-a phrase which has led some to think of the Tabernacle, and apparently occasioned the Septuagint reading of ‘Shiloh’ instead of ‘Shechem’ in Joshua 24:1 and Joshua 24:25. The precise rendering of the preposition in Joshua 24:26 {which the Revised Version has put in the margin} shows that the Tabernacle is not meant; for how could the oak-tree be ‘in’ the Tabernacle? Clearly, the open space, hallowed by so many remembrances, and by the appearance to Abram, was regarded as a sanctuary.

The earlier part of this chapter shows that the people, by their representatives, responded with alacrity-which to Joshua seemed too eager-to his charge, and enumerated with too facile tongues God’s deliverances and benefits. His ear must have caught some tones of levity, if not of insincerity, in the lightly-made vow. So he meets it with a douche of cold water in Joshua 24:19 - Joshua 24:20, because he wishes to condense vaporous resolutions into something more tangible and permanent. Cold, judiciously applied, solidifies. Discouragements, rightly put, encourage. The best way to deepen and confirm good resolutions which have been too swiftly and inconsiderately formed, is to state very plainly all the difficulty of keeping them. The hand that seems to repel, often most powerfully attracts. There is no better way of turning a somewhat careless ‘we will’ into a persistent ‘nay, but we will’ than to interpose a ‘ye cannot.’ Many a boy has been made a sailor by the stories of hardships which his parents have meant as dissuasives. Joshua here is doing exactly what Jesus Christ often did. He refused glib vows because He desired whole hearts. His very longing that men should follow Him made Him send them back to bethink themselves when they promised to do it. ‘Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest!’ was answered by no recognition of the speaker’s enthusiasm, and by no word of pleasure or invitation, but by the apparently cold repulse: ‘Foxes have holes, birds of the air roosting-places; but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head. That is what you are offering to share. Do you stand to your words?’ So, when once ‘great multitudes’ came to Him He turned on them, with no invitation in His words, and told them the hard conditions of discipleship as being entire self-renunciation. He will have no soldiers enlisted under false pretences. They shall know the full difficulties and trials which they must meet; and if, knowing these, they still are willing to take His yoke upon them, then how exuberant and warm the welcome which He gives!

There is a real danger that this side of the evangelist’s work should be overlooked in the earnestness with which the other side is done. We cannot be too emphatic in our reiteration of Christ’s call to all the ‘weary and heavy-laden’ to come unto Him, nor too confident in our assurance that whosoever comes will not be ‘cast out’; but we may be, and, I fear, often are, defective in our repetition of Christ’s demand for entire surrender, and of His warning to intending disciples of what they are taking upon them. We shall repel no true seeker by duly emphasising the difficulties of the Christian course. Perhaps, if there were more plain speaking about these at the beginning, there would be fewer backsliders and dead professors with ‘a name to live.’ Christ ran the risk of the rich ruler’s going away sorrowful, and so should His messengers do. The sorrow tells of real desire, and the departure will sooner or later be exchanged for return with a deeper and more thorough purpose, if the earlier wish had any substance in it. If it had not, better that the consciousness of its hollowness should be forced upon the man, than that he should outwardly become what he is not really,-a Christian; for, in the one case, he may be led to reflection which may issue in thorough surrender; and in the other he will be a self-deceived deceiver, and probably an apostate.

Note the special form of Joshua’s warning. It turns mainly on two points,-the extent of the obligations which they were so lightly incurring, and the heavy penalties of their infraction. As to the former, the vow to ‘serve the Lord’ had been made, as he fears, with small consideration of what it meant. In heathenism, the ‘service’ of a god is a mere matter of outward acts of so-called worship. There is absolutely no connection between religion and morality in idolatrous systems. The notion that the service of a god implies any duties in common life beyond ceremonial ones is wholly foreign to paganism in all its forms. The establishment of the opposite idea is wholly the consequence of revelation. So we need not wonder if the pagan conception of service was here in the minds of the vowing assembly. If we look at their vow, as recorded in Joshua 24:16 - Joshua 24:18, we see nothing in it which necessarily implies a loftier idea. Jehovah is their national God, who has fought and conquered for them, therefore they will ‘serve Him.’ If we substitute Baal, or Chemosh, or Nebo, or Ra, for Jehovah, this is exactly what we read on Moabite stones and Assyrian tablets and Egyptian tombs. The reasons for the service, and the service itself, are both suspiciously external. We are not judging the people more harshly than Joshua did; for he clearly was not satisfied with them, and the tone of his answer sufficiently shows what he thought wrong in them. Observe that he does not call Jehovah ‘your God.’ He does so afterwards; but in this grave reply to their exuberant enthusiasm he speaks of Him only as ‘the Lord,’ as if he would put stress on the monotheistic conception, which, at all events, does not appear in the people’s words, and was probably dim in their thoughts. Then observe that he broadly asserts the impossibility of their serving the Lord; that is, of course, so long as they continued in their then tone of feeling about Him and His service.

Then observe the points in the character of God on which he dwells, as indicating the points which were left out of view by the people, and as fitted to rectify their notions of service. First, ‘He is an holy God.’ The scriptural idea of the holiness of God has a wider sweep than we often recognise. It fundamentally means His supreme and inaccessible elevation above the creature; which, of course, is manifested in His perfect separation from all sin, but has not regard to this only. Joshua here urges the infinite distance between man and God, and especially the infinite moral distance, in order to enforce a profounder conception of what goes to God’s service. A holy God cannot have unholy worshippers. His service can be no mere ceremonial, but must be the bowing of the whole man before His majesty, the aspiration of the whole man after His loftiness, the transformation of the whole man into the reflection of His purity, the approach of the unholy to the Holy through a sacrifice which puts away sin.

Further, He is ‘a jealous God.’ ‘Jealous’ is an ugly word, with repulsive associations, and its application to God has sometimes been explained in ugly fashion, and has actually repelled men. But, rightly looked at, what does it mean but that God desires our whole hearts for His own, and loves us so much, and is so desirous to pour His love into us, that He will have no rivals in our love? The metaphor of marriage, which puts His love to men in the tenderest form, underlies this word, so harsh on the surface, but so gracious at the core.

There is still abundant need for Joshua’s warning. We rejoice that it takes so little to be a Christian that the feeblest and simplest act of faith knits the soul to the all-forgiving Christ. But let us not forget that, on the other hand, it is hard to be a Christian indeed; for it means ‘forsaking all that we have,’ and loving God with all our powers. The measure of His love is the measure of His ‘jealousy,’ and He loves us no less than He did Israel. Unless our conceptions of His service are based upon our recognition of His holiness and demand for our all, we, too, ‘cannot serve the Lord.’

The other half of Joshua’s warnings refers to the penalties of the broken vows. These are put with extraordinary force. The declaration that the sins of the servants of God would not be forgiven is not, of course, to be taken so as to contradict the whole teaching of Scripture, but as meaning that the sins of His people cannot be left unpunished. The closer relation between God and them made retribution certain. The law of Israel’s existence, which its history ever since has exemplified, was here laid down, that their prosperity depended on their allegiance, and that their nearness to Him ensured His chastisement for their sin. ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.’

The remainder of the incident must be briefly disposed of. These warnings produced the desired effect; for Joshua did not seek to prevent, but to make more intelligent and firm, the people’s allegiance. The resolve, repeated after fuller knowledge, is the best reward, as it is the earnest hope, of the faithful teacher, whose apparent discouragements are meant to purify and deepen, not to repress, the faintest wish to serve God. Having tested their sincerity, he calls them to witness that their resolution is perfectly voluntary; and, on their endorsing it as their free choice, he requires the putting away of their ‘strange gods,’ and the surrender of their inward selves to Him who, by this their action as well as by His benefits, becomes in truth ‘the God of Israel.’ Attempts have been made to evade the implication that idolatry had crept in among the people; but there can be no doubt of the plain, sad meaning of the words. They are a quotation of Jacob’s, at the same spot, on a similar occasion centuries before. If there were no idols buried now under the old oak, it was not because there were none in Israel, but because they had not been brought by the people from their homes. Joshua’s commands are the practical outcome of his previous words. If God be ‘holy’ and ‘jealous,’ serving Him must demand the forsaking of all other gods, and the surrender of heart and self to Him. That is as true to-day as ever it was. The people accept the stringent requirement, and their repeated shout of obedience has a deeper tone than their first hasty utterance had. They have learned what service means,-that it includes more than ceremonies; and they are willing to obey His voice. Blessed those for whom the plain disclosure of all that they must give up to follow Him, only leads to the more assured and hearty response of willing surrender!

The simple but impressive ceremony which ratified the covenant thus renewed consisted of two parts,-the writing of the account of the transaction in ‘the book of the law’; and the erection of a great stone, whose grey strength stood beneath the green oak, a silent witness that Israel, by his own choice, after full knowledge of all that the vow meant, had reiterated his vow to be the Lord’s. Thus on the spot made sacred by so many ancient memories, the people ended their wandering and homeless life, and passed into the possession of the inheritance, through the portal of this fresh acceptance of the covenant, proclaiming thereby that they held the land on condition of serving God, and writing their own sentence in case of unfaithfulness. It was the last act of the assembled people, and the crown and close of Joshua’s career.Joshua 24:19. Ye cannot — He speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them, had been vain,) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he alleges not to discourage them from God’s service, but to make them more considerate in obliging themselves, and more resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God’s service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage, and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused, and withal your proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you while I live, and while the obligations which God has laid upon you in this land are fresh in remembrance, I cannot but fear that, after my decease, you will think the service of God burdensome, and therefore will cast it off and revolt from him, if you do not carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry. A jealous God — In the Hebrew, He is the holy Gods, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not endure a partner in his worship; you cannot serve him and idols together. Will not forgive — If you who own yourselves his people and servants shall wilfully transgress his laws, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what ye do, when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as, if you be sincere and faithful in God’s service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so, if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world.24:15-28 It is essential that the service of God's people be performed with a willing mind. For LOVE is the only genuine principle whence all acceptable service of God can spring. The Father seeks only such to worship him, as worship him in spirit and in truth. The carnal mind of man is enmity against God, therefore, is not capable of such spiritual worship. Hence the necessity of being born again. But numbers rest in mere forms, as tasks imposed upon them. Joshua puts them to their choice; but not as if it were indifferent whether they served God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is laid plainly before you. He resolves to do this, whatever others did. Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream. They must not do as the most do, but as the best do. And no one can behave himself as he ought in any station, who does not deeply consider his religious duties in family relations. The Israelites agree with Joshua, being influenced by the example of a man who had been so great a blessing to them; We also will serve the Lord. See how much good great men do, by their influence, if zealous in religion. Joshua brings them to express full purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord. They must come off from all confidence in their own sufficiency, else their purposes would be in vain. The service of God being made their deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant. He set up a monument of it. In this affecting manner Joshua took his last leave of them; if they perished, their blood would be upon their own heads. Though the house of God, the Lord's table, and even the walls and trees before which we have uttered our solemn purposes of serving him, would bear witness against us if we deny him, yet we may trust in him, that he will put his fear into our hearts, that we shall not depart from him. God alone can give grace, yet he blesses our endeavours to engage men to his service.Choose - Service of God in sincerity and truth can only result from a free and willing allegiance of the heart. This accordingly is what Joshua invites, as Moses had done before him (Deuteronomy 30:15 ff). 14-28. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth—After having enumerated so many grounds for national gratitude, Joshua calls on them to declare, in a public and solemn manner, whether they will be faithful and obedient to the God of Israel. He avowed this to be his own unalterable resolution, and urged them, if they were sincere in making a similar avowal, "to put away the strange gods that were among them"—a requirement which seems to imply that some were suspected of a strong hankering for, or concealed practice of, the idolatry, whether in the form of Zabaism, the fire-worship of their Chaldean ancestors, or the grosser superstitions of the Canaanites. Ye cannot serve the Lord: he speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them to do so, had been vain and ridiculous,) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he allegeth not to discourage them from God’s service, which is his great design to engage them in; but only to make them more considerate and cautious in obliging themselves, and more circumspect and resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God’s service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, as soon done as said; but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage, and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused; and withal your great and often manifested proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you whilst I live, and whilst the obligations which God hath laid upon you in this land are fresh in remembrance; I cannot but fear that after my decease you will think the service of God too hard and burdensome for you, and therefore will cast it off, and revolt from him, if you do not double your watch, and carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry, which I fear you will not do, but I do hereby exhort you to do.

He is a jealous God; he will not endure a co-rival or partner in his worship; you cannot serve him and idols together, as you will be inclined and tempted to do.

He will not forgive your transgressions; if you who own yourselves for his people and servants, shall wickedly and wilfully transgress his laws by idolatry or other crimes, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what you do when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as if you be sincere and faithful in God’s service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world. And Joshua said unto the people,.... To their heads and representatives now assembled together, and who had returned to him the preceding answer:

ye cannot serve the Lord; which he said not to discourage or deter them from serving the Lord, since it was his principal view, through the whole of this conversation with them, to engage them in it, but to observe to them their own inability and insufficiency of themselves to perform service acceptable to God; and therefore it became them to implore grace and strength from the Lord to assist them in it, and to depend upon that and not to lean to and trust in their own strength; as also to observe to them, that they could not serve him perfectly without any defect and failure in their service, for there is no man that does good and sins not; and therefore when a man has done all he can, he must not depend upon it for his justification before God; or consider it as his justifying righteousness, which was what that people were always prone to; some supply it,"you cannot serve the Lord with your images,''or along with them, so Vatablus:

for he is an holy God: perfectly holy, so that the best of men, and the heat of their services, are impure and unholy before him and will not bear to be compared with him, and therefore by no means to be trusted in; and it requires much grace and spiritual strength to perform any service that may be acceptable to him through Christ. In the Hebrew text it is, "for the Holy Ones are he": which may serve to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of the trinity of, persons in the unity of the divine Essence, or of the three divine holy Persons, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit, as the one God, see Isaiah 6:3,

he is a jealous God; of his honour and glory, and of his worship, in which he will admit of no rival, of no graven images, or any idols to be worshipped with him, or besides him; nor will he suffer the idol of men's righteousness to be set up in the room of, or in opposition to, the righteousness of God, even no services and works of men, be they ever so good, since they cannot be perfect before him:

he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins; even the transgressions and sins of such that forsake the worship and service of him, and fall into idolatry, or who seek for justification by their own services, these are both abominable to him; otherwise he is a God pardoning the iniquity, transgression, and sin, of all those who seek unto him and serve him, confess their sins, and renounce their own righteousness; see Exodus 23:21.

And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. Ye cannot serve the Lord] Joshua checks their hasty impulsiveness and confident protestation of fidelity, by reminding them of the difficulty involved in serving Jehovah aright; and he specially would have them dwell on (i) His holiness, and (ii) His jealousy. His words remind us of our Lord’s warnings in the Sermon on the Mount, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

he is a holy God] Comp. Leviticus 19:2; 1 Samuel 6:20; Psalm 99:5; Psalm 99:9; Isaiah 5:16. Holiness is the principle that guards the eternal distinction between Creator and creature, between God and man; it preserves the Divine dignity and majesty from being infringed by the Divine love; it eternally excludes everything evil and impure from the Divine nature. Comp. Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts.” See Martensen’s Christian Dogmatics, pp. 99, 100. The plural Elohim, here used, “directs attention to the infinite riches and infinite fulness contained in the one Divine Being, and therefore to the fact that, if we were to believe in innumerable gods, and endow them with perfection, they would still all be contained in the one Elohim.” Hengstenberg.

he is a jealous God] “Deus enim sanctus et fortis æmulator est,” Vulgate. “A strong feruent loouyere,” Wyclif. Numerous passages in the Prophets bring out the idea of God as One, Who requires of His people, whom He has married, the unbroken fidelity of marriage, and punishes most inflexibly any attachment to another god, any departure from Him, whilst He continues His blessings upon love and fidelity even to distant generations. Comp. Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:22; Ezekiel 16:60; Ezekiel 23:3; Ezekiel 23:8; Ezekiel 23:19; Hosea 2:16. “The Divine zeal is just the energy of Divine holiness. His jealousy turns especially against (1) idolatry, and (2) all sin, by which His holy Name is desecrated.” Oehler’s Theology of the Old Testament, i. 166, 167.

he will not forgive] Compare the words of God to Moses respecting the Angel of the Covenant, “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in him,” Exodus 23:21; and comp. Numbers 14:35; Deuteronomy 18:19; Jeremiah 5:7. Forgiveness is conditional on repentance and amendment of life.Verse 19. - And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord. Calvin thinks that Joshua said this to rouse the sluggish heart of the people to some sense of their duty. But this is quite contrary to the fact, for the heart of the people, as we have seen (ch. 22.), was not sluggish. As little can we accept the explanation of Michaelis, who paraphrases, "Ye will not be able, from merely human resolutions, to serve God." Joshua was stating nothing but a plain fact, which his own higher conception of the law had taught him, that the law was too "holy, just, and good" for it to be possible that Israel should keep it. He had forebodings of coming failure, when he looked on one side at the law with its stern morality and rigorous provisions, and the undisciplined, untamed people that he saw around him. True and faithful to the last, he set before them the law in all its majesty and fulness, the nature of its requirements, and the unsuspected dangers that lay in their weak and wayward hearts. No doubt he had a dim presentiment of the truth, to teach which, to St. Paul, required a miracle and three years' wrestling in Arabia, that by the deeds of the law "shall no flesh be justified in God's sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). As yet the Spirit of God had barely begun to unveil the figure of the Deliverer who was to declare at once God's righteousness and His forgiveness. Yet none the less did Joshua do his duty, and strove to brace up the Israelites to theirs, not by disguising the nature of the undertaking to which they were pledging themselves, but by causing them to be penetrated with a sense of its awfulness and of the solemn responsibilities which it entailed. St. Augustine thinks that Joshua detected in the Israelites already the signs of that self righteousness which St. Paul (Romans 10:3) blames, and that he wished to make them conscious of it. But this is hardly borne out by the narrative. He is a holy God. The pluralis excellentiae is used here in the case of the adjective as well as the substantive. This is to enhance the idea of the holiness which is an essential attribute of God. He is a Jealous God. The meaning is that God will not permit others to share the affections or rights which are His due alone. The word, which, as its root, "to be red," shows, was first applied to human affections, is yet transferred to God, since we can but approximate to His attributes by ideas derived from human relations. Not that God stoops to the meanness and unreasonableness of human jealousy. His vindication of His rights is no other than reasonable in Him. "His glory" He not only "will not," but cannot "give to another." And therefore, as a jealous man does, yet without his infirmity, God refuses to allow another to share in what is due to Himself alone. The word, as well as the existence of the Mosaic covenant, has no doubt led the prophets to use, as they do on innumerable occasions, the figure of a husband and wife (Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 23:25; Hosea 2:2, 13, 16 (margin), Hosea 2:19, 20) in describing the relations of God to His Church, and approximate to His attitude towards His people by the illustration of an injured husband towards a faithless wife (see also Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:15). He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins (see Exodus 23:21). There were many words used for "forgive" in Scripture: נשׁא כפר and סלה (see Pearson's learned note in his 'Treatise on the Creed,' Art. 10). The one here used signifies to remove or to bear the burden of guilt, corresponding to the word αἴρω in the New Testament. The word here translated" transgressions" is not the same as in Joshua 7:15, and the cognate word to the one rendered "transgressed" in Joshua 7:11, is here rendered "sins." It signifies a "breach of covenant," while the word translated" sins" is the equivalent of the Greek ἀματία. The last and greatest benefit which the Lord conferred upon the Israelites, was His leading them by miracles of His omnipotence across the Jordan into Canaan, delivering the Lords (or possessors) of Jericho," not "the rulers, i.e., the king and his heroes," as Knobel maintains (see 2 Samuel 21:12; 1 Samuel 23:11-12; and the commentary on Judges 9:6), "and all the tribes of Canaan into their hand," and sending hornets before them, so that they were able to drive out the Canaanites, particularly the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, though "not with their sword and their bow" (vid., Psalm 44:4); i.e., it was not with the weapons at their command that they were able to take the lands of these two kings. On the sending of hornets, as a figure used to represent peculiarly effective terrors, see at Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20. In this way the Lord gave the land to the Israelites, with its towns and its rich productions (vineyards and olive trees), without any trouble on their part of wearisome cultivation or planting, as Moses himself had promised them (Deuteronomy 6:10-11).
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