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[Yehoshua 1 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]
1 Now after the death of Moses [mot Moshe] the servant [Eved] of Yahweh it came to pass, that Yahweh spake unto Joshua the son of Nun[Yehoshua ben Nun] , Moses [Moshe]' minister [mesharet Moshe], saying,
God's words emphasised the reality of the situation: a vital period in Israel's history - spanning the exodus from Egypt to their arrival at the Promised Land - had ended. The death of Moses marked the end of a relatively short era. The nation now stood poised at the beginning of a new and exciting period in their history.
There could be no question as to whether Yahweh would remain faithful. Whilst Israel had languished in the land of Egypt, God had said: "I am come down now . . .to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. . ." (Ex. 3:8).
Now, as the Israelites had been brought to the Promised Land, Yahweh challenged the nation to respond to His fidelity.
Moses' final speech to the nation - the book of Deuteronomy - would have still been fresh in Joshua's mind...Words from Deuteronomy would have proven most encouraging to
Joshua. A man of faith, he would not readily dismiss from his mind thoughts of his friend and mentor, Moses. Understandably, the opening words of his book reflect the sombre sensitivity Joshua experienced at that time: "Now after the death of Moses. . ." Joshua would have known mixed feelings.
His faithful friend dead - one to whom Joshua had given deference as being the Leader appointed by God -Joshua now found himself occupying the position of Leader of his
people. The work before him was awesome, the responsibilities enormous. He recognised that his only hope of success lay in giving himself wholly to the work, and heeding and obeying the voice of Yahweh. *
2 Moses [Moshe] my servant [Avdi] is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan [Yarden], thou, and all this people [kol HaAm Hazeh], unto the land [HaAretz] which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel].
Yahweh will command His servants and direct their ways - but they must respond with appropriate action. "Let us labour, therefore, to enter into that rest. . ." (Heb. 4:11). Those who so labour must do so under the guidance and wisdom of God. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you . . ." (Mat. 7:7).
Throughout his life, Joshua showed a ready inclination to conform to this principle. Duly, God's instruction would be repeated to the people: "Arise! Go over!" How would the people manage to fulfil this order? It was now the period of March/April. The Jordan was in full flood, a fast flowing torrent. The Israelites, old and young, were to cross the river. But, how? They could not hope to do so in their own strength.
The entire nation would be totally dependent upon the power and goodness of their God.
Aware of this, Joshua raised no objection concerning the apparent difficulties. His mind was clear. He would await the further counsel of Yahweh, and proceed accordingly, in faith.
Joshua was fully persuaded that God would "give" them "the land" which He had promised to their fathers - provided the people were obedient to God's commands and proceeded in faith.
The idea of literally inheriting the land of promise has been the joyous hope of the faithful since God made His covenant with Abraham. "Those that wait upon Yahweh, they shall inherit the earth (eretz). . ." (Ps. 37:9).
This particular word is most interesting in the way it repeatedly stresses the hope of all true Israelites: "Thou shalt dwell in the land. . .They shall inherit the earth. . .the meek shall inherit the earth. . .Such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth . . The righteous shall inherit the land . . . Wait on Yahweh . . . and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land. . ." (Ps. 37:3, 9, 11, 22, 29, 34). *
5 There shall not any man [ish] be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses [Moshe], so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
God set about preparing Joshua for the work which was before him by encouraging Joshua to understand that the meaning of his own name was indeed true: Yahweh saves.
"There shall not any man be able to stand before thee. . ."he was told, in a direct quotation from Deut. 7:24 and 11:25. As God had been with Moses - and Joshua had witnessed the evidence of that - so He would be with Joshua.
" I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee", God assured him, with words taken from Deut. 31:6 *
Compare 2 Chron. 15:2. "Yahweh is with you while ye be with Him: and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you: but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you" *
6 Be strong [Chazak] and of a good courage: for unto this people [HaAm Hazeh] shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land [nachalah HaAretz], which I sware unto their fathers [avot]to give them.
Joshua was to have faith and confidence - not in himself, but in Yahweh. He was therefore told: "Be strong and of a good courage" or, "be firm and bold" (Roth.). The first word relates to seizing or fastening upon something, whereas the second word indicates a state of alertness. Hence, "Seize wholeheartedly upon the faith which will bring you through the coming trials and difficulties, and remain alert to see that your faith remains bright, so that you may be guided to do that which is right."
To achieve this state of mind it would be necessary for Joshua to continually and consistently turn to the word of God for guidance. *
7 Only be thou strong [chazak] and very courageous, that thou mayest observe [be shomer] to do according to all the law [kol HaTorah], which Moses [Moshe] my servant [Avdi ]commanded thee: turn not from it to the right [yamin] hand or to the left [semol], that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
The basic principle is clear: the only way to please God and to become successful in the warfare of faith is to obey Yahweh's word. There is no substitute for this. Salvation cannot be attained by any other means.
"Turn not from it (the word of God)", Joshua was warned, "to the right hand or to the left. . ." These words are quoted from Deut. 5:32. There can be no compromise with divine Truth. One may feel the urge to deviate, even from the loftiest of motives, but such action will not be tolerated by God.
If Joshua responded to this advice, he would "prosper" - a quotation from Deut. 29:9, which, significantly, had been addressed to the younger generation which, at that time, had been about to enter and take possession of the Promised Land. The word speaks of being "circumspect" and hence "exercising intelligence". A sound and intelligent understanding of the Truth will, when put into practical application in the life of the individual, result in a form of God-manifestation. And this was Yahweh's exhortation to Joshua.
"This book" which Moses had compiled under divine inspiration, was to become Joshua's guide. By the time Moses' life came to an end, a written "Bible" had come into existence for the guidance and instruction of Yahweh's people (cp. Deut. 6:6-9; 31:24-27).
In view of the fact that there was in existence at this time only one copy of the Law - which had been placed inside the ark - the question arises: how was Joshua to gain access to "this book" that he might "meditate therein, day and night. . ."? There appears only one answer: it would be necessary for Joshua to approach the High Priest to seek temporary possession of the Scroll. Then, following the procedure which was to be established among the kings who would ultimately follow, he would have to carefully and laboriously make a copy for his own use (cp. Deut. 31:26; 17:14-20).
The challenging question was balanced by a divine assurance: "Yahweh thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest. . ." *
Surely nothing was necessary on the part of Joshua in the face of this assurance! Did he not simply have to "stand still and see the salvation of God"? Such a conclusion would have been a great mistake. There is a time to stand still, but not when God proposes to work by us. All that is said concerning Joshua in this declaration pre-supposes his active, diligent, courageous, and care-taking cooperation. A clause is added expressly stipulating this, and to show that the fulfilment of the promise depended upon his faithful observance of the commandments....no man may presume upon God's cooperation who does not faithfully observe the conditions implied in all the promises. **
8 This book of the law [Sefer HaTorah] shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night [yomam valailah], that thou mayest observe [be shomer] to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way [derech] prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
The lesson is clear: there is no substitute for the word of God. This is a particularly impressive lesson, since Joshua would receive, from time to time, direct instructions from Yahweh either through Urim and Thummim or by direct revelation from an angel (Num. 27:21; Josh. 9:14; 3:7; 4:1; 5:13-15, etc.).
Despite various means of communication with the One Eternal Spirit, Joshua was still required to "meditate . . . day and night" upon the word of God. How much greater is this need to those who have no personal revelation from God?
If an individual approaches the word of God "in spirit and in truth" God speaks to them and instructs them every time they open His word and concentrate their attention thereon. Joshua was told clearly: "Meditate therein" - or, "thou must talk to thyself therein. . ." (Roth.). The latter rendering more literally follows the Hebrew text.
Of this expression, Gesenius says: "Probably to speak with one's self, murmuring in a low voice, as is often done by those who are musing." Merely reading the Bible as an exercise in
curiosity, is of little value: it is necessary to give intense concentration to such activity, endeavouring to attune the mind to the spirit of the word, striving to fully grasp and understand the significance of what God has caused to be written.
Like other men and women of faith, Joshua was required to indulge in this activity "day and night". In other words, it is necessary for theword of God to be in the hearts and minds of men and women at all times (cp. Ps. 1:1-2; Prov. 2:1-5; Mat. 22:29; 1 Tim. 4:16).
In studying the five books of Moses, Joshua was to "observe to do all" that had been "written therein. . ." The expression "observe to do" occurs more than seventy times in the book of Deuteronomy, in various tenses. Obviously, these are key words in Moses' final address
to the nation, and understandably so. The "word" is "made flesh" - or, becomes flesh - when the intellect is enlightened with the divine will, and the flesh is then brought into submission to Yahweh's will.
If Joshua submitted to this wise counsel, he would make his "way prosperous" - an expression which more literally means "to push forward". Thus, he would "push forward" positively in spiritual development if he "talked to himself day and night in the word of
God, and "observed to do" that which it required of him.
The means by which men and women might be led to eternal redemption has not changed. They must listen to the word of God, heed its message attentively, and walk according to God's will. *
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong [Chazak!] and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for Yahweh thy elohim is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
At first sight, it would seem as if such exhortations were altogether superfluous. Of what importance (It might have been asked) can the deportment of any human being be one way or other, in relation to a work of divine inception and guidance? The exhortations to Joshua show that it is not unimportant...it is plainly shown to us that the attitude of the servants of God is not a matter of indifference to God in the carrying out of a work of God.
God looks to them for that intrepidity and resolution which are so reasonable in the doing of anything God requires; and where the achievement of results contemplated by Him depends upon the instrument used, manifestly the behaviour of the instrument is a matter of first importance. Joshua was about to execute the divine mandate against the Amorites and to carry out the divine purpose in regard to Israel.
The realisation of both objects depended in some measure on his deportment. If he were fearful and faint, the circumstance would never arise in which God would have His opportunity, so to speak, of backing Israel's exertions for the accomplishment of the object in view. The circumstances were such as to make a man nervous; from which arose the need of exhortation. **
Thus Yahweh challenged Joshua: "Have not I commanded thee?" Certainly, He had. But the same question might be rightly directed to all believers, in every age: "Have not I commanded thee?" Every individual who has learned the message of God's word is required to obey Him, and to honour Him accordingly.
This represented a firm promise to Joshua: he would remain in fellowship with Yahweh so long as he remained faithful to the precepts which had been set before him. And the same assurance applies to all God's servants, in every generation. *
*Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times
10 Then Joshua [Yehoshua] commanded the officers of the people [Shotrei HaAm], saying,
11 Pass through the host [machaneh], and command the people [ HaAm], saying, Prepare you victuals [supplies]; for within 3 days [shloshet yamim] ye shall pass over this Jordan [Yarden], to go in to possess the land [HaAretz], which Yahweh your Elohim giveth you to possess it.
Having been strengthened and encouraged by Yahweh, Joshua now assumed his responsibilities. With the attributes of a faithful leader, he began to instruct the people. In doing so, he emphasised the value and purpose of fellowship in the Truth. He 'commanded the officers of the people. . ." The word rendered "commanded" occurs more than two hundred times in the books of Moses. God's will must always be received as a "command" on the part of His people, who are required to respond in loving obedience.
The "officers" (Heb., shoter) were administrators who assisted Joshua in his work of managing the affairs of the nation. The word has been derived from a word meaning "to write" (see Ex. 5:6, 10, 14;Num. 11:16, etc). These men were directed to "pass through" the encampment, and convey to all the instructions of Joshua. In instructing the people, there was one key word: "Prepare!"
No individual, or community of people, may embark upon the warfare of faith without due and adequate preparation (see Ezra 7:10; Prov.24:27; Rev. 19:7). They were told that they should prepare "victuals" - literally, "game". Which means that the manna was about to cease (cp. 5:12).
It is not difficult to discern the spiritual lesson: All who would walk in the way of the Truth to the kingdom of God must be fortified with the "meat" of the word of God. This is the only "food" which will sustain men and women who are in pursuit of such a goal (cp. John 6:27).
The people were told: "Within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which Yahweh your God giveth you to possess it."
This time period allowed for the absence and return of the two spies, who had already been sent out (cp. 2:1, where the phrase "Joshua . . . sent out . . . two spies") should be rendered in the past tense. Three days were also required to prepare the nation for their assembly at the bank of the river, ready to cross. This period of time also provides an interesting type: Having been put to death, it was on the third day that Christ rose from the tomb and made the "crossing" from Adamic nature - of which the Jordan was a type, as will be seen later - to receive his inheritance of divine nature.
The people were to take heart. No one knew how the crossing was to be effected, but they were to wait upon Yahweh. He "giveth you" the land, they had been told. They were to understand that the land did not belong to them through some inalienable right. An inheritance from God is a divinely-bestowed gift; it is not something earned upon the basis of merit. 'For by grace are ye saved", wrote Paul, "through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. . ." (Eph. 2:8).
An understanding of this principle should engender a spirit of humility within the hearts of those who seek the salvation which only Yahweh can provide. The people were also to be impressed by these words for another reason: if it was God's intention to "give" them the land, He would see that His purpose was brought to fruition. Yahweh would work; they could be sure of that. They had merely to exercise faith and patience, and meticulously perform everything that God asked of them.
12 And to the Reubenites [Reubeni], and to the Gadites [Gadi], and to half the tribe of Manasseh [Menasheh], spake Joshua [Yehoshua], saying,
The Israelites had earlier engaged in warfare against the Canaanites on the east of Jordan. Three of the tribes believed the land in that area admirably suited their needs, and decided to seek their inheritance there. These were the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh - although the latter tribe was later to receive additional territory on the west.
These tribes made their wishes known to Moses before his death (Num. 32:1-33). Their petition was granted, conditionally. Although victorious in the military campaigns on the east, these three tribes were not to rest from their labours, or bask contentedly in their newly-won inheritance. What of their brethren of the other tribes? The land on the west remained to be conquered.
They were to continue to support their brethren in their warfare to gain possession of the land on the west of Jordan. This provides a wonderful example of the responsibilities of fellowship in the Truth. God's servants are not to become satisfied with their own attainments, whilst their brethren struggle on, sometimes against considerable odds. The warfare of faith is not easy for anyone. Yahweh's people are required to help and support each other in a spirit of willing self-sacrifice and self-denial. Christ's disciples are not to live individualistic lives,
isolated from their brethren. Paul's attitude toward the Corinthians is representative of this ideal:
"I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. . ." And Peter wrote: "See that ye love one another. . ." (2 Cor. 12:15; 1 Pet. 1:22).
Joshua reminded the three tribes of the undertaking they had given to Moses in this regard. They showed no reluctance to fulfil their promise. They understood that "rest" would come only when all the tribes had been brought into their inheritance. But the "rest" attained at that time was not sustained, as the people became rebellious, failing to honour their commitments to Yahweh. Yet, the "rest" which was accomplished in that generation was typical of that which is to come: The "rest" of 1,000 years, which will be granted to all true spiritual Israelites. *
13 Remember the word [devar] which Moses [Moshe] the servant [Eved] of Yahweh commanded you, saying, Yahweh your elohim hath given you rest [menuchah], and hath given you this land [HaAretz Hazot].
There were before Joshua seven strong nations embattled behind high walls and fortresses, and possessing large armies in the field. He was in command of a large body of men, but in great part undisciplined, and whose defeat meant utter perdition to the whole congregation. The position was one for faith: the natural surroundings were suggestive of fear, and God's pledged word was the only basis of action. Consequently much depended on the courage of Joshua.
It is not difficult to see some guidance for ourselves here. It is a way of providence to make use of men's courage and enterprise in the accomplishment of even divinely-purposed results, concerning themselves or others. God could accomplish His purpose another way; but this is His way; and if one man lacks courage in the work of God, another will be found who is "strong and very courageous, and fears not." Our surroundings may be fraught with elements causing fear; it is ours not only to exercise faith but to exercise the courage and resolution which such a relation to God justifies.
It may be suggested that this lesson is misapplied to us as drawn from the case of Joshua, or any other servant of God who had specific work to perform. In truth, the argument works the other way; because if ever there were a case in which personal energy, and fortitude were immaterial, it might be imagined to be where the work to be done was clearly defined, and the divine pledge distinctly given. If Joshua required to be "strong and courageous," much more does it belong to us to be so, who have only general indications and assurances-not personal to ourselves. But the relation of the matter to us does not depend upon general arguments; the principle is visibly defined and distinctly applied in the New Testament in more ways than one. **
**Ways of Providence Ch 12
"There remaineth therefore (in the future) a rest to the people of God. . .Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest. . ." (Heb. 4:9-11).
The three tribes were to be the first to cross Jordan; thus, possibly, placing their lives in greater jeopardy than those of their brethren. Again, the spirit of self-sacrifice was stressed.
They were to "pass before" their brethren, "armed". As the margin correctly indicates, the expression relates to a body of men proceeding in ranks of five. An identical instruction had applied when Israel had come out of Egypt (cp. Ex. 13:18). The terminology speaks of orderliness, discipline and organisation.
In the Truth, individual and communal life should be like this. There is the need for the One Body of Christ to march forward "in step" in the Truth with everyone maintaining their rank (1 Thess. 5:14; Phil. 1:27). Harmonious cooperation is one of the most vital necessities in developing a profitable and contented Ecclesial environment.
"All the mighty men of valour" were to labour together, determinedly and courageously, for the good of all. And so it must be with all members of the Body of Christ:"For we are labourers together with God. . ." (1 Cor. 3:9). Also: "By love, serve one another. . ."
(Gal. 5:13). On this same theme, Paul wrote: "There should be no schisms in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. . ." (1 Cor. 12:25-26). *
15 Until Yahweh have given your brethren rest [achim menuchah], as He hath given you, and they also have possessed the land [HaAretz] which Yahweh your Elohim giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy [occupy] it, which Moses [Moshe] Yahweh's servant [Eved] gave you on this side Jordan [beyond Yarden] toward the sunrising [shemesh].
Joshua's final words on this subject were intended to inspire the people to exalted heights of faithfulness. He set before them a principle which has existed since the creation of man: walk in faith before the Creator, according to His will, and no man will be the loser thereby. There is a sure reward for all who serve Yahweh "in spirit and in truth." **Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times
Having listened thoughtfully to Joshua's remarks, the people responded warmly. They displayed four powerful spiritual qualities:
they said: "We will do. . ." - meaning that they would obey; they added: "Yahweh be with thee. . ." - showing that they would exercise faith and hope; they affirmed: "He that doth rebel . . . shall be put to death . . ." - indicating that they would repudiate sin; they encouraged Joshua: "Be strong, and of a good courage. . ." - showing that they would endorse sound leadership.
In this way, the people demonstrated that they were an "Ecclesia" united upon a sound basis. They were of one mind and one purpose (Acts 7:38; 1 Cor. 1:10; Rom. 15:6). The attitude of the Israelites at this time was of a high spiritual calibre. Yet, without detracting from their single-minded dedication, it is noteworthy to consider their circumstances.
Life in the Truth, in many respects, is much simpler and easier when conditions are most favourable. Strife or contention, strong opposition or fearful trials, can cause the attitude of individuals and communities to alter drastically. Faith must be perfected under trial. When pressures mount, faith is tested. Yet, faith provides the only effective counter to
spiritual weakness or declension.
"We must through much pressure enter into the kingdom of God. . ." (Acts 14:22, lit.).
Later, the people of Israel would face trials they had not previously known. Time and again they would find it necessary to draw heavily upon their spiritual resources. But what happens when spiritual resources are meagre or deficient? Faith may soon be driven from the mind, like chaff before the wind. From whence, then, will come the means by which the mind can be developed to think in harmony with God? Sadly, such an ability will be lacking if faith is abandoned.
When circumstances are comparatively tranquil and peaceful, it is vital that Yahweh's servants use such periods to build upon their faith, adding consistently to their understanding of divine things, and continuing unceasingly their search for divine wisdom. If this is not done, a great danger will continue to threaten the spiritual survival of the individual or the ecclesia. There will exist a house-built-upon-sand situation, which could well end in disaster (Mat. 7:24-27).
"Faith" provides the victory which "overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4). Rather than being permitted to weaken, faith must continue to grow. The early development of faith is the beginning of a period of exhilarating spiritual growth and awareness. The challenge of life in
the Truth is to continue to sustain such a disposition. The people wisely assured Joshua of their continuing allegiance.
"According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee. . ."
This appears to be a reference to Deut. 29:1, which begins to detail the additional covenant which Yahweh made with the younger generation who were to enter the land. There appears no record of rebellion against Moses from that time onward, although that period would have been a short one.