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M. 2553, UPON the death of Moses, Joshua, who had a long while been his prime minister, by From Josh. i.

er 3803. the command of God, undertook the conduct of the children of Israel; and, as it was a to the end.

Ant. Chris.

451, &c. very momentous charge, he was not a little anxious how he should be enabled to exe

or 1608.

cute it. He saw himself indeed at the head of six hundred thousand fighting men; but

then the nations which he was to subdue were a warlike and gigantic people, that had already taken the alarm, and therefore made early preparations for a defence; had for. tified their cities, and confederated their forces against him. And while he was musing on these things, to give him encouragement in his undertaking, † God was pleased to

+ It is the opinion of most interpreters, that, when ever God is said to speak to Moses, to Joshua, or any other pious man in the Old Testament, he does not VOL. II

do it by himself but by an angel only. This perhaps might be his most common way of communicating himself; but there want not several instances in ScripA

Ant. Chris.

A M. 2553, assure him that he would not fail to protect and assist him in it, in the same manner as &c. or 3803. he had done his predecessor Moses; and provided he took care to obey his laws, as Mo1451, &c. ses had done, make the whole land of Canaan a cheap and easy conquest to him: And or 1608.__therefore, without perplexing his mind any farther, he ordered him immediately to set about the work.


*The city of Jericho was just opposite to the place where he was to pass the river Jordan; and, as it was the first that he intended to attack, he thought it adviseable to send two spies thither to take a view of the situation, and strength, and avenues of the place. As soon as the spies were gone, he bade the officers go through the camp, and give the people notice, that within three days they were to pass the Jordan in or

ture, where God himself, or (as others will have it) the eternal Logos, converses with his servants. And this he may do, either by a mental locution, wherein he objects to their minds the express idea of what such a number of words would convey; or by a corporal locution, when he assumes an apparent body and speech, in the same manner that men speak. But in the place before us (whether it were an angel or God himself) he seems to have spoken to Joshau out of the Sanctuary, from whence he had spoken to him a little before Moses's death, and gave him en couragement to perform strenuously what he is now putting upon him. Deut. xxxi. 14. 23.

* Jericho was a city of Canaan, which afterwards fell to the lot of the tribe of Benjamin, about seven leagues distant from Jerusalem, and two from Jordan. Moses calls it likewise the city of palm trees, Deut. xxxiv. 3. because there were great numbers of them in the plains of Jericho; and not only of palm-trees, but, as Josephus tells us, (Antiq. lib. iv. c. 5.) balsam-trees likewise, which produced the precious liquor in such high esteem among the ancients. The plain of Jericho was watered with a rivulet, which was formerly salt and bitter, but was afterwards sweetened by the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings ii. 21, 22. whereupon the adjacent country, which was watered by it, became not only one of the most agreeable, but most fertile spots in all that country. As to the city itself, after it was destroyed by Joshua, it was, in the days of Ahab king of Israel, rebuilt by Hiel the Bethelite, 1 Kings xvi. 34. and, in the times of the last kings of Judea, yielded to none except Jerusalem. For it was adorned with a royal palace wherein Herod the Great died; with an hippodromus, or place where the Jewish nobility learned to ride the great-horse and other arts of chivalry; with an amphitheatre and other magnificent buildings; but, during the siege of Jerusalem, the treachery of its inhabitants provoked the Romans to destroy it. After the siege was over there was another city built, but not upon the same place where the two former stood; for the ruins of them are seen to this day. Of what account and big ness it was we have no certain information; but some later travellers inform us, that at present it is no more than a poor nasty village of the Arabs. Wells's Geography of the Old and New Testament, and Maundrell's Journey from Aleppo.

#2 Jordan is supposed to derive its name from the Hebrew word Jor, which signifies a spring, and Dan, which is a small town, and not far from the fountain

head of this river. It is certainly a river of very great note in holy writ, and of it the Jewish historian gives us the following account: "The head of this river has been thought to be Panion; but, in truth, it passes hither under ground, and the source of it is Phiala, an hundred and twenty furlongs from Cæsarea Philippi, a little on the right hand, and not much out of the way to Trachonis.-From the cave of Panion it crosses the bogs and fens of the lake Semechon, and, after a course of an hundred and twenty furlongs further, passes under the city of Julias, (or Bethsaida), and so over the lake Gennesareth or Tiberias, and then, running a long way through a wilderness or desart, it empties itself into the lake Asphaltites or the Dead Sea." Now, since the cave Panion lies at the foot of Mount Lebanos, and the lake Asphaltites reaches to the very extremity of the south of Judea, the river Jordan must extend its course quite from the northern to the southern boundary of the holy land. But the largeness of this river is far from being equal to its extent. It may be said indeed to have two banks, whereof the first and outermost is that to which the river does, or at least anciently did, overflow at some seasons of the year; but at present (whether the rapidity of the current has worn its channel deeper, or its waters are directed some other way) so it is, that it seems to have forgot its ancient great. ness: For "we (says Mr Maundrell) could discern no sign or probability of such overflowing, though we were there on the 30th of March, which is the proper time for its inundations. Nay, so far was the river from overflowing, that it ran at least two yards below the brink of its channel. After you have descended the outermost bank (continues he) you go about a furlong upon the level strand, before you come to the immediate bank of the river, which is so beset with bushes and trees, such as tamarisks, willows, oleanders, &c. that you can see no water until you have made your way through them. In this cover of the banks, lions and other wild creatures are said to hide themselves in summer, but upon the inundation of the river they are forced to dislodge." To which the prophet seems to allude in these words, "He shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan," Jer. xlix. 19. The river, in short, seems much diminished from its ancient grandeur; for it is not above twenty yards in breadth, though deep and muddy, and a little too rapid to swim over. Wells and Maundrell, ibid.

der to take possession of the promised land, and were therefore † to provide themselves From Josh. i. with victuals for their march. * The spies who were sent upon this hazardous expedi- to the end. tion got safe into the city, and took up their lodgings in a public-house, that was kept by a widow-woman whose name was Rahab. But they had not been long there before intelligence was brought to the king, so that he ordered the gates to be shut and search to be made for the men: But their hostess, having had some notice of it, hid them under some stalks of flax which lay drying #2 upon the roof of her house, and, when the king's officers came, she told them, "That there had indeed been two strangers there, who had made a short stay at her house, but that a little before sun-set they went away, but might easily be over-taken, because they had not been long gone:" Whereupon they sent out messengers after them, as far as the fords of Jordan, but in vain. Having thus eluded the king's officers, Rahab goes up to the spies, and tells them,— That she was very confident their God (who was the only true God both in heaven and earth) had delivered that country into their hands; that the actions which he had done for them, in making all opposition fall before them, had struck a panic fear into all its inhabitants; and that therefore, as she was confident that this would be the event, and had, in this instance, shewn them uncommon kindness, her only request was, that when they came against the city they would in return spare her's and her family's lives; for which she desired of them some assurance." An offer so generous and so unexpected, joined with so liberal a confession, could not but engage the two spies to a compliance with what she requested; and therefore they promised, and solemnly swore to her, that, whenever they became masters of the city, not only she and her family, but every one else that was found in her house, should be exempted from the common ruin. The gates were so closely shut and guarded, that there was no possibility of making their escape that way; but Rahab's house being happily situated upon the city-wall, as soon as it was conveniently dark, she first charged them to make to the neighbouring mountains, where they might keep themselves concealed until the messengers were returned,

†The Israelites usual food, while they sojourned in the wilderness, was manna; but as they approached the promised land, where they might have provision in an ordinary way, that miraculous bread did perhaps gradually decrease; and, in the space of a few days after this, was totally withdrawn. They were now in the countries of Sihon and Og, which they had lately conquered, and the victuals, which they were commanded to provide themselves with, were such as their new conquest afforded: For being after three days (Josh. iii. 1.) to remove very early in the morn. ing, they might not perhaps have had time to gather a sufficient quantity of manna, and to bake it, before they were obliged to march. Patrick's Commentary. The eastern writers tell us, that these spies (whom they make to be Caleb and Phineas) were valiant and religious men, and in the prime of their youth; that, to pass unobserved, they changed their habits, as if they had come from a distant country, and, if any one asked them any questions, their reply was to this effect: "We are people from the East, and our companions have heard of this powerful people, who were forty years in the wilderness without either guide or provision; and it was reported to us, that they had a God whom they called the King of heaven and earth, and who (as they say) hath given them both your and our country. Our principals have therefore sent us to find out the truth hereof, and to report it to them.-We have likewise heard

of their captain, whom they call Joshua the son of
Nun, who put the Amalekites to flight, who destroy-
ed Sihon and Og, the kings of Midian and Moab.
Woe therefore be to us, and you, and all that flee to
us for shelter! They are a people who pity none,
leave none alive, drive all out of their country, and
make peace with none. We are all accounted by
them infidels, profane, proud, and rebellious. Who-
ever of us or you, therefore, that intend to take care
of themselves, let them take their families and be
gone, lest they repent of their stay when it is too
late." By this means they imposed upon the peo-
ple; and (as Josephus informs us) went whither they
would, and saw whatever they had a mind to, without
any stop or question. They took a view of the walls,
the gates, the ramparts, and passed the whole day
for men of curiosity only, without any design. So
that if any credit may be given to this account, it was
but just that they, who thus imposed upon the Ca-
naanites, should, in the same manner, be imposed
upon by the Gibeonites. Chronicon Samaritanum
Arabicè Scriptum, p. 65. and Josephus's Antiq. lib. v.
c. 1.

** The roofs of houses were then very flat, and,
having probably battlements round them to secure
people from falling off, (as the manner of building
was afterwards among the Jews, Deut. xxii. 8.) were
made use of for places to walk, or at any time to lay
any kind of goods upon.

&c. or 3803.

or 1608.

A. M. 2553, and then let them down by a silken cord from one of her windows which faced the Ant. Chris. country. But before they parted, they agreed that this same cord, hung out at her 1451, &c. window, should be the token between them; and therefore they desired, that whoever she was minded to save, might, when their army approached the city, be kept within doors. The spies having thus luckily escaped, took Rahab's advice, and concealed themselves in the mountains, until those who were sent out to pursue them were returned to the city, and then they made the best of their way to the camp, where they informed Joshua of their whole adventure, and, withal, gave him to understand, that the general consternation which they found the people in, was to them a sure omen, that God Almighty intended to crown their armies with success.

Pleased with this news, Joshua gave orders for the army to decamp; but before he did that, he reminded the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, of the promise they had made Moses to assist their brethren in the conquest of Canaan ; † which they readily consented to do; and not only in that, but in every thing else he commanded them to do, promised to obey him with the same chearfulness that they had done Moses: So that forty thousand of them decamped with him, and fell down to the banks of the Jordan.

It was now in the time of the barley-harvest, (which in these hot countries falls early in the spring) when, by reason of hasty rain, and the melting of the snow upon Mount Lebanon, the river is generally full of water, and sometimes overflows its banks: And as soon as the army was come within a small distance of the place where it was intended they should cross, Joshua sent and communicated to every tribe the order that was to be observed in this solemn march. The priests, bearing the ark, were to begin the procession; each tribe, in the order in which they used to march, were to follow. When the priests were got into the middle of the channel, there they were to stand still, until the whole multitude was got safe to the other shore; and that this wonderful passage might be more regarded, they were all enjoined to sanctify themselves, by washing their clothes, avoiding all impurities, and abstaining from matrimonial intercourse the night before.

Before they crossed the river, Joshua, by God's direction, appointed twelve men, out of every tribe one, to chuse twelve stones (according to the number of their tribes) in the midst of the channel, where the priests, with the ark, were ordered to stand, and †2 there to set them up, (that they might be seen from each side of the river, when the waters were abated) as a monument of this great miracle; and to bring twelve more ashore with them for the like purpose.

With these orders and instructions the army set forward. The priests with the ark led the van; and as soon as they touched the river with their feet, the stream divided. The waters above went back, and rose up on heaps as far as the city +3 Adam; whilst those that were below, continuing their course towards the Dead Sea, opened a passage of above 16 or 18 miles for the Israelites to cross over; and all the time that they were

The two tribes and an half had the countries which had been lately conquered, and were now given to them in possession, to preserve against the attempts of the nations from whom they had taken them, and can hardly be supposed to go, one and all, along with their brethren to the conquest of their countries, which lay on the other side of the river Jordan. In the last muster of the army, they consisted of above an hundred thousand able soldiers; and we can hardly suppose, that, at this time, their nun ber was decreased. The forty thousand that went over Jordan, were but a part of them, and the rest were left behind to guard their new conquest against the vanquished nations, that had abundant reason to become their enemies.

Saurin, vol. iii. Dissertation i.

+ It has been a custom in all nations to erect monuments of stone, in order to preserve the memory of covenants, victories, and other great transactions; and though there was no inscription upon these stones, yet the number of them, and the place where they Jay (which was not at all stony) was sufficient to signify some memorable thing, which posterity would not fail to hand down from one generation to another. Patrick's Commentary on Joshua iv. 7.

+3 Adam or Adom, is a place situate on the banks of the river Jordan, towards the south of the sea of Cinnereth, or the sea of Galilee. Wells's Geography of the Old Testament.

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