Verse 33. "And Eleazar-died" - Probably about the same time as Joshua, or soon after; though some think he outlived him six years. Thus, nearly all the persons who had witnessed the miracles of God in the wilderness were gathered to their fathers; and their descendants left in possession of the great inheritance, with the Law of God in their hands, and the bright example of their illustrious ancestors before their eyes. It must be added that they possessed every advantage necessary to make them a great, a wise, and a holy people. How they used, or rather how they abused, these advantages, their subsequent history, given in the sacred books, amply testifies.
"A hill that pertained to Phinehas his son" - This grant was probably made to Phinehas as a token of the respect of the whole nation, for his zeal, courage, and usefulness: for the priests had properly no inheritance. At the end of this verse the Septuagint add: - "In that day the children of Israel, taking up the ark of the covenant of God, carried it about with them, and Phinehas succeeded to the high priest's office in the place of his father until his death; and he was buried in Gabaath, which belonged to himself.
"Then the children of Israel went every man to his own place, and to his own city. "And the children of Israel worshipped Astarte and Ashtaroth, and the gods of the surrounding nations, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of Eglon king of Moab, and he tyrannized over them for eighteen years." THE last six verses in this chapter were, doubtless, not written by Joshua; for no man can give an account of his own death and burial.
Eleazar, Phinehas, or Samuel, might have added them, to bring down the narration so as to connect it with their own times; and thus preserve the thread of the history unbroken. This is a common case; many men write histories of their own lives, which, in the last circumstances, are finished by others, and who has ever thought of impeaching the authenticity of the preceding part, because the subsequent was the work of a different hand? Hirtius's supplement has never invalidated the authenticity of the Commentaries of Caesar, nor the work of Quintus Smyrnaeus, that of the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer; nor the 13th book of AEneid, by Mapheus Viggius, the authenticity of the preceding twelve, as the genuine work of Virgil. We should be thankful that an adequate and faithful hand has supplied those circumstances which the original author could not write, and without which the work would have been incomplete. Mr. Saurin has an excellent dissertation on this grand federal act formed by Joshua and the people of Israel on this very solemn occasion, of the substance of which the reader will not be displeased to find the following very short outline, which may be easily filled up by any whose business it is to instruct the public; for such a circumstance may with great propriety be brought before a Christian congregation at any time: -
"SEVEN things are to be considered in this renewal of the covenant.
I. The dignity of the mediator.
II. The freedom of those who contracted.
III. The necessity of the choice.
IV. The extent of the conditions.
V. The peril of the engagement.
VI. The solemnity of the acceptance.
VII. The nearness of the consequence.
"I. The dignity of the mediator. - Take a view of his names, Hosea and Jehoshua. God will save: he will save. The first is like a promise; the second, the fulfillment of that promise. God will save some time or other:-this is the very person by whom he will accomplish his promise. Take a view of Joshua's life: his faith, courage, constancy, heroism, and success. A remarkable type of Christ. See Heb. iv. 8.
"II. The freedom of those who contracted. - Take away the gods which your fathers served beyond the flood; and in Egypt, &c., Joshua xxiv. 14, &c. Joshua exhibits to the Israelites all the religions which were then known:
1.That of the Chaldeans, which consisted in the adoration of fire.
2.That of the Egyptians, which consisted in the worship of the ox Apis, cats, dogs, and serpents; which had been preceded by the worship even of vegetables, such as the onion, &c.
3.That of the people of Canaan, the principal objects of which were Astarte, (Venus), and Baal Peor, (Priapus.) Make remarks on the liberty of choice which every man has, and which God, in matters of religion, applies to, and calls into action.
"III. The necessity of the choice. - To be without religion, is to be without happiness here, and without any title to the kingdom of God. To have a false religion, is the broad road to perdition; and to have the true religion, and live agreeably to it, is the high road to heaven. Life is precarious-death is at the door-the Judge calls-much is to be done, and perhaps little time to do it in! Eternity depends on the present moment. Choose-choose speedily-determinately, &c.
"IV. The extent of the conditions. - Fear the Lord, and serve him in truth and righteousness. Fear the Lord. Consider his being, his power, holiness, justice, &c. This is the gate to religion. Religion itself consists of two parts.
1. In opposition to the detestable idolatry of the forementioned nations.
2.In reference to that revelation which God gave of himself.
3.In reference to that solid peace and comfort which false religions may promise, but cannot give; and which the true religion communicates to all who properly embrace it.
II. UPRIGHTNESS or integrity, in opposition to those abominable vices by which themselves and the neighbouring nations had been defiled.
1.The major part of men have one religion for youth, another for old age. But he who serves God in integrity, serves him with all his heart in every part of life.
2.Most men have a religion of times, places, and circumstances. This is a defective religion. Integrity takes in every time, every place, and every circumstance; God's law being ever kept before the eyes, and his love in the heart, dictating purity and perfection to every thought, word, and work.
3.Many content themselves with abstaining from vice, and think themselves sure of the kingdom of God because they do not sin as others. But he who serves God in integrity, not only abstains from the act and the appearance of evil, but steadily performs every moral good.
4.Many think that if they practice some kind of virtues, to which they feel less of a natural repugnance, they bid fair for the kingdom; but this is opposite to uprightness. The religion of God equally forbids every species of vice, and recommends every kind of virtue.
"V. The peril of the engagement. - This covenant had in it the nature of an oath; for so much the phrase before the Lord implies: therefore those who entered into this covenant bound themselves by oath unto the Lord, to be steady and faithful in it. But it may be asked, 'As human nature is very corrupt, and exceedingly fickle, is there not the greatest danger of breaking such a covenant; and is it not better not to make it, than to run the risk of breaking it, and exposing one's self to superadded punishment on that account?' Answer: He who makes such a covenant in God's strength, will have that strength to enable him to prove faithful to it. Besides, if the soul do not feel itself under the most solemn obligation to live to God, it will live to the world and the flesh. Nor is such a covenant as this more solemn and strict than that which we have often made; first in our baptism, and often afterwards in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, &c. Joshua allows there is a great danger in making this covenant. Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy, strong, and jealous God, &c. But this only supposes that nothing could be done right but by his Spirit, and in his strength. The energy of the Holy Spirit is equal to every requisition of God's holy law, as far as it regards the moral conduct of a believer in Christ.
"VI. The solemnity of the acceptance. - Notwithstanding Joshua faithfully laid down the dreadful evils which those might expect who should abandon the Lord; yet they entered solemnly into the covenant. God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, but we will serve the Lord. They seemed to think that not to covenant in this case was to reject.
"VII. The nearness of the consequence. - There were false gods among them, and these must be immediately put away. As ye have taken the Lord for your God, then put away the strange gods which are among you, Joshua xxiv. 23. The moment the covenant is made, that same moment the conditions of it come into force. He who makes this covenant with God should immediately break off from every evil design, companion, word, and work. Finally, Joshua erected two monuments of this solemn transaction:
1. He caused the word to be written in the book of the law, ver. 26. 2. He erected a stone under an oak, ver. 27; that these two things might be witnesses against them if they broke the covenant which they then made, &c." There is the same indispensable necessity for every one who professes Christianity, to enter into a covenant with God through Christ. He who is not determined to be on God's side, will be found on the side of the world, the devil, and the flesh.
And he who does not turn from all his iniquities, cannot make such a covenant. And he who does not make it now, may probably never have another opportunity. Reader, death is at the door, and eternity is at hand.
These are truths which are everywhere proclaimed-everywhere professedly believed-everywhere acknowledged to be important and perhaps nowhere laid to heart as they should be. And yet all grant that they are born to die! ON the character and conduct of Joshua, much has already been said in the notes; and particularly in the preface to this book.
A few particulars may be added. It does not appear that Joshua was ever married, or that he had any children. That he was high in the estimation of God, we learn from his being chosen to succeed Moses in the government of the people. He was the person alone, of all the host of Israel, who was deemed every way qualified to go out before the congregation, and go in: to lead them out, and bring them in; and be the shepherd of the people, because the Spirit of God was in him. See Num. xxvii. 17, &c. He is called the servant of God, as was Moses; and was, of all men of that generation, next in eminence to that great legislator. Like his great master, he neither provided for himself nor his relatives; though he had it constantly in his power so to do. He was the head and leader of the people; the chief and foremost in all fatigues and dangers; without whose piety, prudence, wisdom, and military skill, the whole tribes of Israel, humanly speaking, must have been ruined. And yet this conqueror of the nations did not reserve to him self a goodly inheritance, a noble city, nor any part of the spoils of those he had vanquished. His countrymen, it is true, gave him an inheritance among them, chap. xix. 50. This, we might suppose, was in consideration of his eminent services, and this, we might naturally expect, was the best inheritance in the land! No! they gave him Timnath-serah, in the barren mountains of Ephraim, and even this he asked chap. xix. 50.
But was not this the best city in the land? No-it was even NO city; evidently no more than the ruins of one that had stood in that place; and hence it is said, he builded the city and dwelt therein-he, with some persons of his own tribe, revived the stones out of the rubbish, and made it habitable. Joshua believed there was a God; he loved him, acted under his influence, and endeavoured to the utmost of his power to promote the glory of his Maker, and the welfare of man: and he expected his recompense in another world. Like HIM of whom he was an illustrious type, he led a painful and labourious life, devoting himself entirely to the service of God and the public good. How unlike was Joshua to those men who, for certain services, get elevated to the highest honours: but, not content with the recompense thus awarded them by their country, use their new influence for the farther aggrandizement of themselves and dependents, at the expense, and often to the ruin of their country! Joshua retires only from labour when there is no more work to be done, and no more dangers to be encountered. He was the first in the field, and the last out of it; and never attempted to take rest till all the tribes of Israel had got their possessions, and were settled in their inheritances! Of him it might be truly said as of Caesar, he continued to work, nil actum reputans, si quid superesset agendum: for "he considered nothing done, while any thing remained undone." Behold this man retiring from office and from life without any kind of emolument! the greatest man of all the tribes of Israel; the most patriotic, and the most serviceable; and yet the worst provided for! Statesmen! naval and military commanders! look Joshua in the face; read his history; and learn from IT what true PATRIOTISM means. That man alone who truly fears and loves God, credits his revelation, and is made a partaker of his Spirit, is capable of performing disinterested services to his country and to mankind!
MASORETIC NOTES ON JOSHUA
The number of verses in the Book of Joshua is 656, (should be 658, see on chap. xxi. 36, &c.,) of which the symbol is found in the word rtw vetharon, (and shall sing,) Isa. xxxv. 6. Its middle verse is the 26th of chap. xiii.
Its Masoretic sections are 14; the symbol of which is found in the word dy yad, (the hand), Ezek. xxxvii. 1. See the note at the end of Genesis, and the Haphtaras at the end of the Pentateuch.