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and profane, acknowledge Moses to have been the legis. lator of the Jews ; and that whole nation has always carefully preserved his books, as containing their law.
When the tribes were divided into two kingdoms, both of them preserved the same respect for those books, as being written by him. The Samaritans, who came afterwards, received them from the Israelite priests; the Jews carried them to Babylon, when they were led captives thither ; they brought them back, and afterwards revised and corrected them. Profane authors have spoken of them, as written by Moses. In short, it is as certain, that they were written by Moses, as those which are ascribed to Herodotus, Thucydides, and Cæsar, appertain to those whose names they bear. It is possible there may have been some slight additions and alterations made in them; but the bulk of the history and the laws could not be altered.
As to the truth of the history we have several proofs. 1. It is the most ancient in the world ; for whether Moses was contemporary with Inachus the first king of Argos, who lived six hundred years before the war of Troy ; or whether he did not live till the time of Cecrops, king of Athens, who reigned three hundred years before that war, it is certain he is much more ancient than Homer, Hesiod, or any profane writer. 2. Moses is the only person that has given a plain and historical account of the origin of the world, and who has continued that history uniformly, and without any interruption to his own time. All that others have written of the first ages is, as they own themselves, mere ignorance, darkness, and fable. 3. Moses wrote at a time, when he could be sure of the truth of what he wrote, and when it might have been easy to have con. victed him of falsehood, had he delivered any fables. 4. We have nothing in ancient history, nor in fable, to prove that the world is older than Moses represents 16. 5. His history agrees with the profane historians of seve. ral nations. We there find the original of several nae tions, and their ancient names which many of them have still preserved. But if religion did not convince us, that the books of Moses were written by divine inspiration, yet
reason ought to persuade us that his history is true, and the only one wherein we can learn when the world began, and how long it has lasted. As for the last chapter of Deuteronomy, it was undoubtedly written by Joshua, as a preparation to his history, and could not be supposed . to be written by Moses, as giving an account of his own death.
The five books of Moses contain the history of the Jewish people and their immediate ancestors from Adam, for the space of 2553 years. The style of his writings, and the matters of which they treat, are equally singular, interesting, and admirable; and in one particular he dif. fers from every other legislator; for while others are contented with the honour of giving laws, Moses delivers the reasons on which those laws are founded, and derives them immediately from the Almighty. Nor, amidst the blaze of his sublime descriptions, and his ardent zeal for the honour of God, has he forgotten to record his own failings and imperfections, with a degree of humility as rare as it is honourable. His writings, and the concurrent testimonies of all ages, deservedly place him as the first of Prophets, Historians, Lawgivers, and Poets : and though much of what he wrote was wrapt up in the obscurity of types and shadows, yet it was intended to lead the people of God to the knowledge of the Redeemer. Hence our Lord says to the Jews, “ Had ye believed Moses, ye " would have believed me, for he wrote of me.”
No prophet, beside Moses, had the honour of saying, “ The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet “ from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me ; “ unto him shall ye hearken." This has been fully ac. complished in Jesus of Nazareth, to whom therefore we ought to give ear. And we ought to remember the de. claration of the New Testament, that “if he that despised Moses’ law died without mercy, of how much worse punishment shall he be thought worthy, who shall re.. fuse to hear Him that speaketh from heaven ?”
BOOK THE THIRD.
I TPON the death of Moses, Joshua, by the commandof
U God, undertakes the charge of the children of Israel. He had been prime minister to Moses for the greatest part of those forty years, in which the Israelites had wandered in the Wilderness; had seen the wonderful works God wrought by Moses; understood well the nature and disposition of the people; was one of the twelve spies who were sent to search the promised land, and one of the two · who gave a just report of it, in opposition to the other ten who gave an evil and false account of it. For these and other qualifications, he was formally installed into his office with very solemn ceremonies; Moses having, by God's command, presented him before Eleazer the priest, laid his hand upon him, and imparted to him some* of the honour that was upon himself, in the sight of the whole congregation.
Being now ready to enter and take possession of the promised land, God, for the greater encouragement of Joshua, confirmed and enlarged his former commission, by giving him a more immediate and express command, as he had before done to his servant Moses, to conduct
* Some, &c. See Numb. xxvii. 20.
the people over Jordan ; telling him, that every place upon which the sole of their foot should tread, should be their own ; and assuring him that no man should be able to stand before him ah the days of his life : for as he had been with Moses, so he would be with him, and never fail nor forsake him : therefore he commanded him to be strong and of good courage, for he should divide the land for an inheritance to the people. And to en. gage him to a performance of the Law which he had de. livered to Moses, he annexes a continual series of pros. perity and success; charging him to make it his study day and night, as the standard of all his future actions, and repeating the former assurance of his presence with him wheresoever he should go.
Joshua, thus encouraged, prepares to execute the command of the Lord; and that nothing material might be omitted, he orders the officers to go through the camp, and give notice to the people, that within three days they should pass the river Jordan, in order to possess the land which the Lord their God had given them, and that they should furnish themselves with provisions for such a march.
The city of Jericho was just opposite to the place where they were to pass. Joshua, therefore, before* his order for their making provision for this march, sent two spies thither, to observe the situation and strength of the place, and the avenues to it; because it would be the first place they were to attack, after they had passed the river. These spies* entering Jericho, went to a public house of entertainment, which was kept by Rahab, t and there took up their lodging. But being observed by some to go in there, information was presently given to the king of Jericho, that two Israelites were come to search the country. Upon this, the king sent to Rahab to produce them ; but she, having timely notice, had hid them upon the rooff of the house, under the stalks of fax which she had spread there. Having thus secured the men, she put off the king's messengers with a feigned story, pretending that some men did come to her house, but she knew not who they were, nor whence they came; and that when it grew dark, before the gates were shut, they went out, but she knew not whither. And to prevent any further suspicion, she advised an immediate pursuit of them, for they could not be far off. Upon this they sent out several persons to take them, who went as far as the fords of Jordan, but in vain.
* Before. This direction for marching is mentioned in the text, before the sende ing of the spies to Jericho. See Josh. i. 11. and ch.ü. 1. But it seems the spies were sent before that, and returned to the camp at Shittim, before their march to. wards Jordan : for the spies spent longer time in their search, than was between the notice given for marching, and the march itself, which was but three days : whereas they lay hid three days in the mountains for their safety, beside the time they spent in Jericho, and in going and returning; which they could not have done, had they been sent away before the order for marching was given. So that what iš delivered in the second chapter of Joshua, should in order of time come in about the middle of the first chapter, between the ninth and tenth verses, being, as Junius and Tremellius observe, displaced by a figure called H; perbatono,
When they were gone, Rahab went up to the men she had hidden, and thus accosts them: “I know the Lord “ hath given you this land, and the fame of you is be. “ come so terrible to us, that our people are utterly dis“ couraged. For we have heard how the Lord dried up " the water of the Red Sea for you to pass over, when “ye came out of Egypt; and how ye subdued Sihon and
• Spies. These spies are fabulously supposed by the Rabbins to be Phineas and Caleb; which is very improbable. For Phineas was designed by God to be a priest, and Caleb a man in great authority. But Josh. vi. 23, positively states that they were young men.
+ Rabab. It is generally thought that she was an hostess, a keeper of an ian, and that this is the true signification of the original word; though St. Jerome and others understand it of a prostitute ; but there is no reason to think she was a Wo. man of that character; had she been so, it is not likely that Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah, would have taken her to wife.
Roof. The roofs of houses were then built fat, so that they could 'walk upon them, and set their goods there, having battlements round them to secure them from falling off, Deut. xxii. 8. And such a roof it was that David afterwards walkea upon when he unhappily noticed Bathsheba.