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There have been various opinions about the penman of this book : some have ascribed it to Samuel, the prophet, others to Eleazar, the pricst; but bishop Patrick and Dr. Gill think it was written by Joshua himself, which seems most probable, Josh. xxiv. 26. " And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God: which perhaps may be collected from bis diary, or memoirs by Eleazar or Phi. nehas, the priest ; and the few verses that appear in this book after Joshua's death, are supposed to have been added by the high priest, as Joshua is supposed to have added some verses after the death of Moses to the book of Deuteronomy.
The time when this book was written is not certain, but it contains the transactions of about seventeen years, accord. ing to most christian writers : seven years Joshua was in subduing the land, and ten years in dividing the land by lot and settling them according to the command of God. Eleazar is thought to have governed ten years after Joshua's death.
The main scope of the Holy Ghost in this book of Joshua, is to glorify God, by the manifestation of his truth in his promises, and his power, and all-sufficiency in performance : for whereas he had promised unto Abraham four hundred years before, that he would give unto his posterity the land of Canaan for a possession, he remaineth firm and constant to bis word : and though they provoked him to wrath by their heinous sins, and wilful rebellions, both in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and thereby greatly sinned against him, yet he pardons their sins, and exercises his patience and long-suffering, “in bearing with their evil manners in the wilderness, '' that their " unbelief should not make the faith of God of none effect,” or cause any of his gracious promises to fall to the ground unaccomplished. So also is God's almighty power in this book magnified and glorified, and lie is mightily declared to be the Lord of hosts, by giving unto such a poor contemptible people, whose parents were lately bond-slaves in the land of Egypt, so great and glorious victories over such warlike nations, and such a numerous multitude of powerful enemies : to which we may add the manifestation and glorifying of his justice, in rooting out these corsed nations, when their sins were increased to a full measure; but yet withal some mixture of mercy with this just severity, in saving the Hivites, or Gibeonites, so called from their dwelling in Gibeon, from this common destruction, and from being, as it were, drowned in this general deluge; mercy, I say, towards them, in sparing their lives; and towards his own people, in providing for them servants and slaves to do their slavish works, that they, in the mean time, as a royal nation, might be privileged and exempted from such servile drudgery.
Another end in this history, is to describe and set out the life to a worthy prince, and a truly valiant and victorious general, both in his person, parts, and properties, in the example of Joshua, as a precedent and pattern to all such who are of like calling and condition; and that whether we respect his piety towards God, his justice and charity towards men, or his temperance and sobriety to. wards himself. In respect of God, he is described to be pious and religious, both in his personal holiness, and in his public calling, as he was a general and chief commander : for he was a man truly fearing God, and a strict observer of his commandments, neither declining to the right band, nor to the left, a worshipper of God in since. rity and truth; and so zealous and resolved in the true religion and ways of godliness, that though he should have no other among all the people to join with bim, yet he pro. fesseth, " That he and his household would serve the Lord.” So in his particular calling he is propounded as a fit pattern and precedent to all of his rank; for he wholly depended on his chief Sovereign, the King of kings, and Lord of hosts, for his direction and protection : he attempt. eth nothing of any moment, till he had first consulted with God, and iben he goeth on with undaunted courage, when he commandeth him, against many and mighty enemies : he trusteth not in the arm of flesh, in his own or the people's policy and power, but only relieth on God's promises and providence; and having bis assistance, he is most courageous; but when he, seeming displeased, withdraweth his helping hand, how he is humbled and dejected for the loss only of six and thirty men !
Finally, in all his famous victories he assumeth no part of the praise unto himself, but ascribeth the whole glory unto God, as being the principal cause of all his con. quests. In respect also of bis carriage towards men, he is propounded as a singular pattern of justice and charity : for being to divide the conquered land among the people by lot, as God commanded, be obeyeth his will with all uprightness, shewing therein no favour, partiality, or respect of persons, as appeareth in his dealing with his own tribe ; for when
(presuming, it may be, on his nearness unto them in blood and kindred) they made suit unto bim for the enlarging of their inheritance, under a fair pretence, that their portion was too strait for their numerous tribe; he refused to gratify them by straitening others, but retorteth their argument upon themselves, namely, that if they were so numerous, they were the better able to enlarge their borders by their own endeavours; and so putteth them upon labour, to fit the mountain for their habitation by felling down the woods; and upon danger also, by fighting with and driving out the inbabitants of the valley, though they were a strong people and bad iron chariots.
His love also appeareth, in seeking the people's wel. fare and prosperity by all bis endeavours : for whereas the love and favour of God was the chief ground of their present and future happiness, and there were no other means to preserve it unto them, than by their cleaving close unto him in his pure worsbip, and in shunging idolatry; he is not only careful to maintain it in purity and in sincerity all bis days, but when he was stricken in age, and ready to die, it was his chief care to have it continued after his departure; and calling together all the heads and elders of the people, he useth all means to make a firm covenant between God and them, that they would cleave only unto him, and utterly abolish all idolatry and false worship. . Lastly, be is propounded to all princes and great com. manders, as a mirror of temperance, sobriety, and contenta ment; in that having in his hand, by reason of his famous conquests, so great power and authority, that he might have commanded what he listed, yet he aspireth not to any regal sovereignty, nor to enrich himself with a vast estate or large inheritance, but resteth contented with such a proportion as by God's providence was allotted to him among The rest of his brethren.
The last end at which this part of scripture aimeth, is mystically and typically expressed; for Joshua is here propounded as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only true Saviour of his elect people : and to this purpose, that be might more fitly represent this great Saviour of the church, the prophet foretold and promised by Moses, his name is changed by him; and whercas be was before called Oshea, a saviour, he was afterwards named Joshua, or Jehoshua, which signifies the Lord's saviour, or the Lord's salvation, being the same name which was given to Christ our only Saviour; because he was to save his people out of the hands of their eartbly enemies by a temporary deliverance, and to bring them into the land of Canaan as their possess sion and inberitance ; so our Jesus, prefigured by him, was to save all his elect people out of the hands of all their spiritual enemics, and to give them, as their possession, the heavenly Canaan, of which the earthly Canaan was but a type: and as this could not be effected by Moses, the lawgiver, but was left unto Joshua as his proper work unto which God had called him; so this was to signify to us, that the ministry of the law, with all its legal ordinances and performances, can never bring us into the heavenly Canaan, but is wholly left to be accomplished by our true Joshua and Saviour, as his peculiar work, to which he is called and sealed by his Father, who bath vanquished all our spiritual enemies, and will give to us, at his second appearing, both in our souls and bodies, the full possession and fruition of our holy and happy inheritance in his heavenly kingdom to all eternity.
In this book is shewed the faithfulness and power of God in the accomplisbment of the promises made to Abraham and bis seed, by bringing the Israelites into the land of Canaan under the conduct of Joshua, an eminent type, both in name and office of Christ, who only brings his people into the heavenly Canaan, and also in conquering the inbabitants thereof, chap. i.-xii. dividing it among the tribes, chap. xiii.-xxi. dismissing the two tribes and a balf with a blessing, chap. xxii. after which he gives all the people a charge, and dies, chap. xxiii. and xxiv.
The chronology from the creation to this time is thus : from Adam to the flood, one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years; from the flood to the departure of Abraham out of Chaldee, four hundred and twenty-three years; and from thence to the death of Joseph, two hundred and ninety years. The book of Genesis contains the history of two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine years; from that, time to the fourteenth chapter of Exodus, one hundred and forty years; the books of Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, forty years; Joshua, seventeen years ; in all two thousand five hundred and sixty-seven years.
The book begins with the history pot of Joshua's life, many remarkable pas.
sages of that we had before in the books of Moses, but of his reign and government. In this chapter (1.) God appoints him to the government, in the stead of Moses, gives him an ample commission, full instructions, and great encouragements, ver. 1-9. (2.) He accepts the government, and addresses himself immediately to the business of it, giving orders to the officers of the people in general, ver. 10, 11, And particularly to the two tribes and a half, ver. 12-15. (3.) The people agree to it, and take an oath of fealty to him, ver. 16--18. And a reign, which thus began with God, could not but be honourable to the prince, and comfortable to the subject. The last words of Moses are still verified, “ Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee, O people!" Deut. xxxiii. 29.
VER. 2. “Thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the cbildren of Israel,” ] --The land of Canaan and the blessings thereof were a figure of the gospel and the blessings of grace: the land of Canaan was a free gist of God to the children of Israel, and in like manner, eternal life, with all the blessings of the gospel, is the free gift of God to his children, who are heirs according to the 6 hope of eternal life.”
Ver. 4. “Shall be your coast.”]—This may be a figu. rative representation of the great spread of the gospel which was accomplished in the apostles days, and will be more amply fulblled in Christ's spiritual reign, when his kingdom shall spread “ from sea to sea," Psalm lxxii. 8. Joshua in his wars and victories was a lively type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our spiritual Joshua, and fights all our battles, gains all our conquests, drives out the Canaanites of sin, settles us in the blessings of the gospel, and manifests himself to be the “ captain of our salvation, mighty to save." We may therefore say with the church, io viewing the Lord Jesus under the characters of a warrior, a conqueror, and the Lord of hosts, “ Wbo is this that cometh from Edom, witb dycd garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength :" this is the Lord, the captain of our salvation, our spiritual conquering Joshua, “Who speaks in righteousness, mighty to save," Isaiah lxiii. 1.