The Book of Joshua  PDF  MSWord

Joshua Chapter 1  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Joshua 1
Jos 1:1

“the servant of Yahweh.” This is emphasized in Joshua chapter 1, and Moses is referred to as Yahweh’s “servant” five times in this one chapter (v. 1, 2, 7, 13, 15). The phrase is not that common, and Hebrews 3:5 may have had this in mind when it says that Moses was a faithful “servant.” However, other people are also referred to as “the servant of Yahweh” (cp. Joshua (Josh. 24:29; Judg. 2:8), although mostly by the phrase “my servant” (cp. Abraham (Gen. 26:24); Caleb (Num. 14:24); David (2 Sam. 3:18); Job (Job 1:8); Isaiah (Isa. 20:3); etc.).

“Yahweh spoke to Joshua.” The Bible does not say how God “spoke” to Joshua, but it could well have been in an audible voice.

Jos 1:2

“this Jordan.” Israel was camped just east of the Jordan River. The Israelites had already heard about the Jordan River when God described the boundaries of the land.

“cross over this Jordan, you and all the people, to the land that I am giving to them.” In a very real sense, the book of Joshua is a fulfillment of the promises of God to give Israel the land (cp. Josh. 1:6; 21:45). The book of Joshua is typological of Jesus and his work in many ways. One of them is that, although God made available the Promised Land, the people had to cross over the Jordan to get it. Similarly, God has made salvation through Christ and the future Promised Land available, but people must act to receive it.

Crossing over the Jordan and inheriting the Promised Land is a major theme in Joshua.

Jos 1:3(top)
Jos 1:4

“From the wilderness.” Or, “desert,” the desert that they had just been on to the south of Israel. So this is a description of the land from south to north, and the western border of the Mediterranean Sea. These boundaries are very general. More detailed descriptions are given in other places (cp. Num. 34:3-12).

“the river Euphrates.” This is not the full length of the Euphrates that goes all the way to the east and turns southeast through Babylon to the Persian Gulf, but it is the northwestern branches of the Euphrates that are in Syria (biblical Aram) (cp. Num. 34:7-15).a

“all the land of the Hittites.” This is not the Hittite lands in central Turkey, but in Israel and in the northwestern part of the Euphrates River in Syria. The Hittites were scattered at this time and had settled in different areas.

“Great Sea.” The Mediterranean Sea.

See W. Schlegel, Satellite Bible Atlas, 37.
Jos 1:5

“No man will be able to stand before you.” No one, none of the enemy, will be able to stand against Joshua all the days of his life (cp. Deut. 7:24).

Jos 1:6

“you will cause.” God works through people. God supplied much, but the work Joshua did was still important for success. God and His human agents work together to accomplish His purposes. As Paul wrote, “we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9). There are times when God says He would cause the people to inherit the land (cp. Josh. 1:11), and there are times such as here when God says His human agents do that (Deut. 31:7; Josh. 14:1).

“to inherit.” The Hebrew term for “inherit” is from a root word that is the same root word for “valley.” To get an inheritance was to get land.

“I swore.” God swore to give the land. He promised. Thus the land is the “Promised Land.” One of the many themes in Joshua is that God keeps His promises, and thus He is giving the “Promised Land” to Israel because He swore to the “fathers” (primarily referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) that He would give it to their descendants.

Jos 1:7

“very courageous.” The “very” could also be put before “strong” such that the phrase read, “be very strong and courageous.” But since in the Hebrew text the word “very” is before “courageous,” most translations read that way.

“Law.” The word “Law” is “Torah.” Here we see that the book of Joshua, the first book in the Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, begins with a reminder to be anchored in the Torah. Studying the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, is essential to learn how to think and reason the way God does.

[For more on the meaning of Torah, see commentary on Proverbs 1:8.]

“have success.” The verb can mean “have success”a but commonly it has to do with having understanding or prudence; and that gives good decision-making ability, which leads to success.

Koehler and Baumgartner, HALOT, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
Jos 1:8

“This scroll of the Law must never cease being spoken out of your mouth.” In this sentence, the “scroll of the Law” is put by metonymy for the words that are on the scroll of the Law.

[See figure of speech “metonymy.”]

“meditates.” The translation “meditates” here in Joshua 1:8 is okay if it is understood, but it is not a perfect match with the meaning of the Hebrew word. If it is not properly understood in the biblical culture and context, it can lead to misunderstanding. The Hebrew word is hagah (#01897 הָגָה), and when used of humans its basic meaning is to utter a sound. Thus, it can mean to mutter, moan, utter, speak. It can mean to read out loud in an undertone. Its extended or applied meanings can include to recite, muse, imagine. In any case, what it does not mean is to think about in silence, like the silent monks. God wants us to read, recite, think about, and dwell on His Word and works, especially out loud. The idea is to memorize it, if not word for word, to certainly get to the point we know what God’s Torah says and means. The HCSB may get the sense of the Hebrew better than “meditate” when it says, “you are to recite it day and night.” The NET paraphrases the meaning when it says, “You must memorize it.” The Torah is not a “meditation” in the yoga sense of the word. We are to repeat it over and over, including out loud, until we know it. If Joshua was going to be truly successful, not only as a warrior but as the one who, after conquering the Promised Land would establish the foundation of a godly society, he had to know the Torah, God’s “instruction book” and guide to godly thinking.

Both Joshua 1:7 and 1:8 make the important point that if we want to be successful and prosper in this life—from God’s point of view, not necessarily the world’s point of view—we must know and act on the Word of God.

Jos 1:9

“for Yahweh your God is with you.” This does not mean God would be physically with Joshua, but that He supports him; God’s spirit was upon Joshua (Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9), and God was working in and through him (cp. Josh. 1:17; 3:7; God was “with” Jesus, Acts 10:38). Note that here God changes to speaking about Himself in the third person. That technique in conversation can sometimes add emphasis, and it likely did for Joshua.

Jos 1:10(top)
Jos 1:11

“provisions.” This would be food, but the Hebrew word includes more than food, it means “provisions,” whatever the people would need.

“three more days.” One of the parallels between the life of Joshua and Jesus. Joshua was in the wilderness, and then in three days he would go into the Promised Land; Jesus was figuratively “in the wilderness” of death for three days and nights, and then entered the Promised Land of his resurrected body.

“cross over.” “Cross over” is a major theme and key phrase in Joshua. The Hebrew word here translated “crossed over” is abar (#05674 עָבַר) and it occurs in Joshua over 70 times, 12 times in Joshua 4. Abar comes up many times, sometimes of crossing over the Jordan River, sometimes of other crossings. and also it does have a number of other meanings, and thus does not always mean “crossed” or “crossed over.” Nevertheless, “crossed over” is important in the typology of Joshua, because Israel’s crossing over the Jordan into the Promised Land is a type and shadow of believers crossing over from this life to Paradise, the kingdom of Christ on earth (cp. Heb. 4:8-11).

[For more on Christ ruling the earth in the future, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on how the future will unfold from this present age to the Millennial Kingdom to the Everlasting Kingdom, see commentary on Rev. 21:1.]

“the land that Yahweh your God gives you.” There are times, such as here in Joshua 1:11, when God says He gives the Promised Land to Israel, and there are other times, such as Joshua 1:6, when God says His human agents give the Promised Land to Israel. God and the believers who work with him work together as a team (see commentary on Josh. 1:6).

“possess.” This word occurs two times in the verse, and can have the meaning “inherit” as well as “possess.” God owned the land, and He was giving it to the Israelites.

Jos 1:12(top)
Jos 1:13

“Remember the word that Moses.” “Remember” is an infinitive absolute in Hebrew and is idiomatic for “keep remembering,” or, “keep in mind.” It is not a one-time remembering, but a keeping in mind (cp. Ex. 13:3). The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had livestock, and when Israel conquered the area east of Israel that was east of the Jordan river, those tribes came to Moses and asked not to cross the Jordan River, but to be able to settle where they were, on the east side of the Jordan, because that was good grazing land. Moses allowed them to do that on the condition that the men of those tribes would cross the Jordan with the other Israelites and fight to conquer the Promised Land, and they agreed to that (Num. 32).

“this land.” Joshua is referring to “this land,” the land they were all standing on, on the east side of the Jordan River. God said the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh could stay on the land east of the Jordan, called the land “beyond the river.” But the men had to help the rest of the Israelites conquer the Promised Land west of the Jordan River.

Jos 1:14

“beyond the Jordan.” That is, beyond the Jordan River. Maps in the western world have north at the top, and we westerners orient to the north. That was not true in biblical times: people oriented to the east, where the sun rose. The Old Testament is focused on the Promised Land, Israel, and if you are in the Promised Land and look east, the land God gave to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh is to the east and “beyond the Jordan River.” So the land east of the Jordan was called the land beyond the river, even if you were standing on it, as these men were.

Some scholars see this as evidence of a later author or reviser who wrote from the perspective of being on the west side of the Jordan, but that is unnecessary. The people of Israel knew their inheritance was west of Jordan, so they could already speak of the “other side of the Jordan” as land that was east of the river. Furthermore, the geography is clarified in Joshua 1:15.

“before your brothers.” The Hebrew can mean “ahead of,” or it can mean in such a way as your brother Israelites can see them, “in the presence of” the other Israelites. It could well have both meanings here.

Jos 1:15

“beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” The phrase “beyond the Jordan” in this context means to the east of the Jordan River; on the east side of the Jordan River. Joshua was speaking to the children of Israel as if they were already west of the Jordan River, in the land promised to Abraham. In that context, “beyond the Jordan” meant east of the Jordan River, even though when Joshua spoke these words, he himself was still “beyond the Jordan.” This phrase occurs in Joshua 12:1 (and other places), but at that time Israel was west of the Jordan River, and “beyond the Jordan” meant east of the Jordan River. The Bible uses the phrase “Beyond xxx” quite a few times, and to understand it, one must understand the geography in the context of each use. For example, sometimes, “beyond the Jordan” means east of the Jordan River, as in Joshua 1:15, but sometimes it means west of the Jordan River.

Jos 1:16

“All that you have commanded us we will do.” This is similar to Exodus 24:7, but the people did not follow through on what they said. The generation of Joshua did better than the wilderness generation, but even so, did not conquer the whole Promised Land, and some of them still held on to their pagan gods (cp. Josh. 24:23).

Jos 1:17

“listened.” The Hebrew word is “listened” (or “heard”), but in this context, it includes the idea of “obey,” which is why some versions have “listened” and some have “obeyed” (cp. HCSB; ESV; NASB).

Jos 1:18

“he will be put to death.” Although this seems harsh, it was appropriate. The fighting men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh were going to go into battle in the Promised Land at the head of the army (Josh. 1:14) and therefore were involved in the heaviest fighting. To succeed the people had to be motivated and follow orders. If anyone became negative, obstinate, and rebellious he would not only endanger his own life but the lives of others as well. There is a good reason why, in armies through the centuries, deserters were executed. High morale is essential to success in an army.


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