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CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF THINGS FROM THE ISRAELITES ENTRANCE
FROM THEIR ENTRANCE TO THE DEATH OF JOSHUA.
A. M. 2553,
the death of Moses, Joshua, who had a long while been his prime minister, by From Josh. i. &c or 3803. the command of God, undertook the conduct of the children of Israel; and, as it was a to the end.
1451, &c. very momentous charge, he was not a little anxious how he should be enabled to exe-
then the nations which he was to subdue were a warlike and gigantic people, that had
+ 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. 1451, &c.
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 Moses had done, make the whole land of Canaan a cheap and easy conquest to him: And 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.
** 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 *9 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 of their captain, whom they call Joshua the son of in the wilderness, was manna; but as they approach. Nun, who put the Amalekites to flight, who destroyed the promised land, where they might have provi- ed Sihon and Og, the kings of Midian and Moab. sion in an ordinary way, that miraculous bread did Wue therefore be to us, and you, and all that filee to perhaps gradually decrease ; and, in the space of a us for shelter ! They are a people who pity none, few days after this, was totally withdrawn. They were leave none alive, drive all out of their country, and now in the countries of Sihon and Og, which they had make peace with none. We are all accounted by lately conquered, and the victuals, which they were them infidels, profane, proud, and rebellious. Who. commanded to provide themselves with, were such as ever of us or you, therefore, that intend to take care their new conquest afforded : For being after three of themselves, let them take their families and be days (Josh. iii. 1.) to remove very early in the morn. gone, lest they repent of their stay when it is too ing, they might not perhaps have had time to gather late." By this means they imposed upon the peoa sufficient quantity of manna, and to bake it, before ple; and (as Josephus informs us) went whither they they were obliged to march. Patrick's Commentary. would, and saw whatever they had a mind to, without
* The eastern writers tell us, that these spies any stop or question. They took a view of the walls, (whom they make to be Caleb and Phineas) were va- the gates, the ramparts, and passed the whole day liant and religious men, and in the prime of their for men of curiosity only, without any design. So youth; that, to pass unobserved, they changed their that if any credit may be given to this account, it was habits, as if they had come from a distant country, but just that they, who thus imposed upon the Caand, if any one asked them any questions, their reply naanites, should, in the same manner, be imposed was to this effect: “ We are people from the East, upon by the Gibeonites. Chronicon Samaritanum and our companions have heard of this powerful peo- Arabicè Scripium, p. 65. aud Josephus's Antiq. lib, v. ple, who were forty years in the wilderness without c. 1. either guide or provision; and it was reported to us,
#2 The roofs of houses were then very flat, and, that they had a God whom they called the King of having probably battlements round them to secure heaven and earth, and who (as they say) hath given people from falling off, (as the manner of building them both your and our country.
Our principals was afterwards among the Jews, Deut. xxii. 8.) were have therefore sent us to find out the truth hereof
, made use of for places to walk, or at any time to lay and to report it to them. We have likewise heard any kind of goods upon.
A. M. 2553, and then let them down by a silken cord from one of her windows which faced the
doors. The spies having thus luckily escaped, took Rahab's advice, and concealed
Pleased with this news, Joshua gave orders for the army to decamp; but before he
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 to 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
+ The two tribes and an half had the countries Saurin, vol. iji. Dissertation i.