BIBLE STUDY SERIES #548, 549 and 550

26 May, 2002

JOSHUA - 1:1-9

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been conducting a series of Bible Studies for just over ten years now; starting with a Bible Study that began back in Genesis 12, with God's Call to Abram. The sequence, with occasional digressions, took up the Scriptures contained within the first five Books of The Bible consecutively from that point to the end of Deuteronomy.

For a few recent Bible studies, we had digressed to take up a short series of five studies on the topic "Testing Times", and then we had moved, on our last three Studies, from the Mosaic Book of Deuteronomy to the next Book in the Bible; that which records the further experiences of the Tribes of ancient Israel as, under the direction of their new national leader, Joshua, they are to make active preparation to cross over the Jordan River.

From the older generation, only Joshua and Caleb had now survived, to provide that leadership and continuity of understanding which would be needed as the Tribes of Israel came across The Jordan River into the Promised Land.

We had examined some introductory notes as found in The New Bible Commentary, in which we had learned something of Joshua himself, under the heading "The Man And His Task", and some additional thoughts by Keil and Delitzsch, on the last Study relating to the construction of the Book of Joshua, to which we might just add a few further thoughts from that reference. "The book of Joshua is not intended merely as a continuation of the history of Israel from the death of Moses to the death of Joshua, still less as a description of the acts of Joshua only. The purpose of the book is rather to show how, after the death of Moses, the faithful covenant God fulfilled to the children of Israel, whom He had adopted as His people of possession through the mediation of His servant, the promise which He had made to the patriarchs; how the Canaanites were destroyed, and their land given to the tribes of Israel for an hereditary possession through the medium of Joshua, the servant of Moses, whom he had consecrated as leader of the people through the laying on of hands and by putting some of his honour upon him. As the servant of Moses treading in his footsteps, Joshua finished the work which Moses was not allowed to bring to a conclusion on account of his sin at the water of strife, viz. the planting and establishment of Israel in Canaan, the land of its inheritance, which the Lord had selected for His dwelling (Ex. xv. 17) and chosen as the nursery ground of His kingdom. As Joshua simply carried on in this respect, and brought to completion, the work which Moses had begun, arranged, and set on foot, the book of Joshua is naturally connected very closely with the books of Moses, though without forming an integral part, or the last portion of it, and without being written by Joshua himself." Further notes indicate agreement that the work was certainly written by someone contemporaneous with the events, and also contains some statements which point beyond the life of Joshua, as in the words "unto this day."

We shall be picking up some further thoughts from these sources later. However, let us return in today's Study to note some comments on those first nine verses which we had read on the last Study. You may wish to have your Bibles open to that first chapter of the Book of Joshua, in order to follow the points in the commentaries as they are raised.

1. Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,

The Companion Bible notes, of that first word, "'Now', Heb. 'And'", and that this is a word which connects the Book of Joshua to the Pentateuch. It states: "Linked on to Pentateuch as the books of Pentateuch are thus linked on to each other; and as the four books of earlier Prophets are linked on to Joshua." The same reference notes that The LORD spake to Joshua "When Moses is dead", explaining "Moses is a type of Law, Joshua of the Messiah." and "The Law is 'until Christ' Gal 3:24." It continues "Jehovah spake at four sundry times, and in three divers manners: To Joshua 1.1; 4.1, to Joshua to command the priests, 4.15, and to Joshua to speak to the sons of Israel, 20.1."

Amplifying the thought concerning the symbolism of the work of Moses and that of Joshua, we are given the references in John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ", and Romans 7:1-6, which compares service in "the oldness of the letter" with "newness of spirit" in our approach to matters of the Law.

Might I just add one note of caution here? It is sometimes taught that this does away with any need to attempt to apply any of the Old Testament Biblical Law to our lives. Be aware that the passage in Romans 7 is written in reference to Salvation through Christ's shed blood and death as the doorway entrance to the kingdom of heaven. It does not impart total antinomian freedom thereafter. Note Christ's injunctions which He taught in Matthew 5:17-20. Therein, Christ taught that those who are in the kingdom (not, be it noted, through a perfect keeping of the Old Testament Law, but through His Gracious Act of Salvation), but who then proceed to break one of these least commandments (that is, "the law, or the prophets") and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Thus, we may state with certainty that there is not an egalitarian uniformity of standing or status within that kingdom of heaven. We now move to verse 2:

2. Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Again, a note in The Companion Bible draws our attention to the term "I do give", and explains the meaning "I, even I, am giving." That notation thus reveals the true ownership and authority which leads to Israel's possession, as it enters the land.

3. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
5. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Here, The Companion Bible notes the words of that last statement to form a repetition of the statement first made to Jacob in Genesis 28:15, and passed on by Moses in Deuteronomy 31:6, to all of Israel and to Joshua.

6. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

At verse 6, the word "thou" is stated to be emphatic. The Commentary adds "This is the great subject of the book."

8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The Commentary notes at verse 8, "This book of the law: i.e., the five books referred to as one throughout the Old Testament." Also, "out of thy mouth" indicates that "Joshua is to continually speak of it" and "Meditate = talk to thyself." Here, reference is added to Psalm 1:1-2 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, not sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" with the note "= audible musing."

The New Bible Commentary, addressing these first nine verses under the title "I. Joshua's Commission" gives us these thoughts: "The Lord spake unto Joshua ... Moses' minister. ... These opening verses ... bring Joshua onto the stage, and are a necessary prologue to the story of the conquest. Moses my servant is dead (2). Nevertheless, the work must go on: the continuity of the nation, of its task and of God's promises to it, is not broken by the change of leadership. ... God's promise still stands. All the land of the Hittites draws reference to Deut. vii. 1n. Judges i. 26n. I will not fail thee (5) "lit. 'I will not drop thee: Cf. x. 6, where it is translated 'Slack not thy hand ...' Turn not from it ... that thou mayest prosper (7). The condition of success is unswerving obedience to the book of the law (8). This is the book referred to in Dt. xxxi. 24, 26 ... . Have not I commanded thee? (9). The campaign upon which Joshua and the people are entering is unmistakably divine. Joshua is no bandit, no aggressor; he is simply a servant carrying out the commands of his superior. Cf. Dt. xxxi. 1-8.'

We shall continue with our Studies next week.

2 June, 2002

JOSHUA - 1:10-18

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been conducting a series of Bible Studies for just over ten years now; starting with a Bible Study that began back in Genesis 12, with God's Call to Abram. The sequence, with occasional digressions, took up the Scriptures contained within the first five Books of The Bible consecutively from that point to the end of Deuteronomy.

For a few recent Bible studies, we had digressed to take up a short series of five studies on the topic "Testing Times", and then we had moved, on our last four Studies, from the Mosaic Book of Deuteronomy to the next Book in the Bible; that which records the further experiences of the Tribes of ancient Israel as, under the direction of their new national leader, Joshua, they are to make active preparation to cross over the Jordan River.

From the older generation, only Joshua and Caleb had now survived, to provide that leadership and continuity of understanding which would be needed as the Tribes of Israel came across The Jordan River into the Promised Land.

As today's Scripture portion is found in Joshua 1:10-18, you might wish to open you Bible to that passage to follow the words as we take them up. We had examined some introductory notes as found in The New Bible Commentary, in which we had learned something of Joshua himself, under the heading "The Man And His Task", and some additional thoughts by Keil and Delitzsch, relating to the construction of the Book of Joshua, and on the last Studies, we had used some notes from The Companion Bible to clarify or add some useful thoughts on some terms which appeared in the first nine verses of Joshua 1. We will be selecting some further information from these sources as we continue.

Let us read together today's passage of Scripture, Joshua 1:10-18, but as we do so, I want you to use your imagination in order to transport yourself back in time to stand, as one descended from the Patriarchs, the Sons of Jacob, and to strain in silence as you listen to hear the words of the distant figure of Joshua, the Commander of the army, and leader of the nation. For a whole generation, during the last forty years of your past life, and in the declining years of your parents' lives while they were yet with you, your life has been spent amid the varied scenes of wilderness in the arid lands called Sinai. You have heard stories of the tribal descent of Israel into Egypt, and then the bondage which had later arisen there as your population grew and pharaoh had begun his campaign of oppression. Since the Exodus, you have known the occasional difficulty of obtaining water, and the constant diet of manna which you collected religiously six days in every seven. You have endured the repetitive sequence of encampments about the tabernacle tent enclosure as you helped to set up your tent in the space for your particular defensive tribal allotment, and later the breaking up of the vast encampment for the order of march.

Weapons have been gradually accumulating in the host, from the day those bloated bodies of pharaoh's dead charioteers had floated to shore with some arms which might be salvaged, and the defeated Amalekite dead had provided pickings for more. The years had brought occasional traders who were not so hostile, and some tribes who would sell arms for a price. True, these same contacts would have borne to other lands the stories current among the tribes of Israel concerning the deliverance wrought by their Mighty God, Yahweh, The LORD, within the towering column of cloud by day and fire by night; He Who has continually given His directions to the aged Prophet, Moses, who has so recently now been taken away in death, and to a burial by the hand of God, Himself.

Presently, Joshua, the Captain whom Yahweh had designated the leader before Moses died, is preparing the whole vast assembly to undertake the conquest of The Promised Land of Canaan. Two tribes and a half of a third tribe have already entered into their inheritance on this side of the Jordan River, but you still await your future to the west, across the river, and you are wondering what lies in store. There is a general sense of destiny which hovers about you and all your immediate family and friends. A patriotic flow of unity begins to arise as you prepare for what lies ahead, in a challenge which, thirty-eight years before, had been too daunting for the former generation to assail. Will you accomplish what your parents failed to do? That thought hovers but is soon dismissed, for The God Who had demonstrated His majesty and power through your years of experience is a God indeed, and one to be trusted. The day, for which a generation has waited, is about to actually take its place in your history. Listen now, as the national leader speaks:

10. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
11. Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.
12. And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13. Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
14. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15. Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD'S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.
16. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

There is a leader indeed, and one who will trust God, and is thus one in whom one can, in turn reside one's own trust for victory and wise direction.

Let us now take a few moments to consider some thoughts by the Commentaries. Keil and Delitzsch note on this Scripture: "For the purpose of carrying out the commands of the Lord, Joshua first of all directed the officers of the people ... whose duty it was, as the keepers of the family registers, to attend not only to the levying of the men who were bound to serve in the army, but also to the circulation of the commands of the general, to issue orders to the people in the camp to provide themselves with food, so that they might cross the Jordan within three days, and take the land that was promised them by God. By zedah, provision for a journey ... , we are not to understand manna, for that had already ceased (see at chap. v. 12), but simply the natural produce of the inhabited country. Here, we might move to The New Bible Commentary as it gives a statement which might tend to modify that last sentence. That Commentary, under the heading "The Entry Into Canaan - a. Mobilization" notes: "Then Joshua commanded (10). The army which awaited the order to advance into Palestine was well organized and disciplined, a much more effective fighting force than the undisciplined mob which had come out of Egypt. The officers of the people (10). See Dt. i. 15n., ... . These, a familiar feature of Israel's organization since the days of the oppression, were now commanded to mobilize the people for crossing within three days (11). It seems that the spies had already been sent out, though the account of their mission is not recorded until later; the account does not follow the chronological order of events."

I will halt there to interject that I do not feel the word "mob" does credit to those who had earlier emerged from Egypt, for they left that land by their armies (Exodus 12:51) and had, shortly to meet, and defeat, the Amalekites in battle, which they accomplished with God's help, as indicated by the raised hands of Moses during the fighting. Continuing:

"Ye shall pass before your brethren ... and help them (14). At this supremely critical moment, the tribes were happily a vital unity; and the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh (12), whose inheritance had already been allotted to them on the east of the Jordan (Nu. xxxii), responded with alacrity to the reminder that they were committed to marching with their brethren against the western land. It was this unity with its definitely religious basis that made Israel a force to be reckoned with. On this side Jordan (14). 'Beyond Jordan' (RV). See Dt. i. 1n."

Keil and Delitzsch have further thoughts in some depth on this same passage which we might find time to cover on the next Study.

9 June, 2002

JOSHUA - 2:1-6

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been conducting the present series of Bible Studies for just over ten years now; starting with a Bible Study that began back in Genesis 12, with God's Call to Abram. The sequence, with occasional digressions, took up the Scriptures contained within the first five Books of The Bible consecutively from that point to the end of Deuteronomy.

In case that statement leaves our current generation of listeners with the impression that the British-Israel broadcasts only began with that sequence of studies at that time, I might mention that we, of the British-Israel-World Federation in Canada have had a much longer history of radio broadcasting in this country. This might be an opportune moment to make a short digression to explain that statement with a very short review of our broadcast ministry over the years before we pick up today's Scripture passage.

British-Israel broadcasts began sporadically, and then continuously back in the 1920's and 1930's with some earlier speakers, particularly in the west of Canada, and thereafter these ran continuously through many decades in the West. Eventually these began to overlap with, and were later supplanted by British-Israel broadcasts generated from The British-Israel-World Federation speakers through our more central Toronto Headquarters.

Notably, with the advent of The Reverend E. J. Springett, in the 1930's and 1940's, and a number of speakers since then, such broadcasts under the auspices of the present Federation have continued, weekly without an interruption, to the present time. We have in the archives some of the earlier weekly broadcasts by The Reverend E. J. Springett on 16 inch diameter long-play records which were shipped during the 1940's by freight from our Toronto Headquarters across Canada. Later, seven-inch reel tapes were used, and today cassettes, and also CD's, must be employed. Indeed, from our records, I believe our Federation's continuous unbroken sequence of weekly radio broadcasts may be one of the longest-running, if not the longest, of any Christian radio-broadcasting organization in Canada! With that explanatory digression, we might now return to today's Study.

For a few recent Bible studies, we had digressed to take up a short series of five studies on the topic "Testing Times", and then we had moved, on our last four Studies, from the Mosaic Book of Deuteronomy to the next Book in the Bible; that which records the further experiences of the Tribes of ancient Israel as, under the direction of their new national leader, Joshua, they are to make active preparation to cross over the Jordan River.

From the older generation, only Joshua and Caleb had now survived, to provide that leadership and continuity of understanding which would be needed as the Tribes of Israel came across The Jordan River into the Promised Land.

As today's Scripture portion begins with Joshua 2:1 you might wish to open you Bible to that passage, in order to follow the words as we take them up. We had examined some introductory notes as found in several Commentaries when considering Joshua 1. It covered an account of the directives which The Almighty God gave to the new national leader, Joshua, for the forthcoming movement of the main body of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land of Canaan. The last part of that first chapter from verse 10 reads:

10. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
11. Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.
12. And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13. Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
14. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15. Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD'S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.
16. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

The Israelites have been given the order to prepare to make the move across the Jordan River. Remember that the river is still flowing strongly at this point, so that while the people state that they will go "whithersoever thou (Joshua) sendest us", many would be wondering how they are actually going to get across the surge of water, and what they will meet when they do get across it. The sending of spies in advance will not have been publicised abroad, for such a move might well jeopardise the lives of those sent to gain the required information. They may have been sent on ahead of Joshua's announcement of those three days for preparation by the main body of the Israelites. It might have been supposed that they would have made their way back by then. However, as we will learn, there had to be some evasive action taken before those spies could get back across the river. Indeed, as we have learned, the written account of these events, according to The New Bible Commentary, does not appear in chronological order. Keil and Delitzsch go into some detail concerning the counting of the days since the spies left to the day, eight days in all, by their account, when the Israelite army crossed the river, and indicate that their three day delay to evade the searchers, although in God's Plan, was humanly speaking an unforeseen delay.

Now we arive at the second chapter. Let us read portions, with our usual insertion of appropriate explanatory comment as we proceed.

1. And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
2. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
3. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

Here, The Companion Bible reminds the reader that Joshua had himself been such a spy thirty-eight years before, in Numbers 13:8 and 16. Keil and Delitzsch, contrary to Josephus, the Chaldee version, and the Rabbins' rendering as "Innkeeper" state that the word represents a harlot in the normal usage of that term. As the house is designated as that of an harlot, it would not excite so much suspicion if strangers entered therein. As The New Bible Commentary puts it, "Attempts have often been made since the time of Josephus to represent Rahab merely as an innkeeper, but there seem to be no grounds for doubting the accuracy of the ordinary translation." There are considerations both ways. I might suggest one line of additional thought in the fact that she is listed in Matthew 1:5 (spelled Rachab), in the genealogy of Our Lord, and likewise in Hebrews 11:31 and James. 2:25. The Greek word is in Young's Concordance "One sold, a seller, fornicator." The possibility has also been argued that her house was, in fact, a building having diplomatic immunity by reason of an Egyptian presence, for otherwise, the question may be asked, why the king of Jericho did not just push in to search for the spies that had reportedly entered therein. As an additional afterthought, we may remember Christ's words to the chief priests and the elders of the people in the temple, in Matthew 21:31, in stating that "the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."

4. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:
5. And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
6. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.

The Companion Bible explains that the words "wist not" are old Anglo-Saxon for "knew not." The reference adds in explanation "It is this record that is inspired, not the act and words of Rahab." In verse 5, the word "wot" is Anglo-Saxon for "know." It explains of the words "stalks of flax = flax of stalks" and it adds the point that the flax was "now ripe: just before the Passover."

Did Rahab lie, and if so, was she justified? We shall attempt to answer that question next week. Perhaps this would be a good point at which to stop for today. We shall be following the further course of our account on the next Bible Study.

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