Joshua 23 Commentary

 


Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Paul J Bucknell - Biblical Foundations for Freedom

LAND ALLOTMENTS
(Joshua 13-21)
Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Click charts to enlarge Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

JOSHUA
A BOOK ON SPIRITUAL WARFARE and REST
HOW TO POSSESS YOUR POSSESSIONS

CONQUEST
OF THE PROMISED LAND

DIVISION
OF THE PROMISED LAND

CLOSE OF JOSHUA'S LIFE

ACTION ALLOCATION APPEAL
Josh 1:1-5:15 Josh 6:1-12:24 Joshua 13:1-21:45 Josh 22:1-24:33

WARLORDS IN
CANAAN

LANDLORDS IN
CANAAN

ENTERING
CANAAN

CONQUERING
CANAAN

DIVIDING
CANAAN

SECURING THE
LAND

SETTLING THE
LAND

Preparation

Conquest

Possession

Consecration

ca. 1 Month ca 7 Years ca. 18 Years

See also more detailed Chart by Charles R Swindoll

Joshua 23:1  Now it came about after many days, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years,

  • the Lord: Jos 11:23 21:44 22:4 Ps 46:9 
  • waxed old: Jos 13:1 Ge 25:8 De 31:2 
  • stricken in age:

Related Passages:

Deuteronomy 25:19 “Therefore it shall come about when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.

Now it came about after many days, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side But see what Israel was to do according to (see above). Joshua recognized that now, since they had entered into rest and were enjoying prosperity and plenty, they would drift away from God. That is the story of human nature. It never changes.

and Joshua was old, advanced in years (Heb. come into days) A long time had passed since he led the conquest ca. 1405–1398 b.c.; Joshua had grown very old, and was 110 when he died (24:29), ca. 1385–1383 b.c. 

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary -  Verses 1-10. Joshua was old and dying, let them observe what he said now. He put them in mind of the great things God had done for them in his days. He exhorted them to be very courageous. Keep with care, do with diligence, and regard with sincerity what is written. Also, very cautiously to endeavour that the heathen idolatry may be forgotten, so that it may never be revived. It is sad that among Christians the names of the heathen gods are so commonly used, and made so familiar as they are. Joshua exhorts them to be very constant. There might be many things amiss among them, but they had not forsaken the Lord their God; the way to make people better, is to make the best of them. 

Joshua 23:2  that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, "I am old, advanced in years.

  • all Israel: Jos 24:1 De 31:28 1Ch 28:1 Ac 20:17-35 
  • and for their elders: Or, "even for their elders," etc.; for it is probably that Joshua gave the following charge only to the elders, judges, etc., to communicate to the people.

that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, "I am old, advanced in years.

Joshua 23:3  "And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has been fighting for you.

  • And ye: De 4:9 Ps 44:1,2 Mal 1:5 
  • for the: Jos 10:14,42 Ex 14:14 De 20:4 Ps 44:3 

And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has been fighting for you

Believer's Study Bible - Joshua's point is that although he will soon be gone, those who remain will continue to have success if they rely on the God whose mighty works they have seen. What was needed was not so much gifted leaders as those who knew God and what He had done.
 

Joshua 23:4  "See (BEHOLD), I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun.

  • Behold: Jos 13:2,6,7 18:10 
  • westward: Heb. at the sunset

See (BEHOLD), I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun.

Joshua 23:5  "The LORD your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you.

  • he shall: Jos 23:12,13 13:6 Ex 23:30,31 33:2 34:11 De 11:23 
  • as the Lord: Nu 33:52,53 

The LORD your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you - So clearly although Joshua gave them "rest" (Josh 23:1), the enemies were by no means totally eradicated from the "good land". See Jdg 3:2 - these enemies were left to test Israel & how to conduct war. 

and you will possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you - Abrahamic covenant (Ge 12:7,etc).

Joshua 23:6  "Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,

  • very: Jos 1:7-9 Jer 9:3 1Co 16:13 Eph 6:10-19 Heb 12:4 Rev 21:8 
  • that: De 5:32 12:32 17:20 28:14 Pr 4:26,27 

Related Passage:

Joshua 1:7  “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

Proverbs 4:26-27 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.

THE PATH TO SUCCESS:
STRAIGHT AHEAD IN OBEDIENCE

Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses - In one word "OBEY!" Obey what? Not Joshua per se, but the Word of God and thus obey the God of the Word! 

So that (PURPOSE) you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left - How could one turn? The context (v7) gives one of the most deceptive ways which is to associate with the godless pagans! 

Joshua 23:7  so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.

  • That ye come: Have no civil or social contacts with them, as these will infallibly lead to spiritual affinities, in consequence of which, ye will make honourable "mention of the name of their gods," "swear by them" "and serve" them in their abominable rites; and "bow yourselves unto them," as your creators and preservers.  All this will follow by simply coming among them. He who walks in the counsel of the ungodly, will soon stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of scorners. Jos 23:12 Ex 23:33 De 7:2,3 Pr 4:14 1Co 15:33 2Co 6:14-17 Eph 5:11 
  • neither: Ex 23:13 Nu 32:38 Ps 16:4 Ho 2:17 
  • to swear: Jer 5:7 Zep 1:5 

Related Passages: 

Exodus 23:13   “Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.

Numbers 32:38 and Nebo and Baal-meon–their names being changed–and Sibmah, and they gave other names to the cities which they built.

Psalm 16:4  The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips. 

Hosea 2:17 “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. 

 so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.

Joshua 23:8  "But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.

  • Jos 22:5 De 4:4 10:20 11:22 13:4 Ac 11:23

SEPARATE FOR IDOLS
CLING TO GOD 

But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day - Joshua's point is that if Israel will continue to dedicate themselves to Yahweh as they have done (Josh 23:8,11), then their past successes (Josh 23:9,10) will continue (cf. 2Sa 12:8).

Joshua 23:9  "For the LORD has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day.

  • For the Lord: or, Then the Lord will drive, Jos 23:5 21:43,44 De 11:23 
  • no man: Jos 1:5,8,9 15:14 

For the LORD has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day.

Joshua 23:10  "One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.

  • One man: Lev 26:8 De 32:30 Jdg 3:31 7:19-22 15:15 1Sa 14:6,12-16 2Sa 23:8 
  • Lord: Jos 10:42 Ex 14:14 23:27-33 De 3:22 20:4 Ps 35:1 44:4,5 46:7 Ro 8:31 

"I once saw a monarch butterfly turn the tables on a bird. The monarch actually chased the bird away! It was a strange sight, but understandable. This species has been protected by its Creator with a taste that makes birds sick. My guess is that it can courageously chase birds–while other kinds of butterflies are being chased. 

The Lord has also equipped His children so we can be courageous in a hostile world. Although the foes we face may seem to be more powerful, we can resist them because of God's special provision. This doesn't mean He always protects His children from physical injury or even death. But when a child of God works together with God and does His will, he is unconquerable until his work on earth is done. 

How do we find the protection that helps us "chase away" the enemy? By trusting and obeying God. Joshua told God's people that IF they would obey the Lord,NO ONE could stand against them (Jos23:10). The same God who fought for them will also fight for us. He will strengthen us to meet any challenge when we are doing what He wants us to do in the way He wants us to do it (Php4:13). 

Yes, the Lord will give us courage as we draw strength from Him each day. –M R De Haan II  (Our Daily Bread, C

    Though evil may surround us,
    We need not fear defeat;
    For when God fights the battle,
    Our enemies retreat.
–Sper

To trust is to triumph, for the battle is the Lord's.

Joshua 23:11  "So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God.

  • take diligent heed: Jos 22:5 De 4:9 6:5-12 Pr 4:23 Lu 21:34 Eph 5:15 Heb 12:15 
  • yourselves: Heb. your souls
  • love the LORD your God: Ex 20:6 Ro 8:28 1Co 8:3 16:22 Jude 1:20,21 

Related Passages: 

John 14:15; 21 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.....21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’

So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God

 

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary -  Verses 11-16. Would we cleave to the Lord, we must always stand upon our guard, for many a soul is lost through carelessness. Love the Lord your God, and you will not leave him. Has God been thus true to you? Be not you false to him. He is faithful that has promised, Hebrews 10:23. The experience of every Christian witnesses the same truth. Conflicts may have been severe and long, trials great and many; but at the last he will acknowledge that goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life. Joshua states the fatal consequences of going back; know for a certainty it will be your ruin. The first step would be, friendship with idolaters; the next would be, marrying with them; the end of that would be, serving their gods. Thus the way of sin is down-hill, and those who have fellowship with sinners, cannot avoid having fellowship with sin. He describes the destruction he warns them of. The goodness of the heavenly Canaan, and the free and sure grant God has made of it, will add to the misery of those who shall for ever be shut out from it. Nothing will make them see how wretched they are, so much, as to see how happy they might have been. Let us watch and pray against temptation. Let us trust in God's faithfulness, love, and power; let us plead his promises, and cleave to his commandments, then we shall be happy in life, in death, and for ever. 

Joshua 23:12  "For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you,

  • go back: Ps 36:3 125:5 Isa 1:4 Eze 18:24 Zep 1:6 Mt 12:45 Joh 6:66 Heb 10:38,39 2Pe 2:18-22 1Jn 2:9 
  • cleave: Ge 2:24 34:3 1Sa 18:1-3 1Ki 11:2 Ro 12:9 
  • shall make: Ex 34:12-16 De 7:3 1Ki 11:4 Ezr 9:1,2,11,12 Ne 13:23-26 2Co 6:14-17 

Related Passages:

James 4:4+ You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1 John 2:15-17+ Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 

Matthew 6:24+  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

CLINGING THAT
CORRUPTS!

For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations - Cling is dabaq which yields the noun form "glue" and also conveys the ideas of loyalty and devotion. The first use in Ge 2:24 reflects basic meaning of one person being joined to another -- INTIMATELY!!!  This use is illustrative in regard to Joshua's warning to Israel re "unfaithfulness" to her "Husband" (keeping in mind that Israel was called the "wife of Jehovah cf Je31:32). Many times in prophets God calls Israel a "harlot" (eg, Ezekiel 16:15) for having chased after other "lovers", gods (little "g") that are really no gods at all! See some NT parallels above.

these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you

Believer's Study Bible has an interesting note - (vv. 12-16) Note the combination of grace and fear as motivating factors (cf. Rom. 11:22): (1) grace -- the good land God has given (vv. 13, 15, 16), and the good Word God has given (vv. 14, 15); (2) fear -- God is faithful in judgment too (v. 15); failure to dedicate themselves to the Lord would result in trouble in their lives (cf. Jdg. 2:3; James 4:4).
 

Joshua 23:13  know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

  • will no: Ex 23:33 Nu 33:55 De 7:16 Jdg 2:2,3 Ps 106:35-39 
  • snares: De 7:16 Jdg 2:3 1Ki 11:4 Ps 69:22 2Ti 2:26 
  • until ye perish: Lev 26:31-35 De 4:26 28:63-68 29:28 30:18 2Ki 17:22,23 2Ki 25:21,26 Lu 21:24 

know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you 

but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes -

THOUGHT - There are Christians that are tormented with immoral thoughts, lusts and habits, sins that they should not be involved with (but ponder the solemn charge by Paul in 2Co 13:5+). Why? because of repeated disobedience. God meets you at your point of obedience. The chief source of failure in our life is tolerance of incomplete obedience to God's whole counsel (which is really 100% disobedience!). Are there enemies in your land? Are there enemies that you have permitted to remain in your land? If there are, then you need to kill them! See Ro 8:13+ and Col 3:5+

until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

Joshua 23:14  "Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.

  • I am going: 1Ki 2:2 Job 30:23 Ec 9:10 12:5 Heb 9:27 
  • not one thing: Jos 21:43-45 Ex 3:8 23:27-30 Lev 26:3-13 Nu 23:19 De 28:1-14 1Sa 3:19 1Ki 8:56 Lu 21:33 

Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.

Joshua 23:15  "It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

  • so shall: Lev 26:14-46 De 28:15-68 Jdg 3:8,12 4:1,2 6:1 10:6,7 13:1 2Ch 36:16,17 Lu 21:22-24 1Th 2:16 

It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats,

until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you - This prophecy was fulfilled about 800 years later, when Babylon exiled the Israelites circa 605–586 b.c. (cf. 2Ki 24,25).

Joshua 23:16  "When you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you."

  • then shall: 2Ki 24:20 
  • perish: Jos 23:13 

When you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you."

 

 

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