Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Joshua 23

Verse 1

JOSHUA CHAPTER 23

Joshua being old assembles the people; declares the wonders God had wrought for them, and would work, in expelling the Canaanites, Joshua 23:1-5. Exhorts them to be courageous, to observe the law, and beware of idolatry, Joshua 23:6-8; which he enforces by former benefits, and promises, Joshua 23:9-11; by threatenings, Joshua 23:12-16.

A long time; about fourteen years after it.

Verse 2

Joshua called; either to his own city, or rather to Shiloh, the usual place of such assemblies, where his words being uttered before the Lord, were likely to have the more effect upon them.

For all Israel; not all the people in their own persons, who could not either come thither, or hear him there; but in their representatives, by their elders, heads, judges, and officers, which are here added for the restriction and explication of that general expression. And for, or, even for, &c.

Verse 3

Because of you; for your sake and good, that you might gain by their losses.

Verse 4

These nations that remain, not yet conquered.

to be an inheritance for your tribes; you shall certainly subdue them, and inherit their land, as you have done the rest, if you be not wanting to yourselves.

With all the nations that I have cut off, i.e. with the land of those nations; the people put for their land, as we have seen before; and as sometimes, on the contrary, the land is put for the people.

Westward, where the Philistines, your most formidable adversaries, yet survive; but them also and their land I have given to you, and you shall undoubtedly destroy them, if you will proceed vigorously in your work.

Verse 6

Be ye therefore very courageous; for it will require great courage and resolution to execute all the commands of Moses, and particularly that of expelling and destroying the residue of the Canaanites.

To the right hand or to the left, i.e. in one kind or other, by adding to the law, or diminishing from it, as Moses speaks.

Verse 7

Come not among these nations, i.e. avoid all familiar converse and contracts, but especially marriages, with them, as it is explained, Joshua 23:12, and as the Hebrew word intimates, being oft used of coming or going in to a woman.

Neither make mention of the name of their gods, to wit, unnecessarily and familiarly, lest the mention of them breed discourse about them, and so by degrees bring a man to the approbation and worship of them. Compare Exodus 23:13 Deuteronomy 12:3 Psalms 16:4 Ephesians 5:3.

Nor cause to swear by them; nor require nor compel the Gentiles to swear by them, as they used to do; especially in leagues and contracts, which therefore the Israelites are here implicitly forbidden to make with them.

Neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them; neither give them any inward reverence, or outward adoration. Here is an observable gradation, whereby he shows what notable progress sin usually makes, and what reason there is to look to the beginnings of it, forasmuch as a civil and common conversation with their persons was likely to bring them, and indeed did actually bring them, by insensible steps, to the worship of their gods. So it is no wonder if some things not simply and in themselves evil be forbidden by God, as here the naming of their gods is, because they are occasions and introductions to evil.

Verse 8

Cleave unto the Lord, by firm affiance, constant obedience, entire affection, faithful service and worship of him alone.

As ye have done unto this day, to wit since you came into Canaan; since which time the body of the people for of them he speaks, not of every particular person) had behaved themselves much better than they did in the wilderness, and had not been guilty or any gross and general apostacy from God, or rebellion against him.

Verse 9

To wit, whom you have invaded; otherwise some of those people did yet remain unconquered.

Verse 10

He it is that fighteth for you; impute not this therefore to your own valour, as you will be apt to do, but to God’s gracious and powerful assistance.

Verse 11

Now it requires more watchfulness and diligence than it did in the wilderness, because your temptations are now more and stronger; partly from the examples and insinuations of your bad neighbours, the remainders of this wicked people; and partly from your own peace and prosperity, and the pride, security, forgetfulness of God, and luxury which usually attend upon that condition, as God had warned them, Deuteronomy 6:10-12.

Verse 12

If ye go back, from God, and from his worship and service.

Go in unto them; the phrase notes the matrimonial act.

Verse 13

They shall be snares and traps unto you: by your indulgence to them, and converse with them, you will be enticed and drawn by degrees into their errors, and impieties, and brutish lusts.

Scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes: when they have inveigled, and seduced, and thereby weakened you, then they will molest and vex you, no less than a severe scourge doth a man’s sides which are lashed by it, or than a small thorn doth the eye when it is got within it.

Until ye perish from off this good land: they shall so persecute you, and fight against you with such success, that you shall be forced to quit your own land, and wander you know not whither; which must needs be very terrible to them to think of, when they compared this present case, and plenty, and safety, with the pains, and weariness, and hazards, and wants of their former wanderings.

Verse 14

Of all the earth, i.e. of all flesh, or of all men; the way which all men go; I am about to die, as all men must, Hebrews 9:27. The same phrase is 1 Kings 2:2.

Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, i.e. you know assuredly; your own experience puts it out of all question.

Not one thing hath failed.

Quest. How is this true, when so great a part of the promised land and people yet remain unconquered?

Answ. God promised them to destroy all their enemies, and to give them the whole land, not at once, but by degrees, by little and little, as is expressed Deuteronomy 7:22, and as was most convenient for them.

Verse 15

The accomplishment of God’s promises is a pledge or assurance that he will also fulfil his threatenings; both of them depending upon the same ground, the faithfulness of God.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/joshua-23.html. 1685.