About the Author
IRVING L. JENSEN (B.A., Wagner College; S.T.B., Biblical Seminary; Th.D., Northwestern Theological Seminary), was professor and chairman of the department of Bible at Bryan College, Dayton, Tennessee, and the author of numerous books, including the entire Bible Self-Study Series; Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament; Jensen's Survey of the New Testament; Jensen's Bible Study Charts; Acts: An Inductive Study; Independent Bible Study; and How to Profit from Bible Reading.
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By Irving L. Jensen
Moody PressCopyright © 1966 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago
All rights reserved.
PREPARATION FOR THE CONQUEST (1:1–5:15)
I. INITIAL ORDERS (1:1–2:24)
A. The Mobilization (1:1-18)
B. The Reconnaissance (2:1-4)
II. MILITARY PREPARATION (3:1–5:1)
A. Tactical Positioning
B. Recognition of Leadership (3:1—4:18)
C. Recognition of Strength (4:19—5:1)
III. SPIRITUAL PREPARATION (5:2-15)
A. The Token of Circumcision (5:2-9)
B. The Token of Blood (5:10)
C. The Token of Fruit (5:11-12)
D. The Token of a Sword (5:13-15)
PREPARATION FOR THE CONQUEST (1:1–5:15)
I. INITIAL ORDERS (1:1–2:24)
The journey from Egypt to Canaan, described in the earlier books of the Old Testament, has now reached its final stage. The multitudes of Israelites are encamped on the eastern side of the Jordan, on the plains of Moab just north of the Dead Sea. Since the day of God's command to Pharaoh, "Let my people go," the expedition of the Israelites has demonstrated very visibly that this is no project of human design: the directions came originally from God; the daily sustenance was supernatural; the obstacles were overcome by miraculous help; and discipline was meted out by divine wisdom. Now, for the unfinished task, a new day sets in motion the communication of the chain of command: God speaks to Joshua (1:19); Joshua commands his officers (1:10-11a; 2:1); the officers in turn command the people (1:11-18). This is the day for the initial orders of the holy war of occupation.
A. The Mobilization (1:1-18)
1. Charge to the Commander (1:1-9)
When the thirty days' mourning over Moses' death had come to an end (Deut.
34:8), and when all the tears of deep grief (no professional mourning here!) over the departure of this man of God had cleansed the spiritual eyes to see more clearly from the perspective of the eternities, God spoke from heaven directly to Joshua and reiterated his appointment as successor to Moses which had been given him earlier by Moses. The work of God must go on. His servants die, but God does not die, no less His divine program. "Moses my servant is dead," God said to Joshua; "now, therefore ... thou ..." (1:2). Joshua was now sovereignly appointed as the man of the hour, but he was not to forget the one he was succeeding. God reminded him of three important truths concerning Moses' experience: first, that to Moses was spoken God's promise of the land (1:3); second, that God was with Moses in his ministry of leadership (1:5); and third, that the law of God delivered by Moses was to continue as the people's law of life (1:7). These vital reminders to Joshua were certainly to serve him often in the arduous and trying years to come as he would reminisce about his service to his human master Moses and about this day of divine appointment.
But as noted earlier in the Introduction, while this book of the Bible is about the man Joshua, it is primarily about the people of God. In the commission to Joshua, God used the term "thou"—as successor to Moses—but also "and all this people ... even ... the children of Israel" (l:2). Each individual Israelite was a soul loved by his Maker and Lord, and there was a beautiful dwelling-lot awaiting him in the land of inheritance. He, with Joshua his leader, was commanded to arise, cross the Jordan, and claim the land (1:2). This was the extent of the commission in its most general terms.
Next God spoke in more detail about the land to be occupied (1:3-4). The extent of it was enormous. From the description one can visualize Joshua as standing facing the west, hearing God describe the boundaries. To Joshua's left was the distant southern boundary, "the wilderness," or "desert," the region west and south of the Dead Sea which formed a natural boundary between Canaan and the Sinai Peninsula. Then Joshua's eyes were turned to the distant peaks of the northern limits, "this Lebanon," the mountain range far north-northwest of the Sea of Galilee. Behind Joshua, to the east, lay the eastern boundary, the Euphrates; while in the direction of the setting sun, under the skyline of the Judean hills, spread the western limit, "the great sea." In between the four extremities described was Canaan itself, here represented by one of the major peoples then occupying it, the Hittites. This was the land offered by God. The commandwas to occupy all of it, not just to register a theoretical claim to it.
But there were enemies in the land to be occupied, and their expulsion was the subject of God's next words to Joshua (1:5-6). A lifetime of continuous victory over all enemies was assured Joshua (and therefore the people) through faith and courage on the basis of the unfailing presence and miraculous help of God: "I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (1:5). The success and prosperity which God promised had their source therefore in God Himself. Without God, there would be defeat; with God, success. But woven into the sovereign design of success for Joshua and the people was the human strand of the condition of their obedience: "Only be strong ... to observe to do according to all the law" (1:7). They were to magnify the Word by their lips, and edify their souls by continually meditating on its precepts. Then doing according to the law would be the inevitable fruit.
The enemies in the land? "Be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (1:9).
* * *
The charge to Joshua is filled with lessons for Christians on enjoying spiritual success and prosperity. Successful living is a promise of God, a gift of God, attainable by the help of God. Its potentialities are enormous, waiting only to be appropriated. Enemies of the soul—Satan, the world, and the flesh—need to be driven out, but they are enemies of God, and so He promises all the help needed for conquering them. The condition laid to the Christian is costly but absolutely necessary: living in constant obedience in the light of God's Word. The blessings of victorious living come by invitation to the Christian, but the conditions for its fulfillment come bymandate. Christians, like Joshua, cannot escape the divine words loud and clear: "Have not Icommanded thee?" (1:9).
2. Charge to the People (1:10-18)
Jehovah God, Commander-in-chief of Israel, began His war against the Canaanites by charging Joshua to lead the people into the land. Down through the levels of command, the orders were delivered to bring a host of two million people to their feet to find their places in the complex military strategy of such a vast campaign. The reader of the book of Joshua must continually prod his imagination to visualize the awesome task of General Joshua to lead such a large host of people into the land. The fact that the large size of the Israelite band is not made a prominent factor in the record of the book of Joshua speaks well for the orderliness and discipline with which Joshua maneuvered the hosts. In strict military fashion, reflecting the training he had received under Moses, Joshua delegated the officers under him to mobilize the people to the state of readiness. In a sense they had always been ready, because they knew the journey was not over. But the rigors of the Transjordan campaign demanded a time of respite in camp, which they were afforded. Now they must prepare to move, which involved provisions, tents, cattle, and the gathering of fruit and grain from the fields of the plain. The key word of Joshua's order to the people was prepare. Joshua anticipated that the Israelites would be crossing the Jordan within three days, though as it turned out, the extended trip of the spies (chap. 2) apparently delayed the crossing by at least three days.
Joshua's second order of business in mobilizing the troops for action concerned the special group comprising the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh (1:12-18). The key word delivered to them was remember. They had earlier agreed, in return for being allotted the rich pastureland of Transjordan, to help their brethren possess the land west of the Jordan before settling down in their own territories (Num. 32). Now Joshua brought to their remembrance this promise they had made, and called for the mobilization of their "mighty men of valor," an army of about 40,000.8 Their reply was enthusiastic, and revealed all the elements of a spirit of devotion and cooperation (1:16-18):
1) obedience: "we will do," "we will go," "we will hearken"
2) faith and hope: "only Jehovah thy God be with thee" (they knew there would be no victory without God)
3) intolerance of sin: "he ... that shall rebel ... shall be put to death"
4) support by encouragement: "be [thou] strong and of good courage"
B. The Reconnaissance (2:1-24)
Joshua had utter confidence in God to lead Israel to victory, as shown in his charge to the people. But this did not mean a laying down of arms to watch God work. The plans of military strategy, the calculated risk of casualties, and the bloody clashes of battle were all to be part of the projected campaigns of conquest. To spy the land before launching the attack was not to doubt God; it was to fulfill the obligation of wise military strategy as to the manner and course of battle, and then commit the outcome to God.
The most obvious feature of this intriguing chapter is the fact that while it is an account about the mission of two young spies, a woman by the name of Rahab is the main character throughout most of its verses (vv. 2-22). How the story of Rahab is woven into the main plot about the spies is shown in the following double outline for the chapter:
1. Spies are dispatched 1
2. Spies are protected 2-7
3. Spies are informed 8-11 Rahab's faith
4. Spies promise safety 12-22 Rahab's reward
5. Spies give report 23-24
The key paragraph is 2:8-11 because this vital information given to the spies by Rahab constituted the essence of their report to Joshua.
The place of Rahab in the history of Israel was twofold. First, she was chosen by God to provide the information which He desired Israel to have at this time, namely, that He had melted the hearts of the enemy in fear of Joshua and his hosts, even as Moses had prophesied earlier (Exodus 15:13-18). Second, Rahab would be for all centuries to come a vivid example of the sinner, through whom God accomplishes His purposes and in whose heart He works a change. Concerning this latter, it is to be observed that a harlot is Israel's helper. Rahab the harlot is cited in the genealogical record of Jesus (Matt. 1:5); and James and the author of Hebrews commend her for her works and faith (James 2:25; Heb. 11:31).
1. The Spies Are Dispatched (2:1)
The people were camping in the area known as Shittim when Joshua secretly dispatched the two young men to spy out the land on the other side of the Jordan, particularly in the area of Jericho. The reconnaissance project was apparently kept secret from the Israelites, very likely because Joshua wanted to avoid a repetition of the disastrous sequel to the majority report to Moses of the twelve spies (of which he was one of the minority of two) about forty years previously. That only two spies were sent indicates that the reconnaissance was obviously only for the immediate vicinity of the fortress at Jericho, which did not call for a large expedition. No doubt also the two men Joshua chose were men of strong faith like himself and Caleb, who would turn in an affirmative recommendation for attack despite human odds against them. For the object of the spies' mission was to determine not whether but when and how an attack should be made. Joshua's training in the wilderness was paying off every day.
Joshua's special interest in Jericho reveals his wisdom as a military strategist. A study of a topographical map of Canaan discloses the excellent location of Jericho as a bridgehead for all subsequent advances to the west, south, and north. Jericho was located on a large fertile plain at the foot of the Judean hills and at the entrance to one of their passageways. Here also was ample camping ground for the nonmilitary Israelite hosts while the warriors were off to battle. To the general of the army of Israel, the conquest of Canaan depended on gaining the bridgehead of Jericho.
2. The Spies Are Protected (2:2-7)
The spies could not conceal their identity as Israelites as they walked the streets of Jericho, mixing with the people and posing as their brethren. They found a lodging place for the night in the house of Rahab, unaware that they had already been spotted as spies. The informed king of Jericho sent men to Rahab's house to apprehend them, but believing Rahab's subtle lie that the spies had already left, the king's men continued their pursuit outside the city's gate, while Joshua's men hid safely on Rahab's roof, under stalks of flax.
There can be no question but that Rahab lied. Her lie was the protection of the spies. Did therefore the end (protection) justify the means (lying)? The answer must be negative, since lying is always sin, and sin is never justified by God. Rahab's actions must be interpreted in light of the total picture. First, one must believe that God could have protected the spies without Rahab's lie. Further, the commendation of Rahab's words in James 2:25 is not commendation of the lie which she adopted in the weakness of her flesh (and not beyond the scope of God's forgiveness), but of the selfless act of doing something to help God's cause in defiance of her own national ties.
3. The Spies Are Informed (2:8-11)
Before the spies went to sleep, Rahab opened her heart to them, and revealed the reason for her protection of their lives. What she said to the spies would document their report and recommendation to Joshua concerning the Canaanites. Rahab was emphatic in her disclosures:
1) her own conclusion: that the Israelites would take Canaan by the help of their Lord: "I know that Jehovah hath given you the land" (2:9).
2) her people's defeatism: that the Canaanites were fearful and benumbed after hearing the report of God's drying up the Red Sea and Israel's slaughter of the Amorites (2:10).
3) her own faith: this was faith in seed stage, identifying Israel's Lord as God over all—heaven above, and earth beneath (2:11).
4. The Spies Promise Safety (2:12-22)
In return for Rahab's sparing their lives, the spies gratefully consented to her request for protection. Rahab and the other members of her father's household would be spared death in the day of Israel's assault on Jericho on three conditions: (1) they should remain in the house during the assault (2:19)—the very house which was the haven for the spies; (2) a cord of scarlet thread or yarn should hang from the very window through which the spies were let down by a strong rope (2:18); and (3) the mission of the spies must be kept secret (2:20). On Rahab's acceptance of the conditions, the spies departed into the wilds of the nearby mountain, while she lost no time in binding the scarlet thread in the window, sealing her deliverance. What a beautiful picture of the believer's salvation, very much like the earlier experience of the Israelites in Egypt, when God said to them, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Exodus 12:13). When Joshua's army saw the scarlet thread, they would spare the lives of all in the house.
5. The Spies Report (2:23-24)
Having eluded the pursuers from Jericho, Joshua's spies after three days' hiding left the mountain area, crossed the deep, flooded Jordan—obviously by swimming—and returned to Joshua in the night to recount all that had befallen them. Their own personal experiences were merely the background to the main report they delivered to Joshua. That report is concisely recorded in the last verse of chapter 2: "Truly Jehovah hath delivered into our hands all the land; and moreover all the inhabitants of the land do melt away before us" (2:24). One can sense the thrill of expectancy of victory that surged through Joshua to hear such news. Whether he slept through the rest of the night or used the hours for last-minute preparations, he was up early in the morning, organizing the hosts of Israel for the assault on Jericho (3:1).
An important lesson for Christian living derived from this chapter of Joshua concerns the Christian's knowing the enemy. Trust in God's help for Christlike living does not preclude being forewarned of the tactics of Satan and being alert to this one who goes about seeking whom he may devour, as he works through such destroyers as lust, pride, disobedience, doubt, discouragement, and neglect. Just as the demons despaired in the presence of Jesus, enemies which need to be driven from the Christian's life will melt for fear, and thus be conquerable, when they see God as Lord of the Christian's heart leading His child to victory by faith. It behooves the Christian thus to live daily following God his Lord.
Excerpted from Joshua by Irving L. Jensen. Copyright © 1966 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of Moody Press.
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Table of Contents
Part One: Preparation for the Conquest,
Part Two: The Conquest,
Part Three: The Inheritances,
Part Four: Consecration,
Short Bibliography for Joshua,