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to perform. Note, Covenants must be made with care, and we must swear in judgment, lest we find ourselves perplexed and entangled when it is too late after vows to make inquiry. They that will be conscientious in keeping their promises, will be cautious in making them, and perhaps may insert conditions which others may think frivolous.

Their promise is here accompanied with three provisoes, and they were necessary ones. They will protect Rahab, and all her relations always, provided, (1.) That she tie the scarlet cord with which she was now about to let them down, in the window of her house, v. 18. This was to be a mark upon the house which the spies would take care to give notice of to the camp of Israel, that no soldier, how hot and eager soever he was in military executions, might offer any violence to the house that was thus distinguished. This was like the blood sprinkled upon the door-post, which secured the first-born from the destroying angel, and being of the same colour, some allude to this also, to represent the safety of believers, under the protection of the blood of Christ sprinkled on the conscience. The same cord that she made use of for the preservation of these Israelites, was to be made use of for her preservation. What we serve and honour God with, we may expect he will bless and make comfortable to us. (2.) That she should have all those whose safety she had desired in the house with her, and keep them there; and that at the time of taking the town, none of them should dare to stir out of doors, v. 18, 19. This was a necessary proviso, for Rahab's kindred could not be distinguished any other way than by being in her distinguished house; should they mingle themselves with their neighbours, there was no remedy, but the sword would devour one as well as another. It was a reasonable proviso, that since they were saved purely for Rahab's sake, her house should have the honour of being their castle: and that if they would not perish with them that believed not, they should thus far believe the certainty and severity of the ruin coming upon their city, as to retire into a place made safe by promise, as Noah into the ark, and Lot into Zoar, and should save themselves from this untoward generation, by separating from them. It was likewise a significant proviso, intimating to us that those who are added to the church that they may be saved, must keep close to the society of the faithful, and having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, must take heed of being again entangled therein. (3.) That she should keep counsel, v. 14, 20, If thou utter this our business, that is, "If thou betray us when we are gone, or if thou make this agreement public, so as that others tie scarlet lines in their windows, and so confound us, then we will be quit of thine oath." They are unworthy of the secret of the Lord, that know not how to keep it to themselves when there is occasion.

IV. She then took effectual care to secure her new friends, and sent them out another way, Jam. 2. 25. Having fully understood the bargain they made with her, and consented to it, v. 21, she then let them down by a cord over the city wall, v. 15, the situation of her house befriending them herein: Thus Paul made his escape out of Damascus, 2 Cor. 11. 33. She also directed them which way to go for their own safety, being better acquainted with the country than they were, v. 16. She directs them to leave the high road, and abscond in the mountains till the pursuers were returned, for till then they could not safely venture over Jordan. Those that are in the way of God and their duty, may expect that Providence will protect them, but that will not excuse them from taking all prudent methods for their own safety. God will keep us, but then we must not wilfully expose ourselves. Providence must be trusted, but not tempted. Calvin thinks that their charge to Rahab to keep this matter secret, and not to utter it, was intended for her safety, lest she, boasting of her security from the sword of Israel, should, before they came to protect her, fall into the hands of the king of Jericho, and be put to death for treason: thus do

CHAPTER III.

This chapter, and that which follows it, gives us the history of Israel's passing through Jordan into Canaan, and a very memorable history it is. Long after, they are bid to remember what God did for them between Shittim (whence they decamped, v. 1,) and Gilgal, where they next pitched, ch. 4. 19. Mic. 6. 5, That they might know the righteousness of the Lord. By Joshua's order they marched up to the river's side, v. 1, and then almighty power led them through it. They passed through the Red sea unexpectedly, and in their flight by night, but they have notice some time before of their passing through Jordan, and their expectations raised. I. The people are directed to follow the ark, v. 2-4. II. They are commanded to sanctily themselves, v. 5. III. The priests with the ark are ordered to lead the van, v. 6. IV. Joshua is magnified and made commander-inchief, v. 7, 8. V. Public notice is given of what God is about to do for them, v. 9-13. VI. The thing is done, Jordan is divided, and Israel brought safely through it, v. 14-17. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our

eyes.

rose in the

AND Joshua rom Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

2 And it came to pass, after three days, that the officers went through the host;

3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

a c. 2. 1. b c. 1. 10, 11. c Num. 10. 33. d Deut. 31.9,

• melt. ver. 9. 25.

they prudently advise her for her safety, as she advised them for theirs. And it is good advice, which we should at any time be thankful for, to take heed to ourselves.

V. 22-24. We have here the safe return of the spies Joshua had sent, and the great encouragement they brought with them to Israel to proceed in their descent upon Canaan. Had they been minded to discourage the people, as the evil spies did that Moses sent, they might have told them what they had observed of the height and strength of the walls of Jericho, and the extraordinary vigilance of the king of Jericho, and how narrowly they escaped out of his hands: but they were of another spirit, and depending themselves upon the divine promise, they animated Joshua likewise.

1. Their return in safety was itself an encouragement to Joshua, and a token for good. That God provided for them so good a friend as Rahab was, in an enemy's country, and that, notwithstanding the rage of the king of Jericho, and the eagerness of the pursuers, they were come back in peace, was such an instance of God's great care concerning them for Israel's sake, as might assure the people of the divine conduct and care they were under, which would undoubtedly make the progress of their arms glorious. He that so wonderfully protected their scouts, would preserve their men of war, and cover their heads in the day of battle.

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2. The report they brought was much more encouraging, v. 24, All the inhabitants of the country, though resolved to stand it out, yet do faint because of us, they have neither wisdom to yield, nor courage to fight;" whence they conclude, "Truly the Lord has delivered into our hands all the land, it is all our own, we have nothing to do, in effect, but to take possession." Sinners' frights are sometimes sure presages of their fall. If we resist our spiritual enemies, they will flee before us, which will encourage us to hope that in due time we shall be more than conquerors.

NOTES TO CHAPTER III,

V. 1-6. Rahab, in mentioning to the spies the drying up of the Red sea, ch. 2. 10, the report of which terrified the Canaanites more than any thing else, intimates that they on that side the water expected that Jordan, that great defence of their country, would in like manner give way to them; whether the Israelites had any expectation of it does not appear. God often did things for them which they looked not for, Is. 64.3. Now here we are told,

I. That they came to Jordan and lodged there, v. 1. Though they were not yet told how they should pass the river, and were unprovided for the passing of it in any ordinary way, yet they went forward in faith, having been told, ch. 1. 11, that they should pass it. We must go on in the way of our duty, though we foresee difficulties, trusting God to help us through them, when we come to them. Let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on divine sufficiency for that which we find ourselves not sufficient for. In this march Joshua led them, and particular notice is taken of his early rising; as there is afterward upon other occasions, ch. 6. 12.-7. 16.-8. 10, which intimates how little he loved his ease, how much he loved his business, and what care and pains he was willing to take in it. Those that would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. Joshua herein set a good example to the officers under him, and taught them to rise early, and to all that are in public stations especially to attend continually to the duty of their place.

II. That the people were directed to follow the ark; officers were appointed to go through the host to give these directions, v. 2, that every Israelite might know both what to do, and what to depend upon.

1. They might depend upon the ark to lead them; that is, upon God himself, of whose presence the ark was an instituted sign and token. It seems, the pillar of cloud and fire was re

4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go for ye have not passed this way *heretofore.

5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify your-to selves: for to-morrow the LORD will do wonders "among you.

6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will

e Ex. 19. 12. • since yesterday and the third day. f Ex. 19. 10, 14. Lev. 20. 7. Num. 11. 18. c. 7. 13. 1 Sam. 16. 5. Job 1. 5. Joel 2. 16. John 17, 19. g Ps. 86. 10. Num. 4. 15.

I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, when ye are come the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand 'still in Jordan.

III. They were commanded to sanctify themselves, that they might be prepared to attend the ark; and for this there was good reason, for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you, v. 5. See how magnificently he speaks of God's works, he doeth wonders, and is therefore to be adored, admired, and trusted in. See how intimately acquainted Joshua was with the divine counsels, he could tell beforehand what God would

9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.

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10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail "drive out from before you the Canaanites,

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moved, else that had led them, unless we suppose that that now hovered over the ark, and so they had a double guide, honour was put upon the ark, and a defence upon that glory. It is called here the ark of the covenant of the Lord their God. What greater encouragement could they have than this, That the Lord was their God, a God in covenant with them? Here was the ark of the covenant; if God be ours, we need not fear any evil. He was nigh to them, present with them, went before them: What could come amiss to them that were thus guided, thus guarded? Formerly, the ark was carried in the midst of the camp, but now it went before them to search out a resting place for them, Num. 10. 33, and, as it were, to give them livery and seisin of the promised land, and put them in possession of it. In the ark the tables of the law were, and over it the mercy- IV. The priests were ordered to take up the ark and carry seat, for the divine law and grace reigning in the heart are the it before the people, v. 6. It was the Levites' work ordinarily surest pledges of God's presence and favour; and those that to carry the ark, Num. 4. 15. But on this great occasion the would be led to the heavenly Canaan, must take the law of God priests were ordered to do it. And they did as they were comfor their guide, (if thou wilt enter into life, keep the command-manded, took up the ark, and did not think themselves dispaments,) and have the great Propitiation in their eye, looking for raged, went before the people, and did not think themselves exthe mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. posed; the ark they carried was both their honour and their defence. And now we may suppose that prayer of Moses used, when the ark set forward, Num. 10. 35, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered. Magistrates are here instructed to stir up ministers to their work, and to make use of their authority for the furtherance of religion; ministers must likewise learn to go before in the way of God, and not to shrink or draw back when dangers are before them. They must expect to be most struck at, but they know whom they have trusted. V. 7-13. We may observe here how God honours Joshua, and, by this wondrous work he is about to do, designs to make Israel know that he is their governor. And then, how Joshua honours God, and endeavours by it to make Israel know that he is their God. Thus those that honour God he will honour, and those whom he has advanced should do what they can in their places to exalt him.

2. They might depend upon the priests and Levites, who were appointed for that purpose, to carry the ark before them. The work of ministers is to hold forth the word of life, and to take care of the administration of those ordinances which are the tokens of God's presence, and the instruments of his power and grace; and herein they must go before the people of God in their way to heaven.

3. The people must follow the ark. Remove from your place, and go after it; (1.) As those that are resolved never to forsake it; wherever God's ordinances are, there we must be; if they flit, we must remove and go after them. (2.) As those that are entirely satisfied in its guidance, that it will lead in the best way to the best end; and therefore, Lord, I will follow thee whither soever thou goest. This must be all their care, to attend the motions of the ark, and follow it with an implicit faith. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit in every thing, so shall peace be upon us, as it now was upon the Israel of God. They must follow the priests as far as they carried the ark, but no further; so we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ.

I. God speaks to Joshua, to put honour upon him, v. 7,8. 1. It was a great honour God did him that he spake to him, as he had done to Moses from off the mercy-seat, before the priests removed it with the ark. This would make Joshua easy in himself and great among the people, that God was pleased to speak so familiarly to him.

4. In following the ark, they must keep their distance, v. 4. They must none of them come within a thousand yards of the ark. (1.) They must thus express their awful and reverent regard to that token of God's presence, lest its familiarity with them should breed contempt. This charge to them, not to come near, was agreeable to that dispensation of darkness, bondage, and terror: but we now through Christ have access with boldness. (2.) Thus it was made to appear, that the ark was able to protect itself, and needed not to be guarded by the men of war, but was itself a guard to them. With what a noble defiance of the enemy did it leave all its friends half a mile behind, but the unarmed priests that carried it, as perfectly sufficient for its own safety and theirs that followed it. (3.) Thus it was the better seen by those who were to be led by it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go, seeing it, as it were, chalked out or tracked by the ark. Had they been allowed to come near it, they would have surrounded it, and none would have had the sight of it but those that were close to it; but as it was put at such a distance before them, they would all have the satisfaction of seeing it, and would be animated by the sight. And it was with good reason that this provision was made for their encouragement, for ye have not passed this way heretofore, This had been the character of all their way through the wilderness, it was an untrodden path, but this especially through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare for unusual events, to pass ways that we have not passed before: and much more when we go hence; our way through the valley of the shadow of death is a way we have not gone before, which makes it the more formidable. But if we have the assurance of God's presence, we need not fear, that will furnish us with such strength as we never had, when we come to do a work we never did.

2. That he designed to magnify him in the sight of all Israel. He had told him before he would be with him, ch. 1. 5, that comforted him, but now all Israel shall see it, and that magnified him. Those are truly great with whom God is, and whom he employs and owns in his service. God magnified him, because he would have the people magnify him. Pious magistrates are to be highly honoured and esteemed as public blessings, and the more we see of God with them, the more we should honour them. By the dividing of the Red sea, Israel was convinced that God was with Moses in bringing them out of Egypt; therefore they are said to be baptized unto Moses in the sea, 1 Cor. 10. 2. And upon that occasion they believed him, Ex. 14. 31. And now, by the dividing of Jordan, they shall be convinced that God is in like manner with Joshua in bringing them into Canaan. God had magnified Joshua before on several occasions, but now he began to magnify him as the successor of Moses in the government. Some have observed, it was at the banks of Jordan that God began to magnify Joshua, and at the same place he began to magnify our Lord Jesus as Mediator; for John was baptizing at Bethabara, the house of passage, and there it was that, when our Saviour was baptized, it was proclaimed concerning him, This is my beloved Son.

do, and when. See what preparation we must make to receive the discoveries of God's glory and the communications of his grace, we must sanctify ourselves. This we must do when we are to attend the ark, and God by it is about to do wonders among us; we must separate ourselves from all other cares, devote ourselves to God's honour, and cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. The people of Israel were now entering into the holy land, and therefore must sanctify themselves. God was about to give them uncommon instances of his favour, which by meditation and prayer they must compose their minds to a very careful observation of, that they might give God the glory, and take to themselves the comfort, of these appearances.

3. That by him he gave orders to the priests themselves, though they were his immediate attendants, v. 8, Thou shalt command the priests, that is, "Thou shalt make known to them the divine command in this matter, and take care that they observe it, to stand still at the brink of Jordan while the waters part, that it may appear to be at the presence of the Lord, of the mighty God of Jacob, that Jordan is driven back," Ps. 114. 5,7. God could have divided the river without the priests, but they could not without him. The priests must herein set a good example to the people, and teach them to do their utmost in the service of God, and trust him for help in time of need.

II. Joshua speaks to the people, and therein honours God. 1. He demands attention, v. 9, "Come hither to me, as many as can come within hearing, and before you see the works, hear the words of the Lord your God, that you may compare them together, and they may illustrate each other." He had com

and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, | moved from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Je- the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before busites. the people;

15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan "overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the LORD of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. 12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

14 And it came to pass, when the people re

p ver. 13. Is. 54. 5. Mic. 4. 13. Zech. 4. 14. 6. 5. q c. 4. 2. r ver. 15, 16. Ps. 18. 13. Deut. 31. 26. Jer. 3. 16. Heb. 9.4.

2. He now tells them at length, by what way they should pass over Jordan, by the stopping of its stream, v. 13, The waters of Jordan shall be cut off. God could, by a sudden and miraculous frost, have congealed the surface, so that they might all have gone over upon the ice; but that being a thing sometimes done even in that country, by the ordinary power of nature, (Job 38. 30,) it would not have been such an honour to Israel's God, nor such a terror to Israel's enemies; it must therefore be done in such a way as had no precedent but the dividing of the Red sea: and that miracle is here repeated, to show that God has the same power to finish the salvation of his people, that he had to begin it, for he is the Alpha and the Omega; and that the Word of the Lord, (as the Chaldee reads it, v. 7,) the essential eternal Word, was as truly with Joshua as he was with Moses. And by the dividing of the waters from the waters, and the making of the dry land to appear which had been covered, God would remind them of that which Moses by revelation had instructed them in, concerning the work of creation, Gen. 1. 6, 9. That by what they now saw, their belief of that which they there read might be assisted, and they might know that the God whom they worshipped was the same God that made the world, and that it was the same power that was engaged and employed for them.

16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the "sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

manded them to sanctify themselves, and therefore calls them from before you the Canaanites. He will do it certainly, and to hear the word of God, for that is the ordinary means of sanc-do it effectually. What should hinder him? What can stand tification, John 17. 17. in his way, before whom rivers are divided, and dried up? The forcing of the lines was a certain presage of the ruin of all their hosts: how could they stand their ground when Jordan itself was driven back? When they had not courage to dispute this pass, but trembled at the approach of the mighty God of Jacob, Ps. 114. 7. What opposition could they ever make after this? This assurance which Joshua here gives them, was so well grounded, as that it would enable one Israelite to chase a thousand Canaanites, and two to put ten thousand to flight: and it would be abundantly strengthened by remembering the song of Moses, dictated forty years before, which plainly foretold the dividing of Jordan, and the influence it would have upon the driving out of the Canaanites, Ex. 15. 15-17. The inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away, and so be effectually driven out, they shall be as still as a stone till thy people pass over, and then thou shalt bring them in and plant them. Note, God's glorious appearances for his church and people, ought to be improved by us for the encouragement of our faith and hope for the future. As for God, his work is perfect. If Jordan's flood cannot keep them out, Canaan's force cannot turn them out again.

5. He directs them to get twelve men ready, one of each tribe, who must be within call, to receive such orders as Joshua should afterward give them, v. 12. It does not appear that they were to attend the priests, and walk with them when they carried the ark, that they might more immediately be witnesses of the wonders done by it, as some think; but they were to be at hand for the service they were called to, ch. 4. 4, &c.

V. 14-17. Here we have a short and plain account of the dividing of the river Jordan, and the passage of the children of Israel through it. The story is not garnished with the flowers of rhetoric, gold needs not to be painted; but it tells us, in short, matter of fact.

3. The people having been directed before to follow the ark, are here told that it should pass before them into Jordan, v. 11. Observe, (1.) The ark of the covenant must be their guide. During the reign of Moses, the cloud was their guide, but now, in Joshua's reign, the ark; both were visible signs of God's presence and presidency; but divine grace under the Mosaic | dispensation was wrapped up as in a cloud and covered with a vail, while by Christ, our Joshua, it is revealed in the ark of the covenant unvailed. (2.) It is called the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth. "He that is your God, v. 9, in covenant with you, is the Lord of all the earth, has both right and power to command, control, use, and dispose of all nations and of all creatures. He is the Lord of all the earth, therefore he needs not you, nor can he be benefited by you; therefore it is your honour and happiness to have him in covenant with you: if he be yours, all the creatures are at your service, and, when he pleases, shall be employed for you." When we are praising and worshipping God as Israel's God, and ours through Christ, we must remember that he is the Lord of the whole earth, and reverence him and trust in him accordingly. Some observe an accent in the original, which they think directs us to translate it somewhat more emphatically, Behold the ark of the covenant, even the ark of the Lord, or even of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth. (3.) They are told that the ark should pass before them into Jordan, God would not appoint them to go any where but where he himself would go before them, and go with them; and they might safely venture, even into Jordan itself, if the ark of the covenant lead them. While we make God's precepts our rule, his promises our stay, and his providence our guide, we need not dread the greatest difficulties we may meet with in the way of duty. That promise is sure to all the seed, Is. 43. 2, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.

4. From what God was now about to do for them, he infers an assurance of what he would yet further do. This he mentions first, so much was his heart upon it, and so great a satisfaction did it give him, v. 10. "Hereby ye shall know that the living God (the true God, and God of power, not one of the dead gods of the heathen) is among you, though you see him not, nor are to have any image of him; is among you to give you law, secure your welfare, and receive your homage; is among you in this great undertaking now before you; and therefore you shall, nay, he himself will, without fail, drive out from before you the Canaanites." So that the dividing of Jordan was intended to be to them, (1.) A sure token of God's presence with them; by this they could not but know that God was among them, unless their unbelief was as obstinate against the most convincing evidence, as that of their fathers was, who, presently after God had divided the Red sea before them, impudently asked, Is the Lord among us, or is he not? Ex. 17. 7. (2.) A sure pledge of the conquest of Canaan; if the living God is among you, expelling he will expel (so the Hebrew phrase is)

14 ver. 13. 1 Chr. 12. 15. Jer. 12. 5. Ps. 114. 3. 1 Kings 4. 12. Zartanah. 1 Kings 7. 46. Zarthan, y Deut. 3. 17.

1. That this river was now broader and deeper than usually it was at other times of the year, v. 15. The melting of the snow on the mountains of Lebanon, near which this river had its rise, was the occasion, that, at the time of harvest, barleyharvest, which was the spring of the year, Jordan overflowed all his banks. This great flood, just at that time, (which Providence might have restrained for once, or which he might have ordered them to cross at another time of the year,) very much magnified the power of God and his kindness to Israel. Note, Though the opposition given to the salvation of God's people, have all imaginable advantages, yet God can and will conquer it. Let the banks of Jordan be filled to the brink, filled till they run over, it is as easy to Omnipotence to divide them, and dry them up, as if they were never so narrow, never so shallow; it is all one with the Lord.

2. That as soon as ever the feet of the priests dipped in the brim of the water, the stream stopped immediately, as if a sluice had been made to dam it up, v. 15, 16. So that the waters above swelled, stood on a heap, and ran back, and yet, as it should seem, did not spread, but congealed; which unaccountable rising of the river was observed with amazement by those that lived upward upon it many miles off, and the remembrance of it remained among them long after; the waters on the other side this invisible dam ran down of course, and left the bottom of the river dry as far downward, it is likely, as they swelled upward. When they passed through the Red sea, the waters were a wall on either hand, here only on the right hand. Note, The God of nature can, when he pleases, change the course of nature, and alter its properties, can turn fluids into solids, waters into standing rocks, as on the contrary, rocks into standing waters, to serve his own purposes. See Ps. 114. 5, 8. What cannot God do? What will he not do for the perfecting of his people's salvation? Sometimes he cleaves the earth with rivers, Hab. 3. 9, and sometimes, as here, cleaves the rivers without earth. It is easy to imagine how, when the course of this strong and rapid stream was arrested on a sudden, the waters roared and were troubled, so that the mountains seemed to shake with the swelling thereof, Ps. 46. 3, how the floods lifted their voice, the floods lifted up their waves, while the Lord on high showed himself mightier than the noise of these many waters, Ps. 93. 3, 4. With reference to this, the prophet asks, Was the Lord displeased against the rivers, was thine anger against the rivers? Hab. 3. 8. No, Thou wentest forth for the

4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:

5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone

CHAPTER IV.

This chapter gives a further account of the miraculous passage of Israel through upon his shoulder, according unto the number of

the tribes of the children of Israel:

Jordan. 1. The provision that was made at that time to preserve the memorial of it, by twelve stones set up in Jordan, v. 9, and other twelve stones taken up out of Jordan, v. 1-8. 11. The march of the people through Jordan's channel,

the two tribes first, then all the people, and the priests that bare the ark last,

v. 10-14. III. The closing of the waters again upon their coming up with the

ark, v. 15-19. IV. The erecting of the monument in Gilgal, to preserve the

remembrance of this work of wonder to posterity, v. 20-24.

17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters nant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, of off before the ark of the covethe waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial dunto the children of Israel for ever.

clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,

3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones; and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place where ye shall lodge this night.

≈ Ex. 14. 29. a Deut. 27. 2. b Ex. 13. 14. Deut. 6. 20. ver. 21. Ps. 44.

salvation of thy people, v. 13. In allusion to this, it is foretold, among the great things God will do for the Gospel church in the latter days, that the great river Euphrates shall be dried up, that the way of the kings of the east may be prepared, Rev. 16. 12. When the time is come for Israel's entrance into the land of promise, all difficulties shall be conquered, mountains shall become plains, Zech. 4. 7, and rivers become dry, for the ransomed of the Lord to pass over. When we have finished our pilgrimage through this wilderness, death will be like this Jordan between us and the heavenly Canaan, but the ark of the covenant has prepared us a way through it, it is the last enemy that shall be destroyed.

3. That the people passed over right against Jericho, which was, (1.) An instance of their boldness, and a noble defiance of their enemies; Jericho was one of the strongest cities, and yet they dared to face it at their first entrance. (2.) It was an encouragement to them to venture through Jordan, for Jericho was a goodly city, and the country about it extremely pleasant; and having that in view as their own, what difficulties could discourage them from taking possession? (3.) It would increase the confusion and terror of their enemies, who, no doubt, strictly observed their motions, and were the amazed spectators of this work of wonders.

4. That the priests stood still in the midst of Jordan while the people passed over, v. 17. There the ark was appointed to be, to show that the same power that parted the waters, kept them parted as long as there was occasion, and had not the divine presence, of which the ark was a token, been their security, the water had returned upon them and buried them. There the priests were appointed to stand still, (1.) To try their faith, whether they could venture to take their post when God assigned it them, with mountains of water over their heads: as they made a bold step when they set the first foot into Jordan, so now they made a bold stand when they tarried longest in Jordan; but they knew they carried their own protection with them. Note, Ministers in times of peril should be examples of courage and confidence in the divine goodness. (2.) It was to encourage the faith of the people that they might go triumphantly into Canaan, and fear no evil, no not in this valley of the shadow of death, (for so the divided river was) being assured of God's presence, which interposed between them and the greatest danger, between them and the proud waters, which otherwise had gone over their souls. Thus in the greatest dangers the saints are comforted with his rod and his staff, Ps. 23. 4.

NOTES TO CHAPTER IV.

V. 1-9. We may well imagine how busy Joshua and all the men of war were, while they were passing over Jordan, when beside their own marching into an enemy's country, and in the face of the enemy, which could not but occasion them many thoughts of heart, they had their wives, and children, and families, their cattle, and tents, and all their effects, bag and baggage, to convey by this strange and untrodden path, which we must suppose either very muddy, or very stony, troublesome to the weak, and frightful to the timorous, the descent to the bottom of the river, and the ascent out of it steep, so that every man must needs have his head full of care and his hands full of business, and Joshua more than any of them. And yet in the midst of all his hurry, care must be taken to perpetuate the memorial of this wondrous work of God, and this care might not be adjourned to a time of greater leisure. Note, How much soever we have to do of business for ourselves, and our families, we must not neglect or omit what we have to do for the glory of God and the serving of his honour, for that is our best business. Now,

I. God gave orders for the preparing of this memorial. Had Joshua done it without divine direction, it might have looked like a design to perpetuate his own name and honour, nor would it have commanded so sacred and venerable a regard from posterity, as now when God himself appointed it. Note, God's

8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

1. 78. 3-8. ⚫ to-morrow. c c. 3. 13, 16. d Num. 16. 40. Ps. 111. 4. works of wonder ought to be kept in everlasting remembrance, and means devised for the preserving of the memorial of them. Some of the Israelites that passed over Jordan, perhaps, were so stupid, and so little affected with this great favour of God to them, that they felt no concern to have it remembered; while others, it may be, were so much affected with it, and had such deep impressions made upon them by it, that they thought there needed no memorial of it to be erected, the heart and tongue of every Israelite in every age would be a living lasting monument of it. But God knowing their frame, and how apt they had been soon to forget his works, ordered an expedient for the keeping of this in remembrance to all generations, that those who could not, or would not, read the record of it in the sacred history, might come to the knowledge of it by the monument set up in remembrance of it, which the common tradition of the country would be an explication of; it would likewise serve to corroborate the proof of the matter of fact, and would remain a standing evidence of it to those who in afterages might question the truth of it.

A monument is to be erected, and, 1. Joshua, as chief captain, must give directions about it, v. 1, When all the people were clean passed over Jordan, not even the feeble, that were the hindmost of them, left behind, so that God had done his work completely, and every Israelite got safe into Canaan, then God spake unto Joshua, to provide materials for this monument. It is the pious conjecture of the learned Bishop Patrick, that Joshua was gone into some place of retirement, to return thanks immediately for this wonderful mercy, and then God met him, and spake thus to him. Or, perhaps, it was by Eleazar the priest, that God gave these and other instructions to Joshua, for though he is not mentioned here, yet when Joshua was ordained by the imposition of hands to this great trust, God appointed that Eleazar should ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim and at his word Joshua and all the children of Israel must go out and come in, Num. 27. 21. 2. One man out of each tribe, and he a chosen man, must be employed to prepare materials for this monument, that each tribe might have the story told them by one of themselves, and cach tribe might contribute something to the glory of God thereby, v. 2, 4, Out of every tribe a man. Not the Levites only, but every İsraelite must, in his place, help to make known to the sons of men God's mighty acts, Ps. 145. 12. The two tribes, though seated already in their possession, yet sharing in the mercy, must lend a hand to the memorial of it. 3. The stones that must be set up for this memorial, are ordered to be taken out of the midst of the channel, (where, probably, there lay abundance of great stones,) and as near as might be from the very place where the priests stood with the ark, v. 3, 5. This intended monument deserved to have been made of stones curiously cut with the finest and most exquisite art, but these stones out of the bottom of the river were more natural and more apt indications of the miracle; let posterity know by this that Jordan was driven back, for these very stones were then fetched out of it. In the institution of signs, God always chose that which was most proper and significant, rather than that which is pompous or curious; for God hath chosen the foolish things of the world. These twelve men, after they got over Jordan, must be sent back to the place where the ark stood, being permitted to come near it, (which others might not,) for this service; pass over before the ark, v. 5, that is, "into the presence of the ark, which now stands in the midst of Jordan, and thence fetch these stones." 4. The use of these stones is here appointed for a sign, v. 6, a memorial, v. 7. They would give occasion to the children to ask their parents in time to come, How came these stones thither? Probably the land about was not stony; but the parents would inform them, as they themselves had been informed, that in this place Jordan was divided by the almighty power of God, to give Israel passage into Canaan, as Joshua enlarges on this head, v. 22, &c.

9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.

11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.

12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:

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II. According to these orders the thing was done. 1. Twelve stones were taken up out of the midst of Jordan, and carried in the sight of the people to the place where they had their head-quarters that night, v. 8. It is probable that the stones they took, were as big as they could well carry, and as near as might be of a size and shape. But whether they went away with them immediately to the place, or whether they stayed to attend the ark, and kept pace with the solemn procession of that, to grace its triumphant entry into Canaan, is not certain. By these stones which they were ordered to take up, God did, as it were, give them livery and seisin of this good land, it is all their own, let them enter and take possession; therefore what these twelve did, the children of Israel are said to do, v. 8, because they were the representatives of their respective tribes. In allusion to this, we may observe, that when the Lord Jesus, our Joshua, having overcome the sharpness of death, and dried up that Jordan, had opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, he appointed his twelve apostles, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, by the memorial of the Gospel to transmit the knowledge of this to remote places and future ages.

2. Other twelve stones (probably, much larger than the other, for we read not that they were each of them one man's load) were set up in the midst of Jordan, v. 9, piled up so high in a heap or pillar, as that the top of it might be seen above water, when the river was low, or seen in the water, when it was clear, or at least the noise or commotion of the water passing over it would be observable, and the bargemen would avoid it, as they do a rock; some way or other, it is likely, it was discernible so as to notify the very place where the ark stood, and to serve for a duplicate to the other monument, which was to be set up on dry land in Gilgal for the confirming of its testimony, and the preserving of its tradition. The sign being doubled, no doubt, the thing was certain.

V. 10-19. The inspired historian seems to be so well pleased with his subject here, that he is loath to quit it, and is therefore very particular in his narrative, especially in observing how closely Joshua pursued the orders God gave him, and that he did nothing without divine direction, finishing all that the Lord had commanded him, (v. 10,) which is also said to be what Moses commanded. We read not of any particular commands that Moses gave Joshua about this matter, the thing was altogether new to him. It must therefore be understood of the general instructions Moses had given him to follow the divine conduct, to deliver that to the people, which he had received of the Lord, and to take all occasions to remind them of their duty to God, as the best return for his favours to them: This which Moses, who was now dead and gone, had said to him, he had in mind at this time, and did accordingly. It is well for us to have the good instructions that have been given us, ready to us, when we have occasion for them.

1. All the people hasted and passed over, v. 10. Some understand it of the twelve men that carried the stones, but it seems rather to be meant of the body of the people; for though an account was given of their passing over, v. 1, yet here it is repeated for the sake of this circumstance, which was to be added, that they passed over in haste, either because Joshua by their officers ordered them to make haste, for it was to be but one day's work, and they must not leave a hoof behind; or, perhaps, it was their own inclination that hastened them. (1.) Some hasted, because they were not able to trust God, they were afraid the waters should return upon them, being conscious of guilt, and diffident of the divine power and goodness. (2.) Others, because they were not willing to tempt God to continue the miracle longer than needs must, nor would they put the patience of the priests that bare the ark too much to the stretch by unnecessary delay. (3.) Others, because they were eager to be in Canaan, and would thus show how much they longed after that pleasant land. (4.) Those that considered least, yet hasted because others did. He that believeth, maketh haste, not to anticipate God's counsels, but to attend them, Is. 28. 16.

13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.

15 And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, 16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.

17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.

18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

2. The two tribes and a half led the van, v. 12, 13. So they had promised, when they had their lot given them on that side Jordan, Num. 32. 27. And Joshua had lately reminded them

i Ex. 14. 31. 1 Sam. 12. 18. 1 Kings 3. 28. Ex. 25. 16, 21. ↑ plucked up. I went. I c. 3. 15.

of their promise, ch. 1. 12-15. It was fit that they who had the first settlement, should be the first in the encounter of diffi culties, the rather, because they had not the encumbrance of families with them as the other tribes had, and they were all chosen men, and fit for service, ready armed. It was a good providence that they had so strong a body to lead them on, and would be an encouragement to the rest. And the two tribes had no reason to complain, the post of danger is the post of honour.

3. When all the people were got clear to the other side, the priests with the ark came up out of Jordan. This, one would think, should have been done of course, their own reason would tell them that now there was no more occasion for them, and yet they did not stir a step till Joshua ordered them to move, and Joshua did not order them out of Jordan till God directed him to do so, v. 15-17. So observant were they of Joshua, and he of God, which was their praise, as it was their happiness to be under such good direction. How low a condition soever God may at any time bring his priests or people to, let them patiently wait, till by his providence he shall call them up out of it, as the priests here were called to come up out of Jordan, and let them not be weary of waiting, while they have the tokens of God's presence with them, even the ark of the covenant, in the depth of their adversity.

4. As soon as ever the priests and the ark were come up out of Jordan, the waters of the river, which had stood on a heap, gradually flowed down according to their nature and usual course, and soon filled the channel again, v. 18. This makes it yet more evident, that the stop which had now been given to the river, was not from any secret natural cause; but purely from the power of God's presence, and for the sake of his Israel, for when Israel's turn was served, and the token of his presence was removed, immediately the water went forward again; so that if it be asked, What ailed thee, O Jordan, that thou wast driven back? it must be answered, It was purely in obedience to the God of Israel, and in kindness to the Israel of God: there is therefore none like unto the God of Jeshurun; happy also art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O people? Some observe here, by way of allusion, that when the ark and the priests that bare it are removed from any place, the floodgates are drawn up, the defence is departed, and an inundation of judgments is to be expected shortly. Those that are unchurched, will soon be undone. The glory is departed, if the ark be taken.

5. Notice is taken of the honour put upon Joshua by all this, v. 14, On that day the Lord magnified Joshua, both by the fellowship he admitted him to with himself, speaking to him upon all occasions, and being ready to be consulted by him; and by the authority he confirmed him in, over both priests and people. Those that honour God he will honour, and when he will magnify a man, as he had said he would magnify Joshua, (ch. 3. 7,) he will do it effectually. Yet it was not for Joshua's sake only that he was thus magnified, but to put him in a capacity of doing so much the more service to Israel, for hereupon they feared him as they feared Moses. See here what is the best and surest way to command the respect of inferiors, and to gain their reverence and observance, not by blustering and threatening, and carrying it with a high hand, but by holiness and love, and all possible indications of a constant regard to their welfare, and to God's will and honour. Those are feared in the best manner, and to the best purpose, who make it to appear that God is with them, and that they set him before them. Those that are sanctified are truly magnified, and are worthy of double honour. Favourites of heaven should be looked on with awe.

6. An account is kept of the time of this great event, v. 19, it was on the tenth day of the first month, just forty years since they came out of Egypt, wanting five days. God had said in his wrath that they should wander forty years in the wilderness, but to make up that forty we must take in the first year, which was then past, and had been a year of triumph in their deliverance out of Egypt, and this last, which had been a year of triumph likewise on the other side Jordan, so that all the forty were not years of sorrow; and at last he brought them into Canaan five days before the forty years were ended, to show how little pleasure God takes in punishing, how swift he is to

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