Joshua 1:2
Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people, to the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
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Joshua 1:2. Now therefore arise — Let not the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours. When God has work to do, he will either find or make instruments fit to carry it on. Moses the servant is dead, but God the master is not, he lives for ever. This Jordan — Which is now near thee, which is the only obstacle in thy way to Canaan. The land which I give — That is, I am now about to give thee actual possession of it, as I formerly gave a right to it by promise.1:1-4 Joshua had attended upon Moses. He who was called to honour, had been long used to business. Our Lord Jesus took upon him the form of a servant. Joshua was trained up under command. Those are fittest to rule, who have learned to obey. The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be the more diligent in doing good. Arise, go over Jordan. At this place and at this time the banks were overflowed. Joshua had no bridge or boats, and yet he must believe that God, having ordered the people over, would open a way.Now ... - Hebrew: "and, ..." The statement following is thus connected with some previous one, which is assumed to be known to the reader. So Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, etc., are by the same means linked on to the books preceding them. The connection here is the closer, since the Book of Deuteronomy concludes, and the book of Joshua opens, by referring to the death of Moses.

Moses, the servant of the Lord - On the epithet, see the marginal reference "b."

Moses' minister - It is impossible altogether to pass by the typical application of this verse. Moses, representing the law, is dead; Joshua, or, as that name is written in Greek, Jesus, is now bidden by God to do what Moses could not - lead the people into the promised land. Joshua was "Moses' minister," just as Christ was "made under the Law;" but it was Joshua, not Moses, who worked out the accomplishment of the blessings which the Law promised. On the name Joshua, see Exodus 17:9 note, and Numbers 13:16.

Saying - No doubt directly, by an immediate revelation, but not as God spake to Moses, "mouth to mouth" Numbers 12:8. Though upon Joshua's appointment to be Moses' successor (Numbers 27:18 ff), it had been directed that "counsel should be asked" for him through the medium of Eleazar "after the judgment of Urim," yet this was evidently a resource provided to meet cases of doubt and difficulty. Here there was no such case; but the appointed leader, knowing well the purpose of God, needed to be stirred up to instant execution of it; and the people too might require the encouragement of a renewed divine command to set out at once upon the great enterprise before them (compare Joshua 1:13).

2-9. now therefore arise, go over this Jordan—Joshua's mission was that of a military leader. This passage records his call to begin the work, and the address contains a literal repetition of the promise made to Moses (De 11:24, 25; 31:6-8, 23). This Jordan; this which is now near thee, which is tho only obstacle in thy way to Canaan.

Which I do give, i.e. am now about to give the actual possession of it, as I formerly gave a right to it by promise. Moses my servant is dead,.... Which was said not for the information of Joshua, but to lead on to, and show the cause and reason of what he was about to say to him:

now therefore arise, go over this Jordan; near to which the whole body of the people of Israel were, and very probably were in sight of it:

thou, and all this people: which were very numerous, six hundred thousand men or more, besides a great number of women and children, and no boats to carry them over, or pontoons to put across the river:

unto the land which I give unto them, even to the children of Israel; and therefore it could be no case of conscience with Joshua, to go and take it out of the hands of the present inhabitants, since the Lord, who had a right to dispose of it, gave it to them. As this land was a type of heaven, and eternal life, which is the free gift of God through Christ, passing over the river of Jordan to it may be an emblem of the passage through death to the heavenly state; both of the death of Christ, the antitypical Joshua, who passed through it, as a surety to make satisfaction for sin, and as a forerunner to set an example, to sanctify death, to open a way into the holiest of holies, and prepare a place for his people; and of the death of the saints, which is necessary to their enjoyment of perfect rest and happiness.

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
2. Moses my servant] Comp. Deuteronomy 34:5. The highest possible title under the theocracy. Joshua as yet is but the “attendant” of Moses. The higher title is given him in Joshua 24:29.

this Jordan] one of the most singular rivers in the world, which “has never been navigable, and flows into a sea that has never known a port.” Observe

(a)  Its name. It is never called “the river” or “brook,” or by any other name than its own, “the Jordan” = “the Descender.”

(b)  Its sources. Far up in northern Palestine, the fork of the two ranges of Anti-Libanus “is alive with bursting fountains and gushing streams,” every one of which sooner or later finds its way into a swamp between Bâniâs and Lake Hûleh. Two of these streams deserve special attention, (i) one at Bâniâs, (ii) the other at Tel-el-Kâdy. The former is the upper, the latter the lower source of the “River of Palestine.”

(c)  Its course, which is marked by three distinct stages:

(i)  Enclosed within the ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, which run parallel to the Mediterranean from north to south, its streams—for as yet it can hardly be called a single river—fall into the lake called of old Merom, then Samaelon (= “the High Lake”), now Hûleh. “Half morass, half tarn, this lake is … surrounded by an almost impenetrable jungle of reeds abounding in wild fowl.”

(ii)  Here it might seem destined to end,—like the Barada “the river of Damascus” in the wide marshy lake, a day’s journey beyond that city,—but “the Descender” is not thus absorbed. Fed, like the lake itself, by innumerable springs in the slopes of Lebanon, and met by a deep depression for its bed, it rushes with increased rapidity three hundred feet downwards into the Lake of Gennesaret, which is about the same length as our own Windermere, but of much greater breadth.

(iii)  At the mouth of the Lake it is about 70 feet wide,—“a lazy turbid stream, flowing between low alluvial banks”—and here again it might seem to have closed its course. But it issues forth once more, now a foaming torrent, and plunges through twenty-seven rapids, with a fall of a thousand feet, on its lowest and final stage, into the Dead Sea.

(d)  Its windings. The distance from the Lake el-Hûleh to the Sea of Tiberias is nearly 9 miles, that from the Lake to the Dead Sea about 60 miles. But within this latter space the river traverses a distance of at least 200 miles. Darting first to the right, then to the left, then to the right again, “as if sensible of his sad fate,” to use the quaint words of Fuller, “and desirous to deferre what he cannot avoid, he fetcheth many turnings and windings, but all will not avail him from falling into the Dead Sea.” See Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, pp. 282, 283; Thomson’s Land and the Book; Ritter’s Geography of Palestine; Macgregor’s Rob Roy on the Jordan.Verse 2. - Moses my servant is dead. "When you see Jerusalem overthrown, the altar forsaken, no sacrifices, no holocausts, no drink offerings, no priests, no Levitical ministry, when you see all these things cease, say it is because Moses the servant of God is dead, and Jesus the Sou of God obtains the leadership" (Origen, Hom. 2 on Joshua). This Jordan. Called "this" because it was now close to them, just as we have "this people, .... this Lebanon" (see note on ver. 4), etc. The name Jordan signifies "Descender," from the verb יָרַד to descend. The word fitly describes the headlong current of the river, which, according to Mr. Macgregor ('Rob Roy on the Jordan,' p. 282), has a fall of fifteen feet per mile, and if we subtract the Lake of Gennesareth and the lake and attendant marshes of Huleh, of thirty feet. Between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, however, the average fall is much less. Just after leaving the Sea of Galilee its fall is over forty feet. (Conder, 'Handbook,' p. 216). It may be interesting to compare with this the average inclination of some of our own English rivers. The swiftest is the Dee, in Aberdeenshire, which has a fall of 16.5 ft. per mile. The Tweed and Clyde have a fall of 16 ft. and 14 ft. respectively, while the Severn has but 26.5 in., the Thames 18 in., and the Shannon 9 in. per mile. This comparative table will give the best idea of the rapidity of the Jordan. The various explorers bear testimony to the swiftness of its current. Thus Robinson, in his 'Biblical Researches,' says, "The current was so strong that even Komeh, a stout swimmer of the Nile, was carried down several yards in crossing." "It was so swift," says Dr. Bartlett ('Egypt and Palestine,' p. 452), "that a gentleman of another company, who went to bathe, was not suffered by his friends to do so without a rope most un-romantically attached to his person." This was in March, at the time of the overflowing (see chap. 3.), and he adds, "the turbid stream rushed along like a mill ace." Canon Tristram, visiting it in April, describes it as "rushing with tremendous force." It rises among the snows of Hermon, dashes down headlong into the lake Huleh, the Merom of the Book of Joshua, and thence, with a descent of 60 ft. per mile, into the Sea of Galilee. Thence it shapes its course, as we have seen, with greatly diminished velocity into that strange depression where the Dead Sea lies, at a level of 1,290 ft. beneath the level of the Mediterranean. I do give, literally, I am giving; i.e., at this moment, when you are preparing to enter it. Though he died at the age of one hundred and twenty (see at Deuteronomy 31:2), Moses' eyes had not become dim, and his freshness had not abated (לח ב̔́נ. כוד., connected with לח in Genesis 30:37, signifies freshness). Thus had the Lord preserved the full vital energy of His servant, even till the time of his death. The mourning of the people lasted thirty days, as in the case of Aaron (Numbers 20:29).
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