|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:2-10 After a year or more, Joshua blamed their slackness, and told them how to proceed. God, by his grace, has given us a title to a good land, the heavenly Canaan, but we are slack to take possession of it; we enter not into that rest, as we might by faith, and hope, and holy joy. How long shall it be thus with us? How long shall we thus stand in our own light, and forsake our own mercies for lying vanities? Joshua stirs the Israelites up to take possession of their lots. He is ready to do his part, if they will do theirs.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the men went and passed through the land,.... Undisturbed by the inhabitants that remained; the fear of the Israelites being still upon them, and the providence of God restraining them, so that the men passed through the whole country, and took a survey of it without any molestation:
and described it by cities, into seven parts, in a book; or map, or rather made seven maps of it, and set down the several cities in each division, with the places adjacent, hills and vales, and marked out a plain and exact chorography of the whole, by which it appears they must be men well skilled in geometry. Josephus (b) says, that Joshua added to them some that understood geometry; but doubtless the persons each tribe chose and sent were such whom they knew were well versed in that art, and so fit for the business; and which they had, no doubt, learned in Egypt, this being one part of the wisdom and learning of the Egyptians; who boasted of it as an invention of theirs, as Diodorus Siculus (c) relates; and indeed they were obliged to study it, their country being divided into several homes, and these into lesser districts, and which also were subdivided, and according thereunto were the king's taxes levied upon them; and what with the confusion frequently made by the overflowings of the Nile, they were frequently obliged to measure their land over again; and hence they became expert in this science, which is commonly believed took its rise from them, and passed into Greece, as Herodotus (d), and Strabo (e), and other authors relate; however, it is certain from this instance in the time of Joshua, that geometry was not the invention of Anaximander, about five hundred years before Christ, as some have asserted (f):
and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh; where the camp, as well as the people in common, and the tabernacle, were; they returned, as Josephus (g) says, at the end of seven months; and to measure so much land, and make such divisions of it, and give the plans and maps of each division, must take up a considerable time.
(b) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 21. (c) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 63. (d) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 109. (e) Geograph. l. 17. p. 541, 542. Vid. Suidam in voce (f) Vid. Strabo. Geograph. l. 1. p. 5. Lar. l. 2. Vit. Anaximan I.((g) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 21.)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. The men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book—dividing the land according to its value, and the worth of the cities which it contained, into seven equal portions. This was no light task to undertake. It required learning and intelligence which they or their instructors had, in all probability, brought with them out of Egypt. Accordingly, Josephus says that the survey was performed by men expert in geometry. And, in fact, the circumstantial account which is given of the boundaries of each tribe and its situation, well proves it to have been the work of no mean or incompetent hands.
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