|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-6 The Israelites came to Jordan in faith, having been told that they should pass it. In the way of duty, let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on the Lord. Joshua led them. Particular notice is taken of his early rising, as afterwards upon other occasions, which shows how little he sought his own ease. Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. All in public stations should always attend to the duty of their place. The people were to follow the ark. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit, in everything; so shall peace be upon us as upon the Israel of God; but we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ. All their way through the wilderness was an untrodden path, but most so this through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare to pass ways that we have not passed before; but in the path of duty we may proceed with boldness and cheerfulness. Whether we are called to suffer poverty, pain, labour, persecution, reproach, or death, we are following the Author and Finisher of our faith; nor can we set our feet in any dangerous or difficult spot, through our whole journey, but faith will there see the prints of the Redeemer's feet, who trod that very path to glory above, and bids us follow him, that where he is, we may be also. They were to sanctify themselves. Would we experience the effects of God's love and power, we must put away sin, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
Verse 2. - The officers. LXX., γραμματεις (see Joshua 1:10). This is evidently the history of the fulfilment of the command there given by Joshua. There he orders the officers to pass through the host; here the command is fulfilled. There is no reasonable doubt that the spies had returned before the order recorded in Joshua 1:10 had been given. Many commentators have raised objections to the order of the narrative in this and in the following chapter; and commentators like Houbigant, Masius (who says, "Narrationis ordo admodum perturbatus"), and Bishop Horsley, have suggested a different order of the verses. But Delitzsch has observed that the narrative is drawn up in a threefold order. First, the commencement of the crossing is detailed, from vers. 7-17 of this chapter; then (Joshua 4:1-14), its further progress; lastly (Joshua 4:15-24), its conclusion. And in each separate paragraph we have
(1) God's command to Joshua;
(2) Joshua's command to the people; and
(3) their fulfilment of his command.
Thus the Divine command, the human leadership, and the measures taken in obedience to that leadership are kept in close connection throughout. We need not suppose (he adds) that each separate act was enjoined at the moment when the necessity for the injunction arrived. Nor, we may add, is it necessary to suppose that every intimation given by God to Joshua is necessarily recorded in chronological order (see note on Joshua 2:1.) We are only to understand by the order followed by the sacred historian, that he desires to impress fully upon his readers how entirely every step taken by Joshua was taken at the express command of God. The idea of Paulus, Eichhorn, Ewald, Knobel, and others, that this account is compiled from two or more different documents, would not only require us to suppose great clumsiness in the compiler, if their view of his work be true, but is wholly unnecessary. The text involves no contradictions; only an amount of repetition, which is an essential feature of all the early Hebrew historical narratives, as is evident to the most casual observer, and is a proof, not of compilation, but of the antiquity of the document, and the simplicity and absence of art of the writer. Ewald has remarked that it is characteristic of the Hebrew historians to mention the termination of the event as soon as possible, and then to fill in their outline by the narration of intermediate circumstances (see chs. 1, 3, 6, 7. of the Book of Joshua). As a specimen of the way in which contradictions are manufactured, we may take Knobel's assertion that the two statements that the people came to Jordan, and that there was a space of 2,000 cubits between them and the priests, are irreconcilable. As though it were not possible that the 2,000 cubits were to be measured along the river, and that the priests were ordered to walk along the bank until it was signified to them that they had arrived at the place of crossing. For we are plainly told that this distance was to be preserved that the people might "know the way which they must go" (ver. 4).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass after three days,.... At the end of the three days they were bid to prepare food for their expedition, and to go over Jordan, Joshua 1:11,
that the officers went through the host; the camp of Israel; very probably the same as in Joshua 1:10; this was, no doubt, by the order of Joshua, and who was directed to it by the Lord.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2-4. the officers went through the host; And they commanded the people—The instructions given at this time and in this place were different from those described (Jos 1:11).
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