THE BOOK OF JOSHUA.
IN this book, and those that follow, to the end of ESTHER, we have the history of the Jewish nation. These books, to the end of the second book of KINGS, the Jewish writers call נביאים ראשׁונים, nebiaim rishonim, The former Prophets, or, The first book of the Prophets: as being written by prophets, men divinely inspired. Indeed, it is probable they were collections of the authentic records of the nation, which some of the prophets were divinely directed and assisted to put together. It seems the substance of the several histories was written, under divine direction, when the events had just happened, and long after put into the form wherein they stand now, perhaps all by the same hand.
In the five books of MOSES we had a full account of the rise and constitution of the Old Testament church, the miracles by which it was established, and the laws and ordinances by which it was to be governed. And a nation that had statutes and judgments so righteous, one would think, should have been very holy. But, alas! a great part of the history is a representation of their sins and miseries. For the law made nothing perfect; that was to be done by the bringing in of the better hope.
The book of JOSHUA, containing the history of about twenty-seven years, if not written by him, was at least collected out of his journals or memoirs. It contains the history of Israel under the command of JOSHUA: how he presided over them, 1, In their entrance into Canaan, chap. 1. to Joshua 5:2, In their conquest of Canaan, chap. 6. to Joshua 12:3, In the distribution of the land among the tribes of Israel, chap. 13. to Joshua 21:4, In the establishment of religion among them, chap. 21. to 24. In all which he was a great example of wisdom, courage, fidelity, and piety.
To be a little more particular. — In this book is recited the confirmation of JOSHUA’S succession to MOSES, by the attestation of wonderful facts, or miracles, which GOD did by him, in bringing the Israelites, under his conduct, into the land of Canaan. The actual settlement of them in this promised land, and that in so short a time, and with so little loss, was a punctual accomplishment of the divine predictions to Abraham and the succeeding patriarchs: predictions of so early a date, so often renewed in many particular circumstances, and every one of these so exactly fulfilled, cannot but be esteemed a great confirmation both to the Israelites themselves then, and to us now, of the authority of their religion, and of the truth of those writings wherein it is contained. By the destruction of the seven nations, who, it appears, abounded in wickedness to a very high degree, and had even, we are expressly told, filled up the measure of their iniquity, GOD demonstrated his divine justice and providence over the whole world, and his determination to punish the wickedness of every nation, when it is at its height. The account of the division of the land shows that a very careful provision was made for a constant and uninterrupted distinction of tribes, families, and genealogies; thence to preserve, and clearly to ascertain, the genealogy of CHRIST, in whom was to be completed all the purposes of this dispensation. In the conclusion of the book, JOSHUA, after having divided the land, and set up the tabernacle at Shiloh, and settled every thing according as it was ordered by GOD to MOSES, calls the people together, and represents to them how fully every thing had been fulfilled to them which the LORD their GOD had promised them, and spoken concerning them; and from hence, he takes occasion to exhort them to serve HIM alone, and no other gods. Upon the whole, in this history we may see, 1, Much of GOD and his providence; his power in the kingdom of nature; his justice in punishing the Canaanites; his faithfulness to his covenant with the patriarchs; his kindness to his people: 2, Much of CHRIST and his grace; JOSHUA being, in many respects, an eminent type of him.