Joshua 1:14
Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
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1:10-15 Joshua says to the people, Ye shall pass over Jordan, and shall possess the land; because God had said so to him. We honour the truth of God, when we stagger not at the promise of God. The two tribes and a half were to go over Jordan with their brethren. When God, by his providence, has given us rest, we ought to consider what service we may do to our brethren.Armed - Rather, "arrayed" (see Exodus 13:18 note).

On this side Jordan - Compare Deuteronomy 1:1, note.

14. ye shall pass … armed—that is, officered or marshalled under five leaders in the old and approved caravan order (see on [174]Ex 13:18).

all the mighty men of valour—The words are not to be interpreted strictly as meaning the whole, but only the flower or choice of the fighting men (see on [175]Jos 4:12).

Ye shall pass, to wit, over Jordan.

Before your brethren; either,

1. In their presence. Or,

2. In the front of all of them; which was but reasonable; partly, because they had the advantage of their brethren, having actually received their portion, which their brethren had only in hope, and therefore were obliged to more service, the rather to prevent the envy of the other tribes; partly, because they were freed from those impediments which the rest were exposed to, their wives, and children, and estates being safely lodged; and partly, to prevent their retreat and withdrawing themselves from the present service, which they otherwise should have had opportunity and temptation to do, because of the nearness of their habitations.

Armed; for by this time they were well furnished with arms, which they had either from the Egyptians, or Amalekites, or Amorites, from whom they had taken them; or by purchase from those people by whose borders they passed. Or, in military order. See Poole "Exodus 13:18". The mighty men of valour; all such were obliged to go over if occasion required it, but Joshua took only some of them, partly because they were sufficient for his purpose, and partly because some were fit to be left, both to secure their own wives, children, and possessions, and to prevent their enemies on that side from giving them disturbance or hinderance in their enterprise upon Canaan.

Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan,.... This was what they themselves proposed, agreed unto, and confirmed, Numbers 32:16,

but ye shall pass over before your brethren armed; bearing arms, to fight for them; for none but such that were fit to bear arms were obliged to go; and these were to go "harnessed" (o), as some render the word, or in a military order, in rank and file, by fives, five in a row; not at the front of the army, for the standard of Judah went first, but along with them; for "before them" signifies no other than in the presence of them, and in company with them:

all the mighty men of valour, and help them; to obtain a conquest over the Canaanites; all, according to the order of Moses, and by their agreement, were to go, all that were able to bear arms; but Joshua did not take them all, only a select company of strong and valiant for, out of an hundred thirty thousand, but forty thousand went with him, Joshua 4:13.

(o) "ordine militari", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "quintati", Montanus.

Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valor, and help them;
14. ye shall pass over] According to the promise solemnly given, Numbers 32:17; Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:32.

all the mighty men of valour] Not the whole of the adults who were fit for war, and who numbered, according to Numbers 26:7; Numbers 26:18; Numbers 26:34, upwards of 136,930 men, but 40,000 “prepared for” war, Joshua 4:13.

Verse 14. - Armed. This word, translated harnessed in Exodus 13:18, only occurs besides here in Joshua 4:12, and in Judges 7:11. In the first cited of these passages it has given rise to much discussion among those whose studies have been confined to the text of the English Bible, excluding even the margin. But its meaning is much debated among scholars. There seems no authority whatever for the translation armed or harnessed. We must either take it

(1) to mean in five divisions, the usual manner of marching under Moses (see Numbers 2.), "divided into centre, right and left wings, van and rear guard" (Ewald); or

(2) fierce, eager, brave, from a Semitic root found also in the Arabic. So Rosenmuller and Gesenius - who does not, however, as Keil asserts, derive the word from חָמַשׁ to be fat, but from a root akin to חָמָס violence, and חָמֵצ to be pungent. The former refers to the parallel passage in Numbers 32:17, where for חֲמֻשׁיס we find חֻשׁיס quick. The first interpretation is rendered probable by Numbers 2, where the order of march is described as a fivefold order, and by the similarity of the word to הָמֵשׁ five, and is not excluded by Judges 7:11, where the army, though disorganised, may have still been arranged in its fivefold divisions. The fact that there is an Arabic word, almost precisely similar, which is applied to the fivefold division of an army, makes it almost certain that this is the true meaning. But some scholars prefer to render it "brave," or "eager for war" (cf. חלוּצֵי Joshua 4:13). This last word is also found in the parallel passages in Numbers 32. and Deuteronomy 3:18-20. Its original meaning is expeditus - unencumbered. See note on the last-mentioned passage. All the mighty men of valour. The number of fighting men in these tribes would be, from a comparison of Numbers 26:7, 18, 34, remembering that half only of the tribe of Manasseh must be counted, between 110,000 and 111,000. But we read in Joshua 4:13 that 40,000 only of them went over. Above 70,000 must have remained behind to guard their women, children,and flocks, a precaution both reasonable and necessary. So indispensable, in fact, was it, that in this apparent discrepancy we may find one of the strongest proofs of the genuineness of our narrative. For, as Calvin remarks, in a country not yet pacified, all the women and children would infallibly have been massacred had they been left unprotected.

CHAPTER 1:16-18. THE PEOPLE'S ANSWER. - Joshua 1:14Joshua's appeal to the two tribes and a half, to remember the condition on which Moses gave them the land on the east of the Jordan for an inheritance, and to fulfil it, met with a ready response; to that these tribes not only promised to obey his commandments in every respect, but threatened every one with death who should refuse obedience. In recalling this condition to the recollection of the tribes referred to, Joshua follows the expressions in Deuteronomy 3:18-20, where Moses himself recapitulates his former command, rather than the original passage in Numbers 32. The expression "this land" shows that the speaker was still on the other side of the Jordan. חמשׁים, with the loins girded, i.e., prepared for war, synonymous with חלצים in Deuteronomy 3:18 and Numbers 32:32 (see at Exodus 13:18). חיל כּל־גּבּורי, all the mighty men of valour, i.e., the grave warriors (as in Joshua 6:2; Joshua 8:3; Joshua 10:7, and very frequently in the later books), is not common to this book and Deuteronomy, as Knobel maintains, but is altogether strange to the Pentateuch. The word "all" (v. 14, like Numbers 32:21, Numbers 32:27) must not be pressed. According to Joshua 4:13, there were only about 40,000 men belonging to the two tribes and a half who crossed the Jordan to take part in the war; whereas, according to Numbers 26:7, Numbers 26:18, Numbers 26:34, there were 110,000 men in these tribes who were capable of bearing arms, so that 70,000 must have remained behind for the protection of the women and children and of the flocks and herds, and to defend the land of which they had taken possession. On Joshua 1:15 see Deuteronomy 3:18; and on the more minute definition of "on this side (lit. beyond) Jordan" by "toward the sun-rising," compare the remarks on Numbers 32:19. The answer of the two tribes and a half, in which they not only most cheerfully promise their help in the conquest of Canaan, but also express the wish that Joshua may have the help of the Lord (Joshua 1:17 compared with Joshua 1:4), and after threatening all who refuse obedience with death, close with the divine admonition, "only be strong and of a good courage" (Joshua 1:18, cf. Joshua 1:6), furnishes a proof of the wish that inspired them to help their brethren, that all the tribes might speedily enter into the peaceable possession of the promised inheritance. The expression "rebel against the commandment" is used in Deuteronomy 1:26, Deuteronomy 1:43; Deuteronomy 9:23; 1 Samuel 12:14, to denote resistance to the commandments of the Lord; here it denotes opposition to His representative, the commander chosen by the Lord, which was to be punished with death, according to the law in Deuteronomy 17:12.
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