Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but you shall pass before your brothers armed, all the mighty men of valor, and help them;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 13:18 note).
On this side Jordan - Compare Deuteronomy 1:1, note.
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 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. 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.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;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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. - Deuteronomy 31:6). In the first place (Joshua 1:6), he was to rely firmly upon the Lord and His promise, as Moses and the Lord had already told him (Deuteronomy 31:7 and Deuteronomy 31:23), and as is again repeated here, whilst at the same time the expression, "thou shalt divide for an inheritance," recalls to mind Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28; and in the second place (Joshua 1:7, Joshua 1:8), he was to strive to attain and preserve this firmness by a careful observance of the law. "Observe to do," etc., as Moses had already impressed upon the hearts of all the people (Deuteronomy 5:29, cf. Deuteronomy 28:14 and Deuteronomy 2:27). The suffix in ממּנּוּ is to be explained on the supposition that the speaker had the book of the law in his mind. The further expansion, in Joshua 1:8, is not only attached to the exhortations, with which Moses urges upon all the people in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, and Deuteronomy 11:18-19, an uninterrupted study and laying to heart of the commandments of God, but even more closely to the directions to the king, to read every day in the law (Deuteronomy 17:19). "Not to depart out of the mouth," is to be constantly in the mouth. The law is in our mouth, not only when we are incessantly preaching it, but when we are reading it intelligently for ourselves, or conversing about it with others. To this there was to be added meditation, or reflection upon it both day and night (vid., Psalm 1:2). הגה does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings. "Then shalt thou make they way prosperous," i.e., succeed in all thine undertakings (vid., Deuteronomy 28:29), "and act wisely" (as in Deuteronomy 29:8).
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