Joshua 1:4
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
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(4) All the land of the Hittites.—The name Hittites may be used here to represent all the Canaanites; but it seems better to understand the land of the Hittites of the northern districts in which Hamath and Carchemish were situated—between Palestine proper and the Euphrates; but compare Note on Judges 1:26.

1:1-4 Joshua had attended upon Moses. He who was called to honour, had been long used to business. Our Lord Jesus took upon him the form of a servant. Joshua was trained up under command. Those are fittest to rule, who have learned to obey. The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be the more diligent in doing good. Arise, go over Jordan. At this place and at this time the banks were overflowed. Joshua had no bridge or boats, and yet he must believe that God, having ordered the people over, would open a way.Lebanon is spoken of as "this Lebanon," because visible from the neighborhood in which Israel was encamped. (Compare Deuteronomy 3:8-9.) "The wilderness" of the text is the Desert of Arabia, which forms the southern, as Lebanon does the northern, limit of the promised land. The boundaries on the east and west are likewise indicated; and the intervening territory is described generally as "all the land of the Hittites." The Hittites are properly the inhabitants of northern Canaan and Phoenicia (see Exodus 3:8 note), but the name appears to be used here for the Canaanites in general, as in 1 Kings 10:29. On the boundaries of the promised land compare Deuteronomy 11:24; Genesis 15:18. 4. all the land of the Hittites—These occupied the southern extremities and were the dominant tribe of Canaan. Their superior power and the extent of their dominions are attested by the mention of them under the name of Khita, on the Assyrian inscriptions, and still more frequently on the Egyptian inscriptions of the eighteenth and nineteenth Dynasties. What life and encouragement must have been imparted to Joshua by the assurance that his people, who had been overwhelmed with fear of that gigantic race, were to possess "all the land of the Hittites"! This Lebanon; this emphatically, as being the most eminent mountain in Syria, and the northern border of the land: or this which is within my view; as if the Lord appeared to him in the form of a man, and pointed to it.

Of the Hittites, i.e. of the Canaanites, who elsewhere are all called Amorites, as Genesis 15:16, and here Hittites, by a synecdoche; the Hittites being the most considerable and formidable of all, as may appear from Numbers 13:33 14:1 2 Kings 7:6; and many of them being of the race of the giants, dwelling about Hebron. See Genesis 25:9,10 26:34 Genesis 27:46.

The great sea; the midland sea, great in itself, and especially compared with those lesser collections of waters, which the Jews called seas.

Object. The Israelites never possessed all this land.

Answ. 1. That was from their own sloth and cowardice, and disobedience to God, and breach of those conditions upon which this promise was suspended. See Judges 2:20.

2. This land was not all to be possessed by them at once, but by degrees, as their numbers and necessities increased; but Canaan being fully sufficient for them, and many of the Israelites being from time to time either cut off or carried captive for their sins, there was never any need of enlarging their possessions.

3. Though their possessions extended not to Euphrates, yet their dominion did, and all those lands were tributary to them in David’s and Solomon’s time.

From the wilderness,.... The wilderness of Kadesh and Sin, on the border of Edom; in the southeast corner, as Jarchi says, see Numbers 34:3,

and this Lebanon; which though on the other side Jordan, and at a considerable distance, being the northern border of the land towards Syria, might be seen afar off; or it is expressed, because it was a well known place, as Kimchi remarks:

even unto the great river, the river Euphrates; which was the eastern border of the land, and to which it reached in the times of Solomon, whose dominion extended thither, 1 Kings 4:21; according to Jarchi, this was its breadth from south to north:

all the land of the Hittites: who, though only one of the seven nations of Canaan, are put for the rest, and the rather mentioned, because, as their name signifies, they were very formidable and terrible; among them dwelt the Anakim, and they themselves were very warlike and populous; or they are taken notice of particularly here, because they dwelt in the western part of the land described by them, so Kimchi thinks; according to Jarchi, this was its length from east to west:

and unto the great sea: the Mediterranean sea, which was the western border of the land of Canaan, called great, in comparison of the sea of Tiberias, and the salt sea, which were in it:

toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast; the western coast; see Gill on Deuteronomy 11:24; this will be more fully verified in Christ, when his kingdom is from sea to sea, Psalm 72:8.

From the {b} wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the {c} Hittites, and unto the great {d} sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

(b) Of Zin, called Kadesh and Paran.

(c) Meaning, the whole land of Canaan.

(d) Called Mediterranean.

4. From the wilderness] For the boundaries of the Land of Promise compare (a) Genesis 15:18-21; (b) Exodus 23:31; (c) Numbers 34:1-12; (d) Deuteronomy 11:24. They were to be, on the South, the desert of El-Tíh; on the North, Mount Lebanon; on the East, the Euphrates; on the West, the Mediterranean Sea.

this Lebanon] Compare also Joshua 1:2, “this Jordan,” and Deuteronomy 3:25. The river was visible and lay close at hand; the Lebanon range (= “the white Mountain”) could be discerned, though at a great distance.

the great river] “The great flood Eufrates,” Wyclif. This is the term (comp. Genesis 2:14; Genesis 15:18) most frequently used in the Bible for the Euphrates, a word of Aryan origin, denoting “the good and abounding river,” the largest, the longest, and by far the most important of the rivers of Western Asia.

the land of the Hittites] This nation was descended from Cheth (A. V. “Heth”), the second son of Canaan. We first meet with them in Genesis 23:3-5, when Abraham bought from “the children of Heth” the field and the cave of Machpelah. On their relation to the other nations of Canaan see below. They are here put for the Canaanites generally.

Verse 4. - From the wilderness and this Lebanon. The words suppose a line to be drawn from the desert of Arabia on the south and the range of Lebanon on the north, to the River Euphrates on the one hand and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, including the land of the Hittites (see 1 Kings 4:24; 2 Chronicles 9:26). Tiphsah, the later Thapsacus, was far north of the utmost limits of Palestine, and almost in the latitude of Antioch. Azzah is generally termed Gaza in our version. See note on Joshua 11:22. The land of the Hittites here (Keil) seems to be taken for the land of Canaan in general (see 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; Ezekiel 16:3), but extending far beyond their border, and including Syria, Moab, Ammon, the land of Bashan, and part of Arabia. This was never actually in the hand of the Israelites save during the reigns of David and Solomon, when these regions were either tributary to them, or had been actually reduced under their immediate sway. "The promise," says Theodoret, "was not undefined, but if ye shall keep my commandments and ordinances" (Deuteronomy 11:22, 23). But they, inasmuch as they immediately transgressed the law, did not obtain the perfect promises. The Divine Apostles, on the contrary, not only conquered those places on which they set their foot, but even those in which their all wise writings were read; and the land that was before a desert they displayed as a Divine Paradise." This Lebanon. This expression is no doubt used because Lebanon was visible from the spot where Joshua was standing. There is nothing surprising in this. We learn from travellers that its range, which there is no doubt included that of Anti-Lebanon, with its lofty peak Hermon, the highest point in Palestine, is visible from all parts of the Holy Land, even from the depths of the Jordan valley near the Dead Sea. Dr. Thomson ('Land and the Book,' p, 2) says that it is visible from Cyprus. Canon Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 609) tells how he had seen Hermon from Type, Sidon, Carmel, Gerizim, from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, from Gilead, from Nebo, and from the Dead Sea. The name Lebanon, derived from לָבָן to be white, like the Arabic lebanon, milk, is supposed by Robinson to have been given from the whitish colour of the chalk or limestone rock (so Conder, 'Handbook,' p. 206). But it is at least equally probable that it derives its name, like Mont Blanc in Savoy, from its snowy peaks. Hermon is still called by the Arabs Jebel-el-Thelj, or "the snowy peak." The Jordan, the river of Palestine par excellence, derived its copious and ever-flowing streams, so essential in that "thirsty land," from the Anti-Lebanon range. "Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus," as well as the Orontes, and the Litany or Leontes, derive their waters from the same source (see Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' chap. 25; Thomson, 'Land and the Book,' pp. 172, 173). We have a vivid description of the region of Lebanon and the adjacent range of Anti-Lebanon and Hermon, in the spring, at the time of the melting of the snows, in the 42nd Psalm. There David, recalling to mind his sojourn in the "land of the Jordan," and of Hermon, speaks of the "deep calling unto deep," of the noise of the cataracts as they dashed from rock to rock and foamed along the mountain sides; and he describes his sorrows as overwhelming him by their number and magnitude, just as the multitudinous torrents that rose in that snowy region threatened to engulf the unwary traveller in their onward sweep. The far-famed cedars of Lebanon are indigenous to this region, and to it alone, but the climatic changes which Palestine has undergone have reduced their number largely, and comparatively few specimens now remain, in a wild condition, of that noble tree, once the pride of the dwellers in the land. "We cannot study all the passages in the Old Testament which refer to the cedar, without feeling certain that in ancient times it was a far more conspicuous feature in the landscape than it is now" (Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 631). The great river, the river Euphrates. Das grosse Wasser Phrath (Luther). The Hebrew name is as Luther gives it. The Greeks added the euphonic syllable at the commencement, according to those who assign to the word a Semitic derivation. Others, however, derive it from an Aryan source, and regard it as equivalent to "the flowing river." This mighty stream, especially after its junction with the Tigris, far transcended in size any other with which the Israelites were acquainted. The plains of Mesopotamia, even as far as Nineveh and Babylon, were destined to have been occupied by the Jewish race, had not their impiety and rebellion prevented; and the world empire obtained by Nineveh and Babylon might, and had they been obedient would, have been theirs. All the land of the Hittites. The Hittites, or Chittites, seem to have been the most considerable of the tribes which inhabited Canaan. We find them in possession of Hebron in the time of Abraham (Genesis 23.), but their more usual dwelling place was in the valley. They appear from the narrative above quoted to have been a peaceable people. We have records of them in Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions. Thus we hear of the Khita in the inscriptions of Rameses II., who reigned between 1383 and 1322, B.C.; that is, about the time of Deborah and Barak ('Records of the Past,' 2:67-78; 4:25-32). They were the inhabitants, however, of a region further to the northward, beyond the borders of the Holy Land, on the banks of the Orontes. So a Mohar, or scribe, of Rameses II., in an account of a tour in Palestine, in which he mentions Kirjath Anab, Achsaph, Megiddo, and the land of Hamath, describes Khita as to the north, bordering on this latter territory ('Records of the Past,' 2:106). The various translators of the Assyrian inscriptions of Assur-bani-pal, Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sennacherib recognise the Hittites in the people mentioned as dwelling to the north of Palestine (ibid. 3:52; 5:21, 32, 33; 7:61), though Ewald thinks that the Khatta there mentioned must be sought still further north. Prof. Sayce, in a recent lecture, regards the Hittites as having occupied a large portion of Asia Minor, and as having had great influence upon early Greek art, and adds, "Till within the last few years the Bible alone has preserved the name of a people who must have had almost as great an influence on human history as Assyria or Egypt." Shalmaneser mentions the kings of the Hittites, just as they are mentioned in the later narratives of Kings and Chronicles (see note on Joshua 3:10). Unto the great sea. As the Euphrates was the greatest river, the Mediterranean was the greatest sea, known to the Jews. Unlike the race they displaced, the Canaanites - or, to call them by a title by which they are better known to profane history, the Phoenicians - the Jews were no sailors. It may have been even before the conquest of Canaan under Joshua that the Phoenician fleets sailed out beyond the pillars of Hercules, and brought back tin from the British isles. For Canaan, or Phoenicia, was a powerful and civilised country when conquered by the Jews. But whether it were before this period that Britain was discovered, or whether the fleets of Tyre and Sidon first sailed thither at a later period, to the Jews the Mediterranean still remained the great sea. They knew nothing of the vaster ocean into which it flowed. It seems strange that, with the example of Tyre and Sidon before them, the Israelites should have been so indifferent to navigation. Even in the time of David, it was Hiram's ships that brought him his treasures and building materials. The later navies of Solomon and Jehoshaphat did but coast along the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Ophir, which has been identified with India, or more probably with Arabia.


The boundaries of the land are given as in Deuteronomy 11:24, with the simple difference in form, that the boundary line from the desert (of Arabia) and Lebanon, i.e., from the southern and northern extremity, is drawn first of all towards the east to the great river, the Euphrates, and then towards the west to "the great sea, toward the going down of the sun," i.e., the Mediterranean; and then between these two termini ad quem the more precise definition is inserted, "all the land of the Hittites;" whereas in Deuteronomy the southern, northern, and eastern boundaries are placed in antithesis to the western boundary, and the more precise definition of the country to be taken is given by an enumeration of the different tribes that were to be destroyed by the Israelites (Deuteronomy 11:23). On the oratorical character of these descriptions, see at Genesis 15:18. The demonstrative pronoun "this," in connection with Lebanon, may be explained from the fact that Lebanon, or at all events Anti-libanus, was visible from the Israelitish camp. The expression "the Hittites" (see at Genesis 10:15) is used here in a broader sense for Canaanites in general, as in 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; Ezekiel 16:3. The promise in Joshua 1:5 is adopted from Deuteronomy 11:25, where it was made to the whole nation, and specially transferred to Joshua; and Joshua 1:5 is repeated from Deuteronomy 31:8, as compared with Joshua 1:6.
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