Joshua 18:3
And Joshua said to the children of Israel, How long are you slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?
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(3) And Joshua said . . .—Joshua, who took no inheritance for himself until all the tribes had received their portions, was free from the selfishness of the other leaders. He could not rest until he had finished the work that was given him to do. He therefore ordered that the rest of the territory should be surveyed, and divided, according to the number of the cities, into seven portions, which were then to be allotted according to the instructions given by Moses.

Joshua 18:3-4. How long are ye slack? — It is probable, that being weary of war, and now having sufficient plenty of all things, they were unwilling to run into new hazards. Give out three men — Three, not one, for the more exact observation both of the measure and quality of the several portions, and for greater assurance of their care and faithfulness in giving in their account. Of each tribe — For each one of the tribes which were yet unprovided for. They shall describe it — Set down, not only the dimensions of it, but its condition and quality, whether barren or fruitful, mountainous or plain. According to the inheritance of them — Distributing the geographical description into as many parts as there remain tribes unprovided with an inheritance.18:2-10 After a year or more, Joshua blamed their slackness, and told them how to proceed. God, by his grace, has given us a title to a good land, the heavenly Canaan, but we are slack to take possession of it; we enter not into that rest, as we might by faith, and hope, and holy joy. How long shall it be thus with us? How long shall we thus stand in our own light, and forsake our own mercies for lying vanities? Joshua stirs the Israelites up to take possession of their lots. He is ready to do his part, if they will do theirs.This backwardness probably arose from the indisposition of the people to abandon the nomad life in which they had been born and bred, and to settle in fixed abodes, and perhaps also from a dislike of the exterminating warfare incidental to a complete dispossessing of the Canaanites. 3. How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you—This reproof conveys an impression that the seven tribes were dilatory to a criminal extent. This slackness is supposed to arise, partly, from their dissatisfaction in the portions already allotted, Judah’s being too large, as it appeared, and Joseph’s too narrow as they complained; partly, from an opinion of the impossibility of making any regular and equal distribution of the parts, till the whole were better known, and more exactly surveyed, which accordingly is here done; and partly, because being weary of war, and having sufficient plenty of all things in their present condition, they grew slothful and secure, and were unwilling to run into new hazards and wars, as they perceived, by Joshua’s answer to the tribe of Joseph, Joshua 17:15, &c., they were likely to do when they entered upon their several possessions. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel,.... To those of the seven tribes:

how long are you slack to go to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you? not that they might have taken possession of it of themselves, without having it assigned to them by lot; that they did not do this, is not what is complained of, and they stand reproved for; but that when two tribes and a half had received their inheritance, these seemed indifferent to it, showed no inclination and disposition towards it, and much less eagerness to have a settlement, and did not apply to the court for it; which dilatoriness might arise from the present affluence of all good things they enjoyed through the spoils of the enemy; and partly through slothfulness, being tired of the war, and perceiving that they must be involved in it again to dispossess the Canaanites of some of the cities that would fall to their lot; and, perhaps, their slackness might be the more increased, by observing the dissatisfaction of the tribes with the lot they had received, and therefore waited till things were adjusted to greater satisfaction.

And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?
3. And Joshua said] No particulars are given of the solemn and impressive ceremonies which doubtless marked the setting up of the time-honoured monument of the wanderings, and the resumption of the regular sacrifices and other ceremonies, which must have been imperfectly observed during the years of warfare now ended. The history passes on to the distribution of the yet unoccupied territory.

How long are you slack] These seven tribes appear to have been backward and indolent not only in conquering the land still unsubdued, but even in sharing it out amongst them.Verse 3. - How long are ye slack? This "slackness" (the translation is a literal one) in the arduous conflict against the powers of evil is not confined to Jews. The exhortation needs repeating to every generation, and not less to our own than any other, since the prevalence of an external decency and propriety blinds our eyes to the impiety and evil which still lurks amid us unsubdued. Joshua therefore sent them back with their petition, and said, "If thou art a strong people, go up into the wood and cut it away," i.e., make room for houses, fields, and meadows, by clearing the forests, "in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaim, if the mountain of Ephraim is too narrow for thee." The name "mountain of Ephraim" is used here in a certain sense proleptically, to signify the mountain which received its name from the tribe of Ephraim, to which it had only just been allotted. This mountain, which is also called the mountain of Israel (Joshua 11:16, Joshua 11:21), was a limestone range running from Kirjath-jearim, where the mountains of Judah terminate (see at Joshua 11:21), to the plain of Jezreel, and therefore embracing the greater part of the tribe-territory of Benjamin. The wood, which is distinguished from the mountain of Ephraim, and is also described in Joshua 17:18 as a mountainous land, is either the mountainous region extending to the north of Yasir as far as the mountains at Gilboa, and lying to the west of Beisan, a region which has not yet been thoroughly explored, or else, as Knobel supposes, "the broad range of woody heights or low woody hills, by which the mountains of Samaria are connected with Carmel on the north-west (Rob. iii. p. 189), between Taanath and Megiddo on the east, and Caesarea and Dor on the west." Possibly both may be intended, as the children of Joseph were afraid of the Canaanites in Beisan and in the plain of Jezreel (Joshua 17:16). The Rephaim were dwelling there, a tribe of gigantic stature (see at Genesis 14:5), also the Perizzites (see at Genesis 13:7).
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