Joshua 23:12
Else if you do in any wise go back, and join to the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in to them, and they to you:
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(12,13) if ye . . . make marriages with them . . . the Lord your God will no more drive out.—The common-sense of this warning is manifest. The God of Israel cannot treat as His enemies those whom Israel has united with itself, unless He also makes war on Israel. It was a long time before Israel learned the lesson how to live in the world without being of the world. It was not learnt until after the Babylonish captivity, and when learnt, it soon developed into a Pharisaical exclusiveness, which produced the very opposite effect to that which the law was intended to have.

Joshua 23:12-13. If ye in any wise go back — From God, and from his worship and service. They shall be snares and traps to you — By your converse with them, you will be drawn by degrees into their errors, and impieties, and brutish lusts. Thorns in your eyes — When they have seduced, and thereby weakened you, then they will molest and vex you, no less than a severe scourge doth a man’s sides which are lashed by it, or than a small thorn doth the eye when it is got within it. Till ye perish — They shall so persecute you, and fight against you with such success, that you shall be forced to quit your own land, and wander, you know not whither. Which must needs have been very terrible to them to think of, when they compared their present ease, and plenty, and safety, with the pains, and weariness, and hazards, and wants of their former wanderings.23:11-16 Would we cleave to the Lord, we must always stand upon our guard, for many a soul is lost through carelessness. Love the Lord your God, and you will not leave him. Has God been thus true to you? Be not you false to him. He is faithful that has promised, Heb 10:23. The experience of every Christian witnesses the same truth. Conflicts may have been severe and long, trials great and many; but at the last he will acknowledge that goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life. Joshua states the fatal consequences of going back; know for a certainty it will be your ruin. The first step would be, friendship with idolaters; the next would be, marrying with them; the end of that would be, serving their gods. Thus the way of sin is down-hill, and those who have fellowship with sinners, cannot avoid having fellowship with sin. He describes the destruction he warns them of. The goodness of the heavenly Canaan, and the free and sure grant God has made of it, will add to the misery of those who shall for ever be shut out from it. Nothing will make them see how wretched they are, so much, as to see how happy they might have been. Let us watch and pray against temptation. Let us trust in God's faithfulness, love, and power; let us plead his promises, and cleave to his commandments, then we shall be happy in life, in death, and for ever.All Israel, and for their elders - Omit "and," which is not in the Hebrew. The meaning is that Joshua summoned to him all Israel as represented by its elders, etc. Deuteronomy 1:15. This gathering probably took place at the tabernacle at Shiloh. Jos 23:12. By Threatenings in Case of Disobedience.

12, 13. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations—As marriage connections with the idolatrous Canaanites would present many and strong temptations to transgress it, these were strictly prohibited (Ex 34:12-16; De 7:3). With his eye, as it were, upon those prohibitions, Joshua threatens them with the certain withdrawal of the divine aid in the further expulsion of the Canaanites (a threat founded Ex 23:33; Nu 33:55; De 7:16).

If ye go back, from God, and from his worship and service.

Go in unto them; the phrase notes the matrimonial act. Else if ye do in any wise go back,.... From the Lord and his worship, from his word and ordinances:

and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even those that remain among you; in cities not taken, or in several which the Philistines were in possession of, or lived among them as tributaries to them, if they should take to them, and be free and familiar with them, which may lead on to nearer connections in civil and religious matters:

and shall make marriages with them; marry their daughters to the sons of Canaanites, or admit the daughters of Canaanites to be married to their sons:

and go in unto them, and they to you; which is expressive of the consummation of marriage, and of the performance of the conjugal duty,

Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
12. if ye do] “If ye do in any wise turn back, and cleave to the remnant of these nations, these that remain with you, and make marriages with them, and ye come among them, and they among you, know for a certainty that the protection of the Almighty will fail you, and His arm will no more give you success against them.”Verse 12. - Go back. Literally, return. Cleave. A word (see ver. 8) signifying close and intimate relationship. And the intimacy of the relationship is indicated, as in ver. 8, by the use of the preposition בְּ. Make marriages with them. No closer or more intimate relationship is possible than this. Nothing, therefore, would be more certain to draw the Israelites away from their allegiance to God, and to seduce them and their children into the false and corrupt worship of the nations around them. "Unde deprecor vos qui fidelis estis, ut ita vitam vestram et conversationem servetis, ne in aliquo vel ipsi scandalum patiamini vel aliis scandalum faciatis; sit in vobis summi studii, summaeque cautelae, ne quis in hanc sanctam congregationem vestram pollutus introeat" (Orig., Hom. 21 on Joshua). Go in unto them. Rather, go among them. Spoken of the familiar intercourse of friendship. It is equivalent to our words "associate with them." Only let them be strong, i.e., be brave, to keep the law of Moses without fail (cf. Joshua 1:7), to enter into no fellowship with these remaining nations (בּוא, to enter into close intimacy with a person; see Joshua 23:12), and not to pay reverence to their gods in any way, but to adhere stedfastly to the Lord their God as they had hitherto done. To make mention of the names of the idols (Exodus 23:13), to swear by them, to serve them (by sacrifices), and to bow down to them (to invoke them in prayer), are the four outward forms of divine worship (see Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20). The concluding words, "as ye have done unto this day," which express a reason for persevering in the attachment they had hitherto shown to Jehovah, "do not affirm that the Israelites had hitherto done all these things fully and perfectly; for who does not know how few mortals there are who devote themselves to God with all the piety and love which He justly demands? But because the nation as a whole had kept the laws delivered to them by Moses, during the time that the government had been in the hands of Joshua, the sins of individual men were left out of sight on this occasion" (Masius).
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