Joshua 23:13
Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.
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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).

They shall be snares and traps unto you: by your indulgence to them, and converse with them, you will be enticed and drawn by degrees into their errors, and impieties, and brutish lusts.

Scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes: when they have inveigled, and 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.

Until ye perish from off this good land: 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 be very terrible to them to think of, when they compared this present case, and plenty, and safety, with the pains, and weariness, and hazards, and wants of their former wanderings. Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you,.... Or, "knowing ye shall know" (r); or "know ye"; this may be taken for granted, or the fullest proof, and clearest demonstration, and strongest assurance will be given of it, that in case of such bad conduct, and disobedience to the will of God, no more of the nations of the Canaanites will be driven out of the cities in which they are:

but they shall be snares and traps unto you; who by their bad examples would draw them both to idolatry and superstitious worship, and into all irreligion, profaneness, and immorality, as they did, Psalm 106:35,

and scourges in your sides; who either, by ensnaring them, would get an advantage over them, and distress them in their persons, families, and estates; or would be the means of the Lord's correcting and chastising them with the rod and stripes of men, for the iniquities these would draw them into; the allusion is to scourges and lashes laid on the sides of men, or to goads with which beasts are pushed on their sides and driven:

and thorns in your eyes; very troublesome and distressing; for even a mote in the eye is very afflicting: and much more a thorn; See Gill on Numbers 33:55. Jarchi interprets this word by camps surrounding them, as shields do the bodies of men, and which is approved of by Gussetius (s):

until ye perish from off this good land, which the Lord your God hath given you; by sword, famine, pestilence, or captivity, which has been their case.

(r) "sciendo scietis", Montanus; "sciendo scitote", Pagninus, Vatablus. (s) Comment. Ebr. p. 717.

Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your {e} eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

(e) Meaning, they will be a continual grief to you, and so the cause of your destruction.

13. snares] The word thus rendered denotes (i) a net, trap-net, especially of a fowler; (ii) a snare such as seizes and holds beasts or men by the feet. Comp. Job 18:9, “the gin shall take him by the heel;” Jeremiah 18:22, “they have … hid snares for my feet.” The form of this trap-net appears from the passages Amos 3:5, and Psalm 69:22. It was in two parts, which, when set, were spread out upon the ground and slightly fastened with a stick, so that as soon as a bird or beast touched the stick, the parts flew up and enclosed the bird in the net, or caught the foot of the animal.

thorns in your eyes] The warnings of Joshua are severer even than those of Moses (Numbers 33:55), “nowe thanne wite зe that the Lord зoure God do hem not awey before зoure face, but to зow thei shulen be into a diche, and greene, and hurtynge of зoure side and a staak in зoure eyen, to the tyme that he doo зou a wey,” Wyclif.Verse 13. - Snares and traps. Perhaps, rather, nets and snares. The LXX., where our translation has snare, has παγίς, and for traps has incorrectly σκάνδαλα. The snare or pach was evidently (Amos 3:5) laid upon the earth; but there is no evidence for Gesenius' idea that the mokesh which follows, there as here, means the stick of the trap, which when displaced involved the bird in the net. As the primary signification of this latter word, which is akin to קֶשֶׁת a bow, seems to mean something curved, it is probably a noose or springe. And the word and its cognates are used of involving, or catching, people by its use. Furst's Lexicon confirms this view, which has been independently arrived at. Scourges. The Hebrew word is in the singular. It is translated ἥλους, nails, in the LXX., and offendiculum in the Vulgate. In your sides. Rather, on your sides. The words here are very similar to those in Numbers 33:55. Moses, however, does but use two of the similes of which here we have four. He has, moreover, a different word (שִׂכִּים) for thorns, and the word here translated thorns is there substituted for scourges; "thorns in your sides." Joshua crowds together his similes "to describe the shame, and trouble, and oppression which they would bring upon themselves by joining in the idolatry of the Canaanites" (Keil). The Lord your God. Here, as elsewhere in this and many other passages, we have in the original, Jehovah your God. It is important to remember that the sacred writer is calling the God of Israel by His own proper name, that by which He was distinguished from the gods of the nations round about. 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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