Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Long time. Josue governed only ten years after the distribution of the land. Towards the close of his life, perceiving that the Israelites were too indolent in subduing the people of the country, and fearing lest they should by degrees begin to imitate their corrupt manners, he called a general assembly either at his own city, or at Silo, or more probably at Sichem, (as it is mentioned [in] chap. xxiv. 1, which seems to give farther particulars of this assembly) and laid before his people, in the strongest terms, the dangers to which they would be exposed, by entertaining a friendship for the enemies of God, and by abandoning him. (Calmet) — He called together all the heads of the people. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. For you. God fought for his people three ways: 1. By destroying their enemies himself in a miraculous manner, as he did the Egyptians; 2. By assisting their endeavours, as at Jericho, and in the victory of Gabaon, when he caused the walls of the former town to fall down, and hurled stones upon the fleeing enemy near the latter; (chap. x.) 3. By giving courage and strength to Israel, while he filled their opponents with dismay, and this was most frequently the case. He continues to assist his servants in their spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil, in all these different ways. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. And now. Hebrew, “Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations, which remain to be subdued, to be an inheritance for your tribes from the Jordan, (these two words are transposed, and should come after; Calmet) with all the nations that I have cut off—even unto the great sea westward.” He mildly expostulates with them for not following up his victories, by reducing the few scattered nations whom he had abandoned to them as a prey. (Haydock) — They ought to be considered not only as the enemies of God, but also as unjust detainers of another’s right, and Josue promises that nothing will be wanting on the part of God to render their reduction easy, if they will but do their duty to Him and to themselves. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Come in, an expression which may denote any familiarity, or marriage. (Menochius) — Hebrew is in the form of a prohibition, “Come not among (have no connections with) these nations….Neither mention their gods, nor swear (or cause to swear by them.”) The psalmist (Psalm xv. 4,) says, speaking either of idols, (Haydock) or of sinners, Nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips. Osee (ii. 16,) says, She shall call me no more Baali, (“my lord,” a term applied by wives to their husbands) on account of its reminding one of the idol Baal. Hence David calls Jerobaal, or Gedeon, Jeroboschot, 2 Kings xi. 21. St. Paul would not have Christians so much as to name the sins of impurity, Ephesians v. 3. The more religious Jews will not even mention an idol, or an unclean animal; and they beg pardon before they speak of a heretic. (Drusius) — Some understand that the worship of idols is meant by naming them, as those who invoked the name of Jesus Christ, were his disciples, Acts ix. 14., 1 Timothy ii. 19., and Exodus xx. 24. To swear by idols is always sinful, (Exodus xxiii. 13,) while it is an act of religion to swear on proper occasions, by the name of God. Theophrastus (ap. Josephus, contra Apion i.) observes, that the laws of the Tyrians prohibit the using of foreign oaths, such as that of the Corban, which was peculiar to the Jews. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Day. Those who had formerly given way to idolatry were all cut off, and all Israel had lately given a proof of their attachment unto the Lord. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Thousand. This Moses had repeatedly foretold, Leviticus xxvi. 13., and Deuteronomy xxviii. 7.
Ver. 13. Side. Hebrew, “snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your side.” Children and slaves were formerly beaten on this part, Ecclesiasticus xxx. 12., and xlii. 5. Horace (epod. iv.) says, Ibericis peruste funibus latus. The first word St. Jerome seems to have read with th at the end, as peth, means a hole, (Calmet) by which means it was customary to take wild beasts, and to annoy the enemy. (Haydock) — Septuagint render side, “they shall be nails in your heels.”
Ver. 14. This day: shortly I must die. (Calmet) — Metam properamus ad unam. (Horace) “We hasten to one common goal.” (Haydock) — The pagans called death, or the grave, the common place; and Plautus says, in the same sense, Quin prius me ad plures penetravi. (Calmet) “Before I penetrate the receptacle of the many.” (Haydock) — Mind. Hebrew, “you know in your hearts, and in all your souls;” you are convinced, you cannot be ignorant that God has fulfilled his engagements. (Calmet) — The Septuagint read, “you shall know,” &c. The experience of future ages will only establish this truth more fully. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. And speedily. This word is added to express the force of the Hebrew term. (Menochius) — “Punishment is seldom lame in overtaking the wicked. (Haydock) — This. He emphatically sets before them what labours they had sustained in making the acquisition, and what ingratitude they will be guilty of, if they ever forfeit so great a blessing. (Menochius) — The threat or prediction was verified during the captivity, and still more after the destruction of Jerusalem. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Josue being old, admonisheth the people to keep God’s commandments; and to avoid marriages, and all society, with the Gentiles, for fear of being brought to idoltary.
1 And* when a long time was passed, after that the Lord had given peace to Israel, all the nations round about being subdued, and Josue being now old, and far advanced in years:
2 Josue called for all Israel, and for the elders, and for the princes, and for the judges, and for the masters, and said to them: I am old, and far advanced in years:
3 And you see all that the Lord your God hath done to all the nations round about, how he himself hath fought for you:
4 And now since he hath divided to you by lot all the land, from the east of the Jordan unto the great sea, and many nations yet remain:
5 The Lord your God will destroy them, and take them away from before your face, and you shall possess the land, as he hath promised you.
6 Only take courage, and be careful to observe all things that are written in the book of the law of Moses: and turn not aside from them, neither to the right hand nor to the left:
7 Lest after that you are come in among the Gentiles, who will remain among you, you should swear by the name of their gods, and serve them, and adore them:
8 But cleave ye unto the Lord your God: as you have done until this day.
9 And then the Lord God will take away before your eyes nations that are great and very strong, and no man shall be able to resist you.
10 One of you shall chase a thousand men of the enemies: because the Lord your God himself will fight for you, as he hath promised.
11 This only take care of with all diligence, that you love the Lord your God.
12 But if you will embrace the errors of these nations that dwell among you, and make marriages with them, and join friendships:
13 Know ye for a certainty that the Lord your God will not destroy them before your face, but they shall be a pit and a snare in your way, and a stumbling block at your side, and stakes in your eyes, till he take you away and destroy you from off this excellent land, which he hath given you.
14 *Behold this day I am going into the way of all the earth, and you shall know with all your mind, that of all the words which the Lord promised to perform for you, not one hath failed.
15 Therefore as he hath fulfilled in deed what he promised, and all things prosperous have come: so will he bring upon you all the evils he hath threatened, till he take you away and destroy you from off this excellent land, which he hath given you,
16 When you shall have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he hath made with you, and shall have served strange gods, and adored them: then shall the indignation of the Lord rise up quickly and speedily against you, and you shall be taken away from this excellent land which he hath delivered to you.
1: Year of the World 2570, Year before Christ 1434.
14: 3 Kings xxiii. 2.