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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 23

 

 

Verses 1-16

Joshua 23:7. Neither make mention of the name of their gods. This prohibition is often repeated, and it involves mythology in difficulties. The LXX had authorities for saying, Joshua 24:33, that the Israelites fell away to worship Astarte and Ashtaroth. Of Astarte we find the following remarks, that she was a goddess of Syria, and one of the four Venuses that espoused Adonis, called also Atergatis, by Elian, and Tertullian in his Apology. She was the Venus or goddess of the Sidonians, to whom Solomon built an altar to please his idolatrous queens.—Ashtaroth is a plural name, equivalent to riches, flocks, &c. He was called the god of the Egyptians. These idols were destroyed by Samuel, 1 Samuel 7:3; but were privately restored by Solomon. Of Baal we have spoken, on Numbers 32:38.

REFLECTIONS.

Joshua, feeling the approaches of death, by the increase of his infirmities; but feeling his soul unimpaired in vigour and fidelity to God, assembled all Israel, to receive his final commands. It is by charges and injunctions of this nature, that virtuous princes live and reign for ever in the heart and memory of all their subjects. He opened the assembly by reciting a summary of the miracles of providence and grace by which God had enabled them to conquer the country. He exhorted them to persevere in the same piety and fortitude, assuring them withal, that God would expel the remaining heathen. As they had not repented on seeing the wonders of the Lord, and feeling his vengeance, their sentence still remained.

Anxious to encourage them in the Lord’s awful work, he joins his testimony to that of Moses, saying that one of them should chase a thousand, because God would fight for them as he had promised.

This success was however on condition of their perseverance in the love of God; on condition of their abstaining from marriages, and from covenant and intercourse with the obdurate and devoted nations; because after those covenants they would be incapable of executing the divine vengeance. God would not fight for them in a state of perjury and lies.

The case is similar with the christian church. If a minister of religion associate with the wicked in their routes and parties, from that moment his mouth is stopped. He can no longer magnify the righteousness of God in the pulpit, and denounce sentence against sinners. The libertines who may occasionally listen to his voice, perceiving the dissonance between his words and works, will harden their hearts against the truth, and declare with a high voice, that he shall never convert them from profligacy to hypocrisy. No man who does not live in the spirit and practice of religion can possibly reprove the wicked with good effect. On the contrary they will be as snares to his feet, enticing him to sin, and as thorns in his sides to reproach him when he goes astray.

Mark also the considerations with which Joshua enforced his exhortation. Behold this day I am going the way of all the earth. And among all the venerable elders who stood before him, not one was so old as he by about thirty years. He had served the Lord with an unspotted piety; and the Lord had fulfilled to him, and to his faithful people every promise of his covenant; and therefore he could exhort them to fidelity, with all the weight of wisdom, and of vast experience. Hence we see that as aged and faithful men have these advantages over the young, they should particularly lay themselves out to encourage early piety, and perseverance in every virtue to the end of life. Nor was Joshua, less than Moses, wanting to add, that a defection from the true religion would not only forfeit all its blessings, but incur all its curses. And who for the sordid love of sin would forfeit all this good, and bring upon himself the insupportable displeasure of Almighty God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 23:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/joshua-23.html. 1835.

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