Joshua 14:1



(Joshua 14-19, inclusive).

(1) And these are the countries which . . . Eleazar . . . and Joshua . . . distributed.--Here we enter upon the record of the third portion of Joshua's great work. He had (1) to bring Israel over Jordan; (2) to conquer the land; (3) to divide it among the tribes.

Eleazar . . . and Joshua.--Not Joshua and Eleazar, observe. This is in strict accordance with the law of Moses, and the form of government which he was ordered to establish in Israel, to continue after his death. See Numbers 27, where, in answer to Moses prayer for a shepherd in Israel, the Lord says, "Take thee Joshua (here a figure of the great "Shepherd, the stone of Israel"), and lay thine hand upon him; and (Numbers 27:21) he (Joshua) shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord; at his (Eleazar's) word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he (Joshua) and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation." (Comp. also Deuteronomy 17:9 : "Thou shalt come unto the priests (at the place which the Lord shall choose), and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment.") In these passages we see delineated the nature of the government established in Israel by Moses, to continue until there was a king. The priest had the legislative authority, the executive power rested with the judge. Of these judges, Joshua stands first; those who followed, until Samuel, held the same relation to the priest. Joshua was also a prophet. Samuel (a prophet likewise) established a third power in the constitution, and made the supreme executive power continuous and hereditary, giving to Israel a form of government by prophet, priest, and king. For the present, however, Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun (the answer to Moses' prayer for a shepherd) were the rulers. "To lead them out and to bring them in" was what Moses asked that the shepherd of Israel might do. Joshua had led them out to victory; he was now to bring in each of the tribes into the home that the Lord had chosen for it in the promised land.

And the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel.--These men are all named in Numbers 34:16-28 : one from every tribe, in addition to Eleazar and Joshua. The names were then given by God to Moses, as the narrative states in Numbers 34:16-19. But is it not remarkable that before the land was conquered, in view of all the battles that were to be fought before it could be divided, the names of the men who were to divide it should be revealed? Man could not have arranged it so. The bow drawn at a venture, or one false step in the heat of battle, or the hurry of pursuit or flight, might have made a gap in the list. But it was not to be. "The Lord hath kept me alive," says Caleb (the first man after Joshua on this list) in Joshua 14:10. But all the twelve commissioners might have said the same. We cannot forbear to ask the question--Is it conceivable that, were the narrative in Numbers 34 anything but simple truth, it should contain such an unlikely statement as this? It will not do to say the names in the Book of Numbers were added afterwards; the form of the language in which they are given forbids this, and, with the single exception of Caleb, we know nothing of these twelve commissioners except their names.

Verse 1. - Tribes. The word here for "tribes," in connection with the word "fathers," is the one which implies genealogical descent (see note on Joshua 13:29). Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes. A picture of national unity; the head of the Church, representing the religious aspect of the community; the head of the State, representing its civil aspect; the heads of the tribes, to signify the general assent of the body politic. A work so begun was likely to be satisfactorily carried out. And accordingly the distribution of the land, recognised as carried out according to the will of God, displayed no partiality, and excited no jealousies.

14:1-5 The Israelites must occupy the new conquests. Canaan would have been subdued in vain, if it had not been inhabited. Yet every man might not go and settle where he pleased. God shall choose our inheritance for us. Let us survey our heritage of present mercy, our prospect for the land of promise, eternal in the heavens. Is God any respecter of persons? Is it not better that our place, as to earthly good or sorrow, should be determined by the infinite wisdom of our heavenly Father, than by our own ignorance? Should not those for whom the great mystery of godliness was exhibited, those whose redemption was purchased by Jesus Christ, thankfully refer their earthly concerns to his appointment?And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan,.... Of which an exact account is given in the following chapters, particularly in the Joshua 15:1,

which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for an inheritance unto them; namely, ten princes, one of each tribe, who, with Eleazar and Joshua, were appointed of the Lord by name to do this business, even seven years ago, before their entrance into the land of Canaan, Numbers 34:17.

Joshua 13:33
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