Verse 4: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. (NIV)
- The Hittites were a people from northern Asia Minor, today's north central Turkey.
- They rose to dominance during 1600s and at one time controlled most of the area the Israelites were about to conquer.
- In 1274 (35 or so years before the invasion of Canaan) the Hittites fought to a stalemate with the Egyptians, losing ther lands on the Mediterranean Seaboard.
- It is unclear whether this is meaning the lands once controlled by the Hittites, from the Euphrates down, or their entire area including Turkey.
- The Great Sea here would be the Mediterranean Sea, not the Atlantic Ocean.
Verse 6: Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them (NIV)
- The land was weaker now than ever before thanks to Egypt and the Hittites having fought each other to a standstill, causing them both to lose control of Canaan. But there were were a great many challenges here still to face. It would not be easy and definitely required courage to move forward.
- This call to be strong and courageous is repeated in verses 7 and 9. In Hebrew, repitition adds emphasis and importance so this is a very important thing for Joshua to remember.
Verse 11: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ ” (NIV)
- This is a huge step. The people knew that a lot was riding on it. This was their second chance to take over the land and they knew that their futures were hanging in the balance.
- While the Israelites already controlled significant holdings East of the Jordon river, they were not lands that were part of the promise from God (see Numbers 34:1-12 for specifics). This is significant because these were lands from their might and God's generosity, not from the promise, but would have provided a temptation to stay and not go into the promised land.
Verse 14: Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers (NIV)
- This is merely a reminder of what they needed to do, not the negotiations. The initial negotiations are found in Numbers 32 where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh tried to stay behind and Moses told them they could not or they would suffer.
- This is a compromise. It is not the promised land that these tribes are inheriting, but they will still go and help the other tribes.
- It is unclear why these tribes wanted the land in the East, but Numbers hints that they were suffering from a lack of faith in God and didn't want to fight.
Verse 16-18: Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!” (NIV)
- This is a definite example of the growth of the Israelites as God's people. They were originally confronted with their sinful desires to stay in place, but when confronted they did not fight back. They recognized their sins and overcame them, following Joshua and placing themselves at risk to bring about God's promise even if they would not receive it themselves.
- This is a very ironic statement, since none of the Israelites followed Moses all that well, and these tribe's wish to live East of the Jordon was seen by Moses as not following God. But it seems to be a sincere statement, showing a greta deal of growth.
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