King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Joshua 23

Joshua’s exhortation before his death. (1-10) Joshua warns the people of idolatry. (11-16)

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Joshua’s exhortation before his death

1 And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.

2 And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age:

3 And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.

4 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.

5 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.

6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

7 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:

8 But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.

9 For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.

10 One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.

Joshua warns the people of idolatry

11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.

12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

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 unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible 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 C. 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. C. — He called together all the heads of the people. M.

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; (C. 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. W.

Ver. 4. And now. Heb. “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, C.) 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. H. — 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. H.

Ver. 7. Come in, an expression which may denote any familiarity, or marriage. M. — Heb. 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 (xv. 4,) says, speaking either of idols, (H.) 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 K. xi. 21. S. Paul would not have Christians so much as to name the sins of impurity. Ephes. 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 invoke the name of Jesus Christ, were his disciples. Acts ix. 14. 1 Tim. ii. 19. Ex. xx. 24. To swear by idols is always sinful, (Ex. xxiii. 13,) while it is an act of religion to swear on proper occasions, by the name of God. Theophrastus (ap. Joseph. c. Ap. 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. C.

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. H.

Ver. 10. Thousand. This Moses had repeatedly foretold. Lev. xxvi. 13. Deut. xxviii. 7.

Ver. 13. Side. Heb. “snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your side.” Children and slaves were formerly beaten on this part, Eccli. xxx. 12. and xlii. 5. Horace (epod. iv.) says, Ibericis peruste funibus latus. The first word S. Jerom seems to have read with th at the end, as peth, means a hole, (C.) by which means it was customary to take wild beasts, and to annoy the enemy. H. — Sept. render side, “they shall be nails in your heels.”

Ver. 14. This day: shortly I must die. C. — Metam properamus ad unam. (Hor.) “We hasten to one common goal.” H. — The pagans called death, or the grave, the common place; and Plautus says, in the same sense, Quin prius me ad plures penetravi. (C.) “Before I penetrate the receptacle of the many.” H. — Mind. Heb. “you know in your hearts, and in all your souls;” you are convinced, you cannot be ignorant that God has fulfilled his engagements. C. — The Sept. read, “you shall know,” &c. The experience of future ages will only establish this truth more fully. H.

Ver. 16. And speedily. This word is added to express the force of the Heb. term. M. — “Punishment is seldom lame in overtaking the wicked. H. — 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. M. — The treat or prediction was verified during the captivity, and still more after the destruction of Jerusalem. C.