Natan’s Commentary on Joshua 22 to 24

Joshua 22

Joshua 22:24, For fear. The eastern tribes of Israel constructed the altars along the banks of the Jordan River out of a fear of Elohim, and not because of idolatry. If everything that we do is based on our reverential as well as our dread fear for Elohim (these are the two aspects of the true biblical fear of Elohim), then we will be less likely to commit sin, that is, to stray from his commanded ways. This is because, as the Scripture elsewhere teaches us, the fear of Elohim is basis or beginning of both wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is the revelation of YHVH’s divinely revealed Truth, and wisdom is the proper and use and application of that knowledge in our daily life.

Joshua 23

Joshua 23:7, Make mention. Here Joshua forbids the mention of the names of pagan deities by the Israelites, yet, ironically, the translators of the Bible, in the same verse, mention two names that were applied to pagan deities long before being used in reference to the Elohim of the Bible. They are: Lord and God.

Joshua 23:10, One man of you shall chase a thousand. See notes at Lev 26:8.

Joshua 23:12, Make marriages with them. In the Torah, and elsewhere in Scripture, we find many such warnings against the saints intermarrying with unbelievers. For example, Paul warns the saints in Corinth (and us), “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Messiah with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of Elohim with idols? For you are the temple of the living Elohim. As Elohim has said: ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR Elohim, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.’ Therefore ‘COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU,”’ (2 Cor 6:15–17). In this present generation of general lukewarmness and a Laodicean attitude among most Christians, where a watered down gospel is being preached, coziness with the world is now acceptable. The problem is that in a marriage situation, being unequally yoked with an unbeliever, or even being married to someone who is not as zealous as you are can result in untold friction and conflict in a marriage—something that a wise person will avoid at all cost. The continual bad influences of an ungodly spouse may even corrupt the righteous spouse and cause them eventually to fall away spiritually. As Paul warned elsewhere, “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits,” (1 Cor 15:33). 

Joshua 24

Joshua 24:15, As for me and my house. This is one of the most popular verses in the Bible, and many people have posted this passage from Joshua on placards near the doors to their houses. But what does it mean to serve YHVH Elohim? Many people claim Yeshua (Jesus) as their Savior, but when it comes to him being their Master (or Lord), well, that is another thing. To a large degree, many if not most Christians are still the lord of their own lives serving themselves. If the Bible (the Word of Elohim of whom Yeshua became the Living Word) commands them to do this or that, they filter it through their own thinking (as Adam and Eve did when tempted to disobey Elohim and eat of the forbidden fruit, thus committing the first sin), and they decide whether they want to obey or not. In many cases, they refuse to obey the Word of Elohim because they decide, for one reason or another, that it does not suit them. In this case, Yeshua is not the Master of their life and they are, in reality, not serving him but are serving their own carnal natures.

Joshua 24:19, You cannot serve YHVH. The carnal, non-Spirit filled, individual (e.g. the children of Israel) cannot serve or obey Elohim in their own strength and power. The children of Israel demonstrably proved this point while wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But since Yeshua sent his Set-Apart (or Holy) Spirit to live inside of this disciples (that is you and me), we are now without excuse, for it is the Spirit that empowers us to obey Elohim, when it writes his laws on our hearts.

He is a holy El. What is YHVH Elohim’s chief attribute? Most Christians have been taught that it is love, for Scripture tells us that Elohim is love (1 John 4:16). But while love is an important attribute of Elohim’s character, it is not his chief attribute. Holiness is. This we know because the spirit beings in heaven who surround Elohim’s throne are continually shouting, “Holy, holy, holy” (Isa 6:3 and Rev 4:8). 

Holy is the Hebrew word kadosh meaning “pure, undefiled, separate and set apart.” Pure and undefiled from what? From the pollution and defilement of the world, the flesh and devil; Elohim is totally without sin. 

Moreover, the Bible declares that without holiness, no one will see Elohim or come into his presence (Heb 12:14). What is the biblical definition of holiness? It is much more than just what many churches teach it is: not swearing, not drinking, not going to movies or dancing, and the like. Holiness involves obeying the commandments of Elohim (Num 15:40; Deut 28:9). 

From the beginning of the Bible to the end and in many ways, YHVH commands his people to become holy as he is holy (Lev 11:44–45; 19:2). Being holy by obeying YHVH’s Word is whole lot more than simply following the man-made dictums of ones religious organization. The rules and regulations of most churches are more like the entrance requirements to join and maintain membership in an exclusive country club, not the requirements for entrance into the family and kingdom of YHVH Elohim! This is not a popular message in most churches. This is because, as Yeshua declared, “[N]arrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:14).

Joshua 24:21, No but we will serve him. Many people want to serve Elohim, and even claim to do so, but do not. Similarly, many Christians claim to serve or obey Yeshua, but in reality do not or only do so partially or only to the degree that they want to. They operate under self-delusion. Their words  say one thing, while their actions paint a completely different picture. No one obey’s Elohim perfectly, which is why we need his grace and the imputed righteousness of Yeshua to be credited to our spiritual bank account, so to speak. But this is no excuse  not to obey his commandments as best we can with our whole hearts. This issue of obedience will come to a critical head  at the judgment seat of Yeshua when the actions of all humans, including the saints, will be judged, for everyone must pass be judged before being granted either eternal life or eternal death (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10; Heb 9:27). The Torah-law of Elohim will be the standard by which all will be judged (Matt 5:19; John 12:48 cp. 2 Cor 5:10). This will be a day of great revelation, for in that day, many Christians will think that their religiosity will have guaranteed them a place in the kingdom of Elohim will be deemed insufficient in the eyes of Elohim because of their lack of obedience to his Word which will judge them (see Matt 7:21–23 and Rev 3:14–21).

Joshua 24:22–24, You are witnesses against yourself. Many humans are well-meaning in their desire to serve Elohim, but when the pressures of temptation and persecution from the world, the flesh and the devil come their way, their resolve to be faithful to Elohim eventually crumbles and they give in. Joshua knew that because of man’s innate, downward-bent carnal nature, it is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to remain faithful to Elohim and his Word for very long. Moreover, Joshua knew the Israelites better than they knew themselves. After all, he was only one of two individuals from the generation that was born in Egypt to make it into the Promised Land. The rest perished in the wilderness because of their doubt, unbelief in Elohim and their general sinfulness. The sad truth is that Joshua correctly and the people’s inability to remain faithful to Elohim when he prophetically predicted, “You cannot serve YHVH,” despite the people’s objections to the contrary (vv. 21–22). Biblical history records that the Israelites only ever remained faithful to YHVH for brief periods of time usually lasting no more than 30 or 40 years. For example, some of the most righteous Jewish kings produced some of the most wicked and pagan sons, who completely turned their backs on Elohim and led Israel into total apostasy and evil practices that were often worse than the heathen nations around them. This is a warning to us all: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall!” (1 Cor 10:12). 

Joshua 24:27–28, Joshua let the people depart…inheritance. At the end of his or her life, all that a righteous and faithful leader of Elohim (whether they are a parent, pastor or in some other position of spiritual power and influence) can do is to is to encourage those people over which he has influence to obey Elohim and to warn them of the consequences if they do not. After that, he must leave the people as he departs the scene. The proverbial ball is now in people’s court, and it is up to them whether they will follow the leader’s wise counsel or not; each individual has to make his or her own choice in such matters. From that point on, each person will reap what he or she sows, and they will inherit the fruits of their actions whether good or bad.


Natan’s Commentary on Joshua 8–14

Joshua 8

Joshua 8:14, When the king of Ai saw it. Pride as a result of over-selfconfidence is folly and can result in disastrous as the people of Ai discovered. Pride creates blind spots preventing one from viewing circumstances realistically and objectively.

Joshua 9

Joshua 9:14, Did not ask counsel of YHVH. In the wake of his success in defeating and destroying Jericho and Ai, Joshua became over confident in his own abilities and failed to consult YHVH, and thus fell to the deception of the Gibeonites. We must consult with YHVH over every major move that we make in our lives. Even though YHVH commanded the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites, allowances were made to spare those who chose not to fight Israel but to submit to and join themselves with Israel. This was the case with Rahab and Caleb. 

On the other hand, the Gibeonites surreptitiously wormed their way into the nation of Israel through deceit. This teaches us that the saints are to be ever vigilant against ungodly interlopers who, for one reason or another, seek to become a part of their company. When the saints allow this to happen, they risk being pulled down from a high position spiritually to a lower one, which can lead to apostasy. As Paul states, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits,”(1 Cor 15:33), or as he declares elsewhere, “Do you not know that little leaven [i.e. sin] leavens the whole lump?” (I Cor 5:6). YHVH’s people are not to assimilate with the world, nor to allow the world to assimilate with them. The saints are called to come out of the world and to be separate and to not touch that which is unclean (2 Cor 6:17). To become like the world is a slippery slop downward toward what the Bible refers to as apostasy or the abandonment of divinely revealed Truth. On the other hand, to require the world to come up to the level and biblical standards of righteousness is the biblical definition of evangelism and can result in spiritual conversion of the heathen from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light or Elohim.

It appears that the Gibeonite people gradually assimilated into the nation of Israel and did not contribute to that nation’s moral decline, for we hear nothing more of them as being a distinct people group. 

This story is an example of YHVH’s mercy triumphing over his judgment vis-à-vis both the Gibeonites (who were not killed) and the Israelites (who had failed to obey YHVH).

Joshua 10

Joshua 10:1, Jerusalem. This is the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible, a city of the Jebusites and also called Jebus (Josh 19:10). There are different opinions as to the meaning of the name Jerusalem. The traditional view is that it means “city of peace, wholeness, well-being” (ayr rHG and shalom OKA). It may also mean “to teach peace, wholeness or well-being” (yareh/ vrH and shalom OKA).

 Jerusalem is mentioned 767 times in the Scriptures and is called by seventy different titles according to Menashe Har-El (Golden Jerusalem, p. 24). Although Jerusalem seems to be an atypical place for a city in that it is located inland away from rivers, coasts and ports, it is strategic in that it was the junction of several ancient regional highways and international trade routes that linked three continents.

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Commentary on Joshua Chapters 1 to 7

Joshua 1

Joshua 1:21–18, A New Leader; A New Beginning

The children of Israel have come to the end of their forty year wilderness journey. Now YHVH’s people must go forward in possessing the land and the inheritance that he has for them. This is a new beginning for the Israelites. They must go forth and carry with them into the Promised Land YHVH’s teachings or instructions in righteousness—the Torah—as well as the lessons they have learned in their wilderness experience. This principle applies to us as much as it did to the ancient Israelites, for as Paul said, “these things happened to them for examples [or types] and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world [or ages] are come” (1 Cor 10:11).

The saga of YHVH dealing with Israel did not end with the death of Moses. Similarly, the life of a believer does not start and end at the work of Yeshua at his first coming (whom Moses foreshadowed, see Deut 18:15–18). No, as the death of Moses signaled a new beginning for Israel, so Yeshua’s death on the cross marks a new beginning for redeemed believers as they make their way into their spiritual Promised Land. As Joshua (in Hebrew, Yehoshua meaning “YHVH saves”) led Israel into their physical Promised Land, so Yeshua (the Hebrew word for salvation) at his second coming will lead the saints into the “Promised Land” of his millennial kingdom, and then eventually into the spiritual kingdom of the New Heaven and Earth and the New Jerusalem 1000 years later. Read Hebrews chapters three and four for insights and understanding into how Moses and Joshua were prophetic shadow pictures of Yeshua at his two advents.

Joshua 1:1, Joshua … Moses’ servant. For how long was Joshua Moses’ servant before he became the leader of Israel? What does this teach us about YHVH’s discipleship program? How many other servants of YHVH’s does Scripture reveal spent years in training for the ultimate mission YHVH had for them as leaders of his people? How long was Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, the disciples of Yeshua and Paul in training, to name a few, before YHVH was ready to use them for his special purposes? As Matthew Henry says in his commentary on this verse, “Those are fittest to rule, who have learned to obey.”

Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18, Be strong and of a good courage. Four times in the first chapter YHVH encourages the Israelites with this phrase. Why the fourfold repetition of this admonition at this juncture in Israel’s sojourn? Be strong is the Hebrew word chazak/קזח meaning “to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, and be resolute.”According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the majority of times chazak is used in Scripture it refers to “being strong in battle.”This word can also mean “to harden one’s heart”against YHVH’s purposes as was the case with Pharaoh twelve times between Exodus chapters 4 and 14. Good courage is the Hebrew word amats/ץמא‭ ‬meaning “to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold, solid, hard.”The aspect of this word that means “to harden one’s heart” can have both a good and bad connotation. One can harden or secure one’s heart with the resolve to obey YHVH, or contrariwise, choose to disobey him with an obstinate heart as well. Examples in Scripture where amats is used in the negative sense are Deuteronomy 2:30 and Amos 2:14. These two words, chazak and amats almost appear to be synonyms. Why would YHVH use two words with only slight variation in meaning in admonishing the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land? Was he trying to emphasize a point? Perhaps he anticipated that eventually they would grow faint and weary battling the onslaught of evil around them and succumb to the influences of the surrounding pagan nations leading to their apostasy. Perhaps the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews had these two Hebrew words in mind when he wrote the following:

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living Elohim. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Messiah, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, “Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Heb 3:12–19)

The Israelites crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land.

What can we learn from our ancient forefathers in this regard as we face the challenges of remaining faithful to YHVH in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation?

Joshua 1:8, Make your way prosperous…you shall have good [Heb. sakal] success.The expanded meaning of the word prosperous is literally “to press through, to break out”or “to accomplish satisfactorily what is intended” (according to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). The TWOT continues, “Real prosperity results from the work of God in the life of one who seeks God with all his heart (2 Chr 31:21; Ps 1:3, vol. 2, p. 766). The word success literally meansunderstanding, prudence, good sense, insight, prosperity.” An alternate rendering of this last phrase of Joshua 1:8 reads, “Make your way successful, and then you will act wisely” (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach).

But how is that prosperity and success achieved? The answer is to be found in the first part of verse eight where four keys to success are given. They are:

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