« AnteriorContinuar »
he valued the gift of God above all things; had he been worldly-minded, he would have solicited to be put in possession of a place already conquered, where he might pass the remainder of his days in peace and affluence; but he rather chose an inheritance that should distinguish him as the faithful servant of the LORD, and commemorate the action of his life for which he most desired to be esteemed, and serve at the same time to recommend his example to the imitation of posterity. It must have been delightful to behold this venerable man claiming the promised reward of his faith and piety; to hear him acknowledge the goodness of God to him from the day his birth: though he had wandered with the rest, yet he continued healthy and strong, and was willing, by Divine assistance, to hold a contest with the giants, who at that time were in possession of the land.
Caleb is here called the Kenezite, perhaps on account of some victory he had gained over the Kenezites, who were decended from Kenaz, the son of Eliphaz, Esau's first-born.
Hebron was the place were Sarah died, and near it afterwards resided Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The preservationof Caleb and Joshua plainly proved that the LORD was willing to save those whom He redeemed from Egyptian bondage. All who died in the wilderness perished through their own disobedience. Nothing but wickedness can destroy the hopes of those who are taken into covenant with God: may then the examples of Caleb and Joshua encourage Christians to be steadfast and faithful in their attachment to the LORD, and in the discharge of those duties He has enjoined; then will they pass safely through the wilderness of this world, their old age will be honourable, and they will finally obtain their allotted inheritance.
SECTION SECTION XLIII.
TIIE TABERNACLE SET UP AT SHILOK-LOTS CAST
FOR THE INHERITANCE *.
The Tabernacle had hitherto continued in its usual situation, the centre of the camp of Israel; but as the people were allowed to disperse themselves, some on one side of Jordan, and some on the other, it was proper that a place should be appointed for the Tabernacle and the ark. GOD Himself directed in this matter, and Suloh was fixed on, which was in the midst of the country, and very convenient for the assembling of the tribes. The ceremony of setting up the Tabernacle was doubtless performed with the utmost solemnity and joyfulness.
The countries that remained to be conquered lay at a distance ; some parts were in possession of the Canaanites, who were not entirely rooted out, though they were so far conquered, that they were not able to make head and annoy the Israelites. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, had been put in possession of their portion on the other side of Jordan; but seven tribes had not yet received any inheritance; they seemed inclined to live an inactive life all together : Joshua reproved them for not exerting themselves to extirpate the idolaters entirely; and since Gon had permitted, nay commanded, them to do so, he desired them to send nien to take a survey
of the whole country which they were to attack ; this they accordingly did, and those persons divided the
* See Joshua, Chap. xviii.
survey into seven parts, by cities, and brought the description of it to Joshua at Shiloh ; and he and Eleazar the high priest cast lots for them before the LORD in Shiloh.
How the business of casting lots was conducted is not exactly described ; but it is supposed that the names of the countries were written upon separate pieces, and put into the lap of Joshua, and that a prince of each tribe took a lot out of it containing the names of the countries which the tribe he drew for was to possess ; these shares the tribes were to consider as of the Lord's appointment, which indeed was evidently the case, for the portion of each tribe agreed with the original allotment which Jacob, by the Divine direction, made so many years before *. Joshua and Eleazar the priest were directed by the LORD to make such an equal division, that each tribe might have a territory proportionable to the number of its families, and each family in proportion to the number of its individuals. Thus “ the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to their fathers to give them.” Joshua himself had a little spot given him for his own habitation, not far from Shiloh.
When every thing was thus settled, Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and gave them an honourable dismission. He acknowledged that they had faithfully executed the condition which they promised to Moses, in helping their brethren to subdue their enemies, and commended their courage and fidelity. He exhorted them, now they were going to separate from their brethren, never to neglect the service of God, but to keep His commandments with the most exact fidelity. He ad
* See Genesis, Chap. xlix.
vised them to distribute to their brethren on the other side Jordan, a share of the rich booty they had taken from the Canaanites, because, though the latter had · helped them in the war, they had done them great ser. vice in protecting their families at home from the insults of enemies on every side. Joshua then gave them a solemn blessing, and sent them away.
The seven tribes did not immediately set about conquering the remainder of the Canaanites; after they had shewn their willingness to do it, the LORD gave them rest for a number of years, till their increasing numbers rendered it necessary to obtain greater extent of territory; in the meanwhile the Canaanites were permitted to remain in the cities and countries which the LORD's people did not immediately want, that they might not become desolate, or be filled with beasts of the field, for want of inhabitants; but the Canaanites were restrained from giving disturbance to those who were now the lawful owners of the land; have ing received it as the grant made for them to their progenitors, from the Lord of the whole earth.
The land of Canaan proved such as God had promised to give to his people, flowing with milk and honey, abounding, not only with necessaries, but delicacies ; it was delightfully variegated with hills and vallies, enriched with corn and fruits, and stored with sheep and cattle. Canaan contained but a small tract of territory; the most authentic geographers tell us that it was 200 miles in length, and about 80 in breadth ; but, notwithstanding the narrow limits, it was so wonderfully fertilized when the Israelites dwelt there, as to subsist a vast number of inhabitants. The air of this country was very temperate and serene, and the soil required scarcely any labour to manure it. In these days it ap
pears a poor barren spot; this is in a great measureowing to the want of cultivation, but still more to the peculiar blessing of God being withheld from it.
From Joshua, Chap. xxii. 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.
And Josliua 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 : 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 fought for you.
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.
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.
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.
That ye come not among these nations, these that remain amongst you, neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done urto this day.