Lange Commentary - Joshua

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Lange Commentary - Joshua

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Verse Commentaries:





Pastor In Crefeld, Prussia

Translated From The German, With Additions



Professor In The University Of Lewisburg, Lewisburg, Penn

volume IV. Of The Old Testament: Containing Joshua, Judges, And Ruth.



The Book of Joshua relates the history of the conquest of Canaan under the lead of Joshua, the successor of Moses, the division of the conquered land among the tribes of Israel, and the provision for the settlement of the theocracy in that country. The Book of Judges continues the history of the theocracy from the death of Joshua to the time of Eli, under the administration of thirteen Judges, whom God raised up in special emergencies for the restoration of social order and deliverance from foreign oppression. It covers the transition period of about three hundred years from the theocratic republic to the theocratic monarchy. The Book of Ruth is a charming episode of domestic virtue and happiness, in striking contrast with the prevailing character of this period, when might was right, and “every one did that which was right in his own eyes.” It teaches the sure reward of filial devotion and trust in God, the proper use of the calamities of life, the overruling providence of God in the private affairs of an humble family as well as in the palaces of princes and the public events of nations. It also shows how God had children outside of Canaan and the Jewish theocracy. The incorporation of Ruth, the Moabitess, into the Church of the Old Testament, may be regarded as an intimation of the future call of the Gentiles to the gospel salvation. The story of Ruth is told with touching simplicity. Göthe (Westöstlicher Divan, p. 8) says: “It is the loveliest thing, in the shape of an epic or idyl, which has come to us.” Humboldt (Kosmos, ii. 46, Germ, ed.) calls it “a most artless and inexpressibly charming picture of nature.”

These three books are here brought together in one volume.

The Commentary on Joshua was prepared in German, 1870, by the Rev. F. R. Fay (Dr. Lange’s son-in-law), Pastor in Crefeld, Prussia, and in English by the Rev. George R. Bliss, D. D., Professor in Lewisburg University, Pennsylvania. Dr. Bliss writes: “My own impression concerning the author (Mr. Fay), derived from a close and protracted familiarity with his book, is highly favorable to his learning, his piety, his Christian catholicity and amiableness of spirit.” He has made a careful use of the most recent helps even in the English language touching the questions of geography and topography of the holy land, which occupy a very prominent position in a Commentary on Joshua. The Textual and Grammatical Notes are added by the American translator, who has also materially enriched the other departments, in accordance with the general plan of the American edition.

The Commentary on Judges and Ruth is by Professor Paulus Cassel, of Berlin, and appeared several years earlier (1865). The English edition was prepared by the Rev. P. H. Steenstra, Professor in the Protestant Episcopal Divinity School at Cambridge, Mass.

Professor Cassel is a converted Rabbi, one of the best Talmudic scholars of Germany, a man of genius and ardent Christian spirit. His commentary is very original, fresh, suggestive, abounding in historical examples and parallels, but sometimes very fanciful, especially in his philological efforts. Here the translator has very properly expressed his dissent from many of his views. Professor Steenstra has paid special attention to the textual department, and supplemented his author where he takes too much for granted. The grammatical notes on the Book of Ruth are quite full, because it is often read by students of Hebrew in Seminaries, owing to its simplicity and literary merit.

I conclude these introductory remarks with the closing sentences of Professor Cassel’s Preface:—

“It will not be considered my greatest fault that, as far as possible, I have avoided polemics, and have contented myself with positive exposition of the meaning as I understood it. I cannot help feeling that in many expositions there is less eagerness to explain the sacred text than to give battle to the views of other writers. The same principle has guided me in the Introduction, which on that account I could confine to brief outlines. A departure from this principle was deemed necessary in only a few passages.

“What shall I say more! Scripture says everywhere Tolle, lege! and such especially is the language of the Book of Judges and of Judgment now before us.

“Verily, the sacred canon here presents us with a book of history and historical art, such as our generation, prolific in writings on history, but nevertheless poor in historical feeling and perception, stands in pressing need of. Sic invenietur, sic aperietur.


Bible House, New York, October, 1871




§ 1. Name of the Book. Place in the Canon, Contents and Character in general

Named not from its author but from the distinguished hero whose history it relates, the Book of Joshua stands first in the canonical list of ðְáִéàִéí øִàùׁåֹðִéí , the prophetœ priores, of the Old Testament. To these belong also the Book of Judges ( ùׁåֹëְּèִéí ), the two Books of Samuel ( ùְׁîåּàֵì ), and the two Books of Kings ( îְìָëִéí ). These writings are collectively so designated, primarily because, according to old Jewish tradition, they were composed by prophets, and in the second place, also, doubtless because they dwell largely, the Books of Samuel and of the Kings in particular, on the deeds of certain prophets. Still, both these reasons together do not of themselves explain the name. The Masoretes, rather, from whom all these designations and titles are derived, certainly had a feeling that the same spirit which swept through the prophets, strictly such, the ðְáִéàַéí àַçְøåֹðִéí , and their writings, was traceable in these historical books also; that, accordingly, the history of the people of God had been written in this spirit, not as a profane but a sacred history. The guidance of that people by Jehovah, the God of Israel, as he is called in this book (24:2, 23), their relation and that of their leaders to their God, their fidelity or unfaithfulness, their conformity to his commandments or transgression of them, their worship of Jehovah or apostasy to idol-worship, are the proper themes of this holy historiography. These books of the first or prior prophets are not merely historical books, but, as De Wette in his Introduction to the O. T. has aptly styled them, theocratico-historical books, pervaded and filled with the same spirit of profound piety, noble moral courage, and holy reverence for the commands of Jehovah, which breathes through the “theocratically-inspired books” of the prophets properly so-called.

This character shows also in the Book of Joshua, which, as on the one hand it introduces the ðְáִéàִéí øִéùׁåֹðéí , follows on the other the úּåֹøָç , the Pentateuch. While in former times, under the supposition that “the law” constituted an absolute literary whole, scarcely any attention was given to the all-pervading relationship between the Book of Joshua and the Pentateuch, modern criticism has the unquestionable merit, both of recognizing this position of our book in the O. T. Canon, and of instituting profound and highly instructive investigations concerning it. These Knobel, in particular, has in part thoroughly explained, and in part independently carried still further, in his Criticism of the Pentateuch and Joshua (Kurzgefasstes exeget. Handbuch zum Alten Testament, xiii. pp. 489–606). The results of the investigations concerning the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua may be found in shorter compass in Bleek’s Introduction to the O. T. [translated into English by Venables, Lond. 1869], §§ 137,138, where they are summed up as the issue of minute and conscientious researches in §§ 59–136. Indeed, so many and so various are the points of mutual approach between Joshua and the Pentateuch, in respect both to language and to facts, as obviously to raise the suspicion that the two together originally formed one great work, from which our book was, only at a later period, perhaps in the time of Ezra (Bleek, § 140), separated. To set one’s self against this discovery because the “neological” or “modern” criticism has first brought it to light, is unworthy of believing Scriptural research.

In the closest connection with the last verse of Deuteronomy (34:5–12), our book relates first, how Jehovah commanded Joshua to arise and cross over the Jordan to take possession of the land which He had given to the children of Israel; and then declares further how Joshua communicated this order to the leaders of the people, and at the same time required of the two and a half tribes of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half of Manasseh, who had already received of Moses (Deuteronomy 32; Joshua 13) their possession on the east side of the Jordan, that they should, according to the conditions fixed by Moses (Deu_32:20), take part in the coming conquest of the land (Joshua 1). Next follows the account of the mission of the spies to Jericho, their reception by Rahab, their danger, deliverance, and flight (Joshua 2). After the return of the messengers the people pass over the Jordan, not without experiencing a proof of the divine assistance in that the passage of the river was accomplished dryshod, although the stream at that season, in the days of harvest, was unusually swollen with the water (Joshua 3, 4). In the fifth chapter we are informed of the circumcision at Gilgal and of the first passover-festival on the soil of Canaan, with which closes the First Section of the First Part of the book. The preparation for the holy war, of which the author furnishes us a report in that Part, is now finished. And Joshua himself, the leader of the people, has been strengthened and encouraged by a special manifestation from above (Joshua 5).

Now begins the narrative of the struggles between Israel and the Canaanites (6:1–11:23). In a flowing and vivid relation the author depicts, successively, the capture of Jericho, whose walls fall at the sound of the trumpets, the destruction of the city, the rescue of Rahab, the imprecation on the foundation and site (Joshua 6); then Achan’s crime, the unfortunate expedition to Ai, Joshua’s humble supplication before Jehovah, the discovery and punishment of the criminal (Joshua 7). Upon this follows the truly brilliant description, characterized by the greatest vividness of representation, of the conquest and destruction of Ai (Jos_8:1-29). After this, however, the course of the hitherto well-ordered narrative of martial exploits, is interrupted by an account (Jos_8:30-35) of the altar of blessing and curse on Mount Ebal, which appears, as we will show hereafter, to belong properly not to this place but rather after Jos_11:23. For the conquest of the land is not yet finished; we hear, on the contrary (Jos_9:1-2), that five Canaanitish kings unite themselves in a formal league against the triumphantly invading Israelites. The burghers of Gibeon, having heard what Joshua has done to Jericho and Ai, take another course, that of cunning and stratagem, and completely attain their end. Supposing from their old garments, their ruptured wine-skins, their tattered shoes, and their musty bread, that they had come from a distant land, Joshua, without inquiring of Jehovah (Jos_9:14), concludes a treaty with them by which their preservation is assured. The deception is afterwards discovered, but the promise nevertheless maintained, because it had been confirmed (Jos_9:15) by a solemn oath which the princes of Israel felt themselves bound in conscience to keep. The Gibeonites are not destroyed, but as a punishment for their falsehood they are made wood-choppers and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of Jehovah (Jos_9:3-27).

But now the wrath of Adoni-zedek and his allies turns against the inhabitants of Gibeon, as apostates from the common cause who must be punished for their treachery (Jos_10:1-5). In this strait the latter appeal to Joshua for help, which is promptly and heartily afforded. Specially cheered by Jehovah he advances, smites the five kings in the great battle of Gibeon, poetically celebrated (Jos_10:12-13) by an after-age, pursues them with their hosts over the pass of Beth-horon, down to Azekah and Makkedah, hangs them, when the pursuit is over on five trees, but at sundown causes their corpses to be taken down and cast into the cave at Makkedah, where they had been found concealed. This victory over the five kings was followed by the conquest of the whole southern portion of the land, west of the Jordan, and Joshua now returns to the camp at Gilgal on the Jordan. This seems to have remained the head-quarters of all these operations (Joshua 10). Thus the south of the country west of the Jordan—of Canaan proper (see on this designation § 6)—was subjugated. To the same fate must the north also submit. In vain, as before Adoni-zedek gathered the kings of the south, does Jabin king of Hazor now collect about him those of the north in a second compact against Joshua, for continuing the war of defense. Like sand by the sea for multitude, is the host which they bring into the field (Jos_11:4); but with surprising rapidity they are reached by the able leader of Israel, at the water of Merom, where they are encamped,—reached, surprised, smitten, annihilated. For after this defeat also, Joshua fails not to pursue and to so strike the enemy, that he “left them not one remaining” (Jos_11:8). Their horses were hamstrung, their chariots burnt with fire. The history of these events is more meagrely given than that of the capture of Jericho and Ai, and of the slaughter at Gibeon, but not less plainly and vividly (Jos_11:1-9). After now reporting further (Jos_11:10-15) how Joshua took the cities of the north, except those which stood upon hills, and slew their kings and people, while he gave their spoil as booty to his army, which had not been allowed at the taking of Jericho (Jos_6:17; Jos_7:1 ff), the author closes the chapter with a general review of the conquest of the whole land west of the Jordan. Here he recalls particularly the destruction of the Anakim in the mountain of Judah, as accomplished by Joshua (Jos_11:16-23). With this closes the Second Section of the First Part, since Joshua 12. is to be regarded as a special section. It contains a complete list of the kings subdued under the leadership of Moses and Joshua, on both sides of the Jordan, thirty-one in number. Here the First Part of the book (Joshua 1-12.) is brought to a conclusion.

The Second Part (Joshua 13-24) describes the division of the conquered territory among the Israelites.

A considerable time, as would appear, has passed since the conquest of the land (13:1). Joshua has become old; there remains also, very much to be occupied, partly in the southwest “where the territory of the Philistine kingdoms was,” and partly in the north, “the country on Lebanon;” yet must Joshua now undertake the distribution of the land (Jos_13:1-7) among the nine and a half tribes. The mention made of the one half of the tribe of Manasseh leads the author to look back over the district already allotted to the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan (Jos_13:8-33), where the remark is repeatedly brought in that Joshua gave no possession to the tribe of Levi, because the sacrifices of Jehovah, nay, Jehovah himself was their possession (Jos_13:14; Jos_13:33). In the following chapter (Joshua 14) the writer begins his account of the division of the land (Jos_14:1-5). This is not resumed until Jos_15:1 ff., so that the narrative concerning Caleb’s demand for a possession, which is repeated in another form Jos_15:13-19 (comp. Jdg_1:12-15), shows itself plainly an intrusive fragment. For clearness of arrangement, we may, with Bunsen, conveniently make these two chapters the First Section of the Second Part, and then group Joshua 15-21 as the second.

These seven chapters contain—with the exception of Jos_15:13-19; Jos_17:13-18; Jos_18:1-20; Jos_20:1-6

Very dry, but, for the knowledge of the holy land, extremely valuable, notices, which are often surprisingly accurate. In a few places only, particularly 16:5 ff. and 19:34, is the sense obscure and hard to determine, as will appear in the discussion of those passages. A degree of difficulty characterizes Jos_16:1, also, as has been noticed particularly by Hauff (Offenbarungsglaube und Kritik, p. 139 ff.), and especially Jos_17:1, where “a mass of explanatory phrases” is found, while the intervening narratives (Jos_15:13-19; Jos_17:14-18) are distinguished by the same beauty of delineation which we have already often met in the first part of the book. How vividly is the transaction between Caleb and his daughter given, how freshly and succinctly that between Joshua and the exacting sons of Joseph, his fellow tribesmen!

The third and last section comprises Joshua 22-24 Here the release of the two and a half tribes from beyond the Jordan, who could now be sent home, after the conquest and allotment of the country, is announced, and then reported in detail; and how they raised an altar on the west bank of the Jordan, the building of which excited the ill-humor of the other Israelites. This was allayed, however, when the commission sent out under Phinehas brought back a satisfactory explanation (Joshua 22). Next follow the farewell discourses of Joshua, the first delivered probably at Shiloh, the second at Shechem (Jos_24:1). Old and full of days (Jos_23:1), feeling that he too must go the way of all the earth, the brave, disinterested, pious follower of Moses, takes leave of his people, admonishes them to fidelity towards Jehovah, warns them against apostasy and idolatry, and finally lays them under the obligation of a solemn renewal of the covenant (Jos_24:25). To commemorate this a monument of stones is erected (Jos_24:26-27). One hundred and ten years old, the precise age of his ancestor Joseph (Gen_50:22), Joshua dies and is buried at Timnath-serah, in his own city (Jos_24:29-30). While he and the elders live, Israel serves Jehovah (Jos_24:31). But Eleazar, also the faithful helper of Joshua, the son of Aaron, the high-priest of Israel, dies and is buried at Gibeah-phinehas, in the city of his son, who as being distinguished by a holy zeal for the true worship of God, was exceptionally provided with a possession of his own (Jos_24:33). A notice concerning the bones of Joseph is inserted between these reports of the decease of Joshua and Eleazar.

If now we look back and bring up to ourselves once more the total impression which the Book of Joshua makes, it may be said with reason that the account of the historical events is given on the whole, in a well-ordered succession, and the connection but seldom broken; and further, that the notices concerning the division of the land are characterized in general by remarkable clearness and accuracy. This is especially evident when one compares the corresponding section of Josephus (Ant. v. 1, 22). At the same time it need not be overlooked that, as manifest interpolations attest (Jos_8:30-35; Jos_10:12-15; Jos_14:6-15; Jos_15:13-19; Jos_17:13-18), we have before us here, as little as in the Pentateuch, an original work emanating from one author; but rather a literary product, which, although finally revised with a view to unity of representation, bears plainly on its face the marks of its origin. The book itself cites (Jos_10:13) one of its documentary sources; and if one why may not a number of them have existed, although they are not directly quoted?

Observation. The Samaritan Book of Joshua, called also, Chronicon Samaritanum, of which an Arabic translation in Samaritan characters exists in the Leyden Library (printed under the title: Chronicon Samaritanum, Ed. Joh. Juynboll, Lugd. Bat. 1848), is pronounced by De Wette, Hengstenberg, and Ewald, all agreeing on this point, a revision of our Book of Joshua, with an addition of Samaritan fables, and dating from late in the Middle Ages. See De Wette, Introd. to the O. T. § 171. Hengstenberg, Authenticity of the Pentateuch, i. 5, Ewald, Geschichte d. Volks Israel, ii. p. 349, 350; iv. p. 247, 249. [“A splendid legend” from this work is communicated by Stanley, Hist. of Jew. Ch. i. p. 245. f.—Tr.].

2. Origin

I. Memorandum of Views held by leading Authorities

According to the Talmud (Tr. Baba bathra, fol. 14, 2, “Joshua scripsit librum suum et octo versus in lege”), Joshua was the author of the book which bears his name, Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the high-priest, then added the conclusion (Jos_24:29-32), but the last verse of all (Jos_24:33) was appended by Phinehas (Baba bathra, 15 a, 15 b; in Fürst, Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Ueberlieferungen in Talmud und Midrasch, Leipzig, 1868, p. 10). Various older theologians, among them Starke, appealing to Jos_24:26, shared this view. “If,” says Starke, “he himself wrote the covenant made with the people, why not also the preliminary, and in part very important and necessary, records?” The same argument is employed also by L. König (Alttest. Studien, i. Heft: Authentie des Buches Josua, 1836, p. 127), as well as Baumgarten (Herzog’s Real-Encyclop. vii. 40, 42), to sustain Joshua’s authorship; against which Keil (Commentary on the Book of Joshua, p. 40. [Martin’s Transl. p. 39]), remarks how precisely the fact that the writing in the law-book is limited to the renewal of the covenant at Shechem proves that the remaining contents of the Book of Joshua were not recorded therein. Hävernick (Einleitung in d. A. T. ii. 1, pp. 26, 62), resting on the Kethib in Jos_5:1; Jos_5:6 ( òָáְøֵðåּ ), combined with the notice in Jos_24:26, ascribes the entire first part and the two last chapters to Joshua, while he refers chs. 13–22, after the example of Bertholdt (p. 857), to the chorographical descriptions spoken of in Jos_18:1-10. Gerlach (Bibelwerk, ii. p. 6) supposes it probable that, after the example of Moses, Joshua himself or one of his immediate attendants, under his direction, wrote down the history of the conquest, and thereupon of the division of the land, so important in its future bearings, and exhibiting traces of very high antiquity. These he thinks were composed in separate sections which then some editor finished out with the account of the renewed covenant. Keil (ut sup. p. 46. [Eng. Transl. p. 46]; Biblisch. Com. über d. A. T., ii. 1, pp. 5, 6) denies the authorship of Joshua altogether, not so much on account of the oft-recurring phrase (previously urged by Spinoza and others), òַã äַéּåֹí äַæֶּä (Jos_4:9; Jos_5:9; Jos_6:25; Jos_7:26 (bis); 8:28, 29; 9:27; 13:13; 14:14; 15:63; 16:10), as because the book gives account of occurrences belonging to the period after Joshua’s death. That phrase he thinks by no means supposes the lapse of centuries, but is employed rather, according to its quite relative signification, of things only a few years past, although he fails to furnish any proof of this. Of the class of later occurrences he reckons, above all, the narrative of the capture of Hebron by Caleb, of Debir by Othniel (Jos_15:13-19), and of Leshem by the Danites (Jos_19:47), as well as the statement in Jos_15:63 resting on Jdg_1:8. But since these wars and conquests might have occurred not long after Joshua’s death; since moreover the book contains definite proofs that it was composed not after but probably before the establishment of monarchy in Israel (Jos_16:10 : the Canaanites in Gezer, comp. 1Ki_9:16; the Jebusites yet in Jerusalem, Jos_15:63, comp. 2Sa_5:3; 2Sa_5:6-9; a place for the temple not yet determined, 9:27, comp. 2Sa_24:18 ff.; 1Ch_21:26 ff.; the Gibeonites still wood-choppers and water-carriers, 9:27, comp. 2Sa_21:1 ff.); since, finally, the book nowhere shows traces either in its style or contents, of later times and relations, but in language as well as in views of things connects itself closely with the Pentateuch (of which Jos_13:4-6; Jos_11:8; Jos_19:28, are cited as examples), it becomes highly probable that it was composed not more than twenty-five or thirty years after the death of Joshua, perhaps by one of the elders who had crossed the Jordan with Joshua, taken part in the conquest of Canaan (Jos_5:1; Jos_5:6), and lived some time after Joshua (Jos_24:31; Jdg_2:7). Com. on Joshua, p. 47, [47]; Bib. Com. 2:1, p. 7.

So Keil, who, as is obvious, has given up the old, traditional view of the authorship of Joshua, while yet he maintains the unity of the book and its high antiquity. This latter point was disputed already by Andreas Masius, by Spinoza and Clericus, who placed the composition of the book in the time after the exile, in which they have been followed by Hasse, Maurer, and De Wette. And in proportion as the Pentateuch, since the middle of the preceding century, has been subjected to sharper scrutiny touching its unity, our book has shared the same treatment. The different hypotheses of modern criticism enumerated by Lange (Com. on Holy Script. Introd. to Genesis, §§ 3, 7), the Documentary as well as the Fragmentary, the Supplementary, as well as the peculiar theory of Ewald, called by Delitzsch the Crystallization hypothesis, to which quite recently Fürst inclines (Gesch. d. Bib. Lit., u. des Judisch-hellenist. Schriftthum, i. pp. 362, 404 ff., 442 ff.; to be compared with Diestel’s Review, in the Jahrbüchern für Deutschen Theologie, xiv. 2, pp. 338–342), have all been attempted with reference to the book of Joshua as well as to the Pentateuch. Not unsuccessfully the Supplementary hypothesis, in reference to Joshua in particular, has found defenders in Bleek, Knobel, and very recently in Nöldeke.

According to Bleek (Introd. to the O. T. § 137) there were for a considerable time writings extant concerning the events of the period between the death of Moses and that of Joshua, as in particular concerning the division of the land among the several tribes; precisely as in the time of Moses himself, and in part from his own hand, there were written laws, songs, census-rolls, and the catalogue of the nations. But a connected history of the fortunes of the people, either in the Mosaic period or in that of Joshua, had not then been composed. Both were produced simultaneously at a later time, and in all probability, in the age of Saul, at which time the work of the so-called Elohist arose. This work treated only of the main epochs in the history, those of special importance to a knowledge of the relation between God and man, and of God’s providences. Such were the creation, the deluge, the choice of Abraham and God’s convenant with him, the history of Jacob and Joseph, then that of Moses and Joshua, while the intervening periods were only summarily touched upon, in short genealogical lists which served to join together two Epochs and the representative personages belonging to them. The greater part of our Book of Joshua was contained in this oldest history. Probably in the age of David, and not in the very last part of his reign, this work was enlarged and rewrought by a later hand. The older writing remains the foundation; but it was in part increased by many new additions, which the writer either found already extant like the former, or himself first wrote down from previous oral traditions; and in part the earlier written relations were modified by additions and changes, by abbreviations also and omissions where this Jehovist availed himself of a different source of information concerning the same circumstances and events. It differed from the previous work conspicuously in this, that the author names God Jehovah, from the very beginning, whereas the Elohist had refrained from that designation before the time of Moses. By this revision the earlier work gained some not unessential additions, but lost not a little in literary unity. It embraced (a) the first four books of the Pentateuch, essentially of the entire compass in which we have them, but with trifling exceptions, particularly Lev_26:3-45; (b) the report of the death of Moses (Deu_34:1-8), taken from the Elohistic writing; (c) our Book of Joshua in the form in which the author of Deuteronomy found it. For the last revision of the work was effected by the author of Deuteronomy, at whose hand the whole received the form and compass in which it lies before us in our Pentateuch and Book of Joshua. The author of this revision probably took the above work (that of the Jehovist) entire, as he found it, allowing himself only here and there particular changes and additions, especially in the history of the time of Joshua. The principal alteration however, consisted in the expansion of the writing by the reception of Deuteronomy itself (Joshua 1–33 It is possible that he had other written authorities besides the Book of the Jehovist, but nothing definite can be made out on this point. As the date of the composition of Deuteronomy and the last revision of the whole work, the reign of Manasseh, King of Judah, in the first half of the seventh century before Christ, may most probably be assumed, and at all events a time not later than the eighteenth year of Josiah (624 b. c.). Comp. 2Ki_23:21, w. Deuteronomy 16.

According to Knobel (Kritik des Pentateuch und Josua, p. 496 ff.), there lies at the bottom of the Pentateuch and Joshua, an old work (Elohim, document, Elohist, Ground-text), which relates the history from the creation to the division of the land of Canaan, which is distinguished by definiteness of plan and by consecutiveness, and may be easily followed from Genesis 1 to Joshua 22. The composition of this work falls in the time of Saul (p. 523). The author was beyond question an Aaronide or priest. This we learn from the deep interest which he takes in sacred persons and usages, and his accurate acquaintance with those matters, the tabernacle, for instance, and its furniture, which a layman would not have known so well about. He lived therefore in the southern part of the country, where the Aaronides had their residence (p. 523). From this ground-text (as Knobel almost everywhere calls it) the other parts of the Pentateuch deviate widely in matter and style, the proof of which is given with great care and to the minutest detail (pp. 524–532), but they altogether lack unity. There are indeed non-Elohistic sections, as in our book chaps, 2–4 which, overlooking minor points, have been plainly made up of two different elements. The same two elements may then each for itself be further clearly recognized in particular sections, the one e. g. in Josh. Joshua 24, the other in Joshua 6-12. They appear again blended with Elohistic sections, either one or the other or both together, as in Joshua 15, 17, 18. The old ground-text has therefore received additions from two other documents. These two documents are mentioned by name Num_21:14; Jos_10:13. The one is the Law-book, the other the War-book. According to its name ( ñֵôֶø äָéָּùָׁø , book of the right, i. e. right-book, law-book, to be interpreted after òùָׂä äַéָּùָׁø áְòֵéðֵé éְäåָֹä , “to do what is right in Jehovah’s eyes,” i. e. to follow the divine law,—a phrase common in the historical books to designate conformity with the law, 1Ki_11:33; 1Ki_11:38; 1Ki_14:8; 1Ki_15:5; 1Ki_15:11, etc. (?)), the former contained laws, according to Joshua 10 historical reports also, and according to 2Sa_1:18, poems, which all suits with the first document of the Jehovist.

In this book, however, which originated in the Northern kingdom (p. 544), in the Assyrian period (p. 546), there was an older ñֵôֶø äַéָּùָׁø inwrought which is designated, Jos_24:26, ñֵôֶø úּåֹøָä àֶìäֹéí . This older Sepher Jaschar contained already most of the laws of the law-book employed by the Jehovist, especially the Mosaic Decalogue (Exodus 20), probably also the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33), of the time of Saul, David’s lament over Saul (2 Samuel 1) and the hymn of triumph (Exodus 15), which dates only from the time of Solomon. Lower than Solomon we need not bring it. In Jeroboam’s time it seems to have been already known (p. 547). Where this older law-book was composed Knobel does not say; probably also in the northern kingdom.

The second document of the Jehovist, the War-book ( ñ× îִìְçֲîåֹú éé ‍, Num_21:14, “book of the wars of Jehovah,” i. e. the wars of Israel with the heathen, p. 559), contained a great number of warlike narratives, more in fact than all the others together (p. 559), and appears to have originated in the southern country (p. 560), as it agrees very nearly in matter and style with the ground-text, and in the time of Jehoshaphat († 889). The author, from his interest in religious legislation, was probably a Levite (p. 560).

The Jehovist’s course of procedure now was the following. He laid his foundation in the Elohim-text, which is, accordingly, preserved tolerably complete; then took his supplementary matter chiefly from his two documents, more out of the law-book, less out of the war-book, since the former offered more that was peculiar, the latter only that, in many places, which lay already in the ground text. To all the three documents he adheres, as far as possible, word for word, whether he extracts from them great or small. The texts have for him a certain inviolability, and he is guided in this by the consciousness that he has before him and is editing venerable works of Mosaic authority. He is concerned to harmonize the various reports, and effects this often in a truly ingenious manner; witness Gen_21:25 ff; Gen_26:19 ff. comp. w. Gen_26:15; Gen_26:18; Gen_35:3; Gen_35:7; Gen_35:4 ff., Gen_35:14 ff.; Gen_33:1-8 comp. w. Gen_32:21; Gen_33:13, etc. In many cases, however, he saw the irreconcilableness of his authorities and proceeded mechanically to combine the different and contradictory materials, leaving it for the reader himself to bring them into connection and harmony. His primary endeavor was to preserve the contents of the older writer, when they appeared to him important, and, as far as possible, just as he found them. Hence even what was divergent also might, as being something independent, seem to him worthy of preservation; in proof of which Knobel adduces Jos_8:12-13. The mechanical nature of his process appears from the retention of remarks which in the originals stood quite correctly, but in the combination of sources should have been omitted, as in Jos_10:15. Frequently, however, in his supplementary additions, he allowed himself considerable freedom, transposing particulars, retrenching incompatible designations of time, but especially interweaving little additions into the reports of his predecessors, where they appeared to him appropriate, and especially where necessary to harmonize differences. The introduction of a historical sentence into the discourse of God, Jos_13:1, likewise exhibits this freedom. On the whole, the author shows great tact, since he often applies with real aptness his additions to the statements of his predecessors (e.g. Genesis 12, 13, 16, 32, 39). On the other hand, the signs of the compilatory process are indeed plain and numerous enough (pp. 573–578). He cannot have lived before the Assyrian period, because he has the law-book and war-book before him (p. 570). Since, moreover, the law-book, especially, comes down (p. 546) to Hezekiah, the last years of this king are about the earliest date to which the Jehovist can be assigned. He probably sprang from the kingdom of Israel. For he has a fondness for the law-book, and cleaves very closely to that in the contents and mode of expression; is not offended by the plurality of sacred places; gives the account (Gen_32:24 ff.) of God’s wrestling with Jacob, which no one else but Hosea (12:4 f.) mentions; and finally he uses many expressions which occur elsewhere only in writings of the northern kingdom, and separately in those of later date, e.g. the ùׁ præf. Gen. 6:3; ùָׂøָä , “to wrestle,” Gen_32:29 [Eng. 28] as also in Hos_12:4; ãַּøãַּø , “thistle,” Gen_3:18, as also in Hos_10:8; äֵøåֹï “pregnancy,” as also Hos_9:11, etc. (p. 579). As modified now by this Jehovist the Elohistic-Jehovistic Work is preserved from Genesis 1 to Numbers 36 (p. 497).

Into that work still another writer (pp. 589, 590), the Deuteronomist, has at a later period inserted his discourses, repetitions, and laws, and among them wrought in a number of explanations, also several accounts of events which the Jehovist had taken from the law-book and appended to Numbers 36. He did not meddle with the first four books, but rewrought that merely which followed Numbers 36. by giving to it its present great expansion, and furnishing it besides with special additions. He is the last elaborator of the law. His statement Deu_31:9, belongs to the imprudent expressions which we often meet with in him [!]

His hand, however, is to be traced after Deuteronomy 34 also, in places, as far as to Joshua 24, but not at all, on the contrary, in the later books of Judges, Ruth, and Samuel (pp. 487, 579), His language affords the chief proof of the age to which he belonged (p. 591). It is closely related to that of Jeremiah, and other late writers; for which evidence is adduced (p. 591). But we have no sufficient reasons for bringing the author down into the age following the exile. At that time certainly they no longer allowed themselves to deal so freely with the law-book, and increase it with new laws, as this author does. He must have lived in the last days of the kingdom of Judah, perhaps under Josiah, and appears to have been a man of importance, or he would not have made so bold as to take considerable liberties with the book of the law (p. 591).

At the close of Knobel’s critique upon the Pentateuch and Joshua he has given in tabular form a synopsis, in accordance with the foregoing view, of the several ingredients of the Pentateuch and Joshua (pp. 600–606), which we here append, for the better comprehension of his theory:—

Ground-text. Law-book. War-book. Jehovist. Deuteronomist.
  ii. i. 1. 2, 10–16.   Deu_1:3-9; Deu_1:17-18.   iii. 1, 7–17. iii 2–6.     iv. 15–17, 19. iv. 1a, 4–7, 14, 18, 20–24. iv. 1 b–3, 8–13.     v. 10–12. v. 1–9, 13–15. vi. 1–17a, 18–21, 24, 26, 27. vi. 17b, 22, 23, 25.       vii. except ver. 25 in pt.   Deu_7:25 in part.   viii. 12, 13, 30, 31 in pt. 33 in pt., 34 in pt., 35. viii. 1–11, 14–29.   Deu 8:31 in pt., Deu 8:32, 33 34 in part.     ix. exc. ver. 27 in pt. x. 1–11, 16–43.   Deu_9:27 in part.   x. 12–15, exc. ver. 13 in part.   x. 13 in part.       xi., xii.     xiii. 15–33.   xiii. 2–5, 6 in pt. 9–14. xiii. 1, 7, 8. Deu_13:6 in part. xiv. 1–5. xiv. 6–15.       xv. 1–13, 20–44, 48–62. xv. 14–19. xv. 45–47, 63.     xvi. 1–9.   xvi. 10.     xvii. 1–10. xvii. 14–18. xvii. 11–13.     xviii. 1, 2, 11–28.   xviii. 3–10.     xix. exc. ver. 47.   xix. 47.     xx. 1, 2, 3 in part, 4, 5a. 6 in part 7–9.       Deu_20:3 in pt., Deu_20:5 b, Deu_20:6 in part. xxi. 1–40.   xxi. 41–43.   Deu_22:5. xxii. 9–11, 13–15, 21, 30–33a. xxii. 7, 8. xxii. 1–4, 6, 12, 16–20, 22–29, 33b, 34. xxiii. 1 b. 2 b. [16. Deu_23:2 in pt. Deu_23:4-25,   xxiv. exc. ver. 1, in part. xxiii. 1 a, 2 in pt. 3, 9, 10, 12–15.   Deu_24:1 in part. Nöldeke (Alttest. Literatur, p. 25 ff.) pronounces the separation of two chief sources in Genesis and the following books, among which he also includes the Book of Joshua, as the first result of critical investigation. One of these sources is a single and homogeneous writing (p. 26), showing throughout the same systematic proportion, and regularity (!) as the first chapter of Genesis. It gives for the most part only short, outline statements, with little of pictorial filling up, but shows a certain heaviness and verbosity of style, and a special fondness for reciting names and for numbers. Very recently, in his Researches toward the Criticism of the O. T. (Untersuchungen zur Kritik d. A. T., Kiel, 1869), Nöldeke has still more closely examined this ground-text and, like Knobel, traced it also in the Book of Joshua. The other source is not so homogeneous. In it again two main writings are distinguishable (O. T. Lit. p. 26), one of which is the work of the second Elohist, first clearly brought to view, throughout Genesis at least, by Hupfeld, while the other has the Jehovist for its author (O. T. Lit. p. 26, Researches, p. 3). This Jehovist, the most talented of all the writers of the Pentateuch (Res. p. 3), has used the work of the second Elohist as a main authority, and taken from it large portions in so independent a way that what is due to the Jehovist himself is not always clearly to be separated (as Hupfeld and also Knobel assume) from what he has borrowed of the Elohist (Res. p. 3). A redactor, different in Nöldeke’s view from the Jehovist (Res. p. 3), combined now this work of the Jehovist with the ground-text. But the Deuteronomist, who is to be distinguished again from the Jehovist, thrust into the work of the redactor almost the whole of the present book of Deuteronomy, and completely rewrought the portions relating to Joshua (Res. p. 5, O. T. Lit., 27, 30). The time of writing, Nöldeke defines in the works quoted (O. T. Lit. p. 31 ff., Researches p. 138 ff.), so as to place Deuteronomy in the reign of Josiah, the redactor about the year 800 or soon after, the ground-text,—whose author was a priest at Jerusalem,—in the 10th or rather the 9th century before Christ. About this last period also originated, he thinks, the older materials of the Pentateuch generally (O. T. Lit. p. 32, Res. p. 140). Among these older materials Nöldeke counts the two ground-texts which were combined in the work of the Jehovist. But there are besides in the Pentateuch still older sources, which also must be borne in mind, because all these writings refer to them and occasionally make use of their words (O. T. Lit. p. 32). Thus we have some fragments of ancient songs, for one of which “the book of the wars of Jehovah” is cited as a source (Num_21:14). In Jos_10:13 likewise “the book of the upright” is quoted, in which, according to 2Sa_1:18, stood a song of David, which therefore could not have been written, at the earliest, before the time of this monarch.

The traces of the ground-text have been followed by Nöldeke, in his investigations, both in the Pentateuch and in the Book of Joshua, with much acuteness. In our book their discovery is, in his view, rendered specially difficult by the subsequent modifications effected by the Deuteronomist (
Researches, pp. 94, 95). He finds that text in the following passages: Jos_3:1; Jos_4:19; Jos_5:10-12; Jos_6:20; Jos_6:24 (?), Jos_9:15 b, 17–22, 27, Jos_10:28-43 essentially; Joshua 11 (only accordances with the ground-text); Joshua 12 originally belonging to it but interpolated; Jos_13:15 to Jos_21:40, substantially throughout; Joshua 22 (has a report from the ground-text for its basis); Jos_24:33. (Researches, pp. 94–106, where the details which we cannot here repeat may be found.)

II. Estimates of these Views

Our former assertion that the supplement-hypothesis had not unsuccessfully tested itself on the Pentateuch and Book of Joshua, is sufficiently sustained by this representation of the researches of the critics we have named. For they agree among themselves and with still others, as e. g. Hupfeld, (1) in the assumption of a common ground writing (Elohim-text) for the Pentateuch and Joshua, whose date is fixed in the earliest period of the Hebrew monarchy, the author of which is designated as a priest, dwelling in the southern part of Palestine; (2) in the further assumption that the last redaction of the Pentateuch and Joshua took place in the time of Josiah, or, at the earliest, under Manasseh (Bleek), by the hand of the Deuteronomist, who at the same time incorporated into it his own work (Deuteronomy 1-33), itself also resting in part on old reports, and that he worked over the Book of Joshua more than either of the others, which he left comparatively untouched; (3) in the assumption in general of a great Jehovistic element, on the composition of which, however, in particulars, their opinions differ. Bleek is the most cautious, avoiding definite discriminations and rejections. Knobel and Nöldeke, after the example of Hupfeld, and in part that of Ewald, are bolder, and suppose they recognize within this Jehovistic composition the two main writings, which Knobel (very unfortunately imitating Ewald’s passion for giving names to the particular documents) designates as Law-book and War-book. We may freely allow that, as the first part of Joshua at once shows, such different portions of the great Jehovistic element may be pointed out; but that the ñֵôֶø äָéָּùָׁø cited Jos_10:13, 1Sa_1:18, was one of the authorities of the Jehovist, and the ñ× îִìִçֲîåֹú éé , Num_21:14, was the other, is certainly a mistake. The two books are to be regarded rather, with De Wette, Bleek, Fürst, Nöldeke, Hitzig (Geschichte des Volkes Israel, p. 102), [Keil,] and many others, as lyrical books, and éָùָׁø like the plural form éְùָׁøִéí (Num_23:10, Psa_111:1), as a poetical designation of Israel, properly “the pious congregation,” and so precisely like the poetical éְùֻׁøåּï which comes from a ground-form éָùָׁø = éָùׁåֹø comp. ÷ָèֹï and ÷ָèָï . (See Fürst, Geschichte der Bibl. Literat. p. 457, Anmerk. 3.) They were ancient sources to which Nöldeke, among many others, quite distinctly points, poetical sources, and neither law nor war books. Although Knobel, therefore, may be perhaps essentially right in distinguishing two chief writings or documents of the Jehovist, the designation which he gives them, and the resulting identification of them with the poetical productions mentioned, we must oppose. And so far as we know, he has in this found no followers hitherto. How these two chief writings were related to each other, whether each existed independently by the side of the other (Hupfeld, Knobel), or whether the Jehovist, as Nöldeke supposes, directly compounded his work and that of the second Elohist (the law-book of Knobel); whether this Jehovist was the same as the redactor (Bleek, Knobel), or the redactor was different from the Jehovist (Nöldeke), those are mere questions which yet await a conclusive answer, and will perhaps never find one completely satisfactory.

As for our own view, we cannot, especially after the example of Bleek, avoid giving in our adherence to the supplement-hypothesis. Yet it seems to us too rash, to undertake as Knobel does, to point out even to minutiæ, now this and now that author’s hand. Nöldeke’s procedure is already much more cautious, most moderate that of Bleek, who contents himself with intimations. Neither do we venture more, when we express the opinion that in the first part of the Book of Joshua, as also again in the last three chapters, the Jehovistic character prevails; that within this Jehovistic portion different elements may be distinguished, as was already indicated in § 1, and as the exegesis will show in the particular cases; that in the second part, on the contrary, as specially in the description of the division of the land, the ground-text prevails, itself resting again on other records, perhaps even of Joshua’s time; that finally, and particularly in Joshua 1, 23, perhaps also elsewhere (Jos_7:25; Jos_8:31, etc.), the hand of the Deuteronomist is plainly to be recognized. That this Deuteronomist was author of Deuteronomy 1-33, appears to us to be a fact which cannot longer be successfully denied. It may doubtless be questioned, however, whether admonitions, warnings, and particularly also prophecies of Moses did not survive in oral traditions, or in separate records, which in the time of Manasseh and Josiah, were revised and edited, as we might say, in a free, very beautiful, and edifying manner, and that too without any, the slightest pious fraud, but in good faith, and the fullest persuasion of the perfect justifiableness of such a literary attempt. In reference to Moses himself, we hold firmly with Bleek against Knobel (Kritik, p. 592), that written records from his hand are very probably to be recognized. We maintain the same in regard to Joshua, and cannot therefore allow that Jos_24:26 is a fiction.

3. Credibility

The history of the conquest of the land of Canaan, as related in our book, has given great offense to the heathen opponents of Judaism and Christianity, at first, to the Manichæans, afterwards, and, in more recent times, to the English deists, and the rationalists of Germany; see the proofs in Lilienthal: Die gute Sache der göttlichen Offenbarung, Th. iv. p. 891 ff. Eichhorn, among many others, in his Introduction, p. 403 (in Keil’s Commentary on Joshua, p. liii. [Eng. Trans, p. 52]) speaks very strongly, exclaiming with high moral indignation: “How impious is the narrative of the Book of Joshua! It makes God not only give away to the Israelites, against all right, the land of Canaan, which the Canaanites as the first occupants most justly held, but also sketch out a horrid plan for its conquest, and directly order the most dreadful bloodshed and the total extinction of the Canaanites. Who can reconcile this with even a partially correct view of the Godhead?” Eichhorn objected not only to this procedure against the Canaanites, as recorded in our book, but particularly also to the miracles, whose reality he, like Paulus, disputed, and which he then attempted to explain in the well-known ways. The substance of the book, it is true, he thought could not have been fabricated; the events were stamped with the unmistakable seal of antiquity (iii. 399 ff. in Hävernick, Einl. in d. A. T. ii. 1, p. 3), but we must carefully distinguish between the view of the author which is conceived as narrowly as possible, and the history contained in the book. De Wette went still further when he declared that, “as in the Pentateuch, the narrative is, in its prevailing character, mythical” (Introd. to O. T. § 166). Afterward he added, following Maurer, “but there are also individual instances of real history, as Jos_1:11, comp. Jos_5:12; Jos_3:4, comp. Jos_5:15 ff.” (Introd. to O. T. p. 214, 4 [Germ.] ed.).

Applying a sharper criticism, yet from a position of belief in revelation, G. A. Hauff has discussed the question of credibility, or historical truth, in the Treatise: “Offenbarungsglaube und Kritik der biblischen Geschichtsbücher am Beispiele des Buches Josua in ihrer nothwendigen Einheit dargethan (Belief in Revelation and Criticism of the Historical Books of the Bible exhibited in their necessary Unity, in the Case of the Book of Joshua), Stuttgart, 1843.’ Having in the first part of his work sharply defined the process of Biblical criticism, as such that the style and mode of representation, the person of the writer, the use of authorities, the time of the composition, plan, and design, and especially also the credibility of the historian must lie open to free investigation, in which however the religious element of this history is to be constantly kept in mind (p. 65 ff.), he proceeds to apply these principles to the Book of Joshua, and finds memorable contradictions in its statements: (a) to the statements of other books; (b) among themselves. The former class relate to the unity of the people, the conquest and division of the land, the religious institutions, the religious character of the people, the mode of divine worship; the latter principally to the conquest of the land, the conquering personages, the division of the land, the genius and character of Joshua and of the people, the divine worship. While, for instance, as Hauff proceeds, p. 70 ff., the Book of Joshua reports to us that the whole people, without exception, stood under the command of Joshua (Jos_1:2; Jos_3:1), that the whole land, excepting the coast-strip and Geshur on Hermon (Jos_13:1-3), was captured by Joshua, and distributed, this account of the leadership of Joshua over the whole people cannot easily be reconciled with the question raised in the very first verse of the Book of Judges (p. 76). The situation in which they there stand indicates that the whole land has by no means yet been taken; and, in reference to the division of the whole land, the notice in Jdg_18:1 squarely contradicts the data of our book. Now as regards this notice compared with Jos_19:40-46, the explanation will be found in the commentary on that passage; but in reference to the other two supposed contradictions between Judges and Joshua, we think that question, who should lead the war against the Canaanites, after the death of an all-controlling personage, like Joshua, is easily explainable, the more so, as he had died without designating a successor in the office, as Moses had once done. It not only proves nothing against his single leadership, but shows on the contrary, how greatly they needed such a “duke” as Joshua had been.

No more can we allow any formal contradiction between Joshua and Judges in respect to their views of the conquest of the land. According to Hauff (and in this others, e. g. Nöldeke, have followed him), this discrepancy exists also within the Book of Joshua itself (p. 111 ff.), if the accounts of the first part are compared with those of the second. Here, however, Ewald appears to us to have hit the truth (Hist. of the People of Israel, ii. p. 342, 2d ed.) when he assumes that Joshua incontestably, in the first years of his invasion of Canaan, subjugated the land on all sides and received the submission of the entire body of the Canaanites, as many as were spared: when he declares further that on closer consideration no doubt is left that even then, after the first victory over Canaan, much of really permanent importance had been accomplished (of which character he reckons the division of the land, the establishment of the tabernacle in Shiloh, the institution of different religious usages and ordinances pertaining to the cultus, particularly the appointment of the Levitical cities, pp. 337, 341); when he shows finally—and this is of principal moment here,—how, out of this new condition of things itself, there must directly arise new dangers (p. 342). For, although the conquest had been effected with great rapidity (p. 336), the first expeditions of the Hebrews could be little more than what the Arabs in all the three quarters of the globe called Alghâren, or rather (since the Hebrews had no cavalry,) razzias, swift forays, that is, for momentary conquest rather than for the permanent subjugation of the land; and when the camp, whether of many united or of single tribes, was at a distance, then certainly after the raids had passed by, the dense columns of the inhabitants would soon gather again, having promised submission, indeed, but for the most part without any thought of rendering it (p. 342). With great propriety Ewald then reminds us further how long it was before the Saxons in England, the Mohammedan Arabs in Egypt, were entirely established. In this view of the case we cannot, although fully recognizing the different documents which lie at the bottom of our book, in this respect either, affirm any proper contradiction between it and the Book of Judges, or, within the Book of Joshua, between its first and second parts.

In regard to the religious institutions, Hauff considers the difficulties to be still more important (p. 84). Shechem, made a free and Levitical city (20:7; 31:21), appears in Judges Joshua 9. as a common city provided with idolatrous worship (ver. 4, 46), in which, therefore, a Levite in the sense of the Mosaic law cannot possibly be imagined. But could not idolatry, in an age of disorder like that of the Judges, when idolatry broke in every where, invade Shechem also? Again, is it anything contrary to the historical accuracy of the account given in Joshua 21. of the assignment of the Levitical cities, and to the high legal respect which, as we learn from Joshua 8, 22 priests and Levites enjoyed, that at the same period, according to Jdg_17:7; Jdg_19:1, “a Levite from Bethlehem-Judah wanders about homeless?” We need only consider that the excellent system established must be gradually carried into effect, and that for this the time following Joshua was not especially suited.

When in regard to the religious condition of the people in general, we are to