Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Jos 1:1-9 serves as an introduction to the history of the war, and pointedly call attention to the leading thought of the whole book - that the invasion and subjugation of Canaan were undertaken by the Israelites at God's direct command and completed in His never-failing strength.
Now ... - Hebrew: "and, ..." The statement following is thus connected with some previous one, which is assumed to be known to the reader. So Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, etc., are by the same means linked on to the books preceding them. The connection here is the closer, since the Book of Deuteronomy concludes, and the book of Joshua opens, by referring to the death of Moses.
Moses, the servant of the Lord - On the epithet, see the marginal reference "b."
Moses' minister - It is impossible altogether to pass by the typical application of this verse. Moses, representing the law, is dead; Joshua, or, as that name is written in Greek, Jesus, is now bidden by God to do what Moses could not - lead the people into the promised land. Joshua was "Moses' minister," just as Christ was "made under the Law;" but it was Joshua, not Moses, who worked out the accomplishment of the blessings which the Law promised. On the name Joshua, see Exo 17:9 note, and Num 13:16.
Saying - No doubt directly, by an immediate revelation, but not as God spake to Moses, "mouth to mouth" Num 12:8. Though upon Joshua's appointment to be Moses' successor (Num 27:18 ff), it had been directed that "counsel should be asked" for him through the medium of Eleazar "after the judgment of Urim," yet this was evidently a resource provided to meet cases of doubt and difficulty. Here there was no such case; but the appointed leader, knowing well the purpose of God, needed to be stirred up to instant execution of it; and the people too might require the encouragement of a renewed divine command to set out at once upon the great enterprise before them (compare Jos 1:13).
Lebanon is spoken of as "this Lebanon," because visible from the neighborhood in which Israel was encamped. (Compare Deu 3:8-9.) "The wilderness" of the text is the Desert of Arabia, which forms the southern, as Lebanon does the northern, limit of the promised land. The boundaries on the east and west are likewise indicated; and the intervening territory is described generally as "all the land of the Hittites." The Hittites are properly the inhabitants of northern Canaan and Phoenicia (see Exo 3:8 note), but the name appears to be used here for the Canaanites in general, as in Kg1 10:29. On the boundaries of the promised land compare Deu 11:24; Gen 15:18.
Prosper - See the margin. The literal rendering should be retained here since the notion of prosperity is separately introduced by a different word in Jos 1:8.
Officers - The "scribes." (See the Exo 5:6 note, and Deu 16:18.)
Prepare you victuals - The order was probably given with the knowledge that the manna would cease when the host crossed the Jordan Exo 16:35, and possibly because amidst their preparations there might not be opportunity to gather it in sufficient quantity. Nor does it appear that manna ever formed the whole and sole sustenance of the people. (Compare Num 20:1 note.)
It is the view of the majority of commentators - Jewish and Christian, ancient and modern - that the "three days" here named are identical with those of Jos 3:2; and that the command of Joshua in the text was not in fact given until after the return of the spies. Here, as elsewhere in the Hebrew historical books and frequently in the Gospels, the order of time is superseded by the order of thought. For the purpose if the writer was not historical merely; it was, on the contrary, mainly religious and theoretical. Intending, then, to exhibit God as accomplishing His promises to the covenant-people, he begins by informing us that God gave the word and set Joshua and the host actually in motion to take possession of their inheritance. Having placed this leading fact in the forefront, he returns to mention in Josh. 2 certain transactions closely relevant to the early stages of Joshua's conquests, but which had in fact happened before the camp was removed from the plains of Moab and immediately after the expiration of the thirty days' mourning for Moses. Deu 34:8. The order of events was probably the following - 3rd Nisan, the spies are sent out Jos 2:1; 6th, the spies return Jos 2:23; 7th, the camp is removed from Shittim to the bank of Jordan Jos 3:1, and the command Jos 1:11 is issued; 10th, the river is crossed Jos 4:19.
Armed - Rather, "arrayed" (see Exo 13:18 note).
On this side Jordan - Compare Deu 1:1, note.