Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 1

How do you rise when down? 
How do you learn to walk? 
Hold me please!

[For full chapter, click here
"And it was after the death of Moses, servant of God"--these words open the new section of the Bible, and are definitive of the new era. Again and again, the chapter emphasizes that "Joshua, minister of Moses" draws from the remnants of his master. The land will be given "as I spoke to Moses"; God will be with him, as He was "with Moses"; the people will obey him, as they "obeyed Moses." He seems to have no presence or will of his own. This sense of diminished potential is reflected in the grammatical structure of the chapter, which is dominated by negative ( lo) rather than positive forms. The word rak--only--is repeated throughout.
Yet within this crushing ambiance of loss, God exhorts Joshua to "rise". He must learn to walk, to move beyond the stasis of drawing from Moses. His relationship to the land will be defined by where "the sole of [his] foot falls." His wisdom will come through movement, "in every way he walks." Only then will his "path succeed."  God's exhortation is dominated by the leitworts "walking" (l'kh) and "path" (derekh}. And indeed, Joshua moves on to order the Children of Israel to prepare to move.  
Learning to walk is not easy. Again and again, God promises not to let go--"I will not loosen My hold, and will not leave you." On his part, Joshua must--as Moses exhorted him back in Deuteronomy--"Be strong and have courage." ]

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