Posted by: Michael Dewalt | February 25, 2009

Notes on Calvin and Joshua

As I continue to work through Calvin’s last commentary on the Book of Joshua, the following are great quotes.

 On 5:1, after the fording of the Jordan River, Calvin wrote:

“The recognition of the fearful power of God had such an effect upon them that they were astonished and fainted with terror, but it did not incline their minds to seek a remedy for the evil. Their heart was melted inasmuch as destitute of counsel and strength they did not bestir themselves, but in regard to contumacy they remained as hard-hearted as before. We have already seen elsewhere how unblievers, when smitten with fear, cease not to wrestle with God, and even when they fall, continue fiercely to assail heaven. Hence the dread which ought to have urged them to caution had not other effect than to hurry them on headlong.”


On ignoring circumcision for forty years: “It seems very strange and almost monstrous” . . . [since it] was the symbol of the adoption to which they owed their freedom. The omission from a fear of danger could not originate in any other cause than distrust.”


And in the God-means-business category, note Calvin’s warning in Josh. 6:26:

Jericho is intended to serve as “a kind of trophy; because the rebuilding of it would have been equivalent to an erasure effacing the miracle.” Therefore, “in order that the desolate appearance of the place might keep the remembrance of the divine power and favor alive among posterity, Joshua pronounces a heavy curse upon any one who should again build the ruined city. From this passage we gather that the natural torpidity of men requires the aid of stimulants to prevent them from burying the divine favors in oblivion; and hence this spectacle, wherein the divine agency was made conspicuous to the people was a kind of indirect censure of their ingratitude.”


  1. Thank you for the commentary. It is a blessing to have bite-size sections of Calvin’s commentary made available. For easy and quick reference, here is the Scripture (New American Standard Version) upon which the commentary pertains:

    Joshua 5:1: “Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.”

    Joshua 6:26: “Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” “

  2. Excellent!

Leave a response

Your response: