While reading through the Bible a second time this year, I came across Joshua 23:13:
Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.
In a day of uncertainty, where we are challenged to say that we "know" anything for sure, here is a strong statement at the beginning of the verse, something the audience should "know for a certainty" that would happen in the future. This could be considered a doctrine of its own, because how could anyone "know for a certainty" something is going to happen or not going to happen in the future? I decided to look at the Hebrew behind this English translation to see what the words were.
"Know for a certainty" translates a Hebrew idiom, where the same Hebrew word is used back to back, and in this case it is yawda (my transliteration). Yawda and yawda, the same Hebrew root, appear side by side. The first form is yaw-doe-a (my transliteration), which is a qal infinitive absolute verb, and the second is te-də-oo´ (my transliteration), a qal imperfect, second person, masculine, plural verb. Literally, the two words together say, "Knowing, ye will know." The sense of those two words in the English is "know for a certainty."
In 1933, Charles Eugene Edwards wrote a journal article about the above Hebrew idiom construction in Bibliotheca Sacra, entitled, "A Hebrew Idiom." The first paragraph of that journal article reads [BSac 90:358 (Apr 1933) p. 232]:
In his commentary on Matthew, D. J. A. Alexander refers to a Hebrew idiom (p. 408) “which combines a finite tense and an infinitive of the same verb to express intensity, repetition, certainty, or any other accessory notion not belonging to the essential import of the verb itself”. An illustration is in Is. 6:9, which is more literally quoted in Matt. 13:14, “Hearing ye shall hear”, and “seeing ye shall see”. And Dr. Alexander remarks, (p. 358) “The Hebrew idiom is retained, which uses two forms of the same verb for intensity or more exact specification”. Too literal a translation might sometimes be barbarous or absurd. For example, Joseph never meant to say (Gen. 40:15) “For stealing I was stolen but as it is properly rendered, “For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews”.
The repetition of the same word brings intensity. For the verb "know," bringing intensity to "know" is "certainty" or "surety." That idiom of that exact Hebrew verb in Joshua 23:13 is found thirteen times in the Old Testament. For your reference, here are those twelve usages underlined in the King James Version, minus Joshua 23:13:
Genesis 15:13, And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Genesis 43:7, And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
1 Samuel 20:3, And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.
1 Samuel 20:9, And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?
1 Samuel 28:1, And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.
1 Kings 2:37, For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
1 Kings 2:42, And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.
Proverbs 27:23, Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
Jeremiah 26:15, But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Jeremiah 40:14, And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.
Jeremiah 42:19 The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.
Jeremiah 42:22, Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.
Joshua in his speech to gathered Israel uses the same Hebrew verb in Joshua 23:14, the next verse:
And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Looking at the usage of the verb in verse 13 and then in verse 14, the understanding is that they should know with certainty about their futures and that they already do know in the present. They should know what's going to occur in the future with certainty partly because they already know in the present. What they know in the present in their hearts and in their souls, an expression that also brings intensity to knowing, is that not one thing failed of all the good things which the Lord their God spoke concerning them. If they know that in the present, then they know with certainty also what God says to them through Joshua for their future.
Nothing is more sure than the Word of God. It is so sure that the knowledge is certain. If God says it, it is certain. This certain knowledge could be and should be called, the truth. It is the truth. Any contradiction to it is a lie. Today it could and should also at least be called, "science." God created all natural laws and He spoke all moral law. They are both all true, knowledge, and scientific.
Uncertainty is a tool of Satan from the very beginning of time. Satan's temptation of Eve created uncertainty about what God said. The uncertainty relates to the human will, giving a person liberty where he doesn't have it. The uncertainty about what God said gave Eve what she thought was liberty to eat. Maybe she wouldn't die if she ate of the tree. Maybe God was doing something other than what He said.
The liberty created by uncertainty is a confusion of sovereignty. Who is sovereign? Or, who is the true or actual sovereign in the world?Sovereignty shifts from God to man. If I can't be sure of what God said, then I am free to do what I want to do. God can't hold me responsible for something I couldn't know. This conflicts with faith that pleases God. God isn't pleased by the uncertainty that fuels unbelief and disobedience. He wants us to be sure.
In Joshua 23:14, Joshua says, you already know. This is a presupposition. The Apostle Paul uses the same presupposition in Romans 1:18-20:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
Not knowing, being uncertain, is an excuse. It isn't a valid excuse. It allows for a wide range of possibilities for men. Anticipating that excuse, in Deuteronomy God takes a preemptive strike after repeating His law to the people Israel through Moses (30:11-14):
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Today people will say either the Bible was written by men, it isn't preserved in a perfect way, or it can't be understood because of the centuries of separation from its original writing. The will of God then becomes very pliable, very adaptable to the will of man. He won't be challenged by authority because there is none. He gets to do what he wants with uncertainty as his premise. This is a lie, just like it was in the Garden of Eden. Don't think that you are free to go your own way because you can't know the truth. God's Word is true. Know with certainty.