loose thy shoe from off thy foot; which is to be understood literally, as when the like was commanded Moses at Horeb, Exodus 3:5; though some interpret it figuratively; as Abarbinel,"remove from thee such thoughts that thou shall take this city by strength:"
for the place whereon thou standest is holy; because of the presence of this Person, and as long as he was there, though afterwards was as another place; the Jewish commentator, last mentioned, thinks this intimates that the city, and all in it (and all round about it), should be "cherem", devoted, and so be holy to the Lord:
and Joshua did so; loosed his shoe from his foot, in obedience to the Captain of the Lord's host, thereby giving proof of his readiness, willingness, and alacrity to serve under him.
INTRODUCTION TO Joshua 6
In this chapter Joshua is assured, though Jericho was closely shut up, it should be delivered into his hands, Joshua 6:1; and he is directed, with the army, to go round the city six days together, seven priests bearing the ark of the Lord, with seven trumpets sounding; and on the seventh day to go round it seven times in like manner, when its wall should fall, Joshua 6:3; which order Joshua communicated to the priests, and to the people, and which was put into execution by them, with some other instructions he gave them, Joshua 6:6; particularly that the city, and all in it, should be devoted to the Lord, and none spared, but Rahab and her family, Joshua 6:17; the success was according to the assurance given by the Lord, Joshua 6:20; when all in the city were destroyed, and that was burnt with fire, and the gold, silver, brass, and iron, brought into the house of the Lord, and Rahab and her father's household were saved alive, Joshua 6:21; and the chapter is closed with an adjuration of Joshua, cursing the man that should rebuild the city; and with this observation, that the fame of Joshua upon this was spread abroad throughout the country, Joshua 6:26.
none went out and none came in; none of their forces went out to make a sally on the Israelites, or to seek to make peace with them; nor any of their neighbours went in to them, to carry them any provision, or to assist them, or to be sheltered by them, not being able to do it because of the camp of Israel.
(u) "claudens et clausa", Montanus, Vatablus.
see, I have given into thy hand Jericho, and the king thereof: which might be concluded from the fear that was fallen upon the inhabitants of the city and their king, and from their shutting themselves up so closely, not daring to come out against Israel: and especially from this declaration and promise of the Lord; and which should be done in such a manner, as that it would clearly appear to be of the Lord, and not men:
and the mighty men of valour; the military men, the soldiers, or army that were under the command of the king of Jericho; or, as Kimchi reads it, "though" mighty men, yet they should not be able to defend the city, or hinder its falling into their hands; for what were they to the mighty God of Israel?
and go round about the city once; or one time, for the first once in a day, and no more:
thus shall thou do six days; one after another; that is, go round it, once every day, for such a time. This order was given, according to the Jews (w), the twenty second of Nisan, after the feast of unleavened bread was over.
(w) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31.
and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times; in the same manner as on the other days:
and the priests shall blow with the trumpets; which they were to do; and did every day.
(x) P. 160. No. 1515. (y) So Joseph. Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 5. (z) Kimchi, Sepher. Shorash. rad. R. Sol. Urbim. Ohel Moed, fol. 39. 2.
and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet; drawn out to a great length:
all the people shall shout with a great shout; at once, as when an onset is made in battle, or a victory is obtained:
and the wall of the city shall fall down flat; or "under itself" (a); which Jarchi interprets, in its place; that is, where it stood, and be swallowed up in it: so the Targum,"and it shall be swallowed up under it;''yet so that somewhat of it should be seen, as an attestation and proof of the miracle, as Kimchi; who says,"it means that it should be swallowed up in its place under the earth, and a little of it appear above ground for a memorial of the miracle:"
and the people shall ascend up, every man straight before him; just as they were in the order of procession; for the wall being fallen everywhere, they would have no occasion to make up to one certain place, as when a breach is only made in one place, and the besiegers are obliged to go so many a breast to enter at it; but in this case they might go straight up from whence they were, and enter the city without any obstruction and difficulty.
(a) "sub se", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "subtus se", Tigurine version; "sabter se", Masius.
and said unto them, take up the ark of the covenant; by putting the staves into the rings of it, and so carry it, Exodus 25:14; see Numbers 7:9,
and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord: See Gill on Joshua 6:4.
and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the Lord; to guard the ark, protect the priests, and defend the people, should any sally be made by the enemy upon them. These seem to design all the males that were above twenty years of age able to bear arms, and fit for war; though some restrain it to the forty thousand of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, Joshua 1:14.
that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the Lord; in his sight, and by his direction, and at his command given by Joshua, and before the ark, the symbol of his presence:
and blew with the trumpets; a short blast as they went along; this they did on each of the six days:
and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them; being borne by priests, Joshua 6:6.
and the rereward came after the ark; because the tribe of Dan was the rereward in journeying, Numbers 2:31; hence the Targum paraphrases the words,"and the tribe of the house of Dan went after the ark;''and so both Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it: but rather the body of the people unarmed are designed; at least these were brought up by the standard of Dan; or otherwise no place in this procession is appointed for them, whose business it was to make the great shout on the seventh day with the rest:
the priests going on and blowing with the trumpets; the word "priests" is not in the text, but is rightly supplied; for, as Kimchi and Abarbinel observe, this is not said of the rereward, but of the priests, for they only bore and blew the trumpets; and so the Targum reads,"the priests going on, &c.''
saying, ye shall not shout; that is, on any of the six days as they went round the city, only on the seventh; for this being a sign of victory, it was not to be made until the day when it should be obtained; otherwise, had they shouted, and nothing followed on it, it would have exposed them to the contempt of the inhabitants of Jericho, and would have put them in spirit, and hardened them:
nor make any noise with your voice; as laughing, singing, &c. This profound silence was to be observed, to add to the gravity and solemnity of the procession; and on account of the surprising miracle that was to be wrought, and particularly because of the ark, the symbol of the divine Presence, borne before them; and when God in his providence was about to speak in so awful a manner, and to do such a surprising work, it was very fit and decent that they should be silent before him; see Habakkuk 2:20,
neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth; no conversation or discourse were to be had with each other as they passed along; for this is only to be restrained to the procession; when they returned, and in their camp, they might talk and discourse as at other times:
until the day I bid you shout, then shall ye shout; for as yet it seems Joshua had not told them how many days they should surround the city in this manner, and on what day the shout should be made by them.
that is, he gave orders to the priests to take it up, and go round with it on the first day:
going about it once; on that day, and no more; keeping at such a distance, as to be out of the reach of stones or arrows cast from the walls of the city:
and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp; the night following; not only the priests that bare the ark, but those that blew with the trumpets, and all the armed men, and the people.
and the priests took up the ark of the Lord; and carried it about as they had done the day before.
went on continually; or, "going they went" (b): kept on going, making no stop at all, until they had compassed the city:
and blew with the trumpets; as they went along:
and the armed men went before them, but the rereward came after the ark of the Lord; which the Targum paraphrases as on Joshua 6:9,
the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets; See Gill on Joshua 6:9.
(b) "euntes eundo", Montanus.
and returned into the camp: which was at Gilgal, Joshua 5:10,
so they did six days: four more after these two successively, and proceeded in the same order and manner as on those two days.
that they rose early, about the dawning of the day; having seven times the work to do they did on the other six days:
and compassed the city after the same manner seven times; after the same manner as they had done the six preceding days:
only on that day they compassed the city seven times; whereas on the other days they only went round it once, which distinguished this day from the rest.
(c) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 14. fol. 312. 2.
when the priests blew with the trumpets; as they did every time they compassed the city:
Joshua said unto the people, shout; both those that were armed, and those that were not; they were to make one grand and general shout at once, as when victory is obtained, or is sure, and so it follows:
for the Lord hath given you the city; intimating that it would be presently delivered into their hands, and in such manner, that it would plainly show it was of the Lord, and no other.
even it and all that are therein, to the Lord; the city and the inhabitants of it should be devoted to destruction, and the riches and spoil of it dedicated to sacred uses, and not become the property of the Israelites; for as this was the first city in the had of Canaan that was conquered, it was fit the firstfruits of the conquest should be the Lord's, as an acknowledgment of his gift of the land unto them, and that the conquest of it was owing to him; though it might be some mortification to the Israelites, and a trial of their faith and obedience, that the first and so fine a city should not become their habitation, but be utterly destroyed, and not to be built more; and all the riches of it either consumed, or converted to other uses, and not their own. This Joshua thought fit to declare to the Israelites, before the taking of the city, that they might know what they had to do. The Jewish doctors generally suppose that Joshua ordered this of himself, of his own accord and will; but Kimchi is of opinion that the Lord gave him this order, which is most probable, yea, certain from Joshua 7:11,
only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house; she and her father's family, as she requested, and the spies promised; here the Targum calls her, as elsewhere, Rahab the innkeeper or victualler; and so in Joshua 6:22,
because she hid the messengers that we sent; and so preserved them from being taken by the messengers of the king of Jericho, who were sent in pursuit of them. These though sent only by Joshua, without the knowledge of the people, yet it being on their account, and their good, and by him as their head and governor, is ascribed to them also. This fact of Rahab's is observed by him as a reason for sparing her, and those that were with her, when all the rest would be put to the sword; and is mentioned as an instance of her faith, and of the evidence of it, Hebrews 11:31.
lest ye make yourselves accursed; or a "cherem", also devoted to destruction:
when ye take of the accursed thing; any part of it, be it what it will, gold or any other metal, or raiment, and the like:
and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it; for being done secretly, and not known who did it, the whole body of the people would be chargeable with it, and suffer on account of it, unless discovered and punished, and as more fully appears by an after instance.
are consecrated to the Lord,.... Or rather, "for all the silver", &c. as the particle here used sometimes signifies, and is so rendered (d): each of these metals, and whatsoever were made of them, were set apart for the Lord, and dedicated to sacred uses, and might not be converted to any other, unless what were upon their idols, which were to be burnt with fire, Deuteronomy 7:25,
they shall come into the treasury of the Lord; be brought into the tabernacle, as Kimchi and Abarbinel interpret it, into some apartment there destined for such service, and which is clear from Joshua 6:24; the same where the offering of the officers was brought after the battle with Midian, Numbers 31:54.
(d) "nam totum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet,
and the people shouted with a great shout; that is, gave a loud shout, on hearing the long blast of the trumpets blown by the priests the seventh time, as they were no doubt directed by Joshua, agreeably to the order given to him; see Joshua 6:5,
that the wall fell down flat; the wall of the city of Jericho, as the Lord said it should; see Gill on Joshua 6:5,
so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city; they went up to it from the plain, where they were, and entered it without any difficulty, the wall being fallen, and that everywhere: so that they went directly from the place where they were, and went in right over against them, into every quarter and, part of the city, and seized on it, and possessed it at once. Various things may be observed concerning this surprising event; as that it was supernatural, and cannot be ascribed to second causes, there being nothing in the procession round the city, the blowing of the trumpets, or shout of the people, that could occasion the wall to fall; and that no defences or fortifications are anything against God, when it is his will a city should be taken, with whom nothing is impossible; and that sometimes unlikely means are appointed and used by him for doing great things, that the power may appear to be his by which they are done; and that faith stops at nothing, when it has the word and promise of God to encourage and support it; and that God does everything in his own time and way. The falling of the walls of Jericho may be considered as an emblem of the fall of Babylon; these two cities agree, as in their greatness, so in their wickedness, Revelation 17:4; and as Jericho stood in the way of Israel's inheriting the land, being a frontier and barrier town; so mystical Babylon stands in the way of the kingdom of Christ, and its spread in the world, and particularly of the conversion of the Jews, Revelation 11:14. The fall of Jericho was very sudden, and when not expected by the inhabitants of it; and so will be the fall of Babylon, Revelation 18:7; and as Jericho fell at the sound of rams horns, the destruction of antichrist, or mystical Babylon, will be through the preaching of the Gospel, Revelation 14:6; and as the one was by the sounding of seven priests, at the seventh time of sounding, on the seventh day; so the ruin of antichrist will be at the seventh angel's sounding the seventh trumpet, and pouring out the seventh vial, Revelation 10:7; and as at the destruction of the one, so of the other, but few saved from the common calamity, Revelation 18:4; and both never to be raised up and built again, Revelation 18:21; And it may be considered also as an emblem of the subjection of the Gentile world to Christ; which, like Jericho, or the moon, as some observe the name signifies, is very changeable; and as that city, and the inhabitants of it, an enemy to God, and his people, and yet made subject by the ministry of his word; as particularly it will be when the kingdoms of this world shall become his: or rather it may be an emblem of the subjection of particular souls to Christ, and the means thereof; who are like the walled city of Jericho in their unregenerate state, their hearts hard, stubborn, and inflexible, and enmity to God; are self-confident, vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds, and shut up in unbelief, and kept and guarded by Satan, the strong man armed; but all these strong holds of sin and Satan are brought down and demolished in conversion; and that by means of the sound of the Gospel, which is as despicable with men as the sound of the rams' horns were to the inhabitants of Jericho; but is a jubilee and joyful sound, a sound of love, grace, mercy, and salvation; and being accompanied with the Spirit and grace of God, is the power of God unto salvation; and mighty through him for the removing the hardness of men's hearts, and bringing them into subjection and obedience to Christ.
both men and women, young and old; neither sex nor age were spared:
and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword; in which creatures chiefly lay the substance of the eastern people; see Job 1:3.
go into the harlot's house: he does not mention her name but they full well knew who he meant:
and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath; not so much her substance, as her father's household, she had got together there, that they might be saved, as had been promised her:
as ye sware unto her; so that this order was partly on account of her kindness to them, Joshua 6:17; and partly on account of the oath which they had taken, and which Joshua would have inviolably kept.
but her father and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; all other relations that were with her, particularly her sisters, which are in her request, Joshua 2:13; with all that appertained to her brethren and sisters, which is there expressed also:
and they brought out all her kindred; before mentioned, or if there were any other of her relations she had taken into her house for safety; or "all her families" (e), for her father's household might be branched out into various families, and become numerous, and so be an emblem of the number of Gentile sinners saved by Christ the antitype of Joshua:
and left them without the camp of Israel; until they, became proselytes, and embraced the religion of Israel, as Kimchi remarks. However, being Gentiles, some external rites and ceremonies were to be performed upon them, as well as a declaration at least of their renouncing idolatry was required of them, before they could be admitted into the camp of Israel; and which was required even of a proselyte of the gate, or of one that was only a sojourner among them.
(e) "omnes familias ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version.
only the silver and the gold, and the vessels of brass and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord; See Gill on Joshua 6:19.
and her father's household, and all she had; that is, he saved alive all her relations, and it may be her cattle, if she had any; and those of her kindred also, as their sheep, oxen, and asses, when those of others were killed, Joshua 6:21. Some also understand this of intermarriages of principal persons in Israel with some of her father's fairly; but it only signifies that their lives were spared, when the whole city was destroyed with the edge of the sword:
and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; which may be meant either personally of Rahab, who was living and dwelt in the land of Canaan, when this history was written; and serves to strengthen the opinion that Joshua was the writer of it, and to explain the meaning of the phrase "unto this day", elsewhere used in this book; and to remove any objection from it against his being the author of it; or else of her dwelling there in her posterity, and so she might dwell in it unto the times of the Messiah, who sprang from her, Matthew 1:5,
because she hid the messengers which Joshua, sent to spy out Jericho; this was the reason of her and her father's family being saved alive; See Gill on Joshua 6:17.
(f) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 7.
saying, cursed be the man before the Lord; let him be cursed by him with the curses written in the book of the law; and let him be driven from him, from his presence, as Cain was:
that riseth up, and buildeth this city Jericho; that rises up in future time, and rebuilds it; for it cannot be thought that after such an adjuration anyone would start up quickly, and rebuild it:
he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it; that is, while he is laying, or as soon as he has laid the foundation of the city, his eldest son should die; and as he went on with the building, other sons of his, if he had more than two, should be taken away by death likewise; and by the time he has finished it, signified by setting up the gates of it, both for ornament and security, his youngest and last son should die also; so that his whole posterity should be taken alway, as a curse of God upon him for rebuilding the city; which was fulfilled in Hiel the Bethelite, the rebuilder of this city in the times of Ahab, five or six hundred years after this adjuration was made, when either it was forgotten, or, however, little regarded: Maimonides observes (g), that this was made that the miracle might remain in perpetual memory, for whoever should see the wall sunk in the earth, it would be plain and clear to him that this was not the form of a building demolished, but that it fell by a miracle; and yet this city became a very flourishing one in later times; we soon hear of the school of the prophets in it, 2 Kings 2:5; here, Strabo (h) says, was a royal palace, where, as Josephus (i) relates, Herod died, and who speaks of an amphitheatre and hippodrome in it; in this city sometimes the sanhedrim sat, and a great number of the stationary priests dwelt, even half a station, twelve thousand of them, all which is observed by Dr. Lightfoot (k); our Lord himself honoured it with his presence, Luke 19:1.
(g) Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 50. (h) Geograph. l. 16. p. 525. (i) Antiqu. l. 17. c. 8. sect. 1. 2. (k) Chorograph. Cent. c. 47.