Joshua 6 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Joshua 6
Pulpit Commentary
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
Verse 1. - This verse (see above) is parenthetical. It explains why the captain of the Lord's host appeared unto Joshua. The inhabitants of Jericho, though in a state of the utmost alarm, were nevertheless fully on their guard against the children of Israel. The commencement of hostilities imposed a great responsibility on Joshua. Success at the outset was, humanly speaking, indispensable. We may see what defeat involved for him by his distress in consequence of the check at Ai. The alternative was victory or annihilation, for the Israelites had no homes or fortresses to which they could retire. Joshua was therefore encouraged by a visible proof that he was under the protection of the Most High, to be yet farther assured by the marvels that were to follow. The use of the Pual participle with its fullest intensive sense, to strengthen the affirmation of the action by the Kal, is a singular construction. Literally rendered it is "shutting and closely shut up," thus including

(1) the act of closing, and

(2) the continuance of that act, συγκεκλεισμένη καὶ ὀχυρομέμη (LXX.), "clausa at que munita" (Vulg.). So also the Chaldea paraphrase. The remainder of the verse strengthens still more the assertion of the state of siege. The king of Jericho, such was his alarm, regarded his city as a beleaguered one, from the mere presence of Joshua and his host in its vicinity.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
Verse 2. - And the Lord said. This is no new source of information for Joshua. Jehovah is here obviously identical, as commentators are generally agreed, with the "Captain of the Lord's host" in the last chapter (comp. Genesis 18:2, 13; Exodus 3:2, 4). Thus shalt thou do six days. "Seven days together they walk this round; they made this therefore their Sabbath day's journey; and who knows whether the last and longest walk, which brought victory to Israel, were not on this day? Not long before, an Israelite is stoned to death for but gathering a few sticks that day; now all the host of Israel must walk about the walls of a large and populous city, and yet do not violate the day. God's precept is the rule of the justice and holiness of our actions" (Bp. Hall).
And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
Verse 4. - And seven priests shall bear before the ark. The Vulgate puts "on the seventh day" in connection with this part of the sentence; Luther also translates thus. The LXX., which Calvin and our translators and the majority of commentators follow, regard this part of the sentence as stating what was to be done on the six days, and rightly so, as vers. 8-14 clearly show. That the historian, as has been before remarked, did not always give the full instructions Joshua received is evident from this passage. The priests are not said to have been instructed to sound the trumpet on the six days; yet we learn from Joshua 5:13 that they did so. It is rather implied than expressed that the ark was also to be borne in procession; but that this was (lone is evident from ver. 8. Seven trumpets of rams' horns. There is no mention of rams' horns in the original, which is שׁופְרות trumpets of jubilee, i.e., of triumph (hardly as Gesenius, "alarm trumpets," though not necessarily, with Dr. Vaughan in his 'Heroes of Faith,' "the emblems of festival, not of warfare"). The word הַיּובְלִים is derived from the same root as the Latin is in the phrase Io Triumphe (cf. Greek ἰώ), and according to Gesenius our word "yule" is also derived from this root. The שׁופַר as the next verse shows, was a curved instrument, in shape like a ram's horn, though not necessarily of that material; whereas the חַלֺצצְרָה was a straight trumpet. Seven times. The importance of the number seven as indicative of completeness is here strongly indicated. Seven priests were to carry seven trumpets for seven days. The word for to swear, נְִשבַּע literally to be sevened, means to have one's vow consecrated and confirmed by seven sacrifices or seven witnesses (see Genesis 21:28, 30). The number seven, says Bahr in his 'Symbolik des Alten Testament,' 1, 187, 188, is the sign of the relation, union, communion between God and the world, as represented by the number three and four respectively, just as twelve is in another relation (see note on Joshua 21:3). Its meaning, according to Bahr, among the heathen is somewhat different. There it means the harmony of the universe, and is signified by the seven stars, to which, and neither more nor less, was the power of influencing man's destiny ascribed. And the priests shall blow with the trumpets. "Fac tibi tribas ductiles, si sacerdos es, immo, quia sacerdos es (gens enim regalis effectus es et sacerdotium sanctum, de te enim scripture est), fac tibi tribas ductiles ex Scripturis sanctis" (Orig., Hom. 7 on Joshua).
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
Verse 5. - When they make a long blast with the ram's horn. Literally, as they draw out with the horn of jubilee, i.e., blow a prolonged blast (cf. Exodus 19:13). Here the word used is horn of jubilee, but not necessarily of ram's horn, as our version, any more than the modern horn, though it takes the place of the more primitive instrument made of that material, must itself be a ram's horn. So Rosenmuller. The word. קֶרֶן in Hebrew is used in different senses, all, however, growing out of the one original sense. Thus it is used for a musical instrument, for rays of light, for the projections extending from the corners of the altar, and in Isaiah 5:1, for a mountain peak (like the German Schreekhorn, Gabelhorn, Weisshorn). Origen compares the blast of the trumpet at which the walls of Jericho fell, to the sound of the last trumpet, which shall finally destroy the kingdoms of sin. When ye hear. The Keri substitute here, as in many other places, כְּ for בְּ but unnecessarily. The Keri means at the very moment when, the Chethibh simply and less emphatically, "when" (see ver. 15). Flat. Literally, underneath it, i.e., the walls were to give way from their very foundations. Every man straight before him. There was no need to surround the city, nor to endeavour to enter it through a "practicable breach." The walls were to give way entirely, and the warriors might advance at once, in the order of battle, and from the place in which they were at the moment when they raised the shout of triumph (יָרִיעוּ) for the inhabitants of Jericho alone were evidently no match for them in numbers (cf. Joshua 10:3; Joshua 11:1-3), though they might have hoped to hold out some time under the protection of their walls.
And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
Verse 7. - And he said. The text has they said. Our translators follow the Masoretic emendation. If we follow the original we must suppose that the priests, or, as with Keil and Knobel, the Shoterim (Joshua 1:10), conveyed Joshua's command to the troops.
And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
Verse 8. - He that is armed, or rather disencumbered, i.e., prepared for battle (see Joshua 4:13). Similarly, in the next verse, "the armed men," i.e., the host in marching order, as we say. Kimchi and Jarchi refer this to the Reubenites and their brethren, but without sufficient authority. Keil thinks that it was impossible that the unarmed people would have gone with the procession as "the rereward" (see note on Joshua 5:13), because no command to that effect is given in ver. 3. But as he has told us in Joshua 3, 4, and as we have just seen in ver. 4. the command to Joshua is not fully given. A short abstract of it is given, and it is to be filled up in detail from the subsequent narrative.
And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
Verse 10. ? Ye shall not shout. No sign of triumph was to be raised; but the Israelites, their priests, and the ark of their covenant were in solemn silence to encompass the city day by day, until they were commanded to raise the shout of victory. The people of Jericho knew only too well what this religious procession meant. As a military manoeuvre (so Calvin) it was worse than useless, it was ridiculous. It actually invited attack; nay, it afforded, if the interpretation in the note on ver. 8 be correct, an admirable opportunity for the slaughter of defenceless women and children by a sudden sally from the city. But the history of the Exodus was not unknown to the king and people of Jericho. The inspired law giver, with his miraculous powers, and his claim to direct intercourse with the Most High, was a personage only too well known to them, and his mission was only too sure a token of the Divine sanction which rested on their proceedings. His supernatural qualifications had evidently descended to his successor, and now it was terribly clear that this awful silent march, with the army equipped for battle, but not attempting to engage in it, the seven priests with their seven trumpets, the visible symbol of the Presence of the God of Israel, attended by the awestruck multitude awaiting the Divine pleasure, was but the prelude to some new interposition from on high, the mysterious foreshadowing of some hitherto unheard of calamity which should befall the devoted city. There seems in this narrative no choice between rejecting the whole as an absurd fable, or accepting it as the record of a "notable miracle." The account is minute in its detail. The historian, if he be an historian, is distinctly impressed with the idea that he is relating a miracle. The obvious course for Joshua, if he were not relying on supernatural aid, was either to assault or to blockade the city. To perambulate it for days in the expectation of some convulsion of nature such as, we are told, frequently happened in that volcanic region, would have been the extreme of childish folly, and quite contrary to that common sense and military skill with which, as we have seen, Joshua undoubtedly was endowed. If he were possessed, seven days beforehand, with a conviction that an earthquake were imminent, such a persuasion would be of itself miraculous. Paulus' idea of a mine having been sprung is still less compatible with our narrative. Von Lengerke, in his 'Cana supposes that the astonishing success of the Israelites grew into a wonder in the hands of the narrator. But this involves the entire falsehood, not only of the command given to Joshua by Jehovah, but of the seven days' perambulation of Jericho, and the remaining incidents of the siege, a theory not easily reconcilable with the minute accuracy of detail displayed throughout the narrative. The seven days' circuit of Jericho must, therefore, either be denied altogether, in spite of the numerous evidences of genuineness which meet us in the narrative; or, if explained, the only explanation which is consistent with the fact is, that Joshua had received an intimation that he was not to expect to effect the reduction of the city by natural means, but was to wait patiently for an interposition from on high.
So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
Verse 13. - The rereward (see Joshua 5:9). Literally, the gathering together and then the body of troops which collects the stragglers, the rear guard, as in Numbers 10:25; Isaiah 52:12; Isaiah 58:8. Calvin renders here by quia cogebat agmen. But the LXX. and Vulgate render by ὁ λοιπὸς ὄχλος and vulgus reliquum. So Luther, der Haufe. The LXX., however, in ver. 9 translates the same word by οὐραγοῦντες, i.e., "qui extremum agmen ducunt, et quasi caudam efficiunt" (Rosenmuller). The word is not the same as that translated rereward in 1 Samuel 29:2, the only other place where our version has "rereward," where there can be no question of the rendering being correct, since the literal meaning there is the hindermost.
And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
Verse 15. - And it came to pass on the seventh day. Why did God command this long pause of suspense and expectation? Even to teach us that His ways are not as our ways, and that we had far better leave the issue in His hands, than by our impatience to anticipate, and not unfrequently frustrate, the course of His Providence. ? Calvin. There is a time to act and a time to wait patiently. If we seek His guidance by prayer, God will tell us when to do either. And when it is our duty not to do anything ourselves, but to wait for the deliverance which He never fails to send in His own good time, let us be careful to restrain ourselves, lest by our rash intermeddling with His designs, we bring disgrace and disaster upon ourselves and His cause. Had the Israelites disobeyed His command, and instead of the solemn procession round Jericho, ventured to attack the city at once, it would have fared worse with them than at Ai, or at the wilderness of Pavan (Numbers 14:45). About the dawning. So the Chethibh. The Ken substitutes כְּ for בְּ, i.e., as soon as it was dawn. Literally, "as the dawn went up." After this manner. Literally, according to this judgment, "sieur dispositum erat" (Vulg.). For a similar use of מִשְׁפָט see Genesis 40:13, and compare the proverb mos pro lege.
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
Verse 16. - When the priests. There is no "when" in the original, nor is it needed (see Keil).
And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
Verse 17. - Accursed. Rather, devotea, ἀναθεμα LXX. The original meaning of this word is derived from הרם to "shut up." Hence it originally means "a net." With this we may compare the well known Eastern word harem, meaning the enclosed apartments reserved for the women of the family. Hence it comes to mean under a ban, devoted, generally to utter destruction under the pressure of a vow to God, as in Numbers 21:2, or in consequence of His command (see Leviticus 27:29; Deuteronomy 13:15 (Hebrew 16); 1 Kings 20:42, "the man of my devoting," חֶרְמִי, etc). But in Leviticus 27:21, Numbers 18:14, the חֵרֵמ as devoted to the Lord, became the property of the priest. This ban was the most solemn and tremendous religious sentence, the absolute and final excommunication of the old law. The sin of Saul (1 Samuel 15.) was the sparing of anything whatever in the city which had been laid under the ban - a ban which Saul had been specially commanded to execute (1 Samuel 15:3) according to the principles laid down in Deuteronomy 13. When Keil, however, states that the ban "could never be pronounced upon things and property alone, but only upon open idolaters, either with or without their possessions," he appears to have overlooked Leviticus 27:16-21, where a man may devote irredeemably to God property of his own (cf. ver. 28 of the same chapter). In his subsequent work, however, Keil qualifies this assertion by a consideration of this very passage. Idolatrous worship was the one thing which justified the Israelites in laying one of their own cities under the ban (see Deuteronomy 13:12 18, above cited). But (Deuteronomy 7:2) it had been pronounced against the Canaanites. Property, how. ever, save in the case of Jericho, seems to have been exempted from the ban (see Joshua 8:2). Even at Jericho the silver and the gold, the brass and the iron, were placed in the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 5:19, 24). "Why," says Theodoret, "was the city thus devoted? It was devoted on the same principle which offered the first fruits to God, since it was the first fruits of their conquests." Because she hid. See for the peculiar form of this word as though it came from a quadriliteral הבאה
And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
Verse 18. - Accursed thing. Better," thing devoted," as this keeps up the idea of something solemnly set apart to God, to be dealt with as He thinks fit. Lest ye make yourselves accursed when ye take of the accursed thing. Rather, with Keil and Rosenmuller, lest ye devote the city to destruction, and then take of what has been thus devoted. And make the camp of Israel a curse. Literally, and put the camp of Israel in the position of a thing devoted. And trouble it (cf. Joshua 7:25, 26; also Genesis 34:30).
But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
Verse 19. - Consecrated unto the Lord. Literally, as margin, holiness unto the Lord (cf. Exodus 28:36; Exodus 39:30; Leviticus 27:14, 21; Jeremiah 2:3). An expression used of anything specially devoted to God.
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Verse 20. - So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets, and it came to pass. Literally, and the people shouted, and they blew with the trumpets, and it came to pass as soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet. The latter part of this sentence is a more full and accurate repetition of what is stated in the former. The shouting and the blowing with the trumpets were all but simultaneous, but the latter was in reality the signal for the former - a signal which was immediately and triumphantly responded to.
And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
Verse 21. - And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city. For a discussion of the difficulties arising from this fulfilment of a stern decree, see Introduction.

But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
Verse 22. - Had said. Here we have an instance of the use of the perfect as a pluperfect. We can hardly suppose, as Keil observes, that Joshua gave these orders in the midst of the turmoil and confusion attendant on the sack of the city (see above, Joshua 1:11; Joshua 2:1). Go into the harlot's house. The preservation of Rahab's house must have been a part of the miracle, since it was upon the city wall (cf. Hebrews 11:30, 31).
And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
Verse 23. - Brought out. Therefore the medieval legends concerning Rahab's house must be classed among superstitious fables. Rahab and her family and relations were saved, but her house shared the destruction which befel the rest of the city. Origen cites in reference to the deliverance of Rahab the harlot, 1 Corinthians 6:11, and Titus 3:3 (cf. also Ephesians 2:1-8; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 3:7). Without the camp of Israel. Not in the camp of Israel outside the city, as some have rendered. The Hebrew distinctly connects the word מִהוּצ with the camp. They were as yet, as Gentiles, unclean (cf. Numbers 5:2; Numbers 31:19).
And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Verse 25. - Unto this day. This may either be interpreted of herself, or, according to s common Hebrew idiom, of her family (cf. Joshua 17:14-18; Joshua 24:17). For a fuller discussion of the bearing of this passage on the date of the Book of Joshua, see Introduction. There is no mention of Rahab's marriage in the Old Testament. Lightfoot ('Hebrew and Talmudicai Exercitations?' Matthew 1:5) mentions a tradition that she married Joshua! Dr. W. H. Mill, in his treatise on the genealogies of our Lord, defends the tradition St. Matthew has followed by showing that Salmon's age at the time gives immense probability to the statement. Some (see the Bishop of Bath and Wells' article in Smith's ' Dictionary of the Bible') suppose that Salmon was one of the spies.
And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
Verse 26. - And Joshua adjured them. Caused them to swear, i.e., bound them by an oath, as the Hiphil implies here. This was the strict meaning of "adjure" at the time our version was made (cf. Matthew 26:63). But it had also the less definite meaning which it now has, of solemnly warning a person to do something or to leave it undone (see 1 Kings 22:16; Mark 5:7; Acts 19:13). The object of this solemn adjuration (see above) was to preserve Jericho as a spot devoted to God for ever; and for this reason a curse was pronounced upon any one who should attempt to found a city upon the devoted spot (cf. Deuteronomy 13:16, "It shall not be rebuilt.") This curse actually fell on the reckless Hiel (1 Kings 16:34; cf. Josephus, 'Antiq.,' V. 1:8), and he saw the laying of its foundations marked by the death of his eldest son, while the death of his youngest followed its completion. It does not seem that it was forbidden to build habitations on the spot, far Jericho is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, and the house of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5) was there. What seems to have been forbidden was the erection of a fortified city there (see Hengstenberg, 'Geschichte des Reiches Gottes,' p. 214). The mention of Jericho in ch. 18:21 does not imply that it was an inhabited city, but simply that the site of Jericho fell within the border of the tribe of Benjamin. For Jerusalem is also mentioned, and we know that it did not become theirs until the time of David. Whether the "city of palm trees" (Judges 3:13) is Jericho, may be questioned. But in 2 Samuel 10:5 and in 2 Kings 2:5 express mention is made of Jericho, the last time as the site of the school of the prophets. Some commentators have endeavoured to restrict the sense of the word בָנָה used here to the building of fortifications. But this is unduly to restrict its meaning, for it is constantly used also of houses and altars (see Genesis 2:22; Genesis 8:20; 1 Kings 8:27). But the mention of gates clearly implies a fortified city. Commentators cite as parallel instances the curse of Agamemnon on Troy, of Croesus on Sidene (so Grotius from Strabo, lib. 13 de Ilio), and of Scipio upon Carthage, and it is observed that when Augustus rebuilt Carthage he carefully avoided the old site. In his first born. בְּ is often used of the price paid for a thing, as in Genesis 29:18; Isaiah 7:23. And in his youngest son. The commentators have remarked on the rhythmical parallelism here, and Keil and others have supposed the passage to be an extract from an old Hebrew songbook, such as that of Jasher (Joshua 10:13). But this parallelism is not only a characteristic of poetry, but of all solemn and impassioned utterances in the language. (See, for instance, 2 Samuel 18:32; 1 Kings 17:14; 1 Kings 21:19). Masius, Munsterus, and others interpret the passage that the eldest son died when the foundation was laid; all the rest, but the youngest, in the interim; the youngest when the gates were set up.

So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
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