Joshua 6

CHAPTER VI

The inhabitants of Jericho close their gates, 1.

Continuation of the discourse between the captain of the Lord's

host and Joshua. He commands the people to march round the city

six days, the seven priests blowing with their trumpets; and to

give a general shout, while marching round it on the seventh,

and promises that then the walls of the city shall fall down,

2-5.

Joshua delivers these directions to the priests and to the

people, 6, 7.

The priests and people obey; the order of their procession,

8-16.

He commands them to spare the house of Rahab, 17,

and not to touch any part of the property of the city, the whole

of which God had devoted to destruction, 18, 19.

On the seventh day the walls fall down, and the Israelites take

the city, 20, 21.

The spies are ordered to take care of Rahab and her family-the

city is burnt, but the silver, gold, brass, and iron, are put

into the treasury of the house of the Lord, 22-24.

Rahab dwells among the Israelites, 25;

and the city is laid under a curse, 26.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 1. Now Jericho was straitly shut up] The king of Jericho,

finding that the spies had escaped, though the city was always

kept shut by night, took the most proper precaution to prevent

every thing of the kind in future, by keeping the city shut both

day and night, having, no doubt, laid in a sufficiency of

provisions to stand a siege, being determined to defend himself to

the uttermost.

Verse 2. And the Lord said unto Joshua] This is the same person

who in the preceding chapter is called the captain or prince of

the Lord's host, the discourse being here continued that was begun

at the conclusion of the preceding chapter, from which the first

verses of this are unnaturally divided.

I have given into thine hand Jericho, &c.] From Jos 24:11, it

seems as if there had been persons of all the seven Canaanitish

nations then in Jericho, who might have come together at this time

to help the king of Jericho against the invading Israelites. The

Targum intimates that the place was very strong, having "gates of

iron and bars of brass; and was shut up so closely that none

came out, either to combat or make offers of peace."

Verse 3. Ye shall compass the city] In what order the people

marched round the city does not exactly appear from the text. Some

think they observed the same order as in their ordinary marches in

the desert; (See Clarke on Nu 10:14, and see the

plans, Nu 2:2;) others think that the soldiers marched first,

then the priests who blew the trumpets, then those who carried the

ark, and lastly the people.

Verse 4. Seven trumpets of rams' horns] The Hebrew word

yobelim does not signify rams' horns;

(See Clarke on Le 25:11;)

nor do any of the ancient versions, the Chaldee

excepted, give it this meaning. The instruments used on this

occasion were evidently of the same kind with those used on the

jubilee, and were probably made of horn or of silver; and the text

in this place may be translated, And seven priests shall bear

before the ark the seven jubilee trumpets, for they appear to have

been the same kind as those used on the jubilee.

Seven times] The time was thus lengthened out that the besiegers

and the besieged might be the more deeply impressed with that

supernatural power by which alone the walls fell.

Verse 5. The wall of the city shall fall down flat] Several

commentators, both Jews and Christians, have supposed that the

ground under the foundation of the walls opened, and the wall sunk

into the chasm, so that there remained nothing but plain ground

for the Israelites to walk over. Of this the text says nothing:-

venaphelah chomath hair tachteyha,

literally translated, is, The wall of the city shall fall down

UNDER ITSELF; which appears to mean no more than, The wall shall

fall down FROM ITS VERY FOUNDATIONS. And this probably was the

case in every part, though large breaches in different places

might be amply sufficient to admit the armed men first, after whom

the whole host might enter, in order to destroy the city.

Verse 9. The rereward came after the ark] The word

measseph, from asaph, to collect or gather up, may

signify either the rereward, as our translation understands it, or

the people who carried the baggage of the army; for on the seventh

day this was necessary, as much fighting might be naturally

expected in the assault, and they would need a supply of arms,

darts, &c., as well as conveniences for those who might happen to

be wounded: or the persons here intended might be such as carried

the sacred articles belonging to the ark, or merely such people as

might follow in the procession, without observing any particular

order. The Jews think the division of Dan is meant, which always

brought up the rear. See Nu 10:25.

Verse 14. So they did six days.] It is not likely that the whole

Israelitish host went each day round the city. This would have

been utterly impossible: the fighting men alone amounted to nearly

600,000, independently of the people, who must have amounted at

least to two or three millions; we may therefore safely assert

that only a select number, such as was deemed necessary for the

occasion, were employed. Jericho could not have been a large city:

and to reduce it could not have required a hundredth part of the

armed force under the command of Joshua.

Verse 15. The seventh day-they rose early] Because on this day

they had to encompass the city seven times; a proof that the city

could not have been very extensive, else this going round it seven

times, and having time sufficient left to sack and destroy it,

would have been impossible.

It is evident that in the course of these seven days there must

have been a Sabbath, and that on this Sabbath the host must have

encompassed the city as on the other days: the Jews themselves

allow this, and Rab. De Kimchi says "He who had ordained the

observance of the Sabbath commanded it to be broken for the

destruction of Jericho." But it does not appear that there could

be any breach in the Sabbath by the people simply going round the

city, the ark in company, and the priests sounding the sacred

trumpets. This was a mere religious procession, performed at the

command of God, in which no servile work was done. Therefore

Marcion's objection, that the God of the Hebrews showed a

changeableness of disposition in commanding the Sabbath to be kept

sacred at one time, and then to be broken at another, is without

foundation; for I must contend that no breach took place on this

occasion, unless it could be made to appear that the day on which

Jericho was taken was the Sabbath which is very unlikely, and

which none can prove. But if even this were to be conceded, it is

a sufficient answer to all such cavils, that the God who commanded

the Sabbath to be set apart for rest and religious purposes, has

always authority to suspend for a season the operation of merely

ceremonial laws, or to abrogate them entirely, when the purpose of

their institution is fulfilled. The Son of man is Lord even of the

Sabbath.

Verse 17. The city shall be accursed] That is, it shall be

devoted to destruction; ye shall take no spoils, and put all that

resist to the sword. Though this may be the meaning of the word

cherem in some places, See Clarke on Le 27:29, yet

here it seems to imply the total destruction of all the inhabitants,

see Jos 6:21; but it is likely that peace was offered to this

city, and that the extermination of the inhabitants was in

consequence of the rejection of this offer.

Verse 19. But all the silver, and gold-shall come into the

treasury] The Brahmins will receive from any caste, however

degraded, gold, silver, &c.: but to receive from Shoodras food,

garments, &c., would be considered a great degradation.-Ward.

Verse 20. The people shouted with a great shout, that the wall

fell down] There has been much learned labour spent to prove that

the shouting of the people might be the natural cause that the

wall fell down! To wait here, either to detail or refute any such

arguments, would be lost time: enough of them may be seen in

Scheuchzer. The whole relation evidently supposes it to have been

a supernatural interference, as the blowing of the trumpets, and

the shouting of the people, were too contemptible to be used even

as instruments in this work, with the expectation of accomplishing

it in a natural way.

Verse 21. They utterly destroyed-both man, and woman, &c.] As

this act was ordered by God himself, who is the Maker and Judge of

all men, it must be right: for the Judge of all the earth cannot

do wrong. Nothing that breathed was permitted to live; hence the

oxen, sheep, and asses, were destroyed, as well as the

inhabitants.

Verse 23. Brought out Rahab, and her father, &c.] Rahab having

been faithful to her vow of secrecy, the Israelites were bound by

the oath of the spies, who acted as their representatives in this

business, to preserve her and her family alive.

And left them without the camp] They were considered as persons

unclean, and consequently left without the camp; (see Le 13:46;

Nu 12:14.) When they had abjured heathenism, were purified, and

the males had received circumcision, they were doubtless admitted

into the camp, and became incorporated with Israel.

Verse 24. Only the silver, and the gold-they put into the

treasury, &c.] The people were to have no share of the spoils,

because they had no hand in the conquest. God alone overthrew the

city; and into his treasury only the spoils were brought. This is

one proof that the agitation of the air, by the sound of the

people's voice, was not the cause of the fall of the city walls.

Vessels of brass and of iron.-Instead of keley, VESSELS,

the Septuagint, in the Alexandrian copy, evidently have read

col, ALL, with the omission of the yod; for in Jos 6:19

they translate παςχαλκοςκαισιδηρος, ALL the brass and iron: but

this reading does not appear in any of Kennicott's or De Rossi's

MSS.

Verse 25. And she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day] This is

one proof that the book was written in the time to which it is

commonly referred; and certainly might have been done by the hand

of Joshua himself, though doubtless many marginal notes may have

since crept into the text, which, to superficial observers, give

it the appearance of having been written after the days of Joshua.

See the preface to this book.

Verse 26. And Joshua adjured them at that time] It appears that

he had received intimations from God that this idolatrous city

should continue a monument of the Divine displeasure: and having

convened the princes and elders of the people, he bound them by an

oath that they should never rebuild it; and then, in their

presence, pronounced a curse upon the person who should attempt

it. The ruins of this city continuing would be a permanent proof,

not only of God's displeasure against idolatry, but of the miracle

which he had wrought in behalf of the Israelites; and for these

reasons God willed that it should not be rebuilt: nevertheless, he

left men to the operation of their own free will, and recorded the

penalty which those must pay who should disobey him.

He shall lay the foundation thereof, &c.] This is a strange

execration; but it may rather be considered in the light of a

prediction. It seems to intimate that he who should attempt to

rebuild this city, should lose all his children in the interim,

from laying the foundation to the completion of the walls; which

the author of 1Ki 16:34 says was accomplished in Hiel the

Beth-elite, who rebuilt Jericho under the reign of Ahab, and laid

the foundation of it in Abiram, his first-born, and set up its

gates in his youngest son Segub: this was 550 years after Joshua

pronounced the curse. But we are not sure that this means that the

children either died a natural or violent death on this occasion

for we may understand the history as relating to the slow progress

of the work. Hiel having begun the work at the birth of his

first-born, was not able to conclude before the birth of his last

child, who was born many years after: and as their names are

mentioned, it is very likely that the distance of time between the

birth of each was well known when this history was written; and

that the extraordinary length of time spent in the work, in which

a multitude of vexatious delays had taken place, is that to which

the prophetic execration relates. Yet the first opinion is the

most probable. We must not suppose that Jericho had been wholly

neglected from its overthrow by Joshua to the days of Hiel; if it

be the same with the city of palm trees, mentioned De 34:3. We

find it mentioned as an inhabited place in the beginning of

Jud 1:16, a short time after the death of Joshua:

And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up

out of the city of palm trees, with the children of Judah, &c.;

and this said city (if the same with the city of palm trees) was

taken from the Israelites by Eglon king of Moab, Jud 3:13. The

ambassadors of David, who were disgracefully treated by Hanun king

of the Ammonites, were commanded to tarry at Jericho till their

beards should grow, 2Sa 10:4, 5. It appears, therefore, that

there was a city which went under this name long before the time

of Hiel, unless we can suppose that the city of palm trees was a

different place from Jericho, or that the name Jericho was given

to some part of the circumjacent country after the city was

destroyed, which is very probable.

After Hiel had rebuilt this city, it became of considerable

consequence in the land of Judea: the courses of priests lodged

there, who served in their turns at the temple; see Lu 10:30.

There was a school of the prophets there, which was visited by

Elijah and Elisha, 2Ki 2:4, 5, 18; and it was at this city that

our Lord miraculously healed blind Bartimeus, Mr 10:46;

Lu 18:35, &c. At present, Jericho is almost entirely

deserted, having but thirty or forty miserable cabins in it, which

serve for a place of refuge to some wretched Moors and Arabs, who

live there like beasts. The plain of Jericho, formerly so

celebrated for its fertility, is at present uncultivated,

producing nothing but a few wild trees, and some very indifferent

fruits. See Calmet.

Verse 27. So the Lord was with Joshua] Giving him miraculous

assistance in all his enterprises; and this was what he was

naturally led to expect from the communication made to him by the

captain of the Lord's host, Jos 5:14, &c.

1. MANY attempts have been made either to deny the miracle in

the fall of Jericho, or to account for it on natural causes.

Reference has already been made to some of these in the note on

Jos 6:20. But to those who believe the Divine authenticity of

the New Testament, every objection of this kind is removed by the

authority of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 11:30:

By FAITH the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been

compassed about seven days. Hence we find that it was a miraculous

interference; and that Joshua's faith in the promise made to him

by the captain of the Lord's host, was the instrument which God

chose to employ in the accomplishment of this important purpose.

2. The same is said of Rahab: By FAITH the harlot Rahab perished

not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies

with peace, Heb 11:31. She believed that the true God was on the

side of the Hebrews, and that all opposition to them must be in

vain; and this faith led her to put herself under the Divine

protection, and in virtue of it she escaped the destruction that

fell on her countrymen. Thus God has ever chosen to put honour on

faith, as the instrument by which he will perform his greatest

miracles of justice and mercy. God, who cannot lie, has given the

promise; he that believes shall have it accomplished; for with

God nothing shall be impossible, and all things are possible to

him that believes. These are Scriptural maxims, and God cannot

deny himself.

3. On the curse pronounced by Joshua on those who should rebuild

Jericho, it may be necessary to make a few remarks. In ancient

history we have many instances of execrations against those who

should rebuild those cities which had been destroyed in war, the

revival of whose power and influence was dreaded; especially such

cities as had been remarkable for oppression, insolence, or

perfidy. Strabo observes, lib. xiii., p. 898, ed. 1707, that

Agamemnon pronounced execrations on those who should rebuild Troy,

as Croesus did against those who should rebuild Sidena, in which

the tyrant Glaucias had taken refuge; and this mode of execrating

cities, according to Strabo, was an ancient custom-ειτεκαι

καταρασαμενουτουαγαμεμνονοςκαταπαλαιονεθοςκαθαπερκαιο

κροισοςεξελωντηνσιδηνηνειςηνοτυραννοςκατεφυγεγλαυκιας

αραςεθετοκατατωντειχιουντωνπαλιντοντοπον.

The Romans made a decree full of execrations against those who

should rebuild Carthage, which had been the rival of their empire;

and which, from its advantageous situation, might again become

formidable should it be rebuilt. See Zonaras, Anal.

The Ionians, according to Isocrates, pronounced the most awful

execrations on those who should rebuild the temples destroyed by

the Persians, that they might remain to posterity an endless

monument of the impiety of those barbarians; and that none might

put confidence in a people who were so wicked as to make war on

the gods themselves. The other Greeks who had suffered by the

Persians acted in the same way, leaving the desolated temples as a

public monument of the enmity that should ever subsist between the

two nations. See Calmet, and See Clarke on Nu 22:6.

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