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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 6

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-27

Joshua 6:4 . Seven trumpets of rams’ horns. Josephus uses this term, “rams’ horns:” but in most versions it is holy trumpets, or trumpets used in the Jubilee, as seems to be implied by the Hebrew word Jobel.

Joshua 6:10 . Ye shall not shout. Men are apt to shout in war, and animals raise their cries when they fight.

Joshua 6:21 . They utterly destroyed young and old. Moses commanded them in future wars to spare the women and the little ones, when storming a city. Deuteronomy 20:14. But the Lord, the arbiter of life and death, had commanded these to be destroyed, and all the Canaanites to be utterly driven out. What can we say, when the last hour of vengeance is come? “Happy shall he be,” oh bloody Babylon, “that dasheth thy children against the wall.” Psalms 137:9. Oh when shall crimes and wars subside!

Joshua 6:26 . Cursed be the man that buildeth Jericho. During the wicked reign of Ahab, Hiel the Bethelite, presumptuously built this city. No sooner had he laid the foundation, than Abiram his firstborn died; and no sooner had he begun to set up the gates, than Segub his youngest son gave up the ghost. It was awful to Hiel, as well as to Achan, to meddle with the accursed thing. See on Genesis 9:25. God has often punished crimes against the church by the privation of children. Two hundred years have now elapsed since any king of France was succeeded by a son! Heaven will not forgive the massacre of the protestants.


Since the fall of man sin has always been pursued with a curse. In the mysterious economy of providence, death is the ultimate consequence of crime. Jericho, hardened in impiety and wickedness to the last degree, was now made a fearful example of God’s miraculous and avenging power. They and their neighbours might long deride the laws and power of the Most High; but the dark cloud which rose in Egypt, and hovered forty years in the desert, burst at last in vengeance on their heads.

How was this done? What was the fearful expectation of the wicked? They expected to see a ditch dug around their walls, and lofty engines brought against their towers, and followed by all the horrors of a tremendous siege. Yet they saw nothing but a vast army silently walking round the city, somewhat awkward and irregular in their march. They heard nothing except the harmless sound of shepherds’ horns. Emboldened by the singular sight for six days, they began, it is presumed, to mock at the Hebrew mode of conducting a siege. Who can count the curses they uttered against the Hebrews, and against their God. Ah, so do riches, voluptuous habits and infidel principles lull to sleep a wicked age, till they deride all the slow but sure approaches of death.

By the sounding of the rams’ horns we learn farther, that God is often pleased to inflict his judgments and to scatter his blessings by means contemptible in the eyes of men. The apostles had the gospel treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be of God. How often is a plain, simple servant of God blessed in his prayers and ministry, while the learned and the eloquent produce no effects with their word. The more a man lives and walks in the Spirit, the more will God speak in him and by him. While a worm endeavours to abase himself in the eyes of God, he is magnified by the same God in the eyes of the people.

On the seventh day, when the faith of the Israelites had been fully tried, and when a space had been granted to the citizens if any of them improved it, to seek mercy for their souls at least, the priests blew with the trumpets, and the people gave a shout, and the walls of the city were thrown prostrate on the ground. Then Israel entered at every point, slaying the whole multitude, who by reason of guilt and fear were unable to make resistance. Does human nature account this severe? At another day it might have been cruelty: but now the glory of justice must be equal to the glory of mercy. Human pity is mere weakness in the last hour of God’s tremendous judgments: and while they are approaching, the sinful world continue to deride the sound of the rams’ horns. Let them deride: the time is short: the ministers of vengeance shall raise a shout against the enemies of righteousness, and in one sad day, like the fall of Jericho, the reward of their own works shall descend upon them.

Amid the dreadful carnage the house of Rahab, in which were gathered all her kindred, was secured by the sign of the scarlet thread, and by the presence of the two Israelites. So in all the days of visitation the Lord knoweth them that are his, having his mark in their foreheads; and the angels of his presence, faithful to their duty, as the spies to their promise, shall surround their persons and defend them from danger. Oh Lord, make us in those evil times thy covenant people, and cover us with the shadow of thy wings.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/joshua-6.html. 1835.
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