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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 6

Introduction

A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

Directions given to Joshua concerning Jericho, Joshua 6:1-5 . The people compass the city seven days, Joshua 6:6-14 . The taking it, with the charge to destroy it utterly, Joshua 6:15-21 . The preservation of Rahab and her relations, Joshua 6:22-25 . A curse pronounced on any that should rebuild it, Joshua 6:26 , Joshua 6:27 .

Verses 1-2

Joshua 6:1-2. Jericho was straitly shut up They had shut up all their gates, and kept a very strict guard at them, for fear of the children of Israel. And the Lord said unto Joshua There is great reason to believe, and indeed most commentators agree, that this was spoken by the divine person who is said in the preceding chapter to have appeared to Joshua in the form of a man, but who styled himself captain of the host of the Lord, and is here called Jehovah, which shows that he was not of the angelic order. It is probable that the king and people of Jericho had refused the offers of peace which God ordered to be first sent to every city before they besieged it, Deuteronomy 20:10; and, trusting to their forces, had taken up a desperate resolution not to yield on any terms.

Verse 3

Joshua 6:3. Round about the city once At a convenient distance, out of the reach of their arrows. Six days Every day once. This and the following course might seem ridiculous and absurd, and is therefore prescribed by God, that they might learn to take new measures of things, and to expect success, not from their own valour, or skill, but merely from God’s appointment and blessing; and in general, not to judge of any of God’s institutions by mere carnal reason, to which divers of their ceremonies would seem no less foolish than this action.

Verse 5

Joshua 6:5. The wall Not all of it; which was unnecessary, and might have given the people better opportunity of escaping; but only a considerable part of it, where the Israelites might fitly enter: for Rahab’s house was not overthrown, Joshua 6:22. Flat Hebrew, under it. It was not battered down with engines, which would have made part of it fall out of its place, but it fell of its own accord, and therefore in the place it did formerly stand in. God chose this way to try the faith and obedience of the people; whether they would observe a precept which, to human policy, seemed foolish, and believe a promise which seemed impossible to be performed; whether they could patiently bear the reproaches of their enemies, and patiently wait for the salvation of God. Thus, by faith, not by force, the walls of Jericho fell down.

Verse 6

Joshua 6:6. Of rams’ horns Of the basest matter and the dullest sound, that the excellence of the power might be of God. The original words, however, here and Joshua 6:4, שׁופרות יובלום , shoperoth jobelim, may be properly rendered, trumpets of jubilee; that is, such trumpets as were to be blown in the year of jubilee. And many prefer this translation, alleging that, as the horns of rams are not hollow, trumpets cannot be made of them, even when bored, capable of giving any thing of a strong sound. They would, therefore, understand the words here as signifying trumpets made in the shape of rams’ horns. But others have urged that there is no difficulty in making such an instrument of a ram’s horn as may give a pretty strong sound: “it being certain that the inside of these horns is no ways hard, and may easily be taken out, excepting a space at the point of about four or five inches, part of which is sawed off, in order to proportionate the aperture to the mouth; after which, the rest is easily pierced. And we can assure our readers,” say the authors of the Universal History, “that we have seen some of these trumpets, thus made, used by the shepherds in the southern parts of Germany.”

Verses 7-10

Joshua 6:7-10. Let him that is armed pass on God would have them armed, both for the defence of themselves and the ark, in case the enemies should make a sally upon them, and for the execution of the Lord’s vengeance upon that city. The rereward Which, being opposed to the armed men, may seem to denote the unarmed people, who were desirous to be spectators of this wonderful work. Ye shall not shout Because shouting before the time appointed would be ineffectual, and so might give them some discouragement, and their enemies matter of insulting.

Verse 16

Joshua 6:16. At the seventh time Joshua said, Shout To testify your faith in God’s promise, and thankfulness for this glorious mercy; to encourage yourselves and brethren, and to strike a terror into your enemies. The Lord hath given you the city It is given to you to be devoted to God, as the first (and perhaps the worst) of all the cities of Canaan.

Verse 17

Joshua 6:17. The city shall be accursed to the Lord That is, devoted to destruction, by the right which God has to punish such as offend against him. This he speaks by direction from God, (see 1 Kings 16:34,) whose will it was that every thing in Jericho should be utterly destroyed, as well inanimate things by burning them, &c, as men and cattle, by the edge of the sword; excepting only the things that were found in the house of Rahab, and the vessels of silver and gold, brass and iron, which were to be consecrated to the Lord, and put into the treasury of the tabernacle. God seems to have caused the first spoils made in the land of Canaan to be dedicated to his use, 1st, Because the first-fruits were appropriated to him as his due; 2d, To signify that he was their leader, and that these victories were owing to him; 3d, Lest the soldiers, being glutted with the spoil of this rich city, should grow sluggish in their work; and, 4th, That on entering the land of Canaan they might be made thoroughly to understand that they had no right to the riches of that country but what he gave them; and that he would always keep to himself the power of restraining that right as he should see proper. In the mean time the severity enjoined to be exercised toward the persons of the people of the city, in putting them to the sword, was undoubtedly worthy of his infinite wisdom, as well as suitable to his holiness and justice: while it struck a terror into the rest of their enemies, it might determine them to prevent, by accepting of peace, or by flight, a punishment which their enormous and wilful crimes had otherwise rendered unavoidable.

Verse 18

Joshua 6:18. Keep yourselves from the accursed thing It should rather be rendered, the devoted thing, meaning the spoils devoted to the Lord. These they were not to touch, on pain of being themselves devoted to death. Lest ye make yourselves accursed Lest you draw upon yourselves the immediate curse of God, and so bring yourselves under the same sentence of destruction as the inhabitants and things of Jericho are under. And make the camp of Israel a curse By provoking God to punish them for your sin, in which they may be one way or other involved; for the whole camp having sins of their own, God might take what occasion he saw fit to inflict this punishment.

Verse 19

Joshua 6:19. Vessels of brass and iron Except that of which images were made, which were utterly to be destroyed. Unto the Lord Being first made to pass through the fire, Numbers 31:22-23. Treasury of the Lord To be employed wholly for the uses of the tabernacle, not to be applied to the use of any private person or priest.

Verse 21

Joshua 6:21. Young and old Being commanded to do so by the sovereign Lord of every man’s life; and being informed by God before that the Canaanites were abominably wicked, and deserved the severest punishments. As for the infants, they were at the disposal of their Creator; and it was a great favour to them to take them away in their infancy, rather than reserve them to those dreadful calamities to which those who survived them were exposed.

Verses 22-25

Joshua 6:22-25. The harlot’s house Which, together with the wall upon which it leaned, was left standing, by a special favour of God to her. Left them without the camp of Israel Till they were cleansed from the impurities of their Gentile state, and instructed in the Jewish religion, and solemnly admitted into that church, for which Rahab’s good counsel and example had doubtless prepared them. Joshua saved Rahab alive For that general command to root out the Canaanites seems to have had some exceptions, in case any of them had sincerely and seasonably cast off their idolatry and wickedness, submitted to the Israelites, and become members of the church of God. She dwelleth in Israel unto this day This shows that the book of Joshua was written while Rahab was alive.

Verse 26

Joshua 6:26. Joshua adjured them at that time Hebrew, ישׁבע , jashbang, he made them to swear. As soon as the city was destroyed, it seems, he convened the heads of the tribes, to signify to them that it was the will of God this idolatrous city should never be rebuilt, and then engaged them to take an oath that they would leave it in ruins. And they doubtless bound the people in like manner not to rebuild it, on pain of the divine malediction. Cursed be the man before the Lord That is, from God’s presence, and by his sentence, as Joshua is said (Joshua 18:8; Jos 18:10 ) to cast lots before the Lord, expecting the decision from God. He intimates that he does not utter this of himself, or in consequence of any particular dislike of that place; but from Jehovah, and by divine inspiration. God would have the ruins of this city remain as a standing monument of his justice against this wicked and idolatrous people, and of his almighty power in destroying so great and strong a city by such contemptible means. Thus Maimonides, the Jewish rabbi: “Joshua pronounced a curse against those who should build up Jericho, that the remembrance of the miracle which God had wrought by destroying it might never be effaced; for all who looked on these ruins, thus sunk into the earth,” (he thought the walls were swallowed up rather than overthrown,) “clearly saw them to be the ruins of a city destroyed by a miracle, and not by the hand of men.” Cursed be the man that buildeth this city That is, that shall attempt to build it. So this curse was restrained to the builder, but no way belonged to those who should inhabit it after it was built, as is evident from 2 Kings 2:18; Luke 19:5. In his youngest son That is, he shall lose all his children in the work, the first at the beginning, others in the progress of it, and the youngest in the close, when the gates were wont to be set up. This was exactly fulfilled, as we read, (1 Kings 16:34,) Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, who died in the beginning of the work, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, who died when it was finished, and the gates were setting up.

Verse 27

Joshua 6:27. So the Lord was with Joshua The Chaldee interprets it, The Word of the Lord was with him, even Christ, the eternal Word, the same that was with Moses. Nothing makes a man more truly great than to have evidences that God is with him.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 6". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/joshua-6.html. 1857.