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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Joshua 6

 

 

Verse 1

Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

Now Jericho was straitly shut up , [ Wi-Y


Verse 2

And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.

See, I have given into thine hand. The language intimates that a purpose already formed was about to be carried into immediate execution; and that, although the king and inhabitants of Jericho were fierce and experienced warriors, who would make a stout and determined resistance, the Lord promised a certain and easy victory over them.

Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour , [ gibowreey (Hebrew #1368) hechaayil (Hebrew #2428)] - valiant warriors, as the phrase is used to signify, Judges 6:12; Judges 11:1; 1 Samuel 9:1; 2 Kings 15:20; 1 Chronicles 7:5; 1 Chronicles 7:11; 1 Chronicles 7:40. But and is not in the Hebrew text; whence it may be inferred that the last words do not point to the defenders of the beleaguered city; but are directly connected with, and applied to, "Jericho, and the king thereof." [Accordingly, the Septuagint translates the original, Idou egoo paradidoomi hupocheirion soi teen Ierichoo kai ton basilea autees ton en autee, dunatous ontas en ischui-I deliver into thine hand Jericho, and the king who is in it, being strong in military force.]


Verse 3

And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

Ye shall compass the city. Directions are here given as to the mode of procedure. Ye shall compass the city. Directions are here given as to the mode of procedure.


Verse 4

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.

Trumpets of rams' horns , [ showp


Verse 5

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.

When they make a long blast with the ram's horn , [ bimshok (Hebrew #4900) b


Verse 6

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. Joshua ... called the priests. The pious leader, whatever military preparations he had made, surrendered all his own views at once, and unreservedly, to the declared will of God.


Verse 7

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.

And he said unto the people. This is according to the Qeri' or margin. But the text has [ way'om


Verse 8

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.

Bearing the seven trumpets ... passed on before the Lord -before the ark, called "the ark of the covenant," for it contained the tables on which the covenant was inscribed.


Verse 9

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.

The armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark. This disposition was conformed to the marching arrangement of the Egyptians, among whom, when a body of troops marched to the beat of drum, the drummer was often stationed in the center or the rear, and sometimes immediately behind the standard-bearers (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:, p. 268). "The armed men" referred to in the text were the contingents furnished by the eastern tribes (cf. Joshua 4:13), while "the rereward" consisted of warriors from the other tribes. The procession was made in deed and solemn silence, conformably to the instructions given to the people by their leader at the outset, that they were to refrain from all acclamation and noise of any kind, until he should give them a signal. 'It must have been a strange sight; no mount was raised, no sword drawn, no engine planted, no pioneers undermining-here were armed men, but no stroke given; they must walk, and not fight. Doubtless the people of Jericho made themselves merry but no stroke given; they must walk, and not fight. Doubtless the people of Jericho made themselves merry with the spectacle' (Dr. Hall).


Verse 10-11

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 12

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.

Joshua rose early in the morning. The second day's procession seems to have taken place in the morning. In all other respects, down even to the small details, the arrangements of the first day continued to be the rule followed on the other six.


Verse 13-14

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 15

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed 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.

On the seventh day ... they rose early about the dawning of the day , [ ka`alowt (Hebrew #5927) hashachar (Hebrew #7837), at the rising of the morning dawn (cf. Genesis 19:15; Genesis 32:25; Genesis 32:27)] - on account of the seven circuits they had to make that day. It is evident, however, that the militia only of the Israelites had been called to the march; because it is inconceivable that 2,000,000 people could have gone so frequently round the city in a day.


Verse 16

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.

It came to pass at the seventh time. This delay, as was evidently the intention of the repeated circuits, brought out their faith and obedience in so remarkable a manner that it is celebrated by the apostle (Hebrews 11:30).


Verse 17

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.

The city shall be accursed - (see the note at Leviticus 27:28-29.) The cherem or auathema was a devotion to the Lord of idolatrous persons or objects, as His inalienable right, which involved their utter destruction or their consecration to religious uses (Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 20:17; 1 Samuel 15:3). When such a ban was pronounced against a hostile city, the men and animals were killed; no booty was allowed to be taken; the idols and all the precious ornaments on them were to be burned (Deuteronomy 7:25 : cf. 1 Chronicles 14:12); everything was either to be destroyed or consecrated to the sanctuary. Joshua pronounced this ban on Jericho, a great and wealthy city, evidently by divine direction; and the severity of the doom, accordant with the requirements of a law which was holy, just, and good, was justified, not only by the fact of its inhabitants being part of a race who had filled up their iniquities, but by their resisting the light of the recent astonishing miracles at the Jordan. Besides, as Jericho seems to have been defended by reinforcements from all the country (Joshua 24:11), its destruction would paralyze all the rest of the devoted people, and thus tend to facilitate the conquest of the land showing, as so astounding a military miracle did, that it was done, not by man, but by the power and through the anger of God.


Verse 18

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.

In any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing. Generally they were left at liberty to take the spoil of other cities that were captured (Joshua 8:27; Deuteronomy 2:35; Deuteronomy 3:7). But this city, as the first-fruits of Canaan, was made an exception: nothing was to be spared but Rahab and those in her house. A violation of these stringent orders would not only render the guilty persons obnoxious to the curse, but entail distress and adversity upon all Israel, by provoking the divine displeasure. These were the instructions given, or repeated (Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 13:17) during a brief halt, previously to the last act of the siege.


Verse 19

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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 20

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.

So the people shouted when the priests blew. Toward the close of the seventh circuit, the signal was given by Joshua, and on the Israelites raising their loud war-cry, the walls fell down, doubtless burying multitudes of the inhabitants in the ruins, while the beseigers, rushing in, consigned everything, animate and inanimate, to indiscriminate destruction (Deuteronomy 20:16-17). This sudden demolition cannot be ascribed to any natural causes. It was clearly a miracle; and following immediately after the miraculous passage of the Jordan, the sudden opening up of so strongly a fortified border city, the key to the interior of Canaan, without exertion or loss on their part, was an encouraging pledge to the Israelites that God would, according to His promise, as easily deliver the whole land into their power. Jewish writers mention it as an immemorial tradition that the city fell on the Sabbath. It should be remembered that the Canaanites were incorrigible idolaters, addicted to the most horrible vices, and that the righteous judgment of God might sweep them away by the sword, as well as by famine or pestilence. There was mercy mingled with judgment in employing the sword as the instrument of punishing the guilty Canaanites; because while it was directed against one place, time was afforded for others to repent.


Verse 21

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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 22

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.

Joshua has said ... Go into the harlot's house. It is evident that the town walls were not demolished universally, at least all at once. Rahab's house was allowed to stand until her relatives were rescued according to the promise.


Verse 23

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.

Her brethren - i:e., her relatives or kinsfolk of both sexes (cf. Joshua 11:13) residing under her roof.

All her kindred , [ kaal (Hebrew #3605) mishp


Verse 24

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.

Burnt the city ... and all ... therein - except the silver, gold, and other metals, which, as they would not burn, were added to the treasury of the sanctuary.


Verse 25

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.

Rahab , [Septuagint, Raab (Greek #4460)].

... dwelleth in Israel unto this day - a proof not only that the pledge given for her preservation had been fully redeemed, but also that this book was written not long after the events related.


Verse 26

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.

Joshua adjured them at that time - i:e., imposed upon his countrymen a solemn oath, binding on themselves as well as their posterity, that they would never rebuild that city. Its destruction was designed by God to be a permanent memorial of His abhorreuce of idolatry and its attendant vices.

Cursed be the man ... that riseth up - i:e., makes the daring attempt to build, or rather, to fortify it (cf. 2 Chronicles 11:6), as is evident from the setting up of the gates of it. However strange such a course may appear-and in this instance it had a prophetic reference-it was not special to Joshua, but an ancient custom, of which the writings of the classics furnish many examples.

Thus according to Strabo (b. 13:, ch. 1:, sec. 42), those who might have been desirous of rebuilding Ilium were deterred from building the city on its old site, either from some painful associations with the spot, or because Agamemnon had denounced a curse against him that should rebuild it; and Croesus, after the destruction of Sidena, within the wails of which the tyrant Glaneias sought refuge, uttered a curse upon him who should restore the walls of that place. It remains to be noticed that the person who pronounced such a general curse was himself equally bound by it as those to whom it was applied; and Joshua, who proclaimed one against the man who should rear a fortified city at Jericho, was equally bound with the people. He one against the man who should rear a fortified city at Jericho, was equally bound with the people. He virtually took the oath upon himself (cf. 1 Samuel 14:24).

He shall lay the foundation therefore in his first-born ... - shall become childless; the first beginning being marked by the death of his oldest son, and his only surviving child dying at the time of its completion; or, as some interpret the words, 'he shall begin to build the city at the birth of his oldest son; but there should occur so many and great obstacles to the progress of he undertaking, that it would not be completed until the birth of his youngest: an event which took place toward the close of his protracted life.' This curse was accomplished 550 years after its denunciation (see the note at 1 Kings 16:34). The view given above of the curse being directed against the restoration of a fortress which had been miraculously destroyed by God, removes a difficulty from the sacred history, arising from the fact, that a city was soon after built and inhabited, but without walls, on the site of Jericho (Judges 3:13; 2 Samuel 10:5). De Saulcy relates that, 'on his second visit

(1864) to Palestine, he found above 'Ain es-Sultan, or spring of Elisha, a range of mamelons, covering the foundations of the ancient Jericho, destroyed in Joshua's time. On the highest of these mamelons-probably the citadel of the town-are scattered the remains of walls six feet in thickness, and all the ground is strewed with interesting fragments of ancient pottery.'

The credulity of De Saulcy has thrown deserved suspicion on many of his alleged discoveries. But there is a strong presumption in favour of his conclusions in this instance; because Josephus asserts that ancient Jericho was situated near the fountain of Elisha ('Jewish, Wars,' b. 4:, ch. 8:, sec. 3). And Mr. Stewart ('Tent and Khan,' p. 371) says, 'To my mind the accuracy of his statement is abundantly corroborated by its vicinity to the mountains; because the spies whom Rahab had advised to flee thither for safety could easily have reached them from the fountain in a quarter of an hour. These ruins, however, probably belong to two different towns. The mounds mark the Jericho of the Canaanites, of Rahab and the spies, which fell before the blast of the horns; and the ruins further south, the Jericho visited by our Lord, the dwelling-place of Zaccheus and Bartimeus, which was built by Hiel the Bethelite, despite the calamities that Joshua had predicted would fall on the family of the man who did so.' (See also Robinson's, 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, pp. 298, 299; Porter's Handbook of Syria and Palestine, p. 192).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 6:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-6.html. 1871-8.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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