Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 6:3

You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Communion;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Commands;   Divine;   Faith;   Hindrances;   Home;   Miracles;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Stories for Children;   Tested;   Tests, Spiritual;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Holy Land;   Priests;   Sieges;   Theocracy, the, or Immediate Government by God;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ark;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Joshua;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Jericho;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ark;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Jericho;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Joshua, Book of;   Palestine (Recent Exploration, I.e. as of 1915);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Joshua, Book of;   War;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

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 the note on Numbers 10:14, and see the plans, Numbers 2:2; (note)); others think that the soldiers marched first, then the priests who blew the trumpets, then those who carried the ark, and lastly the people.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-6.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war,.... Joshua their chief commander under the Lord, and all that were able to make war, even all above twenty years of age; these were to compass the city, not in the form of a siege, but by a procession around it:

and go round about the city once; or one time, for the first once in a day, and no more:

thus shall thou do six days; one after another; that is, go round it, once every day, for such a time. This order was given, according to the JewsF23Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31. , the twenty second of Nisan, after the feast of unleavened bread was over.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-6.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(d) Every day one.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-6.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

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.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-6.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 6:3 And ye shall compass the city, all [ye] men of war, [and] go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

Ver. 3. And ye shall compass the city.] At a just distance, no doubt, that ye may be extra iactum. See 2 Samuel 11:20-21.

Thus shalt thou do six days.] All which time God held them in request: and exercised their faith and patience.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-6.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Go round about the city once, at convenient distance, out of the reach of their arrows;

thus shalt thou do six days, every day once. This and the following course might seem ridiculous and absurd, and is therefore prescribed and used by God, that they might learn to take new measures of things, and to expect success not from their own valour or skill, or probable means, 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; and that they might have a full demonstration of the all-sufficiency of that God who can do what he pleaseth, even by the most contemptible means.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-6.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And you shall surround the city, all the men of war, going about the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.”

Each day for six days the men of war were to surround the city. It would not take long, for the mound was not large (see above). The purpose was to terrify the occupants, and also possibly to bring home to the Israelites the difficulty they would have in breaching the wall. The men of war were probably the younger men of war most suited to battle. Each time they came the inhabitants would prepare themselves for an attack. And each time they would leave without attacking. It must have been an eerie time for the inhabitants, especially in view of the silence of their enemy. They would have expected yells and threats.

“Surround.” The word often means precisely that although in Psalms 48:12 it specifically means ‘march round’, and it is used elsewhere of making progress in one way or another (e.g. Exodus 13:18; Numbers 21:4; Numbers 36:7; Numbers 36:9; Deuteronomy 32:10). The descriptions, with the armed men before, followed by the priests with the Ark, followed by the remainder of ‘the people’, demonstrate that here as well the surrounding was by marching round.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-6.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3.Ye shall compass the city — Here is a peculiar and unprecedented mode of reducing a walled town — to carry a small chest containing, not the enginery of death, but a few religious relics, attended by a band of priests blowing on their trumpets, and followed by the whole army marching in procession. We may not assign with certainty the reason of this strange command, but we plainly see at least four objects attained: (1) The whole army is honoured as a subordinate agent in the conquest of the city. (2) God, the efficient cause, is magnified before all men. (3) His ark and his ministers, by their prominence at the head of the procession, are especially honoured in the eyes of Israelite and Canaanite. (4) A course of proceeding so unmilitary and apparently absurd was a severe test of the faith of the Israelites in Jehovah.

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4. Seven trumpets of rams’ horns — [Or, seven trumpets of alarms; that is, signal trumpets. The Hebrew word here rendered rams’ horns is יובל, yobel, and Furst still adheres to this explanation, which is also that of the Targum and the Rabbins. But according to Gesenius yobel is an onomatopoetic word, signifying a joyful sound, (jubilum, ) and hence some scholars hold that the trumpet of yobel was so called because it was used to proclaim through the land the return of the year of jubilee. Leviticus 25:9-13. But long before the sabbatical year was instituted the trumpet that sounded from Sinai was called the yobel, (Exodus 19:13,) and hence it is but natural to infer that the year of jubilee took its name from the trumpet, not the trumpet from the year. The best supported etymology of yobel is that which gives it the sense of a loud and startling sound, and hence we adopt the rendering signal trumpet. In Joshua 6:5 occurs the expression horn of yobel, so that the words trumpet (shophar ) and horn (keren ) are here used interchangeably. The common opinion is that the shophar was a long straight instrument, and the keren a crooked one.] Eustathius says that an instrument in the form of a bent trumpet was in use among the Egyptians for the purpose of calling the people together to the sacrifices. It is not quite certain whether the trumpet of jubilee was made of the horn of an ox or of metal; but the latter seems the more probable, since a much larger instrument could be made of metal. The priests on this occasion carried “sonorous metal, blowing martial sounds.” “The seven days” procession, the sevenfold repetition of it on the seventh day by seven priests, and the use of seven trumpets, are unmistakable proofs of the importance of the number seven.” — Keil. This may be best explained by observing that the word for seven is radically the same as the word for oath. Seven, then, was a sacred number, the seal of the covenant. “By this march of seven days, and the sevenfold repetition on the seventh day, with the seven priests blowing the seven trumpets, the host of Israel were to show that they were the people of the covenant.” [

The seventh day — These seven days of marching must have included one Sabbath, and perhaps, as the Rabbins have assumed, the last day of the seven, on which the city fell, was itself the Sabbath. But this solemn marching and carrying of the ark about the doomed city was no ordinary work, such as that contemplated in the prohibition in the fourth commandment. It was rather a service of obedience to a special Divine mandate, and the grand triumph given on the seventh day was, even in that age, a sublime indication that “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”]

Seven times — We have no means of knowing the circumference of Jericho, but allowing that it was five miles, a not unreasonable estimate, the seven marches around it would be thirty-five miles, a distance not exceedingly difficult for a host all aglow with intense enthusiasm, and disciplined to the route by having travelled it for six preceding days. Then, too, they began their travel early in the morning. Joshua 6:15.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-6.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-6.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Men. These went first. Afterwards the priests bore the ark, which was followed by all the people. (Calmet) --- The procession began on a Sunday. (Rabbins)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-6.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-6.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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
7,14; Numbers 14:9; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25; 2 Corinthians 4:7
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 25:19 - thou shalt;  Joshua 6:8 - before the Lord;  John 2:7 - Fill;  Hebrews 11:30 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-6.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

3.And you shall compass the city, etc The promise was, indeed, fit and sufficient of itself to give hope of victory, but the method of acting was so strange, as almost to destroy its credibility. God orders them to make one circuit round the city daily until the seventh day, on which they are told to go round it seven times, sounding trumpets, and shouting. The whole looked like nothing else than child’s play, and yet was no improper test, for trying their faith, as it proved their acquiescence in the divine message, even when they saw in the act itself nothing but mere disappointment. With the same intention, the Lord often, for a time, conceals his own might under weakness, and seems to sport with mere trifles, that his weakness may at length appear stronger than all might, and his folly superior to all wisdom.

While the Israelites thus abandon their own reason, and depend implicitly on his words, they gain much more by trifling than they could have done by making a forcible assault, and shaking the walls by numbers of the most powerful engines. Only it behooved them to play the fool for short time, and not display too much acuteness in making anxious and subtle inquiries concerning the event: for that would have been, in a manner, to obstruct the course of the divine omnipotence. Meanwhile, though the circulatory movement round the walls might have excited derision, it was afterwards known, by its prosperous result, that God commands nothing in vain.

There was another subject of care and doubt, which might have crept into their minds. Should the inhabitants of the city suddenly sally forth, the army would, without difficulty, be put to the rout, while, in long straggling lines, it was proceeding round the city, without any regular arrangement that might have enabled it to repel a hostile assault. But here, also, whatever anxiety they might have felt, they behooved to cast it upon God; for sacred is the security which reclines on his providence. There was an additional trial of their faith, in the repetition of the circuit of the city during seven days. For what could seem less congruous than to fatigue themselves with six unavailing circuits? Then, of what use was their silence, (64) unless to betray their timidity, and tempt the enemy to come out and attack besiegers who seemed not to have spirit enough to meet them? But as profane men often, by rash intermeddling fervor, throw everything into confusion, the only part which God here assigns to his people, is to remain calm and silent, that thus they may the better accustom themselves simply to execute his commands.

Here, too, it is worthy of remark, that the instruments, given to the priests to blow with, are not the silver trumpets deposited in the sanctuary, but merely rams’ horns. The sound of the sacred trumpets would certainly have inspired more confidence, but a better proof of obedience was given, when they were contented with the vulgar symbol. Moreover, their movements were so arranged, that the greater number, by which is understood the armed, went before the ark, while those who usually accompanied the baggage followed. It was their part to take care that the rear did not fall into confusion. As the term congregating, applied to them, was obscure, I have rendered it by the corresponding term usually employed by the Latins. (65) Some think that the tribe of Dan was thus employed, but this is uncertain, as they were not then arranged in the manner usual on other expeditions.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 6:3". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-6.html. 1840-57.