Joshua 7:12: God’s Explanation of the Defeat at Ai, Part 3

Verse 12:[1] (see Num. 14:45; Judg. 2:14) Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because (Deut. 7:26; Josh. 6:18) they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.

[And he shall not be able to stand before his enemies[2]] Again, לִפְנֵי/before in the place of מִלִּפְנֵי, from before (Masius). Question: Why are all punished because of one, Achan? This was answered previously, but I add, 1. that those thirty-six men suffered punishment, not for the sins of Achan, but for their own. 2. God is generally wont to exercise His judgments on account of those offenses that by contact might spread to all, of which sort are those of Kings, of the seditious, etc. Therefore, since here it was a sin against a law recently delivered, God willed to make an example, lest they should weaken all discipline at the beginnings of this critically important war by their impunity, although there were at that time either similar or more detestable sins in the people, which were not chastened (Masius).

[Because he was polluted by the accursed thing, כִּ֥י הָי֖וּ לְחֵ֑רֶם] They are (or, were) in anathema (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus), that is, of the accursed thing (Junius); they are polluted by the accursed thing (Vatablus), unto anathema (Drusius, Piscator); because they were made anathema, that is, a thing devoted to God (Piscator). Thus, to be unto wife means to be for a wife, or, to be a wife actually (ל sometimes denotes the truth of a thing, sometimes only a similitude): I shall be for a God, that is, I shall be God;[3] I shall be for a father, that is, I shall be a father;[4] they shall be for one flesh, that is, as one flesh, that is, one body[5] (Drusius).

Because they were accursed, as I warned and threatened them, Joshua 6:18, they have put themselves out of my protection and blessing, and therefore are liable to the same destruction which belongs to this accursed people.

[Who is guilty of this sin[6]] Hebrew: חֵרֶם, the accursed thing; ἀνάθεμα/ anathema (Septuagint). Him that stole the accursed thing; who is liable to the anathema (Drusius). Both the things devoted to the anathema, and those that had drawn the contagion of the same crime, namely, the family and things of Achan (Malvenda out of Junius). Unless ye remove this sacrilege, with its author destroyed and devoted (certain interpreters in Malvenda).

[1] Hebrew: וְלֹ֙א יֻכְל֜וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לָקוּם֙ לִפְנֵ֣י אֹיְבֵיהֶ֔ם עֹ֗רֶף יִפְנוּ֙ לִפְנֵ֣י אֹֽיְבֵיהֶ֔ם כִּ֥י הָי֖וּ לְחֵ֑רֶם לֹ֤א אוֹסִיף֙ לִֽהְי֣וֹת עִמָּכֶ֔ם אִם־לֹ֥א תַשְׁמִ֛ידוּ הַחֵ֖רֶם מִֽקִּרְבְּכֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וְלֹ֙א יֻכְל֜וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לָקוּם֙ לִפְנֵ֣י אֹיְבֵיהֶ֔ם .

[3] For example, Jeremiah 24:7:  “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord:  and they shall be my people, and I will be their Godוְהָיוּ־לִ֣י לְעָ֔ם וְאָ֣נֹכִ֔י אֶהְיֶ֥ה) לָהֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִ֑ים):  for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

[4] For example, Genesis 17:4:  “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father (וְהָיִ֕יתָ לְאַ֖ב) of many nations.”

[5] For example, Genesis 2:24:  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh (וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃).”

[6] Joshua 7:12b:  “…neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you (הַחֵ֖רֶם מִֽקִּרְבְּכֶֽם׃).”

Joshua 7:11: God’s Explanation of the Defeat at Ai, Part 2

Verse 11:[1] (Josh. 7:1) Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: (Josh. 6:17, 18) for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and (see Acts 5:1, 2) dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.

[Israel has sinned] One of Israel (Lapide, Talmudists in Masius). Rather, the children of Israel. For the sin of one member is often imputed to the whole body (Drusius, similarly Masius). So that God might apply the remedy, He reveals the ills. We are rightly cured from ills only after we have a knowledge of them, having been closely examined (Malvenda).

Israel; some or one of them, as before on Joshua 7:1.

[It has transgressed my covenant] Either, because the obedience that they had promised in the covenant, Exodus 19:8; 24:7, they did not yield (Junius, Drusius); or, because they acted against my interdict (Drusius). Hence it is evident that the General did not set forth that law concerning the anathema by his own will, but by the command of God (Masius). He aggravates the offense here by degrees. They offended grievously. 1. They saved things that it was necessary to have destroyed. 2. And they took them for themselves privately. 3. And that secretly, as if anything is able to be done without my knowledge. 4. Moreover, they tried to deceive with lies. 5. They persevered in purpose, with those things stored among their furniture. Thus it is able to be translated; for also they have taken…indeed, also they have stolen, indeed also they have lied, indeed also they have stored, etc. (Piscator).

[And they have lied, וְגַ֣ם כִּֽחֲשׁ֔וּ] And also they denied (Jonathan, Arabic, Montanus), they lied (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). Either, 1. not in word, but in deed (Lapide): by not bringing into the Lord’s treasury what he ought (Malvenda out of Junius). Or, 2. because, with Joshua preventing lest they seize upon anything of the cursed thing, all, either expressly or tacitly, are seen to promise that they were going to oblige him (Bonfrerius). All had promised that they would take nothing of the cursed thing, Joshua 6:17-20 (Menochius out of Serarius). Or, 3. inasmuch as they denied that they took it (Vatablus, Drusius). Perhaps some asked Achan concerning the cursed thing (Drusius). Or, all having been asked whether they had taken anything denied (certain interpreters in Malvenda). Or, 4. because purpose was to deny by lying, if anyone had asked (Drusius).

[And they have hidden among the stuff[2]] There are those that think his tent to be signified (Drusius); in which they had buried those things (Kimchi in Masius). I rather translate it, they stored it among their own furniture (Masius, similarly Vatablus), which he calls vessels. Ἐνοσφίσαντο (Septuagint), they converted it unto their own use (Drusius). They mixed it with their own things, persisting in their sin (Malvenda out of Junius). It is to be observed how gravely God charges that with sin, which could appear slight, being conjoined with the injury of no man, and hence how no hope of salvation would remain to us, if God should treat with us according to perfect justice, Psalm 143:2 (Masius).

Transgressed my covenant, that is, broken the conditions of my covenant which I have commanded them, and they have promised to perform, namely, obedience to all my commands, Exodus 19:8; 24:7, whereof this was one, not to meddle with the accursed thing. Of the accursed thing, which I charged them not to meddle with. And have also stolen, that is, taken my portion which I had reserved, Joshua 6:19. Dissembled; covered the fact with deep dissimulation, and a real, if not verbal, profession of their innocency. Possibly Achan might be suspected; and being accused, had denied it, or was resolved to deny it. Put it even among their own stuff; converted it to their own use, and added obstinacy and resolvedness to the crime; thus he loads this sin with divers aggravations.

[1] Hebrew: חָטָא֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְגַם֙ עָבְר֣וּ אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּ֖יתִי אוֹתָ֑ם וְגַ֤ם לָֽקְחוּ֙ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם וְגַ֤ם גָּֽנְבוּ֙ וְגַ֣ם כִּֽחֲשׁ֔וּ וְגַ֖ם שָׂ֥מוּ בִכְלֵיהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וְגַ֖ם שָׂ֥מוּ בִכְלֵיהֶֽם׃.

Joshua 7:10: God’s Explanation of the Defeat at Ai, Part 1

Verse 10:[1] And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest (Heb. fallest[2]) thou thus upon thy face?

[And He said] God willingly meets with us in our prayers. See Isaiah 65:24 (Masius).

[Arise (thus most interpreters)] Hebrew: arise to thyself.[3] To thyself is superfluous but elegant (Drusius). But such Datives generally have the force of incitement (Masius).

[Why liest thou prone? לָ֣מָּה זֶּ֔ה אַתָּ֖ה נֹפֵ֥ל עַל־פָּנֶֽיךָ׃] For what is this, thou lying, etc.?[4] (Montanus). For why hast thou fallen down prone? (Vatablus). What is this that thou liest prostrate? I render the participle by an adjective, as is elsewhere done. Neither was Joshua casting himself to the earth for the first time then, but he had lain fixed to the earth for the whole day (Masius). Why on account of this art thou casting thyself down? (Jonathan). To what end is this [a distinguishing accent is in the text[5]], that thou remainest downcast? (Junius and Tremellius). To what end is this, that thou remainest, etc.? understanding כִּי/that before אַתָּה/thou (Piscator). Why art thou casting down thy face? (Arabic). The sense: Do not cause thyself grief any longer; I know what thou desirest; I will have very soon caused thee to understand what must be done. Compare Exodus 14:15 (Masius). There is no place for entreaty here; not unless the people is able to be expiated by the punishment of the guilty (Grotius).

Get thee up, etc.: This business is not to be done by unactive supplication, but by vigorous endeavours for reformation.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יְהוָ֛ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ קֻ֣ם לָ֑ךְ לָ֣מָּה זֶּ֔ה אַתָּ֖ה נֹפֵ֥ל עַל־פָּנֶֽיךָ׃

[2] Hebrew: נֹפֵל.

[3] Hebrew:   קֻ֣ם לָ֑ךְ.

[4] A woodenly literalistic rendering of the Hebrew.

[5] The Zaqeph Parvum (֔) is a relatively strong disjunctive accent.

Joshua 7:8, 9: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 3

Verse 8:[1] O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs (Heb. necks[2]) before their enemies!

[My Lord, בִּ֖י אֲדֹנָ֑י[3]] I beg, or I entreat, O Lord (Jonathan, Arabic, Munster). On me, O Lord (Septuagint, Montanus, Masius), that is, have regard (Lapide, Menochius). Attend to me, etc. (Junius and Tremellius).

[What shall I say?] What shall I think (Masius, Serarius, Menochius)? Thus to say is taken elsewhere[4] (Masius). Saying is both of the soul, which is thinking, and of the mouth (Serarius). What counsel shall I take (Masius)? This oration of Joshua is shortened and imperfect, and interrupted by the speedy response of God, who, being kind, breaks in and answers in the midst of the prayers themselves (Masius). Others: What shall I answer to those that want to detract from thy Name, that is, to pursuing enemies (Vatablus)? But the following orations manifestly refutes this sense (Masius).

What shall I say, in answer to the reproaches cast by our insulting enemies upon us, and upon thy name? Israel; God’s own people, which he hath singled out of all nations for his own peculiar.


Verse 9:[5] For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and (Ps. 83:4) cut off our name from the earth: and (see Ex. 32:12; Num. 14:13) what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

[The Canaanites] The same here as the Amorites in verse 7 (Masius).

[Being massed together, they shall surround us] Hebrew: upon the earth they shall come together against us[6] (Masius).

[What wilt thou do, etc.?] Who hast promised to give this region: and the Nations shall say that thou art not able to do this. That is to say, Consider thy Name (Masius).

Thy great name: Which will upon this occasion be blasphemed and charged with inconstancy, unkindness, and unfaithfulness to thine own people, and with inability to resist them, or to do thy people that good thou didst intend them. Compare Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13; Deuteronomy 33:27; Joel 2:17.

[1] Hebrew: בִּ֖י אֲדֹנָ֑י מָ֣ה אֹמַ֔ר אַ֠חֲרֵי אֲשֶׁ֙ר הָפַ֧ךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל עֹ֖רֶף לִפְנֵ֥י אֹיְבָֽיו׃

[2] Hebrew: עֹרֶף.

[3] בִּי is a particle of entreaty.

[4] See, for example, Exodus 2:14.

[5] Hebrew: וְיִשְׁמְע֣וּ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֗י וְכֹל֙ יֹשְׁבֵ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ וְנָסַ֣בּוּ עָלֵ֔ינוּ וְהִכְרִ֥יתוּ אֶת־שְׁמֵ֖נוּ מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ וּמַֽה־תַּעֲשֵׂ֖ה לְשִׁמְךָ֥ הַגָּדֽוֹל׃

[6] Hebrew: הָאָ֔רֶץ וְנָסַ֣בּוּ עָלֵ֔ינוּ.

Joshua 7:7: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 2

Verse 7:[1] And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, (Ex. 5:22; 2 Kings 3:10) wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!

[Alas! אֲהָהּ] Alas! (Masius). An interjection of sorrow and entreaty (Drusius out of Masius). Δέομαι, I implore (Septuagint). Receive my prayer (Chaldean in Masius).

[Lord God, אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה] With a twofold name he addresses Him. יְהוִה/ JEHOVAH denotes the essence of God;[2] אֲדֹנָי/ADONAI denotes rule, and it certainly is suited to Christ, through whom God the Father, as He made the world, so also He governs it, Hebrews 1:2, 3. Thus also, at least in words, the Hebrew Kabbalists:[3] That name ADONAI is like a key by which an approach is opened to Jehovah God, that is, to God hidden in His essence; There is a treasure in which those things that are bestowed upon us by JEHOVAH are all stored away; Moreover, there is that great Steward that dispenses all things, nourishes, and invigorates through Jehovah; Finally, no one is able to penetrate to Jehovah except through Adonai; and therefore the Church thus enters upon her prayers, ADONAI, that is, LORD, OPEN THOU MY LIPS, etc. These things are found in Gate of Light,[4] and in a book called שֵׁם הַמְפוֹרָשׁ, The Explicit Name (Masius).

[Why hast thou willed to bring across?] The Talmudists[5] and not a few of our men maintain that Joshua makes his complaint with God, and breaks forth in an impious vow of remaining outside the Holy Land. But the very fury of the words, which would have been monstrous if it be thus taken, moves me to take it otherwise. Who would believe that this most divine man with these most unworthy words would quarrel with God? or would think that God could not destroy those remaining beyond Jordan? or on account of this little defeat would reject such and so great promises? Therefore, it is not to be supposed that he spoke these words out of mind of the same sort as those in Numbers 14 (although prima facie the speech might appear the same). For he, not at all despairing of the power and mercy of God, casts himself at His feet; while those take counsel, with God rejected, to flee to Egypt. The thought of Joshua is this: In an oblique manner through questioning by contraries he sets before God’s eyes His own promises; for it follows, would that we had been content, etc., that is to say, If those thy promises be in vain because of our sins, it would have been better for us to have remained on the other side of Jordan: For it will not well agree with Thy Name (Masius).

[That thou mightest deliver us] It is to be taken either permissively, that thou mightest allow us to fall into their hands; or consecutively, that is to say, because thou hast led us across Jordan, behold, now it happens that we are slaughtered by them (Serarius).

[Would that, as we began, we had remained, וְלוּ֙ הוֹאַ֣לְנוּ וַנֵּ֔שֶׁב[6]] Would that we had begun (we had restrained ourselves [Arabic]), and had remained (Montanus). Would that we had willed (we had been content [Masius]), and had remained (Pagnine, Junius). It is a Hebraism (Vatablus), for, would that it had been satisfying, or pleasing, to us to remain (Tigurinus, Munster, Vatablus). Would that we had willed to stay (Junius and Tremellius, Glassius). Two verbs coupled by a conjunction are used among the Hebrews just like a verb with an infinitive among the Latins (Glassius’ “Grammar” 334). The Chaldean has שְׁרָא, which is ambiguous, for it signifies both to begin, and to delay (Masius).

And Joshua said, Alas, etc.: These clauses, though well intended, and offered to God only by way of expostulation and argument, yet do savour of human infirmity, and fall short of that reverence, and modesty, and submission which he owed to God; and are mentioned as instances that the holy men of God were subject to like passions and infirmities with other men.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֲהָ֣הּ׀ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה לָ֠מָה הֵעֲבַ֙רְתָּ הַעֲבִ֜יר אֶת־הָעָ֤ם הַזֶּה֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָתֵ֥ת אֹתָ֛נוּ בְּיַ֥ד הָאֱמֹרִ֖י לְהַאֲבִידֵ֑נוּ וְלוּ֙ הוֹאַ֣לְנוּ וַנֵּ֔שֶׁב בְּעֵ֖בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃

[2] The name Jehovah, יְהוָה, is derived from the verb of being, הָיָה.  See Exodus 3:14:  “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה):  and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM (אֶהְיֶה) hath sent me unto you.”

[3] The Kabbalah is a set of secret, esoteric Rabbinic doctrines, handed down orally and based on a mystical interpretation of the Hebrew Scripture.

[4] Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla (1248-died after 1305) was a Spanish Kabbalist and student of Abraham Abulafia. Sha’are Orah, Gate of Light, is Gikatilla’s most influential work.  In it he discusses the names of God.

[5] See Tractate Sanhedrin 6:2.

[6] יָאַל, in the Hiphil, can signify to undertake, or to will.

Joshua 7:6: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 1

Verse 6:[1] And Joshua (Gen. 37:29, 34) rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and (1 Sam. 4:12; 2 Sam. 1:2; 13:19; Neh. 9:1; Job 2:12) put dust upon their heads.

[He tore] Which was a custom in morning, both public and private (Drusius): as in Genesis 37:29, 34; 44:13; Job 2:12; Matthew 26:65 (Masius). They were in no way thinking that God was going to make light of His promises; but they were gathering that He, having been offended, refused His help, and so their souls were greatly perturbed (Masius).

Joshua rent his clothes, in testimony of great sorrow, as Genesis 37:34; 44:13, for the loss felt, the consequent mischief feared, and the sin which he suspected. Fell to the earth upon his face, in deep humiliation and fervent supplication.

[Before the ark] Before the Tabernacle outside (Bonfrerius). As close as he was able to come, facing the Ark; for, since he was not the High Priest, he was not able to enter the Holy of Holies (Menochius out of Serarius, Bonfrerius). This shows that they yet retained hope in God, whom they remembered often to be prevailed upon on previous occasions (Masius).

Until the eventide; continuing the whole day in fasting and prayer.

[The elders] The Eldership, of whose counsel he was making much use (Masius). They were elders, not so much in age, as in dignity and wisdeom (Drusius).

[Dust upon their heads] As it belonged to custom in mourning, 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 13:19 (Drusius), even among the Heathen, in Homer’s Iliad 18 concerning Achilles, and Virgil’s Æneid 12 (Malvenda out of Masius). They were also sitting in dust (Drusius, Masius). It appears that both ceremonies arose from that in Genesis 3:19, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Masius).

Put dust upon their heads; as was usual in case of grief and astonishment, 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 13:19; Jonah 3:6; Micah 1:10.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרַ֙ע יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ שִׂמְלֹתָ֗יו וַיִּפֹּל֩ עַל־פָּנָ֙יו אַ֜רְצָה לִפְנֵ֙י אֲר֤וֹן יְהוָה֙ עַד־הָעֶ֔רֶב ה֖וּא וְזִקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיַּעֲל֥וּ עָפָ֖ר עַל־רֹאשָֽׁם׃

Joshua 7:4, 5: The Defeat at Ai

Verse 4:[1] So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: (Lev. 26:17; Deut. 28:25) and they fled before the men of Ai.

[Three thousand] He prudently chooses the greater of the two proposed numbers, evidently judging that the enemy was not to be despised. Now, that men of exceptional fortitude were selected for this expedition, is indicated by the word אִישׁ/man,[2] and by Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities 5. Otherwise the blame would have been assigned unto their idleness, and the affront to God would not be attended to, which was needful (Masius).

[Before the men of Ai, לִפְנֵי] The Septuagint not at all absurdly renders it from the face of the men of Ai, as if this was set down in the place of מִפְנֵי or מִלִּפְנֵי, from before the face of: For it is likely that they did not endure even the sight of the enemy, when, none of them in the fight, but several were smitten in flight (Masius).

They fled before the men of Ai: Not having their usual courage to strike a stroke, which was a plain evidence that God had forsaken them; and a useful instruction, to show them what weak and inconsiderable creatures they were when God left them; and that it was God, not their own valour, that gave the Canaanites and their land into their hands.


Verse 5:[3] And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down (or, in Morad[4]): wherefore (Josh. 2:9, 11; Lev. 26:36; Ps. 22:14) the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

[They smote] The sloping and descending way from Ai to Jericho made the fleeing Israelites more liable to injury (Masius). But see, I pray, that all things turn out happily for those that love God, unhappily for those that hate Him. This splendid, as it seems, victory will shortly occasion their destruction; but the Israelites flight will bestow upon them an illustrious victory (Masius).

About thirty and six men; a dear victory to them, whereby Israel was awakened, and reformed, and reconciled to their God and Shield, and they hardened to their own ruin.

[They pursued them from the gate, לִפְנֵ֤י הַשַּׁ֙עַר֙] Toward the faces of the gate[5] (Montanus); before the gate (Jonathan); from the place which was before the gate (Junius and Tremellius); from the gate (Arabic); from before the gate (Masius out of Kimchi). לִפְנֵי/before is in the place of מִלִּפְנֵי, from before; that is, since they had advanced all the way to the gate in order to attack the city, there they were put to flight by the townspeople sallying forth (Masius).

[Unto Shebarim, עַד־הַשְּׁבָרִים[6]] Unto Shebarim (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Masius). The place is so called from the breaking of the army of the Israelites; for שָׁבַר signifies to break (Bonfrerius, Masius). To others the name is appellative; and they translate it, unto the breakings (Montanus), until they shattered them (Jonathan, thus the Septuagint in Masius). Perhaps they read, עַד הִשְׁבִּירוּם, until they broke, or crushed, them (Masius). But who would call an army of three thousand crushed because of thirty-six men struck down (Bonfrerius)? Until they were routed (Syriac); unto the place of routing (Arabic). I would rather translate it, unto the pass, as if the name came to the place from the mountain broken there, etc. (Malvenda).

[Fleeing by the descents, וַיַּכּ֖וּם בַּמּוֹרָ֑ד[7]] And they smote them in the descent (Montanus), on the sloping (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus), understanding, place (Vatablus).

In the going down; by which it seems it was a downhill way to Jericho, which was nearer Jordan.

[It was melted after the likeness of water,וַיְהִ֥י לְמָֽיִם׃ ] And it was unto water (Montanus, Jonathan); that is, as if water (Drusius, Arabic, Syriac). Thus, they shall be unto one flesh, in the place of, as if one flesh[8] (Drusius). To such an extent that it was changed into water (Junius and Tremellius), that is, that it might flow/ melt away like water (Junius). Just like melted ice, which being resolved into water is not able to hold a place (Bonfrerius). Their heart was loosened, trembling, and weak like water (Lapide). They were in an incredibly low frame (Vatablus). As the soul, while it supports itself upon hope, is said to be firm and constant; so, having been cast down from this, it appears soft, fluid, and wavering this way and that. But what is the reason for such perturbation? It is not remarkable that three thousand men were routed by a numerous garrison. But, since they were depending upon the help of God alone, not upon their own strength, they tremble with good reason, since God now appears to stand with their enemies (Masius).

As water, soft and weak, and full of fluctuation and trembling.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲל֤וּ מִן־הָעָם֙ שָׁ֔מָּה כִּשְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֖ים אִ֑ישׁ וַיָּנֻ֕סוּ לִפְנֵ֖י אַנְשֵׁ֥י הָעָֽי׃

[2] אִישׁ/man can convey a sense of fortitude and valor.  See 1 Samuel 4:9; 1 Kings 2:2.

[3] Hebrew: וַיַּכּ֙וּ מֵהֶ֜ם אַנְשֵׁ֣י הָעַ֗י כִּשְׁלֹשִׁ֤ים וְשִׁשָּׁה֙ אִ֔ישׁ וַֽיִּרְדְּפ֞וּם לִפְנֵ֤י הַשַּׁ֙עַר֙ עַד־הַשְּׁבָרִ֔ים וַיַּכּ֖וּם בַּמּוֹרָ֑ד וַיִּמַּ֥ס לְבַב־הָעָ֖ם וַיְהִ֥י לְמָֽיִם׃

[4] Hebrew: בַּמּוֹרָד.

[5] A woodenly literalistic reading.

[6] שְׁבָרִים/Shebarim is related to שֶׁבֶר/breaking/fracture.

[7] מוֹרָד is related to the verbal root יָרַד, to go down.

[8] Genesis 2:24:  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh (וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃).”

Joshua 7:3: The Reconnaissance of Ai, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men (Heb. about two thousand men, or about three thousand men[2]) go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.

[Two or three thousand] Observe here the singular care and paternal benignity of God toward His Church, who by the danger of a small force achieved what was necessary for expiating the sacrilege and confirming military discipline in preparing for the most intense fighting: For a great force could not have been led into peril of that sort without the extreme desperation of all. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted about that ye are able; 1 Corinthians 10:13 (Masius).

Let about two or three thousand men go up, etc.: This was done by the wise contrivance of Divine Providence, that their sin might be punished, and they awakened and reformed, with as little hazard, and mischief, and reproach as might be; for if the defeat of these caused so great a consternation in Joshua, it is easy to guess what dread, and confusion, and despair it would have caused in the people, if a great host had been defeated.

[Why shall it be troubled? אַל־תְּיַגַּע־שָׁמָּה[3]] Do not make to labor thither (Montanus); do not lead thither (Septuagint); do not force there (Syriac, Arabic); do not weary unto that place (Malvenda); do not weary (supply, by leading, or sending) thither (Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, Tigurinus). It has regard, as it appears, to the slope of the mountain. For Ai was on a mountain, Jericho in a plain. Whence they are said to go up here and in verse 4. The Latin translation refers to the trouble in fighting; the Chaldean to the tumult and din that large armies raise (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלָיו֮ אַל־יַ֣עַל כָּל־הָעָם֒ כְּאַלְפַּ֣יִם אִ֗ישׁ א֚וֹ כִּשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֣ים אִ֔ישׁ יַעֲל֖וּ וְיַכּ֣וּ אֶת־הָעָ֑י אַל־תְּיַגַּע־שָׁ֙מָּה֙ אֶת־כָּל־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י מְעַ֖ט הֵֽמָּה׃

[2] Hebrew: כְּאַלְפַּ֣יִם אִ֗ישׁ א֚וֹ כִּשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֣ים אִ֔ישׁ .

[3] יָגַע, to toil, in the Piel conjugation carries a causative sense.

Joshua 7:2: The Reconnaissance of Ai, Part 1

Verse 2:[1] And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.

[And when he sent…men] Not because he distrusted the promises of God (what could be more absurd, after the most recent miracle?), but because he understood that God requires our attention to His will and leadership in most things. In addition, Joshua is moved by Divine impulse, so that the relation of the spies might be the reason for suffering a lesser defeat. For, as the events themselves happen according to the will of Divine providence, so also it is to be considered that the reasons for the events flow forth in a certain order and sequence from the some fount, and are suitable (Masius).

[To Ai] Ai was removed from Jericho by only three leugæ or miles[2] (Masius). There was also another like-named Ai among the Ammonites, Jeremiah 49:3.[3] But this our city is here called הָעַי, the Ai, by eminency, with the article ה prefixed; and also in Nehemiah 11:31, where he calls it עַיָא, making use of the Chaldean tongue, in which א at the end signifies the same thing as ה in the beginning in Hebrew (Masius). The situation of this Ai is so meticulously described, 1. because this city was greater than the Ai of the Ammonites (Vatablus); 2. for the credit of the history (Masius).

Ai, called Hai, Genesis 12:8, and Aija, Nehemiah 11:31. They were not to go into the city of Ai, but into the country bordering and belonging to it, and there to understand the state and quality of the place and people.

[Which is beside Beth-aven[4] (thus Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals, similarly Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius)] עִם/with elsewhere signifies beside, near; as in Judges 9:6, עִם/with, that is, near the oak-forest;[5] and in Judges 18:3, when they were עִם־בֵּית, that is, near the house of Micah; and in Judges 19:11, they were עִם־יְבוּס, that is, near Jebus (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:5:15:756). Thus עִם/with is taken in Genesis 25:11;[6] 35:4.[7] The ancients here published κατὰ/against.[8] Thus this particle is taken in Psalm 94:16[9] (Drusius). Hence it is evident that this place is not Beth-el (although Beth-el is called Beth-aven[10] on account of the worship of iolds, Hosea 4:15; 10:5). Moreover, whether it was a little town, or village, which may have given its name to the nearby wilderness, or indeed the wilderness itself, of which there shall be mention in Joshua 18:12, is uncertain (Masius).

Beside; so the Hebrew עִם/im is used, Genesis 25:11; 35:4; Judges 9:6; 18:3; 19:11. Beth-aven; a city or town distinct from, but nigh unto Beth-el, though Beth-el was afterwards by allusion called Beth-aven, Hosea 4:15; 10:5. Compare Joshua 18:12.

[On the eastern side of Beth-el] The same is said in Joshua 8:9, 12; Genesis 12:8. Therefore, Adrichomius incorrectly states that it is on the western side of Beth-el, unless occidens/west be supposed in the place of oriente/east; which is made more likely in this, that in his Geography he locates it on the eastern side of that city (Bonfrerius). As the beginning of the war is made in the East, so to this point its progress is toward the West. Moreover, from Ai to Bethel there was only a space of one leuga (Masius).

On the east side of Beth-el: compare Genesis 12:8; Joshua 8:9, 12.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַח֩ יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ אֲנָשִׁ֜ים מִֽירִיח֗וֹ הָעַ֞י אֲשֶׁ֙ר עִם־בֵּ֥ית אָ֙וֶן֙ מִקֶּ֣דֶם לְבֵֽית־אֵ֔ל וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר עֲל֖וּ וְרַגְּל֣וּ אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיַּעֲלוּ֙ הָאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַֽיְרַגְּל֖וּ אֶת־הָעָֽי׃

[2] A Roman mile is a little less than the English equivalent; the leuga about a third more.

[3] Ai of the Ammonites was located on the eastern side of Jordan.

[4] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁ֙ר עִם־בֵּ֥ית אָ֙וֶן֙.

[5] Judges 9:6b:  “…and made Abimelech king, by the plain (עִם־אֵלוֹן, or near the terebinth) of the pillar that was in Shechem.”

[6] Genesis 25:11:  “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi (עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי׃).”

[7] Genesis 35:4b:  “…and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem (עִם־שְׁכֶם).”

[8] Thus the Septuagint.

[9] Psalm 94:16:  “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers (עִם־מְרֵעִים;ἐπὶ πονηρευομένους), in the Septuagint)? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity (עִם־פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן׃; ἐπὶ ἐργαζομένους τὴν ἀνομίαν, in the Septuagint)?”

[10] בֵּית־אֵל means House of God; בֵּית אָוֶן, House of Iniquity.

Joshua 7 Outline

Achan takes of the accursed and devoted thing: God is angry with Israel, 1. Joshua sends three thousand men against Ai; they flee, and thirty-six are slain, 2-5. Joshua complains to God; who discovers the cause, and enjoins a lot, 6-15. Achan is found guilty: Joshua’s advice, and his confession, 16-21. He and his are stoned and burnt: the place named The valley of Achor, 22-26.