Joshua 10:22, 23: The Five Kings Called to Account

Verse 22:[1] Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.


Verse 23:[2] And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ פִּתְח֖וּ אֶת־פִּ֣י הַמְּעָרָ֑ה וְהוֹצִ֣יאוּ אֵלַ֗י אֶת־חֲמֵ֛שֶׁת הַמְּלָכִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה מִן־הַמְּעָרָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיַּ֣עֲשׂוּ כֵ֔ן וַיֹּצִ֣יאוּ אֵלָ֗יו אֶת־חֲמֵ֛שֶׁת הַמְּלָכִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה מִן־הַמְּעָרָ֑ה אֵ֣ת׀ מֶ֣לֶךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַ֗ם אֶת־מֶ֤לֶךְ חֶבְרוֹן֙ אֶת־מֶ֣לֶךְ יַרְמ֔וּת אֶת־מֶ֥לֶךְ לָכִ֖ישׁ אֶת־מֶ֥לֶךְ עֶגְלֽוֹן׃

Joshua 8:7, 8: Springing the Trap at Ai

Verse 7:[1] Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.

Ye shall rise up from the ambush, to wit, upon the signal given, of which verse 18.

[And ye shall ravage the city (thus Munster, Tigurinus),וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הָעִ֑יר[2]] And ye shall drive away, that is, ye shall destroy (Vatablus). Ye shall cast them out, and destroy them from the city (thus Jonathan and many Hebrews, Munster). Ye shall expel the city, that is, its survivors, the inhabitants remaining in the city (Drusius out of Junius). But the men of war were not able to be expelled; they had all gone forth, verse 17. Neither were those remaining to be expelled, but to be killed (Piscator). Ye extirpate the city (Jonathan, Arabic); ye shall destroy the city (Syriac).


Verse 8:[3] And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. (2 Sam. 13:28) See, I have commanded you.

Ye shall set the city on fire, to wit, part of it, as a sign to their brethren of their success; for the whole city was not burnt now, but afterwards, as is said verse 28.

[As I have commanded[4]] Behold, I have commanded you. He appears to allude obliquely to the example of Achan; to whom it was destruction not to have obeyed the Divine commands (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְאַתֶּ֗ם תָּקֻ֙מוּ֙ מֵהָ֣אוֹרֵ֔ב וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הָעִ֑יר וּנְתָנָ֛הּ יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶֽם׃

[2] יָרַשׁ, to possess or dispossess, in the Hiphil signifies to cause take possession, or to dispossess.

[3] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֞ה כְּתָפְשְׂכֶ֣ם אֶת־הָעִ֗יר תַּצִּ֤יתוּ אֶת־הָעִיר֙ בָּאֵ֔שׁ כִּדְבַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה תַּעֲשׂ֑וּ רְא֖וּ צִוִּ֥יתִי אֶתְכֶֽם׃

[4] Hebrew: רְא֖וּ צִוִּ֥יתִי אֶתְכֶֽם׃.

Joshua 7:14: The Lot Prescribed for the Discovery of the Sin, Part 2

Verse 14:[1] In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which (Prov. 16:33) the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.

[And ye shall approach, וְנִקְרַבְתֶּם] It is in the Niphal, but use has given to it a reflexive sense, as in the Hithpael (Masius).

[By your tribes[2] (thus Junius and Tremellius, Masius, Vatablus, Pagnine)] According to your tribes (Jonathan, Munster, Tigurinus). Ye shall assemble to your Tribes (Vatablus), to tribes (Montanus).

[Which the lot may find] Hebrew: which Jehovah shall take[3] (Vatablus), that is, He indicates, or accuses (Masius, Drusius). Which He might take, as a wild beast is taken in a snare, trying to flee the hunter (Piscator). It is asked concerning the mode of inquisition. 1. The Rabbis imagine that, while the Tribes, etc., stood before the Ark, the guilty was not able to move (Masius). 2. Others maintain that this was accomplished through the Urim and Thummim, and that the gem that had the name of the Tribe of the guilty revealed the fault by the obscuring of its name. But then perhaps the inquiry into the discovered Tribe’s families, households, and individuals was by the drawn lot. Thus the Ancients in the Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer[4] (Masius). But if lots were used in the case of the latter questions, why not in that former question concerning the tribe (Bonfrerius). 3. By lot (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius, Masius, Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator, Serarius, Malvenda): and that by the hands of a Prophet before the Ark, as in the sight of God. Thus elsewhere they made use of the lot, 1 Samuel 14:41, 42; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26 (Masius). Now, the casting of lots is ascribed to God, because the lot falls correctly at His will. See Proverbs 16:33. The process is by steps, from tribes to families, etc., 1. for the sake of avoiding confusion; 2. for the sake of avoiding fraud: For who would not suppose that the individual Tribes had a known number of their families and had a knowledge of the names; and thus the families of their households, and the households of their individuals? Now, in such a multitude hardly any vessel would be able to contain the names of the individuals, and anyone was easily able to give no name, or another name, instead of his own (Masius). Moreover, in the place of the whole tribe were present φύλαρχοι or tribunes, in the place of a family δήμαρχοι or heads of families, in the place of households fathers of households. Finally, with the household brought forward, all and each came into the midst (Masius, Menochius). 3. So that the guilty, while he sees that he is continually sought be God, 1. in his tribe, 2. in his family, 3. in his household, might of his own accord give himself up as a suppliant, before being revealed by the lot, and might beg forgiveness; for which even at that point there was clearly a place (Masius). And his stubbornness was extreme, because he waited for the judgment of God to be made concerning him by name. It was similar in the case of Judas, Matthew 26. But Satan has a thousand ways by which he hardens the minds of men, so that it might not be possible for them to repent of their sins. For example, 1. Achan was able to think that compliance was not to be yielded to that new edict concerning the anathema as contrary to the will of God, Deuteronomy 20:14, thou shalt take the spoils for thyself. 2. Or, he thought that many others were guilty, and that they were sought by the lot, not him. 3. Or, a fear of infamy, or vainglorious ostentation, moved him (Masius). Question: How did it happen that, with so severe a sentence given, Achan did not then give himself to flight? Responses: 1. There were the camps, and those surrounded on every side guards and watches, and all now full of suspicion. 2. Perhaps he though his deed hidden from God, like those in Job 22:13. 3. He was suspicious of the Prince, as if he feigned that the lot was prescribed by God. 4. There was a remarkable thoughtlessness and stupor in him, of which sort we often observe in murderers. 5. He willed to take exception against the mode of inquisition, as false, especially when the life or reputation of a man is treated (Serarius). And therefore the ancient Jews say that the tribe of Judah took up arms over this matter, and did not put them down until the confession of Achan (Masius). 6. Perhaps he, repenting of the deed, stayed to await judgment from God (Bonfrerius).

Which the Lord taketh; which shall be discovered or declared guilty by the lot, which is disposed by the Lord, Proverbs 16:33, and which was to be cast in the Lord’s presence before the ark. Of such use of lots, see 1 Samuel 14:41, 42; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26.

[1] Hebrew: וְנִקְרַבְתֶּ֥ם בַּבֹּ֖קֶר לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָיָ֡ה הַשֵּׁבֶט֩ אֲשֶׁר־יִלְכְּדֶ֙נּוּ יְהוָ֜ה יִקְרַ֣ב לַמִּשְׁפָּח֗וֹת וְהַמִּשְׁפָּחָ֞ה אֲשֶֽׁר־יִלְכְּדֶ֤נָּה יְהוָה֙ תִּקְרַ֣ב לַבָּתִּ֔ים וְהַבַּ֙יִת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִלְכְּדֶ֣נּוּ יְהוָ֔ה יִקְרַ֖ב לַגְּבָרִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם.

[3] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁר־יִלְכְּדֶ֙נּוּ יְהוָ֜ה.

[4] Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was one of the greatest rabbis of the first and second centuries of the Christian era, and was a member of the Sanhedrin at Jamnia.  His work is marked by great commitment to the Scriptures and strict adherence to the traditional teaching of the rabbis that preceded him. Pirke de-Rabbi Elizer is an aggadic retelling of Biblical stories; although its compositional history is complex, it is traditionally ascribed to Rabbi Eliezer.

Joshua 7:1: Achan’s Sin, and God’s Anger Against Israel

Verse 1:[1] But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for (Josh. 22:20) Achan (Achar, 1 Chron. 2:7), the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi (or, Zimri, 1 Chron. 2:6), the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

[The children of Israel] By a Synecdoche; that is, one of them. Thus in Matthew 26:8, the disciples seeing is used of one, Judas, John 12:4 (Drusius out of Masius). The sin of one is attributed to the whole society: 1. So that is might be shown how detestable sin is to God (Lapide, Masius). 2. For the sake of restoring discipline, and of deterring the people from wickedness. 3. So that they might be careful, not of themselves alone, but of others, as of members of the same body, whose society is reckoned to be common, as in the condition of life, so also in virtues and vices (Masius): especially, so that he might teach overseers to be vigilant over their charges individually (Lapide). 4. Lest the sense of Divine providence be lost from the souls of men, He shows Himself to be the judge of our actions. And who supposes that in so great a crowd of such a people there were not many guilty of grievous outrages (Masius)? Some prudently regard these reasons for the Divine judgments to be hidden, which are rather to be admired by us than to be condemned or imitated (Malvenda). Thus in Virgil the Achæan fleet is destroyed on account of the crime and fury of one, Ajax of Oileus[2] (Grotius). The sons of Israel: It is an Enallage of number, as in Genesis 8:4; 19:29 (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:17:212); and in Matthew 2:20, they are dead, is used of Herod. Or the sense is, Of the sons of Israel, Achan with his, who appear to have been sharers in the crime (Estius).

The children of Israel, that is, one of them, by a very usual synecdoche or enallage, as Genesis 8:4; 19:29; Matthew 26:8, where that is ascribed to the disciples, which belonged to Judas only, John 12:4.

[They transgressed the command, וַיִּמְעֲל֧וּ—מַ֖עַל בַּחֵ֑רֶם] And they transgressed a transgression in the accursed thing (Malvenda, Jonathan, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine), that is, in the very sin of sacrilege, taking of the accursed thing (Malvenda). Others: against the accursed thing, that is, against the law concerning the accursed thing. Symmachus translates מָעַל, to transgress, καταγινώσκειν, that is, to disregard with contempt: the Septuagint has ἐνοσφίσαντο, that is, they stealthily draw off, and they took for themselves (Masius).

In the accursed thing, that is, in taking some of the forbidden and accursed goods.

[Achan[3]] It is formed from עָכַר, to trouble,[4] by substitution of one letter. He is called עָכָר/Achar in 1 Chronicles 2:7 (Masius). It appears that he was previously called Achan; afterwards, from the event, Achar (Bonfrerius).

[The son of Carmi, son of Zabdi[5]] Who is called Zimri in 1 Chronicles 2:6[6] (and also by the Septuagint in this place[7] [Bonfrerius]): either, as a result of the similitude of the letters ב/b and ר/r (as the Masorah notes was done elsewhere); or, he had two names (Serarius). Question 1: Why is the genealogy of Achan given so meticulously? Responses: 1. So that he might be distinguished from others of the same name (Menochius out of Serarius). 2. This has regard unto the manner of investigation[8] (Masius, Serarius, Menochius). 3. So that he might aggravate the infamy of the sin, which also pertains to the fathers, who perhaps raised the son more indulgently than was fitting. 4. So that the common concern of all might be stirred to avoid the common stain of infamy, and anyone that would carelessly ignore, much less foster, the scandals of his neighbor is not properly self-aware. Compare Numbers 25:14 (Masius). 5. So that it might be a source of consolation to the most honorable families, when they see that in a distinguished house formerly there was one degenerate and infamous (Serarius). 6. So that the shame of the sinner might be increased, who was of so illustrious a tribe (Menochius). Question 2: How is it that from Judah unto this time, that is, through two hundred and sixty years, only four generations are enumerated (Serarius)? Response: If between each generation we interject seventy years (which at that time was not incredible), the number shall be made up (Bonfrerius). But also a fifth generation is here signified, when mention is made of the sons of Achan in verse 24 (Serarius).

Zabdi; called also Zimri, 1 Chronicles 2:6. Zerah, or, Zarah, who was Judah’s immediate son, Genesis 38:30, who went with Judah into Egypt; and so for the filling up the two hundred and fifty-six years that are supposed to come between that and this time, we must allow Achan to be now an old man, and his three ancestors to have begotten each his son at about sixty years of age, which at that time was not incredible nor unusual. Against the children of Israel. Why did God punish the whole society for this one man’s sin? Answer. All of them were punished for their own sins, whereof each had a sufficient proportion; but God took this occasion to inflict the punishment upon the society, partly, because divers of them might be guilty of this sin, either by coveting what he actually did, or by concealing of his fault, which it is probable could not be unknown to others, or by not sorrowing for it, and endeavouring to purge themselves from it; partly, to make sin the more hateful, as being the cause of such dreadful and public judgments; and partly, to oblige all the members of every society to be both more circumspect in the ordering of their own actions, and more diligent to watch over one another, and to prevent the miscarriages of their brethren, which is a great benefit and blessing to them, and to the whole society, and worthy to be purchased by a sharp affliction upon the society.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּמְעֲל֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מַ֖עַל בַּחֵ֑רֶם וַיִּקַּ֡ח עָכָ֣ן בֶּן־כַּרְמִי֩ בֶן־זַבְדִּ֙י בֶן־זֶ֜רַח לְמַטֵּ֤ה יְהוּדָה֙ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֥ף יְהוָ֖ה בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Æneid 1; 2.  Ajax the Lesser, the son of King Oileus of Locris, was one of the semi-mythical heroes of the Trojan War.  After the war, he is said to have dragged Cassandra from the altar and raped her.  This provocation of the gods leads to the destruction of his entire fleet.

[3] Hebrew: עָכָן.

[4] Joshua 7:25a:  “And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee (מֶ֣ה עֲכַרְתָּ֔נוּ יַעְכֳּרְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה) this day.”

[5] Hebrew: זַבְדִּי.

[6] Hebrew: זִמְרִי.

[7] Greek: Ζαμβρὶ/Zambri.

[8] See verses 14-18.

Joshua 6:11-14: The Single Procession of the Six Days

Verse 11:[1] So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

[It compassed, וַיַּסֵּב] They translate it, he led around (Tigurinus, Munster), he, understanding Joshua, made to go round (Vatablus). He saw to it that the Ark was carried around by the priests (Kimchi in Masius). For it is in the Hiphil[2] (Masius). But the Hiphil is often taken in the place of the Qal (Lapide, similarly Masius). Therefore, others translate it, it went around: thus the Septuagint, the Chaldean in Masius, Pagnine, Masius and all (Lapide).

[Having returned to camp[3]] And they came into the camp, namely, the men (Septuagint and Symmachus). It came in and spent the night, as if it is to be taken of the Ark, not of the men. But this makes no difference, since it is certain that the Ark was not left by the men (Masius).


Verse 12:[4] And Joshua rose early in the morning, (Deut. 31:25) and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.


Verse 13:[5] 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.

[Walking, הֹלְכִ֣ים הָל֔וֹךְ[6]] Going (they were going [Piscator]) by going (Montanus); to go proceeding (Junius and Tremellius).


Verse 14:[7] And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּסֵּ֤ב אֲרוֹן־יְהוָה֙ אֶת־הָעִ֔יר הַקֵּ֖ף פַּ֣עַם אֶחָ֑ת וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיָּלִ֖ינוּ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃

[2] The Hiphil conjugation frequently conveys a causative sense.

[3] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה.

[4] Hebrew: וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֥ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ בַּבֹּ֑קֶר וַיִּשְׂא֥וּ הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים אֶת־אֲר֥וֹן יְהוָֽה׃

[5] Hebrew: וְשִׁבְעָ֣ה הַכֹּהֲנִ֡ים נֹשְׂאִים֩ שִׁבְעָ֙ה שׁוֹפְר֜וֹת הַיֹּבְלִ֗ים לִפְנֵי֙ אֲר֣וֹן יְהוָ֔ה הֹלְכִ֣ים הָל֔וֹךְ וְתָקְע֖וּ בַּשּׁוֹפָר֑וֹת וְהֶחָלוּץ֙ הֹלֵ֣ךְ לִפְנֵיהֶ֔ם וְהַֽמְאַסֵּ֗ף הֹלֵךְ֙ אַֽחֲרֵי֙ אֲר֣וֹן יְהוָ֔ה הוֹלֵ֖ךְ וְתָק֥וֹעַ בַּשּׁוֹפָרֽוֹת׃

[6] Joshua 6:13a:  “And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually (הֹלְכִ֣ים הָל֔וֹךְ), and blew with the trumpets…”

[7] Hebrew: וַיָּסֹ֙בּוּ אֶת־הָעִ֜יר בַּיּ֤וֹם הַשֵּׁנִי֙ פַּ֣עַם אַחַ֔ת וַיָּשֻׁ֖בוּ הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה כֹּ֥ה עָשׂ֖וּ שֵׁ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים׃

Joshua 6:10: The Silence of the Procession

Verse 10:[1] And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice (Heb. make your voice to be heard[2]), neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

[Ye shall not shout] He orders the people to be silent in every way; 1. so that they might attentively listen to the voice of God, speaking, as it were, and bringing help: For this was signified by the sounding, Numbers 10:9. God willed that they return to the memory of those promises, and that they contemplate those in their soul, and rest in those believingly. And certainly to be silent sometimes signifies to rest in the grace and goodness of God, Psalm 4:4; 131:2; Lamentations 3:26. 2. Lest they should think that their noise and shouting contributed anything to the victory (Masius).

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.

[1] Hebrew: וְאֶת־הָעָם֩ צִוָּ֙ה יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ לֵאמֹ֗ר לֹ֤א תָרִ֙יעוּ֙ וְלֹֽא־תַשְׁמִ֣יעוּ אֶת־קוֹלְכֶ֔ם וְלֹא־יֵצֵ֥א מִפִּיכֶ֖ם דָּבָ֑ר עַ֠ד י֣וֹם אָמְרִ֧י אֲלֵיכֶ֛ם הָרִ֖יעוּ וַהֲרִיעֹתֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וְלֹֽא־תַשְׁמִ֣יעוּ אֶת־קוֹלְכֶ֔ם.

Exegetical Studies in Poole’s Synopsis: History of Early English Bible Translation


In the late-seventeenth century, the Puritan divine and Biblical scholar, Matthew Poole, compiled his massive and masterly Synopsis Criticorum, a verse-by verse history of interpretation, drawing together the exegetical wealth of the ages. His thought: To set the most important interpreters and interpretive positions side-by-side, for the help of the student of God’s Word.  His achievement:  The ascended Christ promised to provide faithful teachers for His Church in all ages; the Synopsis is a record of their testimony.

These Exegetical Studies in Poole’s Synopsis are intended to capture some of the sweetest, most informative and edifying sections in a readily accessible format.

This particular extract provides a history of early English Bible translation. God has blessed the English-speaking world with a noble translation, hardly rivaled in any age or language. Let the disciple give continual thanks, and show himself to be a disciple indeed, in the unwearied study of God’s oracles…in English!

Joshua 5:9: The Mysterious Case of Israel’s Circumcision at Gilgal, Part 6

Verse 9:[1] And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

[I have taken away the reproach of Egypt, גַּלּוֹתִי] I rolled away (Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius out of the Hebrews, Masius). To roll away reproach from someone is to free him from disgrace and shame, and to render to him his dignity, Psalm 119:22[2] (Masius). Question: What is the reproach of Egypt here? Responses: 1. The shame that the Egyptians were casting upon the Israelites, namely, that the Lord led them out so that He might destroy them.[3] This now ceased, when God had introduced them into the land of Canaan (Vatablus, Menochius). Thus Ralbag [that is, Rabbi Levi Ben Gershon]. And perhaps the Egyptians that were with the Israelites in the desert either privately or publicly reproached the Israelites (Menochius). From these jeers God now freed them, while He by means of circumcision assures them of the possession of the land of Canaan (Rabbi Levi in Masius). 2. This is said, because both in customs and manner of life they are yet more able to be called Egyptians than Hebrews, and they, not yet having been circumcised, are able in nothing to be distinguished from them. To this these words have regard, that they might thoroughly blot out the desire of Egypt from their souls, and, with the vice-filled manners of that people left behind, might direct their life by the standard prescribed to them by Moses (Masius). That is to say, You, bound to me by a new covenant of circumcision, and already brought into possession of the Promised Land, I will to strip of depraved rites and manners (which you have imbibed from the Egyptians), and especially the desire of the land of Egypt, which was your greates disgrace and shame (Malvenda). 3. This shame is Egyptian servitude: They are said to be freed from the reproach of Egypt, because, having been sent through circumcision unto possession of the land of Canaan, they are now lords of the Promised Land, who were just recently the slaves of the Egyptians (Theodotion in Masius). 4. To others this shame is the foreskin, which, just as it had always adhered to the Egyptians, so also to the Israelites for forty years now (Serarius, thus Bonfrerius, Estius, Menochius, Lapide, Piscator, Munster). Which was shameful, because it was a sign that they were strangers to the covenant of God (Piscator), and it was accounted as shameful by the Israelites. See Genesis 34:14; 1 Samuel 14:6; 17:26. But why is this called the reproach of Egypt, when all other nations were uncircumcised, and the Egyptians were wont to circumcise themselves, Jeremiah 9:25, 26; Herodotus’[4] The Histories 2 (Serarius)? Diodorus Siculus in his Historical Library[5] 1, and Strabo in his Geography 17, and Philo in Concerning Circumcision, testify to the same thing. Responses: 1. In later times they received circumcision, but not at this time, as Exodus 2:6 teaches, in which the infant Moses was recognized to be a Hebrew from his circumcision. 2. Because the uncircumcision of the Egyptians was more familiar to them than of others (Bonfrerius, Serarius). 3. Because the Idumæans and neighbors of the posterity of Abraham are thought with some likelihood to have been circumcised (Estius). 4. The Egyptians were turning it to their disgrace, that circumcision, which they so much commended, they themselves neglected for so long a time (Serarius). 5. They were liable to this ignominy for the reason that they had dwelt in Egypt for so long (Vatablus). 6. It is called the reproach of Egypt, that is, drawn from Egypt, because that omission happened on account of this cause, that they longed to return into Egypt, and, although they were not able actually to return, in heart they always hoped for it, and therefore by the office of circumcision they desisted (Junius in Serarius). But this was refuted above (Serarius). 5. To others this ignominy was the belief that some had that they had worshipped the Egyptian gods (Hebrews in Vatablus).

The reproach of Egypt, that is, uncircumcision, which was both in truth, and in the opinion of the Jews, a matter of great reproach, Genesis 34:14; 1 Samuel 14:6; 17:26. And although this was a reproach common to most nations of the world, yet it is particularly called the reproach of Egypt; either, 1. Because the other neighbouring nations, being the children of Abraham by the concubines, are supposed to have been circumcised, which the Egyptians at this time were not, as may be gathered from Exodus 2:6, where they knew the child to be an Hebrew by this mark. Or, 2. Because they came out of Egypt, and were esteemed to be a sort of Egyptians, Numbers 22:5, which they justly thought a great reproach; but by their circumcision they were now distinguished from them, and manifested to be another kind of people. Or, 3. Because many of them lay under this reproach in Egypt, having wickedly neglected this duty there for worldly reasons; and others of them continued in the same shameful condition for many years in the wilderness.

[And it was called] Hebrew: and he called,[6] namely, Joshua, or God, or he that imposed the name on that place (Malvenda, Masius). Or passively, after the manner of the Hebrews, it was called (Malvenda).

[Gilgal] Namely, because of the shame rolled away from them (Malvenda).

[Unto the present day] Therefore, this book was written long after the times of Joshua (Piscator). [But others deny that this is rightly concluded, as previously noted.]

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ הַיּ֗וֹם גַּלּ֛וֹתִי אֶת־חֶרְפַּ֥ת מִצְרַ֖יִם מֵעֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֞א שֵׁ֣ם הַמָּק֤וֹם הַהוּא֙ גִּלְגָּ֔ל עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[2] Psalm 119:22:  “Remove (גַּל) from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.”

[3] Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 9:28.

[4] Herodotus (c. 484-c. 425) was a Greek historian, sometimes called “The Father of History”.

[5] Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-c. 30 BC), a Greek historian, wrote the massive Bibliotheca Historica in forty books.  Unhappily, only fifteen books have survived.

[6] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָא.

Joshua 5:4-6: The Mysterious Case of Israel’s Circumcision at Gilgal, Part 3

Verse 4:[1] And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: (Num. 14:29; 26:64, 65; Deut. 2:16) All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

[Now, this is the cause, etc., וְזֶ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר אֲשֶׁר־מָ֣ל] And this is the word for which reason he circumcised (Montanus). Now, in this manner he thoroughly purged (Septuagint). Now, these are they that he circumcised (Syriac). This is the cause because of which, etc. (Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly Junius and Tremellius); thus in Genesis 12, עַל־דְּבַר, on account of the cause of Abraham, that is, because of Abraham.[2] It is closely related that דָּבָר is put in the place of case, matter of dispute, lawsuit, Exodus 18:16.[3] This is the word, that is, the thing; Metonomy of adjunct (Piscator). Thus, not any thing, πᾶν ῥῆμα, any word, is impossible with God, Luke 1:37 (Drusius).

[All the people] Take it of those alone that had kept themselves from that sin, concerning which Numbers 14 (Masius).

All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness: This is to be restrained to such as were then above twenty years old, and such as were guilty of that rebellion, Numbers 14, as it is expressed below, Joshua 5:6.


Verse 5:[4] Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

They; either their parents, or the rulers of Israel, whose omission hereof was not through neglect; for then God, who had ordered the neglecter of circumcision to be cut off, Genesis 17:14, would not have left so gross a fault unpunished; but by Divine permission and indulgence; partly because they were now in a journey, in which case the passover also might be neglected, Numbers 9:10, 13, and in that journey the passover was but once observed; and partly because there was not so great a necessity of this note of circumcision to distinguish them from other nations, whilst they dwelt alone and unmixed in the wilderness, as there was afterwards.


Verse 6:[5] For the children of Israel walked (Num. 14:33; Deut. 1:3; 2:7, 14; Ps. 95:10) forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that (Num. 14:23; Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11) he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, (Exod. 3:8) a land that floweth with milk and honey.

[For forty years] But the Septuagint has forty-two. Evidently they supposed that those forty years in Numbers 14:33, fixed and determined from that fateful day, are to be numbered. For at that time they had already spent two years from their departure from Egypt, and additionally some few months, in the wilderness. But Moses himself reckons forty years, and no more, unto the plains of Moab. But concerning these things, see further discussion on Joshua 11:18 (Masius).

All the people; the Hebrew word commonly signifies the Gentiles;[6] so he calls them, to note that they were unworthy of the name and privileges of Israelites.

[Until they were consumed, who had not hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and to whom He had previously sworn that He would not show the land to them,אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֖וּ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע יְהוָה֙ לָהֶ֔ם וגו״[7]] Who had not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah: namely, to whom He had sworn, etc. (Pagnine, Dutch). Who had not acquiesced to the speech of God in which He had sworn (Arabic, Jonathan). Who had not listened to the voice of Jehovah: to such an extent that He swore, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). Because they did not hearken to the voice of the Lord, and because the Lord swore to them (Tigurinus) (or, whence also the Lord swore to them [Munster]). Because they had not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah, and the Lord had sworn to them (Syriac). The connection of the words is quite intricate, but has this sense: Who, I say, perished along the way in the desert, etc., because they had not obeyed the voice of the Lord; they are they to whom the Lord swore that He was not going to give the land, etc. (Masius). It is to be observed here that those sinners are called, not His people, but גּוֹי/nation,[8] in this verse (and also in verse 8[9]), that is, by an odious term, and which generally signified profane men and strangers to the covenant, from which they had made themselves strangers through that scandal. Moreover, the change of person in this verse, whereby it is said that He was going to give to us, in the place of He was going to give to their seed, indicates the antithesis between those descendants that degenerate from them through vice, and those that tread in their footsteps (Masius).

He would not show them, that is, not give them so much as a sight of it, which he granted to Moses, much less the possession and enjoyment of it. Or showing is put for giving, as it is Psalm 4:6; 60:3; Ecclesiastes 2:24.[10]

[1] Hebrew: וְזֶ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר אֲשֶׁר־מָ֣ל יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ כָּל־הָעָ֣ם הַיֹּצֵא֩ מִמִּצְרַ֙יִם הַזְּכָרִ֜ים כֹּ֣ל׀ אַנְשֵׁ֣י הַמִּלְחָמָ֗ה מֵ֤תוּ בַמִּדְבָּר֙ בַּדֶּ֔רֶךְ בְּצֵאתָ֖ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃

[2] Genesis 12:17:  “And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife (עַל־דְּבַ֥ר שָׂרַ֖י אֵ֥שֶׁת אַבְרָֽם׃).”

[3] Exodus 18:16:  “When they have a matter (כִּֽי־יִהְיֶ֙ה לָהֶ֤ם דָּבָר֙), they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.”

[4] Hebrew: כִּֽי־מֻלִ֣ים הָי֔וּ כָּל־הָעָ֖ם הַיֹּֽצְאִ֑ים וְכָל־הָ֠עָם הַיִּלֹּדִ֙ים בַּמִּדְבָּ֥ר בַּדֶּ֛רֶךְ בְּצֵאתָ֥ם מִמִּצְרַ֖יִם לֹא־מָֽלוּ׃

[5] Hebrew: כִּ֣י׀ אַרְבָּעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֗ה הָלְכ֣וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ בַּמִּדְבָּר֒ עַד־תֹּ֙ם כָּל־הַגּ֜וֹי אַנְשֵׁ֤י הַמִּלְחָמָה֙ הַיֹּצְאִ֣ים מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֖וּ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע יְהוָה֙ לָהֶ֔ם לְבִלְתִּ֞י הַרְאוֹתָ֣ם אֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֩ נִשְׁבַּ֙ע יְהוָ֤ה לַֽאֲבוֹתָם֙ לָ֣תֶת לָ֔נוּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ׃

[6] Hebrew: כָּל־הַגּוֹי.

[7] אֲשֶׁר can serve as a relative, or a causal, particle.

[8] גּוֹי is a normal way to refer to a Gentile nation.

[9] Joshua 5:8:  “And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people (כָל־הַגּוֹי), that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.”

[10] Ecclesiastes 2:24:  “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should show (וְהֶרְאָה) his soul good in his labour.  This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”

Exegetical Studies in Poole’s Synopsis: An Apologetic Point concerning Supposed Contradictions in the Bible

Apologetic Point

In the late-seventeenth century, the Puritan divine and Biblical scholar, Matthew Poole, compiled his massive and masterly Synopsis Criticorum (Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters), a verse-by verse history of interpretation, setting the most important interpreters and interpretive positions side-by-side, for the help of the student of God’s Word.

These Exegetical Studies in Poole’s Synopsis are intended to capture some of the sweetest, most informative and edifying sections in a readily accessible format, to encourage Christians in indepth Bible study.

Much of the History of Interpretation is taken up with the reconciliation of apparent contradictions.  In this excerpt, Poole promises in the Preface to his Synopsis to give special and detailed attention to these problematic texts in the body of his Work.  However, before taking up the particular texts, he makes an important and powerful apologetic point from the history of Biblical interpretation, as only a Master of the History of Interpretation could.