Joshua 6:18: Herem-Warfare against Jericho, Part 2

Verse 18:[1] And ye, (Deut. 7:26; 13:17; Josh. 7:1, 11, 12) 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, (Josh. 7:25; 1 Kings 18:17, 18; Jonah 1:12) and trouble it.

[But beware, etc. (thus the Syriac), take heed to yourselves (Arabic), וְרַק־אַתֶּם֙ שִׁמְר֣וּ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם] And only keep yourselves from the accursed thing (Montanus). Keep, understanding, yourselves, which they more usually express by הִשָּׁמְרוּ[2] (Drusius). Keep yourselves, etc., that is, each of you thyself, and others themselves. See Joshua 7:1 (Junius).

[Lest concerning these things that are prohibited, etc.,פֶּֽן־תַּחֲרִ֖ימוּ וּלְקַחְתֶּ֣ם מִן־הַחֵ֑רֶם] Lest ye be accursed, that is, lest ye lay hold of the accursed thing. The ו/and is set down exegetically in וּלְקַחְתֶּם, and, or that is, ye take (Drusius out of Kimchi, Lapide out of Masius). Lest perchance, while laying waste, ye lay hold of the Herem[3] (Tigurinus). Lest perchance ye touch anything of what is accursed, and bear away of what is accursed (Pagnine). Lest ye make yourselves accursed, taking of that accursed thing (Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Dutch, Serarius, Bonfrerius). But yourselves is not in the text (Dieu). The Chaldean renders it best, lest ye devote, and receive of the devoted thing; that is, lest, after ye have devoted, ye receive of the devoted thing: lest at one and the same time ye devote, and yet lay hold of those things; for both were not able to stand together: that is to say, Beware, therefore, lest ye do two contrary things (Dieu).

[And all the camps be under sin, וְשַׂמְתֶּם וגו״] And ye put the camps of Israel for an accursed thing, namely, with the occasion of this thing presented. Sometimes an action is attributed, and an active verb, to one concurring through circumstances with an action or effect, although it be not intended by the agent (Glassius’ “Grammar” 298).

[And it be troubled, וַעֲכַרְתֶּם] And ye trouble (Montanus, Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), ye find fault with (Arabic). In the word עָכַר/achar, there is κατὰ παρονομασίαν, by paronomasia,[4] a prelude, as it were, of that matter which shall be narrated in the next chapter: For that man is called both Achar[5] and Achan (Masius).

Make the camp of Israel a curse, by provoking God to punish them for your sin, in which they may be one way or other involved; or at least upon the occasion of your sin: for, to speak properly God will not (the case of Adam’s sin only excepted) punish one man for the sin of another, as he hath oft declared; but the whole camp having sins of their own, God might take what occasion he saw fit to inflict this punishment.

[1] Hebrew: וְרַק־אַתֶּם֙ שִׁמְר֣וּ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם פֶּֽן־תַּחֲרִ֖ימוּ וּלְקַחְתֶּ֣ם מִן־הַחֵ֑רֶם וְשַׂמְתֶּ֞ם אֶת־מַחֲנֵ֤ה יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְחֵ֔רֶם וַעֲכַרְתֶּ֖ם אוֹתֽוֹ׃

[2] In the case of שָׁמַר, the Niphal conjugation can convey a reflexive sense.

[3] Hebrew: חֵרֶם/herem, an accursed thing.

[4] That is, a play on words.

[5] 1 Chronicles 2:7:  “And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israelעָכָר֙ עוֹכֵ֣ר) יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל), who transgressed in the thing accursed.”

1 thought on “Joshua 6:18: Herem-Warfare against Jericho, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: “The rules they were to observe in taking possession: 1. The city must be burnt, and all the lives in it sacrificed without mercy to the justice of God….. 2. All the treasure of it, the money and plate and valuable goods, must be consecrated to the service of the tabernacle, and brought into the stock of dedicated things, the Jews say because the city was taken on the sabbath day. Thus God would be honoured by the beautifying and enriching of his tabernacle; thus preparation was made for the extraordinary expenses of his service; and thus the Israelites were taught not to set their hearts upon worldly wealth nor to aim at heaping up abundance of it for themselves. God had promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, not a land abounding with silver and gold; for he would have them live comfortably in it, that they might serve him cheerfully, but not covet either to trade with distant countries or to hoard for after times. He would likewise have them to reckon themselves enriched in the enriching of the tabernacle, and to think that which was laid up in God’s house as truly their honour and wealth as if it had been laid up in their own. 3. A particular caution is given them to take heed of meddling with the forbidden spoil; for what was devoted to God, if they offered to appropriate it to their own use, would prove accursed to them; therefore (Joshua 6:18) ‘In any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing; you will find yourselves inclined to reach towards it, but check yourselves, and frighten yourselves from having any thing to do with it.’ He speaks as if he foresaw the sin of Achan, which we have an account of in the next chapter, when he gives this reason for the caution, lest you make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it, as it proved that Achan did.”

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