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.

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

  1. Matthew Henry: “We have here God’s answer to Joshua’s address, which, we may suppose, came from the oracle over the ark, before which Joshua had prostrated himself, Joshua 7:6. Those that desire to know the will of God must attend with their desires upon the lively oracles, and wait at wisdom’s gates for wisdom’s dictates, Proverbs 8:34. And let those that find themselves under the tokens of God’s displeasure never complain of him, but complain to him, and they shall receive an answer of peace. The answer came immediately, while he was yet speaking (Isaiah 65:24), as that to Daniel, Daniel 9:20, etc.

    God encourages Joshua against his present despondencies, and the black and melancholy apprehensions he had of the present posture of Israel’s affairs (Joshua 7:10): ‘Get thee up, suffer not thy spirits to droop and sink thus; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?’ No doubt Joshua did well to humble himself before God, and mourn as he did, under the tokens of his displeasure; but now God told him it was enough, he would not have him continue any longer in that melancholy posture, for God delights not in the grief of penitents when they afflict their souls further than as it qualifies them for pardon and peace; the days even of that mourning must be ended. Arise, shake thyself from the dust, Isaiah 53:2. Joshua continued his mourning till eventide (Joshua 7:6), so late that they could do nothing that night towards the discovery of the criminal, but were forced to put it off till next morning. Daniel (Daniel 9:21), and Ezra (Ezra 9:5, 6), continued their mourning only till the time of the evening sacrifice; that revived them both: but Joshua went past that time, and therefore is thus roused: ‘Get thee up, do not lie all night there.’ Yet we find that Moses fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, to make intercession for Israel, Deuteronomy 9:18. Joshua must get up because he has other work to do than to lie there; the accursed thing must be discovered and cast out, and the sooner the better; Joshua is the man that must do it, and therefore it is time for him to lay aside his mourning weeds, and put on his judge’s robes, and clothe himself with zeal as a cloak. Weeping must not hinder sowing, nor one duty of religion jostle out another. Every thing is beautiful in its season. Shechaniah perhaps had an eye to this in what he said to Ezra upon a like occasion. See Ezra 10:2-4.”

  2. Charles Bridges, “Psalm 119”: “Now let me sift the character of my profession. Is it an habitual, persevering, overcoming conflict with sin? Do I not sometimes indulge in fruitless bemoanings of my state, when I had far better be exercising myself in vigorous actings of grace? If I find ‘my soul cleaving to the dust,’ am I not sometimes ‘lying on my face’ (Joshua 7:10), when I ought to be “taking heaven by violence” (Matthew 11:12), by importunate petitions for quickening grace? Are my prayers invigorated by confidence in the word of God? Oh! let me remember that ‘they that wait upon the Lord’ shall shake off the dust to which they have cleaved so long, and ‘shall mount with wings like eagles’ (Isaiah 40:31), to take possession of their heavenly home.

    O Lord, make me more deeply ashamed, that ‘my soul should cleave to the dust.’ Breathe upon me fresh influence from thy quickening Spirit. Help me to plead thy word of promise; and oh! may every fresh view of my sinfulness, while it prostrates me in self-abasement before thee, be overruled to make the Saviour daily and hourly more precious to my soul. For defiled as I am in myself, in every service of my heart, what but the unceasing application of his blood, and the uninterrupted prevalence of his intercession, give me a moment’s confidence before thee, or prevent the very sins that mingle with my prayers from sealing my condemnation? Blessed Saviour! it is nothing but thy everlasting merit, covering my person, and honouring my sacrifice, that satisfies the justice of an offended God, and restrains it from breaking forth as a devouring fire, to consume me upon my very knees.”

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