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׃).”

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

  1. Matthew Henry: “God awakens Joshua to enquire further into it, by telling him, 1. That this was the only ground for the controversy God had with them, this, and nothing else; so that when this accursed thing was put away he needed not fear, all would be well, the stream of their successes, when this one obstruction was removed, would run as strong as ever. 2. That if this accursed thing were not destroyed they could not expect the return of God’s gracious presence; in plain terms, neither will I be with you any more as I have been, except you destroy the accursed, that is, the accursed person, who is made so by the accursed thing. That which is accursed will be destroyed; and those whom God has entrusted to bear the sword bear it in vain if they make it not a terror to that wickedness which brings these judgments of God on a land. By personal repentance and reformation, we destroy the accursed thing in our own hearts, and, unless we do this, we must never expect the favour of the blessed God. Let all men know that it is nothing but sin that separates between them and God, and, if it be not sincerely repented of and forsaken, it will separate eternally.”

  2. Jonathan Edwards, “Hope and Comfort usually Follow Genuine Humiliation and Repentance”: “When you have found out the troubler, be sure thoroughly to destroy it. Renounce it with detestation, as a vile serpent that has secretly lain under your head for a long time, and infected you with his poisons time after time, and bit you, when you were asleep, made you sick and filled you with pain, and you knew it not. Would not a man, when he has found out the serpent in such a case, destroy it with indignation, and be for ever afterwards thoroughly watchful that he is not caught with such a calamity again? You cannot be too thorough in destroying such an enemy, and labouring to root it out, and extirpate all its race. Whoever of you are under darkness and trouble, I am bold to say, if God help you to follow these directions, your darkness will soon be scattered, and hope and comfort will arise. And this is the surest, and readiest, and most direct course which any of you can take in order to the renewing of comfort in your soul. And without this, do not promise yourself any considerable degree of light or comfort while you live, however many examinations of past experiences and prayers to God for light you may make.”

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