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׃

3 thoughts on “Joshua 7:6: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 1

  1. Fisher’s Catechism: ” What is religious fasting? Answer: A religious fast requires total abstinence, not only from all food, (unless bodily weakness do manifestly disable from holding out, till the fast be ended,) but also from all worldly labour, discourses, and thoughts, and from all bodily delights.”—Joshua 7:6; Judges 20:26.”

  2. Lewis Bayly, “Practice of Piety”: “The holy Scripture appoints no time under the New Testament to fast; but leaves it to Christians’ own free choice (Romans 14:3; 1 Corinthians 7:5), to fast as occasions shall be offered to them (Matthew 9:15;) as when a man becomes an humble, an earnest suitor to God for the pardon of some gross sin committed; or for the prevention of some sin to which a man feels himself by Satan solicited; or to obtain some special blessing which he wants; or to avert some judgment which a man fears, or is already fallen upon himself or others; or, lastly, to subdue his flesh to his spirit, that he may more cheerfully pour forth his soul to God by prayer. Upon these occasions a man may fast a day or longer, as his occasion requires, and the constitution of his body and other needful affairs will permit (Leviticus 23:32; Joshua 7:6; Esther 4:16.)”

  3. Matthew Henry: “We have here an account of the deep concern Joshua was in upon this sad occasion. He, as a public person, interested himself more than any other in this public loss, and is therein an example to princes and great men, and teaches them to lay much to heart the calamities that befal their people: he is also a type of Christ, to whom the blood of his subjects is precious, Psalm 72:14. Observe how he grieved: He rent his clothes (Joshua 7:6), in token of great sorrow for this public disaster, and especially a dread of God’s displeasure, which was certainly the cause of it. Had it been but the common chance of war (as we are too apt to express it), it would not have become a general to droop thus under it; but, when God was angry, it was his duty and honour to feel thus. One of the bravest soldiers that ever was owned that his flesh trembled for fear of God, Psalm 119:120. As one humbling himself under the mighty had of God, he fell to the earth upon his face, not thinking it any disparagement to him to lie thus low before the great God, to whom he directed this token of reverence, by keeping his eye towards the ark of the Lord. The elders of Israel, being interested in the cause and influenced by his example, prostrated themselves with him, and, in token of deep humiliation, put dust upon their heads, not only as mourners, but as penitents; not doubting but it was for some sin or other that God did thus contend with them (though they knew not what it was), they humbled themselves before God, and thus deprecated the progress of his wrath. This they continued until eventide, to show that it was not the result of a sudden feeling, but proceeded from a deep conviction of their misery and danger if God were any way provoked to depart from them. Joshua did not fall foul upon his spies for their misinformation concerning the strength of the enemy, nor upon the soldiers for their cowardice, though perhaps both were blameworthy, but his eye is up to God; for is there any evil in the camp and he has not done it? His eye is upon God as displeased, and that troubles him.”

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