Joshua 7:7: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 2

Verse 7:[1] And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, (Ex. 5:22; 2 Kings 3:10) wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!

[Alas! אֲהָהּ] Alas! (Masius). An interjection of sorrow and entreaty (Drusius out of Masius). Δέομαι, I implore (Septuagint). Receive my prayer (Chaldean in Masius).

[Lord God, אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה] With a twofold name he addresses Him. יְהוִה/ JEHOVAH denotes the essence of God;[2] אֲדֹנָי/ADONAI denotes rule, and it certainly is suited to Christ, through whom God the Father, as He made the world, so also He governs it, Hebrews 1:2, 3. Thus also, at least in words, the Hebrew Kabbalists:[3] That name ADONAI is like a key by which an approach is opened to Jehovah God, that is, to God hidden in His essence; There is a treasure in which those things that are bestowed upon us by JEHOVAH are all stored away; Moreover, there is that great Steward that dispenses all things, nourishes, and invigorates through Jehovah; Finally, no one is able to penetrate to Jehovah except through Adonai; and therefore the Church thus enters upon her prayers, ADONAI, that is, LORD, OPEN THOU MY LIPS, etc. These things are found in Gate of Light,[4] and in a book called שֵׁם הַמְפוֹרָשׁ, The Explicit Name (Masius).

[Why hast thou willed to bring across?] The Talmudists[5] and not a few of our men maintain that Joshua makes his complaint with God, and breaks forth in an impious vow of remaining outside the Holy Land. But the very fury of the words, which would have been monstrous if it be thus taken, moves me to take it otherwise. Who would believe that this most divine man with these most unworthy words would quarrel with God? or would think that God could not destroy those remaining beyond Jordan? or on account of this little defeat would reject such and so great promises? Therefore, it is not to be supposed that he spoke these words out of mind of the same sort as those in Numbers 14 (although prima facie the speech might appear the same). For he, not at all despairing of the power and mercy of God, casts himself at His feet; while those take counsel, with God rejected, to flee to Egypt. The thought of Joshua is this: In an oblique manner through questioning by contraries he sets before God’s eyes His own promises; for it follows, would that we had been content, etc., that is to say, If those thy promises be in vain because of our sins, it would have been better for us to have remained on the other side of Jordan: For it will not well agree with Thy Name (Masius).

[That thou mightest deliver us] It is to be taken either permissively, that thou mightest allow us to fall into their hands; or consecutively, that is to say, because thou hast led us across Jordan, behold, now it happens that we are slaughtered by them (Serarius).

[Would that, as we began, we had remained, וְלוּ֙ הוֹאַ֣לְנוּ וַנֵּ֔שֶׁב[6]] Would that we had begun (we had restrained ourselves [Arabic]), and had remained (Montanus). Would that we had willed (we had been content [Masius]), and had remained (Pagnine, Junius). It is a Hebraism (Vatablus), for, would that it had been satisfying, or pleasing, to us to remain (Tigurinus, Munster, Vatablus). Would that we had willed to stay (Junius and Tremellius, Glassius). Two verbs coupled by a conjunction are used among the Hebrews just like a verb with an infinitive among the Latins (Glassius’ “Grammar” 334). The Chaldean has שְׁרָא, which is ambiguous, for it signifies both to begin, and to delay (Masius).

And Joshua said, Alas, etc.: These clauses, though well intended, and offered to God only by way of expostulation and argument, yet do savour of human infirmity, and fall short of that reverence, and modesty, and submission which he owed to God; and are mentioned as instances that the holy men of God were subject to like passions and infirmities with other men.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֲהָ֣הּ׀ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה לָ֠מָה הֵעֲבַ֙רְתָּ הַעֲבִ֜יר אֶת־הָעָ֤ם הַזֶּה֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָתֵ֥ת אֹתָ֛נוּ בְּיַ֥ד הָאֱמֹרִ֖י לְהַאֲבִידֵ֑נוּ וְלוּ֙ הוֹאַ֣לְנוּ וַנֵּ֔שֶׁב בְּעֵ֖בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃

[2] The name Jehovah, יְהוָה, is derived from the verb of being, הָיָה.  See Exodus 3:14:  “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה):  and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM (אֶהְיֶה) hath sent me unto you.”

[3] The Kabbalah is a set of secret, esoteric Rabbinic doctrines, handed down orally and based on a mystical interpretation of the Hebrew Scripture.

[4] Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla (1248-died after 1305) was a Spanish Kabbalist and student of Abraham Abulafia. Sha’are Orah, Gate of Light, is Gikatilla’s most influential work.  In it he discusses the names of God.

[5] See Tractate Sanhedrin 6:2.

[6] יָאַל, in the Hiphil, can signify to undertake, or to will.

1 thought on “Joshua 7:7: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: “How he prayed, or pleaded rather, humbly expostulating the case with God, not sullen, as David when the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah, but much affected; his spirit seemed to be somewhat ruffled and discomposed, yet not so as to be put out of frame for prayer; but, by giving vent to his trouble in a humble address to God, he keeps his temper and it ends well…. Now he wishes they had all taken up with the lot of the two tribes on the other side Jordan, Joshua 7:7. He thinks it would have been better to have staid there and been cut short than come hither to be cut off. This savours too much of discontent and distrust of God, and cannot be justified, though the surprise and disappointment to one deeply concerned for the public interest may in part excuse it. Those words, wherefore hast thou brought us over Jordan to destroy us? are too like what the murmurers often said (Exodus 14:11, 12; 16:3; 17:3; Numbers 14:2, 3); but he that searches the heart knew they came from another spirit, and therefore was not extreme to mark what he said amiss. Had Joshua considered that this disorder which their affairs were put into no doubt proceeded from something amiss, which yet might easily be redressed, and all set to rights again (as often in his predecessor’s time), he would not have spoken of it as a thing taken for granted that they were delivered into the hands of the Amorites to be destroyed. God knows what he does, though we do not; but this we may be sure of, he never did nor ever will do us any wrong.”

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