Joshua 8:19, 20: Executing the Lord’s Battle-Plan, Part 7

Verse 19:[1] And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.

[And when he had lifted, etc.] Perhaps the ambush had observed the shield stretched forth: but they do not appear to have ever been commanded to heed that as a sign to arise. Wherefore I think that they perceived the time of rising by Divine instinct (Masius).

[Proceeding to the city[2]] They came to the city (Masius), or, they entered into the city (the Septuagint and Chaldean in Masius). בָּא signifies either (Masius).

[And the set it on fire] Not the whole (for, 1. thus they would have lost the prey that God gave to them, verses 2 and 27 [Drusius out of Masius, Bonfrerius]: 2. Joshua is said to set it on fire again, verse 28 [Bonfrerius, Lapide]), but some part, so that they might raise a smoke, which was a signal to the fleeing Israelites (Masius): namely, the northern part, so that the fire might be able to be seen both by the Israelites and by the men of Ai (Bonfrerius).

And set the city on fire: That is, Not all of it, as appears both from Joshua 8:28, and because then they had lost that prey which God had allowed them; but some part of it, enough to raise a smoke, and give notice to their brethren of their success.


Verse 20:[3] And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power (Heb. hand[4]) to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.

[And they were not able to disperse, וְלֹא־הָיָ֙ה בָהֶ֥ם יָדַ֛יִם לָנ֖וּס] Verbatim: and not were there in them hands to flee (Montanus). [They vary.] There were not among them, or, in them, spaces, or places, of fleeing, or, to flee (Vatablus, Piscator, Pagnine, similarly Masius). יָד/hand is put in the place of place, Numbers 2:17;[5] Job 37:7;[6] Isaiah 10:5;[7] 56:5.[8] Thus, a sea broad in hands, that is, spaces, spacious[9] (Drusius). He relates the reason why they could not flee this way nor that, namely, because they enemy was advancing hence and thence (Masius). Before them was the army of Joshua, which they were pursuing; behind them the ambush, and also on one side, verse 22 (Piscator, Lapide): but on the other side was either the mountain, verse 11 (Piscator), or part of the army of the Israelites, who were extending themselves from the east to the south, so that no one might escape (Lapide). Others translate it, there was in them no courage, or strength, or ability, to flee (Jonathan, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Rabbi Salomon and Kimchi in Drusius, Drusius, Munster, Tigurinus). יָד/hand often signifies the ability to act (Masius). It denotes strength, as it appears, for he says בָהֶם, in them; otherwise he would have said לָהֶם, to them (Drusius).

No power, or, place; for so the Hebrew word is oft used, as Numbers 2:17; Nehemiah 7:4;[10] Job 37:7; Psalm 104:25; Isaiah 22:18;[11] 56:5.

[1] Hebrew: וְהָאוֹרֵ֡ב קָם֩ מְהֵרָ֙ה מִמְּקוֹמ֤וֹ וַיָּר֙וּצוּ֙ כִּנְט֣וֹת יָד֔וֹ וַיָּבֹ֥אוּ הָעִ֖יר וַֽיִּלְכְּד֑וּהָ וַֽיְמַהֲר֔וּ וַיַּצִּ֥יתוּ אֶת־הָעִ֖יר בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

[2] Joshua 8:19:  “And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand:  and they entered into the city (וַיָּבֹ֥אוּ הָעִ֖יר), and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.”

[3] Hebrew: וַיִּפְנ֣וּ אַנְשֵׁי֩ הָעַ֙י אַחֲרֵיהֶ֜ם וַיִּרְא֗וּ וְהִנֵּ֙ה עָלָ֜ה עֲשַׁ֤ן הָעִיר֙ הַשָּׁמַ֔יְמָה וְלֹא־הָיָ֙ה בָהֶ֥ם יָדַ֛יִם לָנ֖וּס הֵ֣נָּה וָהֵ֑נָּה וְהָעָם֙ הַנָּ֣ס הַמִּדְבָּ֔ר נֶהְפַּ֖ךְ אֶל־הָרוֹדֵֽף׃

[4] Hebrew: יָדַיִם.

[5] Numbers 2:17:  “Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp:  as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place (עַל־יָדוֹ) by their standards.”

[6] Job 37:7:  “He sealeth up the hand of every man (בְּיַד־כָּל־אָדָם); that all men may know his work.”

[7] Isaiah 10:5:  “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand (בְיָדָם) is mine indignation.”

[8] Isaiah 56:5a:  “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place (יָד) and a name better than of sons and of daughters…”

[9] Psalm 104:25:  “So is this great and wide (וּרְחַ֪ב יָ֫דָ֥יִם, and wide of hands) sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.”

[10] Nehemiah 7:4:  “Now the city was large (רַחֲבַ֤ת יָדַ֙יִם֙, wide of hands) and great:  but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.”

[11] Isaiah 22:18a:  “He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large (רַחֲבַ֣ת יָדָ֑יִם, wide of hands) country…”

1 thought on “Joshua 8:19, 20: Executing the Lord’s Battle-Plan, Part 7

  1. Matthew Henry: “What a complete victory Israel obtained over them by the favour and blessing of God. Each did his part: the divided forces of Israel, by signals agreed on, understood one another, and every thing succeeded according to the project; so that the men of Ai, even when they were most confident of victory, found themselves surrounded, so that they had neither spirit to resist nor room to fly, but were under a fatal necessity of yielding their lives to the destroyers. And now it is hard to say whether the shouts of the men of Israel, or the shrieks of the men of Ai, were the louder, but easy to imagine what terror and confusion they were filled with, when their highest assurances sunk so suddenly into the heaviest despair. Note, The triumphing of the wicked is short, Job 20:5. They are exalted for a little while, that their fall and ruin may be the sorer, Job 24:24. See how easily, how quickly, the scale turns against those that have not God on their side.”

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