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.

Joshua 7:8, 9: Joshua’s Complaint, Part 3

Verse 8:[1] O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs (Heb. necks[2]) before their enemies!

[My Lord, בִּ֖י אֲדֹנָ֑י[3]] I beg, or I entreat, O Lord (Jonathan, Arabic, Munster). On me, O Lord (Septuagint, Montanus, Masius), that is, have regard (Lapide, Menochius). Attend to me, etc. (Junius and Tremellius).

[What shall I say?] What shall I think (Masius, Serarius, Menochius)? Thus to say is taken elsewhere[4] (Masius). Saying is both of the soul, which is thinking, and of the mouth (Serarius). What counsel shall I take (Masius)? This oration of Joshua is shortened and imperfect, and interrupted by the speedy response of God, who, being kind, breaks in and answers in the midst of the prayers themselves (Masius). Others: What shall I answer to those that want to detract from thy Name, that is, to pursuing enemies (Vatablus)? But the following orations manifestly refutes this sense (Masius).

What shall I say, in answer to the reproaches cast by our insulting enemies upon us, and upon thy name? Israel; God’s own people, which he hath singled out of all nations for his own peculiar.


Verse 9:[5] For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and (Ps. 83:4) cut off our name from the earth: and (see Ex. 32:12; Num. 14:13) what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

[The Canaanites] The same here as the Amorites in verse 7 (Masius).

[Being massed together, they shall surround us] Hebrew: upon the earth they shall come together against us[6] (Masius).

[What wilt thou do, etc.?] Who hast promised to give this region: and the Nations shall say that thou art not able to do this. That is to say, Consider thy Name (Masius).

Thy great name: Which will upon this occasion be blasphemed and charged with inconstancy, unkindness, and unfaithfulness to thine own people, and with inability to resist them, or to do thy people that good thou didst intend them. Compare Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13; Deuteronomy 33:27; Joel 2:17.

[1] Hebrew: בִּ֖י אֲדֹנָ֑י מָ֣ה אֹמַ֔ר אַ֠חֲרֵי אֲשֶׁ֙ר הָפַ֧ךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל עֹ֖רֶף לִפְנֵ֥י אֹיְבָֽיו׃

[2] Hebrew: עֹרֶף.

[3] בִּי is a particle of entreaty.

[4] See, for example, Exodus 2:14.

[5] Hebrew: וְיִשְׁמְע֣וּ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֗י וְכֹל֙ יֹשְׁבֵ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ וְנָסַ֣בּוּ עָלֵ֔ינוּ וְהִכְרִ֥יתוּ אֶת־שְׁמֵ֖נוּ מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ וּמַֽה־תַּעֲשֵׂ֖ה לְשִׁמְךָ֥ הַגָּדֽוֹל׃

[6] Hebrew: הָאָ֔רֶץ וְנָסַ֣בּוּ עָלֵ֔ינוּ.

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׃

Joshua 7:3: The Reconnaissance of Ai, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men (Heb. about two thousand men, or about three thousand men[2]) go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.

[Two or three thousand] Observe here the singular care and paternal benignity of God toward His Church, who by the danger of a small force achieved what was necessary for expiating the sacrilege and confirming military discipline in preparing for the most intense fighting: For a great force could not have been led into peril of that sort without the extreme desperation of all. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted about that ye are able; 1 Corinthians 10:13 (Masius).

Let about two or three thousand men go up, etc.: This was done by the wise contrivance of Divine Providence, that their sin might be punished, and they awakened and reformed, with as little hazard, and mischief, and reproach as might be; for if the defeat of these caused so great a consternation in Joshua, it is easy to guess what dread, and confusion, and despair it would have caused in the people, if a great host had been defeated.

[Why shall it be troubled? אַל־תְּיַגַּע־שָׁמָּה[3]] Do not make to labor thither (Montanus); do not lead thither (Septuagint); do not force there (Syriac, Arabic); do not weary unto that place (Malvenda); do not weary (supply, by leading, or sending) thither (Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, Tigurinus). It has regard, as it appears, to the slope of the mountain. For Ai was on a mountain, Jericho in a plain. Whence they are said to go up here and in verse 4. The Latin translation refers to the trouble in fighting; the Chaldean to the tumult and din that large armies raise (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלָיו֮ אַל־יַ֣עַל כָּל־הָעָם֒ כְּאַלְפַּ֣יִם אִ֗ישׁ א֚וֹ כִּשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֣ים אִ֔ישׁ יַעֲל֖וּ וְיַכּ֣וּ אֶת־הָעָ֑י אַל־תְּיַגַּע־שָׁ֙מָּה֙ אֶת־כָּל־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י מְעַ֖ט הֵֽמָּה׃

[2] Hebrew: כְּאַלְפַּ֣יִם אִ֗ישׁ א֚וֹ כִּשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֣ים אִ֔ישׁ .

[3] יָגַע, to toil, in the Piel conjugation carries a causative sense.