Joshua 6:20, 21: The Destruction of Jericho

Verse 20:[1] So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that (Josh. 6:5; Heb. 11:30) the wall fell down flat (Heb. under it[2]), so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

[With the people shouting, etc.] Hebrew: and the people shouted, and they sounded with trumpets.[3] It is a hysteron proteron: For the sounding of the trumpets was the signal to the people to shout. Hence Vatablus in his notes, The people shouted after they had sounded with horns (Bonfrerius). The people was howling while they were sounding the trumpets, that is, when they began to sound. Note the faith of the people, who with such a glad acclamation had celebrated the triumph, as having the victory in hand, before they had seen the wall fall (Masius).

 

Verse 21:[4] And they (Deut. 7:2) utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

[And they killed all, etc.] Or, and they destroyed whatever was, etc. Note the singular restraint of the soldiers, that, although in need of all things, they abstained in such great abundance of all things, having been commanded with one little word, etc. But, that the elderly, children, infants, etc., are killed, it could appear to be cruelty and brutality. Responses: 1. The judgments of God (the reason of which far surpasses our understanding, Job 42:3) ought to be admired by mortals with modesty and submission, and not to be evaluated according to our reasonings perplexed with manifold darkness and error, Job 40:2. 2. Life itself is the gratuitous gift of God; and no one is able to complain whenever He that gave freely recalls it again. 3. All sin is such a foul thing, even that common defect of human origin, that by no sufficiently worthy punishment is it able to be expiated according to the righteousness of God. By that defect, if infants be expurgated, God has not caused them pain to punish, but so that He might bless them with greater glory (Masius). They urge Exodus 20:5. [See the response in the Notes on that place.]

They utterly destroyed all, etc.: Being commanded to do so by the sovereign Lord of every man’s life; and being informed by God before that the Canaanites were abominably wicked, and deserved the severest punishments. As for the infants, they were guilty of original sin, and otherwise at the disposal of their Creator, as the clay is in the hands of the potter; but if they had been wholly innocent, it was a great favour to them to take them away in infancy, rather than reserve them to those dreadful calamities which those who survived them were liable to.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֣רַע הָעָ֔ם וַֽיִּתְקְע֖וּ בַּשֹּֽׁפָר֑וֹת וַיְהִי֩ כִשְׁמֹ֙עַ הָעָ֜ם אֶת־ק֣וֹל הַשּׁוֹפָ֗ר וַיָּרִ֤יעוּ הָעָם֙ תְּרוּעָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֔ה וַתִּפֹּ֙ל הַֽחוֹמָ֜ה תַּחְתֶּ֗יהָ וַיַּ֙עַל הָעָ֤ם הָעִ֙ירָה֙ אִ֣ישׁ נֶגְדּ֔וֹ וַֽיִּלְכְּד֖וּ אֶת־הָעִֽיר׃

[2] Hebrew: תַּחְתֶּיהָ.

[3] Hebrew: וַיָּ֣רַע הָעָ֔ם וַֽיִּתְקְע֖וּ בַּשֹּֽׁפָר֑וֹת.

[4] Hebrew: וַֽיַּחֲרִ֙ימוּ֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר בָּעִ֔יר מֵאִישׁ֙ וְעַד־אִשָּׁ֔ה מִנַּ֖עַר וְעַד־זָקֵ֑ן וְעַ֙ד שׁ֥וֹר וָשֶׂ֛ה וַחֲמ֖וֹר לְפִי־חָֽרֶב׃

Joshua 6:17: Herem-Warfare against Jericho, Part 1

Verse 17:[1] And the city shall be accursed (or, devoted;[2] Lev. 27:28; Mic. 4:13), even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

[Let it be accursed] Let it be altogether wiped out and destroyed (Vatablus). Let it be accursed by vow; see Deuteronomy 12 and what follows (Grotius). What חֶרֶם, a devoted thing, is, see on Leviticus 27:21, 29 (Bonfrerius). It is the same thing as ἀνάθεμα/anathema, a devoted thing, to the Greeks (Masius). Thus is called both what is dedicated in sacred places, and what is immolated and destroyed (Masius on verse 19, similarly Lapide). It signifies: 1. a thing devoted to God; 2. the very destruction of the thing; 3. things accursed and worthy of destruction, as in verse 18. But there is one and the same reason for those diverse notions, That what things were dedicated to God, those were able to be among no man’s goods (Masius). In other cities of the Canaanites there was to be a sparing of nothing; but here the very city was to be burned. What is the reason? 1. God was requiring this city as the firstfruits (Lapide, Hebrews and Jonathan and Theodotion in Masius). But the firstfruits ought to be rendered untouched to the Lord (Lapide). 2. Lest in this beginning of the war, the eager soldier in need of all things, with immoderate plunder taken, as this was a most opulent city, should excessively burden himself, and should become prone more to leisure and then to luxury than to war (Masius). 3. They long since deserved this for their long standing and most shameful acts (Bonfrerius). So that all, being instructed by the loss of plunder, might understand that the victory is acquired by the power of God alone, and might ascribe nothing to their own strength (Masius). But, in conquering other cities, the Hebrews fought fiercely (Lapide). 5. By the severity of the first punishment God willed to instill terror in the rest of the enemies (and to call them to repentance), since a war of the very harshest kind was continuing (Masius, similarly Lapide).

Accursed, that is, devoted to utter destruction, Leviticus 27:21, 29; Deuteronomy 12. This he spake by instinct or direction from God, as is evident from 1 Kings 16:34. To the Lord; partly, because the firstfruits were appropriated to God; partly, lest the soldiers being glutted with the spoil of this rich city, should grow sensual and sluggish in their work; and partly, to strike the greater terror into the rest of their enemies.

[Let Rahab alone live[3]] Through you; that is, let her remain alive (Piscator). I prefer to translate חָיָה as to be saved, because it is also said of that which is in her house, in which verse 23 teaches that furniture is include (Masius).

[She hid, הֶחְבְּאַתָה] The last letter is duplicated; it is put in the place of הֶחְבְּאָה, which would normally be expressed הֶחְבִּיאָה (Piscator). Thus יְשׁוּעָתָה is an omnimodal salvation (Drusius). They translate it, she hid in honesty, or faithfully (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius). Two reasons for her discharge are assigned: 1. Religion, on account of the oath, concerning which verse 22. Although Joshua or the people were not able to be obliged by that, because it was not undertaken by their authority (Bonfrerius). 2. Gratitude, which is here indicated (Bonfrerius, similarly Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְהָיְתָ֙ה הָעִ֥יר חֵ֛רֶם הִ֥יא וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֖הּ לַֽיהוָ֑ה רַק֩ רָחָ֙ב הַזּוֹנָ֜ה תִּֽחְיֶ֗ה הִ֚יא וְכָל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתָּ֣הּ בַּבַּ֔יִת כִּ֣י הֶחְבְּאַ֔תָה אֶת־הַמַּלְאָכִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׁלָֽחְנוּ׃

[2] Hebrew: חֵרֶם.

[3] Hebrew: רַק֩ רָחָ֙ב הַזּוֹנָ֜ה תִּֽחְיֶ֗ה.

Joshua 6:8, 9: The Procession around Jericho

Verse 8:[1] And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.

 

Verse 9:[2] And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, (Num. 10:25) and the rereward (Heb. gathering[3] host) came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.

[The remaining common people (thus the Septuagint), וְהַמְאַסֵּף] And the assembling, or gathering (Munster, Vatablus, Pagnine, Montanus, Piscator). Each one gathering, that is, who were, as it were, gathering, that is, concluding, the battle line (Piscator). Who were concluding the procession (Masius out of the Septuagint). They understand the Danites, who are called מְאַסֵּף, the rearward, Numbers 10:25 (Vatablus, Munster, Masius, Junius, Lyra). [See the notes on that place.] The last troop (Tigurinus), the gathered host (Munster), who were gathered by troops (Syriac), mixed multitudes (Arabic). The Elders, and with them the multitude of wives, children, etc. The multitude is elsewhere called אֲסַפְסֻף, Numbers 11:4[4] (Bonfrerius). They maintain that the armed men went before, the unarmed and the common people followed (Masius).

The rereward being opposed to the armed men, may seem to note the unarmed people, who were desirous to be spectators of this wonderful work.

[And all were sounding with horns,הָל֖וֹךְ וְתָק֥וֹעַ ] Going and sounding (Montanus, Drusius, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Bonfrerius), that is, while it went on and was sounding with trumpets. Thus the Hebrews are wont to explain gerunds and infinitives impersonally (Bonfrerius). The sense: by sounding more and more. Thus, the water was going and increasing, that is, were increasing more and more. By proceeding and blowing (Masius). Performing the march, they were sounding (Syriac). Question: Who then was sounding? Response 1: Not the priests only, but also the people. For that the Vulgate and Septuagint are clearly signifying (Lapide). Response 2: The priests only (Jonathan, Junius, Piscator, Masius, Bonfrerius, Drusius). 1. For it belonged to them, not to others, to sound the horns, which were representing the voice of God to the people (Masius, similarly Bonfrerius). 2. The people were commanded to be silent, verse 10 (Masius). But this was a silence of voice and shouting, not of horns and sounding (Lapide).

The priests; which is rightly supplied here from verse 4.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י כֶּאֱמֹ֣ר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ֮ אֶל־הָעָם֒ וְשִׁבְעָ֣ה הַכֹּהֲנִ֡ים נֹשְׂאִים֩ שִׁבְעָ֙ה שׁוֹפְר֤וֹת הַיּֽוֹבְלִים֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה עָבְר֕וּ וְתָקְע֖וּ בַּשּֽׁוֹפָר֑וֹת וַֽאֲרוֹן֙ בְּרִ֣ית יְהוָ֔ה הֹלֵ֖ךְ אַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וְהֶחָל֣וּץ הֹלֵ֔ךְ לִפְנֵי֙ הַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים תָּקְעוּ֖ הַשּֽׁוֹפָר֑וֹת וְהַֽמְאַסֵּ֗ף הֹלֵךְ֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י הָאָר֔וֹן הָל֖וֹךְ וְתָק֥וֹעַ בַּשּׁוֹפָרֽוֹת׃

[3] Hebrew: וְהַמְאַסֵּף.

[4] Numbers 11:4a:  “And the mixt multitude (וְהָאסַפְסֻף) that was among them fell a lusting…”

Joshua 6:6, 7: Joshua Implements the Captain’s Plan

Verse 6:[1] And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.

 

Verse 7:[2] And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.

[He said] The Kethib is וַיֹּאמְרוּ, and they said, understanding Joshua and the priests; and the Qere is וַיֹּאמֶר, and he said, understanding Joshua alone (Drusius).

[Armed (thus Jonathan, Syriac, Vatablus), וְהֶחָלוּץ[3]] Light-armed (Montanus, Drusius, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), everyone that has his loins girded with arms (Drusius); ready for action (Masius); trained (Arabic). Concerning this word, see Joshua 1:14 (Masius). Extracted, or chosen, namely, from the multitude (Malvenda). Centurions (Tigurinus). It is likely that this was an order to soldiers to go around the city, verse 3; permission to the common people (Masius). Question: Why were they armed? Responses: 1. God wills that we cooperate with Him. 2. So that, having entered the city, they might slaughter its citizens (Lapide).

Let him that is armed, etc.: God would have them armed, both for the defence of themselves and the ark, in case the enemies should make a sally upon them, and for the execution of the Lord’s vengeance upon that city.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֞א יְהוֹשֻׁ֤עַ בִּן־נוּן֙ אֶל־הַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֔ם שְׂא֖וּ אֶת־אֲר֣וֹן הַבְּרִ֑ית וְשִׁבְעָ֣ה כֹֽהֲנִ֗ים יִשְׂאוּ֙ שִׁבְעָ֤ה שֽׁוֹפְרוֹת֙ יוֹבְלִ֔ים לִפְנֵ֖י אֲר֥וֹן יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַ֙יֹּאמְרוּ֙ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם עִבְר֖וּ וְסֹ֣בּוּ אֶת־הָעִ֑יר וְהֶ֣חָל֔וּץ יַעֲבֹ֕ר לִפְנֵ֖י אֲר֥וֹן יְהוָֽה׃

[3] חָלַץ can signify to draw off, or to equip for war.

Chapter 6:5: The Captain’s Battle Plan, Part 4

Verse 5:[1] And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat (Heb. under it[2]), and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

[And when the voice of the trumpet will have sounded longer and choppier[3]] This sound is uneven (Bonfrerius). A sound is broken up, when it is cut short by some brief delay and repeated (Menochius).

[בִּמְשֹׁךְ] In prolonging (Montanus); when they shall prolong the sounding (Pagnine); when he, namely, the priest, shall draw out the sound (Piscator); when they shall sound more at greater length (Vatablus, Kimchi in Drusius, similarly Munster); when it shall be sounded in a long and drawn out manner (Junius and Tremellius, Kimchi in Drusius); when they shall blow with a prolonged sound (Masius); when they will have intensified the sound (Tigurinus); when they will have made to ring (Syriac). מָשַׁךְ, to draw, is used in the place of תָּקַע, to blow or sound (Masius).

When they make a long blast, as is usual in the close of musical sounds.

[With a shout, תְּרוּעָה] All the ancients render it a shout, or a cry; a shrieking (Drusius). This cry is ἀλαλαγμὸς, a shouting, to the Greeks; barritus, a battle-cry, to Vegetius (Grotius out of Drusius), which soldiers give out in the coming together of battle lines (Drusius).

[The walls shall fall] Hebrew: the wall shall fall[4] (Montansu, Pagnine, Drusius, Masius, Tigurinus).

[תַּחְתֶּיהָ] Under itself (Montanus, Pagnine, Drusius, Masius, Tigurinus), beneath itself (Munster); it shall fall into a trench (Malvenda), in its place (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Masius, Vatablus), upon its place (Syriac). Others: of itself (the Septuagint and Aquila in Masius), that is to say, with no siege engine impelling (Masius). It shall be sucked into the earth (Vatablus out of Jonathan). Hence the Hebrews think that the wall did not fall, but rather sunk down, with the earth gaping. Which is vain (Masius). It shall fall beneath itself, that is, from its foundations, from the bottom (Malvenda). Below themselves, below that place and site which they were previously holding, downward (Bonfrerius). But what happened to Rahab, whose house stood in the wall?[5] Responses: 1. All the walls did not fall (Masius), but only that part which was looking toward the camp of the Israelites. Wall here is put in the place of a part of the wall (Drusius). 2. It is not necessary for apartments, which adhere to unconnected walls, to fall with those (Masius).

The wall of the city; not all of it, which was not only unnecessary, but inconvenient, and might have given the people better opportunity of escaping; but only a considerable part of it, where the Israelites might fitly enter; for Rahab’s house was not overthrown, verse 22. Flat, Hebrew, under it, that is, below the place they stood in; or, in its place: it was not battered down with engines, which would have made part of it fall out of its place; but it fell out without any force, and of its own accord, and therefore in the place it did formerly stand in.

[1] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֞ה בִּמְשֹׁ֣ךְ׀ בְּקֶ֣רֶן הַיּוֹבֵ֗ל בְּשָׁמְעֲכֶם֙ אֶת־ק֣וֹל הַשּׁוֹפָ֔ר יָרִ֥יעוּ כָל־הָעָ֖ם תְּרוּעָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה וְנָ֙פְלָ֜ה חוֹמַ֤ת הָעִיר֙ תַּחְתֶּ֔יהָ וְעָל֥וּ הָעָ֖ם אִ֥ישׁ נֶגְדּֽוֹ׃

[2] Hebrew: תַּחְתֶּיהָ.

[3] Thus the Vulgate: cumque insonuerit vox tubae longior atque concisior.

[4] Hebrew: וְנָ֙פְלָ֜ה חוֹמַ֤ת.

[5] Joshua 2:15.

Chapter 6:4: The Captain’s Battle Plan, Part 3

Verse 4:[1] And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven (Judg. 7:16, 22) trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and (Num. 10:8) the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

[Trumpets, שׁוֹפְר֤וֹת הַיּֽוֹבְלִים֙[2]] They translate it, trumpets, or horns, of rams, or rams’ (Montanus, Jonathan, Munster, Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, Symmachus in Masius), from the horn of rams (the Chaldean in Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus), that is, trumpets made from the horns of rams (Vatablus). This does not satisfy Masius; since rams’ horns are completely solid, but it is necessary that a trumpet be hollow, so that it might be able to be blown into (Masius). Response: That is said as if they could not be hollowed out by art (Drusius). Others: trumpets of remission (Aquila in Drusius), horns of the jubilees (Masius), that is, which emitted a longer and more intense blast; which we are able to name jubilee from JUBAL.[3] Horns of the jubilee years, that is, which they were wont to sound at the beginning of the Jubilee year (Malvenda): trumpets of Jubal (Masius). God commands the sounding of these trumpets, because at this time, as in the Jubilee, He was delivering the land of Canaan, claimed from unjust possessors, to its just and true inhabitants (Lapide). [What things Masius has here concerning Jubal, we have previously set forth for the most part from other authors.]

Of rams’ horns, or, of the jubilees, that is, such trumpets wherewith they were to sound in the years of jubilee, Leviticus 25:9. Either this, or one of the other six, was certainly a sabbath day; and it is not material which was it, for the command of the Lord of the sabbath was sufficient to legitimate any action.

[1] Hebrew: וְשִׁבְעָ֣ה כֹהֲנִ֡ים יִשְׂאוּ֩ שִׁבְעָ֙ה שׁוֹפְר֤וֹת הַיּֽוֹבְלִים֙ לִפְנֵ֣י הָאָר֔וֹן וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י תָּסֹ֥בּוּ אֶת־הָעִ֖יר שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֑ים וְהַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים יִתְקְע֖וּ בַּשּׁוֹפָרֽוֹת׃

[2] יוֹבֵל/Jobel can signify a ram’s horn, or Jubilee, probably because the Jubilee began with the sounding of the ram’s horn, Leviticus 25:9, 10.

[3] See Genesis 4:21.

Chapter 6:3: The Captain’s Battle Plan, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

[Compass the city] At such a distance from it that ye might be beyond the casting of a dart (Lapide). These actions, if they be considered of themselves, ought to be reckoned as the performances of Actors rather than the stratagems of warriors: Nevertheless, these things are executed by Joshua, etc., without hesitation; in which their obedience is to be commended (Masius).

[Once (thus Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius), פַּ֣עַם אֶחָ֑ת] Aquila translates it in one path; Symmachus, with one circuit; because פַּעַם signifies a step, or procession. The Hebrews, instead of once, say in one advance (Masius). Once on each day (Vatablus).

Go round about the city once, at convenient distance, out of the reach of their arrows; thus shalt thou do six days, every day once. This and the following course might seem ridiculous and absurd, and is therefore prescribed and used by God, that they might learn to take new measures of things, and to expect success not from their own valour or skill, or probable means, but merely from God’s appointment and blessing; and in general, not to judge of any of God’s institutions by mere carnal reason, to which divers of their ceremonies would seem no less foolish than this action; and that they might have a full demonstration of the all-sufficiency of that God who can do what he pleaseth, even by the most contemptible means.

[1] Hebrew: וְסַבֹּתֶ֣ם אֶת־הָעִ֗יר כֹּ֚ל אַנְשֵׁ֣י הַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה הַקֵּ֥יף אֶת־הָעִ֖יר פַּ֣עַם אֶחָ֑ת כֹּ֥ה תַעֲשֶׂ֖ה שֵׁ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים׃

Joshua 5:15: Joshua’s Encounter with the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Part 3

Verse 15:[1] And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, (Ex. 3:5; Acts 7:33) Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

[Loose thy shoe] The singular number in the place of the plural, shoes (Vatablus). This is commanded for the sake of reverence (Bonfrerius, Menochius, Tirinus); so that his mind might be struck with awe, and might be more attentive to the things to be seen and said, and apply faith to them: otherwise it could have appeared to be a dream, that the walls were going to collapse of themselves, etc. By this example, the Jews priests took off their shoes while ministering in the Temple. And even now among a great many nations of the East it is sacrilege to tread upon the pavement of temples with a shod foot. A great many are wont to say that the depraved lusts of the body are signified by shoes, which are to be put off by those that want to contemplate and meditate upon Divine things (Masius).

Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, in token of reverence and subjection: see on Exodus 3:5.

[The place is holy] Consecrated by the presence of God (Masius, Lapide, Vatablus). Concerning these things, see the more lengthy treatment on Exodus 3:5. Hebrew: holiness[2] (Vatablus). The Hebrews often make use of substantives in the place of adjectives (Malvenda).

The place is holy, consecrated by my presence; which when it was withdrawn, it was no more holy than any other place, the reason of its holiness being removed.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמֶר֩ שַׂר־צְבָ֙א יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ שַׁל־נַֽעַלְךָ֙ מֵעַ֣ל רַגְלֶ֔ךָ כִּ֣י הַמָּק֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֛ה עֹמֵ֥ד עָלָ֖יו קֹ֣דֶשׁ ה֑וּא וַיַּ֥עַשׂ יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ כֵּֽן׃

[2] Hebrew: קֹדֶשׁ.

Joshua 5:14: Joshua’s Encounter with the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Part 2

Verse 14:[1] And he said, Nay; but as captain (or, prince;[2] see Ex. 23:20; Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Rev. 12:1; 19:11, 14) of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua (Gen. 17:3) fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?

[Who answered, Not at all, וַיֹּ֣אמֶר׀ לֹ֗א] And he said, Not (Montanus, Jonathan, Vatablus, Drusius), understanding, am I for your adversaries (Vatablus, Drusius). I am not even a man, etc. (Drusius). He said, Neither (Junius and Tremellius). Neither Hebrew, nor Canaanite (Masius, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). Others: And he said to him (Septuagint, Syriac). They read לוֹ/lo, to him, in the place of לֺא/lo/not (which the Masorah[3] notes to have been done fifteen times), certainly not altogether absurdly (Masius).

He said, Nay, I am neither Israelite nor Canaanite.

[Prince of the host of the Lord] He says these things so that He might acquire authority and confidence for the things to be said in the following chapter (Masius). Question 1: What is the host of the Lord here? Response: Either, 1. the Host of Israel (Lyra, Tostatus in Bonfrerius, Masius, Drusius). The Twelve Tribes are called the host of the Lord, Exodus 12:41 (Drusius). Thus they are called because they were sent by the Lord to do vengeance with respect to the Canaanites (Lyra). Thus the people of the Lord and the people of Israle are synonyms (Drusius). Or, 2. the Angels, the ministers of God: for these are called the host of heaven, 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Luke 2:13 (Bonfrerius). Or, 3. Prince of the host, in the place of, Prince of the hosts; the singular in place of the plural. The hosts of the Lord are all creatures, both heavenly and earthly (Drusius). Question 2: Who then is this Prince, etc.? Response: He is Michael, to whom the care of the Israelites was entrusted, Daniel 10:21; 12:1 (Hebrews in Masius, thus Vatablus, Drusius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Grotius). Moreover, 1. Some maintain that this is an Angel (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius, Serarius, Montanus, Tirinus). That certain Angels in heaven are princes is consistent with Daniel 10:13 (Masius). And each nation has its own particular Angel, who watches over it (Drusius). The arguments for this opinion are: 1. God is wont to administrate the world through means, and indeed through Angels, who are ministering spirits, Hebrews 1:14 (Serarius). 2. Inasmuch as He calls Himself the Prince of the host of the Lord, He distinguishes Himself from the Lord (Bonfrerius). 3. Angels appeared everywhere in the Old Testament; Genesis 18 and 19. See Hebrews 13:2; Exodus 3, compared with Acts 7:30, 53; Galatians 3:19 (Serarius, Bonfrerius). 2. Others maintain that this is Christ (thus Masius, Junius, Drusius, many of the Fathers in Serarius); who is rightly called an Angel, since through Him God the Father communicated with mortals concerning all things ever since the creation and fall of Adam. The ancient Jews thought almost the same thing. Thus Rabbi Moses Gerundensis Nahmanides (Fagius). That Angel, says he, is the redeemer Angel, who is the Face of God, Exodus 33:14.[4] But the Face of God signifies God Himself, as all interpreters acknowledge. Concerning Him it is said, My Name is in Him.[5] Thus Gerundensis. But the name of God is the very essence of God: for this is signified by the name Jehovah,[6] which, as it is peculiarly His own, God revealed to Moses. But He is called an Angel because He governs the world. Again, Gerundensis. It is certain that the face of God went before the Israelites, Exodus 33:14, 17; and that this face was God Himself: and rightfully Christ is so called, who is the most express Image of the Father, Hebrews 1:3. Now, Christ accompanied them, 1 Corinthians 10:4. Additionally, that God, not an Angel, was dwelling in the bush, is evident from this, that Moses implored His favor for Joseph, Deuteronomy 33:16, while yet every perfect gift is from God, James 1:17. The same that is called an Angel was also God, Genesis 48:15, 16. For who does not know that all blessing is to be sought from God alone as the source (Masius)?

[And now I come[7]] Now, or just now, I have come (Montanus, Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Masius). This expression indicates an immediately present and most remarkable help, and that He came upon a great matter; as in Daniel 9:22, 23; 10:11, 14 (Malvenda). By my singular, albeit invisible, power I am going to defend you (Lapide).

Captain of the host of the Lord; either, 1. Of all creatures in heaven and earth, which are God’s hosts. Or, 2. Of the angels, who are called the host of heaven, 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Luke 2:13. Or, 3. Of the host or people of Israel, which are called the Lord’s host, Exodus 12:41. The sense is, I am the chief Captain of this people, and will conduct and assist thee and them in this great undertaking. Now this person is none other than Michael the Prince, Daniel 10:21; 12:1; not a created angel, but the Son of God, who went along with the Israelites in this expedition, 1 Corinthians 10:4; not surely as an underling, but as their Chief and Captain. And this appears, 1. By his acceptance of adoration here, which a created angel durst not admit of, Revelation 22:8, 9. 2. Because the place was made holy by his presence, Joshua 5:15, which was God’s prerogative, Exodus 3:5. 3. Because he is called the Lord, Hebrew, Jehovah, Joshua 6:2. What saith my lord unto his servant? I acknowledge thee for my Lord and Captain, and therefore wait for thy commands, which I am ready to obey.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר׀ לֹ֗א כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י שַׂר־צְבָֽא־יְהוָ֖ה עַתָּ֣ה בָ֑אתִי וַיִּפֹּל֩ יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ אֶל־פָּנָ֥יו אַ֙רְצָה֙ וַיִּשְׁתָּ֔חוּ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ מָ֥ה אֲדֹנִ֖י מְדַבֵּ֥ר אֶל־עַבְדּֽוֹ׃

[2] Hebrew: שַׂר.

[3] The Masorah is the body of the scribal notes of the Massoretes, the mediæval Jewish scribes responsible for the preservation and propagation of the traditional text of the Hebrew Scriptures.

[4] Exodus 33:14:  “And he said, My presence (פָּנַי, my face) shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”

[5] Exodus 23:21.

[6] 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.”

[7] Hebrew: עַתָּ֣ה בָ֑אתִי.

Joshua 5:13: Joshua’s Encounter with the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Part 1

Verse 13:[1] And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood (Gen. 18:2; 32:24; Ex. 23:23; Zech. 1:8; Acts 1:10) a man over against him (Num. 22:23) with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

[While he was in the field of Jericho, בִּירִיחוֹ] In Jericho (Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan); in the country, or field (or plain [Syriac]) of Jericho (Vatablus, Masius, Drusius out of Kimchi). The territory is called by the name of the city. Thus Joshua 10:10, He struck in Gibeon; yet he speaks of those that were not in the city, but before it (Drusius out of Masius). Or, not actually, but in the contemplations of his soul, he was in Jericho; as Daniel was in Shushan, Daniel 8:2, while he appears to be yet in Babylon, if you attend to the end of his narration (Masius). Some Hebrews say that this happened to Joshua in a visision (certain interpreters). Near Jericho (Arabic); at Jericho (Junius and Tremellius); by Jericho; thus Luke 13:33 (Grotius). In in the place of by is a common Enallage[2] (Lapide). There either Joshua prayed to God (Lapide), or went to spy out an opportune place to attack the city, or was in meditation upon the management of the campaign (Masius). Thus, while we desive in soul great and holy things, God insinuates Himself into our counsels, and reveals the resources and means for accomplishing them (Lapide).

By Jericho; Hebrew: in Jericho, that is, in the country or territory adjoining to Jericho, whither he went to view those parts, and discern the fittest places for his attempt upon Jericho, as generals usually do.

[He lifted his eyes] These words signify nothing other than a sudden and unexpected vision/sight. Thus elsewhere, Genesis 18:2; Daniel 10:5 (Masius).

[He saw a man standing] It was the purpose of God that the soul of Joshua be confirmed at the very beginning of the campaign and in unwavering faith, and be restrained from arrogant presumption. For the minds of men, however much prepared with great faith, are too easily moved with fear of the present crises; just as again by a course of easy affairs they are lifted up in vain confidence, than which nothing is more detestable to God. Neither do you sin more grievously, if you refer favors, which proceeded from God, to an image, than if you refer them to yourself (Masius).

A man; one in the appearance of man.

[Over against him (thus the Septuagint, similarly the Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), לְנֶגְדּוֹ] Opposite him (Montanus); before him (Arabic).

[Holding an unsheathed sword] After the likeness of a warrior. God or the Angel is wont to assume an appearance agreeable to the person or matter. Thus Christ appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden as a gardener,[3] to the travelers as a traveler.[4] So here the drawn sword denotes the power and vengeance of God (Lapide).

With his sword drawn, in readiness to fight, not, as Joshua thought, against him, but for him and his people.

[And he went to him] Note here the undaunted courage of Joshua (Lapide); that he so boldly proceeds against a man armed, and undoubtedly eminent for his august appearance, and presses a decision of fight or friendship (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י בִּֽהְי֣וֹת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ֮ בִּירִיחוֹ֒ וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּה־אִישׁ֙ עֹמֵ֣ד לְנֶגְדּ֔וֹ וְחַרְבּ֥וֹ שְׁלוּפָ֖ה בְּיָד֑וֹ וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ יְהוֹשֻׁ֤עַ אֵלָיו֙ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ הֲלָ֥נוּ אַתָּ֖ה אִם־לְצָרֵֽינוּ׃

[2] That is, the use of one grammatical form in the place of another.

[3] John 20:15.

[4] Luke 24:13-15.