Joshua 7:21: Achan’s Confession, Part 3

Verse 21:[1] When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge (Heb. tongue[2]) of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

When I saw, etc.: He accurately describes the progress of his sin, which began at his eye, which he permitted to gaze and fix upon them, which inflamed his desire, and made him covet them; and that desire put him upon action, and made him take them; and having taken, resolve to keep them, and to that end hide them in his tent.

[A scarlet pallium,[3] אַדֶּ֣רֶת שִׁנְעָר֩] Question: What is this? Of Shinar is Babylonian, says Malvenda; Shinar was near Babylon, says Bochart in Sacred Geography 1:5. [See our collectanea on Genesis 10:10; 11:2, 9; and almost all translate שִׁנְעָר, of Shinar, here as Babylonian.] Now, they translate אַדֶּרֶת,[4] pallium (Arabic, Pagnine, Montanus, Drusius), chlamys[5] (Vatablus, Tigurinus), stola[6] (Jonathan, Vatablus, Aquila in Masius), toga (Junius and Tremellius), paludamentum:[7] now, this belonged to nobles; Juvenal’s Satires 6, and with generals wearing the paludamentum, etc., and Jonah 3:6, the king took off אַדַּרְתּוֹ, his robes, so that he might put on sackcloth (Masius). אַדֶּרֶת, if the origin of the word be regarded, signifies either a tapestry, or a magnificent garment, which wins glory for him that makes use of it (Masius, Bonfrerius). Now, it is evident that Babylonian garments were prized. Plutarch relates that Marcus Cato,[8] when he had received by inheritance an embroidered Babylonian garment, immediately sold it[9] (Masius). Plautus[10] makes mention of Babylonian Coverings in Stichus. In Aristides’[11] “Regarding Rome” you find Babylonian garments (Bonfrerius). Lucretius,[12] On the Nature of Things[13] 4: When the Babylonian garments, in magnificent splendor, are drenched. See also Pliny’s Natural History 8:48 (Malvenda). Moreover, some maintain that these garments were purple or scarlet-dyed (for it is certain that these are taken promiscuously) (thus Rabbi Haninah[14] and Jerome in Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg”, thus the Vulgate). But I think that the discovery of the Babylonian purple was recent, while the ancient Babylonians sought purple from Tyre and from Hermione.[15] [Others otherwise:] The Greeks render it correctly, στολὴν ποικίλην, a stola various, that is, variegated and interwoven with diverse colors of embroidery, the invention of which weaving is owed to the Babylonians (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 1:6:33). These garments were artistically woven with diverse colors, which might render whatever things and likenesses of faces. Pliny, in Natural History 8:48, says, Babylon was especially celebrated for their interweaving of diverse colors into a picture. Apuleius, Florida[16] 1: He had as a girdle a belt, which sort is variegated in striking colors with Babylonian embroidery. Martial, Epigrams 8:28: I would not prefer Babylonian garments proudly embroidered. Petronius, Satyricon:[17] clothed with plumed Babylonian gold. And Josephus, Jewish Wars 7:17 (7:24 in Latin): other garments, varied with a most meticulous embroidery, after the Babylonian art (Bonfrerius). Babylonian men are described in Ezekiel 23:15 as luxuriating in dyed (supply, head-dresses, or turbans), that is, of different colors, upon their heads.[18] And those that set forth purple here, I think to have take it of purple interwoven with various colors: concerning which Æneid 7, …neither does embroidered purple please the King (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 1:5:34).

Babylonish garments were composed with great art with divers colours, and of great price, as appears both from Scripture, Ezekiel 23:15, and from divers heathen authors. [See my Latin Synopsis.]

[Two hundred shekels] That is, a hundred ounces; for the shekel was a half-ounce in weight[19] (Bonfrerius, Masius). In the place of shekels Symmachus and frequently Aquila have στατῆρας/staters.[20] Two hundred shekels are one hundred Germanic thalers[21] (Masius). Now, I do not understand this of shekel coins (which it is not evident were at that time), but of shekels paid out by weight; for at that time all things were wont to be bought, paid, and valued by weights (Bonfrerius).

Two hundred shekels, to wit, in weight, not in coin; for as yet they received and paid money by weight.

[A golden bar, וּלְשׁ֙וֹן זָהָ֤ב] A tongue of gold (Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Drusius, Masius); a strip (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius); a sheet (Vatablus, Kimchi in Masius); of gold shaped into the figure of a tongue (Kimchi in Masius). It was a hunk of unformed gold (Masius, Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities 5). The Latins call it laterem, a brick/ingot (Junius). It appears that the broad clasp of a toga or pallium is called a tongue metaphorically, because of the similarity of shape (Piscator).

[Of fifty shekels] It is able to be understood, either, of the shekel coin, and thus it would be worth twenty-five thalers; or (which I prefer), of the weight of the shekel, and thus it would be worth three hundred thalers (Masius).

[I buried it in the earth] Hebrew: under it,[22] namely, the earth.[23] Thus the Vulgate understands it (Malvenda).

[תַּחְתֶּיהָ] Under it (Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus), namely, the pallium (Vatablus, Drusius, similarly Masius, Junius and Tremellius). For אַדֶּרֶת/ garment has a feminine form (Drusius). Others: under those (Septuagint, Jonathan, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus). Who would not conclude that the golden tongue was hidden even in the bottom (Masius)?

Under it, that is, under the Babylonish garment; covered with it, or wrapt up in it.

[1] Hebrew: וָאֶ֣רְאֶה בַשָּׁלָ֡ל אַדֶּ֣רֶת שִׁנְעָר֩ אַחַ֙ת טוֹבָ֜ה וּמָאתַ֧יִם שְׁקָלִ֣ים כֶּ֗סֶף וּלְשׁ֙וֹן זָהָ֤ב אֶחָד֙ חֲמִשִּׁ֤ים שְׁקָלִים֙ מִשְׁקָל֔וֹ וָֽאֶחְמְדֵ֖ם וָֽאֶקָּחֵ֑ם וְהִנָּ֙ם טְמוּנִ֥ים בָּאָ֛רֶץ בְּת֥וֹךְ הָאָֽהֳלִ֖י וְהַכֶּ֥סֶף תַּחְתֶּֽיהָ׃

[2] Hebrew: וּלְשׁוֹן.

[3] A pallium is a large, rectangular cloak.

[4] אַדֶּרֶת signifies glory or cloak; it appears to be related to the verbal root אָדַר, to be great or wide.

[5] A chlamys was a short cloak, worn by Grecian men.

[6] A stola was a long, outer garment.

[7] A paludamentum was a military cloak.

[8] Cato the Elder, or Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BC), was a Roman senator and statesman, and the first to right history in Latin.

[9] In Vita Catonis 4.

[10] Titus Maccius Plautus (254-184 BC) was a Roman playwright.  Only twenty-one of his nearly one hundred and thirty comedies survive.

[11] Publius Ælius Aristides Theodorus (117-181) was a second century Greek rhetorician.

[12] Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99-c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and Epicurean philosopher.  He was a proponent of a materialistic atomism, and thus a critic of religions.

[13] De Rerum Natura.

[14] Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion (second century) was a Tenna, and one of the Ten Martyrs, killed for ignoring the Roman ban on the teaching of the Torah.

[15] Hermione was a port town on the east coast of the Greek Peloponnese.  It was famous for its shipbuilders and for its porphyra (a reddish-purple dye).

[16] Apuleius’ (c. 125-c. 180) was a Latin-language, prose author. Florida contains portions of Apuleius’ speeches; and his novel, Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass, is the only Latin novel from this period that has survived in its entirety.

[17] Gaius Petronius Arbiter (c. 27-66) was a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero, and is believed to be the author of Satyricon, a satirical novel of that period.

[18] Ezekiel 23:15:  “Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads (סְרוּחֵ֤י טְבוּלִים֙ בְּרָ֣אשֵׁיהֶ֔ם), all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity…”

[19] It appears that there was somewhat more than six pounds of silver.

[20] The weight of the stater would vary from place to place, but the average ranges from a quarter- to a half-ounce.

[21] Again, the weight of the thaler would vary from place to place, but the average ranges from a half to two-thirds of an ounce.

[22] Hebrew: תַּחְתֶּיהָ.

[23] אֶרֶץ/earth is feminine.