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 7:7: 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.

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׃