Joshua 7:11: God’s Explanation of the Defeat at Ai, Part 2

Verse 11:[1] (Josh. 7:1) Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: (Josh. 6:17, 18) for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and (see Acts 5:1, 2) dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.

[Israel has sinned] One of Israel (Lapide, Talmudists in Masius). Rather, the children of Israel. For the sin of one member is often imputed to the whole body (Drusius, similarly Masius). So that God might apply the remedy, He reveals the ills. We are rightly cured from ills only after we have a knowledge of them, having been closely examined (Malvenda).

Israel; some or one of them, as before on Joshua 7:1.

[It has transgressed my covenant] Either, because the obedience that they had promised in the covenant, Exodus 19:8; 24:7, they did not yield (Junius, Drusius); or, because they acted against my interdict (Drusius). Hence it is evident that the General did not set forth that law concerning the anathema by his own will, but by the command of God (Masius). He aggravates the offense here by degrees. They offended grievously. 1. They saved things that it was necessary to have destroyed. 2. And they took them for themselves privately. 3. And that secretly, as if anything is able to be done without my knowledge. 4. Moreover, they tried to deceive with lies. 5. They persevered in purpose, with those things stored among their furniture. Thus it is able to be translated; for also they have taken…indeed, also they have stolen, indeed also they have lied, indeed also they have stored, etc. (Piscator).

[And they have lied, וְגַ֣ם כִּֽחֲשׁ֔וּ] And also they denied (Jonathan, Arabic, Montanus), they lied (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). Either, 1. not in word, but in deed (Lapide): by not bringing into the Lord’s treasury what he ought (Malvenda out of Junius). Or, 2. because, with Joshua preventing lest they seize upon anything of the cursed thing, all, either expressly or tacitly, are seen to promise that they were going to oblige him (Bonfrerius). All had promised that they would take nothing of the cursed thing, Joshua 6:17-20 (Menochius out of Serarius). Or, 3. inasmuch as they denied that they took it (Vatablus, Drusius). Perhaps some asked Achan concerning the cursed thing (Drusius). Or, all having been asked whether they had taken anything denied (certain interpreters in Malvenda). Or, 4. because purpose was to deny by lying, if anyone had asked (Drusius).

[And they have hidden among the stuff[2]] There are those that think his tent to be signified (Drusius); in which they had buried those things (Kimchi in Masius). I rather translate it, they stored it among their own furniture (Masius, similarly Vatablus), which he calls vessels. Ἐνοσφίσαντο (Septuagint), they converted it unto their own use (Drusius). They mixed it with their own things, persisting in their sin (Malvenda out of Junius). It is to be observed how gravely God charges that with sin, which could appear slight, being conjoined with the injury of no man, and hence how no hope of salvation would remain to us, if God should treat with us according to perfect justice, Psalm 143:2 (Masius).

Transgressed my covenant, that is, broken the conditions of my covenant which I have commanded them, and they have promised to perform, namely, obedience to all my commands, Exodus 19:8; 24:7, whereof this was one, not to meddle with the accursed thing. Of the accursed thing, which I charged them not to meddle with. And have also stolen, that is, taken my portion which I had reserved, Joshua 6:19. Dissembled; covered the fact with deep dissimulation, and a real, if not verbal, profession of their innocency. Possibly Achan might be suspected; and being accused, had denied it, or was resolved to deny it. Put it even among their own stuff; converted it to their own use, and added obstinacy and resolvedness to the crime; thus he loads this sin with divers aggravations.

[1] Hebrew: חָטָא֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְגַם֙ עָבְר֣וּ אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּ֖יתִי אוֹתָ֑ם וְגַ֤ם לָֽקְחוּ֙ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם וְגַ֤ם גָּֽנְבוּ֙ וְגַ֣ם כִּֽחֲשׁ֔וּ וְגַ֖ם שָׂ֥מוּ בִכְלֵיהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וְגַ֖ם שָׂ֥מוּ בִכְלֵיהֶֽם׃.

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 7:7: 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׃