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.

Joshua 6:24, 25: The Salvation of Rahab and Her House, Part 2

Verse 24:[1] And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: (Josh. 6:19) only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.


Verse 25:[2] And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and (see Matt. 1:5) she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

[And he caused to live, הֶחֱיָה[3]] He vivified, that is, he preserved unharmed (Vatablus, similarly Masius, Drusius, Lapide). Others: he gave a livelihood, that is, fields and possessions whence they might be able to sustain life (Kimchi in Masius). Question: How were they able to preserve her against the commandments of God, Exodus 23; 34? Responses: 1. That Law was to be moderated by this equity, that unto those that might seek peace, and abjure their false gods, it might not pertain. See more on Joshua 11 (Masius). It was dispensed with here (Lapide).

And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, etc.: For that general command of rooting out the Canaanites seems to have had some exception, in case any of them had sincerely and seasonably cast off their idolatry and wickedness, and submitted themselves to the Israelites, as we shall see hereafter.

[Unto the present day] There is a similar thing in Joshua 4:9. Was this added by Joshua, or by Ezra (Grotius)?

[1] Hebrew: וְהָעִ֛יר שָׂרְפ֥וּ בָאֵ֖שׁ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֑הּ רַ֣ק׀ הַכֶּ֣סֶף וְהַזָּהָ֗ב וּכְלֵ֤י הַנְּחֹ֙שֶׁת֙ וְהַבַּרְזֶ֔ל נָתְנ֖וּ אוֹצַ֥ר בֵּית־יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וְֽאֶת־רָחָ֣ב הַ֠זּוֹנָה וְאֶת־בֵּ֙ית אָבִ֤יהָ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לָהּ֙ הֶחֱיָ֣ה יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ וַ֙תֵּשֶׁב֙ בְּקֶ֣רֶב יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֤י הֶחְבִּ֙יאָה֙ אֶת־הַמַּלְאָכִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־שָׁלַ֥ח יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ לְרַגֵּ֥ל אֶת־יְרִיחֽוֹ׃

[3] Here חָיָה, to live, is in the Hiphil conjugation, which frequently conveys a causative sense.

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 6:19: Herem-Warfare against Jericho, Part 3

Verse 19:[1] But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated (Heb. holiness[2]) unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

[Let it be consecrated to the Lord, קֹ֥דֶשׁ ה֖וּא לַֽיהוָ֑ה] Holiness, or holy, or consecrated, to Jehovah (Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). What previously was called חֵרֶם/devoted is here called holy (Masius). The sense: Just as if the thing be consecrated holy to God (Lapide).

But all…are consecrated unto the Lord: Except that of which images were made, which were to be utterly destroyed, Exodus 32:20; Deuteronomy 7:25. Consecrated unto the Lord; being first made to pass through the fire, Numbers 31:22, 23.

[Stored in His treasuries] Hebrew: let them be brought into the treasure of Jehovah;[3] that is, as things consecrated to Jehovah, let them be brought into His treasury (Vatablus). Into the treasury of the house of the sanctuary, etc. (Chaldean), suppose, into the Tabernacle, for its use or ornament (Lapide). There that loot was stored, Numbers 31 (Masius). But note that this is added because otherwise all accursed things belonged to the Priests by law, Numbers 18:14; that is, unless the contrary be expressly added by God, or by the one vowing or offering, that they might belong to the Temple (Bonfrerius).

They shall come into the treasury of the Lord, to be employed wholly for the service or uses of the tabernacle, not to be applied to the use of any private person or priest.

[1] Hebrew: וְכֹ֣ל׀ כֶּ֣סֶף וְזָהָ֗ב וּכְלֵ֤י נְחֹ֙שֶׁת֙ וּבַרְזֶ֔ל קֹ֥דֶשׁ ה֖וּא לַֽיהוָ֑ה אוֹצַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה יָבֽוֹא׃

[2] Hebrew: קֹדֶשׁ.

[3] Hebrew: אוֹצַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה יָבֽוֹא׃.

Joshua 6:18: Herem-Warfare against Jericho, Part 2

Verse 18:[1] And ye, (Deut. 7:26; 13:17; Josh. 7:1, 11, 12) in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, (Josh. 7:25; 1 Kings 18:17, 18; Jonah 1:12) and trouble it.

[But beware, etc. (thus the Syriac), take heed to yourselves (Arabic), וְרַק־אַתֶּם֙ שִׁמְר֣וּ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם] And only keep yourselves from the accursed thing (Montanus). Keep, understanding, yourselves, which they more usually express by הִשָּׁמְרוּ[2] (Drusius). Keep yourselves, etc., that is, each of you thyself, and others themselves. See Joshua 7:1 (Junius).

[Lest concerning these things that are prohibited, etc.,פֶּֽן־תַּחֲרִ֖ימוּ וּלְקַחְתֶּ֣ם מִן־הַחֵ֑רֶם] Lest ye be accursed, that is, lest ye lay hold of the accursed thing. The ו/and is set down exegetically in וּלְקַחְתֶּם, and, or that is, ye take (Drusius out of Kimchi, Lapide out of Masius). Lest perchance, while laying waste, ye lay hold of the Herem[3] (Tigurinus). Lest perchance ye touch anything of what is accursed, and bear away of what is accursed (Pagnine). Lest ye make yourselves accursed, taking of that accursed thing (Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Dutch, Serarius, Bonfrerius). But yourselves is not in the text (Dieu). The Chaldean renders it best, lest ye devote, and receive of the devoted thing; that is, lest, after ye have devoted, ye receive of the devoted thing: lest at one and the same time ye devote, and yet lay hold of those things; for both were not able to stand together: that is to say, Beware, therefore, lest ye do two contrary things (Dieu).

[And all the camps be under sin, וְשַׂמְתֶּם וגו״] And ye put the camps of Israel for an accursed thing, namely, with the occasion of this thing presented. Sometimes an action is attributed, and an active verb, to one concurring through circumstances with an action or effect, although it be not intended by the agent (Glassius’ “Grammar” 298).

[And it be troubled, וַעֲכַרְתֶּם] And ye trouble (Montanus, Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), ye find fault with (Arabic). In the word עָכַר/achar, there is κατὰ παρονομασίαν, by paronomasia,[4] a prelude, as it were, of that matter which shall be narrated in the next chapter: For that man is called both Achar[5] and Achan (Masius).

Make the camp of Israel a curse, by provoking God to punish them for your sin, in which they may be one way or other involved; or at least upon the occasion of your sin: for, to speak properly God will not (the case of Adam’s sin only excepted) punish one man for the sin of another, as he hath oft declared; but the whole camp having sins of their own, God might take what occasion he saw fit to inflict this punishment.

[1] Hebrew: וְרַק־אַתֶּם֙ שִׁמְר֣וּ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם פֶּֽן־תַּחֲרִ֖ימוּ וּלְקַחְתֶּ֣ם מִן־הַחֵ֑רֶם וְשַׂמְתֶּ֞ם אֶת־מַחֲנֵ֤ה יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְחֵ֔רֶם וַעֲכַרְתֶּ֖ם אוֹתֽוֹ׃

[2] In the case of שָׁמַר, the Niphal conjugation can convey a reflexive sense.

[3] Hebrew: חֵרֶם/herem, an accursed thing.

[4] That is, a play on words.

[5] 1 Chronicles 2:7:  “And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israelעָכָר֙ עוֹכֵ֣ר) יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל), who transgressed in the thing accursed.”

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.