Joshua 6:15: The Seventh Day’s March, Part 1

Verse 15:[1]  And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times:  only on that day they compassed the city seven times.

[On the seventh day]  They deliver by tradition that it was the Sabbath (Hebrews in Lapide).  But the Rabbis divine in their customary manner.  Nevertheless, one of the seven days undoubtedly was the day of the Sabbath (Bonfrerius).  Hence Marcion[2] charges inconstancy upon God (the God of the Old Testament), who elsewhere commands to rest, here to circle the city.  But Tertullian responds:  On the Sabbath human works are prohibited, not Divine:  but those that God commands are Divine[3] (Masius on verse 4).  He fixed the Law for the Jews, not for Himself (Lapide).  It was dispensed with by God (Bonfrerius).

[Early, כַּעֲל֣וֹת הַשַּׁ֔חַר]  When the dawn was ascending (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, similarly Montanus, Malvenda, Arabic).  With Dawn beginning, or otherwise, with Dawn vanishing or departing, after Dawn (Malvenda).  With twilight rising[4] (Masius).  When the present ceremony is chiefly observed in the septenary number (for there are seven priests, seven horns, seven days, seven circuits), it will not be unsuitable to spend a little time looking into the mystery of its number.  Among all the matter is acknowledged, that God, as it were, hallowed this number on the seventh day, on which He abstained from creating things.  And thence there was always a singular veneration of this number among profane writers (who had drawn the doctrine of Divine things from Moses); and Cicero calls it the intersection point of all things;[5] and Linus, a most ancient Poet,[6] calls it the origin of all things.[7]  Therefore, this appears to be the source of this mystery.  The world consists of six parts:  which are, 1.  Angels; 2.  the Elements; 3.  inanimate Bodies, of which sort are metals, stones, etc.; 4.  Φυτὰ/plants, which live, but are without sense and motion; 5.  brute Animals; 6.  Man, who of those parts which we have mentioned is, as it were, the intersection and bond, in whom the very universe of things is comprehended in a most beautiful harmony.  Now, that those six dualities, if I might speak thus, of created things subsist, and do not return to nothing in the same moment, God willed to refer to His origination of them, from which they are to be continually sustained.  Therefore, that group of six, as it proceeds from the first Unity, God, as the source, so it is returned to it again, and ends in it; and into that ought all our counsels, actions, etc., to be referred.  And God appears to will this, in that He sets this number everywhere before our eyes.  Therefore, the Sabbath appears to be the mystery of the Septenary unity, and that Rest, in which God abstained from creating things, and, as it were, returned unto that, His abyss of eternity, as if unto quiet, but in such a way that He was already then leading the things created by Him with Him to that, His quiet in a certain measure, and not sending them away from Himself (Masius).

[As it was appointed]  Hebrew:  according to this judgment[8] (Malvenda, Bonfrerius, Piscator); according to manner, or custom (Pagnine, Tigurinus, the Chaldean in Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י וַיַּשְׁכִּ֙מוּ֙ כַּעֲל֣וֹת הַשַּׁ֔חַר וַיָּסֹ֧בּוּ אֶת־הָעִ֛יר כַּמִּשְׁפָּ֥ט הַזֶּ֖ה שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֑ים רַ֚ק בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא סָבְב֥וּ אֶת־הָעִ֖יר שֶׁ֥בַע פְּעָמִֽים׃

[2] Marcion (c. 85-160) was a Gnostic heretic from Sinope, Turkey.  He was very influential in the early Church, in spite of being excommunicated.  Marcion asserted that the God of the Old Testament was a lesser demiurge, a God of law, strict justice, and wrath.  The God of the New Testament is a God of love and grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, and purely preached by Paul.  It is not surprising that Marcion rejected all of the Old Testament, and the New Testament books that speak favorably of the God of the Old Testament.  Marcion’s canon consisted of an expurgated edition of Luke and ten of Paul’s epistles.

[3] Against Marcion 4:12.

[4]  שַׁחַרmay be related to the verbal root שָׁחַר, to be black.

[5] Scipio’s Dream 5.

[6] Linus was an ancient Greek poet.  It is said that he was the son of Amphimarus, son of Poseidon, and Ourania, the Muse.

[7] Eusebius’ Preparation of the Gospel 13:12.

[8] Joshua 6:15a:  “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner (כַּמִּשְׁפָּ֥ט הַזֶּ֖ה) seven times…”