Joshua 6
Benson Commentary
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
Joshua 6:1-2. Jericho was straitly shut up — They had shut up all their gates, and kept a very strict guard at them, for fear of the children of Israel. And the Lord said unto Joshua — There is great reason to believe, and indeed most commentators agree, that this was spoken by the divine person who is said in the preceding chapter to have appeared to Joshua in the form of a man, but who styled himself captain of the host of the Lord, and is here called Jehovah, which shows that he was not of the angelic order. It is probable that the king and people of Jericho had refused the offers of peace which God ordered to be first sent to every city before they besieged it, Deuteronomy 20:10; and, trusting to their forces, had taken up a desperate resolution not to yield on any terms.

And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
Joshua 6:3. Round about the city once — At a convenient distance, out of the reach of their arrows. Six days — Every day once. This and the following course might seem ridiculous and absurd, and is therefore prescribed by God, that they might learn to take new measures of things, and to expect success, not from their own valour, or skill, but merely from God’s appointment and blessing; and in general, not to judge of any of God’s institutions by mere carnal reason, to which divers of their ceremonies would seem no less foolish than this action.

And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
Joshua 6:5. The wall — Not all of it; which was unnecessary, and might have given the people better opportunity of escaping; but only a considerable part of it, where the Israelites might fitly enter: for Rahab’s house was not overthrown, Joshua 6:22. Flat — Hebrew, under it. It was not battered down with engines, which would have made part of it fall out of its place, but it fell of its own accord, and therefore in the place it did formerly stand in. God chose this way to try the faith and obedience of the people; whether they would observe a precept which, to human policy, seemed foolish, and believe a promise which seemed impossible to be performed; whether they could patiently bear the reproaches of their enemies, and patiently wait for the salvation of God. Thus, by faith, not by force, the walls of Jericho fell down.

And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
Joshua 6:6. Of rams’ horns — Of the basest matter and the dullest sound, that the excellence of the power might be of God. The original words, however, here and Joshua 6:4, שׁופרות יובלום, shoperoth jobelim, may be properly rendered, trumpets of jubilee; that is, such trumpets as were to be blown in the year of jubilee. And many prefer this translation, alleging that, as the horns of rams are not hollow, trumpets cannot be made of them, even when bored, capable of giving any thing of a strong sound. They would, therefore, understand the words here as signifying trumpets made in the shape of rams’ horns. But others have urged that there is no difficulty in making such an instrument of a ram’s horn as may give a pretty strong sound: “it being certain that the inside of these horns is no ways hard, and may easily be taken out, excepting a space at the point of about four or five inches, part of which is sawed off, in order to proportionate the aperture to the mouth; after which, the rest is easily pierced. And we can assure our readers,” say the authors of the Universal History, “that we have seen some of these trumpets, thus made, used by the shepherds in the southern parts of Germany.”

And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
Joshua 6:7-10. Let him that is armed pass on — God would have them armed, both for the defence of themselves and the ark, in case the enemies should make a sally upon them, and for the execution of the Lord’s vengeance upon that city. The rereward — Which, being opposed to the armed men, may seem to denote the unarmed people, who were desirous to be spectators of this wonderful work. Ye shall not shout — Because shouting before the time appointed would be ineffectual, and so might give them some discouragement, and their enemies matter of insulting.

And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
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.
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
Joshua 6:16. At the seventh time Joshua said, Shout — To testify your faith in God’s promise, and thankfulness for this glorious mercy; to encourage yourselves and brethren, and to strike a terror into your enemies. The Lord hath given you the city — It is given to you to be devoted to God, as the first (and perhaps the worst) of all the cities of Canaan.

And the city shall be accursed, 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.
Joshua 6:17. The city shall be accursed — to the Lord — That is, devoted to destruction, by the right which God has to punish such as offend against him. This he speaks by direction from God, (see 1 Kings 16:34,) whose will it was that every thing in Jericho should be utterly destroyed, as well inanimate things by burning them, &c, as men and cattle, by the edge of the sword; excepting only the things that were found in the house of Rahab, and the vessels of silver and gold, brass and iron, which were to be consecrated to the Lord, and put into the treasury of the tabernacle. God seems to have caused the first spoils made in the land of Canaan to be dedicated to his use, 1st, Because the first-fruits were appropriated to him as his due; 2d, To signify that he was their leader, and that these victories were owing to him; 3d, Lest the soldiers, being glutted with the spoil of this rich city, should grow sluggish in their work; and, 4th, That on entering the land of Canaan they might be made thoroughly to understand that they had no right to the riches of that country but what he gave them; and that he would always keep to himself the power of restraining that right as he should see proper. In the mean time the severity enjoined to be exercised toward the persons of the people of the city, in putting them to the sword, was undoubtedly worthy of his infinite wisdom, as well as suitable to his holiness and justice: while it struck a terror into the rest of their enemies, it might determine them to prevent, by accepting of peace, or by flight, a punishment which their enormous and wilful crimes had otherwise rendered unavoidable.

And ye, 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, and trouble it.
Joshua 6:18. Keep yourselves from the accursed thing — It should rather be rendered, the devoted thing, meaning the spoils devoted to the Lord. These they were not to touch, on pain of being themselves devoted to death. Lest ye make yourselves accursed — Lest you draw upon yourselves the immediate curse of God, and so bring yourselves under the same sentence of destruction as the inhabitants and things of Jericho are under. And 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; for the whole camp having sins of their own, God might take what occasion he saw fit to inflict this punishment.

But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
Joshua 6:19. Vessels of brass and iron — Except that of which images were made, which were utterly to be destroyed. Unto the Lord — Being first made to pass through the fire, Numbers 31:22-23. Treasury of the Lord — To be employed wholly for the uses of the tabernacle, not to be applied to the use of any private person or priest.

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 the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
And they 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.
Joshua 6:21. Young and old — 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 at the disposal of their Creator; and it was a great favour to them to take them away in their infancy, rather than reserve them to those dreadful calamities to which those who survived them were exposed.

But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
Joshua 6:22-25. The harlot’s house — Which, together with the wall upon which it leaned, was left standing, by a special favour of God to her. Left them without the camp of Israel — Till they were cleansed from the impurities of their Gentile state, and instructed in the Jewish religion, and solemnly admitted into that church, for which Rahab’s good counsel and example had doubtless prepared them. Joshua saved Rahab alive — For that general command to root out the Canaanites seems to have had some exceptions, in case any of them had sincerely and seasonably cast off their idolatry and wickedness, submitted to the Israelites, and become members of the church of God. She dwelleth in Israel unto this day — This shows that the book of Joshua was written while Rahab was alive.

And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: 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.
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
Joshua 6:26. Joshua adjured them at that time — Hebrew, ישׁבע, jashbang, he made them to swear. As soon as the city was destroyed, it seems, he convened the heads of the tribes, to signify to them that it was the will of God this idolatrous city should never be rebuilt, and then engaged them to take an oath that they would leave it in ruins. And they doubtless bound the people in like manner not to rebuild it, on pain of the divine malediction. Cursed be the man before the Lord — That is, from God’s presence, and by his sentence, as Joshua is said (Joshua 18:8; Joshua 18:10) to cast lots before the Lord, expecting the decision from God. He intimates that he does not utter this of himself, or in consequence of any particular dislike of that place; but from Jehovah, and by divine inspiration. God would have the ruins of this city remain as a standing monument of his justice against this wicked and idolatrous people, and of his almighty power in destroying so great and strong a city by such contemptible means. Thus Maimonides, the Jewish rabbi: “Joshua pronounced a curse against those who should build up Jericho, that the remembrance of the miracle which God had wrought by destroying it might never be effaced; for all who looked on these ruins, thus sunk into the earth,” (he thought the walls were swallowed up rather than overthrown,) “clearly saw them to be the ruins of a city destroyed by a miracle, and not by the hand of men.” Cursed be the man that buildeth this city — That is, that shall attempt to build it. So this curse was restrained to the builder, but no way belonged to those who should inhabit it after it was built, as is evident from 2 Kings 2:18; Luke 19:5. In his youngest son — That is, he shall lose all his children in the work, the first at the beginning, others in the progress of it, and the youngest in the close, when the gates were wont to be set up. This was exactly fulfilled, as we read, (1 Kings 16:34,) Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, who died in the beginning of the work, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, who died when it was finished, and the gates were setting up.

So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
Joshua 6:27. So the Lord was with Joshua — The Chaldee interprets it, The Word of the Lord was with him, even Christ, the eternal Word, the same that was with Moses. Nothing makes a man more truly great than to have evidences that God is with him.

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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