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iv. MANASSEH BEN ISRAEL TO THE READER.
the sweat of his brow : in His infinite wisdom, for various reasons, He also disposed His word, which is sustenance for the soul, in such a manner that it should not be possible, without trouble, to attain the real meaning, for various reasons. First, by constant study, to afford us the opportunity of gaining merit, for who, after having read a profane history once or twice, spends more of his time upon it Therefore, God, desiring this exercise should be continual, commanded, “This book of the Law shall not depart from thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night;" it then became necessary, in His succinct words, to afford the means for deep contemplation, and that life should terminate previous to arriving at complete perfection, by which the Divine Scripture is most productive; for as Augustin says, God chose there should be many obscurities in the sacred writings that many ideas might result from them, and yet none contrary to faith. The prophets from this compare it to an immense sea, an unfathomable pit, a continual running stream, a profound abyss, and extensive plains. From its fecundity, the doctors attribute four meanings to the sacred text, -the historical, which is the literal; and the mystical, which is divided into tropological, allegorical, and anagogical, each of which admit of innumerable ideas and opinions; for in the same manner as a pleasant and extensive garden usually contains fruit suitable to the tastes of different persons, so in the Holy Scriptures, some passages are fordable, while others are more profound, which arises from the ambiguity and obscurity mentioned. And as R. Levi ben Gershon learnedly argued, the Divine History, unlike profane, has not a fixed and regular style, but now, concise and unintelligible, then, very prolix and diffuse, so that we may be always endeavouring to investigate the reasons. But it must be observed, the obscurity mentioned is not found on any thing whereon depends the welfare and salvation of mankind, for on those points God speaks plainly and clearly, as in shewing that He is One, that He is from all eternity, that He gave existence to the Universe, that His providence is over every thing, and similar things necessary to faith and the felicity of man." Now then, kind reader, you may easily judge how laborious my life has been, and the little leisure I have enjoyed. Having to leave my house so frequented by the mobility and learned, for the present I take my leave of you. Farewell, friendly reader. Adieu, Adieu.
* In answer to various inquiries, the Author here details all his works, which the Translator omits, as they are stated in his Biography.
QUESTION I. Josh. 1:11. Pass through the camp, and Josh. 2:22. And they (the spies) went, command the people, saying, Prepare you and came unto the mountain, and abode provision; for within three days ye shall there three days, until the pursuers were pass over this Jordan. returned.
3: 2. And it came to pass at the end of three days. 16. The people passed over.
The difficulty here is manifest; for Joshua told the people that within three days they would pass the Jordan, which does not appear to have taken place. The reason is, the spies departed the day on which Joshua issued orders for the people to prepare themselves to cross it at a stipulated time; and when it is considered that they arrived at Jericho the same night, it is to be believed that some time would elapse in examining and making themselves acquainted with the place; afterwards (by advice of Rahab) they concealed themselves for three days in the mountains: at the earliest it would be the fifth day ere they could have repassed the Jordan and rejoined their brethren; how then can this contradiction and these apparently repugnant texts be reconciled?
Augustin,' finding no other mode to solve so great a difficulty, said, from the order Joshua issued, being a human disposition, it was liable to error, and therefore he affirms that the people crossed the Jordan on the fifth day, although Joshua had said that the passage should take place on the third. Some interpreters consider it incredible that Joshua should have deceived himself in
"Ques. 2, in Joshua. VOL. II. B
his first determination, when he had the Almighty at hand, whom he could at all times consult through the medium of Eleazar the high priest. Augustin remarks as to this, that Moses also had the Divine aid for his guide, yet he was deceived like other men, in hearing causes from morning to night, until he altered the form of judicature in consequence of Jethro's advice. He therefore concludes, that it is not extraordinary that Joshua, calculating the distance from the camp to Jericho, concluded that three days would be sufficient time for the spies to return and for the passage of the people to the opposite side of the river, which he was obliged to postpone by the order of God. But on consideration, this reasoning is not satisfactory; because the case from which the institution of judges cannot be termed an error, from the fact of Moses alone doing that which was subsequently done by a body, and was nothing more (as the sacred text says) than a desire of Jethro to relieve his son-inlaw, Moses, from so onerous a charge, on the ground, that it was improper and too much for him to be constantly engaged as judge from morning to night; thus Jethro ordained nothing in contravention to the order of Moses, but only recommended a different system of judicature which Moses adopted, and even were we to admit that he had once deceived himself, it is of no importance, since he, who had in so many cases established his divine mission and fame as a true prophet, being deceived in one instance, would not lessen his reputation; but with Joshua the case was different, because not having as yet performed any memorable action, nor prophetic miracle, to induce the people to respect him, it cannot be believed that he would have run the risk of being deceived in his first resolution, and have placed his reputation as a prophet in jeopardy by not seeking the counsel of God. Therefore putting this aside as untenable, and seeking some other solution, we find that the ancient sages have thus explained it. Moses, the prince of prophets, died on the 7th of Adar. The people mourned for him thirty days, as recorded in the end of Deuteronomy, and which terminated on the 7th of Nisan. On the morning of that day, Joshua issued the decree, that they should prepare, at the end of three days, to cross the Jordan, which time expired on the morning of the tenth of that month, as the text says, “And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month;” although, according to this, it appears that two days are yet wanting to complete the time employed by the spies, as demonstrated in the question. R. Levi ben Gershon, R. David Kimchi, and Don Isaac Abarbanel, hold that Joshua sent the spies on the 5th of Nisan, two days previously to the promulgation of the decree, which was proclaimed on the termination of the mourning for Moses; to which the said Don Isaac Abarbanel adds, that the embassy was very secret, in order that Israel might not imagine that the passage of the Jordan depended on the good or bad report of the spies; for the intention of Joshua was only to ascertain by what road he should proceed; and that the report might not be brought publicly, and thus cause such a tumult as had arisen in the time of Moses on a similar occasion: it is said, therefore, that he sent two spies, “wnn "o “quietly,” or “privately,” that none might know it; and, confiding in the word of God as infallible, two days after their departure he issued the command, that the people should prepare themselves to pass the Jordan at the end of three days; and so it took place accordingly, for at the appointed time the spies returned, and the people passed over. And the circumstance of the embassy of the spies being recorded after the decree is no obstacle, because it is a maxim of the ancients, that in the divine writings, in many instances, for some motive, the consecutive order of events is not adhered to, but in many places, that is postponed which ought to precede, as has been sufficiently proved in the first part of this work." It may likewise be affirmed, and on better grounds, in my humble judgment, that by translating the words wwwn" now”, “And Joshua had already sent;” because, in the Hebrew language, the perfect serves also for the pluperfect, and in conformity to this, where it says, that “at the end of three days, they passed over,” means, from the time the command was issued, that they should be prepared to do so. Another, and very appropriate exposition is given by R. Levi ben Gershon: he says, that the words of Joshua, pop nu%u Tiya, should be interpreted, “in yet three days,” because the adverb Ty means “yet,” as nns will my “yet one plague,” and so wished to say, that in yet three days, or three days more being expired beyond that on which he gave the order, they should pass over Jordan: in conjunction with this, he holds that where the verse says, “And hide yourselves there three days,” must be understood, “until three days,” or the third day of their departure. And saying, according to this, that the adverb Ty “until” should have been used, presents no difficulty, because, as he proves by other passages of the Holy Scriptures, many texts are obliged to be explained in this manner, although deficient of the said adverb. So that he thus solves the doubt, as the command was, that at the expiration of three days more, they should cross over; and this took place: for the spies departed on that day, and arrived at night at Rahab's house; they were afterwards concealed during two days, or until the third of their departure: on which they returned to the camp, when their report given to Joshua is mentioned; and as Joshua “rose early in the morning, and removed from Shittim unto Jordan,” and lodged or slept there, the three appointed days then expired. But as he did not wish to pass over Jordan during the night, as the miracle of the division of its waters would not have been as manifest as by day, from which, as regarded Israel, their faith in God and his prophet Joshua would be the result, and great terror and fear would be inspired in the heathem. Conformably to this, what the other text says is very appropriate, “And it came to pass after three days;” because it so occurred, that after the three specified days were expired, (besides that in which they were,) they passed to the other side of Jordan: and this manner of computation is very conformable to the text. Another explanation may also be given, which is, that the proclamation issued by Joshua, that at the end of three days more they should pass over Jordan, must not be understood that they should then punctually pass over that river; but that as the other side was the Holy Land, he meant to say, that at the end of three days they would be on their march to cross it, and this was by prophesying and anticipating that the spies would be detained during that time; and thus it was; for on the night of the third day of their concealment in the mountains they arrived with their report to Joshua ; and the Scripture then says, “And Joshua rose early in the morning; and went by the way of Shittim until he arrived at Jordan, and there slept.” Thus doing as he had purposed, that at the end of three days they should pass Jordan, which means they should be on the road to cross it; and what is said below, “And it came to pass at the end of three days, the officers went through the camp,” refers to the time when the spies returned, as they arrived on the third day of their concealment, and informed Joshua of all that had passed, when it is said, that “Joshua rose early in the morning,” and removed from Shittim to Jordan, and that he arrived there at night, which makes up two days; on that night he slept there, and on the third day passed the Jordan, whereby all the reckonings accord.
* C. 4: 19. * C. 2: 1.
QUESTION 2. Josh. 1: 13. Remember the word which There is no mention made in the 32nd Moses the servant of the Lord com- chapter of Numbers, that Moses ever manded you, saying, The Lord your God spake such words to the Reubenites and hath given you rest, and hath given you Gadites. this land. RECONCILIATION.
Don Isaac Abarbanel proposes this doubt, and solves it by saying, that Joshua here reminds the Reubenites and Gadites of the oath they had taken to Moses, and thereupon persuades them also by his own reasonings to continue in that course, and explains the verse thus:– “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you (that is, the oath), saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land;” that is, saying further and adding, that although they had subjected and conquered the countries of Sihon and Og by force of arms, they were not troubled with enemies, but were in repose. He adds, in order that they might not say that they had obtained these countries by their own prowess and strength, such not being the case, but that God had given it to them, it therefore would be unjust were they to enjoy it without taking any further trouble. After the conquest of the other countries he sends them home, saying, “Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:” from which it is inferred, that he incited them to do their duty, not only by reminding them of what had passed with Moses, but also with his own proper counsel, wt supra.
In my opinion, however, R. Samuel Laniado solves this doubt more readily in his “Keli Yakar,” saying, that although Moses did not specifically declare these words, they are, nevertheless, implied in those he did say to them, “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here;” and therefore the text says “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying,[that is, meaning,) The Lord God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land:” and it would be, therefore, unjust that you should be in repose while the others are at war; therefore he continues “Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land, &c. but ye shall pass before your brethren armed.” So that it was unnecessary to repeat the same literal words, because, as the learned Aben Ezra says (upon the 20th chapter of Exodus), prophets do not always observe the exact words, but adhere to the meaning.
QUESTION 3. Josh. 4: 11. And it came to pass, when all Ibid. That the ark of the Lord passed over, the people had ended passing over. and the priests before the people.
| C. 22:2. * Numb, 32:6.