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towards it. The place was strong, well provided, and full of inhabitants who had retired into it, and seemed resolved to make a brave defence. Joshua therefore undertakes to view the place by himself, to find out the most advantageous approaches to it. While he was making his observations, there appeared the awful form of a man, but with a lustre in his face that bespoke him more than mortal. In his hand he held a flaming sword, and his whole appearance far surpassed any thing of human nature. The Israelitish general advances to this great unknown, with a courage becoming his character, and boldly demands, who he is for? He answers, For Israel, of whose army and people he was the guardian. At these words the general falls prostrate, and waits the command of his Lord, who bids him loose his sandals, and not profane the holy place with irreverent approaches.* Joshua obeys, and receives new orders for the better management of the siege of Jericho He was to cause all the forces to march round the place six days successively, and that on the seventh day the priests should take the seven trumpets made of rams' horns, which were used to proclaim the Jubileet year; that they should go before the ark,
Approaches. This great personage who appeared in a human form, was no other (as Bishop Patrick judges, with the ancient Fathers) than the Son of God, the eternal Word, who frequently, before his incarnation, thus manifested himself to his favoured servants, and, on this important occasion, in a military style.
By the act of adoration and the title of Lord, given to him by Joshua, it is plain that this illustrious person, the Guardian or Captain of the Lord's Host, was Christ, the Son of God, who was pleased in this manner to appear to Joshua, both to encourage and direct him. Wherefore, having first bid Joshua (as Moses was bid at the burning bush, Exod. iii. 5.) to put off his shoes, because the place whereon he stood was holy, (which confirms that it was Christ, whose presence consecrates every place, where he appears) and Joshua having obeyed, ch. v. 13, 14, 15. the Lord said, ch. vi. 2. See I have given into thy hands Jericho, and the king thereof, with the mighty men of valour ;" and instructed him in what manner he should besiege the city, and shew how he should take it, ch. vi. 2, &c.
Jubilee. This word is derived from the Hebrew word Jobel, which signifies a ram, and also a ram's horn, as here in Josh. vi. 4. where the word Jobelim is used and expounded by the Chaldee paraphrast, rams' borns.
and round the city, and when the trumpets sounded first loud, and then low, the people should all give a shout, for then the walls of the city should fall, and every man should march in at the place which was directly before him.
Having encircled the city six days, as they were commanded, on the seventh, by break of day, they encompassed it seven times, and at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, the General said to the people, Shout! for the Lord hath given you the city." On which the people gave a shout, and immediately the wall of the city fell down; so that the army marched directly up to it, and took it, putting all to the sword, both man and beast, old and young: only Rahab, and those in her house were saved alive; for Joshua had given a strict charge before-hand to the two spies (whom she had formerly concealed) to take care, when the town should be taken, to go to her house, and bring out her family in discharge of their oath to her which they accordingly did, and left her, with all her kindred and substance safe without the camp of Israel. Then setting fire to the city they destroyed every thing in it, except the silver and gold, and vessels of brass and iron; which were put into the treasury of the house of the Lord, as it had been com. manded. And lest any one should attempt to rebuild this city, Joshua published this prophetic imprecation on the bold undertaker; "That he should lay the foundation "thereof in his first-born, and set up the gates thereof in "his youngest son:" By which he meant that it should be the ruint of his family.
Before the city was taken, Joshua had cautioned the people not to spare any thing that was in it, but to destroy
Without, &c. Being aliens, or heathens, they were not permitted to come within the camp, till they were proselyted, or at least legally purified.
Ruin. This was exactly fulfilled in Hiel the Bethelite; who in the days of Ahab king of Israel (above five hundred years after) began to rebuild Jericho with the loss of his eldest son Abiram, and finished it with the loss of Segub his youngest son, 1 Kings xvi. 34.
all that lay in their way, except silver, gold, brass, and iron; which were to be consecrated to the Lord. And therefore he warned them not to meddle with any thing, for fear of bringing a curse, not only upon themselves, but upon all the nation of the Israelites.
Notwithstanding the strict charge of Joshua against meddling with any thing that was devoted to this general destruction, or consecrated to the Lord, yet so prevailing was the sacrilegious thirst of gold, that one of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Achan, contrary to the command of the General, took a portion of the spoil of each sort, and hid it. This proved of ill consequence to Israel at large, and was discovered on the following occasion. Joshua, being desirous to take a little city -named Ai, near Bethaven, to the east of Bethel, and knowing that it was neither populous nor well defended, detached a body of three thousand men only, to go and attack it; who no sooner approach the town, than the inhabitants sally out, repulse them, and drive them back to the camp; whither those that escaped returned in such consternation, that they diffused a general terror throughout the whole army.
This defeat so much afflicted Joshua, that rending his clothes, and prostrating himself before the Ark of the Lord, he lay there till the evening, both he and the elders, in.token of extreme sorrow* and humiliation, sprinkling dust on their reverend heads. But Joshua, being wholly ignorant of the offence, and desirous to know what had provoked God to desert his people, in an humble expostulation thus complains to him. "Wherefore, O "Lord God, hast thou brought this people over Jordan "to deliver them into the hands of the Amorites to de"stroy them? We had been happy, hadst thou permitted 66 us to have dwelt on the other side of Jordan. What "shall I say, when Israel turn their backs upon their ene"mies? For when the Canaanites, and all the inhabitants "of this land shall hear of this, they will surround us, "and cut us off, and what will become of thy honour ?"
* Sorrow. See 1 Sam. iv. 11. Nehem. ix. 1.
The Lord, not willing to let his servant Joshua languish under the melancholy thought of being deserted by him, tells him there is a latent cause of his displeasure among the people-That some of them had taken of the accursed thing, and also of those things which were devoted to the Lord, and pretending that they had brought it all into the treasury of God, had concealed it for their own private use: and to put him in a way to clear the camp of the accursed thing which had brought this judgment upon them, the Lord commanded Joshua to proclaim among the people; "There is an accursed thing "in the midst of thee, O Israel: ye cannot stand before your enemies, until ye have removed the accursed thing "from among you."
The Lord then directed Joshua how he should detect the offender; and when he was found and convicted, how he should be punished. Early next morning the tribes were all summoned before the Lord; and the lot being cast upon the tribes, the tribe of Judah was found to be that to whom the guilty person belonged. Then, proceeding
Accursed. That is, of that which was devoted to destruction. Our old translation renders it in Joshua vi. 17, 18. execrable thing; and in ch. vii. 11, 12. excommunicate thing; which are synonymous terms. In which places the distinction of the spoil is plainly expressed. All the inhabitants of Jericho, except Rahab and her family, with their effects of all sorts, were to be destroyed; only gold, silver, brass and iron, were to be consecrated to the Lord. These are by the Septu agint called boly, because they were to be laid up in the treasury for the service of the Tabernacle; but all the rest was profane, and ordered to be destroyed. The Septuagint keep to the word Anathema in the aforesaid text, which signifies separated or accursed, and implies that the profane spoil was not to be mixed with what was holy. In the same sense is the word Anathema used in the New Testament, particularly by St. Paul, who pronounces offenders Anathema, separated from God, that is, accursed; which is the old word for excommunication, in the most early ages of the church.
In this instance it is observable, That though it was but one man that was actually guilty; yet the guilt was charged upon the whole people, and they felt the effects thereof; till they had convicted and punished the offender. How great then is the guilt of nations in general, where sins are epidemical, and repeated from age to age?
by lot, from tribe to family, from family to household, and thence to particular persons, the lot fell at last upon Achan. Having thus happily discovered the person, Joshua, like a prudent judge, with great mildness examines the criminal, and brought him to this confession: "I have sinned "against the Lord God of Israel, for when I saw among "the spoil a royal garment, and two hundred shekels "of silver, with a wedget of gold of fifty shekels weight, my covetousness prompted me to take them; which "I did, and hid them in the earth in the midst of my . "tent."
Joshua, for his more evident conviction, sent messengers to Achan's tent; who, finding the things hidden as he confessed, brought them to the assembly, and laid them before the Lord. And now, Achan being duly convicted by his own confession and the notoriousness of the fact, Joshua proceeded to execution by the express command of God; which was thus: They take Achan, with the garments, the money, and the wedge of gold, as evidences of his guilt, and with him his sons, his daughters, his cattle, his tent, and all his moveables, and brought them into the valley of Achor, (which from him took its name, signifying Trouble) where he and his family being first stoned, were afterwards burned. And to perpe. tuate the memory of this for a warning to others, they raised a great heap of stones over them.
Royal. This is rendered Babylonish, supposed to be such a rich garment as the kings of Babylon formerly wore. The Hebrews call it Sinhar, that is Babylonish; for Babylon was in the land of Shinar, Gen. xi. 2. Thence the Latins render it pallium coccineum, a scarlet cloak. The Greeks render it stoleen poikileen, a garment of state of divers colours. But this variety of versions all agree in this, that it was a rich garment.
+ Wedge. This was made in the form of a tongue, and for that reason is nor improperly sometimes called a tongue of gold.
Express. See Josh. vii. 15.
Sons, &c. This judgment only appertains to God, and to whom he will reveal it. To man he hath expressly commanded, not to punish the fathers for the chil dren, nor the children for the fathers' sake, but that every one should be put to death for his own sin, Deut. xxiv. 16.