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Commentary On Joshua by Jean Calvin

Joshua 6:1-19

1. Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

1. Jericho autem erat clausa, et claudebatur propter filios Israel, nec poterat quisquam egredi, vel ingredi.

2. And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.

2. Dixitque Jehova ad Josuam, Ecce tradidi in manum tuam Jericho, et regem ejus, et virtute praestantes.

3. And you shall compass the city, all you men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shall thou do six days.

3. Circuibitis itaque urbem, omnes viri bellatores, circundando eam semel: sic facies sex diebus.

4. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day you shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

4. Porro septem sacerdotes ferent septem cornua arientina ante arcam: Die autem septima circuibitis urbem septem vicibus, et sacerdotes ipsi clangent tubis.

5. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you 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.

5. Quum vero protraxerint sonitum cornu arietino: ubi primum audieritis vocem tubae, vociferabitur universus populus vociferatione magna, et concidet murus urbis sub se: populus vero ascendet quisque e regione sua.

6. 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.

6. Vocavit ergo Josue filius Nun sacerdotes, et dixit eis, Tollite arcam foederis, et septem sacerdotes accipient septem tubas arietinas coram arca Jehovae.

7. 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.

7. Dixit quoque ad populum, Transite, et circuite urbem, et armatus quisque praecedat arcam Jehovae.

8. 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.

8. Et fuit postquam loquutus est Josue ad populum, tulerunt septem sacerdotes septem tubas arietinas, et transeuntes ante arcam Jehovae clanxerunt tubis. Arca autem foederis Jehovae sequebatur ipsos.

9. And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rearward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.

9. Et armatus quisque praecedebat sacerdotes clangentes tubis, Et qui cogebat agmen sequebatur arcam eundo et clangendo tubis.

10. And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, You 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 you shout.

10. Populo autem praeceperat Josue, dicendo, Non vociferabimini, nec facietis audire vocem vestram, neque egredietur ex ore vestro verbum, usque ad diem quo dixero vobis, vociferamini: tunc vociferabimini.

11. So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

11. Circuivit itaque arca Jehovae urbem, circundando semel, et reversi sunt in castra: manseruntque illic.

12. And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.

12. Rursum surrexit Josue mane, tuleruntque sacerdotes arcam Jehovae.

13. 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 rearward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.

13. Septem autem sacerdotes ferentes septem tubas arietinas praecedebant arcam Jehovae, eundo: et clangebant tubis. Armatus vero praecedebat eos, et qui cogebat agmen sequebatur arcam Jehovae, eundo, et clangendo tubis.

14. And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.

14. Circuiverunt ergo urbem dic secundo vice alia, reversique sunt ad castra: sic fecerunt sex diebus.

15. 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.

15. Ubi autem advenit septimus dies, surrexerunt simul ac ascendit aurora, et circuiverunt urbem secundum eundem morem septem vicibus: tantum die illa circuiverunt urbem septem vicibus.

16. 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 has given you the city.

16. Septima autem vice quum clangerent sacerdotes tubis, dixit Josue ad populum, vociferamini, tradidit Jehova vobis urbem.

17. 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.

17. Erit autem urbs anathema, ipsa et quaecunque in ea sunt, Jehovae: tantum Rahab meritrix vivet, ipsa et quicunque fuerint cum ea domi, quia abscondidit nuncios quos misimus.

18. And you, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest you make yourselves accursed, when you take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.

18. Veruntamen vos cavete ab anathemate, ne forte contingatis aliquid de anathemate, tollatisque de anathemate, et ponatis castra Israel anathema, et turbetis ea.

19. 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.

19. Omne autem argentum, et aurum, et vasa aerea et ferrea, sanctitas erunt Jehovae: thesaurum Jehovae ingredientur.

1. Now Jericho was straitly shut up, etc Jericho is said to be shut up, because the gates were not opened: as in time of war cities are guarded with more than usual care. It is added, by way of emphasis, that they were sealed, or locked up, as if it were said that the inhabitants were attentive in watching, so as not to be taken by surprise. Hence, as it could not be taken by stratagem, the only hope of taking it was by open force. This tends to display the goodness of God to the children of Israel, who would have been worn out by a long and difficult siege, had not a substitute been early provided from heaven. Meanwhile there was a danger, lest being forced into a corner, they might be consumed by want and famine, as there was no means of obtaining food and provender in a hostile region. The Lord, therefore, that they might not sit down despondently before one city, assisted them by an extraordinary miracle, and opened up an entrance to them by throwing down the walls, that they might thereafter have the greater confidence in attacking other cities.

We now see the connection between the two first verses, in the one of which it is said, that Jericho was shut up, and the children of Israel thus prevented from approaching it, while in the other God promises that he will take it for them. He makes this promise with the view of preventing them from tormenting themselves with anxious thoughts. In one word, God, by this easy victory at the outset, provides against their giving way to despondency in future. We, at the same time, perceive the stupidity of the inhabitants, who place their walls and gates as obstacles to the divine omnipotence; as if it were more difficult to break up or dissolve a few bars and beams than to dry up the Jordan.

3. And you shall compass the city, etc The promise was, indeed, fit and sufficient of itself to give hope of victory, but the method of acting was so strange, as almost to destroy its credibility. God orders them to make one circuit round the city daily until the seventh day, on which they are told to go round it seven times, sounding trumpets, and shouting. The whole looked like nothing else than child's play, and yet was no improper test, for trying their faith, as it proved their acquiescence in the divine message, even when they saw in the act itself nothing but mere disappointment. With the same intention, the Lord often, for a time, conceals his own might under weakness, and seems to sport with mere trifles, that his weakness may at length appear stronger than all might, and his folly superior to all wisdom.

While the Israelites thus abandon their own reason, and depend implicitly on his words, they gain much more by trifling than they could have done by making a forcible assault, and shaking the walls by numbers of the most powerful engines. Only it behooved them to play the fool for short time, and not display too much acuteness in making anxious and subtle inquiries concerning the event: for that would have been, in a manner, to obstruct the course of the divine omnipotence. Meanwhile, though the circulatory movement round the walls might have excited derision, it was afterwards known, by its prosperous result, that God commands nothing in vain.

There was another subject of care and doubt, which might have crept into their minds. Should the inhabitants of the city suddenly sally forth, the army would, without difficulty, be put to the rout, while, in long straggling lines, it was proceeding round the city, without any regular arrangement that might have enabled it to repel a hostile assault. But here, also, whatever anxiety they might have felt, they behooved to cast it upon God; for sacred is the security which reclines on his providence. There was an additional trial of their faith, in the repetition of the circuit of the city during seven days. For what could seem less congruous than to fatigue themselves with six unavailing circuits? Then, of what use was their silence, unless to betray their timidity, and tempt the enemy to come out and attack besiegers who seemed not to have spirit enough to meet them? But as profane men often, by rash intermeddling fervor, throw everything into confusion, the only part which God here assigns to his people, is to remain calm and silent, that thus they may the better accustom themselves simply to execute his commands.

Here, too, it is worthy of remark, that the instruments, given to the priests to blow with, are not the silver trumpets deposited in the sanctuary, but merely rams' horns. The sound of the sacred trumpets would certainly have inspired more confidence, but a better proof of obedience was given, when they were contented with the vulgar symbol. Moreover, their movements were so arranged, that the greater number, by which is understood the armed, went before the ark, while those who usually accompanied the baggage followed. It was their part to take care that the rear did not fall into confusion. As the term congregating, applied to them, was obscure, I have rendered it by the corresponding term usually employed by the Latins. Some think that the tribe of Dan was thus employed, but this is uncertain, as they were not then arranged in the manner usual on other expeditions.

15. And it came to pass on the seventh day, etc Here, also, God seemed, by leading the people so often round the city, not only to keep the matter in suspense, but purposely to sport with the miseries of the people, who were fatiguing themselves to no purpose. For why does he not order them suddenly to attack the city? Why does he keep them in their former silence, even to weariness, and not open their mouths to shout? But the happy fruit of this endurance teaches us, that there is nothing better than to leave the decisive moments and opportunities of acting at his disposal, and not, by our haste, anticipate his providence, in which, if we acquiesce not, we obstruct the course of his agency. Therefore, while the priests were sounding, God ordered a corresponding shout to be raised by the people, that in this way he might prove that he is not pleased with any impetuosity which men manifest at their own hands, but above all things requires a regulated zeal, of which the only rule is not to move either tongue, or feet, or hands, till he order. Here, the rams' horns undoubtedly represented his authority.

17. And the city shall be accursed, etc Although God had determined not only to enrich his people with spoil and plunder, but also to settle them in cities which they had not built, yet there was a peculiarity in the case of the first city; for it was right that it should be consecrated as a kind of first fruits. Accordingly, he claims the buildings, as well as all the moveable property, as his own, and prohibits the application of any part of it to private uses. It may have been an irksome and grievous task for the people voluntarily to pull down houses in which they might have commodiously dwelt, and to destroy articles which might have been important for use. But as they had not been required to fight, it behooved them to refrain, without grudging, from touching the prey, and willingly yield up the rewards of the victory to God, as it was solely by his nod that the walls of the city had fallen, and the courage of the citizens had fallen along with them. God was contented with this pledge of gratitude, provided the people thereby quickly learned that everything they called their own was the gift of his free liberality. For with equal right all the other cities might have been doomed to destruction, had not God granted them to his people for habitations.

As to the Hebrew word chrs, I will now only briefly repeat from other passages. When it refers to sacred oblations, it becomes, in respect of men, equivalent to abolitions, since things devoted in this manner are renounced by them as completely as if they were annihilated. The equivalent Greek term is anathema, or anathema, meaning set apart, or as it is properly expressed in French, interdicted. Hence the exhortation to beware of what was under anathema, inasmuch as that which had been set apart for God alone had perished, in so far as men were concerned. It is used in a different sense in the following verse, where caution is given not to place the camp of Israel in anathema. Here its simple meaning is, excision, perdition, or death. Moreover, God destined vessels made of metals for the use of the sanctuary; all other things he ordered to be consumed by fire, or destroyed in other manners.

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