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tent, and all that he had: and they brought 26 And they raised over him a great heap them unto the valley of Achor.
of stones unto this day. So the LORD 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou turned from the fierceness of his anger. troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee Wherefore the name of that place was this day. And all Israel stoned him with called, The valley of 'Achor, unto this stones, and burned them with fire, after day. they had stoned them with stones.
9 That is, trouble.
Verse 2. “Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el.”—This “Ai” is the “ Hai” of Gen. xii. 8, and xiii. 3 ; and is usually mentioned together with Bethel, which lay a few miles westward from it. Masius says that Ai was one league east from Bethel, and about three north from Jericho. Eusebius and Jerome say that in their time some small remains of the place were still extant ; but this is not now the case, nor is there any thing to indicate the site beyond the probable distances compared with the indications which the sacred text affords. From these, Mr. Buckingham thinks that he finds a probable site at a distance of about two hours' journey nearly north from Jericho ; and as in this part of his travels he reckons six hours' journey as equivalent to twenty miles, the distance is not much at variance with that assigned by Masius. It seems that Ai was afterwards rebuilt and occupied by the Hebrews, as we find people of Bethel and Ai ineluded in the number of those who returned from the captivity in Babylon. See Ezra xi. 28; and Neh. vii. 32.
“ Beth-aven.”—This name means “ the house of emptiness,” usually as applied to idolatry; and as Hosea (iv. 5; v.8; x. 5) affixes this name, derisively, to Bethel (which means " house of God"), on account of its having become a conspicuous seat of idolatrous worship, it has been commonly thought that Bethel and Bethaven are always to be understood as the same place. But it is evident from this text that there was near Bethel a distinct place called Bethaven ; and that what the prophet intended, was, to apply to it, in the literal meaning, the name which actually belonged to a place in the neighbourhood. We know nothing about Bethaven but what the text tells us, that it was near Bethel, and, as we learn from ch. xviii. 12, that it lay, as Bethel did, on the north border of the tribe of Benjamin.
5. “Wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water."--Michaelis regards the dispiriting effect of so trifling a loss upon some hundred thousands of men, as a manifest proof that there was no right arrangement of military affairs among them; for when all is rightly ordered in an army, a panic will not arise from so small a cause. This is partly right. But we are to consider that the Hebrews had not been taught to place any reliance on numbers or military skill, but rather that, under all circumstances, they must be invincible with the Divine assistance which had been promised to them. Any defeat, therefore, would seem to show that the promised aid had been withheld; and they could not but be aware that the smallest defeat must have much effect in encouraging their enemies who had hitherto beheld resistance hopeless. This, more than the loss itself, gave just cause for the consternation with which the defeat of three thousand men, with the loss of thirty-six, inspired the host of Israel. But even in a military point of view their consternation is not unaccountable, considering that they were nomades, fresh from the desert. What the Bedouins of Arabia now feel in this matter will illustrate the probable feeling of the Israelites on the occasion before us. Burckhardt says: “ There is one circumstance that greatly favours the chance of a foreign general in his contest with the Bedouins. They are but little accustomed to battles in which much blood is shed. When ten or fifteen men are killed in a skirmish, the circumstance is remembered as an event of great importance for many years by both parties. If, therefore, in a battle with foreign troops, several hundreds are killed at the first onset, and it any of their principal men should be among the slain, the Bedouins become so disheartened that they scarcely think of further resistance; while a much greater loss on the side of their enemies could not make a similar impression on mercenary soldiers. But even the Arabs would only feel this impression at the beginning of a severe contest; and they would soon, no doubt, accustom themselves to bear greater losses in support of their independence, than they usually suffer in their petty warfare about wells and pasture grounds." ("Notes on the Bedouins,' p. 107.)
21. “ A goodly Babylonisk garment.”—Literally, “a mantle of Shinar," of which Babylon was, in after-times, the famous and dominant capital. The robe was therefore manufactured somewhere in the plain of Shinar. We think it well to mention this, in order to preclude any inference, right or wrong, concerning the city of Babylon in particular, its early luxury, or its improved manufactures. That Babylon had been founded long before this time we know; but we have no evidence to show that it became of much importance, or was much distinguished for its luxury or refinement until between eight and nine centuries after the time of Joshua,--that is, not until the fall of Nineveli, when Babylon became the capital of Mesopotamia and of a large dependent empire. We are therefore only to understand that Achan's heart was seduced by a splendid mantle manufactured at some place in Shinar; but we cannot say that it was unquestionably “ Babylonish," unless we refer the term rather to the district than to the city. However understood, it is interesting to find this indication, that this district had so early acquired that reputation for its manufactured robes, for which Babylon was in long subsequent times famous among the ancients: and it is certainly possible that the robe which tempted Achan, and also that which seemed such desirable spoil to the mother of Sisera (Judg. v. 30), was similar to that which we afterwards more distinctly know as a noted manufacture of Babylon. The mantles which were then held in such high esteem are agreed to have been of various colouis, which seem to have been disposed in figures resembling those on Turkey carpets. But from what the Roman writers say about them, it is difficult to gather distinctly whether these figures were painted, woven in the loom, or embroidered with the needle. (See further on Judg. v. 30.) These robes, from their glossiness and tasteful combination of colours, produced a very splendid and rich effect. They were very costly, and considered in the highest degree luxurious. Plutarch relates that Cato, that great enemy to luxury, on receiving, by inheritance, a Babylonish garment, commanded it to be immediately sold. Josephus says that the robe concealed by Achan was “a royal garment interwoven with gold.”
“ Two hundred shekels oj" silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight:? — The value of the silver, reckoned at 5s. per oz. would be nearly 287. ; and the ingot of gold would, at 41. per oz., be worth rather more than 90%. An estimate of this kind must however be very uncertain, because we are unacquainted with the value which precious metals bore in the time of Joshua.
25. “ Burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.”—With respect to the capital punishment of stoning, and the subsequent one of burning, see the notes on Lev. xx, As we shall hereafter meet with various capital punishments, introduced from foreign countries, it may be well again to direct attention to the fact that the only capital punishments directed by the law of Moses are stoning and * slaying with the sword.” The latter punishment may have included decapitation, which, as being in use among the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 17–19), must have been known to the Hebrews. But this use of the sword is certainly not mentioned in the laws of Moses; and it would seem to have been generally left to the discretion of the executioner to destroy the convict with the sword in such way as seemed to him most convenient or effective. The expression “to fall upon," or, more properly, “ to rush upon,” such persons, seems to imply this liberty in the executioner. As very cruel punishments hereafter are mentioned, we are anxious to have it clearly understood that they are not sanctioned by the law of Moses. There is not, even now, any Oriental code so mild in the form of its capital and corporal punishments as that of Moses. Even stoning is less severe than it might at the first view appear; for the first stone that struck the condemned man on the head would, in most instances, render him insensible to all that afterwards passed.
26. “ Raised over him a yreat heap of stones." _See 2 Sam. xviii. 7.
"Valley of Achor.” —The word means “ trouble,” and has evident reference to the name of Achan (1Y). Indeed it is generally agreed that the name here given to the valley (ny) is the proper name of the man; the final ), which makes all the difference, having been written 7, by some careless transcriber. Accordingly, the name is given as “ Achar” in 1 Chron. ii. 7; and it is invariably so given in the Syriac version, and by Josephus. We know nothing about the valley. It could not have been at any great distance from Jericho; and in ch. xv. 7, we learn that it was on the northern border of the tribe of Judah.
12 And he took about five thousand I God encourageth Joshua. 3 The stratagem where
men, and set them to lie in ambush beby Ai wus taken. 29 The king thereof is hunged.
tween Bethel and Ai, on the west side 'of 30 Joshua buildeth an altar, 32 writeth the law on the city.
stones, 33 propoundeth blessings and cursings. 13 And when they had set the people, And the LORD said unto Joshua, 'Fear not, even all the host that was on the north of neither be thou dismayed: take all the peo- the city, and otheir liers in wait on the west ple of war with thee, and arise, go up to of the city, Joshua went that night into Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the the midst of the valley. king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and 14 | And it came to pass, when the king his land:
of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up 2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king early, and the men of the city went out as thou didst unto ?Jericho and her king : against Israel to battle, he and all his peoonly 'the spoil thereof, and the cattle there- ple, at a time appointed, before the plain; of, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves : but he wist not that there were liers in amlay thee an ambush for the city behind it. bush against him behind the city.
3 | So Joshua arose, and all the people 15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua they were beaten before them, and fled by chose out thirty thousand mighty men of the way of the wilderness. valour, and sent them away by night.
16 And all the people that were in Ai 4 And he commanded them, saying, Be. were called together to pursue after them: hold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, and they pursued after Joshua, and were even behind the city: go not very far from drawn away from the city. the city, but be ye all ready:
17 And there was not a man left in Ai 5 And I, and all the people that are with or Beth-el, that went not out after Israel : me, will approach unto the city: and it shall and they left the city open, and pursued come to pass, when they come out against us, after Israel as at the first, that we will flee before 18 And the LORD said unto Joshua, them,
Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand 6 (For they will come out after us) till toward Ai; for I will give it into thine we have drawn them from the city; for hand. And Joshua stretched out the
spear they will say, They flee before us, as at the that he had in his hand toward the city. first: therefore we will flee before them. 19 And the ambush arose quickly out of
7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, their place, and they ran as soon as he had and seize upon the city: for the LORD your stretched out his hand : and they entered God will deliver it into
into the city, and took it, and hasted and 8 And it shall be, when ye have taken set the city on fire. the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: 20 And when the men of Ai looked beaccording to the commandment of the hind them, they saw, and, behold, the LORD shall
ye do. See, I have commanded smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, you.
and they had no "power to flee this way or 9 | Joshua therefore sent them forth: that way: and the people that fled to the wiland they went to lie in ambush, and abode derness turned back upon the pursuers. between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of 21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among that the ambush had taken the city, and the people.
that the smoke of the city ascended, then 10 And Joshua rose up early in the morn- they turned again, and slew the men of Ai. ing, and numbered the people, and went 22 And the other issued out of the city up, he and the elders of Israel, before the against them; so they were in the midst of people to Ai.
Israel, some on this side, and some on that 11 And all the people, even the people of side: and they smote them, so that they war that were with him, went up, and drew 'let none of them remain or escape. nigh, and came before the city, and pitched 23 And the king of Ai they took alive, on the north side of Ai: now there was a and brought him to Joshua. valley between them and Ai.
24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants 31 As Moses the servant of the LORD of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where-commanded the children of Israel, as it is in they chased them, and when they were written in the book of the law of Moses, all fallen on the edge of the sword, until an altar of whole stones, over which no man they were consumed, that all the Israelites hath lift up any iron: and they offered returned unto Ai, and smote it with the thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and edge of the sword.
1 Deut. 1. 21, and 7. 18.
* Chap. 6, 91,
3 Deut. 20. 14.
+ Heb. pulled s Deut. 7. 2.
5 Or, vf Ai.
6 Ueb. their lying in wait.
7 Heb. hand,
sacrificed peace offerings. 25 And so it was, that all that fell that 32 | And he wrote there upon the stones day, both of men and women, were twelve a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote thousand, eren all the men of Ai.
in the presence of the children of Israel. 26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, 33 And all Israel, and their elders, and wherewith he stretched out the spear, until officers, and their judges, stood on this side. he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants the ark and on that side before the priests of Ai.
the Levites, which bare the ark of the cove27 'Only the cattle and the spoil of that nant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, he that was born among them; half of them according unto the word of the LORD which over against mount Gerizim, and half of he ''cominanded Joshua.
them over against mount Ebal; 3as Moses 28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it the servant of the Lord had commanded an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this before, that they should bless the people of day.
Israel. 29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a 34 And afterward he read all the words tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun of the law, the blessings and cursings. acwas down, Joshua commanded that they cording to all that is written in the book of should take his carcase down from the tree, the law. and cast it at the entering of the gate of 35 There was not a word of all that Moses the city, and "raise thereon a great heap of commanded, which Joshua read not before stones, that remaineth unto this day. all the congregation of Israel, '+with the wo
50 | Then Joshua built an altar unto men, and the little ones, and the strangers the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal, that were conversant among them. 11 Chap. 7. 96.
13 Deut. 11. 29, and 97. 12.
Num 31. 22, 26.
10 Verse 2.
14 Deut. 31. 12.
12 Exod. 20. 25. Deut. 27. 5.
15 Heb. walked.
Verse 4. “ Lie in wait against the city."—We are certainly not anxious to prove that Joshua was a great general, or that the Israelites, as a people, could boast much prowess or skill in military matters. Indeed, this affair at Ai seems throughout to show the contrary; and so much the more clearly, therefore, are we enabled to perceive that, with their own resources, they were wholly inadequate to the great undertaking which lay before them; and, consequently, that the Divine assistance which they, by manifest miracles, received, was in the highest degree necessary to put them in possession of the promised land. On this view we are disposed fully to concur in the following remark of Michaelis, although we dissented from his opinion that the loss of thirty-six men was no adequate cause for the consternation which followed the first attempt against Ai. He says, with regard to this second attempt, “ Joshua once more attacked the city of Ai (a small place, to reduce which he first thought 3000 men sufficient), with all his immense army, of which no fewer than 30,000 were thought necessary to form an ambuscade. The inhabitants of the city were too inexperienced in war to perceive the artifice: they pursued a body of some hundred thousands, that made a feint of flying before them, and while they thus left the city unprotected, the ambuscade rushed in and took possession of it. This, at the same time, plainly shows that the Canaanites were quite ignorant of the art of war. Even after the time of Joshua, until the days of David, we find so many instances of panics, surprises, routs (for example, that of the Midianites, Judg. vii.), victories gained by inconsiderable numbers, and extraordinary feats of personal powess, which seldom have much effect against good discipl:ne and order, that we may very justly conclude the Hebrews and all their neighbours to have been, at least until David's time, very defective in real military knowledge." It must not be forgotten, however, that contrivances, which may now seem hacknied and unskilful, must at one time have been original and effective. That the people of Ai were deceived by a feint, which now appears so easily seen through, seems to show that such a stratagem had not previously been known; and, in that case, considering Joshna its author, we may rate his generalship rather more highly than Michaelis seems to do, without however exalting him into that consummate warrior whose own resources left him little need of that Divine aid which was promised and given to him. There may be some infidelity at the bottom of the encomiums we so often hear on Joshua's abilities as a general. Joshua himself knew perfectly that without God he could do nothing; nor was he less aware that he was not himself that “Captain of the Lord's host” to whom the glory of its successful warfare was due.
17. “Or in Beth-el.”—The Septuagint has not these words : nor is there in this chapter any reference to Bethel or its inhabitants. The clause is therefore omitted by Houbigant, Boothroyd, and others, who regard it as evidently interpolated.
18. “ Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand.”—There was flag or streamer at the end of it, to render it the more conspicuous, according to the very probable explanation of Abarbanel and other Rabbins. Although Joshua is now told when to lift up his spear, it is clear that the action itself was a preconcerted signal, well understood by the troops. They would else have been at a loss to know what intention the action expressed.
30. “ Then Joshua built an altar....in mount Ebal."--For “ Mount Ebal,” the Samaritan reads "Mount Gerizim;" as explained, with the other circumstances of this transaction, in the notes to Deut. xxvii.
4 They did work wilily, and went and 1 The kings combine against Israel. 3 The Gi- made as if they had been ambassadors, and
beonites by craft obtain a league. 16 For which took old sacks upon their asses, and wine they are condemned to perpetual bondage.
bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And it came to pass, when all the kings 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, feet, and old garments upon them; and all and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the bread of their provision was dry and the great sea over against Lebanon, the mouldy. Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the thereof;
men of Israel, We be come from a far 2 That they gathered themselves toge country: now therefore make ye a league ther, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with us. with one 'accord.
7 And the men of Israel said unto the 3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and how shall we make a league with you? and to Ai,
8 And they said unto Joshua, We arc
1 Heb. mouth.