|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:17-27 Jericho was to be a solemn and awful sacrifice to the justice of God, upon those who had filled up the measure of their sins. So He appoints, from whom, as creatures, they received their lives, and to whom, as sinners, they had forfeited them. Rahab perished not with them that believed not, Heb 11:31. All her kindred were saved with her; thus faith in Christ brings salvation to the house, Ac 14:31. She, and they with her, were plucked as brands from the burning. With Rahab, or with the men of Jericho; our portion must be assigned, as we posses or disregard the sign of salvation; even faith in Christ, which worketh by love. Let us remember what depends upon our choice, and let us choose accordingly. God shows the weight of a Divine curse; where it rests there is no getting from under it; for it brings ruin without remedy.
Verse 26. - And Joshua adjured them. Caused them to swear, i.e., bound them by an oath, as the Hiphil implies here. This was the strict meaning of "adjure" at the time our version was made (cf. Matthew 26:63). But it had also the less definite meaning which it now has, of solemnly warning a person to do something or to leave it undone (see 1 Kings 22:16; Mark 5:7; Acts 19:13). The object of this solemn adjuration (see above) was to preserve Jericho as a spot devoted to God for ever; and for this reason a curse was pronounced upon any one who should attempt to found a city upon the devoted spot (cf. Deuteronomy 13:16, "It shall not be rebuilt.") This curse actually fell on the reckless Hiel (1 Kings 16:34; cf. Josephus, 'Antiq.,' V. 1:8), and he saw the laying of its foundations marked by the death of his eldest son, while the death of his youngest followed its completion. It does not seem that it was forbidden to build habitations on the spot, far Jericho is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, and the house of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5) was there. What seems to have been forbidden was the erection of a fortified city there (see Hengstenberg, 'Geschichte des Reiches Gottes,' p. 214). The mention of Jericho in ch. 18:21 does not imply that it was an inhabited city, but simply that the site of Jericho fell within the border of the tribe of Benjamin. For Jerusalem is also mentioned, and we know that it did not become theirs until the time of David. Whether the "city of palm trees" (Judges 3:13) is Jericho, may be questioned. But in 2 Samuel 10:5 and in 2 Kings 2:5 express mention is made of Jericho, the last time as the site of the school of the prophets. Some commentators have endeavoured to restrict the sense of the word בָנָה used here to the building of fortifications. But this is unduly to restrict its meaning, for it is constantly used also of houses and altars (see Genesis 2:22; Genesis 8:20; 1 Kings 8:27). But the mention of gates clearly implies a fortified city. Commentators cite as parallel instances the curse of Agamemnon on Troy, of Croesus on Sidene (so Grotius from Strabo, lib. 13 de Ilio), and of Scipio upon Carthage, and it is observed that when Augustus rebuilt Carthage he carefully avoided the old site. In his first born. בְּ is often used of the price paid for a thing, as in Genesis 29:18; Isaiah 7:23. And in his youngest son. The commentators have remarked on the rhythmical parallelism here, and Keil and others have supposed the passage to be an extract from an old Hebrew songbook, such as that of Jasher (Joshua 10:13). But this parallelism is not only a characteristic of poetry, but of all solemn and impassioned utterances in the language. (See, for instance, 2 Samuel 18:32; 1 Kings 17:14; 1 Kings 21:19). Masius, Munsterus, and others interpret the passage that the eldest son died when the foundation was laid; all the rest, but the youngest, in the interim; the youngest when the gates were set up.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Joshua adjured them at that time,.... When the city was burnt and spoiled; not that he adjured the people individually, or one by one, which was not very practicable, but in a general way:
saying, cursed be the man before the Lord; let him be cursed by him with the curses written in the book of the law; and let him be driven from him, from his presence, as Cain was:
that riseth up, and buildeth this city Jericho; that rises up in future time, and rebuilds it; for it cannot be thought that after such an adjuration anyone would start up quickly, and rebuild it:
he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it; that is, while he is laying, or as soon as he has laid the foundation of the city, his eldest son should die; and as he went on with the building, other sons of his, if he had more than two, should be taken away by death likewise; and by the time he has finished it, signified by setting up the gates of it, both for ornament and security, his youngest and last son should die also; so that his whole posterity should be taken alway, as a curse of God upon him for rebuilding the city; which was fulfilled in Hiel the Bethelite, the rebuilder of this city in the times of Ahab, five or six hundred years after this adjuration was made, when either it was forgotten, or, however, little regarded: Maimonides observes (g), that this was made that the miracle might remain in perpetual memory, for whoever should see the wall sunk in the earth, it would be plain and clear to him that this was not the form of a building demolished, but that it fell by a miracle; and yet this city became a very flourishing one in later times; we soon hear of the school of the prophets in it, 2 Kings 2:5; here, Strabo (h) says, was a royal palace, where, as Josephus (i) relates, Herod died, and who speaks of an amphitheatre and hippodrome in it; in this city sometimes the sanhedrim sat, and a great number of the stationary priests dwelt, even half a station, twelve thousand of them, all which is observed by Dr. Lightfoot (k); our Lord himself honoured it with his presence, Luke 19:1.
(g) Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 50. (h) Geograph. l. 16. p. 525. (i) Antiqu. l. 17. c. 8. sect. 1. 2. (k) Chorograph. Cent. c. 47.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jos 6:26, 27. The Rebuilder of Jericho Cursed.
26. Joshua adjured them at that time—that is, imposed upon his countrymen a solemn oath, binding on themselves as well as their posterity, that they would never rebuild that city. Its destruction was designed by God to be a permanent memorial of His abhorrence of idolatry and its attendant vices.
Cursed be the man … that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho—that is, makes the daring attempt to build.
he shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it—shall become childless—the first beginning being marked by the death of his oldest son, and his only surviving child dying at the time of its completion. This curse was accomplished five hundred fifty years after its denunciation (see on 1Ki 16:34).
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