|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-5 Jericho resolves Israel shall not be its master. It shut itself up, being strongly fortified both by art and nature. Thus were they foolish, and their hearts hardened to their destruction; the miserable case of all that strengthen themselves against the Almighty. God resolves Israel shall be its master, and that quickly. No warlike preparations were to be made. By the uncommon method of besieging the city, the Lord honoured the ark, as the symbol of his presence, and showed that all the victories were from him. The faith and patience of the people were proved and increased.
Verse 4. - And seven priests shall bear before the ark. The Vulgate puts "on the seventh day" in connection with this part of the sentence; Luther also translates thus. The LXX., which Calvin and our translators and the majority of commentators follow, regard this part of the sentence as stating what was to be done on the six days, and rightly so, as vers. 8-14 clearly show. That the historian, as has been before remarked, did not always give the full instructions Joshua received is evident from this passage. The priests are not said to have been instructed to sound the trumpet on the six days; yet we learn from Joshua 5:13 that they did so. It is rather implied than expressed that the ark was also to be borne in procession; but that this was (lone is evident from ver. 8. Seven trumpets of rams' horns. There is no mention of rams' horns in the original, which is שׁופְרות trumpets of jubilee, i.e., of triumph (hardly as Gesenius, "alarm trumpets," though not necessarily, with Dr. Vaughan in his 'Heroes of Faith,' "the emblems of festival, not of warfare"). The word הַיּובְלִים is derived from the same root as the Latin is in the phrase Io Triumphe (cf. Greek ἰώ), and according to Gesenius our word "yule" is also derived from this root. The שׁופַר as the next verse shows, was a curved instrument, in shape like a ram's horn, though not necessarily of that material; whereas the חַלֺצצְרָה was a straight trumpet. Seven times. The importance of the number seven as indicative of completeness is here strongly indicated. Seven priests were to carry seven trumpets for seven days. The word for to swear, נְִשבַּע literally to be sevened, means to have one's vow consecrated and confirmed by seven sacrifices or seven witnesses (see Genesis 21:28, 30). The number seven, says Bahr in his 'Symbolik des Alten Testament,' 1, 187, 188, is the sign of the relation, union, communion between God and the world, as represented by the number three and four respectively, just as twelve is in another relation (see note on Joshua 21:3). Its meaning, according to Bahr, among the heathen is somewhat different. There it means the harmony of the universe, and is signified by the seven stars, to which, and neither more nor less, was the power of influencing man's destiny ascribed. And the priests shall blow with the trumpets. "Fac tibi tribas ductiles, si sacerdos es, immo, quia sacerdos es (gens enim regalis effectus es et sacerdotium sanctum, de te enim scripture est), fac tibi tribas ductiles ex Scripturis sanctis" (Orig., Hom. 7 on Joshua).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns,.... The ark was to be taken up and carried by priests round the city. Ben Gersom observes, that this was to direct the Israelites to keep and do according to all that was written in it; that is, in the law, which was contained in it; but no doubt the design of it was to show, that the subduing of Jericho, and the miracle that would be wrought, were owing to the power and presence of God, of which the ark was a symbol: and before it were to go seven other priests, with trumpets in their hands; which, according to our version, were made of rams horns: in the original it is "jobelim", or "jubilee" trumpets. Some think it means only such as they were to use in the year of jubilee; so Abarbinel and others, as Masius and Noldius (x); that they had their name from Jubal, the first inventor of musical instruments, Genesis 4:21; for rams' horns are objected to because they are solid, and not hollow; as if they could not be bored and made hollow, and fit for such a purpose. The Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret the word by rams horns, as we do (y); and observe what R. Akiba said,"when (says he) I went into Arabia, I heard them call; a ram "jobel"; and the trumpet itself is called "jobel", because made of a ram's horn (z):"
and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times; in the same manner as on the other days:
and the priests shall blow with the trumpets; which they were to do; and did every day.
(x) P. 160. No. 1515. (y) So Joseph. Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 5. (z) Kimchi, Sepher. Shorash. rad. R. Sol. Urbim. Ohel Moed, fol. 39. 2.
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