|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:3-22 Observe Joshua's conduct and prudence. Those that would maintain their spiritual conflicts must not love their ease. Probably he went into the valley alone, to pray to God for a blessing, and he did not seek in vain. He never drew back till the work was done. Those that have stretched out their hands against their spiritual enemies, must never draw them back.
Verse 15. - Made as though they were beaten. "Joshua conquered by yielding. So our Lord Jesus Christ, when He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, seemed as if death had triumphed over Him; but in His resurrection He rallied again, and gave the powers of darkness a total defeat" (Matthew Henry). By the way of the wilderness. Northwestward, in the direction of the wilderness of Bethel (Joshua 16:1)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them,.... Or smitten, as some of them might be in the pursuit:
and fled by the way of the wilderness; not a barren desert, but, according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, a place for the pasture of cattle; though perhaps it is the same with the wilderness of Bethaven, Joshua 18:12. Epiphanius (w) makes mention of the wilderness of Bethel and Ephraim as near Jericho.
(w) Contr. Haeres. l. 1. tom. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15-17. Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them—the pretended flight in the direction of the wilderness; that is, southeast, into the Ghor, the desert valley of the Jordan, decoyed all the inhabitants of Ai out of the city, while the people of Beth-el hastened to participate in the expected victory. It is supposed by some, from "the city," and not "cities," being spoken of, that the effective force of Beth-el had been concentrated in Ai, as the two places were closely contiguous, and Ai the larger of the two. (See Jos 12:9). It may be remarked, however, that the words, "or Beth-el," are not in the Septuagint, and are rejected by some eminent scholars, as an interpolation not found in the most ancient manuscripts.
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