Joshua 6:17
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.
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(17) The city shall be accursed.—Heb., shall be chêrem, “a devoted or accursed thing”; and so Joshua 6:18, “from the accursed thing.” (See Note on Deuteronomy 7:26.) The combination of the two ideas of devotion to God and utter destruction may be seen in the sin offering (Leviticus 6:25), which is called “holy of holies,” or most holy, and yet, when offered for the priest or congregation, must be utterly consumed.

Joshua 6:17. The city shall be accursed — to the Lord — That is, devoted to destruction, by the right which God has to punish such as offend against him. This he speaks by direction from God, (see 1 Kings 16:34,) whose will it was that every thing in Jericho should be utterly destroyed, as well inanimate things by burning them, &c, as men and cattle, by the edge of the sword; excepting only the things that were found in the house of Rahab, and the vessels of silver and gold, brass and iron, which were to be consecrated to the Lord, and put into the treasury of the tabernacle. God seems to have caused the first spoils made in the land of Canaan to be dedicated to his use, 1st, Because the first-fruits were appropriated to him as his due; 2d, To signify that he was their leader, and that these victories were owing to him; 3d, Lest the soldiers, being glutted with the spoil of this rich city, should grow sluggish in their work; and, 4th, That on entering the land of Canaan they might be made thoroughly to understand that they had no right to the riches of that country but what he gave them; and that he would always keep to himself the power of restraining that right as he should see proper. In the mean time the severity enjoined to be exercised toward the persons of the people of the city, in putting them to the sword, was undoubtedly worthy of his infinite wisdom, as well as suitable to his holiness and justice: while it struck a terror into the rest of their enemies, it might determine them to prevent, by accepting of peace, or by flight, a punishment which their enormous and wilful crimes had otherwise rendered unavoidable.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.Accursed - Better as in margin, ("devoted" (Leviticus 27:28 note). In other cases the inhabitants only of the towns were slain; their cattle and property became the booty of the victors. But Jericho, as the first Canaanite city that was captured, was devoted by Israel as first-fruits to God, as a token that Israel received all the land from Him. Every living thing was put to death (Rahab and her household excepted) as a sacrifice to God, and the indestructible goods were Joshua 6:19 brought into the treasury of the sanctuary. 17-19. And the city shall be accursed—(See on [181]Le 27:28). The cherem, or "anathema," was a devotion to utter destruction (De 7:2; 20:17; 1Sa 15:3). When such a ban was pronounced against a hostile city, the men and animals were killed—no booty was allowed to be taken. The idols and all the precious ornaments on them were to be burned (De 7:25; compare 1Ch 14:12). Everything was either to be destroyed or consecrated to the sanctuary. Joshua pronounced this ban on Jericho, a great and wealthy city, evidently by divine direction. The severity of the doom, accordant with the requirements of a law which was holy, just, and good, was justified, not only by the fact of its inhabitants being part of a race who had filled up their iniquities, but by their resisting the light of the recent astonishing miracle at the Jordan. Besides, as Jericho seems to have been defended by reinforcements from all the country (Jos 24:11), its destruction would paralyze all the rest of the devoted people, and thus tend to facilitate the conquest of the land; showing, as so astounding a military miracle did, that it was done, not by man, but by the power and through the anger, of God. Accursed, i.e. devoted to utter destruction, Leviticus 27:21,29 Deu 12. This he spake by instinct or direction from God, as is evident from 1 Kings 16:34.

To the Lord; partly, because the first-fruits were appropriated to God; partly, lest the soldiers being glutted with the spoil of this rich city, should grow sensual and sluggish in their work; and partly, to strike the greater terror into the rest of their enemies. And the city shall be accursed,.... Or, be a "cherem", devoted to the Lord, as it follows:

even it and all that are therein, to the Lord; the city and the inhabitants of it should be devoted to destruction, and the riches and spoil of it dedicated to sacred uses, and not become the property of the Israelites; for as this was the first city in the had of Canaan that was conquered, it was fit the firstfruits of the conquest should be the Lord's, as an acknowledgment of his gift of the land unto them, and that the conquest of it was owing to him; though it might be some mortification to the Israelites, and a trial of their faith and obedience, that the first and so fine a city should not become their habitation, but be utterly destroyed, and not to be built more; and all the riches of it either consumed, or converted to other uses, and not their own. This Joshua thought fit to declare to the Israelites, before the taking of the city, that they might know what they had to do. The Jewish doctors generally suppose that Joshua ordered this of himself, of his own accord and will; but Kimchi is of opinion that the Lord gave him this order, which is most probable, yea, certain from Joshua 7:11,

only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house; she and her father's family, as she requested, and the spies promised; here the Targum calls her, as elsewhere, Rahab the innkeeper or victualler; and so in Joshua 6:22,

because she hid the messengers that we sent; and so preserved them from being taken by the messengers of the king of Jericho, who were sent in pursuit of them. These though sent only by Joshua, without the knowledge of the people, yet it being on their account, and their good, and by him as their head and governor, is ascribed to them also. This fact of Rahab's is observed by him as a reason for sparing her, and those that were with her, when all the rest would be put to the sword; and is mentioned as an instance of her faith, and of the evidence of it, Hebrews 11:31.

And the city shall be {l} 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.

(l) That is appointed wholly to be destroyed.

17. the city shall be accursed] “be this cyte cursid” (Wyclif), or, as in margin, devoted. The verb from which the word comes denotes (i) to cut off, (ii) to devote, to withdraw from common use and consecrate to God = sacrare. (i) The word itself, used actively, means the devotement of anything by Jehovah, His putting it under a ban, the result of which is destruction; comp. 1 Kings 20:42, “Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction;” Isaiah 34:5, “Behold, it (my sword) shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment;” Zechariah 14:11, “there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” (ii) And passively, the word denotes the thing devoted, doomed, laid under the ban, i.e. devoted to Jehovah without the possibility of being redeemed; comp. Leviticus 27:21, “But the field, when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy unto the Lord, as a field devoted;” Leviticus 27:29, “None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed.” The word is used here in the latter sense, and in Joshua 6:17-18, with which compare Joshua 7:1, “Achan … took of the accursed thing,” and 1 Samuel 15:3-9. The Greek word with the same meaning, Anathema, frequently occurs in St Paul’s writings, comp. Romans 9:3, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren;” 1 Corinthians 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema;” comp. also 1 Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 1:9. We find similar instances of devotion to utter destruction amongst other nations; comp. (a) the Ver sacrum of the Romans, so frequently alluded to in Livy, as 22:9-10; 34:44; (b) Cæsar’s testimony concerning the Gauls, Bell. Gall. vi. 17, “Huic (Marti), cum prælio dimicare constituerunt, ea quæ bello ceperint, plerumque devovent; cum superaverunt, animalia capta immolant;” (c) Tacitus (Ann. 13:57) tells us of the Hermunduri that they were successful in a war against the Catti, “quia victores diversam aciem Marti ac Mercurio sacravere, quo voto equi, viri, cuncta victa occidioni dantur;” (d) Livy 3:55 mentions a law passed under the consuls L. Valerius and M. Horatius, “ut qui tribunis plebis, ædilibus, judicibus, decemviris nocuisset, ejus caput Jovi sacrum esset; familia ad ædem Cereris Liberi Liberæque venum iret.”

only Rahab the harlot] See above, Joshua 2:1; Joshua 2:18-19.Verse 17. - Accursed. Rather, devotea, ἀναθεμα LXX. The original meaning of this word is derived from הרם to "shut up." Hence it originally means "a net." With this we may compare the well known Eastern word harem, meaning the enclosed apartments reserved for the women of the family. Hence it comes to mean under a ban, devoted, generally to utter destruction under the pressure of a vow to God, as in Numbers 21:2, or in consequence of His command (see Leviticus 27:29; Deuteronomy 13:15 (Hebrew 16); 1 Kings 20:42, "the man of my devoting," חֶרְמִי, etc). But in Leviticus 27:21, Numbers 18:14, the חֵרֵמ as devoted to the Lord, became the property of the priest. This ban was the most solemn and tremendous religious sentence, the absolute and final excommunication of the old law. The sin of Saul (1 Samuel 15.) was the sparing of anything whatever in the city which had been laid under the ban - a ban which Saul had been specially commanded to execute (1 Samuel 15:3) according to the principles laid down in Deuteronomy 13. When Keil, however, states that the ban "could never be pronounced upon things and property alone, but only upon open idolaters, either with or without their possessions," he appears to have overlooked Leviticus 27:16-21, where a man may devote irredeemably to God property of his own (cf. ver. 28 of the same chapter). In his subsequent work, however, Keil qualifies this assertion by a consideration of this very passage. Idolatrous worship was the one thing which justified the Israelites in laying one of their own cities under the ban (see Deuteronomy 13:12 18, above cited). But (Deuteronomy 7:2) it had been pronounced against the Canaanites. Property, how. ever, save in the case of Jericho, seems to have been exempted from the ban (see Joshua 8:2). Even at Jericho the silver and the gold, the brass and the iron, were placed in the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 5:19, 24). "Why," says Theodoret, "was the city thus devoted? It was devoted on the same principle which offered the first fruits to God, since it was the first fruits of their conquests." Because she hid. See for the peculiar form of this word as though it came from a quadriliteral הבאה "So the ark of the Lord compassed the city," not "Joshua caused the ark to compass the city." The Hiphil has only an active, not a causative, meaning here, as in 2 Samuel 5:23, etc.
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