Joshua 6:5
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
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Joshua 6:5. The wall — Not all of it; which was unnecessary, and might have given the people better opportunity of escaping; but only a considerable part of it, where the Israelites might fitly enter: for Rahab’s house was not overthrown, Joshua 6:22. Flat — Hebrew, under it. It was not battered down with engines, which would have made part of it fall out of its place, but it fell of its own accord, and therefore in the place it did formerly stand in. God chose this way to try the faith and obedience of the people; whether they would observe a precept which, to human policy, seemed foolish, and believe a promise which seemed impossible to be performed; whether they could patiently bear the reproaches of their enemies, and patiently wait for the salvation of God. Thus, by faith, not by force, the walls of Jericho fell down.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.Trumpets of ram's horns - Render rather here and in Joshua 6:5-6, Joshua 6:8, etc., "trumpets of jubilee" (compare Leviticus 25:10 note). The instrument is more correctly rendered "cornet" (see Leviticus 25:9, note). Various attempts have been made to explain the fall of Jericho by natural causes, as, e. g., by the undermining of the walls, or by an earthquake, or by a sudden assault. But the narrative of this chapter does not afford the slightest warrant for any such explanations; indeed it is totally inconsistent with them. It must be taken as it stands; and so taken it intends, beyond all doubt, to narrate a miracle, or rather a series of miracles.

In the belief that a record is not necessarily unhistorical because it is miraculous, never perhaps was a miracle more needed than that which gave Jericho to Joshua. Its lofty walls and well-fenced gates made it simply impregnable to the Israelites - a nomad people, reared in the desert, destitute alike of the engines of war for assaulting a fortified town, and of skill and experience in the use of them if they had had them. Nothing line a direct interference of the Almighty could in a week's time give a city like Jericho, thoroughly on its guard and prepared (compare Joshua 2:9 ff and Joshua 6:1), to besiegers situated as were Joshua and the Israelites.

The fall of Jericho cogently taught the inhabitants of Canaan that the successes of Israel were not mere human triumphs of man against man, and that the God of Israel was not as "the gods of the countries." This lesson some of them at least learned to their salvation, e. g., Rahab and the Gibeonites. Further, ensuing close upon the miraculous passage of Jordan, it was impressed on the people, prone ever to be led by the senses, that the same God who had delivered their fathers out of Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, was with Joshua no less effectually than He had been with Moses.

And the details of the orders given by God to Joshua Jos 6:3-5 illustrate this last point further. The trumpets employed were not the silver trumpets used for signalling the marshalling of the host and for other warlike purposes (compare Numbers 10:2), but the curved horns employed for ushering in the Jubilee and the Sabbatical Year (Septuagint, σάλπιγγες ἱεραί salpinges hierai: compare the Leviticus 23:24 note). The trumpets were borne by priests, and were seven in number; the processions round Jericho were to be made on seven days, and seven times on the seventh day, thus laying a stress on the sacred number seven, which was an emhlem more especially of the work of God. The ark of God also, the seat of His special presence, was carried round the city. All these particulars were calculated to set forth symbolically, and in a mode sure to arrest the attention of the people, the fact that their triumph was wholly due to the might of the Lord, and to that covenant which made their cause His.

3-5. ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war. … Thus shalt thou do six days, &c.—Directions are here given as to the mode of procedure. Hebrew, "horns of jubilee"; that is, the bent or crooked trumpets with which the jubilee was proclaimed. It is probable that the horns of this animal were used at first; and that afterwards, when metallic trumpets were introduced, the primitive name, as well as form of them, was traditionally continued. The design of this whole proceeding was obviously to impress the Canaanites with a sense of the divine omnipotence, to teach the Israelites a memorable lesson of faith and confidence in God's promises, and to inspire sentiments of respect and reverence for the ark as the symbol of His presence. The length of time during which those circuits were made tended the more intensely to arrest the attention, and to deepen the impressions, both of the Israelites and the enemy. The number seven was among the Israelites the symbolic seal of the covenant between God and their nation [Keil, Hengstenberg]. When they make a long blast, as is usual in the close of musical sounds.

The wall of the city; not all of it, which was not only unnecessary, but inconvenient, and might have given the people better opportunity of escaping; but only a considerable part of it, where the Israelites might fitly enter; for Rahab’s house was not overthrown, Joshua 6:22.

Flat, Heb. under it, i.e. below the place they stood in; or, in its place: it was not battered down with engines, which would have made part of it fall out of its place; but it fell out without any force, and of its own accord, and therefore in the place it did formerly stand in. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn,.... Continue blowing, and protracting, and drawing out the sound a long time; which they did only on the seventh day; on the other days it was but a short blast they made at a time; so that this being different, it would be a good sign and token to the people to do what they are next directed to:

and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet; drawn out to a great length:

all the people shall shout with a great shout; at once, as when an onset is made in battle, or a victory is obtained:

and the wall of the city shall fall down flat; or "under itself" (a); which Jarchi interprets, in its place; that is, where it stood, and be swallowed up in it: so the Targum,"and it shall be swallowed up under it;''yet so that somewhat of it should be seen, as an attestation and proof of the miracle, as Kimchi; who says,"it means that it should be swallowed up in its place under the earth, and a little of it appear above ground for a memorial of the miracle:"

and the people shall ascend up, every man straight before him; just as they were in the order of procession; for the wall being fallen everywhere, they would have no occasion to make up to one certain place, as when a breach is only made in one place, and the besiegers are obliged to go so many a breast to enter at it; but in this case they might go straight up from whence they were, and enter the city without any obstruction and difficulty.

(a) "sub se", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "subtus se", Tigurine version; "sabter se", Masius.

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
5. every man straight before him] Over the prostrate walls the Israelites were to advance into Jericho, and “each one straight forward,” so that, as far as possible, their order should be preserved. Compare the march of the locusts as described by Joel 2:7, “like men of war they climb a wall, and every one marches on his way.”Verse 5. - When they make a long blast with the ram's horn. Literally, as they draw out with the horn of jubilee, i.e., blow a prolonged blast (cf. Exodus 19:13). Here the word used is horn of jubilee, but not necessarily of ram's horn, as our version, any more than the modern horn, though it takes the place of the more primitive instrument made of that material, must itself be a ram's horn. So Rosenmuller. The word. קֶרֶן in Hebrew is used in different senses, all, however, growing out of the one original sense. Thus it is used for a musical instrument, for rays of light, for the projections extending from the corners of the altar, and in Isaiah 5:1, for a mountain peak (like the German Schreekhorn, Gabelhorn, Weisshorn). Origen compares the blast of the trumpet at which the walls of Jericho fell, to the sound of the last trumpet, which shall finally destroy the kingdoms of sin. When ye hear. The Keri substitute here, as in many other places, כְּ for בְּ but unnecessarily. The Keri means at the very moment when, the Chethibh simply and less emphatically, "when" (see ver. 15). Flat. Literally, underneath it, i.e., the walls were to give way from their very foundations. Every man straight before him. There was no need to surround the city, nor to endeavour to enter it through a "practicable breach." The walls were to give way entirely, and the warriors might advance at once, in the order of battle, and from the place in which they were at the moment when they raised the shout of triumph (יָרִיעוּ) for the inhabitants of Jericho alone were evidently no match for them in numbers (cf. Joshua 10:3; Joshua 11:1-3), though they might have hoped to hold out some time under the protection of their walls. Appearance and Message of the Angel of the Lord. - Joshua 5:13-15. When Joshua was by Jericho, בּיריחו, lit., in Jericho (בּ expressing immediate proximity, the entrance as it were into some other object, vid., Ewald, 217), - that is to say, inside it in thought, meditating upon the conquest of it-he saw, on lifting up his eyes, a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand; and on going up to him, and asking, "Dost thou belong to us or to our enemies?" he received this reply: "Nay (לא is not to be altered into לו, which is the reading adopted in the Sept., Syr., and a few MSS), but I am the prince of the army of Jehovah; now I am come." The person who had appeared neither belonged to the Israelites nor to their enemies, but was the prince of the army of Jehovah, i.e., of the angels. "The Lord's host" does not mean "the people of Israel, who were just at the commencement of their warlike enterprise," as v. Hofmann supposes; for although the host of Israel who came out of Egypt are called "the hosts of the Lord" in Exodus 12:41, the Israelites are never called the host or army of Jehovah (in the singular). "The host of Jehovah" is synonymous with "the host of heaven" (1 Kings 22:19), and signifies the angels, as in Psalm 148:2 and Psalm 103:21. With the words "now I am come," the prince of the angels is about to enter upon an explanation of the object of his coming; but he is interrupted in his address by Joshua, who falls down before him, and says, "What saith my lord to his servant?" so that now he first of all commands Joshua to take off his shoes, as the place on which he stands is holy. It by no means follows that because Joshua fell down upon the ground and ישׁתּחוּ (Eng. Ver. "did worship"), he must have recognised him at once as the angel of the Lord who was equal with God; for the word השׁתּחוה, which is connected with the falling down, does not always mean divine worship, but very frequently means nothing more than the deep Oriental reverence paid by a dependant to his superior or king (e.g., 2 Samuel 9:6; 2 Samuel 14:33), and Joshua did not address the person who appeared to him by the name of God, אדני, but simply as אדני, "My lord." In any case, however, Joshua regarded him at once as a superior being, i.e., an angel. And he must have recognised him as something more than a created angel of superior rank, that is to say, as the angel of Jehovah who is essentially equal with God, the visible revealer of the invisible God, as soon as he gave him the command to take off his shoes, etc. - a command which would remind him of the appearance of God to Moses in the burning bush, and which implied that the person who now appeared was the very person who had revealed himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (On the meaning of the command to take off the shoes, see the exposition of Exodus 3:5.) The object of the divine appearance was indicated by the drawn sword in the hand (cf. Numbers 22:31), by which he manifested himself as a heavenly warrior, or, as he describes himself to Joshua, as prince of the army of Jehovah. The drawn sword contained in itself this practical explanation: "I am now come with my heavenly army, to make war upon the Canaanites, and to assist thee and thy people" (Seb. Schmidt). It was not in a vision that this appearance took place, but it was an actual occurrence belonging to the external world; for Joshua saw the man with the drawn sword at a certain distance from himself, and went up to him to address him, - a fact which would be perfectly incompatible with an inward vision.
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