And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said to them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joshua 6:6. Of rams’ horns — Of the basest matter and the dullest sound, that the excellence of the power might be of God. The original words, however, here and Joshua 6:4, שׁופרות יובלום, shoperoth jobelim, may be properly rendered, trumpets of jubilee; that is, such trumpets as were to be blown in the year of jubilee. And many prefer this translation, alleging that, as the horns of rams are not hollow, trumpets cannot be made of them, even when bored, capable of giving any thing of a strong sound. They would, therefore, understand the words here as signifying trumpets made in the shape of rams’ horns. But others have urged that there is no difficulty in making such an instrument of a ram’s horn as may give a pretty strong sound: “it being certain that the inside of these horns is no ways hard, and may easily be taken out, excepting a space at the point of about four or five inches, part of which is sawed off, in order to proportionate the aperture to the mouth; after which, the rest is easily pierced. And we can assure our readers,” say the authors of the Universal History, “that we have seen some of these trumpets, thus made, used by the shepherds in the southern parts of Germany.”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.
and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord: See Gill on Joshua 6:4.And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. And Joshua] In obedience to the commands thus received Joshua implicitly carries out the instructions given him and issues the needful orders to the host.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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