Joshua 7:21
When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) A goodly Babylonish garment.—Literally, A certain goodly mantle of Shinar.

I coveted them.—The very word employed, not only in the tenth commandment (Deuteronomy 5:21), but also in Deuteronomy 7:25, the passage which forbids Israel to desire the spoils of idolatry. This coincidence of terms makes it somewhat probable that the whole were found in some idol’s temple, and were part of the spoils of the shrine.

Joshua 7:21. When I saw — a goodly Babylonish garment — Such garments were composed with great art, of divers colours, and of great price, as appears both from the Scriptures and from heathen authors. Two hundred shekels — Not in coin, but in weight; for as yet they received and paid money by weight. When I saw — He accurately describes the progress of his sin, which began at his eye. This he permitted to gaze upon these things. Hereby his desire for them was inflamed, and that desire induced him to take them, and, having taken, to resolve to keep them, and to that end, hide them in his tent. Then I coveted them — See what comes of suffering the heart to go after the eyes, and what need we have to “make a covenant with our eyes!” He was drawn away, like Eve, of his own lust, and enticed; and lust having conceived, by getting the consent of his will, brought forth sin, and sin, being committed, brought forth death. Thus we see, that they who would be kept from sinful actions, must check and mortify sinful desires, particularly the desire of wealth, which we more especially term covetousness. For of what a world of evil is the love of money the root! How does it draw men into, and drown men in, destruction and perdition! 1 Timothy 6:9. They are hid in my tent, and the silver under it — That is, under the Babylonish garment; covered with it, or wrapped up in it.7:16-26 See the folly of those that promise themselves secrecy in sin. The righteous God has many ways of bringing to light the hidden works of darkness. See also, how much it is our concern, when God is contending with us, to find out the cause that troubles us. We must pray with holy Job, Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Achan's sin began in the eye. He saw these fine things, as Eve saw the forbidden fruit. See what comes of suffering the heart to walk after the eyes, and what need we have to make this covenant with our eyes, that if they wander they shall be sure to weep for it. It proceeded out of the heart. They that would be kept from sinful actions, must mortify and check in themselves sinful desires, particularly the desire of worldly wealth. Had Achan looked upon these things with an eye of faith, he would have seen they were accursed things, and would have dreaded them; but looking on them with an eye of sense only, he saw them as goodly things, and coveted them. When he had committed the sin, he tried to hide it. As soon as he had got this plunder, it became his burden, and he dared not to use his ill-gotten treasure. So differently do objects of temptation appear at a distance, to what they do when they have been gotten. See the deceitfulness of sin; that which is pleasing in the commission, is bitter in the reflection. See how they will be deceived that rob God. Sin is a very troublesome thing, not only to a sinner himself, but to all about him. The righteous God will certainly recompense tribulation to them that trouble his people. Achan perished not alone in his sin. They lose their own, who grasp at more than their own. His sons and daughters were put to death with him. It is probable that they helped to hide the things; they must have known of them. What fatal consequences follow, even in this world, to the sinner himself, and to all belonging him! One sinner destroys much good. What, then, will be the wrath to come? Let us flee from it to Christ Jesus as the sinner's Friend. There are circumstances in the confession of Achan, marking the progress of sin, from its first entrance into the heart to its being done, which may serve as the history of almost every offence against the law of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.A goodly Babylonian garment - literally, "a robe or cloak of Shinar," the plain in which Babylon was situated Genesis 10:10. It was a long robe such as was worn by kings on state occasions Jonah 3:6, and by prophets 1 Kings 19:13; Zechariah 13:4. The Assyrians were in early times famous for the manufacture of beautiful dyed and richly embroidered robes (compare Ezekiel 23:15). That such a robe should be found in a Canaanite city is natural enough. The productions of the far East found their way through Palestine both southward toward Egypt and westward through Tyre to the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. (Compare Ezekiel 27:24 and the context.)

Wedge of gold - i. e. some implement or ornament of gold shaped like a wedge or tongue. The name lingula was given by the Romans to a spoon and to an oblong dagger made in shape of a tongue. The weight of this "wedge" was fifty shekels, i. e. about twenty-five ounces (see Exodus 38:24 note). The silver was under the rest of the stolen property. The mantle would naturally be placed uppermost, and be used to cover up the others.

21. a goodly Babylonish garment—literally, "a mantle of Shinar." The plain of Shinar was in early times celebrated for its gorgeous robes, which were of brilliant and various colors, generally arranged in figured patterns, probably resembling those of modern Turkish carpets, and the colors were either interwoven in the loom or embroidered with the needle.

two hundred shekels of silver—equivalent to £22 10s. sterling, according to the old Mosaic shekel, or the half of that sum, reckoning by the common shekel.

a wedge of gold—literally, an ingot or bar in the shape of a tongue.

He accurately describes the progress of his sin, which began at his eye, which he permitted to gaze and fix upon them, which inflamed his desire, and made him covet them; and that desire put him upon action, and made him take them; and having taken, resolve to keep them, and to that end hide them in his tent. Babylonish garments were composed with great art with divers colours, and of great price, as appears both from Scripture, Ezekiel 23:15, and from divers heathen authors. See my Latin Synopsis.

Two hundred shekels, to wit, in weight, not in coin; for as yet they received and paid money by weight.

Under it, i.e. under the Babylonish garment; covered with it, or wrapt up in it. When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment,.... One, as the Targum adds, for no more was taken; a garment made of Babylonish wool, as Jarchi; or a valuable garment made in Babylon, called "Shinar", for that is the word in the text, so Kimchi and Abarbinel; and Babylonian garments were in great esteem in other nations: Pliny says (c) Babylon was famous for garments interwoven with pictures of divers colours, and which gave name to them; and Plutarch (d) relates, that Cato in his great modesty, and being an enemy to luxury, having a Babylonish garment that came to him by inheritance, ordered it immediately to be sold: the Vulgate Latin version calls it a scarlet robe; and in some Jewish writings (e) it is interpreted, a garment of Babylonian purple, as if it only respected the colour; and purple and scarlet are sometimes promiscuously used and put for the same, see Matthew 27:28; and were the colour worn by kings: and Josephus here calls it a royal garment, wholly interwoven with gold (f); and some have thought it to be the garment of the king of Jericho, which is not unlikely; however, it is much more probable than that Jericho was subject to the king of Babylon, and that he had palaces in Jericho, and when he came thither was clothed with this robe, so Jarchi; as is elsewhere said (g) by others, that he had a deputy who resided in Jericho, who sent dates to the king of Babylon, and the king sent him gifts, among which was a garment of Shinar or Babylon:

and two hundred shekels of silver; which, if coined money, was near twenty five English pounds:

and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight: or a "tongue of gold" (h); a plate of gold in the shape of a tongue, as Kimchi and Abarbinel; a piece of unwrought gold which weighed fifty shekels, and worth of our money about seventy five pounds, according to Brererwood (i): where he saw these, and from whence he took them, is not said; according to some Jewish writers, these belonged to one of their idols; it is said (k), he saw the Teraphim and the silver they offered before it, and the garment which was spread before it, and the tongue or wedge of gold in its mouth; and he desired them in his heart, and went and took them, and hid them in the midst of his tent: and the Samaritan Chronicle (l) makes him confess that he went into a temple in Jericho and found the above things there: and Masius conjectures that the wedge of gold was a little golden sword, with which the men of Jericho had armed their god, since an ancient poet (m) calls a little sword a little tongue:

then I coveted them, and took them; he is very particular in the account, and gradually proceeds in relating the temptation he was under, and the prevalence of it; it began with his eyes, which were caught with the goodliness of the garments, and the riches he saw; these affected his heart and stirred up covetous desires, which influenced and directed his hands to take them:

and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent; Josephus (n) says, he dug a deep hole or ditch in his tent, and put them there, that is, the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold; which, as Ben Gersom gathers from Joshua 7:25, was wrapped up and hid within the garment; which is not improbable, since otherwise no account is given of that:

and the silver under it; the two hundred shekels of silver lay under the garment in which was the wedge of gold, and so it lay under them both.

(c) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48. (d) In Vita Catonis. (e) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 85. fol. 75. 2.((f) Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48.) (g) Bereshit Rabba, ib. (h) "linguam auream", Montanus, Tigurine version, Masius; "lingulam auream", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (i) De Ponder. &. Pret. Vet. Num. c. 5. (k) Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 38.) (l) Apud Hottinger, ut supra. (Smegm. Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 505.) (m) Naevius apud A. Cell. Noct. Attic. l. 10. c. 25. (n) Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48.)

When I saw among the spoils a goodly {k} Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

(k) Such a rich garment as the states of Babylon wore.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. a goodly Babylonish garment] Literally, a goodly mantle of Shinar, i.e. Babylonia. Comp. Genesis 11:2, “They found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there,” 9, “therefore is the name of it called Babel.” The word here translated “garment,” means a long robe, such as was worn by kings on state occasions; comp. Jonah 3:6, and by prophets, 1 Kings 19:13; 2 Kings 2:13-14; Zechariah 13:4. Probably it was stuff embroidered, made in the loom with many colours, and wrought of gold and silk threads. On the elaborate and beautiful products of the Babylonian looms see Heeren’s Asiatic Nations 1. 2, ff. 22; Layard’s Nineveh 2:319; Kitto’s Bible Illustrations 2:204. The word employed points to the existence of a trade already between Canaan and Mesopotamia. Wyclif renders it “a reed mentil ful good.”

a wedge of gold] Literally, a tongue of gold. Vulg. regula aurea, “a golden bar,” or “a tongue-shaped jewel made of gold,” “a golden rewle of fifti siclis,” Wyclif. The name lingula was given by the Romans to a spoon, and to an oblong dagger made in the shape of a tongue. The weight of the wedge was 50 shekels = about 25 ounces. See The Speaker’s Commentary in loc.

the silver under it] The mantle would naturally lie at the top, then the tongue of gold, and the silver lowest.Verse 21. - A goodly Babylonish garment. Literally, "a mantle of Shinar, one goodly one." Babylon was in the "land of Shinar" (see Genesis 11:2; Genesis 14:1; Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 5:11). The אַדרֶת derived from אדר great, glorious, was an ample cloak, sometimes of hair or fur (Genesis 25:25; cf. 1 Kings 19:13, 19; 2 Kings 2:13, 14; Jonah 3:6, etc.). The Babylonish mantle was famed for its beauty (ποικίλη, LXX.), and was, no doubt, worked artistically with figures of men and animals. "Of all Asiatic nations, the Babylonians were the most noted for the weaving of cloth of divers colours. Into these stuffs gold threads were introduced into the woof of many hues. Amongst those who traded in 'blue clothes and embroidered work' with Tyro were the merchants of Asshur, or Assyria; and that the garments of Babylon were brought into Syria and greatly esteemed at a very early period, we learn from their being classed amongst the most precious articles of spoil, even with gold, in the time of Joshua" (Layard, 'Nineveh,' II. 413). From this, among other passages, we may infer the early date of the Book of Joshua. It marks an early stage of civilisation when an embroidered garment can be considered as in any degree equivalent to gold. The Israelites, it must be remembered, were not unaccustomed in Egypt to the highest degree of civilisation then known. "Nam Persarum, finitimarumque gentium luxum eo se ostentare solere vel ex eo constat quod captis ab Alexandro Magno Susis illicinventa fuerit 10 millia pondo, sive talents purpurae Hermionicae, teste Plutarcho in Alexandro" (Corn. a Lapide). A wedge of gold. Literally, "a tongue of gold." Some derive our word ingot from the French lingot, or little tongue. But others derive it with greater probability from the Dutch ingieten the same as the German einqiesen, to pour in. "Si ergo invenias spud philosophos perversa dogmata luculenti sermonis assertionibus decorata, ista eat lingua aurea. Sed vide, nete decipiat fulgor operis, ne te rapiat sermonis aurei pulchritudo: memento, quia Jesus anathema jussit esse omni aurum quod in Jericho fuerit inventum. Si poetam legeris modulatis versibus et praefulgido carmine Deos Deasque texentem, ne delecteris eloquentiae suavitate. Lingua aurea est: si eam sustuleritis, et posueris in tabernaculo tuo: polluis omnem ecclesiam Domini" (Orig., Hom. 7 on Joshua). Joshua was to take away this ban from the nation. To discover who had laid hands upon the ban, he was to direct the people to sanctify themselves for the following day (see at Joshua 3:5), and then to cause them to come before God according to their tribes, families, households, and men, that the guilty men might be discovered by lot; and to burn whoever was found guilty, with all that he possessed. נקרב, "to come near," sc., to Jehovah, i.e., to come before His sanctuary. The tribes, families, households, and men, formed the four classes into which the people were organized. As the tribes were divided into families, so these again were subdivided into houses, commonly called fathers' houses, and the fathers' houses again into men, i.e., fathers of families (see the remarks on Exodus 18:25-26, and by Bibl. Archaeology, 140). Each of these was represented by its natural head, so that we must picture the affair as conducted in the following manner: in order to discover the tribe, the twelve tribe princes came before the Lord; and in order to discover the family, the heads of families of the tribe that had been taken, and so on to the end, each one in turn being subjected to the lot. For although it is not distinctly stated that the lot was resorted to in order to discover who was guilty, and that the discovery was actually made in this way, this is very evident from the expression אשׁר־ילכּדנּה (which the Lord taketh), as this was the technical term employed, according to 1 Samuel 14:42, to denote the falling of the lot upon a person (see also 1 Samuel 10:20). Moreover, the lot was frequently resorted to in cases where a crime could not be brought home to a person by the testimony of eye-witnesses (see 1 Samuel 14:41-42; Jonah 1:7; Proverbs 18:18), as it was firmly believed that the lot was directed by the Lord (Proverbs 16:33). In what manner the lot was cast we do not know. In all probability little tablets or potsherds were used, with the names written upon them, and these were drawn out of an urn. This may be inferred from a comparison of Joshua 18:11 and Joshua 19:1, with Joshua 18:6, Joshua 18:10, according to which the casting of the lot took place in such a manner that the lot came up (עלה, Joshua 18:11; Joshua 19:10; Leviticus 16:9), or came out (יצא, Joshua 19:1; Joshua 19:24; Numbers 33:54). בּחרם הנּלכּד, the person taken in (with) the ban, i.e., taken by the lot as affected with the ban, was to be burned with fire, of course not alive, but after he had been stoned (Joshua 7:25). The burning of the body of a criminal was regarded as heightening the punishment of death (vid., Leviticus 20:14). This punishment was to be inflicted upon him, in the first place, because he had broken the covenant of Jehovah; and in the second place, because he had wrought folly in Israel, that is to say, had offended grievously against the covenant God, and also against the covenant nation. "Wrought folly:" an expression used here, as in Genesis 34:7, to denote such a crime as was irreconcilable with the honour of Israel as the people of God.
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