Joshua 7:7
And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, why have you at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelled on the other side Jordan!
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Joshua 7:7. Wherefore hast thou brought this people over Jordan? — In this and the two following verses, Joshua shows the infirmity of human nature, and how apt even pious men are to forego their trust in God, and to think of him and his actions according to their own weakness. Because three thousand men had fled before Ai, Joshua seems ready to conclude that all God’s promises were about to be rendered of none effect; not considering the wisdom, power, and truth of the Almighty. To deliver us into the hand of the Amorites — Here his expressions fall far short of that reverence, modesty, and submission which he owed to God, and they are recorded as instances, that the holy men of God of old were subject to like passions and infirmities with other men.7:6-9 Joshua's concern for the honour of God, more than even for the fate of Israel, was the language of the Spirit of adoption. He pleaded with God. He laments their defeat, as he feared it would reflect on God's wisdom and power, his goodness and faithfulness. We cannot at any time urge a better plea than this, Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name? Let God be glorified in all, and then welcome his whole will.On these signs of mourning, compare the marginal references and Leviticus 10:6; Numbers 20:6; 1 Samuel 4:12. 6-9. Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth … before the ark … he and the elders—It is evident, from those tokens of humiliation and sorrow, that a solemn fast was observed on this occasion. The language of Joshua's prayer is thought by many to savor of human infirmity and to be wanting in that reverence and submission he owed to God. But, although apparently breathing a spirit of bold remonstrance and complaint, it was in reality the effusion of a deeply humbled and afflicted mind, expressing his belief that God could not, after having so miraculously brought His people over Jordan into the promised land, intend to destroy them, to expose them to the insults of their triumphant enemies, and bring reproach upon His own name for inconstancy or unkindness to His people, or inability to resist their enemies. Unable to understand the cause of the present calamity, he owned the hand of God. These clauses, though well intended, and offered to God only by way of expostulation and argument, yet do savour of human infirmity, and fall short of that reverence, and modesty, and submission which he owed to God; and are mentioned as instances that the holy men of God were subject to like passions and infirmities with other men. And Joshua said, alas! O Lord God,.... What a miserable and distressed condition are we in! have pity and compassion on us; who could have thought it, that this would have been our case?

wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us: who are mentioned either for the whole people of the land of Canaan; or rather, because the people of Israel were now in that part of the country which they inhabited: these words discover much weakness, diffidence, and distrust, and bear some likeness to the murmurs of the children of Israel in the wilderness; but not proceeding from that malignity of spirit theirs did, but from a concern for the good of the people and the glory of God, they are not resented by him:

would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan; in which he seems to cast the blame, not upon the Lord but upon himself and the people, who were not content to dwell on the other side, but were desirous of a larger and better country; and now ruin seemed to be the consequent of that covetous disposition and discontented mind.

And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the {d} other side Jordan!

(d) This infirmity of his faith shows how we are inclined by nature to distrust.

7. would to God we had been content] Or perhaps better as the LXX. have rendered it, “would that we had remained and dwelt on the other side Jordan.”Verse 7. - Wherefore hast thou at all brought. The LXX. seems in some way to have read עבד for עבר; they translate "why did thy servant cross?" But their rendering is a clear grammatical blunder, for the Masorites remark that the ה is to be preserved. Would to God we had been content. Calvin makes some severe remarks on Joshua's folly and want of faith under this reverse. But it may be paralleled by the conduct of most Christians in adversity. How few are there who can bear even temporal calamity calmly and patiently, even though they have abundant reason to know that temporal affliction is not only no sign of the displeasure of God, but the reverse! And when, through allowing secret sin to lurk within the soul, the Christian is overcome and brought to shame by his spiritual enemies, how much more seldom it is that he has the courage to gird up the loins of his soul and renew the conflict, in full confidence that victory will be his in the end! How much more frequently does he despair of victory, wish he had never undertaken the Christian profession, give up his belief in the protecting care and guidance of God, and desist, at least for a time, from the good fight of faith, to his own serious injury and to the detriment of God's Church! "It is not," adds Calvin, "a new thing for pious minds, when they aspire to seek God with holy zeal, to obscure the light of faith by the vehemence and impetuosity of their affections. And in this way all prayers would be rendered valueless, did not the Lord in His boundless indulgence pardon them, and, wiping away all their stains, receive them as if they were pure. And yet while in thus freely expostulating they cast all their care upon God, this blunt simplicity, though it needs pardon, is yet far more acceptable than the feigned modesty and self restraint of the hypocrites." At Jericho the Lord had made known to the Canaanites His great and holy name; but before Ai the Israelites were to learn that He would also sanctify Himself on them if they transgressed His covenant, and that the congregation of the Lord could only conquer the power of the world so long as it was faithful to His covenant. But notwithstanding the command which Joshua had enforced upon the people (Joshua 6:18), Achan, a member of the tribe of Judah, laid hands upon the property in Jericho which had been banned, and thus brought the ban upon the children of Israel, the whole nation. His breach of trust is described as unfaithfulness (a trespass) on the part of the children of Israel in the ban, in consequence of which the anger of the Lord was kindled against the whole nation. מעל מעל, to commit a breach of trust (see at Leviticus 5:15), generally against Jehovah, by purloining or withholding what was sanctified to Him, here in the matter of the ban, by appropriating what had been banned to the Lord. This crime was imputed to the whole people, not as imputatio moralis, i.e., as though the whole nation had shared in Achan's disposition, and cherished in their hearts the same sinful desire which Achan had carried out in action in the theft he had committed; but as imputatio civilis, according to which Achan, a member of the nation, had robbed the whole nation of the purity and holiness which it ought to possess before God, through the sin that he had committed, just as the whole body is affected by the sin of a single member.

(Note: In support of this I cannot do better than quote the most important of the remarks which I made in my former commentary (Keil on Joshua, pp. 177-8, Eng. trans.): "However truly the whole Scriptures speak of each man as individually an object of divine mercy and justice, they teach just as truly that a nation is one organic whole, in which the individuals are merely members of the same body, and are not atoms isolated from one another and the whole, since the state as a divine institution is founded upon family relationship, and intended to promote the love of all to one another and to the invisible Head of all. As all then are combined in a fellowship established by God, the good or evil deeds of an individual affect injuriously or beneficially the welfare of the whole society. And, therefore, when we regard the state as a divine organization and not merely as a civil institution, a compact into which men have entered by treaty, we fail to discover caprice and injustice in consequences which necessarily follow from the moral unity of the whole state; namely, that the good or evil deeds of one member are laid to the charge of the entire body. Caprice and injustice we shall always find if we leave out of sight this fundamental unity, and merely look at the fact that the many share the consequences of the sin of one.")

Instead of Achan (the reading here and in Joshua 22:20) we find Achar in 1 Chronicles 2:7, the liquids n and r being interchanged to allow of a play upon the verb עכר in Joshua 7:25. Hence in Josephus the name is spelt Acharos, and in the Cod. Vat. of the lxx Achar, whereas the Cod. Al. has Achan. Instead of Zabdi, we find Zimri in 1 Chronicles 2:6, evidently a copyist's error. Zerah was the twin-brother of Pharez (Genesis 38:29-30). Matteh, from נטה, to spread out, is used to denote the tribe according to its genealogical ramifications; whilst shebet (from an Arabic root signifying "uniform, not curled, but drawn out straight and long with any curvature at all") was applied to the sceptre or straight staff of a magistrate or ruler (never to the stick upon which a person rested), and different from matteh not only in its primary and literal meaning, but also in the derivative meaning tribe, in which it was used to designate the division of the nation referred to, not according to its genealogical ramifications and development, but as a corporate body possessing authority and power. This difference in the ideas expressed by the two words will explain the variations in their use: for example, matteh is used here (in Joshua 7:1 and Joshua 7:18), and in Joshua 22:1-14, and in fact is the term usually employed in the geographical sections; whereas shebet is used in Joshua 7:14, Joshua 7:16, in Joshua 3:12; Joshua 4:2, and on many other occasions, in those portions of the historical narratives in which the tribes of Israel are introduced as military powers.

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