Joshua 7:8
O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turns their backs before their enemies!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 7:8-9. What shall I say? — In answer to the reproaches of our insulting enemies? When Israel — God’s people, which he hath singled out of all nations for his own. Turneth their backs — Unable to make any resistance. What wilt thou do unto thy great name? — Which will upon this occasion be blasphemed, and charged with inconstancy, and with inability to resist them, or to do thy people that good which thou didst intend them. The name of God is a great name, above every name. And whatever happens, we ought to pray that this may not be polluted. This should be our concern more than any thing else: on this we should fix our eye: and we cannot urge a better plea than this, “Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name?” Let God in all be glorified, and then welcome his whole will!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. What shall I say, in answer to the reproaches cast by our insulting enemies upon us, and upon thy name?

Israel; God’s own people, which he hath singled out of all nations for his own peculiar.

See Poole "Genesis 1:1", See Poole "Genesis 1:2" O Lord, what shall I say,.... For the comfort and encouragement of the people of Israel, in vindication of thy power and faithfulness, and against the charge of weakness in thyself, unfaithfulness to thy promises, and unkindness to thy people, brought by our enemies:

when Israel hath turned their backs before their enemies? or after they have done it; what is to be said now, this being the case? he speaks as a man confounded, and at the utmost loss how to account for the power, the providence, and promises of God.

O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 8. - What shall I say? To encourage the people who will be downcast by this defeat, while their enemies will gather courage. The anger of God, which Achan had brought upon Israel, was manifested to the congregation in connection with their attempt to take Ai. This town was situated near Bethaven, on the east of Bethel. Bethel was originally called Luz (see at Genesis 28:19), a place on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin (Joshua 16:2; Joshua 18:13). It is frequently mentioned, was well known at a later time as the city in which Jeroboam established the worship of the calves, and was inhabited again even after the captivity (see v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 178, 179). It has been preserved, in all probability, in the very extensive ruins called Beitin (see Robinson, Pal. ii. pp. 126ff.), about four hours' journey on horseback to the north of Jerusalem, and on the east of the road which leads from Jerusalem to Sichem (Nablus).

(Note: The statement of the Onomasticon of Eusebius s. v. Aggai' agree with this: Κεῖται Βαιθὴλ ἀπίοντων εἰς Αἰλίαν ἀπὸ Νεηεμιαήας πόλεως ἐν λαιοῖς τῆς ὁδοῦ ἀμφὶ τὸ δωδέκατον ἀπ ̓ Αἰλίας σημεῖον. Also s. v. Βαιθήλ: καὶ νῦν ἐστὶ κώμη, Αἰλίας ἄποθεν σημείοις ιβ ́ (twelve Roman miles are four or five hours' journey).)

No traces have ever been discovered of Bethaven. According to Joshua 18:12-13, the northern boundary of the tribe of Benjamin, which ran up from Jericho to the mountains on the west, passed on to the desert of Bethaven, and so onwards to Luz (Bethel). If we compare with this the statement in 1 Samuel 13:5, that the Philistines who came against Israel encamped at Michmash before (in front of) Bethaven, according to which Bethaven was on the east or north-east of Michmash (Mukhmas), the desert of Bethaven may very possibly have been nothing more than the table-land which lies between the Wady Mutyah on the north and the Wadys Fuwar and Suweinit (in Robinson's map), or Wady Tuwr (on Van de Velde's map), and stretches in a westerly direction from the rocky mountain Juruntel to Abu Sebah (Subbah). Bethaven would then lie to the south or south-east of Abu Sebah. In that case, however, Ai (Sept. Gai or Aggai, Genesis 12:8) would neither be found in the inconsiderable ruins to the south of the village of Deir Diwan, as Robinson supposes (Pal. ii. pp. 312ff.), nor on the site of the present Tell el Hajar, i.e., stone hill, three-quarters of an hour to the S.E. of Beitin, on the southern side of the deep and precipitous Wady Mutyah, as Van de Velde imagines; but in the ruins of Medinet Chai or Gai, which Krafft

(Note: Topograph. v. Jerusalem, p. ix.)

and Strauss

(Note: Sinai u. Golgoth. pp. 326-7.)

discovered on the flat surface of a mountain that slopes off towards the east, about forty minutes on the eastern side of Geba (Jeba), where "there are considerable ruins surrounded by a circular wall, whilst the place is defended on the south by the valley of Farah, and on the north by the valley of Es Suweinit, with steep shelving walls of rock" (Strauss: vid., C. Ritter Erdk. xvi. pp. 526-7). On the advice of the men who were sent out to explore the land, and who described the population on their return as small ("they are but few"), Joshua did not send the whole of the fighting men against Ai, but only about 3000 men. As there were not more than 12,000 inhabitants (Joshua 8:25), there could hardly have been 3000 fighting men, who might easily have been beaten by 3000 Israelitish warriors. But when the Israelites attacked the town they fled before its inhabitants, who slew about thirty-six men, and pursued them before the gate, i.e., outside the town, to the stone quarries, and smote them on the sloping ground. The Shebarim, from sheber, a breach or fracture, were probably stone quarries near the slope on the east of the town. Nothing more can be decided, as the country has not been thoroughly explored by travellers. On account of this repulse the people lost all their courage. "The hearts of the people melted" (see Joshua 2:15): this expression is strengthened still further by the additional clause, "and became as water."

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