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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
This verse is strictly parenthetical. It is inserted to explain the declaration commenced Joshua 5:14, and interrupted by Joshua's question and obeisance Joshua 5:14-15, but resumed in Joshua 6:2.
Straitly shut up - See the margin, i. e., not only shut, but barred and bolted.
2And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
3And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
The command of the Lord as to the mode in which the fall of Jericho should be brought about is given in these verses in a condensed form. Further details (see Joshua 6:8-10, Joshua 6:16-17, etc.), were, no doubt, among the commands given to Joshua by the Angel.
4And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
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.
5And 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.
6And 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.
7And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
He said - The reading in the Hebrew text is "they said." Joshua no doubt issued his orders through the "officers of the people" (compare Joshua 1:10).
Him that is armed - i. e. the warriors generally, not a division only. "The rereward" Joshua 6:9 was merely a detachment, and not a substantial portiere of the host; and was told off, perhaps, from the tribe of Dan (compare the marginal reference) to close the procession and guard the ark from behind. Thus the order would be
(1) the warriors,
(2) the seven priests blowing the cornets,
(3) the ark,
(4) the rear-guard.
8And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
9And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
10And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
11So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
12And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
13And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
14And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
15And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
On the seventh day - Most probably a Sabbath day. The rising early would be necessary to give time for encompassing the city seven times. Jericho appears to have been a city of considerable size and population; and each passage of the large host round it could hardly have taken less than an hour and a half. Thus, with the necessary intervals of rest, the evening would be at hand when Joshua gave the signal to shout Joshua 6:16; and the work of slaughter was probably commenced just as the hours of the Sabbath were passed.
16And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
17And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
Accursed - Better as in margin, ("devoted" (Leviticus 27:28 note). In other cases the inhabitants only of the towns were slain; their cattle and property became the booty of the victors. But Jericho, as the first Canaanite city that was captured, was devoted by Israel as first-fruits to God, as a token that Israel received all the land from Him. Every living thing was put to death (Rahab and her household excepted) as a sacrifice to God, and the indestructible goods were Joshua 6:19 brought into the treasury of the sanctuary.
18And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
19But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
20So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
21And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
22But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
23And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
The part of the wall adjoining Rahab's house had not fallen along with the rest. Rahab and "all that she had," i. e., the persons belonging to her household, were brought out and "left without the camp of Israel." These words literally "made to rest outside the camp of Israel" - indicate that being still in their paganism, they were separated from the camp of the Lord. This was only for a time. They desired, and eventually obtained, admission to the covenant of the chosen people of God Joshua 6:25.
24And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
25And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Even unto this day - These words are rightly noted as implying that the narrative was written not long after the occurrences which it records.
26And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
Adjured - i. e. put an oath upon them; or, perhaps, actually caused them themselves to take an oath (compare Matthew 26:63). The words of the oath have in the original a rhythmical character which would tend to keep them on the lips and in the memory of the people.
Buildeth this city - i. e. rebuilds the fortifications. Jericho was at once occupied by the Benjamites. Joshua 18:21, and the natural advantages of the situation were such that it would not be likely to be left long desolate. Joshua speaks in the text as a warrior. He lays a ban on the re-erection of those lofty walls which had bidden defiance to God's host, and been by God's signal interposition overthrown. Hiel, the Bethelite, reckless of the prophecy recorded in our text, began and completed the circumvallation of the city a second time (see the marginal reference). Hiel did not found a new city but only fortified an existing one.
He shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born - i. e. when he begins this work his eldest son shall die, when he completes it his youngest shall die (see 1 Kings 16:34 note).
This chapter read in the light of the New Testament has indications of a further import and bearing than such as concerned Joshua and the Jews. As Joshua, the leader and captain of the Jewish theocracy, is a type of Christ, so is Jericho to be taken (with all Christian expositors) as a type of the powers opposed to Christ and His cause. The times which prepare for the close of God's present dispensation are signified in the days during which the people obeyed and waited; as the number of those days, seven, the number of perfection, represents that "fullness of time," known only to God, at which His dispensation will culminate and close. Thus the circumstances which lead up to the fall of Jericho are an acted prophecy, as was that fall itself, which sets forth the overthrow of all that resists the kingdom of which Christ is the head; and particularly the day of judgment, in which that overthrow will be fully and finally accomplished. Paul, in describing that day, seems to borrow his imagery from this chapter (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
27So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.