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thus crossing, the priests with the ark stood in the middle of the channel, till every From Josh. i. thing was done that Joshua commanded; and then, upon their coming out of it, the to the end. river returned to its wonted course.
By this miraculous passage, Joshua, having gained the plains of Jericho, encamped in at place which was afterwards called Gigal; and while the whole country lay under a great terror and consternation, God commanded to the rite of circumcision, which for the space of almost forty years had been intermitted, to be renewed, that the people might be qualified to partake of the ensuing passover. This was the third time of their celebrating that festival : The first was at their departure out of Egypt; the second at their erection of the tabenacle at the foot of Mount Sinai; and now, that they were arrived in a country, wherein there was a sufficient provision of corn for unleavened
+Gilgal, the place where the Israelites encamped for braced this notion, pretend to support it by the words some time, after their passage over the river Jordan, of St Paul, “ If any man is called, being circumcised, was so called, because here the rite of circumcision, rein iriuosádw, let him not get a foreskin again,” or, as which had long been disused, was renewed : Where- we render it, “ let him not become uncircumcised." upon “ the Lord said unto Joshua, this day have I But whether the recovery of a prepuce be a thing prorolled away the reproach of Egypt (i. e. uncircumci- bable or not, it is certain, that all the difficulty of the sion) from off you, wherefore the name of the place is words arises from misunderstanding the idiom of the called Gilgal (i. e. rolling) unto this day.” Josh. v. 9. original, and may easily be removed, if they were From this expression the place received its name ; and translated or paraphrased thus," Let the ceremony if we look into its situation, we shall find, that as the of circumcision, which has been so long discontinued, Israelites passed over Jordan right against Jericho, be reoewed, as it was once heretofore." While the Josh. iii. 16. and encamped in Gilgal, in the east bord. Israelites lived in Egypt, we do not read of any neer of Jericho, it is plain, that Gilgal must be situated glect of this rite of circumcision among them; but, between Jordan and Jericho; and therefore, since Jo. while they abode in the wilderness, there are several sephus tells us, that Jericho was sixty furlongs dis- reasons that might oblige them to omit it, until they tant from Jordan, and the camp of Gilgal was fifty arrived in the promised land, when they were to refurlongs from the same river; it hence follows, that new the ordinance of the Passover, and, previous to Gilgal was ten furlongs (i. e. about a mile and a quar. that, were all to be circumcised; because no uncir. ter) from Jericho eastward. But as some learned cumcised person, nor any one who had a son or a men have observed, that five of the furlongs used by man servant in his house uocircumcised, was capable Josephus make up an Italian mile, so the distance of being admitted to it, Exod. xii. 43. 2d, The rolbetween Gilgal and Jericho will be just two miles ; ling away the reproach of Egypt, is supposed by some which exactly agrees with the testimony of St Jerom, to relate to the reproaches which the Egyptians used who makes it two miles distant from Jericho, and a to cast upon the Israelites, viz. that the Egyptians, place held in great yeneration by the inhabitants of seeing the Israelites wander so long in the wilderness, ihe country in his days. Wells's Geography, vol. ii. reproached and fouted them, as if they were brought c. iv.
to be destroyed there, and not conducted into the t. The command which God gives Joshua con. promised land ; from which reproaches God now decerning the rite of circumcision, is this " Make thee livered them, when, by enjoining circumcision, he sharp knives, and circumcise the children of Israel gave them assuravce, that they should shortly enjoy the second time.” Josh. v. 2. And, after the rite was the country, which no uncircumcised person might performed, God said, “ This day have I rolled away inherit. Our learned Spencer thinks the reproach of ihe reproach of Egypt from off you," ver. 9. Both of Egypt to be the slavery to which they had long been which passages have given no small trouble to com- there subject, but were now fully declared a free peomentators. The sharp knives are allowed to be ple, by receiving a mark of the seed of Abraham, and (what our marginal notes call them) knives of Aint, being made heirs of the promised land. But the most which stones could not but be plentiful in the mount- common opinion is, that by the reproach of Egypt is ains of Arabia, and, when made very sharp, were the meant nothing else but uncircumcision, with which knives commonly made use of in the eastern coun- the Israelites always upbraided other people, and par. tries: But St Jerom himself (as great an Hebraist as ticularly the Egyptians, with whom they had lived so he was) could not find out what was this circumci. long, and were best acquainted ; and, admitting this to sion, which was to pass upon the Israelites the second be the true (as it is the most unconstrained) sense, this time. Some of the Jews, from these words of Jere passage is a plain proof, that the Israelites could not miah, “ I will punish the circumcised that has a fore- learn the rile of circumcision from the Egyptians, (as skin." Chap. ix. 25. have undertaken to prove, that it some pretend) but that the Egyptians, contrary.wise, was possible to bring the foreskin again by art, which must have had it from them. Universal History, lib. the Israelites had done, during their abode ir the wil. i. c. 7. Spencer de Leg. Heb. lib. i. c. 4. Patrick's derness, and for this reason were ordered to be cir. Commentary, and Shuckford's Connection, vol. iii. cumcised afresh: and those Christians who have em. lib. 12.
&c. or 3803. Ant. Chris,
A. M. 2553. bread, God insisted upon the observance of his ordinances: He was minded indeed,
that all things now should go on in their regular way; and therefore, for the future, he 1451, &c. left them to the provision which this land of plenty afforded them, and ceased to supply
them any longer with manna.
Gilgal was much about two miles from Jericho, and therefore Joshua might possibly go out alone to reconnoitre the city, and to think of the properest way of besieging it ; when, all on a sudden, there + appeared to him a person clothed in armour, and standing at some distance, with a drawn sword in his hand. Undaunted at this unusual sight, Joshua advances to him, and having demanded of what party he was, the vision replied, that he was for the host of Israel, whose captain and guardian he was ; and as Joshua, in humble adoration, was fallen prostrate before him, he ordered him (in the manner he had done Moses at the burning bush) to loose his sandals from off his feet, and then proceeded to instruct him in what form he would have the siege carried on, that the Canaanites might perceive that it was something more than the arm of flesh that fought against them.
The form of the seige was this : All the army was to march round the city, with seven priests before the ark, having in their hands trumpets made of rams horns, six days successively. On the seventh, after the army had gone round the city seven times, upon signal given, the priests were to blow a long blast with their trumpets, and the people on a sudden set up a loud shout; at which instant the walls of the city should fall so flat to the ground, that they might directly walk into it without any let or obstruction. These orders were put in execution; and accordingly, on the seventh day, the walls fell, and the Israelites entered. They put every one, men, women, and children, nay the very beasts, to the sword, and spared no living creature but Rahab only, and such relations as she had taken under the protection of her roof, according to the stipulation which he had made with her. For Joshua had given the two spies a strict charge before hand, that when the town was going to be sacked, they should repair to her house, and convey every thing safe out that belonged to her ; which accordingly they did, and then the whole army fell on, and set fire to the city, and destroyed every thing in it, except the silver and gold, and such vessels of brass and iron as were to be put into the “ treasury of the house of the Lord,” as they had done once before (a) in a case of the like nature: and that it might never be rebuilt again, Joshua † denounced a
+ Who this person was that appeared to Joshua is tions, we cannot but think ourselves obliged (with a
to the end.
prophetic imprecation on the man (viz. that it should occasion the utter ruin of his fa- From Josh. i. mily) that should attempt it.
† Ai was a little city about 'twelve miles distant from Jericho, and as Joshua knew that it was neither populous nor well-defended, he detached a small body of three thousand men only to go and attack it. But, contrary to their expectation, the inhabitants of the place sallied out upon them, and having slain some few, put the rest to flight, and pursued them as far as their own camp. This defeat (how small soever) struck such a damp upon the people's courage, that * Joshua was forced to have recourse to God, who immediately answered him (hy Urim as is supposed) that his commands had been sacrilegiously infringed, and therefore ordered him to have the offender punished with death, and directed him to a method how to discover who he was.
· Before the taking of Jericho, (a) Joshua had cautioned the people not to spare any thing that was in it, but to burn and destroy all that came in their way, except silver, and gold, and brass, and iron, which were to be consecrated to the Lord: but notwithstanding his strict charge against reserving any thing that was either devoted to this general destruction, or consecrated to the Lord; a man of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Achan, took some of the rich plunder and concealed it in his tent. To find out the person therefore, Joshua early next morning called all the tribes together before the tabernacle, where, to by casting the lot first upon the tribes, and so proceeding
that he rebuilt Jericho, and (as the sacred history in- ter they had spent the whole day in fasting, weeping, forms us) “ laid the foundation thereof in Abiram, and mourning, Joshua addressed himself, with a more his first-born, and set up the gates thereof in his than ordinary importunity, to Almighty God, in words youngest son Segub, according to the word of the to this effect: “ It is not any temerity, O Lord, or Lord, which he spake by Joshua, the son of Nun.” ambition of our own, that has brought us hither to 1 Kings xvi. 34. However, after that Hiel had ven- make war upon this people, but a pure deference and tured to rebuild it, no scruple was made of inhabiting respect to the persuasion of thy servant Moses, that it; for it afterwards became famous upon many ac- has incited us to this undertaking, and not without a counts. Here the prophet sweetened the waters of warrant of many signs and miracles to convince us that the spring that supplied it and the neighbouring coun- he had reason and
authority on his side, when he told tries: Here Herod built a sumptuous palace ; it was us that thou thyself hadst promised us the possession the dwelling place of Zaccheus; and was honoured of this country, and to give us victory over all our with the presence of Christ, who vouchsafed likewise enemies. But what a change is here all on a sudden, to work sonje miracles here. Universal History, in the disappointment of our hopes, and in the loss of lib. 1. c. 7.
our friends! As if either Moses's prediction had not . We have this place mentioned in the history of been of Divine inspiration, or otherwise thy promises Abraham, who, both before and after his going into and purposes variable. If this be the beginning of a Egypt, pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, or war, we cannot but dread the farther progress of it, Hai as it was then called ; and from both Gen. xii. 8. for fear that this miscarriage, upon the first experi. and Josb, vii. 2. it appears, that this city lay to the ment, should prove only the earnest of greater evils east of Bethel, about three leagues from Jericho, and to come. But, Lord, thou alone, that art able to give one from Bethel, as Masias informs us ; and the rea. us relief, help us, and save us. Vouchsafe unto us son why Joshua sent so small a detachment against it comfort and victory; and be graciously pleased to was,-because the place in itself was neither strong preserve us from the snare of despairing for the funor large. For, when it was taken, the number of the ture.” Jewish Antiq. ib. 5. c. 1.' slain both in it and Bethel, which (as some think) was (a) Josh. vi. 18, 19. confederate with it, were “ but twelve thousand, both fa Some Jewish doctors are of opinion, that in the of men and women.” Josh. viii, 25 The Providence discovery of the guilty person, there was no use made of God however was very visible in sending so small of lots at all, but that all Israel, being ordered to pass a party against Ai; for if the flight of three thousand by the high priest, who on this occasion had his pec. men put the Israelites into such ia consternation, as toral on, in which were the twelve stones with the we read Josh. vii. 5, 6. what a condition would they names of the twelve tribes engraven on them, when have been in, if all the people had been discomfited, the tribe to which the guilty person belonged was as doubtless it would have happened; while the guilt called, the stone in wbich was the name of that tribe of Achan's sacrilege remained unpunished ? Wells's changed colour and turned black; and so it did when Geography, vol. ij. c. 4.
the family, the household, and the person was called : • The spirits of the army (as Josephus tells us) but this is a mere fiction. There is much more prowere so sunk upon this disorder, and cast down into bability in the opinion of those, who suppose, that at such a desperation of better things to come, that af. first twelve lots or tickets were put itto one urn, on
A. M. 2553, from tribe to family, from family to household, and from household to particular persons,
a large wedge of gold; and when, upon search, the things were produced in the pre-
After this execution of the Divine justice, God ordered Joshua to attempt the con-
each of which was written the name of one of these Bochart's Phaleg, lib. 1. c. 9. Saurin, lib. 3. Dis-
whereas it is said in the text that he was stoned, they
it is reasonable to suppose, that the whole body de-
men, and that the five thousand mentioned in the 12th
Mort. ep. lib. 8. verse, was a small party detached from these, in or.
Pectine niliaco jam Babylonis acus. Ibid. lib. 14. twenty thousand kept themselves absconded behind
to the end.
But this was only a feint to draw the enemy into the plain; and therefore as soon as From Josh. i. Joshua saw, that by this stratagem the city was pretty well emptied, he gave the signal to the ambuscade, which, finding it now defenceless, immediately entered and set it on fire.
By the ascent of the smoke, Joshua discerned that his men had got possession of the town, and therefore facing about, he began to charge the enemy very briskly; who, little expecting that the Israelites would rally, began now to think of retreating to the city; but when they saw it all in flames, and the party which had set it on fire issuing out, and just going to fall upon their rear, they were so dismayed and dispirited, that they had power neither to fight nor fly; so that all the army was cut to pieces: the city was burnt and made an heap of rubbish; every soul in it, man, woman, and child, were put to the sword; and the king, who was taken prisoner, was ordered to be hanged upon a gibbet till sunset, when he was taken down, thrown in at a gate of the city, and a great heap of stones raised over him.
After this action was over, the cattle and all the spoil of the city was by God's ap-' pointment given to the soldiers ; and as Joshua was now not far distant froin the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, this reminded him of the command which (a) Moses had given about reading the law, with the blessings and curses thereunto annexed, from those two mountains; which he not only ordered to be done, but had an altar likewise erected, whereon not only sacrifices were offered, to give God the glory of all his victories, but † an abridgement of the law, or some remarkable part of it, was likewise engraven, at the same time that the whole of it was read in a large assembly of all the tribes.
Joshua's success against the two towns of Jericho and Ai, and the terrible slaughter he had made among their inhabitants, had * so alarmed the kings on that side the Jordan, that they confederated together, and entered into league for their mutual defence : But the Gibeonites, foreseeing the destruction that was hastening upon them, endeavoured by a stratagem to gain a peace with the Israelites, which they eifected in this manner.—They chose a certain number of artful men, who po were instructed to feign
(a) Deut. xi. 29. and xxvii, 1-13.
beonites, says he, had nothing blameable in it, nor # It is a question (as we said before, vol. i. page 584 does it properly deserve the name of a lie ; for what in the notes) among the learned, what it was that was crime is there in any one's making use of an innocent written upon these stones? But besides other con- fiction, in order to elude the fury of an enemy, that jectures already enumerated, some think it not un- would destroy all before them? Nor did the Israel. likely to have been a copy of the covenant, by which ites indeed properly receive any damage from this the children of Israel acknowledged, that they held imposture; for what does any one lose in not shed. the land of Canaan of God, upon condition that they ding the blood of another, when he has it in his observed his laws, to which they and their posterity power to take from him all his substance, after having had obliged themselves; for this was the third time so weakened and disarmed him that he is no more that the covenant between God and his people was able to rebel against him?" But the opinion of this renewed, and therefore, the contents of that covenant great man seems to be a little erroneous in this case. might be very proper at this time to be thus monu- Had the Israelites indeed been a pack of common mentally recorded. Patrick on Deut. xxvii. 3. and murderers, who, without any commission from hea. Joshua vii. 32.
ven, were carrying blood and desolation into coun. * The Jews, in the Talmud, tell us likewise, that tries where they had no right; or had the Gibeonites a farther cause of the Gibeonites fear, was the inscrip- been ignorant that a miraculous Providence conduct. tion which they had met with upon Mount Ebal, ed these conquerors, the fraud which they here put where, among other parts of the law which Joshua (as upon them might then be deemed innocent: For they pretend) wrote upon stones, they found the or. there is no law that obliges us, under the pretence of ders which both he and Moses had received from sincerity, to submit to such incendiaries, and merci. God, utterly to extirpate all the inhabitants of the less usurpers, as are for setting fire to our cities, and land of Canaan. Saurin, lib. iii. dissertation 4. putting us and our families to the edge of the sword.
+ It is a question among the casuists, whether the But the case of the Gibeonites was particular; and if Gibeonites could, with a good conscience, pretend in other things they went contrary to truth, in this that they were foreigners, and tell a lie to save their they certainly adhered to it, when they told Joshua, lives? And to this Puffendorf (Droit de la Nature, “We are come, because of the name of the Lord thy lib. iv. c. 2.) thus replies. “The artifice of the Gi. Goú, for we have heard of the fame of him, and all