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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 7

 

 

Verse 1

Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

Ver. 1. But the children of Israel committed.] All were involved, because of the same body politic: and every man is bound to be his brother’s keeper, to see that the law be not only observed but preserved: since one sinner may destroy much good. [Ecclesiastes 9:18] Propter contagionem peccati. (a)

For Achan, the son of Carmi, &c.] He was well descended, but became a stain to his ancestors by his covetousness, which was the worse in him, because he had, of his own, oxen, asses, sheep, &c. [Joshua 6:24 Proverbs 6:30] The devil knew his temper, felt which way his pulse beat, and accordingly fitted him with an object, set a prize before him: hence he is called "the tempter" [Matthew 4:3]

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.] Who all smarted for this one man’s sin: as the neck is seared and rowled oft for the rheum that runneth down into the eyes: and as a vein is opened in the arm to turn the course of the blood, or to ease the pain of the head.


Verse 2

Joshua 7:2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which [is] beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.

Ver. 2. To Ai.] Called elsewhere Hai, and Aija; [Genesis 12:8 Nehemiah 11:31] by the Septuagint, Gae; by Sulpitius, Geth.

Which is beside Bethavon, on the east side of Bethel.] This Bethel, when Jeroboam had defiled it with his idolatry, is in scorn called Bethaven, the house of vanity. [Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:5; 2 Kings 23:13] Har hamishca, Mount Olivet, is for the like cause called in derision Har hamaschith, the Mount of Corruption.


Verse 3

Joshua 7:3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; [and] make not all the people to labour thither; for they [are but] few.

Ver. 3. Let not all the people go up.] But better they had, as it happened, in some respects. God’s holy hand was in it, and his holy will must be done and suffered.


Verse 4

Joshua 7:4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.

Ver. 4. And they fled before the men of Ai.] Their sins having betrayed them into the hands of divine justice, the victory was abandoned, and sent away to the enemy; as that noble General Trajan told Valens, the Arrian emperor, when he had been defeated by the Goths in the very first battle, as these Israelites also were. (a)


Verse 5

Joshua 7:5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them [from] before the gate [even] unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

Ver. 5. And the men of Ai smote of them.] Not in fight, but in flight; for they stood not out the first shock.

A cane non magno saepe tenetur aper.

Even unto Shebarim,] i.e., A place of breakings or shiverings: this made them "sick at heart," according to Amos 6:6. {See Trapp on "Amos 6:6"}

Wherefore the hearts of the people melted.] They were not more discomfited than discouraged: because they saw that God was displeased, and for the time departed. A little water in a leaden vessel is very heavy: so is a small affliction from an offended Father. "Be not thou a terror to me," saith Jeremiah, [Jeremiah 17:17] and then I care not greatly what befalleth me.


Verse 6

Joshua 7:6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

Ver. 6. And Joshua rent his clothes.] In token that his heart was rent with grief and anguish.

Sic faciles motus mens generosa capit.

Baron Marshal of France and other profane men derided the Earl of Essex’s prayers and tears at his death, as more befitting a silly minister than a stout warrior: (a) as if the fear of God’s wrath were not a Christian man’s fortitude. Joshua was man good enough, and yet, &c.

Until the eventide.] So long they continued their fast. Let our fasts be, according to that old canon, Usque dum stellae in caelo appareant, till the stars appear in the sky. The Turks hold out their fasts so long, in the hottest and longest days of summer, not tasting so much as a cup of water. (b)


Verse 7

Joshua 7:7 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 other side Jordan!

Ver. 7. Alas! O Lord God, wherefore, &c.] This expostulation, though of a good intention, is not altogether sinless, but savoureth somewhat of human frailty and weakness of faith; some gravel goeth along with this pure water.


Verse 8

Joshua 7:8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!

Ver. 8. O Lord! what shall I say? &c.] How shall I stop the open mouths of our reproachers? Thus he filleth his mouth with arguments; rousing up himself and wrestling with God.


Verse 9

Joshua 7:9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear [of it], and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

Ver. 9. And what wilt thou do unto thy great name?] This was Joshua’s chief care, - lest God should suffer in the glory of his power and truth. It is the ingenuity of saints, to study God’s share more than their own, and to desire far more that God may be glorified than themselves gratified; they drown all self-respects in his honour, and can believe, when things are at worst, that Christ’s cause shall prevail. There are many golden sayings of Luther sounding to this sense, in his epistles to Melancthon especially, such as a man would fetch upon his knees from Rome or Jerusalem, saith one.


Verse 10

Joshua 7:10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?

Ver. 10. Get thee up: wherefore liest thou? &c., ] q.d., It is well to pray thus, but it is not all; something else is to be done. Ora et labora, pray and search, pray and fight, up and be doing, for "I will surely be with thee." [Exodus 14:14] Our Edward I, A.D. 1299, leading his army forth against the Scots, his horse, as he was putting foot in the stirrup, threw him to the earth, and striking with the hinder heels, brake two of his ribs: who nevertheless upon the same horse proceeded in person to the battle, and overthrew them at Falkirk: (a) so did Joshua, the men of Ai; being rather wakened than weakened by his late loss: and this was the fruit of prayer.


Verse 11

Joshua 7:11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff.

Ver. 11. Israel hath sinned.] See Joshua 7:1.

For they have even taken of the accursed thing, &c.] God aggravateth Achan’s sin by the several circumstances, laying open how many transgressions were wrapped up in that sin of his, as Leviticus 16:21. This Achan himself should have done, and so prevented the Lord; [1 Corinthians 11:31] which because he did not, God did it for him: as because the scholar will not parse his lesson, scan his verses, the master will do it for him to his cost.


Verse 12

Joshua 7:12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, [but] turned [their] backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.

Ver. 12. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand.] Sin is that great discord maker, hell-hag, cut-throat, troubler, mother of all mischief: and that was a very good answer of an English captain at the loss of Calais, when a proud Frenchman tauntingly asked, When will ye fetch Calais again? the reply was, Quando peccata vestra erunt nostris graviora, When your sins shall weigh down ours.

Neither will I be with you any more.] That God which, for ten righteous men, would have spared the five wicked cities, would not be content to drown that one sin of Achan among the righteous.


Verse 13

Joshua 7:13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, [There is] an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.

Ver. 13. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify, &c.] Come before God with the best preparations you can make. That "God that is holy is to be sanctified in righteousness." [Isaiah 5:16] And he will be "sanctified of all them that draw nigh unto him" [Leviticus 10:3]


Verse 14

Joshua 7:14 In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, [that] the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families [thereof]; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.

Ver. 14. The tribe which the Lord taketh shall come according to their families.] Christ, at last day, will do, saith a divine, as Joshua here did: there were many brought together, and all to find out one. So shall all then appear: out of them a small number deducted that have heard of Christ; out of them, those that have professed him; and out of them, those that have professed in sincerity; a small few.


Verse 15

Joshua 7:15 And it shall be, [that] he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.

Ver. 15. Shall be burnt with fire.] After that he is first stoned with stones as a presumptuous offender, [Numbers 15:30; Numbers 15:35] who is a kind of blasphemer, [Ezekiel 20:37] and his sin such, as is not to be expiated by sacrifice.

He and all that he hath.] His children also, as part of his goods, and infected with the contagion of his sin. Besides, they owed a death to God, who might require that debt when and how he would; neither could there be any iniquity with the Lord, since his holy will is not only recta sed regula, right, but the rule of right: neither is it for silly men to reprehend what they cannot comprehend.

And because he hath wrought folly.] Or, Wickedness, which is folly in the abstract: like as righteousness is right-wiseness, and a righteous man a right-wise-man, as in our old English books we find it printed.

In Israel.] Quorum ingentia beneficia, ingentia flagitia, ingentia igitur supplicia: men’s offences are increased by their obligations.


Verse 16

Joshua 7:16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:

Ver. 16. So Joshua rose up early.] See chap. vi. 12. Long lying in bed is reckoned among the works of the flesh, and forbidden as such. [Romans 13:13] {See Trapp on "Romans 13:13"}


Verse 17

Joshua 7:17 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:

Ver. 17. And Zabdi was taken.] Yet all this while Achan repenteth not, confesseth not his fault. The devil had gagged him, and his heart was hardened by the deceitfulness of that cursed sin of covetousness, the property whereof is first to turn men’s hearts into earth and mud, and afterwards to freeze and congeal them into steel and adamant.


Verse 18

Joshua 7:18 And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

Ver. 18. And Achan, the son of Carmi.] Secret sinners are loath to be discovered, but their sin shall find them out, and iniquity, if unrepented of, be their ruin. "He that hideth his sins shall not prosper," [Proverbs 28:13] because he putteth God to his proofs, as Achan, and as those in Jeremiah did. [Jeremiah 2:35]


Verse 19

Joshua 7:19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide [it] not from me.

Ver. 19. My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord.] See for explication of this expression, 1 Samuel 6:5, Jeremiah 13:16, John 9:24. It seemeth to have been a solemn kind of form among that people, whereby a man was urged to confess his sin before the Lord, who knoweth all thy business; wherefore reverence his majesty, and give him the glory of his omniscience; choose rather to tell all openly, than to lie before him, or to keep a senseless silence, as Judas did. [John 13:21 Matthew 26:24]

And make confession unto him.] That thou mayest have mercy. [Proverbs 28:13 1 John 1:9] In men’s courts the best plea, saith Quintilian, is Non feci, Not guilty: but here, Ego feci, miserere. This, good Joshua knew, and was therefore thus earnest with Achan to confess his sin, though he knew it, and was resolved he should die for it.


Verse 20

Joshua 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:

Ver. 20. Indeed I have sinned.] Now at length he confesseth. Nunquam sero si serio. Satan knoweth that there is no way to purge the sin sick soul but upwards. He therefore holdeth the lips close as long as he can, that the heart may not disburden itself.


Verse 21

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 midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Ver. 21. When I saw, &c.] Millions have died of the wound in the eye. Covetousness is called "the lust of the eye," [1 John 2:16] and by this window much wickedness windeth itself into the heart, said the wise heathen.


Verse 22

Joshua 7:22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, [it was] hid in his tent, and the silver under it.

Ver. 22. And they ran unto the tent.] It was a matter of haste, that justice might be speedily executed, and God’s favour re-obtained.


Verse 23

Joshua 7:23 And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.

Ver. 23. And they took them out of the midst of the tent.] Sin not therefore in hope of secrecy: or if you have, take up the matter in God’s privy chamber of mercy by true repentance, that so his open judicial proceeding in court may be stopped. See 1 Corinthians 11:31.


Verse 24

Joshua 7:24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

Ver. 24. Took Achan the son of Zerah.] Sed non nisi coactus, as that emperor said when he signed a writ of execution.

Ille dolet quoties cogitur esse ferox.

And his sons and daughters.] {See Trapp on "Joshua 7:15"}


Verse 25

Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

Ver. 25. Why hast thou troubled us?] There was a young man among the Suitzers that went about to trouble and alter their free state. Him they condemned to death, and appointed his father for executioner, because he bred him no better. (a)


Verse 26

Joshua 7:26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

Ver. 26. And they raised over him.] For a warning to others. Aliorum perditio tua sit cautio. It is a just presage and desert of ruin, not to be warned.

The valley of Achor.] See Hosea 2:15. {See Trapp on "Hosea 2:15"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 7:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-7.html. 1865-1868.

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