Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 7: Joshua, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them;
1. Quum audisset Adoni-zedec rex Jerusalem quod cepisset Josue Hai, et eam perdidisset (quemadmodum feceret Jericho, et regi ejus, quod sic fecisset Hai et regi ejus) et quod pacem fecissent habitatores Gibeon cum Israel, et essent inter ipsos:
2. That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.
2. Tunc timuerunt valde, quod civitas magna esset Gibeon tanquam una e civitatibus regiis, quia major erat quam Hai, omnesque viri ejus fortes.
3. Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying,
3. Propterea misit Adoni-zedec rex Jerusalem ad Hoham regem Hebron et ad Piram regem Jarmuth, et ad Japhiam regem Lachis, et ad Debir regem Eglon, dicendo,
4. Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
4. Ascendite ad me et suppetias ferte mihi, ut percutiamus Gibeon qui pacem fecit cum Josue et filiis Israel.
5. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.
5. Congregati sunt itaque, et ascenderunt quinque reges Amorrhaei, rex Jerusalem, rex Hebron, rex Jarmuth, rex Lachis, rex Eglon, ipsi et omnes exercitus eorum, et castrametati sunt juxta Gibeon, pugnaveruntque adversus eam.
6. And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.
6. Miserunt ergo viri Gibeon ad Josuam ad castra in Gilgal, dicendo, Ne contrahas manus tuas a servis tuis: ascende ad nos cito, et serva nos, atque auxiliare nobis: congregati enim sunt contra nos omnes reges Amorrhaei habitantes in monte.
7. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor.
7. Ascendit itaque Josue de Gilgal, ipse, et universus populus bellator cum eo, omnes potentes viribus.
8. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
8. Dixit autem Jehova ad Josue, Ne timeas ab eis: in manum enim tuam tradidi eos, nec consistet quisquam ex eis in conspectu tuo.
9. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
9. Et venit ad eos Josue repente: tota enim nocte ascendit de Gilgal.
10. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
10. Et contrivit eos Jehova coram Israel, percussitque eos plaga magna in Gibeon, et persequutus est eos per viam ascensus Beth-horon, et percussit eos usque Azecah et usque Makedah.
11. And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
11. Dum autem fugerent a facie Israel, et essent in descensu Beth-horon, Jehova demisit super eos lapides magnos e coelo usque ad Azecah, et mortui sunt, plures mortui sunt lapidibus grandinis, quam quos interfecerunt filii Israel gladio.
12. Then spoke Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
12. Tunc loquutus est Josue ad Jehovam die qua tradidit Jehova Amorrhaeum coram filiis Israel. 89 Dixitque in oculis Israel, Sol in Gibeon expecta, et Luna in valle Ajalon.
13. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
13. Et expectavit Sol, et luna constitit donec ulcisceretur se gens de inimicis suis. Annon hoc scriptum est in libro Jasar? (vel, recti) Stetit ergo sol in medio coeli, nec festinavit occumbere circiter die una integra.
14. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
14. Et non fuit sicut dies illa ante eam nec post eam, qua exaudivit Jehova vocem viri: Jehova enim pugnabat pro Israel.
1. Now it came to pass, etc He had formerly briefly glanced at, but now more fully details the conspiracy of the kings, who dwelt both in the mountains and in the plain. For after mentioning that they were struck with fear, and leagued together to make common war, he had broken off abruptly, and proceeded to speak of the Gibeonites. But what he had previously said of the kings in general, he now applies only to one individual; not because Adoni-zedek alone was afraid, but because he stirred up all the others, and was the principal originator and leader in carrying on the war against the Israelites. This is sufficiently expressed by the plural number of the verb; for it is said, When Adoni-zedek had heard — they feared greatly. From this it appears that they were all of the same mind, but that while some of them held back from fear, he who possessed greater authority, and was nearer the danger, invited the four others to arms. 90
In the beginning of the chapter it is again told, how the five kings formed an alliance to meet the Israelites, and ward off the overthrow with which they were all threatened. But as the Gibeonites had meanwhile surrendered, they first turned their arms against them, both that by inflicting punishment upon them, as the betrayers of their country, they might make them an example to all their neighbors, and that by striking terror into those vanquished enemies, they might also inspire their own soldiers with confidence. They resolve, therefore, to attack the Gibeonites who, by their embassy, had made a disruption and opened a passage to the Israelites. They had, indeed, a fair pretext for war, in resolving to punish the effeminacy of those who had chosen to give their sanction to strangers, about to lay the whole country waste, rather than faithfully defend their neighbors. And the Gibeonites experienced how useless their crafty counsel must have been, had they not been saved in pity by the Israelites. Meanwhile the Lord allowed them to be involved in danger, in order that, being twice freed, they might more willingly and meekly submit to the yoke.
6. And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua, etc The course of the narrative is inverted; for the Gibeonites certainly did not wait till they were besieged, but on seeing an army levied and prepared, and having no doubt that they would have to sustain the first onset, as they had incurred general hatred, they anticipate the attack, and hasten to have recourse to the protection of Joshua. 91 To desert those to whom life had been given, would have been at once unlawful, unjust, and inhumane. Nay, as their surrender had been consequent on the agreement, they were entitled to be defended against violence and injury. With justice, therefore, they implore the Israelites, under whose protection they were; and there is no hesitation on the part of Joshua, who judges it to be his duty to defend those whose submission he had agreed to accept. They had deceived him, it is true, but after the fraud had been detected, and they had confessed it, interposing some palliating circumstances, they had obtained pardon.
Equity and a sense of duty thus did not allow the Israelites to abandon the Gibeonites to their fate. Still, Joshua is entitled to praise for his promptitude in complying with the request, and sending assistance without delay. He is said to have marched during the whole night, and thus could not have proceeded with greater haste had the safety of the whole people been at stake. Had the same sincerity always been evinced by profane nations, they would rather have assisted their allies in due time than avenged their disasters after they had suffered them. The term suddenly ought not, however, to be confined to a single day, as if Joshua had accomplished three days’ journey in a single night, and made his appearance among the Gibeonites next morning. All that is meant to be expressed is his great speed, and his not delaying his departure till next day. 92
Though the Israelites moved their camp from Ai or that neighborhood, it was the third day before they entered the confines of the Gibeonites. Granting that they then proceeded slowly in order of battle, Joshua was still at some distance when application is made to him to assist the Gibeonites. We have seen that Gilgal was the first station after crossing the Jordan, and therefore more remote than Jericho. If any one deems it absurd, that after receiving the submission of several cities, he should have turned backwards, and left an empty district, the recovery of which from the enemy might again cost new labor, I answer, there was no ground to fear that the enemy would come forward to occupy it, and engage in an expedition attended with great danger and difficulty. It is probable that when a body of troops was selected to attack Jericho, the women, children, and all others unfit for war remained in that quiet corner, where they might have the protection of those of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, who had been left on the opposite bank of the Jordan. For to what end would they have carried with them into their battles children and women heavy with child, or nursing babes at their breasts? How, during the incursions of the enemy, could food be found for such a multitude, or water sufficient to supply all their flocks and herds? I conclude, therefore, that Joshua and his soldiers returned to their tents that they might refresh themselves for a little with their wives and children, and there deposit the spoils with which they had been enriched.
8. And the Lord discomfited them, etc It is uncertain whether the Lord anticipated the movement, and armed Joshua by his oracle, drawing him forth from Gilgal before he had taken any step, or whether he only confirmed him after he had made his preparations for setting out. It seems to me more likely that Joshua did not rush forth as soon as he was asked without consulting God, but at length, after being informed of his will, took up arms boldly and speedily. As he had lately been chastised for excessive facility, it is at least a probable conjecture that in this case of difficulty, he attempted nothing except in so far as he had a divine command. The Lord, therefore, had respect to the wretched Gibeonites when he did not allow them to remain destitute without the assistance of his people.
Joshua is made confident of victory in order that he may succor them; for God stimulates us more powerfully to the performance of duty by promising than by ordering. That which is here promised to one belongs to all, but for the sake of honoring Joshua, it is specially deposited with him that he may afterwards be the bearer of it to his army. For God does not speak from heaven indiscriminately to all sorts of persons, but confers the honor only on excellent servants and chosen prophets.
It is moreover worthy of notice that Joshua did not abuse the divine promise by making it an excuse for sluggishness, but felt the more vehemently inflamed after he was assured of a happy issue. Many, while they ostentatiously express their faith, become lazy and slothful from perverse security. Joshua hears that victory is in his hand, and that he may gain it, runs swiftly to battle. For he knew that the happy issue was revealed, not for the purpose of slackening his pace or making him more remiss, but of making him exert himself with greater zeal. Hence it was that he took the enemy by surprise.
10. And the Lord discomfited them, etc In the first slaughter the Lord exerted his own might, but used the swords of the people. Hence we infer that whenever he works by men, nothing is detracted from his glory, but whatever is done redounds to him alone. For when he employs the co-operation of men, he does not call in allies as a subsidiary force, or borrow anything from them; but as he is able to accomplish whatever he pleases by a mere nod, he uses men also as instruments to show that they are ruled by his hand and will. Meanwhile it is said with truth in either way, that the enemy were routed and crushed by God, or by the Israelites, inasmuch as God crushed them by the instrumentality of the Israelites.
In the second slaughter the hand of God appeared more clearly, when the enemy were destroyed by hail. And it is distinctly stated that more were destroyed by hail than were slain by the sword, that there might be no doubt of the victory having been obtained from heaven. Hence again it is gathered that this was not common hail, such as is wont to fall during storms. For, in the first place, more would have been wounded or scattered and dispersed than suddenly destroyed; and secondly, had not God darted it directly, part would have fallen on the heads of the Israelites. Now, when the one army is attacked separately, and the other, kept free from injury, comes forward as it were to join auxiliary troops, it becomes perfectly clear that God is fighting from heaven. To the same effect it is said that God threw down great stones of hail from heaven: for the meaning is that they fell with extraordinary force, and were far above the ordinary size. If at any time, in common battles, a storm has suddenly arisen, and has proved useful to one of the parties, God has seemed to give that party a token of his favor and hence the line, Dearly beloved of heaven is he on whose side the elements are enlisted. 93 Here we have the account of a more distinguished miracle, in which the omnipotence of God was openly displayed.
12. Then spoke Joshua to the Lord, etc Such is the literal reading, but some expound it as meaning before Jehovah: for to speak to God, who, as piety dictates, is to be suppliantly petitioned, seems to be little in accordance with the modesty of faith, and it is immediately subjoined that Joshua addressed his words to the sun. I have no doubt that by the former clause prayer or vow is denoted, and that the latter is an expression of confidence after he was heard: for to command the sun to stand if he had not previously obtained permission, would have been presumptuous and arrogant. He first, then, consults God and asks: having forthwith obtained an answer, he boldly commands the sun to do what he knows is pleasing to God.
And such is the power and privilege of the faith which Christ inspires, (Mt 17:20; Lu 17:6) that mountains and seas are removed at its command. The more the godly feel their own emptiness, the more liberally does God transfer his power to them, and when faith is annexed to the word, he in it demonstrates his own power. In short, faith borrows the confidence of command from the word on which it is founded. Thus Elias, by the command of God, shut and opened the heaven, and brought down fire from it; thus Christ furnished his disciples with heavenly power to make the elements subject to them.
Caution, however, must be used, lest any one may at his own hand presume to give forth rash commands. Joshua did not attempt to delay and check the course of the sun before he was well instructed as to the purpose of God. And although, when he is said to have spoken with God, the words do not sufficiently express the modesty and submission which become the servant of God in giving utterance to his prayers, let it suffice us briefly to understand as implied, that Joshua besought God to grant what he desired, and on obtaining his request, became the free and magnanimous herald of an incredible miracle unlike any that had previously taken place. He never would have ventured in the presence of all to command the sun so confidently, if he had not been thoroughly conscious of his vocation. Had it been otherwise, he would have exposed himself to a base and shameful affront. When, without hesitation, he opens his mouth and tells the sun and the moon to deviate from the perpetual law of nature, it is just as if he had adjured them by the boundless power of God with which he was invested. Here, too, the Lord gives a bright display of his singular favor toward his Church. As in kindness to the human race he divides the day from the night by the daily course of the sun, and constantly whirls the immense orb with indefatigable swiftness, so he was pleased that it should halt for a short time till the enemies of Israel were destroyed. 94
13. And the sun stood still, etc The question how the sun stood in Gibeon, is no less unseasonably raised by some than unskillfully explained by others. 95 For Joshua did not subtlety place the sun in any particular point, making it necessary to feign that the battle was fought at the summer solstice, but as it was turning towards the district of Ajalon as far as the eye could discern, Joshua bids it stay and rest there, in other words, remain above what is called the horizon. In short, the sun, which was already declining to the west, is kept from setting. 96
I do not give myself any great anxiety as to the number of the hours; because it is enough for me that the day was continued through the whole night. Were histories of that period extant, they would doubtless celebrate this great miracle; lest its credibility, however, should be questioned, the writer of this book mentions that an account of it was given elsewhere, though the work which he quotes has been lost, and expounders are not well agreed as to the term Jazar. Those who think Moses is meant, insist on referring the example which is here given to general predictions. As Moses applies this name to the chosen people, it is more congruous to hold that commentaries on the events in their history are meant. I, for my part, understand by it either God or Israel, rather than the author of a history. 97
14. And there was no day like that, etc We read in Isaiah and in the Sacred History, that the course of the sun was afterwards changed as a favor to King Hezekiah. (Isa 38:5-8) For to assure him that his life was still to be prolonged fifteen years, the shadow of the sun was carried back over ten degrees on which it had gone down. It is not, therefore, absolutely denied that anything similar had ever been conceded to any other person, but the miracle is extolled as singular. The rendering of the word שמע, by obeyed, as adopted by some, I reject as too harsh. For although it is said in Ps. 145:18, 19, that the Lord does according to the desire of his servants, which may be held to be equivalent to obeying, it is better to avoid anything which seems to give a subordinate office to God. 98 Simply, therefore, the excellence of the miracle is praised, as nothing like it had been seen before or had happened after. The second clause of the verse celebrates the kindness and condescension of God in hearing Joshua, as well as his paternal favor towards the people, for whom he is said to have fought.
15. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
15. Reversus autem est Josue et universus Israel cum eo ad castra in Gilgal.
16. But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.
16. Fugerant vero ipsi reges, et absconderant se in spelunca in Makeda.
17. And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.
17. Et nuntiatum est Josue his verbis, Inventi sunt quinque reges absconditi in spelunca in Makeda.
18. And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
18. Tunc dixit Josue, Devolvite saxa magna ad os speluncae, et constituite juxta eam viros ut custodiant eos.
19. And stay you not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.
19. Vos autem persequimini 99 inimicos vestros, et caudam eorum caedite, nec sinatis eos ingredi urbes suas: tradidit enim eos Jehova Deus vester in manum vestram.
20. And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.
20. Quum autem finem fecisset Josue, et filii Israel percutiendi plaga magna valde, donec consumerentur, et superstites qui evaserant ex ipsis ingressi essent urbes munitas.
21. And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
21. Reversi sunt universus populus ad castra ad Josue in Makeda in pace: non movit contra filios Israel quisquam linguam suam.
22. Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.
22. Tunc dixit Josue, Aperite os speluncae, et adducite ad me quinque illos reges de spelunca.
23. And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.
23. Atque ita fecerunt, nempe adduxerunt ad eum quinque illos reges de spelunca, regem Jerusalem, regem Hebron, regem Jarmuth, regem Lachis, regem Eglon.
24. And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.
24. Quumque eduxissent quinque reges illos ad Josue, vocavit Josue omnes viros Israel, dixitque ducibus virorum bellatorum, qui profecti erant secum, Accedite, ponite pedes vestros super colla regum istorum. Et accesserunt, posueruntque pedes suos super colla ipsorum.
25. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom you fight.
25. Tunc dixit ad eos Josue, Ne timeatis, et ne paveatis, fortes estoate, et roborate vos: sic enim faciet Jehova omnibus inimicis vestris contra quos pugnatis.
26. And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.
26. Posthaec percussit eos Josue, et interfecit eos, et suspendit in quinque lignis, fueruntque suspensi in lignis usque ad vesperum.
27. And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.
27. Fuit praeterea tempore quo occumbit sol praecepit Josue, et deposuerunt eos e lignis, projeceruntque eos in speluncam in qua se absconderant, et posuerunt lapides magnos ad os speluncae usque in hunc diem.
28. And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho.
28. Makedam vero cepit Josue eo die, et percussit eam acie gladii, et regem ejus occidit una cum illis, et nullam animam quae esset in ea reliquit superstitem, fecitque regi Makeda quemadmodum fecerat regi Jericho.
15. And Joshua returned, etc This verse is not inserted in its proper place, 100 for shortly after the end of the battle is added, and the punishment inflicted on the kings, which was subsequent to the battle. We are then told of the encampment in Makkedah, and at last, in the end of the chapter, the return to Gilgal, which was introduced at the beginning without regard to the order of time, is repeated. Hence the narrative of the flight and concealment of the kings is connected with the former transactions. For having been informed during the heat of the battle that they were hiding in a cave, Joshua, fearing that if he were to set about capturing them, the others might escape, prudently contented himself with ordering the mouth of the cave to be blocked up with large stones, and setting sentinels over them, that being thus shut up, as it were in prison, they might at a fit time be brought forth and put to death. Hence, too, it appears that the army of the enemy was very large, because although the Israelites pressed closely upon them in their flight, and the sun himself gave an additional period for slaying them, it was impossible, notwithstanding, to prevent numbers of them from escaping into fortified cities. The divine assistance afforded to the Israelites was, however, sufficiently attested by the fact that they continued till they were wearied slaying at will all whom they met, and then returned safe. For the expression, that no one dared to move the tongue, implies that the Israelites gained a bloodless victory, 101 as if they had gone forth not to fight, but merely to slay.
18. And Joshua said, Roll, etc The enemy having been completely routed, Joshua is now free, and, as it were, at leisure, to inflict punishment on the kings. In considering this, the divine command must always be kept in view. But for this it would argue boundless arrogance and barbarous atrocity to trample on the necks of kings, and hang up their dead bodies on gibbets. It is certain that they had lately been raised by divine agency to a sacred dignity, and placed on a royal throne. It would therefore have been contrary to the feelings of humanity to exult in their ignominy, had not God so ordered it. But as such was his pleasure, it behooves us to acquiesce in his decision, without presuming to inquire why he was so severe.
At the same time, we must recollect, as I formerly hinted, first, that all from the least even to the greatest were deserving of death, because their iniquity had reached the highest pitch, and the kings, as more criminal than the others, deserved severer punishment; and secondly, that it was expedient to give an example of inexorable rigor in the person of the kings, whom the people, from a perverse affectation of clemency, might have been too much disposed to pardon. It was the will of God that all should be destroyed, and he had imposed the execution of this sentence on his people. Had he not stimulated them strongly to the performance of it, they might have found specious pretexts for giving pardon. But a mercy which impairs the authority of God at the will of man, is detestable. 102 Now, however, when regal honor is not spared, all handle for humanity to the plebeians and common vulgar is cut off.
By this instance, the Lord shows us the great interest he takes in his elect people; for it was an instance of rare condescension to place kings under their feet, and allow them to insult over their dignity, as if they had been petty robbers; as it is said in the Psalm, A two-edged sword is in their hand to execute vengeance on the nations, to bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with chains of iron; to execute the judgment written: this honor have all the saints. (Ps 149:6-9) That fearful sight had at the same time the effect of striking terror, so as to prevent the Israelites from imitating the manners of nations whose crimes they had seen so severely punished. Accordingly, we repeatedly meet in the books of Moses with this warning, You have seen how God took vengeance on the nations who were in the land of Canaan before you. Beware, therefore, of provoking the wrath of your God by their perverse doings. In one word, that God might be worshipped with greater sanctity, he ordered the land to be purged of all pollutions, and as the inhabitants had been excessively wicked, he willed that his curse should rest upon them in a new and unwonted manner.
25. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, etc Joshua now triumphs in the persons of the five kings over all the others who remained. For he exhorts his own people to confidence, just as if those who still stood unsubdued were actually prostrate under their feet. Hence we gather, that by the trampling down of a few, the whole people were so elated, that they looked down with contempt on all the others, as if they were already overthrown. And, certainly, we have here a brighter display of the divine power, which could thus inspire confidence for the future.
It is to be observed, however, that the kings were hung up, not for the purpose of exercising greater severity upon them, but merely by way of ignominy, as they were already slain. It was expedient that this memorable act of divine vengeance should be openly displayed in the view of all. Perhaps, also, it was the divine purpose to infuriate the other nations by despair, and drive them to madness, that they might bring down swifter destruction on themselves, whetting the wrath of the Israelites by their obstinacy. The same ignominy is inflicted on the king of Makkedah, though he had not led out his forces, and a similar destruction is executed on the whole people, who had kept quiet within their walls. 103 It is probable, indeed, that they had made some hostile attempt, but the special reason was, that God had passed the same sentence upon all. Why the dead bodies were thrown into the cave at evening, I have elsewhere explained. Moreover, this whole history holds up to us as in a mirror, how, when the Lord is seated on his tribunal, all worldly splendor vanishes before him, and the glory of those who seemed to excel is turned by his judgment into the greatest disgrace.
29. Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:
29. Transivit deinde Josue et universus Israel cum eo de Makeda in Libna, et oppugnavit Libna.
30. And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho.
30. Tradiditque Jehova illam etiam in manum Israel, et regem ejus, et percussit eam acie gladii, omnemque animam quae erat in ea: non reliquit in ea superstitem, fecitque regi ejus quemadmodum fecerat regi Jericho.
31. And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:
31. Postea transivit Josue, et universus Israel cum eo de Libna in Lachis, et castrametatus est juxta eam, et oppugnavit eam.
32. And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah.
32. Deditque Jehova Lachis in manum Israel, et cepit eam die secunda, et percussit eam acie gladii, omnemque animam quae erat in ea prorsus ut fecerat Libna.
33. Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.
33. Ascendit autem Horam rex Geser ad opem ferendam Lachis, et percussit eum Josue ac populum ejus, ut non reliquerit ei superstitem.
34. And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:
34. Transivit insuper Josue et universus Israel cum eo de Lachis in Eglon, et castrametati sunt contra eam, et oppugnaverunt eam.
35. And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.
35. Ceperuntque eam die illo, et percusserunt acie gladii, et omnem animam quae illic erat, die illa interfecit prorsus ut fecerat Lachis.
36. And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:
36. Ascendit postea Josue et universus Israel cum eo ab Eglon in Hebron, et oppugnaverunt eam.
37. And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.
37. Et ceperunt eam, et percusserunt acie gladii, et regem ejus, et omnia oppida ejus, atque omnem animam quae illic erat: non reliquit superstitem prorsus ut fecerat Eglon. Perdidit ergo eam atque omnem animam quae illic erat.
38. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:
38. Postea reversus est Josue, et universus Israel cum eo in Debir, et oppugnavit eam.
39. And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.
39. Et ceperunt eam, et percusserunt acie gladii, et regem ejus, et omnia oppida ejus, percusseruntque eos acie gladii, atque interfecerunt omnem animam quae illic erat. Non reliquit superstitem, quemadmodum fecerat Hebron, sic fecit Debir, et regi ejus: et quemadmodum fecerat Libna, et regi ejus.
40. So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.
40. Percussit itaque Josue omnem terram montanam, et meridianam, et campestrem, descensus acclives, et omnes reges earum: non reliquit superstitem: et omnem animam interfecit, quemadmodum praeceperat Jehova Deus Israel.
41. And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
41. Percussit itaque Josue a Cades Barne usque ad Asa, et universam terram Gosen usque ad Gibeon.
42. And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.
42. Cunctos vero reges istos, et terram eorum cepit Josue simul: quia Jehova Deus Israelis pugnabat pro Israele.
43. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
43. Inde reversus est Josue et universus Israel cum eo in castra in Gilgal.
29. Then Joshua. passed, etc We have now a description of the taking of the cities, out of which the army of the enemy had been raised; and herein God displayed his power no less wonderfully than in the open field, especially when the rapidity is considered. For although those who had fled hither in trepidation might have produced some degree of panic, still, when the fear was allayed, they might be useful for defense. 104 The garrison had been increased by their numbers. When, therefore, in a short period of time, Joshua takes all the cities, and gains possession of the smaller towns, the presence of God was conspicuously manifested in a success no less incredible than unexpected. For had they, when attacked, only shut their gates, as Joshua had not brought either ladders by which he might scale the walls, or engines by which he might throw them down, each siege might have been attended with considerable fatigue and delay. Therefore, when he takes one the following day, and another the very day after attacking it, these continued, easy, and rapid victories, are evidently beyond human agency.
Not without cause, then, in the end of the chapter, is the goodness of God expressly celebrated, as it had been made manifest that he was fighting for Israel, when Joshua at once took and vanquished so many kings, with their territories. Indeed, he could never, even in a course of inspection, have passed so quickly from city to city, had not a passage been divinely opened by the removal of obstacles. The miracle was increased when the king of Geser, who had come to the help of others, doubtless with full confidence in the result, was suddenly put to rout, almost without an effort, and did not even delay the advance of the Israelites. Those who were slain in the cities represent, as in a mirror, those whose punishment the Almighty holds suspended, while he actually takes vengeance on others. For though they plume themselves on the reprieve thus afforded them, their condition is worse than if they were immediately dragged to death. 105 It looks as if it would have been a dire calamity to fall in the field of battle; and making their escape, they seek safety within their walls. But what awaited them there was much more dreadful. Their wives and their children are butchered in their sight, and their own death is more ignominious than if they had perished sword in hand. Hence there is no reason to envy the reprobate the short time which the Lord sometimes grants them, because when they have begun to promise themselves safety, sudden destruction will come upon them. (1Th 5:3.) 106 Meanwhile, let us learn not to abuse the patience of God when he defers to execute his judgment, and, instead of indulging in self-complacency when we seem to have been delivered from any danger, or when means of escape from it present themselves, let us reflect on the words of Jeremiah, (Jer 24:2) that while the basket of early figs 107 had at least some savor, the other was so sour that they could not be eaten.
40. So Joshua smote all the country, etc Here the divine authority is again interposed in order completely to acquit Joshua of any charge of cruelty. Had he proceeded of his own accord to commit an indiscriminate massacre of women and children, no excuse could have exculpated him from the guilt of detestable cruelty, cruelty surpassing anything of which we read as having been perpetrated by savage tribes scarcely raised above the level of the brutes. But that at which all would otherwise be justly horrified, it becomes them to embrace with reverence, as proceeding from God. Clemency is justly praised as one of the principal virtues; but it is the clemency of those who moderate their wrath when they have been injured, and when they would have been justified, as individuals, in shedding blood. But as God had destined the swords of his people for the slaughter of the Amorites, Joshua could do nothing else than obey his command.
By this fact, then, not only are all mouths stopped, but all minds also are restrained from presuming to pass censure. When any one hears it said that Joshua slew all who came in his way without distinction, although they threw down their arms and suppliantly begged for mercy, the calmest minds are aroused by the bare and simple statement, but when it is added, that so God had commanded, there is no more ground for obloquy against him, than there is against those who pronounce sentence on criminals. Though, in our judgment at least, the children and many of the women also were without blame, let us remember that the judgment-seat of heaven is not subject to our laws. Nay, rather when we see how the green plants are thus burned, let us, who are dry wood, fear a heavier judgment for ourselves. And certainly, any man who will thoroughly examine himself, will find that he is deserving of a hundred deaths. Why, then, should not the Lord perceive just ground for one death in any infant which has only passed from its mother’s womb? In vain shall we murmur or make noisy complaint, that he has doomed the whole offspring of an accursed race to the same destruction; the potter will nevertheless have absolute power over his own vessels, or rather over his own clay. 108
The last verse 109 confirms the observation already made, that the fixed station of the whole people was in Gilgal; and that the soldiers who had gone out to war, returned thither, both that they might rest from their fatigues, and place their booty in safety. It would not have been proper to allow them to be more widely scattered till the casting of the lot had shown where each was to have his permanent abode.
An additional clause not found in the original, and excluded by the common versions, is here inserted in the Septuagint in the following terms, “ἡνίκα συνέτριψεν αὐτοὺς ἐν Γαβαὼν καὶ συνετρίβησαν ἀπὸ προσώπου υἱω̑ν Ισραήλ;” “When he crushed them in Gibeon, and they were crushed before the face of the children of Israel.” — Ed.
French, “Appela et suscita les autres a prendre les armes;” “Called upon, and stirred up the others to take up arms.” Jerusalem was only about five miles S.S.E. from Gibeon, while the other towns, situated S.S.W., were at distances varying from twenty to thirty miles. — Ed.
The conjecture that the narrative is here inverted, seems somewhat gratuitous. Lachish, the most remote of the towns, was not more than thirty miles distant, and Jerusalem, as has been mentioned, was only five; and, therefore, in so far as distance merely is concerned, there is nothing to prevent us from holding in accordance with the literal purport of the narrative, that the kings had suddenly advanced against Gibeon, and were actually besieging it when the Gibeonites dispatched their embassy to Joshua.
Here, again, apparently from exaggerating the distance, Calvin thinks it necessary to resort to an ingenious explanation, and give a kind of coloring to the narrative. The distance from Gilgal to Gibeon was more than eighteen miles, and this might certainly be accomplished by a forced march in the course of a single night. Calvin says we are not to suppose that “Joshua accomplished three days’ journey in a single night.” But it is nowhere said that Gibeon was three days’ journey from Gilgal. The words are,
“The Israelites journeyed and came into the cities on the third day.” (Jos 9:17).
In other words, the Israelites, on this particular occasion, employed three days, or rather, if we adopt the common Hebrew mode of computation, part of a first, the whole of a second, and part of a third day. Such a statement scarcely justifies the inference that the average time of making the journey between the two places was three days. — Ed.
The passage here inserted is a quotation from the Latin poet Claudian, who, in his panegyric on Theodosius, referring to a victory of that emperor, in which the elements seem to war in his favor, exclaims —
O nimium dilecte Deo, tibi militat aether,
Et conjurati veniunt ad classica venti!— Ed.
One might almost suspect from this concluding sentence, that Calvin was a stranger to the Copernican system, and still continued to believe that it was not the earth but the sun that revolved. As we know, however, that he was before his age in many points, so we cannot believe that he was behind it in this. — Ed.
The rebuke here administered to those who attempt to explain the miracle applies with double force to those who attempt to explain it away. It is rather strange that among this number are some of the most distinguished Jewish rabbis as Levi-ben-Gerson and Maimonides, both of whom maintain that there was no miracle, but only something very like one. Their chief inducement to adopt this very extraordinary view, is zeal for the honor of Moses, which they think would be seriously impugned by admitting that a miracle which he never performed was performed by the instrumentality of his successor Joshua. — Ed.
French “En somme, le soleil remonte estant ja commence a se coucher;” “In a word, the sun remounts after he had begun to set.” — Ed.
French, “Quant a moy, pour dire la verite, je le prends comme s’il estoit parle de Dieu ou du peuple d’Israel, plutost que de celuy qui a escrit Phistoire;” “For my part, to tell the truth, I understand it as it were spoken of God, or of the people of Israel, rather than of him who wrote the history.” The view here adopted as to the meaning of Jasher has the sanction of many expositors of eminence, both ancient and modern, who consider it to have been some record in which an account of the leading events in the history of the chosen people was regularly inserted, and which might thus come to be commonly spoken of as the Book of the Just, very much in the same way as we are accustomed to speak of the Book of Worthies, the Book of Martyrs, etc. The only other allusion to the Book of Jasher is in 2Sa 1:18, where it is referred to as containing, or at least in connection with David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan. Founding on this reference, De Wette and other rationalists argue that the Book of Joshua is not of the early date usually ascribed to it, and must have been written after the time of David. This argument assumes that Jasher is the name of an author living in the time, or subsequently to the time, of David, and, but for this assumption, for which no good grounds are shown, is utterly destitute of plausibility. — Ed.
French, “Neantmoins si est ce meilleur d’eviter toujours toutes facons de parler derogantes a la majeste de Dieu, comme s’il estoit question de la ranger;” “Nevertheless it is better to avoid all modes of speaking derogatory to the majesty of God, as if it were intended to make him subordinate.” — Ed.
The words “stay you not,” contained in the original, and in the Septuagint, the English, and other versions, are omitted in Calvin’s Latin. — Ed.
It is altogether omitted in the Septuagint. — Ed.
“A bloodless victory.” Latin, “Incruenta victoria.” French, “De la part des Israelites ils ont acquis la victoire sans qu’il leur ait couste la vie d’un seul homme;” “On the part of the Israelites they gained the victory without its having cost them the life of a single man.” — Ed.
French, “Or c’este une misericorde qui merite d’estre deteestee, quand elle derogue a l’authorite de Dieu, et qu’elle la deminue selon qu’il semble bon aux hommes;” “Now it is a mercy which deserves to be detested, when it derogates from the authority of God, and lessens it according as it seems good to men.” — Ed.
French, “Tout le peuple qui n’estoit point sorti de la ville n’en a pas eut meilleur conte;” “All the people who had not come out from the town did not get easier off.” — Ed.
French, “Ils pourroyentt servir de defense pour garder les villes;” “They might serve for defense to guard the towns.” — Ed.
Latin, “Quam si mox ad mortem traherentur.” French, “Que s’ils estoyent depeschez soudainement sur le champ;” “Than if they were dispatched suddenly on the spot.” — Ed.
The original text had the reference to 2 Thessalonians 5:3, an obvious typesetting error. —fj.
Latin, “Ficus praecoces.” French, “Les figues hastives;” “Precocious figs, or figs too hastily ripened.” — Ed.
French, “Car cela n’empeschera point que le potier n’ait puissance de faire de ses pots tout ce qu’il luy plaira;” “For that will not hinder the potter from having power to make of his pots whatever he pleases.” — Ed.
This verse is also omitted by the Septuagint. — Ed.