Ver. 1. Men.
Masius and Salien (Haydock) suppose that Josue selected out of them 30,000; 5000 of whom were to be placed in ambush, and
the rest were to pretend that they were terrified at the approach of the king of Hai, and to flee with Josue. But the text
seems to assert that all accompanied their general, (Calmet) excepting such as were left to guard the camp. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. King.
There was this difference, that the king of Hai was to be gibbeted, and his corpse stoned, while the city was to be plundered
by the Israelites. --- It. This mode of warfare is equally just, as if the enemy was attacked in the open field. Dolus
an virtus quis in hoste requirat? (Virgil) --- God was pleased to authorize it on this occasion, that his people might
be less exposed, being under some apprehensions on account of the former defeat. Some nations have preferred to encounter
the enemy openly. (Grotius, Jur. iii. 1, 20.) But their example is no law for others. "When the war is just, it matters not
whether a person gain the victory by open fighting or by stratagem." (St. Augustine, q. 10.) "It is often prudent to conceal
the truth." (contra Mend. x.) People engaged in warfare, allow each other to take such advantages. God could easily have routed
these few men by means of the army of Israel, or by a miracle, as he did at Jericho. (Haydock) --- But he is at liberty to
act as he thinks proper. The ambush was laid on the south-west side of Hai, so that those of Bethel might not perceive it,
as they came out to the assistance of their countrymen, ver. 17. Five thousand were placed in one place, and 25,000 in another,
while the main body of the army, under Josue, took a circuit by the east, and came to attack the city on the north side. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Ready
to enter the city, when its soldiers are all in pursuit of us. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. And
turn, &c. Josue had not fled before. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "against us, as at the first, we will flee before them."
Ver. 8. Fire.
They were to set some houses on fire for a signal, but the whole city was not to be destroyed (Calmet) till the Israelites
had collected the plunder. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Ancients,
who had a command in the army, and assisted Josue with their counsel. They gave him an account of the state and numbers of
the army. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Five
thousand. These were part of the 30,000 mentioned above, ver. 3 . (Challoner) --- Josue had given orders to have them
placed in ambush apart; (Calmet) unless, perhaps, he places these himself in some secret place. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Night.
He spent the forepart of it at Galgal, to prevent any suspicion, ver. 9. But setting out very early, (ver. 10,) he arrived
at Hai before sun-rise.
Ver. 14. Desert
of Bethel, fit only for pasturage, chap. xviii. 12.
Ver. 15. Afraid.
Hebrew, "made as if they were beaten before them, and fled." Thus they drew on the king of Hai, so as to leave the ambush
in his rear. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Not
one fit to bear arms. (Worthington) --- Bethel. As soon as the people of this city perceived the Israelites fleeing,
they rushed out to assist the king of Hai in the pursuit. But when they saw the former rally, before they had joined their
friends, (Calmet) they very prudently retired, and left the unhappy citizens of Hai to their fate. (Haydock) --- Hence all
who were slain belonged to the latter city, ver. 25.
Ver. 18. Shield,
as Moses lifted up his hands, Exodus xvii. 11. Some translate, "dart, spear," or "sword." (Septuagint; Ecclesiasticus xvi.
3.) (Calmet) --- The buckler might be suspended on a spear, (Menochius) that it might be seen afar off (Worthington) by some
appointed to keep watch on purpose. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Josue.
This king was reserved for greater torments and ignominy. It was the ancient custom to present kings and chief commanders
to the victorious general, who rewarded those who brought them. (Grotius)
Ver. 28. For
ever, or for a long time. It was rebuilt before the captivity, 2 Esdras vii. 31.
Ver. 29. Gibbet.
Septuagint, "a cross." Some say that the king was first killed; but that assertion is destitute of proof. The corpse was taken
down before night, Deuteronomy xxi. 22.
Ver. 30. Hebal.
The Samaritan Chronicle says, on Mount Garizim. No doubt Josue complied with the injunctions of Moses: but we have seen that
there are reasons to doubt which mountain he pitched upon, Deuteronomy xxvii. 4. (Haydock) --- It seems more probable that
the altar would be upon Garizim, where the blessings were proclaimed, if the texts of Moses and of Josue did not formally
assert the contrary. (Calmet) --- But if they have been interpolated, nothing certain can be deduced from those passages.
Josephus ([Antiquities?] iv. 8,) says that the altar was between the two mountains, not far from Sichem, which was built at
the foot of Garizim; and it is not probable that this historian, the mortal enemy of the Samaritans, would have hesitated
to assert that the altar was upon Hebal, if the texts had been so positive, in his time. It is undeniable that the tribes
of Levi, and of Ephraim, were upon Garizim; and consequently Josue and the priests must have been there; and who would
then officiate at the altar on Hebal? See Kennicott, who ably refutes the insinuations of the infidel, Collins, against the
character of the Samaritans. When this altar was erected the learned are not agreed. (Haydock) --- Some say, immediately after
the passage of the Jordan, and that the 12 stones taken from the bed of the river, were used for that purpose. Josephus says
five years elapsed, and R. Ismael supposes that the altar was not built during the 14 years after the passage of the Jordan.
But it is most probable that Josue complied with the command of God as soon as he had procured a sort of peace, (Haydock)
by the conquest of these two cities, and was thus enabled to penetrate into the heart of the country, where Garizim was situated,
not in the plain of Jericho, as Eusebius imagined, but near Sichem, (Calmet) about 30 or 40 miles to the north-west of Jericho.
Ver. 31. Iron.
Spencer complains that the Protestants have not translated barzel, "iron tool," as [in] Deuteronomy xxvii. 5. This
translation is found in their more ancient editions of 1537-49, &c. (Kennicott) --- But the difference is very unimportant.
The reason of this prohibition is given, Exodus xx. 25. --- He offered; so we read that he wrote, blessed and cursed,
&c., because these things were done at least by his authority. It is not necessary to suppose that he engraved the words
of the law with his own hands, or that he passed from Garizim, where he had been pronouncing the blessings, to Hebal, in order
to denounce the curses. (Haydock) --- He probably commissioned some of the princes on Hebal to perform the office of cursing,
after he had repeated the blessings himself from Garizim; and the select company of Levites before the ark, having answered
or repeated the words, the whole multitude stationed at the foot of each mountain, testified their entire approbation
by shouting Amen; the six tribes near Garizim thus ratifying the blessings; and the rest, at the foot of
Hebal, giving their consent that the transgressors should be cursed. (Kennicott) --- Hence Josue must have sacrificed by the
hands of the priests. (Haydock) --- Various instances are produced to shew that princes and prophets have, on extraordinary
occasions, performed this office themselves, 1 Kings vi. 15., and vii. 9., and 3 Kings xviii. 32. (Calmet) --- But these must
have either received a dispensation from God, or they must have employed the ministry of the legal priests; or, in fine, their
actions, like that of Saul, (1 Kings xiii. 9,) of Absalom, (1 Kings i. 9,) Herod, &c., may have been deserving of blame.
(Haydock) --- The Jews assert that in the desert no one was permitted to sacrifice, except in the tabernacle; but that this
prohibition ceased at Galgal, as the ark had no fixed abode, and thus Josue might offer sacrifice himself. Afterwards the
law was enforced, while the ark was at Silo. But upon its being removed to Nobe, Maspha, and Gabaon, people resumed their
former liberty; and hence there was nothing to hinder Samuel, Saul, and David from offering sacrifice, till the temple was
erected. (Outram de Sac. i. 2; Grotius in Deuteronomy xii. 8.) This sacred office was formerly exercised by kings, particularly
at Athens, where, after the people became more numerous, Theseus appointed the king of sacrifices to keep up the memory
of the ancient practice. (Demost. c. Neream.) (Calmet) --- The like was done at Rome under the republic. (Haydock)
Ver. 32. Stones,
of which the altar was formed, (Calmet) or on a separate monument, (Masius) consisting of two stones of black marble, so as
to leave the letters prominent, and to fill up the vacuities with white plaster, that they might be seen more plainly, and
might, at the same time, be more durable than if they had been only written on the cement, whatever some may have said of
the tenacity of the ancient plaster. --- Deuteronomy. &c., or copy of the Decalogue, which, by way of eminence,
is called the law, Acts vii. 53. It is distinguished from the blessings and the curses; (ver. 34,) and Moses referred
to it, as already existing, (Deuteronomy xxvii. 3, 8,) though the Book of Deuteronomy was not finished till afterwards. He
might point to the very tables contained in the ark. "This law, consisting of only 16 verses, might easily be engraved on
this solemn day; whereas to engrave the 80 verses of blessings and cursings, would be improbable; and engraving the Pentateuch,
or indeed the Book of Deuteronomy, had been impossible." That the Decalogue was to be thus solemnly proclaimed is evident,
from the Samaritan text, Exodus xx. 18. (Kennicott) --- This was the covenant which God had made with his people, (Deuteronomy
iv. 13,) and which Moses cautions the Israelites to observe; as upon their fidelity, their present and future happiness entirely
depended. It was on this title alone that they could hold the land of Chanaan; and therefore Josue takes care thus publicly
to admonish them of their duty. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins say that the whole Pentateuch was written on this occasion in 70
languages, that no nation might plead ignorance. But we can hardly believe that even the Book of Deuteronomy could be written,
and read, and explained to the people, as that would require many days. (Calmet)
Ver. 33. Hebal.
"Gerizim and Ebal, says Maundrell, p. 59, are separated by a narrow valley, not above a furlong broad; and Naplosa, (the ancient
Sychem) consisting chiefly of two streets lying parallel, is built at the foot of, and under Gerizim." The princes, representing
the different tribes, were stationed on these mountains, and the crowd at the foot of them, while a select company of Levites
attended the ark in the midst, and repeated what the princes proclaimed, that the multitude might answer Amen, as they
turned successively to them; (Kennicott) or the princes might answer Amen, from the top of the two hills. (Calmet)
--- And first. Protestants, "as Moses....had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel." But if
Josue blessed them himself, (Haydock) all superiors might do so, as parents bless their children. (Worthington)
Ver. 34. Words.
Hebrew, "words of the law, the blessings," &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 35. Repeated.
Coverdale's Bible has "Josua caused it to be proclaimed." "It is very common in Scripture to represent a person as doing that
which is done by another, in his name and by his authority." (Kennicott) --- Josue might be in the midst to preside, (Calmet)
or rather he would be along with the princes of the six tribes on Mount Garizim, ver. 30. (Haydock) --- Thus the covenant
entered into between God and the Israelites, was solemnly ratified when the latter first entered the promised land. The greatest
part of those who had been present at Horeb had perished in the wilderness. (Calmet)