Notes & Commentary:
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)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Hai is taken and burnt, and all the inhabitants slain.
An altar is built, and sacrifices offered. The law is written on stones, and the blessings and cursings are read before all
1 And the Lord said to Josue: *Fear not, nor be thou dismayed: take with
thee all the multitude of fighting men, arise, and go up to the town of Hai: Behold I have delivered into thy hand the king
thereof, and the people, and the city, and the land.
2 And thou shalt do to the city of Hai, and to the king thereof, *as
thou hast done to Jericho, and to the king thereof: but the spoils, and all the cattle, you shall take for a prey to yourselves:
lay an ambush for the city behind it.
3 And Josue arose, and all the army of the fighting men with him, to
go up against Hai: and he sent thirty thousand chosen valiant men in the night.
4 And commanded them, saying: Lay an ambush behind the city: and go not
very far from it: and be ye all ready.
5 But I, and the rest of the multitude which is with me, will approach
on the contrary side against the city. And when they shall come out against us, *we will flee, and turn our backs, as we did
6 Till they pursuing us be drawn farther from the city: for they will
think that we flee as before.
7 And whilst we are fleeing, and they pursuing, you shall arise out of
the ambush, and shall destroy the city: and the Lord your God will deliver it into your hands.
8 And when you shall have taken it, set it on fire, and you shall do
all things so as I have commanded.
9 And he sent them away, and they went on to the place of the ambush,
and abode between Bethel and Hai, on the west side of the city of Hai. But Josue staid that night in the midst of the people,
10 And rising early in the morning, he mustered his soldiers, and went
up with the ancients in the front of the army, environed with the aid of the fighting men.
11 And when they were come, and were gone up over-against the city, they
stood on the north side of the city, between which and them there was a valley in the midst.
12 And he had chosen five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush
between Bethel and Hai, on the west side of the same city:
13 But all the rest of the army went in battle array on the north side,
so that the last of that multitude reached to the west side of the city. So Josue went that night, and stood in the midst
of the valley.
14 And when the king of Hai saw this, he made haste in the morning, and
went out with all the army of the city, and set it in battle array, toward the desert, not knowing that there lay an ambush
behind his back.
15 But Josue, and all Israel gave back, making as if they were afraid,
and fleeing by the way of the wilderness.
16 But they shouting together, and encouraging one another, pursued them.
And when they were come from the city,
17 And not one remained in the city of Hai and of Bethel, that did not
pursue after Israel, leaving the towns open as they had rushed out,
18 The Lord said to Josue: Lift up the shield that is in thy hand, towards
the city of Hai, for I will deliver it to thee.
19 And when he had lifted up his shield towards the city, the ambush,
that lay hid, rose up immediately: and going to the city, took it, and set it on fire.
20 And the men of the city, that pursued after Josue, looking back, and
seeing the smoke of the city rise up to heaven, had no more power to flee this way or that way: especially as they that had
counterfeited flight, and were going toward the wilderness, turned back most valiantly against them that pursued.
21 So Josue, and all Israel, seeing that the city was taken, and that
the smoke of the city rose up, returned, and slew the men of Hai.
22 And they also that had taken and set the city on fire, issuing out
of the city to meet their own men, began to cut off the enemies who were surrounded by them. So that the enemies being cut
off on both sides, not one of so great a multitude was saved.
23 And they took the king of the city of Hai alive, and brought him to
24 So all being slain that had pursued after Israel, in his flight to
the wilderness, and falling by the sword in the same place, the children of Israel returned and laid waste the city.
25 And the number of them that fell that day, both of men and women,
was twelve thousand persons, all of the city of Hai.
26 But Josue drew not back his hand, which he had stretched out on high,
holding the shield, till all the inhabitants of Hai were slain.
27 And the children of Israel divided among them, the cattle and the
prey of the city, as the Lord had commanded Josue.
28 And he burnt the city, and made it a heap for ever:
29 And he hung the king thereof on a gibbet, until the evening and the
going down of the sun. Then Josue commanded, and they took down his carcass from the gibbet: and threw it in the very entrance
of the city, heaping upon it a great heap of stones, which remaineth until this present day.
30 Then Josue built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, in Mount
31 *As Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded the children of
Israel, and it is written in the book of the law of Moses: an altar of unhewed stones, which iron had not touched: and he
offered upon it holocausts to the Lord, and immolated victims of peace-offerings.
32 And he wrote upon stones, the Deuteronomy of the law of Moses, which
he had ordered before the children of Israel.
33 And all the people, and the ancients, and the princes, and judges,
stood on both sides of the ark, before the priests that carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, both the stranger and
he that was born among them, half of them by Mount Garizim, and half by Mount Hebal, as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had
commanded. And first he blessed the people of Israel.
34 After this, he read all the words of the blessing and the cursing,
and all things that were written in the book of the law.
35 He left out nothing of those things which Moses had commanded, but
he repeated all before all the people of Israel, with the women and children, and strangers, that dwelt among them.
1: Year of the World 2553.
2: Josue vi. 24.
5: Josue vii. 4.
31: Exodus xx. 25.; Deuteronomy xxvii. 5.