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Commentary on Joshua
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Joshua 10:15-28

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 9999     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. 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, 100100     It is altogether omitted in the Septuagint. — Ed. 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, 101101     “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. 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. 102102     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. 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. (Psalm 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. 103103     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. 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.


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