Mar 21, 2010

Notes on Joshua March 21 2010

Sources are in bold (if any) and described at end.
See separate blog page on Joshua historiography and text.

cherem (translated here as “proscribe” or “doom”)
Lev 27:21                 land shall be holy to YHVH as land proscribed
Lev 27:28-29            “..every proscribed thing is totally consecrated to YHVH.  No human being who has been proscribed can be ransomed: he shall be put to death.”
Num 21:1-2              Canaanites were proscribed, specifically “king of Arad who engaged Israel in battle and took some of them captive” = per JPS footnote = “utterly destroy – reserving no booty except what is deposited in the Sanctuary”
Deut 2:24                 King Sihon would not let the Israelites pass through safely so they fought and the Israelites “doomed every town – men, women and children, leaving no survivor” JPS footnote – “annihilation of the population
Deut 7:1-2                God will deliver the nations to the Israelites in the land and they must “doom them to destruction: grant them no terms and give them no quarter” (Ex 34:12-16 is similar but is about smashing idols and not making covenant rather than cherem)
Deut 20:12-18          towns belonging to nearby nations must be proscribed – not a soul can live (17) – towns lying very far away they can take women, children, livestock and spoils
Josh 2:10                 Sihon and Og were doomed.  JPS footnote = annihilation of the inhabitants
Cherem = “dedicated things.  Clearly connoted the idea of consecration to God in many places including Jos 6.17
Cherem not consistent – sometimes voluntary as a vow (Lev 27.28; Num 21.2), in more cases commanded by God (Deut 20:17, Josh 6:17-18).  In Deut and DHist, never appears as vow and often explicitly ordered by God.  Sometimes keep some booty (Josh 8.2), other times everything destroyed.  In Josh 7 cherem is absolutely dedicated and commanded by God, although not everything had to be always destroyed. (see pg 79 for comparison of Deut and Josh 6:17a).   It may be that some texts are of different time periods but equally possible that different levels of cherem applied at different times.  Texts make it clear that cherem implies consecration or dedication in an almost sacrificial manner.

Covenant binds Israelites to laws which are not purely human but divine imperatives.    Israel unites law and religion and retribution comes about when the contagious nature of sin deprives God of God’s required state of holiness.  Therefore there is a punishment for those who violate the bans, because they put the whole nation at risk.  Without a holy state (a proper ritual state), God cannot be present and will abandon the people


BDB = Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon
CRHB = Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible.   Chapter 4  Joel S. Kaminsky.
JPS = JPS Tanakh

Joshua Chapter 6- and beginning of 7 in detail

Joshua is standing near Jericho – is the holy ground Jericho?
5:13 -15  “Remove your sandals” Read with Jacob and angel (Gen 32:25-31) burning bush (Ex 3:1-10 – “Remove your sandals”) and Balaam (Num 22:22-23) What makes the ground or the land holy?


6:1 - 6:16------ March around Jericho – 6 days and then on 7th the walls will fall; 
Legends Vol II, pg 845 and note 22 regarding 7th day =  Sabbath and proscribing of first fruits – “they consecrate the first city conquered”
6:1-------------- Jericho is shut tight before the Israelites.
6:10------------- trumpets of priests but no voices of the people
6:12------------- vayishchem baboker = Joshua rises early on the second day of marching around
6:15------------- vayishchimu cha’aloat hashachar = rose at daybreak – on the seventh and last day – when the walls will fall – the only day they march around 7 times instead of 1.  Gen 32:25: Jacob wrestles with man until aloat hashachar
6:17------------- City to be proscribed (cherem) to YHVH and Rahab to be spared
6:18------------- Cherem 4 times
6:20------------- Wall collapses – not a siege – just march around and shout and wall collapses
6:21------------- They exterminated (vayicherimu) everything
6:22 - 25------- Rahab is spared and all else is burned.  Why such emphasis on Rabab sparing the spies?  Why is this so important?  Exercise in thinking like the sages – how to explain this emphasis in the text?
6:26----------------- Joshua pronounces oath (not a vow): Cursed be he who fortifies the city of Jericho and lays new foundations.  Alternate translation: Joshua proclaimed "Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn and with his youngest son he shall set up its gates" (Josh 6:26).”  


7:1-------------- Violation of proscription (2x cherem) – Achan is introduced.  Narrator says YHVH is incensed – before we see YHVH take any action
7:2-------------- More spies to check out Ai
7:3 - 4---------- Spies say 2-3 thousand men is enough – but they are routed – presumably the routing is what makes them “turn their backs on their enemy” – see Jos 7:8 and 7:12 – the enemy forces them to turn.
7:7-------------- Joshua says “Why did you lead this people only to deliver...?  If only we had been content.”  This is different from Ex 16:3  If only we had died in Egypt when we sat by the fleshpots.

7:8-------------- “Turned tail”  hafach (“turn”) Israel oreyph (“back of neck”) – Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law – same consonants
------------------ 7:12  oreyph (“back of neck”) yiphnu(“turn”) (BDB = “turn one’s back before a foe”)
7:9-------------- “What about your great name?”


  1. The number thirty-six has fascinating properties. For example, it is a number that when multiplied by any other number always produces a quotient whose mispar katan is equal to nine, the mispar katan of truth:
    Emes = 1 + 40 + 400
    = 441; 4 + 4 + 1
    = 9

    For example: 36 x 1 = 36
    3 + 6 = 9

    36 x 2 = 72
    7 + 2 = 9

    36 x 3 = 108
    1 + 0 + 8 = 9

    36 x 25 = 900
    9 + 0 + 0 = 9
    Our holy books say that every generation actually has a minimum of 72 holy men, 36 who live in Israel, and 36 who live outside of Israel.(God called sometimes "Sons of Israel" and sometimes "Sons of Jacob"=Midrash*)

    The number 36 corresponds to the 6 days of creation (6x24=144, 1+4+4=9), and the 30 days of an average month. It also corresponds to the 36 (3+6=9) candles kindled during Hanukkah.

    The primary source for this teaching is in the Talmud, Succah 45b:

    "The world never has less than thirty-six righteous men who receive the Divine Presence every day, for it is said, 'Happy are they that wait lo [for Him]' and the numerical value of 'lo' is thirty-six."

  2. According to Kabbalah, there are seven primary emotions (see The Sefirot: Since the arm Tefillin represents the channeling of our emotions toward G‑d, we therefore wrap the straps seven times around our arm, representing the seven emotions.
    Please read the article in Chabad and we can say that the last day the seven times surrounding Jericho means those attributes are embedded in ONE