Category Archives: 06 – Joshua – יהושע

אבי הענוק – ריאשנה

Joshua 21:10-11 has two unusual spellings.

ריאשנה is spelled מלא, the only place in תנ”ך where it is spelled this way.

קרית ארבע is referred to as אבי הענוק rather than אבי הענק as it is spelled earlier in Joshua 15:13.  The word ענק/ענקים occurs numerous  times in תנ”ך, but nowhere else is is spelled ענוק.


The root געש appears thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible:

יהושע כד:ל
וַיִּקְבְּר֤וּ אֹתוֹ֙ בִּגְב֣וּל נַחֲלָת֔וֹ בְּתִמְנַת־סֶ֖רַח אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּהַר־אֶפְרָ֑יִם מִצְּפ֖וֹן לְהַר־גָּֽעַשׁ:

שופטים ב:ט
וַיִּקְבְּר֤וּ אוֹתוֹ֙ בִּגְב֣וּל נַחֲלָת֔וֹ בְּתִמְנַת־חֶ֖רֶס בְּהַ֣ר אֶפְרָ֑יִם מִצְּפ֖וֹן לְהַר־גָּֽעַשׁ:

שמואל ב כב:ח
ותגעש [ק' וַיִּתְגָּעַ֤שׁ] וַתִּרְעַשׁ֙ הָאָ֔רֶץ מוֹסְד֥וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם יִרְגָּ֑זוּ וַיִּֽתְגָּעֲשׁ֖וּ כִּֽי־חָ֥רָה לֽוֹ:

שמואל ב כג:ל
בְּנָיָ֙הוּ֙ פִּרְעָ֣תֹנִ֔י הִדַּ֖י מִנַּ֥חֲלֵי גָֽעַשׁ:

ירמיהו ה:כב
הַאוֹתִ֨י לֹא־תִירָ֜אוּ נְאֻם־יְקֹוָ֗ק אִ֤ם מִפָּנַי֙ לֹ֣א תָחִ֔ילוּ אֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֤מְתִּי חוֹל֙ גְּב֣וּל לַיָּ֔ם חָק־עוֹלָ֖ם וְלֹ֣א יַעַבְרֶ֑נְהוּ וַיִּֽתְגָּעֲשׁוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א יוּכָ֔לוּ וְהָמ֥וּ גַלָּ֖יו וְלֹ֥א יַעַבְרֻֽנְהוּ:

ירמיהו כה:טז
וְשָׁת֕וּ וְהִֽתְגֹּֽעֲשׁ֖וּ וְהִתְהֹלָ֑לוּ מִפְּנֵ֣י הַחֶ֔רֶב אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָנֹכִ֥י שֹׁלֵ֖חַ בֵּינֹתָֽם:

ירמיהו מו:ז-ח
מִי־זֶ֖ה כַּיְאֹ֣ר יַֽעֲלֶ֑ה כַּנְּהָר֕וֹת יִֽתְגָּעֲשׁ֖וּ מֵימָֽיו: מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ כַּיְאֹ֣ר יַֽעֲלֶ֔ה וְכַנְּהָר֖וֹת יִתְגֹּ֣עֲשׁוּ מָ֑יִם וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אַֽעֲלֶה֙ אֲכַסֶּה־אֶ֔רֶץ אֹבִ֥ידָה עִ֖יר וְיֹ֥שְׁבֵי בָֽהּ:

תהלים יח:ח
וַתִּגְעַ֬שׁ וַתִּרְעַ֨שׁ׀ הָאָ֗רֶץ וּמוֹסְדֵ֣י הָרִ֣ים יִרְגָּ֑זוּ וַ֝יִּתְגָּֽעֲשׁ֗וּ כִּי־חָ֥רָה לֽוֹ:

איוב לד:כ
רֶ֤גַע׀ יָמֻתוּ֘ וַחֲצ֪וֹת לָ֥יְלָה יְגֹעֲשׁ֣וּ עָ֣ם וְיַעֲבֹ֑רוּ וְיָסִ֥ירוּ אַ֝בִּ֗יר לֹ֣א בְיָֽד:

דברי הימים א יא:לב
חוּרַי֙ מִנַּ֣חֲלֵי גָ֔עַשׁ אֲבִיאֵ֖ל הָעַרְבָתִֽי:

In the case of the burial place of Joshua, הר-געש is a place name, as is the case with חורי and הדי who are from נחלי געש.

געש seems to be something that waters (both rivers/streams – Jer. 46:7-8 and seas – Jer. 5:22) and the Earth (II Sam. 22:8, Psalms 18:8) do.  The two remaining instances of this root, Jer. 25:16 and Job 34:20 refer to people.

According to BDB, the verb means to shake  or quake.  With reference to people, they “reel to and fro“.  HALOT also has “rumble” but suggests in addition to “bubble up, belch, shit, vomit, ruminate”.  For the Earth they suggest “to rise and fall loudly“, for water, “to surge“, and for drunken humans “to vomit loudly“.

Greenfield (HUCA 29, 1958) suggests:

Rather than “to shake, quiver,״ we must assume with G. R. Driver that “to heave (of the stomach in retching or vomiting)״ is the initial concrete sense of this verb in Hebrew. Driver comes to his conclusion on the basis of the LXX’s use of forms of the same Greek verb for והתגעשו (Jer. 25.16) and וקיו (Jer. 25.27). On this basis he translated the beginning of Jer. 25.16 ושתו והתגעשו והתהללו as “and they shall drink and have a heaving of the stomach (retch, vomit) and be maddened (with intoxication).״

גבור חיל

What does גבור חיל mean?

The phrase appears 42 times in eight different books.  In Job 21:7 the similar phrase גברו חיל appears.  In most cases, it seems to mean someone who has displayed military heroism, but sometimes it is not clear that it means an actual military hero.


מלך יריחו

Joshua 10:28-30

וְאֶת מַקֵּדָה לָכַד יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וַיַּכֶּהָ לְפִי חֶרֶב וְאֶת מַלְכָּהּ הֶחֱרִם אוֹתָם וְאֶת כָּל הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר בָּהּ לֹא הִשְׁאִיר שָׂרִיד וַיַּעַשׂ לְמֶלֶךְ מַקֵּדָה כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְמֶלֶךְ יְרִיחוֹ: וַיַּעֲבֹר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל עִמּוֹ מִמַּקֵּדָה לִבְנָה וַיִּלָּחֶם עִם לִבְנָה: וַיִּתֵּן יְדֹוָד גַּם אוֹתָהּ בְּיַד יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת מַלְכָּהּ וַיַּכֶּהָ לְפִי חֶרֶב וְאֶת כָּל הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר בָּהּ לֹא הִשְׁאִיר בָּהּ שָׂרִיד וַיַּעַשׂ לְמַלְכָּהּ כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְמֶלֶךְ יְרִיחוֹ:

We are never told, in the Jericho story or elsewhere, what they did to the King of Jericho…

שימו את רגליכם על צוארי המלכים האלה

Joshua 10:24:

וַיְהִי כְּהוֹצִיאָם אֶת הַמְּלָכִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וַיִּקְרָא יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אֶל כָּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל קְצִינֵי אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה הֶהָלְכוּא אִתּוֹ קִרְבוּ שִׂימוּ אֶת רַגְלֵיכֶם עַל צַוְּארֵי הַמְּלָכִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיִּקְרְבוּ וַיָּשִׂימוּ אֶת רַגְלֵיהֶם עַל צַוְּארֵיהֶם

After the Israelites defeat the five kings who have been hiding in a cave, Joshua gathers his officers, and instructs them to step on the necks of the defeated kings.

The sense is similar to Isaiah 51:23

וְשַׂמְתִּיהָ בְּיַד מוֹגַיִךְ אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ לְנַפְשֵׁךְ שְׁחִי וְנַעֲבֹרָה וַתָּשִׂימִי כָאָרֶץ גֵּוֵךְ וְכַחוּץ לַעֹבְרִים


Connections between the עכן story (Joshua 6:26-7:26) and יהונתן eating honey (I Sam. 14:1-35)

There are several connexions between these stories, both thematic and lexical.  In both stories an oath is made forbidding an action, and then someone breaks that oath.  I find it significant that the person who breaks the oath is NOT the person who actually took the oath.  To what extent is an oath binding on someone who has not taken that oath?  In both cases the person who takes the oath is a leader of the Israelites, which presumably gives it authority.  Again I wonder why the oath would be binding on Jonathan who was not even aware of it.

In both stories, the Israelites suffer punishment on account of the broken oath, in the case of עכן the Israelites lose the battle at עי, in the case of Jonathan, the LORD refuses to answer Saul (I Sam. 14:37).

In both stories, it is known that the oath has been broken, but it is not known WHO broke the oath.  In order to discern who it was, the people divide themselves and somehow divine which division is responsible, and then further divide and divine until they discover the culprit.  And in both stories, the verb לכד is used to indicate the group or individual who is responsible.  Neither story gives details of how this divination actually occurs.

Finally, both stories use the verb עכר, which is a fairly uncommon verb in TaNa”KH.

Is this form of divination common in the Ancient Near East?

The parallel is pointed out by Marsha C. White in Saul in Story and Tradition (p. 132-133).  My thanks to Prof. Yitzhak Berger for pointing this out to me (and to Prof. Shalom Holtz for putting me in touch with Prof. Berger).

Also see Matthew Michael “The Achan/Achor Traditions: The Parody of Saul as ‘Achan’  in 1 Samuel 14:24:-15:35.” Old Testament Essays 26:3 (2013)

Matthew Michael – The Achan-Achor Traditions – The Parody of Saul as Achan in 1 Samuel 14-24 – 15-35 (2013)

For more on עכן and עכר see this post.

In the story of the גבעונים, Joshua 9, we have another story of a treaty being made under false circumstances, but the Israelites cannot abrogate this treaty because they have made an oath in the name of יי אלהי ישראל.

Divining is also used when Samuel chooses Saul to be king in I Samuel 10:20-22:

וַיַּקְרֵ֣ב שְׁמוּאֵ֔ל אֵ֖ת כָּל־שִׁבְטֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיִּלָּכֵ֖ד שֵׁ֥בֶט בִּנְיָמִֽן: וַיַּקְרֵ֞ב אֶת־שֵׁ֤בֶט בִּנְיָמִן֙ למשפחתו לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֔יו וַתִּלָּכֵ֖ד מִשְׁפַּ֣חַת הַמַּטְרִ֑י וַיִּלָּכֵד֙ שָׁא֣וּל בֶּן־קִ֔ישׁ וַיְבַקְשֻׁהוּ וְלֹ֥א נִמְצָֽא: וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ־עוֹד֙ בַּֽיקֹוָ֔ק הֲבָ֥א ע֖וֹד הֲלֹ֣ם אִ֑ישׁ ס וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְקֹוָ֔ק הִנֵּה־ה֥וּא נֶחְבָּ֖א אֶל־הַכֵּלִֽים:




סיפור יציאת מצרים

Several times in נ”ך the story of יציאת מצרים is recounted.  The first time is at the end of the Book of Joshua, 24: 1-15.  This is a prelude to Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites that they will not remain faithful in their service to יי, and the Israelites reaffirm their devotion to יי and make a new covenant with יי.

Other notable recountings of the story of יציאת מצרים are found in Psalms: 78 and 106-107 (I see 107 as a continuation of 106).

As I go through נ”ך this year I will add any other recountings that I find.  Clearly the purpose of my pointing this out is to compare the different tellings of the story.

ותן לו תודה

After עכן steals some of the plunder from Jericho, and the Israelites are routed by the inhabitants of Ai, הקב”ה reveals to Joshua that it is עכן who stole from Jericho.  When Joshua addresses him, he says שים נא כבוד לה’ אלהי ישראל ותן לו תודה והגד נא לי מה עשית (Joshua 7:19).

The phrase is used in a very similar context in Ezra where the returning exiles confess their sin of marrying foreign women:

עזרא י:יא
וְעַתָּ֗ה תְּנ֥וּ תוֹדָ֛ה לַיקֹוָ֥ק אֱלֹהֵֽי־אֲבֹתֵיכֶ֖ם וַעֲשׂ֣וּ רְצוֹנ֑וֹ וְהִבָּֽדְלוּ֙ מֵעַמֵּ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ וּמִן־הַנָּשִׁ֖ים הַנָּכְרִיּֽוֹת:

תודה here clearly cannot mean “Thanksgiving”.  It is used in the sense that it (almost) always has in the Bible, of a declaration.  It is in this sense parallel to the next work והגד, which also means to declare.  Perhaps the best example of this is from Deuteronomy 26:3 הגדתי היום לה’ אלהיך כי באתי אל הארץ וכו, which clears means “I DECLARE before the LORD”.

The next parshah in כי תבוא is called ווידוי מעשר by חז”ל, where ווידוי must mean a declaration.

My thanks to Rabbi Zvi Szubin for pointing out to me that הודאה in תנ”ך and in Rabbinic literature means declaration, and not thanksgiving.

This is as good a place as any to point out a strange form in Nehemiah 12:8

והלוים ישוע בנוי קדמיאל שרביה יהודה מתניה על-הֻיְּדוֹת הוא ואחיו

הֻיְּדוֹת seems to be a very strange form.  Translated by KJV as Thanksgiving.

HALOT has a separate entry for הֻיְּדוֹת, which says usu. rd. הודות, hif. inf. ידה; sbst. hodu- shouts; rd. הודיות, pl. of הודיה song of thanks, or of priase

Another sort of strange form is the name הודויהו, which occurs in I Chronicles 3:24 (and I think elsewhere)


מה האבנים האלה לכם

In Joshua 4:6, as בני ישראל cross the dry Jordan River, Joshua instructs one member of each tribe to carry a stone from the dry riverbed in order to build a monument.

למען תהיה זאת אות בקרבכם כי ישאלון בניכם מחר לאמר מה האבנים האלה לכם

This clearly evokes the verses in פרשת בא:

והיה כי יאמרו אליכם בניכם מה העבדה הזאת לכם (Exodus 12:26) and

והיה כי ישאלך בנך מחר לאמר מה זאת (Exodus 13:14)

Verse 12:26 is attributed in the Midrash in the Haggadah to the רשע, because he excludes himself by saying “לכם”.  The verse in Joshua also seems to exclude the questioner.

Verse 4:6 is directed to the 12 men who actually carry the stones from the dry riverbed.  When Joshua repeats the reason for setting up to the entire בני ישראל, he phrases it slightly differently:

Joshua 4:21: ויאמר אל בני ישראל לאמר אשר ישאלון בניכם מחר את אבותם לאמר מה האבנים האלה