“And I and all the people with me will draw near the city, and when theywill go out to greet us, as the first time, we will flee before them.”
This maneuver demonstrated tremendous faith in Hashem. The plans calledfor Yehoshua to personally lead the people to the doorstep of the enemy andthen turn around and flee. This would undoubtedly entice the enemy tochase after the Jewish people and their king. Yehoshua literally riskedhis life during this advance by completely exposing himself to the enemyleaving himself vulnerable to all the enemy’s wrath. This renderedYehoshua and his people a perfect target for the enemy who would eagerlytake advantage of this opportunity. This gives us our first insight to thehidden miracle soon to transpire. The Jewish people were total cleansedfrom their previous fault and deserved Hashem’s protection in full. Theywere therefore totally confident that Hashem would be there for them andthey faithfully continued their conquest.
“And they will go out after us until we detach them from the city becausethey will say we are fleeing them as the first time and we will fleebefore them.” This passage seems somewhat repetitive because the previouspassage already stated that the Jewish people will flee from before them.
The apparent answer is that the Jewish people will continue fleeing fromthem even after the enemy is detached from the city. The delicate balancehere is the precise timing of this operation. The Jewish people needed toremain far enough away so that they could not be attacked by the enemy,yet they needed to be close enough to him that he would continue thechase and not consider returning to his city. The first passage indicatesthe Jewish people’s initial process of fleeing the enemy. Although thisfirst step was quite dangerous, it could be achieved with some level ofcontrol. They neared the enemy but swiftly fled the moment the enemy beganchasing them. The second step was much more difficult. They continued toflee for their lives but remained close enough to create an allusion thatthey could be reached and attacked.
“And you should rise from the ambush and drive out the inhabitants of thecity, and Hashem will give it in your hands.” Here again we discover asignificant dimension of Divine Providence. One would have thought thatthis next step of victory was a foregone conclusion. If all the city’smales were out to war there would be no difficulty capturing the city.Why wouldn’t thirty thousand trained warriors gain control over less thanfive thousand women and children? However, this passage suggested thateven after all their strategy Hashem’s involvement was required in order todeliver the city into their hands.
This is reminiscent of the words of our Sages who place great value onpraying for Hashem’s assistance every step of our lives. Rebbe Yochanansaid, “One should pray to Hashem for assistance in burial.” Rabba Bar RavShila added to this, “One should pray for a peaceful life up to the lastshovel of dirt in his grave” (see Tractate Brachos 8a and Rashi’s commentibid.). Our Sages teach us here that virtually nothing is guaranteed, evenour basic human rights to burial. Without Hashem’s assistance anything cango wrong in life and even at death. Our Sages remind us of brutal reality.
Unforeseen quarrel and strife can set in even at the end of an absolutelypeaceful burial. They teach us to recognize the need for Hashem’sinvolvement down to the last second of a perfect experience.
We can now appreciate Yehoshua’s chosen words. Although the enemy wasdetached from the city they could always return at the last minute. Onepossibility is that they would realize the futility of their chase andquit and return home. Another possibility is that they would sensesomething was wrong. They left their entire city unprotected for a goalthat now seemed out of reach. They could have questioned, “Could this be amilitary tactic and an ambush was truly awaiting them or their city?” Intruth, possibilities such as this exist even in the best of allsituations. Yehoshua therefore reminded the ambush not to rely upon alltheir military planning. Their true source of victory would be Hashem.Yehoshua guaranteed them that as long as they fulfilled their command toperfection Hashem would assist them. Hashem was truly conducting this warbehind the scenes and they should never lose sight of this.
“And when you capture the city torch it in fire as Hashem stated, see thatI have commanded you.”
Their appears to be an unusual amount of focus on the commandment dimensionof this mission. Yehoshua seems gravely concerned about the precision ofevery detail of this maneuver. This suggests that the upcoming victory wasindeed a miracle in disguise. If we would consider the probability ofeverything perfectly falling in place, we would be amazed. Hundreds ofthousands of men are luring the enemy away from their city. These massesare, at the same time, protecting their lives by maintaining adequatedistance so that the enemy can not attack them. Even so, they must remain inclose proximity in order to turn on the enemy at the appropriate moment ofbattle. All of this must be orchestrated with the ambush party who mustdrive out the city’s inhabitants and capture it. In addition the ambushmust successfully torch the city before the enemy discovers their gravepredicament.
Therefore, Yehoshua gave stern warning to the ambush party to be preparedto immediately go into action. When they receive the signal they mustswiftly leave their hiding place, run to the city, capture and torch it.All of the above must be accomplished before the enemy gets any wind of itand in the midst of the chase with al of its perfect positioning. This isanother dimension of Hashem’s concealed miracle securing the perfectfulfillment of every detail of this war. One would need to wear blinders tobelieve that all this was accomplished by the Jewish people without anyassistance from Above. In truth, as we study this war, we are constantlydiscovering the magnitude of Hashem’s involvement in all of its details.This undoubtedly brought the Jewish people to a full recognition ofHashem’s hidden role in their wars. And should serve as a sample to us ofthe extent of our silent partner, Hashem’s involvement in everything we doin life.
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