Chapter 8, Verses 5 - 8
"And I and all the people with me will draw near the city, and when they
will go out to greet us, as the first time, we will flee before them."
This maneuver demonstrated tremendous faith in Hashem. The plans called
for Yehoshua to personally lead the people to the doorstep of the enemy and
then turn around and flee. This would undoubtedly entice the enemy to
chase after the Jewish people and their king. Yehoshua literally risked
his life during this advance by completely exposing himself to the enemy
leaving himself vulnerable to all the enemy's wrath. This rendered
Yehoshua and his people a perfect target for the enemy who would eagerly
take advantage of this opportunity. This gives us our first insight to the
hidden miracle soon to transpire. The Jewish people were total cleansed
from their previous fault and deserved Hashem's protection in full. They
were therefore totally confident that Hashem would be there for them and
they faithfully continued their conquest.
"And they will go out after us until we detach them from the city because
they will say we are fleeing them as the first time and we will flee
before them." This passage seems somewhat repetitive because the previous
passage already stated that the Jewish people will flee from before them.
The apparent answer is that the Jewish people will continue fleeing from
them even after the enemy is detached from the city. The delicate balance
here is the precise timing of this operation. The Jewish people needed to
remain 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 the
chase and not consider returning to his city. The first passage indicates
the Jewish people's initial process of fleeing the enemy. Although this
first step was quite dangerous, it could be achieved with some level of
control. They neared the enemy but swiftly fled the moment the enemy began
chasing them. The second step was much more difficult. They continued to
flee for their lives but remained close enough to create an allusion that
they could be reached and attacked.
"And you should rise from the ambush and drive out the inhabitants of the
city, and Hashem will give it in your hands." Here again we discover a
significant dimension of Divine Providence. One would have thought that
this next step of victory was a foregone conclusion. If all the city's
males were out to war there would be no difficulty capturing the city.
Why wouldn't thirty thousand trained warriors gain control over less than
five thousand women and children? However, this passage suggested that
even after all their strategy Hashem's involvement was required in order to
deliver the city into their hands.
This is reminiscent of the words of our Sages who place great value on
praying for Hashem's assistance every step of our lives. Rebbe Yochanan
said, "One should pray to Hashem for assistance in burial." Rabba Bar Rav
Shila added to this, "One should pray for a peaceful life up to the last
shovel of dirt in his grave" (see Tractate Brachos 8a and Rashi's comment
ibid.). Our Sages teach us here that virtually nothing is guaranteed, even
our basic human rights to burial. Without Hashem's assistance anything can
go 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 absolutely
peaceful burial. They teach us to recognize the need for Hashem's
involvement down to the last second of a perfect experience.
We can now appreciate Yehoshua's chosen words. Although the enemy was
detached from the city they could always return at the last minute. One
possibility is that they would realize the futility of their chase and
quit and return home. Another possibility is that they would sense
something was wrong. They left their entire city unprotected for a goal
that now seemed out of reach. They could have questioned, "Could this be a
military tactic and an ambush was truly awaiting them or their city?" In
truth, possibilities such as this exist even in the best of all
situations. Yehoshua therefore reminded the ambush not to rely upon all
their military planning. Their true source of victory would be Hashem.
Yehoshua guaranteed them that as long as they fulfilled their command to
perfection Hashem would assist them. Hashem was truly conducting this war
behind the scenes and they should never lose sight of this.
"And when you capture the city torch it in fire as Hashem stated, see that
I have commanded you."
Their appears to be an unusual amount of focus on the commandment dimension
of this mission. Yehoshua seems gravely concerned about the precision of
every detail of this maneuver. This suggests that the upcoming victory was
indeed a miracle in disguise. If we would consider the probability of
everything perfectly falling in place, we would be amazed. Hundreds of
thousands of men are luring the enemy away from their city. These masses
are, at the same time, protecting their lives by maintaining adequate
distance so that the enemy can not attack them. Even so, they must remain in
close proximity in order to turn on the enemy at the appropriate moment of
battle. All of this must be orchestrated with the ambush party who must
drive out the city's inhabitants and capture it. In addition the ambush
must successfully torch the city before the enemy discovers their grave
Therefore, Yehoshua gave stern warning to the ambush party to be prepared
to immediately go into action. When they receive the signal they must
swiftly 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 it
and in the midst of the chase with al of its perfect positioning. This is
another dimension of Hashem's concealed miracle securing the perfect
fulfillment of every detail of this war. One would need to wear blinders to
believe that all this was accomplished by the Jewish people without any
assistance from Above. In truth, as we study this war, we are constantly
discovering the magnitude of Hashem's involvement in all of its details.
This undoubtedly brought the Jewish people to a full recognition of
Hashem's hidden role in their wars. And should serve as a sample to us of
the extent of our silent partner, Hashem's involvement in everything we do
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