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Yehoshua Reflections

Chapter 8, Verses 5 - 8

(8:5)

"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.

(8:6)

"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.

(8:7)

"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.

(8:8)

"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 predicament.

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 in life.

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