on Joshua 7 :14
Ye shall be brought according to your tribes - It has been a subject of serious inquiry in what manner and by what means the culpable tribe, family, household, and individual, were discovered. The Jews have many conceits on the subject; the most rational is, that the tribes being, in their representatives, brought before the high priest, the stone on the breastplate gave immediate intimation by suddenly losing its lustre. According to them, this is what is termed consulting God by Urim and Thummim. It is however most probable that the whole was determined by the lot; and that God chose this method to detect the guilty tribe, next the family, thirdly the household, and lastly the individual. This was nearly the plan pursued in the election of Saul by Samuel. "Now therefore," says he, "present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands. And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken," 1 Samuel 10:19, 1 Samuel 10:20. If the lot was used in the one case it was doubtless used in the other also, as the procedure in the main was entirely similar. The same mode was used to find out who it was that transgressed the king's command, when it was found that Jonathan had eaten a little honey, 1 Samuel 14:40-43. It is well known that the promised land was divided by lot among the Israelites; (see Numbers 26:55; Numbers 33:54; Deuteronomy 1:38, etc.); and that the courses of the priests were regulated by lot in the days of David, 1 Chronicles 24:5, etc. That this was a frequent mode of determining difficult questions, and appointed by God himself, is evident from Leviticus 16:8; Psalm 51:18; Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 18:18; Acts 1:26.
on Joshua 7 :14
The Lord taketh - i. e. by lot. The Hebrew word for lot suggests that small stones, probably white and black ones, were used. These were probably drawn from a chest (compare the expressions in Joshua 18:11; Joshua 19:1). The lot was regarded as directed in its result by God (margin reference); and hence, was used on many important occasions by the Jews and by other nations in ancient times. For example:
(1), for apportionment, as of Canaan among the twelve tribes Numbers 26:55; of the Levitical cities (Joshua 21:4 ff); of spoil or captives taken in war Joel 3:3.
(2) for detection of the guilty, as in the case if Achan, Jonathan 1 Samuel 14:42, and Jonah Jon 1:7.
(3) for determining the persons to undertake a dangerous or warlike enterprise Judges 20:10.
(4) for making appointment to important functions (Leviticus 16:8 ff; Acts 1:26); or for sharing the duties or privileges of an office among those concerned 1 Chronicles 24:31; Luke 1:9.
The casting of lots before Haman Esther 3:7 seems to have been with a view of determining the lucky day for his undertaking against the Jews. One passage Proverbs 18:18 perhaps points also to the employment of the lot to decide litigation.
on Joshua 7 :14