The day man spoke
And God listened--
the mouth that binds.
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How binding are the oaths that are entered based on deception, commitments that are not based on facts?
This chapter continues to explore the aftermath of the transformation of the second battle with Ai, in which human action moves to the forfront. If in the previous chapter, the movement to a human-centered model opens the door to deception, here, the covenant with the Ginonites is put to the test. It is an oath based on a human-centric vision of reality, in which Joshua does not "ask the mouth of God"--and so is tricked by the very wiles he used.
Here, Joshua decides to "let his hand slacken" from the Gibonites, and he honors his word to the upmost. In commiting fully to the human-based reality, in making in binding, Joshua is able to bind God Himself with words: "And there was no day before it or after it, in which God hearkened to the voice of man."
Honering the partial and problematic human covenant revives the covenant between God and Israel. The first time, there is a fusion between human and divine action. In contrast to the battle with Jericho, it is Joshua who opens the battle. As in the case of Ai, the battle begins with tactics and subterfuge, with Joshua "surprising them" by marching through the night. Yet in contrast to the battle of Ai, this time God pitches in by sending hail on the fleeing Emorites, in a direct echo of the Exodus story. Human and divine action fuse, to create a perfect victory.
Joshua emerges stregthened by this new partnership. No longer must he be continously propped up by God's reassurances of "do not fear do not be dismayed." Now, he can act as the comfortor to the people, echoing God's words to them "do not fear and do not be dismayed, be strong and take courage" (10:25) .
The turn to human action and language here becomes a source of growth rather than of failure.]