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They devoted to Yahweh all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey with the mouth of the sword. Bible

“the mouth of the sword.” This is the first occurrence of the phrase “mouth of the sword” in Joshua. E. W. Bullinger lists “the mouth of the sword” under the figure of speech pleonasm (the use of more words than necessary), because the Bible could have just said, “the sword” instead of “the mouth of the sword,” but the amplification is not just decoration: it indicates that the sword “devoured” its victims. There is a sense in which the figure could also be the figure of speech personification, as if the sword was alive, human and hungry and was eating up its victims. The phrase occurs a number of times in the Bible, and occurs when there is a great slaughter, and seems to be used more when, in an attack, only people are killed without the city they live in being destroyed, although there are exceptions to that, Jericho being one of them.


Commentary for: Joshua 6:21