And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking
unto the people
By reciting what the anointed of war said unto them, and by speeches of their own framing, to encourage to the battle; and all were dismissed that had leave to depart, and chose to take it:
that they shall make captains of armies to lead on the people;
on to battle; that is, either the officers should do this, which may seem to confirm what has been hinted, that they might be generals of the army, who constituted captains under them, to lead the people on to battle: unless this is to be understood of the princes of Israel, or of the king when they had one, and his ministers; for it does not appear in any instance that the people chose their own officers over them, to go out before them, and lead them on to battle; or "to be at the head of them" F26; which the Jewish writers understand in a very different sense; not to head them, or be at the head of them, to direct and command them, but to keep them from deserting: their sense is, that the officers having dismissed persons in the circumstances before described, and set stout men before them, and others behind them (i.e. the army of the people), with iron hatchets in their hands, and every one that sought to return, they had power to cut off his legs; since flight is the beginning of falling before their enemies F1.
F26 (Meh varb) "in capite populi", Pagninus, Montanus.
F1 Misn. ut supra (Sotah, c. 8.), sect. 6.