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I might just be asking something that's quite obvious, but I just wanted more insight and clarity. When the Israelites battled against their foes at Beth-horon, God did drop large stones/hailstones on the enemies of Israel, but Israel also used actual swords to physically kill their enemies.

Joshua 10:11 (NASB) As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died [i]from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

Psalm 44:2-3 (NASB) 2 You with Your own hand drove out the nations; Then You planted them; You afflicted the peoples, Then You spread them abroad. 3 For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them.

Joshua 10:11 does say that the Israelites also "killed with the sword", but Psalm 44 seems to give God all the credit. Therefore, Psalm 44 is definitely exaggerating in order to emphasize God's role in the battles against Israel's enemies. What are the literary device(s) used in Psalm 44 to express God's Victories as He battles? Would it be correct to say that in Psalm 44, the author uses Hyperbole as the literary device?

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  • What makes you say that the text is an exaggeration ?
    – Nigel J
    Jun 26 '20 at 17:00
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    Joshua 10:11 does say that the Israelites also "killed with the sword", but Psalm 44 seems to give God all the credit. Therefore, Psalm 44 is definitely exaggerating in order to emphasize God's role in the battles against Israel's enemies.
    – crazyTech
    Jun 26 '20 at 17:50
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I see no exaggeration in either Joshua or Psalms. What we know is this:

  • The majority of the enemy was killed with hailstones sent as a miracle of god
  • Some, a minority, were killed with the edge of the sword.

There two facts alone suggest that God significantly intervened in a way that if He had not, the battle would not have been won.

However, God also terrified the Israel's enemy so that they "fled before Israel" (Josh 10:11). Thus, there is a second miracle here - God frightened the enemy so that they both fled and fought far less fiercely than they might otherwise have been able to. It was this second miracle that enable the Israelites to kill the few that they did.

Thus, as Psalm 44 correctly observes, the credit for the battle win was entirely due to divine intervention of at least two miracles as listed above.

No exaggeration here at all.

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  • But Psalm 44:3 states "For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them....", which seems like hyperbole/exaggeration since there was--like you said--"a minority, were killed with the edge of the sword"
    – crazyTech
    Jun 26 '20 at 22:22
  • Correct - God accomplished this divine miracle through the imperfect instrument of the inexperienced armies of Israel. Thus, both statements are correct - God did it with the edge of Israel's sword.
    – Dottard
    Jun 26 '20 at 22:26
  • So....Does that mean you agree with me that there is hyperbole/exaggeration in Psalm 44:3?
    – crazyTech
    Jun 26 '20 at 22:34
  • Not at all - we are God's workmen. God uses us to accomplish His will. "We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength" Phil 4:13
    – Dottard
    Jun 26 '20 at 23:04
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The issue is that it is difficult if not impossible to divorce the spiritual/supernatural elements from the literary aspect of the psalms. From a pure literary perspective, sure, one can say that hyperbole, metaphor, etc. are employed in the writing of the psalms, even in this specific case for Psalm 44 in question. The trouble comes when such interpretations would reduce the functions of God. Psalms, by definition, are to glorify God. That's the intent of the psalm writers. We should respect that when we read them.

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Some readers might have the perspective that

Psalm 44:3a (NASB)
For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them....

is to be interpreted that the Israelites physical involvement by using actual weaponry in the Beth-horon battle was Merely an auxiliary factor. Therefore, they might view the text as emphasizing that the Main Factor is:

Psalm 44:3b (NASB) ...(God's)Your right hand and (God's)Your arm and the light of (God's)Your presence, For (God)You favored them....

Therefore, a reader could view that Psalm 44:3a is still saying that the Israelites were physically involved in the warring battle, but Only in an auxiliary role. Thus, it's Not hyperbole/exaggeration.

It depends on the reader's perspective.

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