JOSHUA CHAPTER 5.
Israel at Gilgal.
the circumcision of the people. — V. 1. And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of the Jordan westward, the mighty heathen nations which occupied chiefly the mountainous section of Canaan, for among these the Amorites were the strongest, and all the kings of the Canaanites which were by the sea, the heathen nations occupying the lowlands in the neighborhood of the Mediterranean Sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, for it is an eye-witness who is relating this story, that their heart melted, dissolved in apprehension and terror, neither was there spirit in them any more, they lost the last vestige of courage, because of the children of Israel. It was the terror of the Lord which fallen upon them, causing all life and energy to be taken from them. V. 2. At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, literally, knives of stone, made with a very sharp cutting edge, used extensively at that time, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. As the people that came out of Egypt had been circumcised, so now there was to be a circumcision of the new generation, by which the solemn rite was solemnly reintroduced. V. 3. And Joshua made him sharp knives and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins, for the place was later known as Gibeah-haaraloth, because the foreskins were buried there. V. 4. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise, why the Lord's order went forth to Joshua, and the latter had the order executed: All the people that came out of Egypt that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, in the course of the desert journey, after they came out of Egypt, Num. 14, 29; Deut. 2, 16. V. 5. Now, all the people that came out were circumcised, the rite having been observed with all strictness in Egypt; but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, the entire journey in the wilderness being included under this heading, them they had not circumcised. V. 6. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, mustered as being able to bear arms in battle, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord; unto whom the Lord sware that He would not show them the land which the Lord sware unto their fathers that He would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey, Num. 14, 23. The extraordinary fertility of the country is here once more emphasized, as so often in the Old Testament, Ex. 3, 8. 17; 13, 5; 16, 14; Lev. 20, 24; Num. 13, 27; Deut. 1, 3. The meadow-lands of Canaan, with their rich carpet of grasses and flowers, were well suited for the raising of herds and flocks, while the bees found the abundance of fragrant flowers with their rich nectar eminently satisfactory for the production of honey. V. 7. And their children, whom He raised up in their stead, the Lord had them take the place of those who were fallen in the wilderness, them Joshua circumcised, their circumcision he ordered; for they were uncircumcised, because they, the several fathers of the families, had not circumcised them by the way. It was necessary that the present race of young men should receive the sign of the Lord's covenant before they dared undertake the conquest of Canaan. V. 8. And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp till they were whole, had recovered from the. effects of the operation. During this time there were at least some three hundred thousand men to take care of the necessary preparations for the celebration of the Passover and to guard against an eventual attack on the part of the heathen armies. V. 9. And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you, namely, that resulting from the report that God had led His people out of Egypt merely for the purpose of striking them down in the wilderness, Ex. 32,12; Num. 14, 13-16; Deut. 9, 28. The act of circumcision at Gilgal was God's proclamation of the full restoration of the covenant, as first made with Abraham and at Sinai. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal (rolling away) unto this day. The sacred covenant rite had now been resumed, and all reproach had been removed. Israel was consecrated for the possession of the Holy Land, for it is an obedient, consecrated people whom the Lord desires for His own.
the passover celebrated. — V. 10. And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, having once more been accepted into the full covenant relation with Jehovah, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. V. 11. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, on the fifteenth of Nisan, Lev. 23, 5. 6, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day, roasted harvest ears or kernels of grain roasted at the fire, for it was not lawful to eat of the new crop until after the offering of the first sheaves on the sixteenth of Nisan, Lev. 23, 10. 11. V. 12. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land, that is, on the sixteenth of Abib, or Nisan, neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. The people had now arrived in Canaan and no longer needed the bread of the wilderness. It should be noted here once more: "The feeding of the Israelites with manna remains a miracle of God which has, indeed, in nature, a faint analog, but can never be explained on natural principles." (Keil.) V. 13. And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, while the children of Israel were in camp at Gilgal, Joshua, apparently, being engaged in deep meditation and prayer to Jehovah, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand, taken from the scabbard and ready for slaughter. That was the Prince of the host of angels, the great Angel of the Lord, the Angel of the Covenant, of one essence with the Lord Himself, who had accompanied Israel from Egypt and from Sinai. And Joshua went unto Him and said unto Him, Art Thou for us or for our adversaries? It was a question natural in the circumstances and appropriate for the general of the forces of Israel. V. 14. And He said, Nay, He belonged neither to the one nor to the other, but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come, Prince of the innumerable angelic armies. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, in the attitude of abject submission and entreaty, and did worship, recognizing this Prince as a higher being, though not yet sure of His identity, and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? V. 15. And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, as Moses did in the presence of the burning bush, Ex. 3, 5; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. This undoubtedly reminded Joshua of the experience of Moses, and proved to him that this Prince of the heavenly host was He who had manifested Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. And Joshua did so. It is then that we may expect manifestations of Christ's divine grace and mercy, when we use the means of grace instituted by Him and are found in the way of our duty. Then it is also that He encamps round about us with the host of His angels and wages war for His Church against the world and the devil.