Jos 5:1. The Canaanites Afraid.
1. the kings of the Amorites, which were on the
side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which
were by the sea—Under the former designation were included
the people who inhabited the mountainous region, and under the latter
those who were on the seacoast of Palestine.
heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of
Jordan … that their heart melted—They had probably
reckoned on the swollen river interposing for a time a sure barrier of
defense. But seeing it had been completely dried up, they were
completely paralyzed by so incontestable a proof that God was on the
side of the invaders. In fact, the conquest had already begun in the
total prostration of spirit among the native chiefs. "Their heart
melted," but unhappily not into faith and penitent submission.
Circumcision Is Renewed.
2. At that time—on the encampment being
made after the passage.
the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp
knives—Stone knives, collect and make them ready. Flints have
been used in the early times of all people; and although the use of
iron was known to the Hebrews in the days of Joshua, probably the want
of a sufficient number of metallic implements dictated the employment
of flints on this occasion (compare Ex 4:25).
circumcise again the children of Israel the
second time—literally, "return and circumcise." The command
did not require him to repeat the operation on those who had undergone
it, but to resume the observance of the rite, which had been long
discontinued. The language, however, evidently points to a general
circumcising on some previous occasion, which, though unrecorded, must
have been made before the celebration of the passover at Sinai (compare
12:48; Nu 9:5), as a mixed
multitude accompanied the camp. "The second time" of general
circumcising was at the entrance into Canaan.
3. at the hill—probably one of the
argillaceous hills that form the highest terrace of the Jordan, on a
rising ground at the palm forest.
4-7. this is the cause why Joshua did
circumcise—The omission to circumcise the children born in
the wilderness might have been owing to the incessant movements of the
people; but it is most generally thought that the true cause was a
temporary suspension of the covenant with the unbelieving race who,
being rejected of the Lord, were doomed to perish in the wilderness,
and whose children had to bear the iniquity of their fathers (Nu 14:33), though, as the latter were to be
brought into the promised land, the covenant would be renewed with
8. when they had done circumcising all the
people—As the number of those born in the wilderness and
uncircumcised must have been immense, a difficulty is apt to be felt
how the rite could have been performed on such a multitude in so short
a time. But it has been calculated that the proportion between those
already circumcised (under twenty when the doom was pronounced) and
those to be circumcised, was one to four, and consequently the whole
ceremony could easily have been performed in a day. Circumcision being
the sign and seal of the covenant, its performance was virtually an
investment in the promised land, and its being delayed till their
actual entrance into the country was a wise and gracious act on the
part of God, who postponed this trying duty till the hearts of the
people, animated by the recent astonishing miracle, were prepared to
obey the divine will.
they abode in their places … till they
were whole—It is calculated that, of those who did not need
to be circumcised, more than fifty thousand were left to defend the
camp if an attack had been then made upon it.
9. the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I
rolled away the reproach of Egypt—The taunts industriously
cast by that people upon Israel as nationally rejected by God by
the cessation of circumcision and the renewal of that rite was a
practical announcement of the restoration of the covenant [Keil].
Gilgal—No trace either of the name or
site is now to be found; but it was about two miles from Jericho [Josephus], and well suited for an encampment
by the advantages of shade and water. It was the first place pronounced
"holy" in the Holy Land (Jos 5:15).
10. kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the
month at even—The time fixed by the law (see on Ex 12:17; Le 23:5; Nu 28:16). Thus the national existence was commenced by
a solemn act of religious dedication.
11, 12. And they did eat of the old corn of the
land—found in storehouses of the inhabitants who had fled
parched corn—new grain (see on Le 23:10), probably lying in the fields.
Roasted—a simple and primitive preparation, much liked in the
East. This abundance of food led to the discontinuance of the manna;
and the fact of its then ceasing, viewed in connection with its
seasonable appearance in the barren wilderness, is a striking proof of
its miraculous origin.
Jos 5:13-15. An Angel
Appears to Joshua.
13. when Joshua was by Jericho—in the
immediate vicinity of that city, probably engaged in surveying the
fortifications, and in meditating the best plan of a siege.
there stood a man over against him with his
sword drawn—It is evident from the strain of the context that
this was not a mere vision, but an actual appearance; the suddenness of
which surprised, but did not daunt, the intrepid leader.
14. the host of the Lord—either the
Israelitish people (Ex 7:4; 12:41; Isa 55:4), or the angels (Ps 148:2), or both included, and the Captain of
it was the angel of the covenant, whose visible manifestations were
varied according to the occasion. His attitude of equipment betokened
his approval of, and interest in, the war of invasion.
Joshua fell on his face …, and did
worship—The adoption by Joshua of this absolute form of
prostration demonstrates the sentiments of profound reverence with
which the language and majestic bearing of the stranger inspired him.
The real character of this personage was disclosed by His accepting the
homage of worship (compare Ac 10:25, 26; Re 19:10), and still further in the command,
"Loose thy shoe from off thy foot" (Ex 3:5).