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The New Generation Circumcised


When all the kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites by the sea, heard that the L ord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the Israelites.

2 At that time the L ord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites a second time.” 3So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the warriors, had died during the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. 5Although all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people born on the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6For the Israelites traveled forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the warriors who came out of Egypt, perished, not having listened to the voice of the L ord. To them the L ord swore that he would not let them see the land that he had sworn to their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

8 When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9The L ord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

The Passover at Gilgal

10 While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

Joshua’s Vision

13 Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” 14He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the L ord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, “What do you command your servant, my lord?” 15The commander of the army of the L ord said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

14. And he said, Nay; but as captain, etc Although the denial applies equally to both parts of the question, namely, that he was neither an Israelite nor a Canaanite, and was thus equivalent to a denial of his being a mortal man, yet it seems to be more properly applicable to the second, or to that part of the question in which Joshua asked if he were one of the enemy. This, however, is a matter of little moment; the essential thing is to understand that he had come to preside over the chosen people whom he honorably styles the Lord’s host. In his representing himself as different from God, a personal distinction is denoted, but unity of essence is not destroyed.

We have said that in the books of Moses the name of Jehovah 5858     The French adds, “C’est a dire d’Eternel;” “That is to say of Eternal.” — Ed. is often attributed to the presiding Angel, who was undoubtedly the only-begotten Son of God. He is indeed very God, and yet in the person of Mediator by dispensation, he is inferior to God. I willingly receive what ancient writers teach on this subject, — that when Christ anciently appeared in human form, it was a prelude to the mystery which was afterwards exhibited when God was manifested in the flesh. We must beware, however, of imagining that Christ at that time became incarnate, since, first, we nowhere read that God sent his Son in the flesh before the fullness of the times; and, secondly, Christ, in so far as he was a man, behooved to be the Son of David. But as is said in Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 1) it was only a likeness of man. Whether it was a substantial body or an outward form, it is needless to discuss, as it seems wrong to insist on any particular view of the subject. 5959     Several modern commentators, among others Grotius, have maintained that the personage who thus appeared was merely a created angel. In this they have only followed in the steps of the Jewish Rabbis, who not satisfied with holding that he was an angel, have gone the farther length of fixing what particular angel it was. With almost unanimous consent they declare it to have been Michael, though they are unable to support their opinion by anything stronger than the first verse of the twelfth chapter of Daniel, [Da 12:1] in which it is said, that “at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people.” The sounder view here advocated by Calvin, and generally adopted by the early Christian Fathers, is well expressed by Origen, who says, in his Sixth Homily on this Book, “Joshua knew not only that he was of God, but that he was God. For he would not have worshipped, had he not recognized him to be God. For who else is the Captain of the Lord’s host but our Lord Jesus Christ?” It would make sad havoc with our ideas of divine worship to admit that the homage which Joshua here pays could be lawfully received, or rather could, so to speak, be imperiously demanded by one creature from another. — Ed.

The only remaining question is, how the Captain of the Lord’s host can speak of having now come, seeing he had not deserted the people committed to his trust, and had lately given a matchless display of his presence in the passage of the Jordan. But according to the common usage of Scripture, God is said to come to us when we are actually made sensible of his assistance, which seems remote when not manifested by experience. It is therefore just as if he were offering his assistance in the combats which were about to be waged, and promising by his arrival that the war would have a happy issue. It cannot be inferred with certainty from the worship which he offered, whether Joshua paid divine honor to Christ distinctly recognized as such; but by asking, What command does my Lord give to his servant? he attributes to him a power and authority which belong to God alone.

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