New European Version: Old Testament

Deeper commentary on this chapter

Audio talks on this chapter:


Video presentations on this chapter:


Other material relevant to this chapter:


Hear this chapter read:



About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

CHAPTER 5 May 20 
The Israelite Males Are Circumcised
It happened that when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, who were by the sea, heard how that Yahweh had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we had passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more because of the children of Israel. 2At that time Yahweh said to Joshua, Make flint knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4This is the reason Joshua circumcised: all the people who were males who came out of Egypt, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness in the way after they came out of Egypt. 5For all the people who came out were circumcised; but all the people who were born in the wilderness by the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, even the men of war who came out of Egypt, were consumed; because they didn’t listen to the voice of Yahweh. Yahweh swore to them that He wouldn’t let them see the land which Yahweh swore to their fathers that He would give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7Their children whom He raised up in their place were circumcised by Joshua; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them on the way. 8It happened, when they were done circumcising all the nation, that they stayed in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9Yahweh said to Joshua, Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Therefore the name of that place was called Gilgal to this day. 10The children of Israel encamped in Gilgal. They kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. 11They ate unleavened cakes and parched grain of the produce of the land on the next day after the Passover, in that day. 12The manna ceased on the next day, after they had eaten of the produce of the land. The children of Israel didn’t have manna any more; but they ate the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
Joshua Meets an Angel
13It happened that when Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, Are you for us, or for our adversaries? 14He said, No; but I have come now as commander of Yahweh’s army. Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped and said to him, What does my lord say to his servant? 15The prince of Yahweh’s army said to Joshua, Take your shoes off of your feet; for the place on which you stand is holy. Joshua did so.


5:2 Everything about the battle plan was somehow humanly foolish- to yet again attempt to teach Israel, old and new, that victory comes from following God's way, and His way is humanly foolish. The warriors were circumcised before the battle (:2). We know from the Biblical record of Shechem how this would've physically weakened the men- for this was only a week or so before the battle. The manna wasn't phased out- it stopped abruptly just before the battle of Jericho (:12). The people would likely have been short of food, and would've been dealing with the problems associated with a new diet- after 40 years! Walking around the city seven times, starting at dawn, would've made the people tired. There was no advantage of shock or surprise by doing this. Planning the final assault for late afternoon was hardly smart either- humanly speaking! But all this was- and is- to teach God's people that victory His way involves shedding our human strength, just as Gideon was likewise taught so dramatically.
5:5,6 The extent of spiritual despair, despondency and apostasy amongst the condemned generation in the wilderness cannot be overstated. By neglecting the circumcision of their they showed their rejection of the Abrahamic covenant with them.
5:10 The Lord told them in Jn. 6 that the true manna was His flesh, which He was to give for the life of the world. Some have supposed from Josh. 5:10-12 cp. Ex. 16:35 that the manna fell for the first time on the eve of the Passover, thus adding even more poignancy to the Lord’s equation of the manna with His death.
5:13 As Israel were called to follow the Angel after their Red Sea baptism, so we too follow where the Angel leads. The conquest of Jericho is a classic example of following the Angel. The Angel who was the commander of Yahweh's army appearing to Joshua, the commander of God's human army on earth, and standing "opposite him". Joshua was being shown that he had an opposite number in Heaven, a representative there before the throne of God- just as each of us do. 
5:14 Note how the Angel answers Joshua's question- 'Are you for me, or against me?'. God has no interest in taking sides in human arguments, demonizing the one side and glorifying the other. The response was simply that the Angel stood for God and was His representative. Religious people so easily fall into this trap of demonizing their enemies, on the basis that "God is with me, and therefore, not with you my opponent, in fact, He hates you because I hate you". The true God and His Angelic servants are far above this kind of primitive, binary dichotomy. 
5:13,14 This can be read as presenting Joshua in a negative light, wanting to boil everything down to black and white, wanting to see God as either personally for him or against him; when the essence is to seek to discern and do God’s will. Joshua was very good at obedience to clear commandments (4:10,17; 8:27; 10:40). But when he had to articulate his faith in God in unexpected situations, e.g. when the ambassadors from Gibeon arrived, or when the first attack on Ai failed, he seems to have performed poorly. Legalistic obedience is no use in those cases when principles need to be applied. He very strictly adhered to God’s commandments with legalistic obedience, e.g., about how to approach and deal with Jericho, or how to cross the flooded Jordan and build an altar; and time and again, we read in Joshua of how he strictly relayed and obeyed the Divine commandments given by Moses (8:31,33,35; 11:12,15,20; 14:2,5; 17:4; 21:2,8).  Yet as with any literalistic or legally minded person, it was hard for Joshua to apply the principles behind the laws to situations which weren’t specifically addressed by Divine revelation, where legalistic obedience wasn't what was required.

5:14- see on 14:8. In prospect the Angels drove out every tribe that was in the land; the people of Israel had to just go in and possess the work which the Angels had done. So when they failed to drive out certain tribes, this was an example of human failing to be "workers together with God". Thus in prospect, the Angels led them to the promised "rest"- Dt. 25:19; Josh. 1:13; Is. 63:1; although in practice they did not enter that rest because of their faithlessness (Heb. 3:11-4:11), despite the Angel promising He would give them that rest (Ex. 33:4). Man is not alone, we have huge numbers of Angels working to create amazing potentials for us; but we have the choice as to whether we march with them to achieve them.
5:14,15  The Angel that met Joshua described Himself as "the captain of Yahweh’s army", or “host”- the army of Angels that would go before Joshua and Israel to fight their battles. Therefore “Yahweh of armies” or “hosts” is a title often referring to the Angels. 
5:15 The command to remove his shoe from holy ground is evidently reminiscent of the command to Moses in a similar situation. Shouldn’t Joshua have perceived this, seeing his life was so clearly framed after that of Moses?