Joshua 5

1 So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord—to whom the Lord swore that He would not show them the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.

10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. 11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. 12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Observation – What does it Say?

  • All the kings of Amorites and Canaanites heard about the Jordan drying up and the Israelites crossing over.
  • All the kings of the Amorites and Canaanites were afraid
  • God told Joshua to circumcise the men with flint knives.
  • All the previously circumcised men had died
  • No one was circumcised in the wilderness.
  • They stayed at Gilgal until all the men were healed.
  • The day they were circumcised God said he rolled away the reproach of Egypt from the Israelites.
  • The Israelites celebrated the Passover at Gilgal 4 days after crossing the Jordan.
  • The day after Passover they eat the produce of  the land and the Israelites no longer had manna
  • Joshua saw a man with a sword
  • The man’s was not sheathed but in his hand.
  • Joshua asked if he was on the side of Israel of the on the side of Israel’s enemies.
  • The man said he was on neither side.
  • The Man said he was the commander of the Lord’s army
  • Joshua worshiped the man
  • The Man told Joshua to remove his sandals
  • The Man said the ground where Joshua was standing was holy
  • Joshua did as the man commanded.

Interpretation – What does it mean?

Just as with the crossing of the Red Sea from Egypt the news about the crossing over the Jordan spread quickly. The kings and people knew the God of the Israelites was a powerful God. And that the God of Israel was working for them. The evidence was clear. They were in trouble. So, fear was a completely reasonable response.

Joshua stopped and circumcised the men of Israel. Militarily this does not seem like a smart tactic. They could have immediately swept in and attacked Jericho. Speed and surprise in a military conflict is of vital importance. But Joshua stopped and circumcised the men and waited for them to heal. He lost the element of surprise, shock and awe as it were. Why? There is one very simple and not just important reason but a vital one. God told him to.

There are many who believe the Man who stood in front of Joshua was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ as opposed to an angel of the Lord. The reasons I believe are compelling. First, the Man accepted worship. None are to be worshipped except God. Angels repeatedly refuse to accept worship for men. Second, just as with Moses’ encounter with God, Joshua was told to remove his sandals because the place he was standing was holy. It is the special presence of God that makes the ground holy. The presence of an angel does not make a place holy.

Application – How does it work?

Joshua did not follow sound military tactics here. Jericho was a well-fortified city. The best way to breach the city is either a siege or to penetrate the city walls in surprise move before they could have closed the gates and set up defenses.  Sieges take time and leave you open to attack from allies of the city.  But Joshua did what God told him to do. Often we can find all kinds of reasons while violating the word of God is good in a particular circumstance. Sometime the word of God seems outdated. Sometimes it seems counter all other council. But violating the God of God is never a good thing.

God has given us His word so that we may have His instruction. And His plans are always better than our plans.

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