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Joshua - Chapter 5
Canaan Alarmed, v. 1
The children of Israel were no more than entered the land of Canaan than the Lord began to prove to them the truth of His many and long-standing promises to make them overcome the Canaanites and give them the land He had promised since the time of Abraham. The effect of the mighty miracle of crossing the Jordan on dry ground had thrown all the tribes of the land, from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, into consternation. They realized the futility of attempting to stand against Israel, empowered by so great a God. Their hearts melted in fear and they were dispirited, or despaired of successful resistance.
Two things about this passage are of significant note here. First, is the absence of any mention of the Philistines, although they were major inhabitants of the coastal area in later times. It thus seems logical to conclude that these people, who were known to dwell further south around Gerar in the time of the patriarchs, moved into the vacuum created by the defeat and extermination of the Canaanites by Joshua. More about this later. The second thing is the use of the first person pronoun, "we", indicating that the Book of Joshua was compiled by an Israelite contemporary with the events, very probably Joshua himself.
Reproach of Egypt Removed, Vs. 2-9
The act now necessitated among the Israelites is illustrative of the rebellious hearts of the generation which fell in the wilderness during Israel’s forty years of wandering. Their rebellion and disbelief which made them refuse to enter the land of Canaan when they first arrived caused them to wander until all the rebels had died. It is interesting to note here that the inspired author makes clear that only those "who were men of war", thus those of the numbering, died under the Lord’s judgment, so exempting females and Levites who were not in the number, though they may have been in the age bracket. This does not mean that many of these did not die of natural consequences of age. Their stubborn rebelliousness included their failure to circumcise their sons, born in the wilderness, according to the covenant with Abraham. Now the Lord commands Joshua to make sharp knives and to circumcise these upon whom the rite had not been performed. This failure is called the "reproach of Egypt," indicating that the people of the old generation had retained the habits of Egypt. The place of their camp was called Gilgal, which means "rolling" (Hebrew), because with the circumcision of the new generation the Lord declared that He had rolled away the reproach of Egypt from the Israelites, (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The New land, vs 10-12
Numbers 4:19 dated the crossing of Jordan as the tenth day of the first month. This was the day prescribed by the ordinance of the Passover for putting up the Passover lamb to be slain four days later on the Passover (see Exodus 12:1 ff). The event of the circumcision seems to have coincided with this four day period. Thus it is significant that the Lord removed the reproach from His people making them fit to observe His ordinance of deliverance from Egypt.. The feast of unleavened bread followed the Passover, and the people used the meal they found in Canaan to bake their unleavened cakes, which bread signified the new life they were entering. The manna they had eaten all through the wilderness ceased, for they were now to enjoy the fruit and honey of the land the Lord had promised, (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Joshua Meets the Captain, vs. 13-15
These three verses properly belong to chapter 6, for the content of that chapter is the continuation of this interview of the Captain of the Lord’s host with Joshua. This should be remembered in study of the next chapter. It is not specifically stated that Joshua was reconnoitering the defenses of Jericho, but that would appear to be the case. As he did so he would doubtless observe the high, massive, impenetrable walls of the city. He must have had faith in the Lord to secure it, but he certainly was not able to see how.
It was at this point that he sees the strange man with the drawn sword opposite him. When Joshua inquired whether he was friend or foe he received an answer which at once made him realize that he was face to face with the Lord in the guise of an armed warrior. Joshua represented the Lord as Israel’s captain, but this was the real Captain of the Lord’s host, the One who would gain the victory through the obedience of the Israelite soldiers.
Joshua fell to the ground before Him and heard the command to loose his shoes from his feet lest they pollute the holy ground on which he stood. This command was first heard by Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:5). There Moses was ,prepared to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites out. Here Joshua received his instructions to successfully overthrow the initial foe in Canaan. This will be the subject of chapter six.
From chapter five one may learn 1) when the Lord’s people proceed by faith they find that the Lord prepares the way before them; 2) when one sheds the reproach of the world he is prepared to feast on the good things of the Lord; 3) when problems seem insurmountable one may look to the captain who is out before him.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Joshua 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany