King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

Joshua > Old Testament > Home

Joshua 5

The Canaanites are afraid, Circumcision renewed. (1-9) The passover at Gilgal The manna ceases. (10-12) The Captain of the Lord’s host appears to Joshua. (13-15)

Joshua 5 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Canaanites are afraid, Circumcision renewed

1 And it came to pass, when all 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, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.

8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.

9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

The passover at Gilgal The manna ceases

10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.

11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.

12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

The Captain of the Lord’s host appears to Joshua

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?

15 And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver 1. Chanaan. These occupied the countries situated on the Mediterranean sea, as far as Egypt: the Amorrhites dwelt nearer to the lake of Sodom. The whole country is divided between these two nations, including that territory which the Philistines had seized, and which belonged also to Israel. Almost every city had its respective king, according to the ancient custom in the east, intra suam cuique patriam regna finiebantur. Justin. i. Strabo (xvi.) says this was particularly verified in the cities of PhÅ“nicia. C. — Till they. Heb. “we…their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.” They fainted as it were through fear, and could not take their breath, or according to the Sept. adopt any thing rational; “they had no prudence,” phronesis. H.

Ver. 2. Time. While the enemy was rendered incapable of attacking the Israelites by excessive fear (C.) and consternation, Josue was commanded to renew the sign of the covenant, by which they were to take possession of the land, and it is supposed that he complied the day after he arrived at Galgal; (H.) so that the wound would be healing, when the feast of the Passover commenced four days later. On the third day it is most painful. Gen. xxxiv. 25. — Of stone. Heb. tsurim, which some translate, “sharp;” but the Sept. and the best interpreters agree, that the word indicates a stone. Such a knife was used by Sephora. Ex. iv. 25. It was supposed that sharp stones would cause less inflammation or danger. Samia testa…amputabant, nec aliter citra perniciem. Plin. xxv. 12. Herodotus (ii. 86,) observes, that the Egyptian embalmers opened the body of the deceased with a “sharp Ethiopian stone.” The people of Africa, and of America, have frequently used stone to cut wood, &c. Some of the Fathers assert, that Christ was circumcised with a knife of stone. But any other sharp instrument might be used for the purpose. Any person might perform the operation. Izates, king of the Adiabenians, received circumcision from the hand of a surgeon. Joseph. xx. 2. C. — Time. Not that such as had been circumcised before were to be circumcised again: but that they were not to renew, and take up again the practice of circumcision; which had been omitted during their 40 years’ sojourning in the wilderness; by reason of their being always uncertain whey they should be obliged to march. Ch. — S. Augustine (q. 6,) seems to think that the Israelites despised this ceremony in the desert. Theodoret (q. 2,) supposes it was disused because it was not then necessary, to distinguish the Israelites from other nations. Masius is of opinion that God would not allow them to employ it, after their revolt at Cades-barne, when they would not take possession of the land of Chanaan; and hence they could not resume that privilege, till God had authorized them again, ver 7. Num. xiv. 33. The covenant with God, of which circumcision was the seal, had been, in the mean time, suspended. But as the Israelites are no where blamed, in Scripture, on account of this omission, it seems that God dispensed with them during the 38 years after they left Sinai, that the children might not be exposed to the evident danger of perishing, as the people knew not how soon the cloud would give notice for an immediate departure. C. — Since they were now in te midst of the nations of Chanaan, this distinctive mark (M.) was to be henceforth diligently observed. H.

Ver. 3. Hill, at Galgal. Josue took care to have this ceremony performed. C. — Perhaps he circumcised some himself, as Abraham did those of his own house. Gen. xvii. 23. M.

Ver. 4. Second. Heb. “this is the thing, (the cause why) Josue gave circumcision.”

Ver. 5. Desert. After the departure from Sinai, where the Passover was celebrated, and where, of course, the people must have been circumcised. C.

Ver. 6. Forty. Some copies of the Sept. add, “two,” as if the 40 years’ wandering in the desert, were to be dated from the time that the spies discouraged the people, in the second year of their departure from Egypt. But the Heb. and the best chronologers allow only 40 years in the whole. C. — Heb. “For the children of Israel walked 40 years in the wilderness, till all the men fit for war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord, unto whom the Lord swore that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord swore unto their fathers that he would give us, a land flowing with milk and honey; (7) and their children he raised up in their stead, them Josue circumcised.” H. — The Sept. is also rather fuller than the Vulg. but gives the same sense. These children who receive, what their rebellious fathers had been refused, are a sensible figure of the Christian Church; as that second circumcision under Josue, represents the spiritual cleansing of the heart, which Jesus Christ has enjoined. Rom. ii. 28. 1 Cor. vii. 19.

Ver. 8. Healed. The Passover lasted eight days: after which they proceeded to attack Jericho. Yet the people, unfit for war, remained at Galgal; where the camp continued a long time afterwards.

Ver. 9. Egypt. The people of that country adopted circumcision only after this period, (C.) and it never became general among them. They were therefore held in abhorrence, like the rest of the uncircumcised nations, among the Jews. Gen. xxxiv. 14. 1 K. xiv. 6. Theodoret (q. 4,) looks upon circumcision as a symbol of the liberation from the servitude of Egypt, where, he says, history informs us, that many of the Hebrews had neglected this rite. — Galgal is interpreted liberty, by Josephus; but moderns render it “a rolling away,” (C.) or revolution. Heb. “I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” H. — Those Israelites who remained at the other side of the river, were ordered to be circumcised at the same time with their brethren. But they could not partake in the solemnity of the Passover, as they were at a distance from the ark. Salien.

Ver. 10. Phase. This was the third. The first was celebrated in Egypt. Ex. xii. The second at Sinai. Num. ix. M. — Afterwards it was disused till the Israelites took possession of Chanaan, as it was chiefly designed for that country. Ex. xii. 25.

Ver. 11. Corn. Some pretend that the Heb. means “old corn.” But the ancient interpreters take no notice of this restriction. The offering of corn was probably omitted on this occasion, as the Israelites had not cultivated the land. — Frumenty. Sept. “new corn.” Heb. “parched, on that same day.” These last words are taken by the Sept. as a part of the next sentence.

Ver. 12. Land. The Sept. intimate on the 15th. The Heb. seems to say the 16th, Nisan, “on the morrow after they had eaten of the (old) corn.” C. — Grabe’s Septuagint agrees with the Vulgate and Heb. and specifies that the Israelites “eat of the corn of the country on the day after the Passover, unleavened and new. On that day, the morrow, manna ceased.” All depends on the determination of the first day of the festival. If we date from the eating of the paschal lamb on the 14th, or from the solemn day, which was the 15th, manna must have been withdrawn either on the 15th or 16th of the month; though Salien thinks that it ceased as soon as the Israelites had begun to eat of the fruit of the country, on the eastern side of the Jordan. This miraculous food was withholden as soon as the Israelites entered the land of promise; and so the blessed Eucharist, of which it was a figure, and all the sacraments, will cease, when the Christian people shall have taken possession of their heavenly country. H.

Ver. 13. Adversaries? Dost thou bear arms for or against us? C.

Ver. 14. Prince of the host of the Lord, &c. S. Michael, who is called prince of the people of Israel. Daniel x. 21. Ch. — Some of the Fathers explain it of the son of God. Orig. hom. 6. But S. Aug. C. D. xi. 13. S. Jerom in Gal. iii. and interpreters in general agree, that the person who here appeared to Josue, was the archangel Michael. He came, in the name of God, to assure Josue of success, as the angel had appeared to Moses in the burning bush, as if to denote the distress of the Hebrews, and to encourage Moses to undertake their liberation. C. — Chal. “I am the angel sent by God.” In that character he is called the Lord. H.

Ver. 15. Worshipping. Not with divine honour, but with a religious veneration of an inferior kind, suitable to the dignity of his person. Ch. — He styles the angel Adonai, which is a title frequently given to men; and hence he does not seem to have designed to give him supreme worship. C. — If he did, (H.) it was referred to God. C. See Ex. xx.

Ver. 16. Loose. The angel did not only accept of the honour done to him, but also required more, shewing that the field near Jericho was rendered holy, by his presence. W. — Hence he ordered Josue to put off his shoes, as Moses had done at the bush. Ex. iii. 5. The Turks leave their shoes at the doors of their mosques, and do not dare to tread on the bare floor. Formerly the pagans would not spit in their temples. Arrian. “If, says Porphyrius, in the sacrifices instituted by men, in honour of the gods, people be careful to have their shoes clean, with how much greater attention ought we to preserve our bodies, which are, as it were, the garments of the soul, free from every impurity and corruption!” Abstin. 2. C.