Joshua Chapter 5


The Canaanites are afraid, Circumcision renewed. (Verse 1-9.)

The passover at Gilgal The manna ceases. (Verse 10-12.)

The Captain of the Lord’s host appears to Joshua. (Verse 13-15.)

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.

[Gen 35:5, Ex 15:16, 23:27, Deut 11:25, Josh 2:9, 1st Sam 14:15, 2nd Chron 14:14]

This was the Dead sea that the Jordan flows into, and many nations lived in the valley alongside the Jordan, and alongside the Dead sea. It could possibly mean the Mediterranean sea as well.

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

[Gen 17:14, Ex 4:24]

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.

God is using Joshua here to teach this new nation that obeying God in the flesh is not what he is after. That will lead only to a wandering in the wilderness all your life just like it did to their parents who trusted in their flesh. What God is looking for is those who are circumcised at heart.

Circumcision is the cutting away of the flesh which is an outward action signifying that your trust is in God and not your flesh.

Many in Israel today still boast of the fact that they were circumcised on the eighth day and yet their hearts are far from God.

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.

[Gen 35:14]

[Gilgal- rolling]

If the inhabitants of the land understood the pain that went along with circumcising a full-grown man then they would have attacked Israel and totally annihilated the whole nation in one night, but God protects his own and it is he who fights our battles.

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.

Just imagine what the people of Jericho must have been thinking about these strange people that surrounded them. When their leader asked his scouts, “What are they doing down there?” They had to tell them, “Well, they are baking cakes and circumcising each other.” That sounds crazy to the world.

Israel was now off God’s welfare program of free manna and would have to plant their own gardens but not immediately because God would give them the fields of their adversaries as well as their houses.

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?

[Gen 32:2, Ps 103:21,148:2, Luke 2:13]

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.

[ Gen 28:16, Ex 3:5]

just as the “angel of the Lord” that appeared so many times in Genesis and in Exodus was an appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ before he took upon himself human flesh, this appearance of the “captain of the host of the Lord” is likewise Jesus Christ. Note that this “captain” accepted worship (vs. 14) where no angelic being (outside of the devil and his devils) ever accepted worship.

Here Joshua meets his name sake Jesus. Notice that he tells Joshua to take his shoes off because he is standing on holy ground. This was also done for Moses when he talked with the LORD.

We know this is not Michael the Arch Angel because Joshua bows down and worships this captain of the LORD’s host and he is not rebuked by him as is always the case when a man tries to worship an angel.

Rev. 22:8-9.  This teaching of never worshiping angels directly contradicts the teaching of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches where angels are prayed to, worshiped, and have statues erected and feast days held in their honour.

Study Question
“captain of the host of the Lord” – what similar title is Jesus given in Hebrews 2:10?

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-9 – How dreadful is their case, who see the wrath of God advancing towards them, without being able to turn it aside, or escape it! Such will be the horrible situation of the wicked; nor can words express the anguish of their feelings, or the greatness of their terror. Oh that they would now take warning, and before it be too late, flee for refuge to lay hold upon that hope set before them in the gospel! God impressed these fears on the Canaanites, and dispirited them. This gave a short rest to the Israelites, and circumcision rolled away the reproach of Egypt. They were hereby owned to be the free-born children of God, having the seal of the covenant. When God glorifies himself in perfecting the salvation of his people, he not only silences all enemies, but rolls back their reproaches upon themselves.

Verse 10-12 – A solemn passover was kept, at the time appointed by the law, in the plains of Jericho, in defiance of the Canaanites round about them. It was a performance of the promise, that when they went up to keep the feasts, their land should be under the special protection of the Divine providence, Exodus 34:24. Notice is taken of the ceasing of the manna as soon as they had eaten the old corn of the land. For as it came just when they needed, so it continued as long as they needed it. This teaches us not to expect supplies by miracles, when they may be had in a common way. The word and ordinances of God are spiritual manna, with which God nourishes his people in this wilderness. Though often forfeited, yet they are continued while we are here; but when we come to the heavenly Canaan, this manna will cease, for we shall no longer need it.

Verse 13-15 – We read not of any appearance of God’s glory to Joshua till now. There appeared to him one as a man to be noticed. This Man was the Son of God, the eternal Word. Joshua gave him Divine honours: he received them, which a created angel would not have done, and he is called Jehovah, chap. 6:2. To Abraham he appeared as a traveller; to Joshua as a man of war. Christ will be to his people what their faith needs. Christ had his sword drawn, which encouraged Joshua to carry on the war with vigour. Christ’s sword drawn in his hand, denotes how ready he is for the defence and salvation of his people. His sword turns every way. Joshua will know whether he is a friend or a foe. The cause between the Israelites and Canaanites, between Christ and Beelzebub, will not admit of any man’s refusing to take one part or the other, as he may do in worldly contests. Joshua’s inquiry shows an earnest desire to know the will of Christ, and a cheerful readiness and resolution to do it. All true Christians must fight under Christ’s banner, and they will conquer by his presence and assistance.