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Verses 2-15

Camp at Gilgal (5:2-15)

Israel’s camp at Gilgal became the centre for the battle campaign that was to follow. But before the people could receive the land God promised them in the covenant, they had to renew their covenant relation with him.

During the previous forty years, the people of Israel had brought shame upon themselves through consistently being disobedient and unbelieving. They had even neglected the first requirement of the covenant, which was the circumcision of all newborn male children. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant. Therefore, just as there had been a general circumcision for all males in Abraham’s household when the covenant was sealed (see Genesis 17:9-14), so again there was a general circumcision in Joshua’s time for all who were still uncircumcised. The ceremony sealed them as God’s people who were to inherit the land promised to Abraham in the covenant (2-9; see Genesis 17:5-8).

With the completion of the circumcision, the people could celebrate the Passover (something that an uncircumcised person was not allowed to do; see Exodus 12:47-49). The journey from Egypt to Canaan was now officially over, and therefore the miraculous daily supply of manna ceased (10-12; cf. Exodus 16:35).

God’s special messenger appeared to Joshua to remind him that God was the commander of Israel’s army. This messenger was so closely identified with God that Joshua fell at his feet and worshipped. To him it appeared that God had temporarily taken human form (13-15).

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