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Renewal Of Circumcision And Celebration Of The Passover

The two incidents recorded in Joshua 5:2-12;—Circumcision and the Passover—represent the final stage in the preparation of the people for the Holy War. The Circumcision was a necessary preliminary (Exodus 12:44, Exodus 12:48) to the Passover Feast, besides marking for the new generation a reversal of the sentence of ’excommunication ’virtually pronounced in Numbers 14:33-34;’; and the Passover—the first recorded celebration since the first anniversary of its institution (Numbers 9:5)—was signalised also by the cessation of the extraordinary ’sacrament’ of Manna. Thus the period of the Wanderings is definitely brought to a close.

1. Amorites] represent, roughly speaking, the inhabitants of the highland districts. Canaanites] = ’lowlanders,’ in the specialised sense, the dwellers on the maritime plain. Until we were passed over] RM ’until they were passed over.’ It was always thus read by the Jews.

2-9. Renewal of the Rite of Circumcision. This was necessary, because all those who had come out of Egypt already circumcised (except, of course, Joshua and Caleb) had died in the wilderness; while the new generation of males had not been circumcised by the way (Joshua 5:7). This omission of the rite was of course not necessitated by the journeyings, which were certainly not continuous. It was more probably a deliberate disciplinary regulation, as a sign of the broken covenant: see prefatory remarks.

2. Sharp knives] RV ’knives of flint.’ LXX curiously relates (in an addition to Joshua 24:30) that these knives were buried with Joshua in his tomb. Flint knives were used for religious purposes by the Egyptians.

9. The reproach of Egypt] This may mean that the Egyptians, laying great stress on circumcision themselves, regarded the fact of uncircumcision as a reproach. Gilgal] mg. ’Rolling. ’This etymology, like that of ’Babel ’in Genesis 11:9, is now generally recognised as unscientific. It is rather a play on words than a derivation. Yet though the word ’Gilgal’ probably signified originally a sacred ’circle’ of stones—analogous to the druidic circle found in Britain—it certainly meant, to the Hebrews, the rolling away of reproach.

10. Kept the passover on the fourteenth day] of Nisan, as ordained in Exodus 12:6. They had probably selected the lambs four days before, immediately on their arrival at the camp (see on Joshua 4:19); and had rested quietly for three full days after the circumcision. This is the third recorded Passover; the second (Numbers 9:5) being the first anniversary of the institution. There are only three subsequent observances of the Passover recorded in the OT., viz. Josiah’s (2 Kings 23:21-23), Hezekiah’s (2 Chronicles 30), and that of the returned exiles (Ezra 6:19.), and all of these are after the discovery of the Book of the Law by Hilkiah in 621 b.c. But a notice in 2 Chronicles 8:13 ascribes to Solomon similar observances, and critics admit (cp. HDB. art. ’Passover’) that unrecorded observances may have gone on all along.

11. On the morrow] The feast of Mazzoth, or Unleavened Bread, was a distinct festival (cp. Leviticus 23:5-6) of seven days’ duration, following on the one-day feast of the Passover. The two came naturally, in the course of centuries, to be regarded as a single festival, to which either title could be applied (cp. e.g. Luke 22:1).

12. The manna ceased] see prefatory note.

13-15. Vision of the Heavenly Captain.

13. A man] clearly, as elsewhere in Holy Scripture (cp. e.g. Genesis 18:2; Genesis 32:24; Daniel 9:21; Zechariah 1:8; Acts 1:10), an angelic being, to be identified with the promised guide of Exodus 23:20-23 (cp. Exodus 33:2). Of this angel the Lord says (Exodus 23:21): ’My name is in him’; and in Isaiah 63:9 he is called ’the angel of his presence’ (see on Exodus 3:2).

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