Joshua 5

Listen to Joshua 5

The New Generation Circumcised

1 As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites 1who were by the sea, 2heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts 3melted and 4there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel.
2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make 5flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time."
3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.[a]
4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: 6all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt.
5 Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.
6 For the people of Israel walked 7forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD; the LORD 8swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give to us, 9a land flowing with milk and honey.
7 So it was 10their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised. For they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.
8 When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.
9 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the 11reproach of Egypt from you." And so the name of that place is called 12Gilgal[b] to this day.

First Passover in Canaan

10 While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover 13on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho.
11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.
12 And 14the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

The Commander of the Lord's Army

13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, 15a man was standing before him 16with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?"
14 And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua 17fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?"
15 And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, 18"Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5 Commentary

Chapter 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)

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Cross References 18

  • 1. Numbers 13:29
  • 2. Exodus 15:14
  • 3. See Joshua 2:11
  • 4. 1 Kings 10:5
  • 5. Exodus 4:25
  • 6. Numbers 14:29; Numbers 26:64, 65; Deuteronomy 2:16; Psalms 106:26; 1 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 3:17
  • 7. Numbers 14:33; Deuteronomy 1:3; Deuteronomy 2:7, 14; Deuteronomy 8:4; Psalms 95:10
  • 8. Numbers 14:23; Psalms 95:11; Hebrews 3:11
  • 9. See Exodus 3:8
  • 10. Numbers 14:31; Deuteronomy 1:39
  • 11. Genesis 34:14
  • 12. Joshua 4:19
  • 13. Exodus 12:6; Numbers 9:5
  • 14. Exodus 16:35
  • 15. Genesis 18:2; Genesis 32:24; Acts 1:10; [Exodus 23:20, 23]
  • 16. Numbers 22:23, 31
  • 17. Genesis 17:3
  • 18. Exodus 3:5; Acts 7:33

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Gibeath-haaraloth means the hill of the foreskins
  • [b]. Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew for to roll

Chapter Summary


The Canaanites being dispirited on the passage of the children of Israel through Jordan, Jos 5:1; Joshua is ordered to circumcise such of the people of Israel that were uncircumcised, Jos 5:2-9; in order to their eating of the passover, which was now to be kept, Jos 5:10; and they being now provided with corn sufficient, the manna ceased, Jos 5:11,12; and there appeared to Joshua a divine Person, in an human form, to encourage and direct him what to do in the conquest of the land, and particularly Jericho, Jos 5:13-15.

Joshua 5 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.