|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:10-19 The priests with the ark did not stir till ordered to move. Let none be weary of waiting, while they have the tokens of God's presence with them, even the ark of the covenant, though it be in the depths of adversity. Notice is taken of the honour put upon Joshua. Those are feared in the best manner, and to the best purpose, who make it appear that God is with them, and that they set him before them.
Verse 19. - On the tenth day of the first month. This statement, compared with Joshua 5:10, will bear close analysis, and refutes the clumsy compiler theory. There was just time between the tenth and fourteenth day of the month for the events described in the meantime. And the scrupulous obedience to the law, the provisions of which, we are expressly told, had been of necessity neglected hitherto, is a fact closely in keeping with the character of Joshua, and the whole spirit of the narrative. Gilgal. The Gilgal, according to the Masorites, no doubt from its being a circular encampment. Not as yet, however, called by this name (see Joshua 5:9). It was "about five miles" (50 stadia, according to Josephus), "from the river banks" (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 307). We gather from Joshua 5:3 that it was a rising ground, but it is impossible to identify the spot, since there never existed any town or village there. A spot is shown by the inhabitants about two miles from Jericho, which is held by them in great reverence, but this is further from Jericho than Josephus imagines it to be, for he places it about a mile and a quarter from Jericho. Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 216) identifies Riha (see note on Joshua 2:1) with Gilgal, but Bartlett (p. 452) places it "a mile east of Riha," "some three miles or more from the fords." It is hardly probable, however, that the Israelites, in their then unprepared condition (see next chapter, and cf. Genesis 34:25), encamped so near the city, even though they were conscious of Divine protection, as Josephus would have us suppose. It has been denied by some that the Gilgal mentioned in Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6 is the same as this one (see notes there, as well as the Masoretic translation above). The reverence for sacred places, such as Gilgal, degenerated in the course of time, according to a well known law of humanity, into superstition - a superstition severely rebuked by the prophets (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5). We may compare the idolatrous worship of the brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:4). It is sometimes contended by Roman Catholic commentators that no approval of the conduct of Hezekiah is here expressed; but a comparison of this passage with those above cited will show in which direction the minds of inspired men tended. Other places seem to have been similarly regarded with superstitious reverence. Not only do we find Bethel mentioned among such places as we might well expect from Jeroboam's idolatrous worship there, but Beersheba also seems to have become a seat of this misdirected devotion (see Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the people came up out of Jordan,.... The channel of it, to the shore:
on the tenth day of the first month; the month Nisan or Abib, which from the time of Israel's coming out of Egypt was appointed the first month of the year, Exodus 12:2; on the fifteenth of which month they came out of Egypt, having kept the passover on the fourteenth at even; so that their coming out of Egypt, to their entrance into Canaan, was just forty years, wanting five days. This tenth day was the day in which the passover was taken from the flock, and kept till the fourteenth, on which day the children of Israel kept their first passover in Canaan, in the plains of Jericho, Joshua 5:10,
and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho; it has its name here by anticipation, for it was so named after this for a reason given, Joshua 5:9; It was, according to Josephus (l), ten furlongs, or a mile and a quarter, from Jericho. Jerom says (m), there was shown in his time a desert place two miles from Jericho, had in wonderful esteem by men of that country, which he suggests was this place; as it was had in great veneration, both by the worshippers of the true God, and by idolaters, for many ages.
(l) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 4.) (m) De loc. Heb. fol. 91. M.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month—that is, the month Nisan, four days before the passover, and the very day when the paschal lamb required to be set apart, the providence of God having arranged that the entrance into the promised land should be at the feast.
and encamped in Gilgal—The name is here given by anticipation (see on Jos 5:9). It was a tract of land, according to Josephus, fifty stadia (six and one-half miles) from Jordan, and ten stadia (one and one-fourth miles) from Jericho, at the eastern outskirts of the palm forest, now supposed to be the spot occupied by the village Riha.
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