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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The passover.—This is the third Passover in Israel’s history. The first two were kept under Moses—(1) in Egypt, when the Lord delivered them; (2) the second at Sinai, when He had “brought them unto Himself.” (3) The third is on the other side Jordan under Joshua. Two belong to the Exodus, or going out; one to the Eisodus, or coming in. Compare Luke 22:16 : “I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Observe the connection between the Passover and circumcision. The law in Exodus 12:48 is, “no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.” Hence, while they wandered in the wilderness, this uncircumcised generation could not keep the Passover.Joshua 5:10. The children of Israel kept the passover — Which was their third passover: the first was in Egypt, Exodus 12.; the second at mount Sinai, Numbers 9.; the third here; for in their wilderness travels, these and several other sacrifices were neglected, Amos 5:25. While they were in the wilderness, they were denied the comfort of this ordinance, as a further token of God’s displeasure. But now God comforted them again, after the time that he had afflicted them.Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 9:28; Deuteronomy 32:27). These reproaches were now to end, for they had actually entered Canaan, and the restoration of the covenant was a pledge from God to accomplish what was begun for them. Exo 12; the second at Mount Sinai, Num 9; the third here; for in their wilderness travels these and all other sacrifices were neglected, Amos 5:25. Joshua 4:19,
and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even; exactly as it was ordered to be observed, and was observed when first kept, Exodus 12:6,
in the plains of Jericho: a proper place both for their encampment, and the celebration of the passover, and where very likely they met with lambs enough for their purpose, which belonged to the inhabitants of Jericho; or however being now got into the good land, they needed not, and were under no temptation of sparing their own: historians agree, as Strabo (e), Josephus (f), and others, that Jericho was seated in a plain.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal] The camp became permanent, and probably in grateful memorial of the many associations connected with the place, the people made it for centuries the great gathering-place of the tribes (Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6; Joshua 10:43). The following notices of its subsequent history are deserving of attention. (a) It was the site of the Tabernacle during the continuance of the wars and until its removal to Shiloh; (b) It was one of the three assize towns, where Samuel administered justice (1 Samuel 7:16); (c) It was here that Samuel and Saul held solemn assemblies, as also David on his return from exile (comp. 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 11:14; 1 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 19:15); (d) after the building of the Temple, it became more and more neglected, but was the site of a school of the prophets, who remained there till a late period (2 Kings 2:5).
and kept the passover] Their “reproach” having been “rolled away,” the people of God would renew the festive remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt.
on the fourteenth day] Comp. Exodus 12:6; Exodus 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:6. As the night of the first Passover was one of terror and judgment to Egypt, so now, while within view of the camp at Gilgal, Israel was keeping the first Passover on the soil of Palestine, “Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel, none went out, and none came in.” (Joshua 6:1.)Verse 10. - And kept the passover. In reference to the question which has been discussed above, whether the passover was kept after the rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea, Keil notices, as a remarkable fact, that not only no mention of a passover as having been kept is found in the Pentateuch, after Numbers 9:1, but there is not even any instance given of the law of sacrifice having been observed in the plains of Jericho; see above, Joshua 4:13. "Vides ergo quia nemo immundus facit pascha, nemo incircumcisus sed quicumque mundus fuerit et circumcisus, sicut et apostolus interpretatur dicens etenim pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus. Itaque diem festum celebremus non in fermento veteri, sed in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis" (Origen, Horn. 5, on Joshua). "When soldiers take the field, they are apt to think themselves excused from religious exercises (they have not time nor thought to attend to them); yet Joshua opens the campaign with one act of devotion after another" (Matthew Henry). Joshua 5:6; cf. Numbers 14:26., Numbers 26:64-65, and Deuteronomy 2:14-16). But He (Jehovah) set up their sons in their place, i.e., He caused them to take their place; and these Joshua circumcised (i.e., had them circumcised), for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised by the way. This explains the necessity for a general circumcision of all the people, but does not state the reason why those who were born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. All that is affirmed in Joshua 5:5 and Joshua 5:7 is, that this had not taken place "by the way." The true reason may be gathered from Joshua 5:6, if we compare the statement made in this verse, "for the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the men that were capable of bearing arms were consumed ... unto whom the Lord sware that He would not show them the land promised to the fathers," with the sentence pronounced by God to which these words refer, viz., Numbers 14:29-34. The Lord is then said to have sworn that all the men of twenty years old and upwards, who had murmured against Him, should perish in the wilderness; and though their sons should enter the promised land, they too should pasture, i.e., lead a nomad life, for forty years in the wilderness, and bear the apostasy of their fathers, till their bodies had fallen in the desert. This clearly means, that not only was the generation that came out of Egypt sentenced to die in the wilderness because of its rebellion against the Lord, and therefore rejected by God, but the sons of this generation had to bear the whoredom, i.e., the apostasy of their fathers from the Lord, for the period of forty years, until the latter had been utterly consumed; that is to say, during all this time they were to endure the punishment of rejection along with their fathers: with this difference alone, that the sons were not to die in the wilderness, but were to be brought into the promised land after their fathers were dead. The sentence upon the fathers, that their bodies should fall in the desert, was unquestionably a rejection of them on the part of God, an abrogation of the covenant with them. This punishment was also to be borne by their sons; and hence the reason why those who were born in the desert by the way were not circumcised. As the covenant of the Lord with the fathers was abrogated, the sons of the rejected generation were not to receive the covenant sign of circumcision. Nevertheless this abrogation of the covenant with the generation that had been condemned, was not a complete dissolution of the covenant relation, so far as the nation as a whole was concerned, since the whole nation had not been rejected, but only the generation of men that were capable of bearing arms when they came out of Egypt, whilst the younger generation which had grown up in the desert was to be delivered from the ban, which rested upon it as well, and brought into the land of Canaan when the time of punishment had expired. For this reason the Lord did not withdraw from the nation every sign of His grace; but in order that the consciousness might still be sustained in the young and rising generation, that the covenant would be set up again with them when the time of punishment had expired, He left them not only the presence of the pillar of cloud and fire, but also the manna and other tokens of His grace, the continuance of which therefore cannot be adduced as an argument against our view of the time of punishment as a temporary suspension of the covenant.
But if this was the reason for the omission of circumcision,
(Note: This reason was admitted even by Calvin, and has been well supported by Hengstenberg (Diss. ii. pp. 13ff.). The arguments adduced by Kurtz in opposition to this view are altogether unfounded. We have already observed that the reason for the suspension is not given in Joshua 5:7; and the further remark, that in Joshua 5:5 ("all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised") the book of Joshua dates the suspension not from the sentence of rejection, but expressly and undoubtedly (?) from the departure from Egypt, has no force whatever, unless we so press the word all ("all the people that were born in the desert") as not to allow of the slightest exception. But this is decidedly precluded by the fact, that we cannot imagine it possible for God to have established His covenant with the people at a time when they had neglected the fundamental law of the covenant, the transgression of which was threatened with destruction (Genesis 17:14), by neglecting to circumcise all the children who had been born between the departure from Egypt and the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai. We are also prevented from pressing the little word "all" in this manner by the evident meaning of the words before us. In Joshua 5:4 and Joshua 5:5 the Israelites are divided into two classes: (1) All the people that came out of Egypt and were circumcised; and (2) All the people that were born in the desert and were uncircumcised. The first of these died in the wilderness, the second came to Canaan and were circumcised by Joshua at Gilgal. But if we should press the word "all" in these clauses, it would follow that all the male children who were under twenty years of age at the time of the exodus, either died in the desert or were circumcised a second time at Gilgal. Lastly, it does not follow from Joshua 5:6 that the circumcision was suspended for exactly forty years; for the forty years during which Israel journeyed in the desert until the murmuring generation was consumed, are to be interpreted by Numbers 14:33-34, and amounted, chronologically considered, to no more than thirty-eight years and a few months. On the other hand, the other very general view which Kurtz adopts - namely, that the circumcision was omitted during the journey through the desert on account of the hardships connected with travelling, and because it was impossible to have regard to particular families who might wish for longer rest on account of their children who had just been circumcised, and were suffering from the wound, just at the time when they had to decamp and journey onward, and they could not well be left behind - throws but little light upon the subject, as the assumption that the people were constantly wandering about for forty years is altogether an unfounded one. The Israelites were not always wandering about: not only did they stay at Sinai for eleven whole months, but even after that they halted for weeks and months at the different places of encampment, when they might have circumcised their children without the slightest danger of their suffering from the wound.)
it did not commence till the second year of their journey, viz., at the time when the murmuring nation was rejected at Kadesh (Numbers 14); so that by "all the people that were born in the wilderness" we are to understand those who were born after that time, and during the last thirty-eight years of their wanderings, just as "all the people that came out of Egypt" are to be understood as signifying only those men who were twenty years old and upwards when they came out. Consequently circumcision was suspended as long as the nation was under the ban of the divine sentence pronounced upon it at Kadesh. This sentence was exhausted when they crossed the brook Zared and entered the country of the Amorites (compare Deuteronomy 2:14 with Numbers 21:12-13). Why, then, was not the circumcision performed during the encampment in the steppes of Moab either before or after the numbering, since all those who had been sentenced to die in the wilderness were already dead (Numbers 26:65)? The different answers which have been given to this question are some of them wrong, and others incomplete. For example, the opinion held by some, that the actual reason was that the forty years had not yet expired, is incorrect (see Deuteronomy 2:14). And the uncertainty how long they would remain in the steppes of Moab cannot be adduced as an explanation, as there were no circumstances existing that were likely to occasion a sudden and unexpected departure from Shittim. The reason why Moses did not renew the circumcision before the end of his own life, is to be sought for in the simple fact that he would not undertake an act of such importance without an express command from the Lord, especially as he was himself under sentence to die without entering the promised land. But the Lord did not enjoin the renewal of the covenant sign before Israel had been conducted into the promised land, because He saw fit first of all to incline the hearts of the people to carry out His commandment through this magnificent proof of His grace. It is the rule of divine grace first to give and then to ask. As the Lord did not enjoin circumcision as a covenant duty upon Abraham himself till He had given him a practical proof of His grace by leading him to Canaan, and by repeated promises of a numerous posterity, and of the eventual possession of the land; and just as He did not give the law to the children of Israel at Sinai till He had redeemed them with a mighty arm from the bondage of Egypt, and borne them on eagles' wings, and brought them to Himself, and had thereby made them willing to promise gladly to fulfil all that He should say to them as His covenant nation; so now He did not require the renewal of circumcision, which involved as the covenant sign the observance of the whole law, till He had given His people practical proofs, through the help afforded in the defeat of Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and in the miraculous division of the waters of Jordan, that He was able to remove all the obstacles that might lie in the way of the fulfilment of His promises, and give them the promised land for their inheritance, as He had sworn to their fathers.
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