And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
Verse 1. - Which were on the side of Jordan westward. A large portion of the territory of the Amorites had, as we have seen (Joshua 3:10), been already conquered. The remaining tribes on the other side Jordan were apprehensive of the same fate. For "on the side," the original has "across." Having hitherto written of Israel as on the eastern side of Jordan, he continues the same expression after he has narrated the crossing. But writing as he did on the west side of Jordan, and for readers the vast majority of whom were on the west side of Jordan, he adds the expression "westward" (literally, seaward) to prevent any possibility of mistake. Until we were passed over. The Masorites, in the Keri, have corrected the text (Chethibh) into "until they were passed over." Kennicott states that this reading is confirmed by twenty-seven Hebrew MSS., which have probably adopted the reading from the Masoretic correction. The LXX. accepts the Chethibh. The probability, however, is that this is one of the many instances of a conjectural emendation of a difficult passage, it not having been seen that the historian was either quoting a document contemporary with the events described, or more probably using the word to identify himself as an Israelite with the acts of his fathers in past times. This is the opinion of Rabbi David Kimchi. Knobel refers to Psalm 66:6. See also ver. 6 of this chapter, and Joshua 24:5, 6, 7; Judges 11:17; cf. 19. We must not, then, assume from this passage that the Book of Joshua was written by one who himself had a share in the events recorded, in the face of many indications we have of a later origin (see Joshua 4:9, etc.). A fuller discussion of this subject will be found in the introduction. Their heart melted. Confirming what Rahab had said (Joshua 2:11). Similar terror has often been struck into the hearts of peoples, especially of peoples enervated by habits of licentious indulgence, by the approach of enemies who have successfully and rapidly overcome obstacles deemed insurmountable. Such an effect was produced in Persia by Alexander's victories at the Granicus and Issus. Such an effect, again, was produced in Italy by the tidings of the approach of Alaric and Attila. If we may trust the monk of St. Gall, a similar terror fell on the degenerate Lombards at the approach of Charles the Great, after his daring passage of the Alps. In this case the miraculous element was added, and the inhabitants of Canaan, and of Jericho especially, remained for the time panic stricken, not daring to combine to strike a blow against these daring invaders, who in addition to their bravery seemed under the special protection of Heaven. When they had recovered from the consternation into which the passage of the Jordan had thrown them, the sense of an imminent danger forced them at last to make an effort at resistance (see ch. 10.).
At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
Verse 2. - At that time. Ver. I is introduced in order to explain why Joshua ventured upon the circumcision of the children of Israel at so critical a period. Nothing could more clearly evince the spirit of confidence in Jehovah which animated not only Joshua, but all the children of Israel. We read of no murmurings, although it was well known that the performance of the rite of circumcision would unfit the Israelites for active service for some days. We may imagine, and even the silence of the sacred historian may be deemed eloquent on the point, that the marvellous passage of the Jordan had inspired the Israelites with an eager desire to renew their covenant with the God who "had done so great things for them already." And although, for religious reasons, they remained inactive for four or five days, a course of action from a military point of view highly injudicious, yet such was the terror the passage of the Jordan had struck into the hearts of the Phoenicians that no attack on them was attempted, and the inhabitants of Jericho (Joshua 6:1) remained under the protection of their strong walls. Sharp knives, or knives of stone (צוּר; cf. צֹר Exodus 4:25). The LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic versions, as well as the margins of our Bibles, render thus. On the other hand, several of the Rabbis give the same translation as the text of our version. The LXX. translator, following no doubt an ancient tradition, adds after Joshua 24:30, that these knives were buried with Joshua (see note there). The idea which has found great favour lately of a "stone age," as anterior to an "iron age," of the world, will hardly derive support from this passage. That the use of stone preceded the use of iron scarcely admits of a doubt. But from Genesis 4:22 we learn that the use of iron had been known hundreds of years before Joshua, and yet we find him using stone knives. And we may go further. In spite of the advance of civilisation in our own day, there are still millions of human beings who have not advanced beyond the "stone age." The idea, then, of an age in which the universal use of iron has supplanted the universal use of stone is an idea which facts compel us to reject, while admitting that the use of stone must have preceded the use of iron in the infancy of the human race. In these "knives of flint," Origen, Theodoret, and others see an allusion to Christ, the rock. The second time. For "circumcise again the children of Israel the second time," the literal translation is, "return (שׁוּב) to circumcise," or, "return, circumcise" them the second time. This has perplexed the commentators and translators. It has been assumed that the text involves the idea of a former general circumcision of the people, and various are the expedients which have been resorted to in order to avoid the difficulty. Some copies of the LXX. would read שֵׁב for שׁוּב (or יְשֵׁב for וְשׁוּב Rosenmuller), and translate "sit down" i.e., halt), "and circumcise" The Vulgate leaves out the word altogether. The Syriac translates literally. The Arabic reads "tomorrow" for "again." The Rabbi Solomon Jarchi falls back on the expedient of a general circumcision ordered by Moses on the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, on account of their neglect of that rite while they sojourned there, "Nam jam antea magna multitudo simul erat circumcisa illa nocte qua egrediebantur ex AEgypto." But this is rendered highly improbable by the fact that circumcision was an Egyptian as well as a Hebrew custom, and still more so by the improbability that such an important circumstance should have been passed over in silence. Knobel regards Abraham's circumcision with that of his household as the first time (Genesis 17:23). Perhaps the best explanation is that the word שׁוּב, though it is rightly translated "again" here, and in several other places in Scripture, carries with it the idea of a return into a former condition (kehre zuruck, Knobel). So Genesis 26:18; Genesis 30:31, Hosea 2:11 (Hosea 2:9, in our version). In 2 Kings 1:11, 13 we have the king's return to his former purpose in the second and third mission to Elijah. Thus here the word is used of the bringing back the children of Israel to their former state, that of a people who were in the enjoyment of a visible sign and seal (Romans 4:11) of their being God's covenant people. The meaning therefore would seem to be, "Restore the children of Israel a second time to the position they formerly held, as visibly bound to me, and placed under my protection, by the rite of circumcision." "The person must be in favour ere the work can hope to prosper; his predecessor Moses had like to have been slain for neglect of this sacrament, when he went to call the people out of Egypt; he justly fears his own safety, if now he omit it, when they are brought into Canaan" (Bp. Hall).
And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
Verse 3. - The hill of the foreskins. The name given to the hill where the circumcision took place.
And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.
Verse 4. - After they came out from Egypt. Rather "on their journey from Egypt." See next verse, where the same words are translated "as they came out."
Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.
Verse 5. - Now all the people that came out were circumcised. The Hebrew of this passage (which runs literally thus - "Now circumcised had they been, all the people who were going forth") is sufficient to refute the idea that there was a great circumcision of the people under Moses, on account of the neglect of the rite in Egypt. For, before the exodus, Moses was not in a position to perform any general act of this kind, as the history plainly shows, while after it such a rite could not have taken place, since the Hebrew הָיוּ denotes a state of things which was completed at the time spoken of, and therefore must here be rendered (as above) by the pluperfect. Them they had not circumcised. Here again the Hebrew is used of the perfected action, and is therefore rightly rendered by our version, giving the idea that the Israelites who were born in the wilderness had not been circumcised up to the point which our history has now reached. See also ver. 7, where the same construction is found.
For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Verse 6. - Till all the people. The Hebrew here is גוֹּי, not the usual word for people, but that usually applied to the Gentiles (equivalent to ἔθνος, by which word it is usually rendered in the LXX.). It is applied to the Israelites in Joshua 3:17; Joshua 4:1; Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 26:2. See also Exodus 33:13. In the singular it means a people in the more general sense, a nation, as distinguished from a people in whom one has an interest. In the plural it always means the Gentiles. עַס. (LXX., λαός), the word usually applied to the people of God, is not used here, because the people who "provoked God in the wilderness" had made themselves in a sense a rejected people. Delitzsch regards this (after Calvin) as a sign that, for the time at least, the covenant between God and Israel was annulled, permanently in the case of those who were condemned to die in the wilderness, temporarily only in their descendants, who were formally reconciled to God, and restored to their former covenant position by this solemn performance of the covenant rite of circumcision (see note on verse 2). So also Hengstenberg, 'Geschichte des Reiches Gottes,' p. 205. The difficulty about the passover may be met by supposing that those only who were circumcised - a constantly decreasing number, of course - were allowed to celebrate that feast. Knobel would understand that in consequence of the "unquiet, unsettled, uncomfortable life" the Israelites led in the wilderness, they could keep very few of the ordained feasts. He continues: "the Elohist knows nothing of any cessation." Nevertheless we read of no passover being kept after the one recorded in Numbers 9:5, so that if "the Elohist knows of no cessation," he knows as little of any continued observance of the feast. But there is no certainty on the point. Considering the loose way in which the word כֹל is used in Scripture (see, for instance, Genesis 4:14), we need not press the word to include all who were born after the departure from Egypt, but only those who were born after the rejection of the people recorded in Numbers 14:26, sqq. This rejection, be it remembered, did not include all the Israelites who were born in Egypt, but only those who were over twenty years of age (Numbers 14:29). The view of Kurz (3:323, Clark's translation), that circumcision was suspended on account of the continual movements of the Israelites, is refuted by Delitzsch's remark that the Israelites were not continually on the march, but that they often encamped in one place for a long period, a period far longer, in fact, than the time in which they abode in Gilgal. Delitzsch asks why this circumcision did not take place before, why it was not performed as soon as they crossed the brook Zered. The answer is that, until the Jordan was crossed, they had not taken formal possession of their own land. As soon as, under the Divine protection, they had crossed the Jordan, the long-delayed promise was fulfilled. God's covenant with Abraham was accomplished, and now they, in their turn, had to place themselves once more in the position of God's covenant people, bound to serve Him with their whole heart. For a fuller discussion of this question see Keil's Commentary, and Hengstenberg in the passage cited above. We may observe that God fulfils His part of the covenant first, and then it is man's duty to fulfil his. God, under the Christian dispensation, first places us in the state of salvation. Then it becomes our duty to make that salvation sure by overcoming God's enemies, by the help which He never fails to afford. Give us. This introduction of the first person into the middle of the sentence is unexpected. Some MSS. and editors read "to them" (see note on ver. 1, and Psalm 66:6, where there is a similar change of person). A land that floweth with milk and honey. This, says Keil, "is a standing expression in the Pentateuch to express the great fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk and honey are produced by a land rich in grass and flowers, which were both of them plentiful in Canaan (see Isaiah 7:15, 22). Milk, not only of cows, but of sheep and goats also (Deuteronomy 32:14), and eaten sometimes sweet, at other times thick or curdled (חמאה), was a leading article of food amongst the ancient Hebrews, as it is in the present day in most Eastern countries, and Palestine was peculiarly fitted for the rearing of cattle. Honey also, especially that of wild bees, was found in large quantities (Judges 14:8, sqq.; 1 Samuel 14:26; Matthew 3:4), and is still found, notwithstanding its present desolate condition." Some have thought דבַשׁ to mean the newly expressed juice of grapes, which, under the Arabic name of dibs, is largely used at present in Palestine, and is even exported to other countries. But in Deuteronomy 32:13, Psalm 81:16, wild honey is clearly meant, which is to this day deposited by bees, in the clefts of the rock, whence it often overflows and is received into vessels placed beneath (see Proverbs 5:3; Song of Solomon 4:11; Jahn, 'Biblical Archaeology;' and Smith's Dictionary of the Bible.)
And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
Verse 8. - Till they were whole. Literally, till they revived, as in Genesis 20:7; 2 Kings 1:2; 2 Kings 8:8. Objections have been raised (see Keil and Delitzsch in loc.) to the possibility of this circumcision taking place in one day. But it has been shown by calculation that between one-third and one-fourth of the people who remained had been circumcised already, and that therefore such an operation as this could be performed with the utmost ease in a very short time. The word גוִו is used here again, since the people were still Gentiles until the rite of circumcision was performed.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.
Verse 9. - The reproach of Egypt. Either
(1) the reproach which comes from the Egyptians, or
(2) the reproach of having sojourned in Egypt.
Keil incorrectly states that" the genitive always denotes the person from whom the reproach comes" (see Isaiah 54:4, "the reproach of thy widowhood," i.e., the reproach which is cast upon thee for being a widow; Ezekiel 36:30, "reproach of famine," i.e., the reproach which comes from being doomed to suffer famine). If we accept
(1) we must refer the phrase to the reproach cast upon the Israelites by the Egyptians, that all their vain glorious boasts were worthless, and that they were never destined to occupy the land which they declared God had given to them. Hengstenberg ('Geschichte des Retches Gottes,' p. 207) regards it strangely as the reproach the Egyptians cast upon them that they were rejected of God. If
(2) it must be regarded as equivalent to the reproach that they were a nation of slaves, a reproach that was rolled away by the fact of their standing as freemen on the soil which had been promised to their fathers. But Knobel supposes
(3) that it was their down-trodden miserable condition in Egypt, a condition which was only partially ameliorated during their wanderings in the wilderness, in the course of which, accustomed to a settled existence, they must have had much to endure. "With the arrival in Canaan," he adds, "all this came to an end. All those who had deserved punishment were dead, all the uncircumcised were circumcised, reproach and misery were put aside, and Israel, as the worthy community of God, entered on a new life." This interpretation, more precise and clear than (2), best satisfies all the requirements of the passage. Some have regarded their uncircumcised state as the "reproach of Egypt." But this, as Hengstenberg remarks, could hardly be, for none but the Egyptian priests were circumcised. Origen (Horn. 4, 'Lib. Jesu Nave') teaches the following lesson from this passage: "Fuimus enim nos aliquando insipientes, increduli, errantes, servientes desideriis et voluptatibus varlis, in malitiam, et invidia, odibiles, odientes invicem. Non tibi videntur haec opprobia esse, et opprobia AEgypti? Sed ex quo venit Christus, et dedit nobis secundam circumcisionem per baptismum regenerationis, et purgavit animas nostras, abjecimus haec omnia." And again, speaking of the spiritual circumcision Christians have received, and the obligation to purity thus imposed, he adds, "Jam tibi enim non licet templo Dei uti, nisi in sanctitate, nec membra Christi ad iudignum dare negotium ... Si quando te malae concupiscentiae pulsat illecebra... dic non sum meus, enitus enim sum pretio sanguinis Christi, et membrum ipsius effectus sum." Theodoret remarks how the Israelites who had been circumcised perished in the wilderness, while their uncircumcised children were miraculously preserved and brought over Jordan. A remarkable commentary this on the words, "Now circumcision verily profiteth if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law thy circumcision is made uncircumcision" (Romans 2:25. Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:19). He also remarks that "we may here learn how we, who have received spiritual circumcision, thereby laid aside the reproach of sin." Trusting by nature in the spiritual Egypt, the house of bondage, we are slaves to sin and corruption. When we enter into fellowship with Christ, the reproach of Egypt is rolled away, and we enjoy "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (see Romans 6:18-22; Galatians 5:1; also John 8:32-36). Gilgal. It is quite possible, since the word to roll is in Hebrew, as indeed in English, spoken of a circular motion and since גַלְגַל is a wheel in Hebrew, that the place, like Geliloth, i.e., circles (Joshua 18:17), originally meant a circle, and that the new signification was attached to the name from this moment. If Deuteronomy 11:30 be not a later insertion, the place was known by the name before this time. The root is found in the Aryan as well as in the Semitic languages (as in the Greek κυλίω εἵλω, and the Latin volvo, globus).
CHAPTER 5:10-12. THE PASSOVER AND THE CESSATION OF THE MANNA. -
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.
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).
And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.
Verse 11. - The old corn. The produce of the land; literally, that which passes from off it, from עָבַר to pass over. Whether new or old we have no means of telling. The barley would be ripe (see note on Joshua 2:6), but the wheat harvest had not yet taken place. The morrow after the sabbath. The 15th Nisan (see Numbers 33:3). The law of the wave sheaf (Leviticus 23:10, 11) was intended to apply to corn raised by the Israelites on their own land, after Canaan had been divided to them for an inheritance (see Exodus 23:16). And parched corn; i.e., ears roasted at the fire, and the grain afterwards rubbed out, a custom still in use among the Arabs (see Leviticus 2:14; 1 Samuel 17:17; 2 Samuel 17:28, etc. See also for the precept here followed, Leviticus 23:14). This verse therefore adds some confirmation to the view that until their arrival in Palestine a full observance of the precepts of the law was impossible (see above, ver. 6).
And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
Verse 12. - The manna ceased. It ceased when the Israelites entered a cultivated region. The eastern portion of their inheritance, though well suited for pastoral purposes (see Joshua 1:12), was not a land of agricultural produce. Therefore the manna did not cease until the Israelites had crossed the Jordan.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
Verse 13. - When Joshua was by Jericho. The preposition בְּ, the principal meaning of which is "in" signifies here "in the immediate neighbourhood of," as in 1 Samuel 29:1 (where, however, the LXX. read "in Endor"), Ezekiel 10:15. Perhaps Joshua had ascended some hill in the close vicinity of the city to reconnoitre it alone, and here he received the directions which resulted in the miraculous capture of the city (see also Genesis 13:18, where בְּאֵלנֵי cannot mean in the oaks," nor בְּחֶבְדון "in Hebron"). The LXX. translates the first by, παρὰ τὴν δρῦν. The Vulgate has "juxta" (cf. Genesis 14:13). Origen is much hampered in his exposition here by the translation "in." He asks how Jericho can possibly be holy ground when it is still in the possession of the enemy; and answers ingeniously that wherever the captain of the Lord's host is must needs be holy ground). He lift up his eyes. Usually, though not always (cf. Genesis 13:10), used of an unexpected or marvellous sight (see Genesis 18:2; Genesis 22:13; Numbers 24:2; 1 Samuel 6:13; 1 Chronicles 21:16). A man. This Divine or angelic vision came, as was often the case, in human shape (cf. Genesis 18:1, 2; Genesis 19:1, 2, 10; Genesis 32:24; Judges 13:3, 6, 11; Daniel 10:16, 18; Daniel 12:6, 7. See note on next verse). With his sword drawn in his hand. As in Numbers 22:31; 1 Chronicles 21:16 (cf. Genesis 3:24). And Joshua went unto him and said. It appears from this, says Calvin, that Joshua was alone, and was prepared to fight with the apparition, if it appeared that he had fallen in with an enemy. For at first, unexpected as the appearance was, he recognised nothing supernatural in it.
And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
Verse 14. - And he said, Nay. Many MSS. which are followed by the LXX. and Syriac versions, have לו for לאֹ here. The Chaldee and Vulgate read לאֹ, and the Masorites do not reckon this among the 15 passages in which לו is read for לאֹ (Keil). But when Keil adds that a comparison of this passage with Joshua 24:21 decides the point, he is going too far, since כִּי often stands, like the Greek ὅτι, before a quotation, in the place of our inverted commas (see, for instance, Genesis 29:33; Exodus 3:12, etc.). The various reading has no doubt arisen from the ambiguity of the passage, for it appears grammatically doubtful to which part of Joshua's question the particle of negation applies. Yet it is obvious enough practically that it is in answer to the last portion of it. But as captain of the Lord's host am I now come. Literally, "for (or but) I, the captain of the Lord's host, have now come." As though he would say, "the struggle is now imminent; the conflict is all but begun; and now, at the critical moment when my help is needed, I, the captain of the hosts of the Lord, the leader of all that vast army of unseen confederates, who are destined to marshal the forces of nature, the elements of supernatural terror and dismay, on the side of the Israelites, am come to help you." That the Lord's host must mean the angels is clear from such passages as Genesis 32:2; 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:20, 21; Psalm 148:2; St. Luke 2:13 (aft 2 Kings 6:17). Hengstenberg, in his 'Christology,' illustrates by Matthew 26:53. Two opinions have been held by the early Church concerning this manifestation. The first regards it as the appearance of the Son of God in a visible form; the second supposes it to have been a created being - an angel - through whom Jehovah was pleased to manifest Himself. The former opinion was general in the earliest ages of the Church. The appearance of the Arian heresy, however, brought this interpretation into discredit. It was felt to be dangerous to admit it, lest it should lead to the notion that the Logos, however great and glorious a being he might be, however superior to all other created beings, was nevertheless removed by an infinite interval from the Supreme God Himself. The Jewish interpreters differ on the point. Maimonides and others (see next note) do not regard the appearance as a real one. The majority seem to have supposed it to have been the Archangel Michael. We will proceed to examine the scriptural and patristic evidence on the subject. That appearances, believed to be manifestations of God Himself in a visible form, are recorded in Scripture, is a fact which cannot be denied. Thus we have the voice of God (קול יְהֹוָה) walking in the garden (Genesis 3:8). Again, in ch. 15, though first God appears to Abraham in a vision, the nature of the manifestation would seem to have changed in some respects afterwards, for we read" he brought him forth abroad" (ver. 5). Again, in ch. 18, we find that Jehovah "appeared" to Abraham as he dwelt by the oaks of Mature (ver. 1), and the narrative would suggest that Jehovah Himself appeared, and two attendant angels. This is further corroborated by the fact that Abraham remains in conference with Jehovah, while the two angels who arrived in the evening at Sodom do not appear to have been spoken of as Jehovah, or to have received Divine honours from Lot. The "man" who (Genesis 32:24) wrestled with Jacob is described afterwards (ver. 30) as "God." The "angel of the Lord" who (Exodus 3:2) "appeared" unto Moses "in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush," is immediately afterwards described as Jehovah and Elohim (ver. 4), and, as in the present passage, Moses is instructed to remove his shoe from his foot in consequence of the holiness of the place in which so great a Being appeared. And here we are led to investigate the nature of that mysterious being who is described as "the angel of the Lord," the "angel," or, as the word is sometimes translated, "messenger of the covenant." He appears to Hagar (Genesis 16:7), and she immediately proceeds (ver. 13) to express her belief that it is God whom she has seen. The angel who appears to Abraham at the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:11, 12, 18) speaks of Himself as God. The voice of the angel, again, is regarded by Leah and Rachel as the voice of God (Genesis 31:11, 16), and He calls Himself so (ver. 13). Jacob speaks of the angel as having "redeemed him from all evil" (Genesis 48:16), but here the term Goel, though it means a ransomer, is not necessarily connected with moral evil. After His appearance to Hoses in the bush He becomes the special guide of the children of Israel. His divinity is again asserted in Exodus 13:21, for the Being there spoken of as Jehovah is described in Joshua 14:19 as His angel. The solemn terms in which the God of Israel refers to him in Exodus 23:20, 21 must not be passed over. He is the "Angel of Jehovah." He is sent to "keep" Israel "in the way." They were to take heed and not rebel against Him (so LXX.); for, adds Jehovah, "My name is in His inward parts" (not בּו but בְּקִרְבּו denoting close and intimate union). Cf. ver. 93 and Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2. This angel is called the Face, or Faces, of the Lord (Exodus 33:14; cf. Isaiah 63:9), and is thus specially identified with the revelation of Him, like the term εἰκών in the New Testament. The angel that withstood Balaam assumes a tone of authority in harmony with this view (Numbers 22:22-35). Whether the angel at Bochim (Judges 2:1) were a Divine or human messenger does not appear from the narrative, and the word is occasionally, as in Haggai 1:13, used of a prophet. But the appearance to Gideon and Manoah has a Divine character (Judges 6:11-22; Judges 13:8-22). And the special reference to Jehovah, the angel of the covenant, in Malachi 3:1 seems to point in a special manner to the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity. This view, as has been stated, is the view of the earlier Fathers, nor does there seem any reasonable ground for its rejection by those of later date. The idea that the Logos, always the medium of the Father's revelation and impartation of Himself, in creation as in redemption, frequently took a visible form under the old dispensation in order to communicate the Divine will to mankind, does not in the least militate against the doctrine of His consubstantiality with the Father. On the contrary, it rather emphasises the fact which the New Testament teaches us throughout, that the Logos was ever the manifestation, the ἐξήγησις (John 1.) of the Father, the eternal medium whereby He communicates Himself beyond Himself. This was in the main the view of the earliest Fathers. They might use an incautious expression now and then, but they ever intended to be true to the doctrine of the Consubstantial Son of the Father, who took a visible shape to convey the Father's mind to man. Thus Justin Martyr ('Dial. cum Tryphone,' 56) cites Genesis 18:1, 2 to prove that, as he says, "there is another God under (ὑπὸ) the the Creator of all things, who is called an angel because he announces (ἀγγέλειν) whatever the Creator of all things desires him to announce." This being, he adds, "was also God before the creation of the world." He was another God than the Creator of the world in number (ἀριθμῷ), not in mind (γνώμῃ). And from the expression "the Lord rained down fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven" (Genesis 19:24), he deduces the belief that this Being was "Lord from beside (παρά) the Lord who is in heaven." He proceeds to cite the passages from the Old Testament which have just been mentioned, and to draw from them the conclusion which has just been drawn, that this Being was one who ministered (ὑπηρέτοῦντα) to God who is above; the word, the ἀρχή whom He begat before all creation (see. 60, 61). Similarly Theophilus ('Ad Autolycum, 2:22) says that the Word of God held a colloquy with Adam in the person (or representation, προσώπῳ) of God. Irenaeus ('Adv. Haer.,' 4:7, 4) speaks of the Being who spake to Abraham at Mamre and Moses in the bush as superior to all created angels, and as, in fact, the Word of God; though afterwards (Joshua 20:11) he modifies this statement into a manifestation of "claritatem et dispositiones patris," "secundum dispositionum ejus causas sive efficaciam." It is to be remembered that we unfortunately chiefly possess Irenaeus in a very unsatisfactory Latin dress. Similar passages may be found in Clem., 'Alex. Paed.,' 1:7; and Tertullian, 'Adv. Prax.,' 14. The latter says that God was "invisible as the Father, but visible as the Son," the latter being the means whereby the former was revealed. The passage from Clement is embodied and improved upon in a passage in the 'Apostolic Constitutions,' which presents the primitive doctrine on this point in clearer language than any other. "To Him (Christ) did Moses bear witness, and said, 'The Lord received fire from the Lord, and rained it down.' Him did Jacob see as a man, and said, 'I have seen God face to face, and my soul is preserved.' Him did Abraham entertain, and acknowledge to be the Judge and his Lord. Him did Moses see in the bush. Him did Joshua the son of Nun see, as captain of the Lord's host, for assistance against Jericho" ('Apost. Const.,' 5:20). One passage more will be cited on this point. "Who else," says Origen, in his Homily on this passage, "is the prince of the host of the virtues of the Lord, save our Lord Jesus Christ? .... Joshua would not have adored," he adds, "unless he had recognised God." The fact that the later Fathers (St. Augustine, for instance, and Theodoret, who holds that it was Michael the Archangel who appeared to Joshua) rejected this interpretation would not be sufficient to outweigh primitive testimony at once so explicit and so general, unless it were supported by the strongest arguments. The fact that it was rejected rather from prudential motives, and that such prudence was, in point of fact, entirely unnecessary, robs the later interpretation of much of its weight. Thus much at least is certain, that we may adopt the earlier one without fear of prejudicing thereby the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Further information on this point will be found in Hengstenberg's 'Christology,' in Liddon's 'Bampton Lectures' (Lect. it.), in Bull ('Defens. Fid. Nicen.,' 1:1), and in Keil's Commentaries upon the various passages of the Old Testament, cited above. "He here appeared as a soldier, with His sword drawn in His hand. To Abraham in his tent He appeared as a traveller; to Joshua in the field, as a man of war. Christ will be to His people what their faith expects and desires" (Matthew Henry). And Joshua fell on his face. The apparition had no doubt taken Joshua by surprise. He believed himself to be alone, when suddenly he found himself confronted by a warrior, with his sword drawn. Uncertain, in those days when Divine interposition was more common than it is now, whether what he saw was a proof that he was watched by enemies, who had resolved to cut him off by surprise, or whether God had vouchsafed to appear to him, but evidently quite prepared to expect the latter, he addresses a question to the apparition, which of itself implies at least a half belief that what he saw was something above nature. He needs but the simple reply just recorded to lead him to prostrate himself in simple faith before the Mighty One who now stood before him to be the defence and shield of His people from all their adversaries. Maimonides, in his 'Moreh Nevochim,' and others (as, for instance, Hengstenberg, 'Geschichte des Reiches Gottes,' p. 209) have regarded this as a vision seen by Joshua when he was alone, plunged in deep meditation on the difficult task before him. But without denying that many of the. Divine interpositions recorded in Scripture (as, for instance, that in Genesis 22:1) took place through the inner workings of the mind as the medium of their action, yet here, as in Genesis 32, and most probably in Exodus 3, we have visible appearances of God to men in deep anxiety of heart, pondering "great matters" which were "too high for them." Whether we choose to accept or reject the historical narrative as a whole, there can be no rational ground for doubting that the Hebrew historians wrote under the full persuasion that they and their forefathers lived under a dispensation of continual Divine interpositions, sometimes taking place by secret inward intimations, sometimes through the Urim and Thummim; sometimes, at a crisis in the history of the nation or of an individual, by actual external appearances of God in a visible form, and that we have here an account of one of these. The purport of the appearance is, however, obscured by our present division of chapters. The narrative proceeds without a break as far as Joshua 6:5. Joshua 6:1 is simply parenthetical and explanatory. Thus we gather that Joshua was meditating the plan of his future campaign, and deliberating on the best mode of capturing the strong walled city close by which (ver. 13) he stood, when God appeared to him in the form of a warrior, and solved all his doubts by commanding him to prepare for a miraculous intervention of His Providence, and in the place of warlike expedients to resort to a religious ceremony, which should be the external token to all the surrounding nations that the invading host was under the protection of the Lord of heaven and earth; a fact of which they were more than half convinced by the supernatural passage of the Red Sea and the Jordan (see Joshua 2:10; Joshua 6:1).
And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Verse 15. - Loose thy shoe from off thy feet. Cf. Exodus 3:6. We have here a clear proof (see also Joshua 6:2) that He who now spoke to Joshua was a Divine Person. The loosing the shoe from the feet is regarded by Origen and other patristic commentators as emblematic of the removal of worldly engagements and pollutions from the soul. Now Jericho was straitly shut up.