Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. 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--Under the former designation were included the people who
inhabited the mountainous region, and under the latter those who were
on the seacoast of Palestine.
heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan . . . that their
heart melted--They had probably reckoned on the swollen river
interposing for a time a sure barrier of defense. But seeing it had
been completely dried up, they were completely paralyzed by so
incontestable a proof that God was on the side of the invaders. In
fact, the conquest had already begun in the total prostration of spirit
among the native chiefs. "Their heart melted," but unhappily not into
faith and penitent submission.
2. At that time--on the encampment being made after the passage.
the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives--Stone knives,
collect and make them ready. Flints have been used in the early times
of all people; and although the use of iron was known to the Hebrews in
the days of Joshua, probably the want of a sufficient number of
metallic implements dictated the employment of flints on this occasion
circumcise again the children of Israel the second time--literally,
"return and circumcise." The command did not require him to repeat the
operation on those who had undergone it, but to resume the observance
of the rite, which had been long discontinued. The language, however,
evidently points to a general circumcising on some previous occasion,
which, though unrecorded, must have been made before the celebration of
the passover at Sinai (compare
as a mixed multitude accompanied the camp. "The second time" of general
circumcising was at the entrance into Canaan.
3. at the hill--probably one of the argillaceous hills that form the
highest terrace of the Jordan, on a rising ground at the palm forest.
4-7. this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise--The omission to
circumcise the children born in the wilderness might have been owing to
the incessant movements of the people; but it is most generally thought
that the true cause was a temporary suspension of the covenant with the
unbelieving race who, being rejected of the Lord, were doomed to perish
in the wilderness, and whose children had to bear the iniquity of their
though, as the latter were to be brought into the promised land, the
covenant would be renewed with them.
8. when they had done circumcising all the people--As the number of
those born in the wilderness and uncircumcised must have been immense,
a difficulty is apt to be felt how the rite could have been performed
on such a multitude in so short a time. But it has been calculated that
the proportion between those already circumcised (under twenty when the
doom was pronounced) and those to be circumcised, was one to four, and
consequently the whole ceremony could easily have been performed in a
day. Circumcision being the sign and seal of the covenant, its
performance was virtually an investment in the promised land, and its
being delayed till their actual entrance into the country was a wise
and gracious act on the part of God, who postponed this trying duty
till the hearts of the people, animated by the recent astonishing
miracle, were prepared to obey the divine will.
they abode in their places . . . till they were whole--It is calculated
that, of those who did not need to be circumcised, more than fifty
thousand were left to defend the camp if an attack had been then made
9. the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach
of Egypt--The taunts industriously cast by that people upon Israel as
nationally rejected by God by the cessation of circumcision and the
renewal of that rite was a practical announcement of the restoration of
the covenant [KEIL].
Gilgal--No trace either of the name or site is now to be found; but
it was about two miles from Jericho
[JOSEPHUS], and well suited for an
encampment by the advantages of shade and water. It was the first place
pronounced "holy" in the Holy Land
10. kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at
even--The time fixed by the law (see on
Thus the national existence was commenced by a solemn act of religious
11, 12. And they did eat of the old corn of the land--found in
storehouses of the inhabitants who had fled into Jericho.
parched corn--new grain
probably lying in the fields. Roasted--a simple and primitive
preparation, much liked in the East. This abundance of food led to the
discontinuance of the manna; and the fact of its then ceasing, viewed
in connection with its seasonable appearance in the barren wilderness,
is a striking proof of its miraculous origin.
13. when Joshua was by Jericho--in the immediate vicinity of that city,
probably engaged in surveying the fortifications, and in meditating the
best plan of a siege.
there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn--It is evident
from the strain of the context that this was not a mere vision, but an
actual appearance; the suddenness of which surprised, but did not
daunt, the intrepid leader.
14. the host of the Lord--either the Israelitish people
(Ex 7:4; 12:41;
or the angels
or both included, and the Captain of it was the angel of the covenant,
whose visible manifestations were varied according to the occasion. His
attitude of equipment betokened his approval of, and interest in, the
war of invasion.
Joshua fell on his face . . ., and did worship--The adoption by Joshua
of this absolute form of prostration demonstrates the sentiments of
profound reverence with which the language and majestic bearing of the
stranger inspired him. The real character of this personage was
disclosed by His accepting the homage of worship (compare
Ac 10:25, 26;
and still further in the command, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot"