約書亞記 5

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1 迦南人聞喪膽在約旦河西,亞摩利人的眾和靠近邊迦南人的眾耶和華怎樣使約旦河以色列人面前乾了,直到他們都過河去,他們都心裡驚怕,因以色列人的緣故,勇氣全失。

2 以色列在吉甲行割禮那時,耶和華對約書亞:“你要製造火石刀,第二以色列人割禮。”

3 約書亞就製造了火石刀,在包皮山那裡給以色列人行了割禮

4 約書亞給以色列人行割禮的原因是這樣:所有從埃及出來的人民,就是所有能作戰的男丁,出埃及以後,都在曠野的上。

5 因為所有從埃及出來的人民都受過割禮;唯有從埃及出來以後,所有在曠野的上出生的人民,都沒有受過割禮

6 以色列人在曠野走了四十年,直到全國的人,就是從埃及出來能作戰的男丁,都滅盡了,因為他們不耶和華的話;耶和華曾經向他們起誓,必不容許他們耶和華向他們列祖起誓要賜我們的地,就是流奶與蜜的地。

7 他們的子孫,就是耶和華興起來代替他們的,約書亞給他們行了割禮;這些人是未受割禮的人,因為他們在上沒有受過割禮

8 全國的人受了割禮之後,都中自己的地方,直到痊愈。

9 耶和華對約書亞:“我今日把埃及恥辱從你們身上輥去了。”因此,那地方吉甲(“吉甲”意即“輥”),直到今日。

10 以色列人逾越節以色列人吉甲安營;正十四晚上,他們在耶利哥平原逾越節

11 逾越節後次日,他們吃了那地的出產;就在那一天吃了無酵餅和烘的穀物。

12 嗎哪停止降下他們吃了那地的出產之後,第二天嗎哪就停止降下;以色列人不再有嗎哪了;那一年他們卻迦南地的出產。

13 約書亞與耶和華軍隊的元帥約書亞走近耶利哥的時候,抬頭觀見一個站在他對面,裡拿著拔出來的刀。約書亞走到他那裡,對他:“你是我們,還是我們的仇敵呢?”

14 那人回答:“不是的;我現在是作耶和華軍隊的元帥。”約書亞就臉伏在地,向他下拜,對他:“我有甚麼事要吩咐僕人呢?”

15 耶和華軍隊的元帥對約書亞:“把你上的鞋脫下來,因為你站的地方地。”約書亞就照著行了。


Exploring the Meaning of 約書亞記 5      

Napsal(a) New Christian Bible Study Staff and Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 5: The Circumcision and the Passover

In this chapter, the Israelites are now in the land of Canaan, and local Amorite and Canaanite kings lose heart to oppose them because of God’s miracle at the river Jordan.

God tells Joshua to circumcise all the men who were born since they left Egypt, because none were circumcised in the wilderness, and their fathers who were have now all died. So Joshua obeys, requiring circumcision of all the men of Israel.

As a result, God says to Joshua : “I have this day rolled away the stain of Egypt from you.” The place was therefore called Gilgal, which means “rolling”. The Children of Israel camped there till they were healed. They then ate the Passover using the food of the land for the very first time, and the daily manna, which had been provided by God every day in the wilderness, stopped.

Then, Joshua has an encounter with an angel:

When Joshua lifted his eyes he saw a man opposite him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua asked him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” The man answered, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Joshua fell and worshipped and asked what he should do? The man said, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy”. And Joshua did so.

Note that this chapter is the very first one when the Israelites are in Canaan, and straightaway two important Jewish rituals are carried out – circumcision and the Passover. Circumcision is the cutting off of the foreskin. It means to become purified from loving oneself and the world, and the outer things of life, and to be righteous before God inwardly. (See Arcana Caelestia 2102.)

This meaning helps us see why elsewhere in the Bible it often talks about “circumcising your heart”. The circumcision in Canaan was to mark the new generation, which spiritually for us means that our regeneration always involves new states. (True Christian Religion 601)

The Passover was originally a meal to mark leaving slavery in Egypt, so it is very appropriate for celebrating entering the promised land. The spiritual meaning of the Passover is rich and complex, but, put simply, it is about the presence of the Lord with us, especially when we attribute life’s good events and blessings to the presence of God. “The Lord has done this for me… The Lord has done that for us.” (Arcana Caelestia 7902) The reason that it is a meal is that we share meals together, often in families, and spiritually everything in us comes together to be joyful and thankful.

The first camp of the Israelites in Canaan was at Gilgal, a place close to Jericho, the name of which means “rolling”. We’ve looked at its connection with circumcision but more generally, to ‘roll’ is to move forward, move on, keep going. This is a powerful early-in-the-story description of our regeneration, with its trials and blessings, both of which aim to keep us moving forward to be evermore in the life the Lord wants us to have. (Arcana Caelestia 8911)

With all this early first feeling of having finally got to Canaan, the land which God had always promised to give them, it is so very appropriate that Joshua is met by a militant angel of the Lord, the Commander of the army of the Lord. (Arcana Caelestia 7277). Note carefully that when Joshua asks if he is for us or for our enemies, the Commander says “No.” Spiritually this is very significant because the Lord uses everything – good and evil – peace and temptation – to lead us towards heaven.

The Commander declares that Joshua is to remove his sandal from off his foot because where he stands, this is holy ground. Spiritually, “holy ground” is the whole sweep of life, and our sense that all of it is the Lord’s gift to us. (See Arcana Caelestia 566, 1585)

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