The Bible

 

Joshua 5

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1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, that were beyond the Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, that were by the sea, heard how that Jehovah had dried up the waters of the 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.

2 At that time Jehovah said unto Joshua, Make thee knives of flint, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

3 And Joshua made him knives of lint, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: all the people that came forth out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came forth out of Egypt.

5 For 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, they had not circumcised.

6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, even the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, were consumed, because they hearkened not unto the voice of Jehovah: unto whom Jehovah sware that he would not let them see the land which Jehovah sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.

7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them did Joshua circumcise: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.

8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the nation, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.

9 And Jehovah said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of that place was called Gilgal, unto this day.

10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.

11 And they did eat of the produce of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and parched grain, in the selfsame day.

12 And the manna ceased on the morrow, after they had eaten of the produce 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.

13 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?

14 And he said, Nay; but [as] prince of the host of Jehovah 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?

15 And the prince of Jehovah's host said unto Joshua, Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

  

    Study the Inner Meaning

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 5

     

By 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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