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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 5

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Joshua 5:1 . The Amorites on the side of Jordan westward. This agrees with Numbers 13:29. The Amorites dwell in the mountains.

Joshua 5:2 . Make thee sharp knives. Whet them, if of steel; but often they struck off flints, whose edges are very sharp. Infants were healed in three days, but great soreness followed with men; they could not walk, as in Joshua 5:8. The place was afterwards called Gilgal; that is, rolling away of reproach. See more on Genesis 17:12.

Joshua 5:12 . The manna ceased. They found old corn, and a barley harvest just ripe. Whenever ordinary means will do, they are preferred to the extraordinary.

Joshua 5:13 . Behold there stood a man. Michael, say the Jews, and others after them. Daniel 10:13. But the putting off of Joshua’s shoes demonstrates the presence of Him who appeared to Moses. Exodus 3:5. Homer represents Juno as appearing in this form. This vision was opportunely given, when Joshua was awed by the walls and towers of Jericho. Joshua worshipped him, as the Christ whom Moses had seen at the bush.

Joshua 5:15 . Loose thy shoe from off thy foot. The patriarchs approached the altars of God, and the priests officiated in the temple, barefoot, because the divine presence hallowed the place.


When the spies had returned to Kadesh forty years before, they made Israel faint with fear concerning the number and strength of the seven nations. Now, in turn, those nations faint because of the glory and strength of Israel’s God. The fears of Israel had arisen solely from their unbelief; but the fears of those nations were founded on conscious guilt, and on the uplifted arm of God’s avenging power. In the Canaanites we see the situation of all wicked men when their day is come; and in the Israelites, from the ease with which they conquered, we see that all our spiritual enemies are in reality but as mountains of vapour and smoke. When we set the Lord before us we have almost conquered ere we begin the fight. A sight of his glory changes all the charms of sin into the horrors of corruption. Before Joshua entered on the conquest the males born in the desert must be circumcised, for that ritual, the seal of their covenant, had been neglected, because they knew not when the cloud would rise. And being now not very far from Shechem, they could not forget the sin of Simeon and Levi, who treacherously smote the city, in like circumstances, while the men were sore. What a mercy that God did not retaliate, and that the sin was pardoned after repentance and perpetual abhorrence. Worldly prudence would blame Joshua for circumcising his army in a hostile land; but God had promised to defend the people during the festivals, as he really did at Mizpeh; and believing the Lord’s promise, safety surrounded them on every side. When was man a sufferer, putting the whole of life together, by serving the Lord?

The people must next proceed to renew their covenant, as Moses had commanded, Deuteronomy 27:0.; and to celebrate the passover before they dared to assault the enemy. The man who expects the divine blessing to crown his works must go forth in full covenant with God. The duties and the promises of religion are everywhere connected, and he who neglects the former cannot claim the latter.

We have before noticed, that the pillary cloud is not mentioned when the people were directed to follow the ark: in like manner the manna also ceased, when the people began to eat of the old corn of the land. We may therefore assuredly gather, that the Lord will never leave nor forsake his people while travelling in the desert land. He will feed them in all his ordinances, and guide them by his light of truth and grace. We may also infer, that we should be diligent in the use of means, as Israel was in gathering their daily food to the end of their journey: and in all things be obedient to his will.

The Lord having repeatedly encouraged Joshua by oracles from the mercyseat, as is understood, next proceeds to favour him, as he had done the holy patriarchs, with a sanctifying discovery of his angelic presence; for holy men were gradually exalted in the scale of revelations. He saw a most magnificent personage right before him, in all the terror of military array. He approached with conscious awe; and, on knowing who he was, he prostrated and adored his father’s God. Christ is still the captain of his militant host. He walketh in the midst of the churches, and out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword with two edges. Let us therefore dismiss our fears. If God be for us, who can be against us?

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/joshua-5.html. 1835.
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