Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 5:14

He said, "No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord ." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Captain;   Jericho;   Jesus Continued;   Vision;   Thompson Chain Reference - Joshua;   Prayer;   Worshippers;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Jews, the;   Prayer;   Titles and Names of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Hosts;   Joshua the son of nun;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Angel;   Angel of the Lord;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Theophany;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bowing;   Captain;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bochim;   Joshua;   Sabaoth, Lord of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Archangel;   Army;   Joshua, the Book of;   Lord;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Adoration;   Angel;   Host of Heaven;   Jericho;   Lord of Hosts;   Trinity;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Israel, Israelite;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Army;   Captain;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Tabernacle;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Joshua;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Angel;   Attitudes;   Joshua (2);   Joshua, Book of;   Prince;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abraham, Testament of;   Adoration, Forms of;   Angelology;   Astronomy;   Host of Heaven;   Names of God;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

But as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come - By this saying Joshua was both encouraged and instructed. As if he had said, "Fear not; Jehovah hath sent from heaven to save thee and thy people from the reproach of them that would swallow thee up. Israel is the Lord's host; and the Lord of hosts is Israel's Captain. Thou thyself shalt only be captain under me, and I am now about to instruct thee relative to thy conduct in this war."

And Joshua - did worship - Nor was he reprehended for offering Divine worship to this person, which he would not have received had he been a created angel. See Revelation 22:8, Revelation 22:9.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Captain of the host of the Lord - i. e. of the angelic host, the host of heaven (compare 1 Kings 22:19; 1 Samuel 1:3, etc.). The armed people of Israel are never called “the host of the Lord,” though once spoken of in Exodus 12:41 as “all the hosts of the Lord.” The Divine Person intimates that He, the Prince (see the marginal references) of the Angels had come to lead Israel in the coming strife, and to overthrow by heavenly might the armies and the strongholds of God‘s and Israel‘s enemies. Accordingly, the capture of Jericho and the destruction of the Canaanites generally form a fit type of a grander and more complete conquest and excision of the powers of evil which yet waits accomplishment. (Compare with this verse Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.)

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-5.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he said, nay,.... Not for or on the side of their adversaries was he come, as Joshua suspected at the first sight of him; the Septuagint version is, "he said unto him", taking לא for לו, as it sometimes is:

but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come; of the host of the Lord both in heaven and in earth, angels and men, and particularly of the people of Israel, called the armies and host of the Lord, Exodus 7:4; so that though Joshua was general, Christ was Generalissimo; and so Joshua understood him, and therefore showed a readiness to do whatsoever he should command him; the spiritual Israel of God, the church, is in a militant state, and has many enemies to combat with, sin, Satan, the world, and false teachers; Christ is their Leader and Commander, the Captain of their salvation, and has all necessary qualifications or wisdom, courage, and might, for such an office; see Isaiah 55:4,

and Joshua fell on his face to the earth; in reverence of this divine and illustrious Person, whom he perceived to be what he was:

and did worship; gave him religious worship and adoration, which had he been a created angel he would not have given to him, nor would such an one have received it, Revelation 19:10,

and said unto him, what saith my Lord unto his servant? that is, what commands had he to lay upon him, and he was ready to execute them? he was heartily willing to be subject to him as the chief general of the Israelitish forces, and to consider himself, and behave, as an officer under him, and to obey all orders that should be given.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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 g did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?

(g) In that Joshua worships him, he acknowledges him to be God: and in that he calls himself the Lord's captain he declares himself to be Christ.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

the host of the Lord — either the Israelitish people (Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:41; Isaiah 55:4), or the angels (Psalm 148:2), 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 Acts 10:25, Acts 10:26; Revelation 19:10), and still further in the command, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot” (Exodus 3:5).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-5.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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?

As captain — I am the chief captain of this people, and will conduct and assist thee and them in this great undertaking. Now this person is not a created angel, but the son of God, who went along with the Israelites in this expedition, as their chief and captain. And this appears, 1. By his acceptance of adoration here, which a created angel durst not admit of, Revelation 22:8,92. Because the place was made holy by his presence, Joshua 5:15, which was God's prerogative, Exodus 3:53. Because he is called the Lord, Heb. Jehovah, Joshua 6:2.

My Lord — I acknowledge thee for my Lord and captain, and therefore wait for thy commands, which I am ready to obey.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-5.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 5:14 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?

Ver. 14. Nay; but as captain.] Commander-in-chief of all creatures, and captain also of his people’s salvation. [Hebrews 2:10]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-5.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He said, Nay, I am neither Israelite nor Canaanite.

Captain of the host of the Lord; either,

1. Of all creatures in heaven and earth, which are God’s hosts. Or,

2. Of the angels, who are called the host of heaven,

1 Kings 22:19 2 Chronicles 18:18 Luke 2:13. Or,

3. Of the host or people of Israel, which are called the Lord’s host, Exodus 12:41. The sense is, I am the chief Captain of this people, and will conduct and assist thee and them in this great undertaking. Now this person is none other than Michael the Prince, Daniel 10:21 12:1; not a created angel, but the Son of God, who went along with the Israelites in this expedition, 1 Corinthians 10:4; not surely as an underling, but as their Chief and Captain. And this appears,

1. By his acceptance of adoration here, which a created angel durst not admit of, Revelation 22:8,9.

2. Because the place was made holy by his presence, Exodus 3:15, which was God’s prerogative, Exodus 3:5.

3. Because he is called the Lord, Heb. Jehovah, Joshua 6:2. What saith my lord unto his servant? I acknowledge thee for my Lord and Captain, and therefore wait for thy commands, which I am ready to obey.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-5.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 5:14 a

‘And he said, “No, but as Captain of the host of YHWH am I now come.” ’

To Joshua’s astonishment the man replied that He had come as Captain of YHWH’s host. At the mention of YHWH’s host Joshua’s mind may well have gone back to the ‘ten thousands of holy ones’ described by Moses (Deuteronomy 33:2). So he may have seen this Man as having come, with YHWH’s hosts backing Him, to fight alongside Israel and bring God’s judgment on Jericho, with Jericho being seen as representative of all the Canaanites, because their iniquity was now full (compare Genesis 15:16). It indicates that the cry of Canaan’s deep sinfulness, with its distorted religion, sexual perversions and child sacrifices, had reached to heaven.

We can compare this to some extent with Elisha who was also surrounded by the invisible host of YHWH (2 Kings 6:17), and his vision of the chariots of God who were there to fight on behalf of Israel, the ones who were Israel’s true chariots (2 Kings 2:12). In both cases the idea was of God’s power behind His chosen servant. Compare also the angels of God who met with Jacob on his return to Canaan, ‘God’s host’ (Genesis 32:1-2). But the drawn sword stresses that here the emphasis was on judgment rather than protection.

Alternately, however, and possibly preferably if not as spectacularly, we may see ‘the host of YHWH’ as referring to ‘My hosts, My people, the children of Israel’ (Exodus 7:4) with the idea being that this man was claiming to be their supreme general, indicating that He was therefore Joshua’s superior officer, the Captain of the host of Israel, ‘the Angel of YHWH’ in contrast with Joshua, ‘the servant of YHWH’, and that He had come to lead them with the sword of judgment already drawn. In this case we have the picture of Israel as YHWH’s avenging host under YHWH’s direct command who must now bring judgment on Canaan for its evil ways.

Joshua 5:14 b.

“And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and performed worship, and said to him, “What does my Lord say to his servant?”.’

Compare Balaam’s response to the Angel of YHWH, ‘he bowed his head and fell on his face’ (Numbers 22:31). Joshua’s act of worship demonstrated that he now knew that this was the Angel of YHWH, YHWH Himself revealed in human form. He was aware of His numinous presence, and, filled with awe, he yielded to Him in total submission. “What does my Lord say to his servant?”

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-5.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.And he said, Nay — This answer has reference to the last clause, or second part, of the question, “I am not for your adversaries.” In the sense that he was not an Israelite, some think that it may be referred to both members of the question. The reading which makes nay a pronoun, to him, though adopted by the Septuagint and the Syriac, cannot be sustained.

Captain of the host of the Lord Prince of the army of Jehovah. The army of heaven is here meant, not the Israelitish host. [This prince of the angelic host was not Michael, nor any other created being, but the Word of God, the Divine Loges or Revealer, who in the fulness of time became flesh, (John 1,) and even then declared that he came not to send peace on earth, but a sword. Matthew 10:34. Hence in Joshua 6:2, he is called the

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-5.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 5:14. As captain of the Lord’s host — Captain of this people, and I will conduct and assist thee and them in this great undertaking. Now this person was evidently not a created angel, but the Son of God, who went along with the Israelites in this expedition, as their chief and captain. And this appears, 1st, By his acceptance of adoration here, which a created angel would not have dared to admit of, Revelation 22:8; Revelation 9:2 d, Because the place was made holy by his presence, (Joshua 5:15,) which to do was God’s prerogative, Exodus 3:5. 3d, Because he is called the Lord. Hebrew, Jehovah; chap. Joshua 6:2. My Lord — I acknowledge thee for my Lord and captain, and therefore wait for thy commands, which I am ready to obey.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-5.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Prince of the host of the Lord, &c. St. Michael, who is called prince of the people of Israel, Daniel x. 21. (Challoner) --- Some of the Fathers explain it of the son of God. (Origen, hom. 6.) But St. Augustine, City of God xi. 13., St. Jerome in Galatians iii., and interpreters in general agree, that the person who here appeared to Josue, was the archangel Michael. He came, in the name of God, to assure Josue of success, as the angel had appeared to Moses in the burning bush, as if to denote the distress of the Hebrews, and to encourage Moses to undertake their liberation. (Calmet) --- Chaldean, "I am the angel sent by God." In that character he is called the Lord. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-5.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Captain, or Prince.

host = Israel as Jehovah"s host. Compare Exodus 12:41.

worship. Therefore Divine. Compare Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9.

my Lord = A donai. App-4.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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?

And he said, Nay, [ lo' (Hebrew #3808)] - No, used absolutely in answer to a question, 'I am not; i:e., a man either of your party or of the enemy's.

Captain (Exodus 15:8) of the host of the Lord - either the Israelite people (Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:41; Isaiah 55:4), or the angels (Psalms 148:2), or both included; and the Captain of it was the Angel of the Covenant, whose visible manifestations were varied according to the occasion, and who on this occasion appeared to conduct God's people into the land of promise. Some consider this to be the created angel (Exodus 33:2-3) who was substituted for the Angel of the Presence (Exodus 33:20-23) in superintending the Sinaitic economy, after the grievous offence caused by the people in the affair of the golden calf. But the address and the adoration of Joshua, the holiness communicated to the spot by the presence of this Personage, and the application to him of the name Yahweh (Joshua 6:2), identify Him with the Angel the Lord, the Second Person of the Trinity. His attitude of equipment betokened his approval of, and interest in, the war of invasion.

Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship. The adoption by Joshua of the 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 (cf. Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8-9), and still further in the command, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot."

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-5.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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?
but as captain
or, Prince.
Exodus 23:20-22; Isaiah 55:4; Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1; Hebrews 2:10; Revelation 12:7; Revelation 19:11-14
fell on his
Genesis 17:3,17; Leviticus 9:24; Numbers 16:22,45; Matthew 8:2; Luke 5:12; Acts 10:25,26; Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9
What saith
1 Samuel 3:9,10; Isaiah 6:8; Acts 9:6
my lord
Exodus 4:10,13; Psalms 110:1; Matthew 22:44; Luke 1:43; 20:42; John 20:28; Philippians 3:8
Reciprocal: Genesis 32:2 - God's;  Exodus 12:41 - hosts;  Numbers 14:5 - GeneralJoshua 20:1 - spake;  Judges 2:1 - And an angel;  1 Samuel 10:1 - captain;  2 Kings 20:5 - the captain;  1 Chronicles 12:22 - like the host of God;  1 Chronicles 21:16 - saw the angel;  2 Chronicles 14:13 - his host;  Psalm 103:21 - all ye his hosts;  Daniel 8:11 - the prince;  Daniel 8:15 - as;  Daniel 10:16 - my Lord;  Zechariah 12:8 - as the

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-5.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

14.And he said, Nay; but as captain, etc Although the denial applies equally to both parts of the question, namely, that he was neither an Israelite nor a Canaanite, and was thus equivalent to a denial of his being a mortal man, yet it seems to be more properly applicable to the second, or to that part of the question in which Joshua asked if he were one of the enemy. This, however, is a matter of little moment; the essential thing is to understand that he had come to preside over the chosen people whom he honorably styles the Lord’s host. In his representing himself as different from God, a personal distinction is denoted, but unity of essence is not destroyed.

We have said that in the books of Moses the name of Jehovah (58) is often attributed to the presiding Angel, who was undoubtedly the only-begotten Son of God. He is indeed very God, and yet in the person of Mediator by dispensation, he is inferior to God. I willingly receive what ancient writers teach on this subject, — that when Christ anciently appeared in human form, it was a prelude to the mystery which was afterwards exhibited when God was manifested in the flesh. We must beware, however, of imagining that Christ at that time became incarnate, since, first, we nowhere read that God sent his Son in the flesh before the fullness of the times; and, secondly, Christ, in so far as he was a man, behooved to be the Son of David. But as is said in Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 1:0) it was only a likeness of man. Whether it was a substantial body or an outward form, it is needless to discuss, as it seems wrong to insist on any particular view of the subject. (59)

The only remaining question is, how the Captain of the Lord’s host can speak of having now come, seeing he had not deserted the people committed to his trust, and had lately given a matchless display of his presence in the passage of the Jordan. But according to the common usage of Scripture, God is said to come to us when we are actually made sensible of his assistance, which seems remote when not manifested by experience. It is therefore just as if he were offering his assistance in the combats which were about to be waged, and promising by his arrival that the war would have a happy issue. It cannot be inferred with certainty from the worship which he offered, whether Joshua paid divine honor to Christ distinctly recognized as such; but by asking, What command does my Lord give to his servant? he attributes to him a power and authority which belong to God alone.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-5.html. 1840-57.