Joshua 5:10-15

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

10. Itaque castrametati sunt filii Israel in Gilgal, et fecerunt Paesah quartadecima die mensis ad vesperum in campestribus Jericho.

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

11. Et comederunt e fructu terrae postridie Paesah infermentata, et polentam ipsomet die.

12. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn 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.

12. Et cessavit man postridie postquam comederunt e frumento terrae; neque fuit ultra filiis Israel man, sed comederunt e fructu terrae Chanaan eo anno.

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?

13. Contigit autem quum esset Josue apud Jericho, ut levaret oculos suos ac aspiceret: et ecce vir stabat contra eum, in cujus manu erat gladius evaginatus: et ivit Josue ad eum, dixitque illi, Ex nostris es? An ex adversariis nostris?

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 says my lord unto his servant?

14. Et dixit Non: sed sum princeps exercitus Jehovae: nunc veni. Et cecidit Josue in faciem suam ad terram, et adoravit, dixitque ei: Quid Dominus meus loquitur ad servum suum?

15. And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou stands is holy. And Joshua did so.

15. Et dixit princeps exercitus Jehovae ad Josuam: Solve calceamentum tuum e pedibus tuis: quia locus super quem stas, sanctitas est. Et ita fecit Josue.


10. And the children of Israel. kept the Passover, etc Here it is stated that the Passover was celebrated on the regular day, although there are some who think that the words used imply that the practice was unusual. They hence infer that, like circumcision, it had been interrupted for a period of forty years, as it would have been absurd for persons uncircumcised to take part in a sacred feast. To confirm this view, they observe that we do not read of the Passover having been observed after the beginning of the second year. But it is not probable that that which God had lately ordered to be perpetual, (Exodus 12:42) was suddenly cast aside. For it had been said to them, It is a night to be observed by the children of Israel in all their generations. How inconsistent, then, would it have been had this practice, which was to be observed throughout all ages, become obsolete in the course of two years! And again, how heartless it would have been to bury the memory of a recent favor within so short a period!

But it is said that the want of circumcision must have kept back a large proportion, that the mystery might not be profaned; for at its institution it had been declared, No uncircumcised person shall eat of it. To this I have already answered, that it was an extraordinary privilege; as the children of Israel were freed from the law.1 For it is certain that they continued to use sacrifices, and to observe the other parts of legal worship, although this was unlawful, unless something of the form prescribed by the law had been remitted by divine authority. It is certain that unclean persons were prohibited from entering the court of the tabernacle, and yet the children of Israel, while uncircumcised, offered sacrifices there, thus doing what was equivalent to the slaying of the Passover. They were therefore permitted, by sufferance, to do that which it was not lawful to do according to the rule of the law.

The mention made by Moses of the second celebration of the Passover (Numbers 9) is for a different purpose, namely, for the purpose of indirectly censuring the carelessness and sluggishness of the people, who would not have observed the sacred anniversary at the end of the first year if they had not been reminded of it. For although God had proclaimed that they should through all ages annually renew the memory of their deliverance, yet they had grown so oblivious before the end of the year, that they had become remiss in the discharge of the duty. It is not without cause they are urged by a new intimation, as they were not sufficiently attentive of their own accord. That passage, therefore, does not prove that the use of the Passover was afterwards interrupted; on the contrary, it may, with some probability, be inferred from it that it was annually observed; as the Lord, towards the end of the year, anticipates the observance, telling them to make careful provision for it in future, and never deviate from the command which had been given them.2

11. And they did eat of the old corn, etc Whether they then began first to eat wheaten bread is not very clear. For they had dwelt in a country that was not uncultivated, and was tolerably fertile. At least in the territories of the two kings there was enough of corn to supply the inhabitants. It does not seem reasonable to suppose that the children of Israel allowed the corn which they found there to rot and perish by mere waste. And I have no doubt that they ate the flesh which remained over of the sacrifices. It is quite possible, therefore, that they did not wholly abstain from wheaten bread, and yet did not abandon their accustomed food. For a country which was assigned to a tenth part could not have furnished food sufficient for the whole multitude, as there cannot be a doubt that a just estimate was made when Moses settled in it only two tribes and a half tribe. As yet, therefore, the twelve tribes had not found sufficient food, more especially as the country had been devastated by war, and the Israelites, who were not in safety to leave the camp, could not devote their attention to agriculture. The manna was thus necessary to feed them until a more abundant supply was obtained. This took place in the land of Canaan, and then, accordingly, they returned to common food. But why they deferred it till that day is not known, unless it be that after their wound was cured, some days behooved to be spent in collecting corn, while religion did not permit them to bake bread lest they should break the Sabbath. But although that rest was sacred, we gather from the circumstances that they made haste, as the flour must have been previously prepared, seeing they could not grind it and bake it in a single day.

Be this as it may, the Lord furnished them with provision as long as their want required to be supplied. The failure of the manna on a sudden, and at the very moment, must have furnished an additional attestation to the kindness of God, inasmuch as it was thence apparent that the manna was a temporary resource, which had descended not so much from the clouds as from a paternal providence. It is moreover plain, that this is to be understood of the produce of the former year, and it is needless to raise any question in regard to it; for it would have implied too much precipitation to rush upon the produce of the present year when not yet properly matured, and a whole month would scarcely have sufficed to collect enough for the supply of so great a multitude. I cannot see why expounders should give themselves so much trouble with so clear a matter.

13. And it came to pass when Joshua, etc Here we have the narrative of a remarkable vision, by which Joshua was greatly encouraged and emboldened. For though he was strenuously discharging his office, the application of an additional stimulus was not without its use. The angel, however, did not appear solely on his private account, but for the confirmation of the whole people: nay, the Lord looked further forward, that he might furnish posterity with stronger proofs of a kindness which was never duly considered. For although they boasted in lofty terms of having been planted by the hand of God in a holy land, they were scarcely induced by all the miracles to acknowledge in good earnest that they were placed there as God's vassals. This vision, therefore, must have been beneficial to all ages, by leaving no doubt as to the divine kindness bestowed. Its being said that he lifted his eyes, tends to confirm the certainty of the vision, lest any one might suppose that his eyesight had merely been dazzled by some evanescent phantom.

The spectacle, when first presented, must have inspired fear; for it is probable that Joshua was then alone, whether he had withdrawn from public view to engage in prayer, or for the purpose of reconnoitering the city. I am rather inclined to think it was the latter, and that he had gone aside to examine where the city ought to be attacked, lest the difficulty might deter others. It appears certain that he was without attendants, as he alone perceives the vision; and there can be no doubt that he was prepared to fight had he fallen in with an enemy. But he puts his question as if addressing a man, because it is only from the answer he learns that it is an angel. This doubt gives more credibility to the vision, while he is gradually led from the view of the man whom he addresses to the recognition of an angel. The words, at the same time, imply that it was not an ordinary angel, but one of special excellence. For he calls himself captain of the Lord's host, a term which may be understood to comprehend not merely his chosen people, but angels also.

The former view, however, is the more correct, as God does not produce anything of an unwonted nature, but constitutes that which we previously read that he performed to Moses. And we know that Moses himself preferred this favor to all others; and justly, for God there manifested his own glory in an open and familiar manner. Accordingly, he is indiscriminately called an angel, and distinguished by the title of the eternal God. Of this fact Paul is a competent witness, who distinctly declares that it was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4.) And Moses himself embraced God as present in the person of the Mediator. For when God declares, after the making of the calf, (Exodus 33:2-33) that he would no longer be the Leader of the people, he at the same time promises that he will give one of his angels, but only one, as it were taken out of the general body of the angelic host.4 This Moses earnestly deprecates, obviously because he could have no hope that God would be propitious if the Mediator were removed. It was thus a special pledge of the divine favor that the Captain and Head of the Church, to whom Moses had been accustomed, was now present to assist. And indeed the divine adoption could not be ratified in any other way than in the hand of the Mediator.

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 Jehovah5 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) 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.6

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.

15. Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, etc To give additional sanctity to the vision, the great Angel requires as a sign of reverence and fear that Joshua put off his shoes. Moses relates, (Exodus 3:5) that the same command was given to him on Mount Sinai, and for no other reason than that the Lord there manifested his glory. For one place cannot have a greater sanctity than another, except God deigns specially to make it so. Thus Jacob exclaims, (Genesis 28:177) that the place where he had known God more nearly is the house of God, a dreadful place, and the gate of heaven. Here, therefore, when God orders his holy servant to take off his shoes, he by this ceremony attests the reality of his presence, and adds more weight to the vision; not that nakedness of feet is of itself of any value in the worship of God, but because the weakness of men requires to be aided by helps of this kind, that they may the better excite and prepare themselves for veneration. Moreover, as God by his presence sanctifies the places in which he appears, I think it probable that the expression, holy ground, is in part commendatory of the excellence of the land of Canaan, which God had chosen for his own habitation and the seat of his pure worship. Hence in various passages it is called "his rest." (Psalm 95:11, and Psalm 132:148) In the end of the verse Joshua is praised for his obedience, that posterity might learn by his example to cultivate pure piety in that land. There seems thus to be a kind of tacit comparison or antithesis, by which the land of Canaan is extolled above all other countries.9

1 "Freed from the law." Latin, "Lege soluti." French, "Ont este exemptez et dispensez de ce a quoy la Loy les assujettissoit;" "Have been exempted and dispensed from that to which the law subjected them." -- Ed.

2 These remarks place the view which Calvin takes in its most favorable light; but, on the other hand, it is strongly argued, 1. That the eating of the Passover by an uncircumcised person was expressly prohibited, (Exodus 12:48) 2. That the observance of it during the wandering in the desert is, by implication at least, dispensed with in the words, "And it shall come to pass, when you be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he has promised, that you shall keep this service." (Exodus 12:25) 3. That the observance of the Passover at Mount Sinai was in compliance with a special mandate, and would not have taken place without it. 4. The assumption that sacrifices were offered in the desert is questioned as inconsistent with Amos 5:25. It may be added, that the order to circumcise, evidently intended as a preparation for the celebration of the approaching Passover, seems to imply that there had previously been a similar omission of both ordinances. It must also have been difficult, if not impossible, while in the wilderness, to obtain flour in sufficient quantity to make unleavened Passover bread for a whole people. -- Ed.

3 The original text had referenced Exodus 32:37, which is invalid. Certainly the passage now referenced makes mention of the angel, and that God will no longer 'go out before' the people of Israel, but, if Calvin had only the angel in mind, the reference could have been meant for Exodus 32:34. However, it could also be a general reference to events occurring throughout Chapter 32, (the making of the calf in verses 2-3, God saying He would not be their Leader in verse 10, and the reference to the angel in verse 34). -- fj,sg.

4 French, "Mais comme le premier qui se rencontrera;" "But as it were the first who may happen to present himself." -- Ed.

5 The French adds, "C'est a dire d'Eternel;" "That is to say of Eternal." -- Ed.

6 Several modern commentators, among others Grotius, have maintained that the personage who thus appeared was merely a created angel. In this they have only followed in the steps of the Jewish Rabbis, who not satisfied with holding that he was an angel, have gone the farther length of fixing what particular angel it was. With almost unanimous consent they declare it to have been Michael, though they are unable to support their opinion by anything stronger than the first verse of the twelfth chapter of Daniel, [Da 12:1] in which it is said, that "at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people." The sounder view here advocated by Calvin, and generally adopted by the early Christian Fathers, is well expressed by Origen, who says, in his Sixth Homily on this Book, "Joshua knew not only that he was of God, but that he was God. For he would not have worshipped, had he not recognized him to be God. For who else is the Captain of the Lord's host but our Lord Jesus Christ?" It would make sad havoc with our ideas of divine worship to admit that the homage which Joshua here pays could be lawfully received, or rather could, so to speak, be imperiously demanded by one creature from another. -- Ed.

7 The original text had the reference to Genesis 26:17, an obvious typesetting error. --fj.

8 The original text had the reference to Psalm 132:11, an obvious typesetting error. --fj.

9 The incident here recorded is one of the principal reasons from the designation of the Holy Land usually applied to Palestine. -- Ed.


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