New English Translation
5 When all the Amorite kings on the west side of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the seacoast heard how the Lord had dried up the water of the Jordan before the Israelites while they[a] crossed, they lost their courage and could not even breathe for fear of the Israelites.[b]
A New Generation is Circumcised
2 At that time the Lord told Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites once again.”[c] 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at the Hill of the Foreskins.[d] 4 This is why Joshua had to circumcise them: All the men old enough to fight when they left Egypt died on the journey through the wilderness after they left Egypt.[e] 5 Now[f] all the men[g] who left were circumcised, but all the sons[h] born on the journey through the wilderness after they left Egypt were uncircumcised. 6 Indeed, for forty years the Israelites traveled through the wilderness until all the men old enough to fight when they left Egypt, the ones who had disobeyed the Lord, died off.[i] For the Lord had sworn a solemn oath to them that he would not let them see the land he had sworn by oath to their ancestors to give them,[j] a land rich in[k] milk and honey. 7 He replaced them with their sons,[l] whom Joshua circumcised. They were uncircumcised; their fathers had not circumcised them along the way. 8 When all the men[m] had been circumcised, they stayed there in the camp until they had healed. 9 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have taken away[n] the disgrace[o] of Egypt from you.” So that place is called Gilgal[p] even to this day.
10 So the Israelites camped in Gilgal and celebrated the Passover in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month in the rift valley plains of Jericho.[q] 11 They ate some of the produce of the land the day after the Passover, including unleavened bread and roasted grain.[r] 12 The manna stopped appearing the day they ate[s] some of the produce of the land; the Israelites never ate manna again.[t] They ate from the produce of the land of Canaan that year.
Israel Conquers Jericho
13 When Joshua was near[u] Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him holding a drawn sword.[v] Joshua approached him and asked him, “Are you on our side or allied with our enemies?”[w] 14 He answered,[x] “Truly I am the commander of the Lord’s army.[y] Now I have arrived!”[z] Joshua bowed down with his face to the ground[aa] and asked, “What does my master want to say to his servant?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army answered Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you stand is holy.” Joshua did so.
- Joshua 5:1 tc Another textual tradition has, “while we crossed.”
- Joshua 5:1 tn Heb “their heart[s] melted and there was no longer in them breath (or perhaps “spirit”) because of the sons of Israel.”
- Joshua 5:2 tn Heb “return, circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” The Hebrew term שׁוּב (shuv, “return”) is used here in an adverbial sense to indicate the repetition of an action.
- Joshua 5:3 tn Or “Gibeath Haaraloth.” This name means “Hill of the Foreskins.” Many modern translations simply give the Hebrew name, although an explanatory note giving the meaning of the name is often included.sn The name given to the place, Hill of the Foreskins was an obvious reminder of this important event.
- Joshua 5:4 tn Heb “All the people who went out from Egypt, the males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness in the way when they went out from Egypt.”
- Joshua 5:5 tn Or “indeed.”
- Joshua 5:5 tn Heb “people.”
- Joshua 5:5 tn Heb “all the people.”
- Joshua 5:6 tn Heb “all the nation, the men of war who went out from Egypt, who did not listen to the voice of the Lord, came to an end.”
- Joshua 5:6 tn Some Hebrew mss, as well as the Syriac version, support this reading. Most ancient witnesses read “us.”
- Joshua 5:6 tn Heb “flowing with.”sn The word picture a land rich in milk and honey depicts the land as containing many grazing areas (which would produce milk) and flowering plants (which would support the bees that produced honey).
- Joshua 5:7 tn Heb “their sons he raised up in their place.”
- Joshua 5:8 tn Heb “nation.”
- Joshua 5:9 tn Heb “rolled away.”
- Joshua 5:9 sn One might take the disgrace of Egypt as a reference to their uncircumcised condition (see Gen 34:14), but the generation that left Egypt was circumcised (see v. 5). It more likely refers to the disgrace they experienced in Egyptian slavery. When this new generation reached the promised land and renewed their covenantal commitment to the Lord by submitting to the rite of circumcision, the Lord’s deliverance of his people from slavery, which had begun with the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea, reached its climax. See T. C. Butler, Joshua (WBC), 59.
- Joshua 5:9 sn The name Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew verb “roll away” (גַּלַל, galal).
- Joshua 5:10 sn This is the area of the rift valley basin in the vicinity of Jericho (see the note at Josh 4:13).
- Joshua 5:11 tn The Hebrew text adds, “on this same day.” This is somewhat redundant in English and has not been translated.
- Joshua 5:12 tn Heb “the day after, when they ate.” The present translation assumes this means the day after the Passover, though it is possible it refers to the day after they began eating the land’s produce.
- Joshua 5:12 tn Heb “and the sons of Israel had no more manna.”
- Joshua 5:13 tn Heb “in.”
- Joshua 5:13 tn Heb “he lifted up his eyes and looked. And look, a man was standing in front of him, and his sword was drawn in his hand.” The verb הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) invites the reader to view the scene through Joshua’s eyes. By calling the stranger “a man,” the author reflects Joshua’s perspective. The text shortly reveals his true identity (vv. 14-15).
- Joshua 5:13 tn Heb “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
- Joshua 5:14 tc Heb “He said, “Neither.” An alternative reading is לוֹ (lo, “[He said] to him”; cf. NEB). This reading is supported by many Hebrew mss, as well as the LXX and Syriac versions. The traditional reading of the MT (לֹא, loʾ, “no, neither”) is probably the product of aural confusion (the two variant readings sound the same in Hebrew). Although followed by a number of modern translations (cf. NIV, NRSV), this reading is problematic, for the commander of the Lord’s army would hardly have declared himself neutral.
- Joshua 5:14 sn The Lord’s heavenly army, like an earthly army, has a commander who leads the troops. For the phrase שַׂר־צְבָא (sar tsevaʾ, “army commander”) in the human sphere, see among many other references Gen 21:22, 32; 26:26; Judg 4:2, 7; 1 Sam 12:9.
- Joshua 5:14 sn The commander’s appearance seems to be for Joshua’s encouragement. Joshua could now lead Israel into battle knowing that the Lord’s invisible army would ensure victory.
- Joshua 5:14 tn Heb “Joshua fell on his face to the ground and bowed down.”