We may well imagine that the people of Canaan were astonished, and that when they observed the motions of the enemy they could not but think them very strange. When soldiers take the field they are apt to think themselves excused from religious exercises (they have not time nor thought to attend to them), yet Joshua opens the campaign with one act of devotion after another. What was afterwards said to another Joshua might truly be said to this, Hear now, O Joshua! thou and thy fellows that sit before thee are men wondered at (Zech. 3:8), and yet indeed he took the right method. That is likely to end well which begins with God. Here is,
I. A solemn passover kept, at the time appointed by the law, the fourteenth day of the first month, and in the same place where they were circumcised, Josh. 5:10. While they were wandering in the wilderness they were denied the benefit and comfort of this ordinance, as a further token of God’s displeasure; but now, in answer to the prayer of Moses upon the passing of that sentence Ps. 90:15; God comforted them again, after the time that he had afflicted them, and therefore now that joyful ordinance is revived again. Now that they had entered into Canaan it was very seasonable to remember those wondrous works of divine power and goodness by which they were brought out of Egypt. The finishing of mercies should bring to mind the beginning of them; and when it is perfect day we must not forget how welcome the morning-light was when we had long waited for it. The solemn passover followed immediately after the solemn circumcision; thus, when those that received the word were baptized, immediately we find them breaking bread, Acts 2:41, 42. They kept this passover in the plains of Jericho, as it were in defiance of the Canaanites that were round about them and enraged against them, and yet could not give them any disturbance. Thus God gave them an early instance of the performance of that promise that when they went up to keep the feasts their land should be taken under the special protection of the divine Providence. Exod. 34:24; Neither shall any man desire thy land. He now prepared a table before them in the presence of their enemies, Ps. 23:5.
II. Provision made for their camp of the corn of the land, and the ceasing of the manna thereupon, Josh. 5:11, 12. Manna was a wonderful mercy to them when they needed it. But it was the mark of a wilderness state; it was the food of children; and therefore, though it was angel’s food, and not to be complained of a light bread, yet it would be more acceptable to them to eat of the corn of the land, and this they are now furnished with.
1. The country people, having retired for safety into Jericho, had left their barns and fields, and all that was in them, which served for the subsistence of this great army. And the supply came very seasonably, for, (1.) After the passover they were to keep the feast of unleavened bread, which they could not do according to the appointment when they had nothing but manna to live upon; and perhaps this was one reason why it was intermitted in the wilderness. But now they found old corn enough in the barns of the Canaanites to supply them plentifully for that occasion; thus the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just, and little did those who laid it up think whose all these things should be which they had provided. (2.) On the morrow after the passover-sabbath they were to wave the sheaf of first-fruits before the Lord, Lev. 23:10, 11. And this they were particularly ordered to do when they came into the land which God would vice them: and they were furnished for this with the fruit of the land that year Josh. 5:12), which was then growing and beginning to be ripe. Thus they were well provided for, both with old and new corn, as good householders. See Matt. 13:52. And as soon as ever the fruits of this good land came to their hands they had an opportunity of honouring God with them, and employing them in his service according to his appointment. And thus, behold, all things were clean and comfortable to them. Calvin is of opinion that they had kept the passover every year in its season during their wandering in the wilderness, though it is not mentioned, and that God dispensed with their being uncircumcised, as he did, notwithstanding that, admit them to offer other sacrifices. But some gather from Amos 5:25 that after the sentence passed upon them there were no sacrifices offered till they came to Canaan, and consequently no passover was kept. And it is observable that after that sentence (Num. 14:1-45) the law which follows (Num. 15:1-41) concerning sacrifices begins thus: “When you shall have come into the land of your habitations” you shall do so and so.
2. Notice is taken of the ceasing of the manna as soon as ever they had eaten the old corn of the land, (1.) To show that it did not come by chance or common providence, as snow or hail does, but by the special designation of divine wisdom and goodness; for, as it came just when they needed it, so it continued as long as they had occasion for it and no longer. (2.) To teach us not to expect extraordinary supplies when supplies may be had in an ordinary way. If God had dealt with Israel according to their deserts, the manna would have ceased when they called it light bread; but as long as they needed it God continued it, though they despised it; and now that they needed it not God withdrew it, though perhaps some of them desired it. He is a wise Father, who knows the necessities of his children, and accommodates his gifts to them, not to their humours. The word and ordinances of God are spiritual manna, with which God nourishes his people in this wilderness, and, though often forfeited, yet they are continued while we are here; but when we come to the heavenly Canaan this manna will cease, for we shall no longer have need of it.
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