Joshua 4:19
And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
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EVENTS AT GILGAL (Joshua 4:19 to Joshua 5:12, inclusive).

(19) On the tenth day of the first month.—Of the forty-first year after they left Egypt. Exactly forty years before, on the tenth day of the first month, (Exodus 12:5), they had been commanded to take them “a lamb for an house,” that they might keep the Passover. The forty years of the Exodus were now complete, and on the self-same day they passed over the last barrier, and entered the Promised Land.

Joshua 4:19. On the tenth day of the first month — Namely, of Nisan, which wanted but five days of forty years from the time of their coming out of Egypt, which was on the fifteenth day of this month. So punctual is God in the performing of his word, whether promised or threatened. And this day was very seasonable for the taking up of the lambs which were to be used four days after, according to the law, Exodus 12:3; Exodus 12:6. Gilgal — A place afterward so called, Joshua 5:9.4:10-19 The priests with the ark did not stir till ordered to move. Let none be weary of waiting, while they have the tokens of God's presence with them, even the ark of the covenant, though it be in the depths of adversity. Notice is taken of the honour put upon Joshua. Those are feared in the best manner, and to the best purpose, who make it appear that God is with them, and that they set him before them.Gilgal, mentioned here by anticipation (compare Joshua 5:9), the modern Jiljulieh (Conder), was on rising ground (compare Joshua 5:3), and, according to Josephus, nearly five miles from the river, and consequently about two from the city itself. The site of the camp was no doubt fortified by Joshua, as it constituted for some time the abiding foothold in Canaan, from where he sallied forth to subdue the country. It was also the place of safety where the ark, and no doubt also the women, children, cattle, and other property of the people were left. Hence, the demolition of Jericho and Ai, strong fortresses in the neighborhood of Gilgal, was no doubt dictated by sound policy as well as by religious obligations. 19. the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month—that is, the month Nisan, four days before the passover, and the very day when the paschal lamb required to be set apart, the providence of God having arranged that the entrance into the promised land should be at the feast.

and encamped in Gilgal—The name is here given by anticipation (see on [176]Jos 5:9). It was a tract of land, according to Josephus, fifty stadia (six and one-half miles) from Jordan, and ten stadia (one and one-fourth miles) from Jericho, at the eastern outskirts of the palm forest, now supposed to be the spot occupied by the village Riha.

The first month, to wit, of Nisan, which wanted but five days of forty years from the time of their coming out of Egypt, which was on the fifteenth day of this month; so punctual is God in the performing of his word, whether promised or threatened. And this day was very seasonable for the taking up of the lambs, which were to be used four days after, according to the law, Exodus 12:3,6.

Gilgal; a place so called hereafter upon a following occasion, Joshua 5:9. So here it is an anticipation. And the people came up out of Jordan,.... The channel of it, to the shore:

on the tenth day of the first month; the month Nisan or Abib, which from the time of Israel's coming out of Egypt was appointed the first month of the year, Exodus 12:2; on the fifteenth of which month they came out of Egypt, having kept the passover on the fourteenth at even; so that their coming out of Egypt, to their entrance into Canaan, was just forty years, wanting five days. This tenth day was the day in which the passover was taken from the flock, and kept till the fourteenth, on which day the children of Israel kept their first passover in Canaan, in the plains of Jericho, Joshua 5:10,

and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho; it has its name here by anticipation, for it was so named after this for a reason given, Joshua 5:9; It was, according to Josephus (l), ten furlongs, or a mile and a quarter, from Jericho. Jerom says (m), there was shown in his time a desert place two miles from Jericho, had in wonderful esteem by men of that country, which he suggests was this place; as it was had in great veneration, both by the worshippers of the true God, and by idolaters, for many ages.

(l) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 4.) (m) De loc. Heb. fol. 91. M.

And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the {h} first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

(h) Called Abib or Nisan, containing part of March and part of April.

19–24. Erection of the Monument at Gilgal

19. the tenth day of the first month] Notice the exactness of the narrative. The first month is elsewhere called Abib, i.e. “the month of green ears” (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:1), and subsequently “Nisan” (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7).

encamped] The site was doubtless fortified by Joshua “as a frontier fortress, such as the Greeks under the name of epitichisma, and the Romans under the name of colonia, always planted as their advanced posts in a hostile country, such as at Kufa the Arab conquerors founded before the building of Bagdad, and at Fostal before the building of Cairo.” Stanley’s Lectures, p. 233.

in Gilgal] situated apparently on a hillock or rising ground in the Arboth-Jericho, or, as it is rendered in our Version, “the plains of Jericho,” the more level district of the “Ghôr” which lay between the town and the river. We find Gilgal mentioned again, (a) in the time of Saul (1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 10:8), and (b) some sixty years later in the history of David’s return to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 19:15). The name is here mentioned by anticipation, Joshua 5:9.Verse 19. - On the tenth day of the first month. This statement, compared with Joshua 5:10, will bear close analysis, and refutes the clumsy compiler theory. There was just time between the tenth and fourteenth day of the month for the events described in the meantime. And the scrupulous obedience to the law, the provisions of which, we are expressly told, had been of necessity neglected hitherto, is a fact closely in keeping with the character of Joshua, and the whole spirit of the narrative. Gilgal. The Gilgal, according to the Masorites, no doubt from its being a circular encampment. Not as yet, however, called by this name (see Joshua 5:9). It was "about five miles" (50 stadia, according to Josephus), "from the river banks" (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 307). We gather from Joshua 5:3 that it was a rising ground, but it is impossible to identify the spot, since there never existed any town or village there. A spot is shown by the inhabitants about two miles from Jericho, which is held by them in great reverence, but this is further from Jericho than Josephus imagines it to be, for he places it about a mile and a quarter from Jericho. Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 216) identifies Riha (see note on Joshua 2:1) with Gilgal, but Bartlett (p. 452) places it "a mile east of Riha," "some three miles or more from the fords." It is hardly probable, however, that the Israelites, in their then unprepared condition (see next chapter, and cf. Genesis 34:25), encamped so near the city, even though they were conscious of Divine protection, as Josephus would have us suppose. It has been denied by some that the Gilgal mentioned in Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6 is the same as this one (see notes there, as well as the Masoretic translation above). The reverence for sacred places, such as Gilgal, degenerated in the course of time, according to a well known law of humanity, into superstition - a superstition severely rebuked by the prophets (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5). We may compare the idolatrous worship of the brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:4). It is sometimes contended by Roman Catholic commentators that no approval of the conduct of Hezekiah is here expressed; but a comparison of this passage with those above cited will show in which direction the minds of inspired men tended. Other places seem to have been similarly regarded with superstitious reverence. Not only do we find Bethel mentioned among such places as we might well expect from Jeroboam's idolatrous worship there, but Beersheba also seems to have become a seat of this misdirected devotion (see Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14) The account of the fighting men of the tribes on the east of the Jordan passing over along with them, in number about 40,000, is added as a supplement, because there was no place in which it could be appropriately inserted before, and yet it was necessary that it should be expressly mentioned that these tribes performed the promise they had given (Joshua 1:16-17), and in what manner they did so. The words וגו ויּעברוּ do not imply that these 40,000 men crossed over behind the priests with the ark, which would not only be at variance with the fact so expressly stated, that the ark of the covenant was the medium of the miraculous division of the water, but also with the distant statement in Joshua 4:18, that when the priests, with the ark, set their feet upon the dry land, the waters filled the river again as they had done before. The imperfect with vav consec. here expresses simply the order of thought, and not of time. "Arboth Jericho," the steppes of Jericho, were that portion of the Arabah or Ghor which formed the environs of Jericho, and which widens here into a low-lying plain of about three and a half or four hours' journey in breadth, on account of the western mountains receding considerably to the south of the opening of the Wady Kelt (Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 263ff.). - In Joshua 4:14 the writer mentions still further the fact that the Lord fulfilled His promise (in Joshua 3:7), and by means of this miracle so effectually confirmed the authority of Joshua in the eyes of Israel, that the people feared him all the days of his life as they had feared Moses. "This was not the chief end of the miracle, that Joshua increased in power and authority; but since it was a matter of great importance, so far as the public interests were concerned, that the government of Joshua should be established, it is very properly mentioned, as an addition to the benefits that were otherwise conferred, that he was invested as it were with sacred insignia, which produced such a felling of veneration among the people, that no one dared to treat him with disrespect" (Calvin).
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