Joshua 5:1
And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
V.

(1) The Amorites . . . and . . . Canaanites.—Two principal nations seem to be here mentioned as representatives of the rest.

We.—See Note on Joshua 5:6.

Joshua 5:1. Amorites — These and the Canaanites are mentioned for all the rest, as being the chief of them for number, and power, and courage. On the side of Jordan westward — This is added to distinguish them from the other Amorites, eastward from Jordan, whom Moses had subdued. Which were by the sea — The midland sea, all along the coast of it, which was the chief seat of that people, though divers colonies of them were come into and settled in other places. That the Lord had dried up Jordan — Which was their bulwark on the east side, where the Israelites were; for it is very probable they had taken away all bridges near those parts; and the Israelites having been so long in that neighbouring country, and yet not making any attempt upon them, they were grown secure; especially now, when Jordan swelled beyond its ordinary bounds; and therefore they did not endeavour to hinder their passage. Their heart melted — They lost all their courage, and durst attempt nothing upon the Israelites. This did not happen without God’s special providence, that the Israelites might quietly participate of the two great sacraments of their church, circumcision and the passover, and thereby be prepared for their high and hard work, and for the possession of the holy and promised land; which would have been defiled by an uncircumcised people.5:1-9 How dreadful is their case, who see the wrath of God advancing towards them, without being able to turn it aside, or escape it! Such will be the horrible situation of the wicked; nor can words express the anguish of their feelings, or the greatness of their terror. Oh that they would now take warning, and before it be too late, flee for refuge to lay hold upon that hope set before them in the gospel! God impressed these fears on the Canaanites, and dispirited them. This gave a short rest to the Israelites, and circumcision rolled away the reproach of Egypt. They were hereby owned to be the free-born children of God, having the seal of the covenant. When God glorifies himself in perfecting the salvation of his people, he not only silences all enemies, but rolls back their reproaches upon themselves.The Amorites were the principal of those nations which occupied the hill country of Judaea (Genesis 10:16 note); the Canaanites of those that dwelt on the coast and low lands. These words are therefore equivalent to "all the kings of the highlanders, and all the kings of the lowlanders:" i. e. the kings of all the tribes of the country.

Until we were passed over - The use of the first person has been noted here, and in Joshua 5:6 (compare Acts 16:10), as suggesting the hand of one who himself shared in what he describes. But the text as read (though not written) by the Jewish authorities here, has the third person; as have some manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate, etc.: and a change of person like this in Hebrew, even if the text stand, does not of itself warrant the inference. (Compare Psalm 66:6.)

CHAPTER 5

Jos 5:1. The Canaanites Afraid.

1. the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea—Under the former designation were included the people who inhabited the mountainous region, and under the latter those who were on the seacoast of Palestine.

heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan … that their heart melted—They had probably reckoned on the swollen river interposing for a time a sure barrier of defense. But seeing it had been completely dried up, they were completely paralyzed by so incontestable a proof that God was on the side of the invaders. In fact, the conquest had already begun in the total prostration of spirit among the native chiefs. "Their heart melted," but unhappily not into faith and penitent submission.The Amorites and Canaanites hear of this, and are afraid, Joshua 5:1. The males born in the wilderness are circumcised, Joshua 5:2-9. The passover is celebrated, Joshua 5:10. They eat of the corn of the land, and the manna ceaseth, Joshua 5:11,12. Christ appeareth to Joshua in form of a man of war; he worships him; the place of his presence holy ground, Joshua 5:13-15.

The Amorites and the Canaanites are mentioned for all the rest, as being the chief of them for number, and power, and courage.

Westward: this is added to distinguish them from the other Amorites, eastward from Jordan, whom Moses had subdued.

All the kings of the Canaanites; so the proper place of this nation was on both sides of Jordan.

By the sea; the midland sea, all along the coast of it, which was the chief seat of that people, though divers colonies of them were come into and settled in other places.

Jordan was their bulwark on the east side, where the Israelites were; for it is very probable they had taken away all bridges near those parts; and the Israelites having been so long in that neighbouring country, and yet not making any attempt upon them, they were grown secure; especially now, when Jordan swelled beyond its ordinary bounds; and therefore they did not endeavour to hinder their passage.

Their heart melted; they lost all their courage, and durst attempt nothing upon the Israelites; not without God’s special providence, that the Israelites might quietly participate of the two great sacraments of their church, circumcision and the passover, and thereby be prepared for their high and hard work, and for the possession of the holy and promised land, which would have been defiled by an uncircumcised people.

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward,.... On the side the Israelites were now on; and this is observed, to distinguish them from the other kings of the Amorites beyond Jordan, on the eastern side, who were already conquered by the Israelites, Sihon and Og, who seem to be a colony that went over from the Amorites in Canaan, and possessed themselves of that part of the land of Moab. These seem to be put for several others of the nations of the land not mentioned, who doubtless were as much dispirited as they; and they are the rather mentioned, because they were a principal nation, and a very powerful and warlike one, see Amos 2:9.

and all the kings of the Canaanites which were by the sea; the Mediterranean sea; the Septuagint version calls them the kings of Phoenicia; and that which was strictly and property so lay on that coast, in which were the cities of Tyre and Sidon, though the whole land of Canaan was sometimes so called; unless this is to be understood, either of the dead sea, or of the sea of Galilee; of which Canaanites, see Numbers 13:29; however, be they the one or the other, or both, as most likely, when they

heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted,

neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel; they lost all their courage, and never recovered it any more; concluding it was all over with them, since such wonderful things were done for them by the Lord: the word "we" shows that the writer of this history was one that passed over Jordan, and who can be supposed but Joshua himself? this circumstance, I think, strongly corroborates that opinion.

And it came to pass, when all the kings of the {a} Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

(a) The Amorites were on both sides of Jordan, of which two kings were slain already on the side toward Moab.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Joshua 5:1-9. Renewal of the Rite of Circumcision

1. when all the kings of the Amorites] This verse stands in close connection with the last verse of the preceding Chapter. All the peoples of the earth were “to know the Name of the Lord” and to fear Him. A first example of this is seen in the case of the Canaanite nations.

which were by the sea] See note above on Joshua 3:10.

their heart melted] The terror which, as Rahab had told the spies, had already seized them was greatly increased by the news of the marvellous passage of the Jordan. Wyclif renders it, “the herte of hem is discomfortid, and abood not in hem spiryte of hem.”Verse 1. - Which were on the side of Jordan westward. A large portion of the territory of the Amorites had, as we have seen (Joshua 3:10), been already conquered. The remaining tribes on the other side Jordan were apprehensive of the same fate. For "on the side," the original has "across." Having hitherto written of Israel as on the eastern side of Jordan, he continues the same expression after he has narrated the crossing. But writing as he did on the west side of Jordan, and for readers the vast majority of whom were on the west side of Jordan, he adds the expression "westward" (literally, seaward) to prevent any possibility of mistake. Until we were passed over. The Masorites, in the Keri, have corrected the text (Chethibh) into "until they were passed over." Kennicott states that this reading is confirmed by twenty-seven Hebrew MSS., which have probably adopted the reading from the Masoretic correction. The LXX. accepts the Chethibh. The probability, however, is that this is one of the many instances of a conjectural emendation of a difficult passage, it not having been seen that the historian was either quoting a document contemporary with the events described, or more probably using the word to identify himself as an Israelite with the acts of his fathers in past times. This is the opinion of Rabbi David Kimchi. Knobel refers to Psalm 66:6. See also ver. 6 of this chapter, and Joshua 24:5, 6, 7; Judges 11:17; cf. 19. We must not, then, assume from this passage that the Book of Joshua was written by one who himself had a share in the events recorded, in the face of many indications we have of a later origin (see Joshua 4:9, etc.). A fuller discussion of this subject will be found in the introduction. Their heart melted. Confirming what Rahab had said (Joshua 2:11). Similar terror has often been struck into the hearts of peoples, especially of peoples enervated by habits of licentious indulgence, by the approach of enemies who have successfully and rapidly overcome obstacles deemed insurmountable. Such an effect was produced in Persia by Alexander's victories at the Granicus and Issus. Such an effect, again, was produced in Italy by the tidings of the approach of Alaric and Attila. If we may trust the monk of St. Gall, a similar terror fell on the degenerate Lombards at the approach of Charles the Great, after his daring passage of the Alps. In this case the miraculous element was added, and the inhabitants of Canaan, and of Jericho especially, remained for the time panic stricken, not daring to combine to strike a blow against these daring invaders, who in addition to their bravery seemed under the special protection of Heaven. When they had recovered from the consternation into which the passage of the Jordan had thrown them, the sense of an imminent danger forced them at last to make an effort at resistance (see ch. 10.). The crossing took place on the tenth day of the first month, that is to say, on the same day on which, forty years before, Israel had begun to prepare for going out of Egypt by setting apart the paschal lamb (Exodus 12:3). After crossing the river, the people encamped at Gilgal, on the eastern border of the territory of Jericho. The place of encampment is called Gilgal proleptically in Joshua 4:19 and Joshua 4:20 (see at Joshua 5:9).
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