Notes & Commentary:
Ver 1. Chanaan. These occupied the countries situated on the Mediterranean sea, as far as Egypt: the Amorrhites dwelt nearer to the lake of Sodom. The whole country is divided between these two nations, including that territory which the Philistines had seized, and which belonged also to Israel. Almost every city had its respective king, according to the ancient custom in the east, intra suam cuique patriam regna finiebantur. (Justin. i.) Strabo (xvi.) says this was particularly verified in the cities of Phœnicia. (Calmet) — Till they. Hebrew, “we…their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.” They fainted as it were through fear, and could not take their breath, or according to the Septuagint adopt any thing rational; “they had no prudence,” phronesis. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Time. While the enemy was rendered incapable of attacking the Israelites by excessive fear (Calmet) and consternation, Josue was commanded to renew the sign of the covenant, by which they were to take possession of the land, and it is supposed that he complied the day after he arrived at Galgal; (Haydock) so that the wound would be healing, when the feast of the Passover commenced four days later. On the third day it is most painful. (Genesis xxxiv. 25.) — Of stone. Hebrew tsurim, which some translate, “sharp;” but the Septuagint and the best interpreters agree, that the word indicates a stone. Such a knife was used by Sephora. (Exodus iv. 25.) It was supposed that sharp stones would cause less inflammation or danger. Samiâ testâ….amputabant, nec aliter citra perniciem. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxv. 12.) Herodotus (ii. 86,) observes, that the Egyptian embalmers opened the body of the deceased with a “sharp Ethiopian stone.” The people of Africa, and of America, have frequently used stone to cut wood, &c. Some of the Fathers assert, that Christ was circumcised with a knife of stone. But any other sharp instrument might be used for the purpose. Any person might perform the operation. Izates, king of the Adiabenians, received circumcision from the hand of a surgeon. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xx. 2.) (Calmet) — Time. Not that such as had been circumcised before were to be circumcised again: but that they were now to renew, and take up again the practice of circumcision; which had been omitted during their 40 years’ sojourning in the wilderness; by reason of their being always uncertain when they should be obliged to march. (Challoner) — St. Augustine (q. 6,) seems to think that the Israelites despised this ceremony in the desert. Theodoret (q. 2,) supposes it was disused because it was not then necessary, to distinguish the Israelites from other nations. Masius is of opinion that God would not allow them to employ it, after their revolt at Cades-barne, when they would not take possession of the land of Chanaan; and hence they could not resume that privilege, till God had authorized them again, ver 7., and Numbers xiv. 33. The covenant with God, of which circumcision was the seal, had been, in the mean time, suspended. But as the Israelites are no where blamed, in Scripture, on account of this omission, it seems that God dispensed with them during the 38 years after they left Sinai, that the children might not be exposed to the evident danger of perishing, as the people knew not how soon the cloud would give notice for an immediate departure. (Calmet) — Since they were now in the midst of the nations of Chanaan, this distinctive mark (Menochius) was to be henceforth diligently observed. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Hill, at Galgal. Josue took care to have this ceremony performed. (Calmet) — Perhaps he circumcised some himself, as Abraham did those of his own house, Genesis xvii. 23. (Menochius)
Ver. 4. Second. Hebrew, “this is the thing, (the cause why) Josue gave circumcision.”
Ver. 5. Desert. After the departure from Sinai, where the Passover was celebrated, and where, of course, the people must have been circumcised. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Forty. Some copies of the Septuagint add, “two,” as if the 40 years’ wandering in the desert, were to be dated from the time that the spies discouraged the people, in the second year of their departure from Egypt. But the Hebrew and the best chronologers allow only 40 years in the whole. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “For the children of Israel walked 40 years in the wilderness, till all the men fit for war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord, unto whom the Lord swore that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord swore unto their fathers that he would give us, a land flowing with milk and honey; (7) and their children he raised up in their stead, them Josue circumcised.” (Haydock) — The Septuagint is also rather fuller than the Vulgate but gives the same sense. These children who receive, what their rebellious fathers had been refused, are a sensible figure of the Christian Church; as that second circumcision under Josue, represents the spiritual cleansing of the heart, which Jesus Christ has enjoined, Romans ii. 28., and 1 Corinthians vii. 19.
Ver. 8. Healed. The Passover lasted eight days: after which they proceeded to attack Jericho. Yet the people, unfit for war, remained at Galgal; where the camp continued a long time afterwards.
Ver. 9. Egypt. The people of that country adopted circumcision only after this period, (Calmet) and it never became general among them. They were therefore held in abhorrence, like the rest of the uncircumcised nations, among the Jews, Genesis xxxiv. 14., and 1 Kings xiv. 6. Theodoret (q. 4,) looks upon circumcision as a symbol of the liberation from the servitude of Egypt, where, he says, history informs us, that many of the Hebrews had neglected this rite. — Galgal is interpreted liberty, by Josephus; but moderns render it “a rolling away,” (Calmet) or revolution. Hebrew, “I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” (Haydock) — Those Israelites who remained at the other side of the river, were ordered to be circumcised at the same time with their brethren. But they could not partake in the solemnity of the Passover, as they were at a distance from the ark. (Salien)
Ver. 10. Phase. This was the third. The first was celebrated in Egypt, Exodus xii. The second at Sinai, Numbers ix. (Menochius) — Afterwards it was disused till the Israelites took possession of Chanaan, as it was chiefly designed for that country, Exodus xii. 25.
Ver. 11. Corn. Some pretend that the Hebrew means “old corn.” But the ancient interpreters take no notice of this restriction. The offering of corn was probably omitted on this occasion, as the Israelites had not cultivated the land. — Frumenty. Septuagint, “new corn.” Hebrew, “parched, on that same day.” These last words are taken by the Septuagint as a part of the next sentence.
Ver. 12. Land. The Septuagint intimate on the 15th. The Hebrew seems to say the 16th, Nisan, “on the morrow after they had eaten of the (old) corn.” (Calmet) — Grabe’s Septuagint agrees with the Vulgate and Hebrew, and specifies that the Israelites “eat of the corn of the country on the day after the Passover, unleavened and new. On that day, the morrow, manna ceased.” All depends on the determination of the first day of the festival. If we date from the eating of the paschal lamb on the 14th, or from the solemn day, which was the 15th, manna must have been withdrawn either on the 15th or 16th of the month; though Salien thinks that it ceased as soon as the Israelites had begun to eat of the fruit of the country, on the eastern side of the Jordan. This miraculous food was withholden as soon as the Israelites entered the land of promise; and so the blessed Eucharist, of which it was a figure, and all the sacraments, will cease, when the Christian people shall have taken possession of their heavenly country. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Adversaries? Dost thou bear arms for or against us? (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Prince of the host of the Lord, &c. St. Michael, who is called prince of the people of Israel, Daniel x. 21. (Challoner) — Some of the Fathers explain it of the Son of God. (Origen, hom. 6.) But St. Augustine, City of God xi. 13., St. Jerome in Galatians iii., and interpreters in general agree, that the person who here appeared to Josue, was the archangel Michael. He came, in the name of God, to assure Josue of success, as the angel had appeared to Moses in the burning bush, as if to denote the distress of the Hebrews, and to encourage Moses to undertake their liberation. (Calmet) — Chaldean, “I am the angel sent by God.” In that character he is called the Lord. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Worshipping. Not with divine honour, but with a religious veneration of an inferior kind, suitable to the dignity of his person. (Challoner) — He styles the angel Adonai, which is a title frequently given to men; and hence he does not seem to have designed to give him supreme worship. (Calmet) — If he did, (Haydock) it was referred to God. (Calmet) (Exodus xx.)
Ver. 16. Loose. The angel did not only accept of the honour done to him, but also required more, shewing that the field near Jericho was rendered holy, by his presence. (Worthington) — Hence he ordered Josue to put off his shoes, as Moses had done at the bush, Exodus iii. 5. The Turks leave their shoes at the doors of their mosques, and do not dare to tread on the bare floor. Formerly the pagans would not spit in their temples. (Arrian.) “If, says Porphyrius, in the sacrifices instituted by men, in honour of the gods, people be careful to have their shoes clean, with how much greater attention ought we to preserve our bodies, which are, as it were, the garments of the soul, free from every impurity and corruption!” (Abstin. 2.) (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The people are circumcised: they keep the Pasch. The manna ceaseth. An angel appeareth to Josue.
1 Now when all the kings of the Amorrhites, who dwelt beyond the Jordan, westward, and all the kings of Chanaan, who possessed the places near the great sea, had heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the children of Israel, till they passed over, their heart failed them, and there remained no spirit in them, fearing the coming in of the children of Israel.
2 At that time the Lord said to Josue: Make thee knives of stone, and circumcise the second time the children of Israel.
3 He did what the Lord had commanded, and he circumcised the children of Israel in the hill of the foreskins.
4 Now this is the cause of the second circumcision: All the people that came out of Egypt that were males, all the men fit for war, died in the desert, during the time of the long going about in the way:
5 Now these were all circumcised. But the people that were born in the desert,
6 During the forty years of the journey in the wide wilderness, were uncircumcised: till all they were consumed that had not heard the voice of the Lord, and to whom he had sworn before, that he would not shew them the land flowing with milk and honey.
7 The children of these succeeded in the place of their fathers, and were circumcised by Josue: for they were uncircumcised even as they were born, and no one had circumcised them in the way.
8 Now after they were all circumcised, they remained in the same place of the camp, until they were healed.
9 And the Lord said to Josue: This day have I taken away from you the reproach of Egypt. And the name of that place was called Galgal, until this present day.
10 And the children of Israel abode in Galgal, and they kept the Phase, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, in the plains of Jericho:
11 And they ate on the next day unleavened bread of the corn of the land, and frumenty of the same year.
12 *And the manna ceased after they ate of the corn of the land, neither did the children of Israel use that food any more, but they ate of the corn of the present year of the land of Chanaan.
13 And when Josue was in the field of the city of Jericho, he lifted up his eyes, and saw a man standing over-against him: holding a drawn sword, and he went to him, and said: Art thou one of ours, or of our adversaries?
14 And he answered: No; but I am prince of the host of the Lord, and now I am come.
15 Josue fell on his face to the ground. And worshipping, add: What saith my lord to his servant?
16 *Loose, saith he, thy shoes from off thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Josue did as was commanded him.
12: Year of the World 2553.
16: Exodus iii. 5.; Acts vii. 33.