Joshua 4:19: The Crossing of Jordan in the Jewish Year

Verse 19:[1] And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped (Josh. 5:9) in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

[On the tenth day of the first month] Namely, of Nisan[2] (Masius, Drusius), which was the first month of the Ecclesiastical year, just as Tisri[3] was the first month of the civil year (Drusius). According to the reckoning of the former all the feasts were celebrated, except Jubilee and the seventh year, the beginning of which they appoint in Tisri[4] (Masius). God chose the first month, 1. as especially agreeable to the weary, and as the most pleasant with the crops then ripening, etc. (Serarius, Bonfrerius). 2. At that time the forty years of sojourning was ended (Serarius): For forty years previously they had come out of Egypt on the fifteenth day of Nisan (Lapide, Bonfrerius). He chose the tenth day, so that time might be left in which they might prepare themselves by circumcision to keep Passover. On the tenth day a lamb was to be chosen, and to be kept at home unto the fourteenth day[5] (Masius, similarly Serarius, Bonfrerius, Lapide). For it was unlawful for the uncircumcised to keep Passover, Exodus 12:48, and, except with the Deity appeased by those sacred rites, to undertake war (Masius).

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.

[In Gilgal] That is, in the place which was thus called afterwards. It is a prolepsis (Masius, Lapide, Malvenda), of which sort is that in Æneid 1, the Lavinian shore.[6] This place, as Josephus testifies, was fifty stadia beyond Jordan, ten stadia[7] short of Jericho. There they continued for many years: For, the place was suitable, since it was abounding in water and fruit (Masius), and forests, from which timber could be sought; and it was nourishing. Here he fixed camp, either, by Divine command, or, because, although it had been possible to have proceeded further on that day, it belonged to military prudence to proceed slowly, lest the enemy be left at their back (Menochius).

Gilgal; a place so called hereafter upon a following occasion, Joshua 5:9. So here it is an anticipation.

[Over against the eastern region of Jericho, בִּקְצֵ֖ה מִזְרַ֥ח יְרִיחֽוֹ׃] In the extremity (in the borders [Jonathan]) of the east of Jericho (Montanus, Jonathan); on the eastern side of Jericho (Arabic, similarly the Septuagint, Syriac); in the eastern borders of Jericho (Masius); in the extremity, toward the east of Jericho (Junius and Tremellius). But the construct form in בִּקְצֵה does not bear that comma after in the extremity. I translate it, in the extremity of the east of Jericho; that is to say, not simply toward the East, but in the extreme declination of the eastern region, where it ceases toward the North: which is its true situation, as it is evident from a map[8] (Dieu).

[1] Hebrew: וְהָעָ֗ם עָלוּ֙ מִן־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן בֶּעָשׂ֖וֹר לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָרִאשׁ֑וֹן וַֽיַּחֲנוּ֙ בַּגִּלְגָּ֔ל בִּקְצֵ֖ה מִזְרַ֥ח יְרִיחֽוֹ׃

[2] That is, March-April on the Gregorian calendar.

[3] That is, September-October on the Gregorian calendar.

[4] See Leviticus 25.

[5] See Exodus 12:3-6.

[6] It was not called Lavinium when Æneas first arrived there, but afterwards.

[7] There are six hundred and seven feet in a stadium.  Fifty stadia would be just short of six miles.

[8] Gilgal is due north of Jericho, with a slight bend toward the east.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 4:19: The Crossing of Jordan in the Jewish Year

  1. Jehovah brings Israel into Palestine just in time to make preparation for the celebration of Passover … perfectly timed, first for worship, and only later for fighting.

    –Dr. Dilday

  2. Matthew Henry: “An account is kept of the time of this great event (Joshua 4:19): it was on the tenth day of the first month, just forty years since they came out of Egypt, wanting five days. God had said in his wrath that they should wander forty years in the wilderness, but, to make up that forty, we must take in the first year, which was then past, and had been a year of triumph in their deliverance out of Egypt, and this last, which had been a year of triumph likewise on the other side Jordan, so that all the forty were not years of sorrow; and at last he brought them into Canaan five days before the forty years were ended, to show how little pleasure God takes in punishing, how swift he is to show mercy, and that for the elects’ sake the days of trouble are shortened, Matthew 24:22. God ordered it so that they should enter Canaan four days before the annual solemnity of the passover, and on the very day when the preparation for it was to begin (Exodus 12:3), because he would have their entrance into Canaan graced and sanctified with that religious feast, and would have them then to be reminded of their deliverance out of Egypt, that, comparing them together, God might be glorified as the Alpha and Omega of their bliss.”

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