Joshua 5:13-15 recounts when Joshua stands (then bows) before the commander of the Lord's army and then is told to take off his sandals- since that is the end of the recorded conversation:

a) is that all the commander told him? Or b) does the conversation continue unrecorded? Or c) does the conversation spill on into chapter 6 where G-d (and not the commander) is identified as telling Joshua that he has handed Jericho over to him?

If a), then why would that be all that was said? If b), then what could have been the conversation? Perhaps Joshua is having his "burning bush" experience and is being given specific instructions as Moses was? If so, then why would Joshua's conversation be unrecorded where Moses' was written down? If c), then why the change in identifiers from "the commander..." to "G-d"?

3 Answers 3



והכתיב (יהושע ה, יג) ויהי בהיות יהושע ביריחו וישא עיניו וירא והנה איש עומד לנגדו [וגו'] וישתחו (לאפיו) והיכי עביד הכי והאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אסור לאדם שיתן שלום לחבירו בלילה חיישינן שמא שד הוא שאני התם דאמר ליה כי אני שר צבא ה' ודלמא משקרי גמירי דלא מפקי שם שמים לבטלה אמר לו אמש בטלתם תמיד של בין הערבים ועכשיו בטלתם תלמוד תורה אמר לו על איזה מהן באת אמר לו עתה באתי מיד (יהושע ח, ט) וילן יהושע בלילה ההוא בתוך העמק אמר רבי יוחנן מלמד שלן בעומקה של הלכה


As for the angel’s mission, the Gemara explains that the angel said to Joshua: Yesterday, i.e., during the afternoon, you neglected the afternoon daily offering due to the impending battle, and now, at night, you have neglected Torah study, and I have come to rebuke you. Joshua said to him: For which of these sins have you come? He said to him: I have come now, indicating that neglecting Torah study is more severe than neglecting to sacrifice the daily offering. Joshua immediately determined to rectify the matter, as the verses states: “And Joshua lodged that night” (Joshua 8:9) “in the midst of the valley [ha’emek]” (Joshua 8:13), and Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This teaches that he spent the night in the depths [be’umeka] of halakha, i.e., that he spent the night studying Torah with the Jewish people.

Does that help?

  • Yes, very helpfu, thank you!
    – PMolina1
    Sep 16, 2020 at 19:03
  • Does this mean that the conversation Yehoshua had with G-d as recorded in chapter 6 happened at a different time? If so, this seems to imply that G-d gave detailed directions to Joshua about advancing on Jericho even though he had neglected the Torah study (which was not rectified until 2 chapters later), unless the stories are written in the wrong order?
    – PMolina1
    Sep 16, 2020 at 19:52
  • Rashi says, אמש ביטלתם כו' - בתשובה שהשיבו עתה באתי אנו למדין תחלת דברי המלאך האשימן בשני דברים אמש כלומר כשהעריב היום היה לכם להקריב תמיד הערב ובטלתם אותו ונשתהיתם במארב העיר חנם שאין זמן מלחמה בלילה [משתחשך]:, "You delayed in ambushing the city, and did not bring the korban tamid." I guess this implies they had been trying to figure out how to ambush the city themselves, until God gave them instructions for a miraculous approach in battle.
    – The GRAPKE
    Sep 16, 2020 at 23:01

Radaq (on Joshua 6:2), takes your third option, that "the conversation spill[s] on into chapter 6 where G-d (and not the commander) is identified as telling Joshua that he has handed Jericho over to him":

ויאמר ה' אל יהושע. ע"י המלאך הנראה לו והוא נקרא בשם ה' השולח אותו וכן מצאנו במלאך שנראה לגדעון ויאמר אליו ה' כי אהיה עמך ואמרו רז"ל כי שמי בקרבו א"ר שמעון בן לקיש מלמד שהקב"ה משתף שמו על כל מלאך ומלאך:‏

In my translation:

The Lord said to Joshua. Through the angel who appeared before him (Joshua), and he (the angel) is called with the Lord's name, [He] who sent him. Similarly, we find in [the case of] the angel who appeared before Gideon (Judges 6:16) "The Lord replied, 'I will be with you...'". Our sages of blessed memory said (Midrash Tanchuma, Mishpatim 18): "'Since My Name is in him' (Exodus 23:21) R. Simeon the son of Lakish said: 'The name of the Holy One, blessed be He, is coupled with every angel'"

(The translations from the Bible and Midrash Tanchuma are from their respective links.)

Radaq makes a similar comment on Genesis 18:13 s.v. 'ויאמר ה'‏', to explain who 'he' - that asked why Sarah laughed - was.

As to "why the change in identifiers from 'the commander...' to 'G-d'", my understanding from the above, is that G-d's name is often used in exchange with that of the angel who speaks in his name, possibly to emphasize that it is G-d speaking through the angel (rather than the angel relaying G-d's intent, in his own words).

  • Thank you for the insight!
    – PMolina1
    Sep 16, 2020 at 19:04

The conversation is indeed more detailed than recorded. It is brought in the Yalkut Shimoni (Remez 7) that the angel asked Yehoshua why he was wearing shoes and not going barefoot as a sign of mourning due to the fact that both the Manna had stopped falling and equally the Torah study had stopped.

(Parenthetically, the Midrash Lekach Tov interestingly notes the difference between Moshe's experience with the burning bush, and this episode with Yehoshua. In both cases they are told to remove their shoes, but interestingly the choice of wording is different. In the case of Moshe, he was told to remove his shoes because 'admas kodesh' - the land was holy, but here with Yehoshua he was told to remove his shoes as the 'makom' - the place was holy. The difference was that by Moshe, he was in the desert and thus, just the location of the burning bush was holy, but in the case of Yehoshua, he was already in the land of Israel and thus the entire 'place' was regarded as holy.)

  • Thank you very much for your help!
    – PMolina1
    Sep 16, 2020 at 19:05
  • Does this mean that the conversation Yehoshua had with G-d as recorded in chapter 6 happened at a different time?
    – PMolina1
    Sep 16, 2020 at 19:13

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