NKJV - 15 Then the Commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so.
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The captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:15 ► Three-fold reasons as to why God asked Joshua to remove his shoes: 1. Because He is the Supreme Commander of Hosts of Heaven. The same thing was said to Moses that was said to Joshua as well. Only God could make such a demand (cp. Josh. 5:15 with Ex. 3:1-8) being captain of Hosts of Heaven. 2. Because it was a Holy place with Holy God around. 3. This was a mark of respect (Ex. 3:5; Josh. 5:15). Orientals remove their shoes at home and all places of worship, as westerners remove their hats. It was symbolic of laying aside all pollution from walking in sin.
The elevation provided by the soles or heels of shoes has the effect of lifting the wearer of the shoes to a height greater than the wearer would have while standing with bare feet on the ground. The wearing of shoes is thus symbolic of pride, or the lifting of oneself not only physically but also spiritually. Removal of shoes in a place where God has declared Himself to be present is therefore an act of humility and respect, and a recognition of one's own unworthiness compared to a holy Being infinitely greater than oneself.
The purpose of shoes is to keep our feet from coming in contact with whatever we are walking on. They inhibit the ground and anything in or on it from touching our bodies. God wanted him to be in direct contact with His Holiness, and therefore, requested that he remove the barrier between his physical body and God's presence.
Great question, Brian Langat! During mealtimes the feet were uncovered. (Luke 7:38; John 13:5,6) It was a mark of reverence to cast off the shoes in approaching a place or person of eminent sanctity. (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15) From Smith's Bible Dictionary
Prof. Rachel Adelman (Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Boston’s Hebrew College) makes this comment about the Joshua 5 encounter: "The command (in Exodus 3 to Moses) is repeated (almost verbatim) near Jericho, when an emissary of God, initially mistaken for a mortal man, appears as 'captain of the host of YHWH' to Joshua with sword drawn." My thoughts: Joshua, being a military man, immediately wants an answer to the confrontation as to whose side this Man was on: are you for us or for our adversaries? Yahweh's answer is simple: "No, but as Captain of the Lord's host I have come." Simply put, God was not there to take sides - He was there to take over. God showed up plainly in both Exodus 3 and Joshua 5 for the reason of His choosing, declaring his possession of all His creation. For example, the Hebrew word (H5275) for "sandal" here is fraught with meaning in the Oriental culture. When transferring a kingdom (or ownership), it was customary to deliver a shoe, showing ownership. In both of these two classic, historical Hebrew scenarios (Exodus 3 & Joshua 5), God was "throwing down His shoe" of ownership by declaring the ground holy, or separated unto Him. He owned the people, their leadership and the rules; the leaders had to remove their sandals to indicate they relinquished any rights to God's total ownership of their hearts and His people. God was calling the shots - period. We see the same principle practiced in the Book of Ruth between Elimelech and Boaz: “Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took of his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was an attestation in Israel.” Ruth 4:7 The holiness of that location was not meant to become a place of worship after the event - it was God delivering a message. Professor Sara Japhet (Hebrew University) states, "It is the revelation that makes the mountain sacred; it is an ad hoc rather than a permanent sanctity." The place was holy because God was there for a purpose; once the purpose was served and the message delivered, the holiness of that location departed (see Matthew 17:1-9). Without Joshua relinquishing military control to God, the plan of deliverance in Joshua 6 would never have been laid out or realized. Joshua 6:17 tells us Jericho was devoted (H2764 - cherem) to God. Simply put, "cherem" is that which is set aside and dedicated unto the Lord, but is a cursed thing if picked up by man (Lv 24, Dt 21). We see this later in Joshua 7 how Achan's behavior impacted the failed assault at Ai. Additional thoughts: in Exodus 3 (with Moses) God declares ownership of how His people would be brought OUT; in Joshua 5 (with Joshua) God takes ownership of how His people would be brought IN. God's right of ownership in my life is absolute: He is not in my life to take sides - He's in my life to take over.
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