Monday, August 5, 2013

Marching Up From Gilgal (part 1 of 2)

So Joshua and his whole army, including the bravest warriors, marched up from Gilgal. – Joshua 10:7  (NET)

Gilgal was the place to which the Israelite nation first came after crossing the Jordan River and entering into their land of promise, doing so under the leadership of Joshua.  According to the Scriptural narrative as reported in the book of Joshua, it was at Gilgal that the men of Israel were circumcised, with this done in accordance with the terms of the Abrahamic covenant that has been effectively
re-confirmed and substantially expanded upon, through Moses at Mount Sinai.  With the circumcisions having been undertaken, “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken away the disgrace of Egypt from you’.” (5:9a)  The follow-up to that statement is that “the place is called Gilgal even to this day” (5:9b). 

The root of the word “Gilgal” is “galal,” which expresses the idea of something round, or circular, or rolling.  Because of this, the phrase “taken away” is sometimes translated or considered as “rolled away.”  The same root is to be found in the word “Galilee,” with this said to be related to the fact that the cities of the Galilee were set around the lake, in something of a circuit. 

Another word that is closely related to Gilgal is “Golgotha.”  The close relations occurs because of a shared root word.  Golgotha, of course, was the place where Jesus was crucified.  In Aramaic, the word is “Gulgoltha,” which becomes “Golgotha” in Greek.  The sharing of the root word “galal” occurs because of the occurrence of galal in the Hebrew word for “skull,” which is “gulgoluth.”  The “galal” in “gulgoluth,” presumably, is connected to the roundness of the human skull. 

Because of the close connection between Gilgal and Golgotha, together with the fact that “Joshua” or “Yeshua” is the Hebrew form of the name “Jesus,” close parallels are able to be drawn between the events that occur in connection with the place called Gilgal, and the events that occurred in connection with the place that is called Golgotha.  The natural and immediate connection to make is that just as the Creator God is said to have rolled away or taken away the disgrace of Egypt from off of His covenant people at that place, so too, within the single continuous narrative that is communicated via the Scriptures in which the ministry of Jesus and the reflections upon His ministry make sense, did He remove (roll away, take away) the disgrace of sin (failure to bear the divine image---exile from His purposes for them) from off of the new covenant people by means of the cross. 

While this should certainly be a cause for rejoicing amongst those that find themselves joining the people of the covenant through belief in Jesus as Messiah, that is not the focus of this study.  Rather, this study looks to the tenth chapter of Joshua, where “Joshua and his whole army, including the bravest warriors” (10:7a), can be found marching up from Gilgal to do battle with the five Amorite kings.

There, it is said that “The Lord told Joshua, ‘Don’t be afraid of them, for I am handing them over to you.  Not one of them can resist you’.” (10:8)  So just as Joshua marched up from Gilgal, with brave warriors in tow, so too does Jesus march up from Golgotha, with His saints, to do battle with the forces of evil.  Yes, those that have cast their allegiance with Him as King and Lord of all, go forth in the power of the Resurrection, but do so on the basis of what took place at the cross.  

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