5:14 He answered, 1 “Truly I am the commander of the Lord’s army. 2 Now I have arrived!” 3 Joshua bowed down with his face to the ground 4 and asked, “What does my master want to say to his servant?”
5:15 The commander of the Lord’s army answered Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you stand is holy.” Joshua did so.
1 tc Heb “He said, “Neither.” An alternative reading is לוֹ (lo, “[He said] to him”; cf. NEB). This reading is supported by many Hebrew mss, as well as the LXX and Syriac versions. The traditional reading of the MT (לֹא, lo’, “no, neither”) is probably the product of aural confusion (the two variant readings sound the same in Hebrew). Although followed by a number of modern translations (cf. NIV, NRSV), this reading is problematic, for the commander of the Lord’s army would hardly have declared himself neutral.
2 sn The Lord’s heavenly army, like an earthly army, has a commander who leads the troops. For the phrase שַׂר־צְבָא (sar-tsÿva’, “army commander”) in the human sphere, see among many other references Gen 21:22, 32; 26:26; Judg 4:2, 7; 1 Sam 12:9.
3 sn The commander’s appearance seems to be for Joshua’s encouragement. Joshua could now lead Israel into battle knowing that the Lord’s invisible army would ensure victory.
4 tn Heb “Joshua fell on his face to the ground and bowed down.”