When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. [Joshua 5:13-15]
I find this passage very intriguing, so I went online to search the commentaries for a better understanding. Below are the findings. It seems to me the scholars were in no doubt regarding the identity of this mysterious commander.
Adam Clarke Commentary
It has been a very general opinion, both among the ancients and moderns, that the person mentioned here was no other than the Lord Jesus in that form which, in the fulness of time, he was actually to assume for the redemption of man. That the appearance was supernatural is agreed on all hands…. and he received from Joshua Divine adoration, we may presume that no created angel is intended.
There cannot be any doubt about the Divinity of the Prince of the Host of Jehovah who appeared to Joshua in this scene. The very fact of Joshua’s worshipping him, coupled with the acceptance of that worship, proves the Divine nature of this Visitant. If this Holy One had been any created being, he would have forbidden Joshua to worship him, as did the angel for the apostle John…
David Guzik’s Commentaries
The idea of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, appearing as a man before Bethlehem is provocative, but logical. We know that He existed before Bethlehem; why should He not, on isolated but important occasions, appear in bodily form?
Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
We read not of any appearance of God’s glory to Joshua till now. There appeared to him one as a man to be noticed. This Man was the Son of God, the eternal Word. Joshua gave him Divine honours: he received them, which a created angel would not have done…