|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-9 How dreadful is their case, who see the wrath of God advancing towards them, without being able to turn it aside, or escape it! Such will be the horrible situation of the wicked; nor can words express the anguish of their feelings, or the greatness of their terror. Oh that they would now take warning, and before it be too late, flee for refuge to lay hold upon that hope set before them in the gospel! God impressed these fears on the Canaanites, and dispirited them. This gave a short rest to the Israelites, and circumcision rolled away the reproach of Egypt. They were hereby owned to be the free-born children of God, having the seal of the covenant. When God glorifies himself in perfecting the salvation of his people, he not only silences all enemies, but rolls back their reproaches upon themselves.
Verse 8. - Till they were whole. Literally, till they revived, as in Genesis 20:7; 2 Kings 1:2; 2 Kings 8:8. Objections have been raised (see Keil and Delitzsch in loc.) to the possibility of this circumcision taking place in one day. But it has been shown by calculation that between one-third and one-fourth of the people who remained had been circumcised already, and that therefore such an operation as this could be performed with the utmost ease in a very short time. The word גוִו is used here again, since the people were still Gentiles until the rite of circumcision was performed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people,.... Which seems as if it was done in one day, even on the same day they passed over Jordan, and came to Gilgal; though Bishop Usher (a) thinks it was the day following; and so the Jews (b) say it was on the eleventh of Nisan:
that they abode in their places in the camp till they were whole: till the wound made by circumcision was healed; now as it was on the tenth day they passed over Jordan, and came to Gilgal, where they were circumcised, there were three entire days between that and the fourteenth, when they kept the passover; during which time they kept within their tents in the camp, being unfit to move from thence, for on the third day of circumcision they were usually sore, Genesis 34:25; but being well on the fourth, were able to attend the passover. As the providence of God greatly appeared in favour of Israel, by causing a dread to fall on their enemies, that they durst not sally out of the city and attack them; so it showed great faith in Joshua, and the Israelites, to administer circumcision at this time, just as they were landed in an enemy's country; and when the waters of Jordan were returned, and there was no going back, and if they could, as they were not in a condition to fight, so not to flee.
(a) Annales Vet. Test. p. 38. (b) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. when they had done circumcising all the people—As the number of those born in the wilderness and uncircumcised must have been immense, a difficulty is apt to be felt how the rite could have been performed on such a multitude in so short a time. But it has been calculated that the proportion between those already circumcised (under twenty when the doom was pronounced) and those to be circumcised, was one to four, and consequently the whole ceremony could easily have been performed in a day. Circumcision being the sign and seal of the covenant, its performance was virtually an investment in the promised land, and its being delayed till their actual entrance into the country was a wise and gracious act on the part of God, who postponed this trying duty till the hearts of the people, animated by the recent astonishing miracle, were prepared to obey the divine will.
they abode in their places … till they were whole—It is calculated that, of those who did not need to be circumcised, more than fifty thousand were left to defend the camp if an attack had been then made upon it.
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