And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joshua 5:7. Their children — them Joshua circumcised — This God now required to be done, 1st, As a testimony of his reconciliation to the people, and that he would not further impute their parents’ rebellion to them, but now permit them to enter into his rest. See Numbers 14:29 to Numbers 35:2 d, Because one great impediment of circumcision was now removed, their continued travels, and frequent and uncertain removes. 3d, To prepare them for the approaching passover. 4th, To distinguish them from the Canaanites, into whose land they were now come. 5th, To try their faith, by their submission to a command, the performance of which exposed them to be treated by their enemies as the Shechemites had been formerly by Simeon and Levi in a similar circumstance. 6th, To ratify the covenant between God and them, whereof circumcision was a sign and seal, to assure them that he would now make good his covenant, in giving them this land; and to oblige them to perform all the duties to which that covenant bound them, as soon as they came into Canaan, Exodus 12:25; Leviticus 23:10; Numbers 15:2.
The statements of these verses are of a general kind. The "forty years" of Joshua 5:6 is a round number, and the statement in the latter part of Joshua 5:5 cannot be strictly accurate. For there must have been male children born in the wilderness during the first year after the Exodus, and these must have been circumcised before the celebration of the Passover at Sinai in the first month of the second year (compare Numbers 9:1-5, and Exodus 12:48). The statements of the verses are, however, sufficiently close to the facts for the purpose in hand; namely, to render a reason for the general circumcising which is here recorded.
The reason why circumcision was omitted in the wilderness, was that the sentence of Numbers 14:28 ff placed the whole nation for the time under a ban; and that the discontinuance of circumcision, and the consequent omission of the Passover, was a consequence and a token of that ban. The rejection was not, indeed, total, for the children of the complainers were to enter into the rest; nor final, for when the children had borne the punishment of the fathers' sins for the appointed years, and the complainers were dead, then it was to be removed, as now by Joshua. But for the time the covenant was abrogated, though God's purpose to restore it was from the first made known, and confirmed by the visible marks of His favor which He still vouchsafed to bestow during the wandering. The years of rejection were indeed exhausted before the death of Moses (compare Deuteronomy 2:14): but God would not call upon the people to renew their engagement to Him until He had first given them glorious proof of His will and power to fulfill His engagements to them. So He gave them the first fruits of the promised inheritance - the kingdoms of Sihon and Og; and through a miracle planted their feet on the very soil that still remained to be conquered; and then recalled them to His covenant. It is to be noted, too, that they were just about to go to war against foes mightier than themselves. Their only hope of success lay in the help of God. At such a crisis the need of full communion with God would be felt indeed; and the blessing and strength of it are accordingly granted.
The revival of the two great ordinances - circumcision and the Passover - after so long an intermission could not but awaken the zeal and invigorate the faith and fortitude of the people. Both as seals and as means of grace and God's good purpose toward them then, the general circumcision of the people, followed up by the solemn celebration of the Passover - the one formally restoring the covenant and reconciling them nationally to God, the other ratifying and confirming all that circumcision intended - were at this juncture most opportune.Them Joshua circumcised; which God would have now done,
1. As a testimony of God’s reconciliation to the people, of which circumcision was a sign, and that God would not further impute their parents’ rebellions to them.
2. Because the great impediment of circumcision was now removed, to wit, their continued travels, and frequent and uncertain removal.
3. To prepare them for the approaching passover.
4. To distinguish them from the Canaanites, into whose land they were now come.
5. To ratify the covenant between God and them, where of circumcision was a sign and seal, to assure them that God would now make good his covenant, in giving them this land; and to oblige them to perform all the duties and services to which that covenant bound them, of which circumcision was the beginning and foundation, all which they were expressly joined to do, as soon as ever they came into Canaan, Exodus 12:25 Leviticus 23:10 Numbers 15:2.
for they were circumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way; or while journeying the forty years in the wilderness; which, as before observed, seems to be the true reason of the omission of circumcision.And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Joshua 5:1. Whilst, on the one hand, the approach of the passover rendered it desirable that the circumcision of those who had remained uncircumcised should be carried out without delay, on the other hand the existing circumstances were most favourable for the performance of this covenant duty, inasmuch as the miracle wrought in connection with the passage through the Jordan had thrown the Canaanites into such alarm that there was no fear of their attacking the Israelitish camp. To indicate this, the impression produced by this miracle is described, namely, that all the kings of Canaan had been thrown into despair in consequence. All the tribes of Canaan are grouped together here under the names of Amorites and Canaanites, the tribes in possession of the mountains being all called Amorites, and those who lived by the sea, i.e., by the shore of the Mediterranean, Canaanites (vid., Joshua 1:4): for the Amorites upon the mountains were the strongest of all the Canaanitish tribes at that time (see at Genesis 10:16); whilst the name Canaanites, i.e., the bent one (see at Genesis 9:25), was peculiarly appropriate to the inhabitants of the lowlands, who relied upon trade more than upon warfare, and were probably dependent upon the strong and mighty Amorites. The application of the expression "beyond Jordan" (Eng. Ver. "on the side of") to the country on this side, may be explained on the ground that the historian was still writing from the stand-point of the crossing. But in order to prevent any misunderstanding, he adds "towards the west," as he had previously added "towards the sunrise," in Joshua 1:15, when speaking of the land on the eastern side. That we have the report of an eye-witness here is evident from the words, "until we were passed over:" the reading of the Keri, עברם (till they were passed over), is nothing but an arbitrary and needless conjecture, and ought not to have been preferred by Bleek and others, notwithstanding the fact that the ancient versions and some MSS also adopt it.
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