Joshua 5:8
And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 5:8. Till they were whole — Free from that pain and soreness which circumcision caused. It was certainly an act of great faith to expose themselves to so much pain, and danger too, in this place, where they were hemmed in by Jordan and their enemies.

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.The circumcision must have taken place on the day after the passage of Jordan, i. e. the 11th Nisan, and the Passover was kept on the 14th of the same month. For so long at least, they who had been circumcised would be disabled from war (compare the marginal reference), though they would not necessarily be debarred from keeping the feast. The submission of the people to the rite was a proof of faith, even though we remember that the panic of the Canaanites Joshua 5:1 would render any immediate attack from them unlikely, and that there must have been a large number of "men of war" who would not need to be circumcised at all (see the note at Joshua 5:4). 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.

Free from that pain and sore which circumcision caused, Genesis 34:25. It was indeed an act of great faith to expose themselves to so much pain and danger too in this place, where they were hemmed in by Jordan and their enemies; but they had many considerations to support their faith, and suppress their fears: the fresh experience of God’s power and readiness to work miracles for their preservation; the great consternation of all their enemies, which they might observe and rationally presume; the considerable number of the people who were above forty years old, and therefore circumcised before this time, their great general being one of this number; the time it would require for their enemies to bring together a force sufficient to oppose them.

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.

And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they {e} were whole.

(e) For their sore was so grievous, that they were not able to move.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. they abode in their places] Keil observes that those for whom the rite was not now needed, would be sufficient to defend the camp at Gilgal, although the terror consequent upon the passage of the Jordan would have been sufficient to ensure their safety against all hostile attacks.

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. Joshua 5:8When the rite of circumcision had been performed upon them all, the people remained quietly in the camp till those who were circumcised had recovered. "They abode in their places," i.e., sat still as they were, without attempting anything. חיה, to revive (Genesis 45:27; Job 14:14), or recover (2 Kings 1:2; 2 Kings 8:8, etc.). The circumcision of the people could not be performed earlier than the day after the crossing of the Jordan, i.e., according to Joshua 4:19, not earlier than the 11th day of the first month. Now, as the passover was to be kept, and actually was kept, on the 14th (Joshua 5:10), the two accounts are said to be irreconcilable, and the account of the circumcision has been set down as a later and unhistorical legend. But the objections made to the historical credibility of this account - viz., that the suffering consequent upon circumcision made a person ill for several days, and according to Genesis 34:25 was worst on the third day, so that the people could not have kept the passover on that day, and also that the people could not possibly have been all circumcised on one day - are founded upon false assumptions. In the latter, for example, the number of persons to be circumcised is estimated, most absurdly, at a million; whereas, according to the general laws of population, the whole of the male population of Israel, which contained only 601,730 of twenty years of age and upwards, besides 23,000 Levites of a month old and upwards, when the census was taken a short time before in the steppes of Moab, could not amount to more than a million in all, and of these between 280,000 and 330,000 were thirty-eight years old, and therefore, having been born before the sentence was pronounced upon the nation at Kadesh, and for the most part before the exodus from Egypt, had been already circumcised, so that there were only 670,000, or at the most 720,000, to be circumcised now. Consequently the proportion between the circumcised and uncircumcised was one to three or three and a half; and the operation could therefore be completed without any difficulty in the course of a single day. As regards the consequences of this operation, Genesis 34:25 by no means proves that the pain was most acute on the third day; and even it this really were the case, it would not prevent the keeping of the passover, as the lambs could have been killed and prepared by the 280,000 or 330,000 circumcised men; and even those who were still unwell could join in the meal, since it was only Levitical uncleanness, and not disease or pain, which formed a legal impediment to this (Numbers 9:10.).

(Note: For the basis upon which this computation rests, see Keil's Commentary on Joshua, p. 139 (Eng. trans. 1857).)

But if there were about 300,000 men of the age of forty and upwards who could not only perform the rite of circumcision upon their sons or younger brother, but, if necessary, were able at any moment to draw the sword, there was no reason whatever for their being afraid of an attack on the part of the Canaanites, even if the latter had not been paralyzed by the miraculous crossing of the Jordan.

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