Joshua 5:8
And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
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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.

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. At that time (sc., the time of their encampment at Gilgal, and when the Canaanites were in despair) Joshua had the people "circumcised again, the second time." The word שׁנית (a second time) is only added to give emphasis to שׁוּב, or as an explanation of it, and is not to be pressed, either here or in Isaiah 11:11, as though it denoted the repetition of the same act in every respect, i.e., of an act of circumcision which had once before been performed upon the whole nation. It merely expresses this meaning, "circumcise the people again, or the second time, as it was formerly circumcised" (i.e., a circumcised people, not in the same manner in which it once before had circumcision performed upon it). When the people came out of Egypt they were none of them uncircumcised, as distinctly affirmed in Joshua 5:5; but during their journey through the wilderness circumcision had been neglected, so that now the nation was no longer circumcised, and therefore it was necessary that circumcision should be performed upon the nation as a whole, by circumcising all who were uncircumcised. The opinion of Masius and O. v. Gerlach, that the expression "the second time" refers to the introduction of circumcision, when Abraham was circumcised with all his house, is very far-fetched. צרים חרבות are not "sharp knives," but "stone knives," which were used according to ancient custom (see at Exodus 4:25), literally knives of rocks (the plural zurim is occasioned by charboth, as in Numbers 13:32, etc.; the singular might have been used: see Ewald, 270, c.).
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