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Joshua 5:1-9 (NIV),

1 Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.

2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth. 4 Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. 6 The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.

9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

Regarding the two portions I have emboldened above:

4 Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not.

1.) Why did not at least and especially Moses, if not Joshua as well, insist upon the practice of circumcision for all these males who were born during the forty years in the wilderness? As one long continued narrative theoretically going back all the way to Genesis, it seems odd that the import of circumcision on the people of Israel would have been merely missed or forgotten for over four decades.

9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”

2.) Why did it take so long--over forty years--for the reproach of Egypt to be rolled off of Israel? Why did it have to wait until the eve of the conquest of Canaan? Could it not have been achieved any earlier?

5
  • One could ask the same question of Jehovah himself. Why did God not judge this ? Did God ever make mention of this to Moses and Joshua ? Or was it left unsaid for a reason ? (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Mar 8 at 4:40
  • @Nigel J “Why did God not judge this ?” - John 5:22
    – Dave
    Mar 8 at 17:38
  • @Dave God judged Israel and they were carried off by Assyria. God judged Judah and they spent 70 years captive in Babylon, while Jerusalem was devastated. John 5:22 is a matter of final judgment at the end of the world. We are, here, examining judgments during time.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 8 at 18:20
  • @Nigel J True, God judges nations. But, John 5:22 is about man.
    – Dave
    Mar 8 at 19:57
  • @Dave Indeed. And Israel in the wilderness, uncircumcised - was a nation.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 8 at 20:40
1
  1. Just thinking practically I think they can't circumcise without a proper schedule from the Lord, since they are supposed to break camp immediately when the cloud was taken up above the tabernacle and not one, even Moses did not know when the Lord takes it up. So it wasn't practical to circumcise because the people can't break camp and leave those behind while they heal up.

Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. Exodus 40:36‭-‬37

  1. Don't know but I will say that 40 years seems long to us but the Lord is Omnipotent, I believe He transcends our perception of time.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. II Peter 3:8 NKJV

I also believe numbers play a significant role to convey certain meanings ie the number 40 appeared when Moses fasted 40 days and 40 nights, as did Elijah in Mt. Horeb.

1
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    – Dottard
    Mar 8 at 19:54
1

You asked - Why 40 years?

First, let’s look at the reproach - Reproach - ‘ḥerpâ’, - taunt, scorn (upon enemy). The reproach of Egypt (actually the Egyptian gods) was on Israel because of the sin of rejecting God on account of the report given by the spies. They broke the first commandment, and God abandoned them, left them to their own devices..

Earlier Moses had described what this would look like to the Egyptians once the report of it reached them. Moses knew how they thought, he was educated in Egypt.

NUMBERS 13:13 And Moses said to the Lord: “Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them, 16 ’Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.’

So this is the reproach of Egypt that God said he would remove. But why 40 years? Because God said it would be precisely that ... we see this here ..

NUMBERS 13:34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.

NUMBERS 13:32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.

So, for 40 years, this people wandered through the wilderness - without a god, God not blessing them. They were under Law, and the curses of breaking the Law would have been evident. The reports to Egypt would have resulted in reproach. God was unable to be ‘reflected’ ‘in’ them through their being blessed. The God of Israel was not seen as Almighty, I mean, look at his miserable children. But, after the prescribed 40years, that reproach would be lifted away.

And your second Q, you asked ‘about the lack of circumcision

This is actually easy to answer .. lets look at the covenant that required circumcision...

GEN 17:7 *And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. *

And now, let’s remember the circumstances in the wilderness during this time .. “forty years, and you shall know My rejection.”. So, for 40 years God was not their God. So no need for circumcision..... until once again He became their God.

1
  • Hi, Dave. Regarding circumcision, that is the conclusion I have been coming to. The lack of circumcision was a sign of God considering them as cut off from the covenant made with Abraham. Mar 8 at 20:52
0

In addition to Mike's good answer to your first question, the following are related to your first question:

Why did everyone in the wilderness journey ignore Moses' commandment to circumcise on the 8th day?

Why the LORD wasn't angry when Joshua's generation failed to be circumcised on the 8th day?

Why were God's reactions so different in Exodus 4:24-26 and Joshua 5:2 concerning circumcision?

Question 2.) Why did it take so long--over forty years--for the reproach of Egypt to be rolled off of Israel? Why did it have to wait until the eve of the conquest of Canaan? Could it not have been achieved any earlier?

9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

The emphasis here is today, not 40 years which is incidental.

I have rolled away
גַּלּ֛וֹתִי (gal·lō·w·ṯî)
Verb - Qal - Perfect - first person common singular
Strong's Hebrew 1556: To roll, roll away

Gilgal
גִּלְגָּ֔ל (gil·gāl)
Noun - proper - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1537: Gilgal -- 'circle (of stones)', the name of several places in Palestine

Note the similarity in sounds and meanings between gal·lō·w·ṯî and gil·gāl. If you read this verse in Hebrew, this is a play on words in terms of sounds as well as meanings.

The point is that this is a special day, a cause for celebration. It marks the line between centuries of slavery in Egypt and promises of freedoms in the new land. Today the Lord has rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. You are free from slavery. Enter the land of milk and honey and rest. That's the promise from God.

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