Joshua 5:8: The Mysterious Case of Israel’s Circumcision at Gilgal, Part 5

Verse 8:[1] And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people (Heb. when the people had made an end to be circumcised[2]), that they abode in their places in the camp, (see Gen. 34:25) till they were whole.

[After all were circumcised, כַּאֲשֶׁר־תַּ֥מּוּ כָל־הַגּ֖וֹי לְהִמּ֑וֹל] Verbatim: When all the people were finished to be circumcised (Montanus). When all the people was complete, or finished (or, had brought to completion [Junius]) to be circumcised (Vatablus, similarly the Syriac, Arabic). He agains calls them גּוֹי, a nation, that is, because they were yet uncircumcised after the manner of the barbarians[3] (Masius).

[They remained in the same place, וַיֵּשְׁב֥וּ תַחְתָּ֛ם] And they sat (that is, they remained [Drusius]) in their places (Jonathan, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius). Thus Joshua 6:5.[4] Thus Exodus 16:29, abide ye every man תַּחְתָּיו, in his place; it follows, let no man go out מִמְּקֹמוֹ, from his place. Thus Exodus 10:23[5] (Glassius’ “Grammar” 554). But the Septuagint has, they had quiet there. The Kings of the Canaanites did not approach them, although they were wounded, because, being stricken with a Divine fear, they were stupefied. From this let us learn not to be led away by the fear of any, or even the greatest, danger to omit those things that have been commanded us by God (Masius).

[Until they were healed, עַ֥ד חֲיוֹתָֽם׃] While they were living (Drusius, similarly Montanus, Piscator); until they were revived, as in Numbers 21[6] (Junius); until they were healed (Septuagint, similarly Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). Thus Isaiah 38:21, וְיֶחִי, and he shall be healed. Life is not to live, but to be strong[7] (Drusius). Until they began to recover (Vatablus). Thus to live is taken in 2 Kings 20:7 (Malvenda).

Till they were whole: 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.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֛י כַּאֲשֶׁר־תַּ֥מּוּ כָל־הַגּ֖וֹי לְהִמּ֑וֹל וַיֵּשְׁב֥וּ תַחְתָּ֛ם בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה עַ֥ד חֲיוֹתָֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: כַּאֲשֶׁר־תַּ֥מּוּ כָל־הַגּ֖וֹי לְהִמּ֑וֹל.

[3] גּוֹיִם is usually used of Gentile nations.

[4] Joshua 6:5:  “And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat (תַּחְתֶּיהָ, in its place), and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.”

[5] Exodus 10:23:  “They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place (מִתַּחְתָּיו) for three days:  but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”

[6] Numbers 21:8, 9:  “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole:  and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live (וָחָי).  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived (וָחָי).”

[7] Martial’s Epigrams 6:70:15.

1 thought on “Joshua 5:8: The Mysterious Case of Israel’s Circumcision at Gilgal, Part 5

  1. Matthew Henry: “God would hereby show that the camp of Israel was not governed by the ordinary rules and measures of war, but by immediate direction from God, who by thus exposing them, in the most dangerous moments, magnified his own power in protecting them even then. And this great instance of security, in disabling themselves for action just when they were entering upon action, proclaimed such confidence in the divine care for their safety as would increase their enemies’ fears, much more when their scouts informed them not only of the thing itself that was done, but of the meaning of it, that it was a seal of the grant of this land to Israel.”

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