This had to be done, because none of Israel’s baby boys had been circumcised during the forty years that Israel had wandered through the desert after leaving Egypt. And why had they wandered for forty years? It was because right after they left Egypt, the men in the army had disobeyed the Lord. And the Lord had said, “None of you men will ever live to see the land that I promised Israel. It is a land rich with milk and honey, and someday your children will live there, but not before you die here in the desert.”
This is why Joshua circumcised the men: After the Israelites left Egypt, all the men who were able to serve in the army were circumcised. While in the desert, many of the fighting men did not listen to the Lord. So the Lord promised that they would not see the “land where much food grows.” He promised our ancestors to give us that land, but because of those men, he forced the people to wander in the desert for 40 years. That way all those fighting men would die. So all the fighting men died, and their sons took their place. But none of the boys who were born in the desert on the trip from Egypt had been circumcised. So Joshua circumcised them.
When the people of Israel left Egypt, all the males were already circumcised. However, during the forty years the people spent crossing the desert, none of the baby boys had been circumcised. Also, by the end of that time all the men who were of fighting age when they left Egypt had died because they had disobeyed the Lord. Just as he had sworn, they were not allowed to see the rich and fertile land that he had promised their ancestors.
The reason for this second circumcision ceremony was that although when Israel left Egypt all of the men who had been old enough to bear arms had been circumcised, that entire generation had died during the years in the wilderness, and none of the boys born since that time had been circumcised.
This is why Joshua conducted the circumcision. All the males who had left Egypt, the soldiers, had died in the wilderness on the journey out of Egypt. All the people who had come out of Egypt, of course, had been circumcised, but all those born in the wilderness along the way since leaving Egypt had not been. The fact is that the People of Israel had walked through that wilderness for forty years until the entire nation died out, all the men of military age who had come out of Egypt but had disobeyed the call of God. God vowed that these would never lay eyes on the land God had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. But their children had replaced them. These are the ones Joshua circumcised. They had never been circumcised; no one had circumcised them along the way.
This is because all of the male Israelites who had fled from Egypt and all their soldiers who had fought so bravely had been circumcised, but they had died on the long journey. And those who had been born during the journey had not yet been circumcised.
the which all were circumcised. But the other people that was born in desert by forty years, in the way of the full broad wilderness, was uncircumcised, (were all circumcised. But the other males, those who were born in the wilderness, were uncircumcised.)