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.
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.
Because they hadn’t obeyed him, he raised up their sons to take their place. They were the ones Joshua circumcised. They hadn’t been circumcised yet. That’s because no one had circumcised them during the journey.
The sons of them came afterward into the place of [the] fathers, and they were circumcised of Joshua; which, as they were born, were in prepuce, neither any man had circumcised them in the way. (Their sons came afterward into the place of their fathers, and they were the ones whom Joshua circumcised; for they all had foreskins, as when they were born, for no one had circumcised them on the way.)
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