The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleJoshua 5:2
At that time the Lord said unto Joshua…
When the people
had passed over Jordan, and had pitched in Gilgal, and Joshua had set
up the stones there; and particularly when the dread of them had seized
the inhabitants of Canaan, and deprived them of all their courage; and
so was a fit time for the execution of what is next ordered, and seems
designed in the providence of God among other things particularly for
make them sharp knives;
not that Joshua was to make them himself, but
to order them to be made; for a considerable number would be wanted for
the use to be made of them: the Targum calls them sharp razors; and Ben
Gersom says they were made of brass, more likely of iron or steel,
which perhaps he means; but the Hebrew text is, "knives of rocks",
"flints" or "stones"; and so Maimonides F16 interprets the words, and
as they are rendered in various versions F17; with such an instrument
Zipporah circumcised her son; and like them were the "samia testa" F18,
with which the priests of the mother of the gods were castrated; and
the "saxum acutum" of Ovid F19; and such the Americans used in slaying
beasts, and the Egyptians F20 in the dissecting of their dead bodies;
and which the Talmudists allow of as lawful; and in the east the Jews
to this day use knives of stone in circumcision F21;
(See Gill on 4:25).
and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time;
circumcision was to be repeated on them that had been circumcised
already, who had found out ways and means to draw over the foreskin
again, as some in later times did; or who had been imperfectly
circumcised according to the rite enjoined by Abraham, which some
Jewish writers say was not perfect; neither of which was the case.
Kimchi, and so Ben Melech, interpret the word, "oftentimes",
frequently, one time after another; as if the sense was, Joshua was to
circumcise them, or take care they were circumcised, some at one time,
and some at another, until the whole was finished; but this is not what
is meant, it refers to a former general circumcision; not to the
circumcision, as first administered in Abraham's time, for there had
been a multitude of instances of it since that time; but to the
circumcision of the Israelites at, about, or quickly after their coming
out of Egypt; either before their eating of their first passover, the
night they went out of Egypt, as Jarchi F23; or rather some time in the
three days' darkness of the Egyptians, as Dr. Lightfoot F24 thinks; or
else when they were about Sinai, just before the celebration of the
passover there, (Numbers 9:1,2) ; from which time it had been neglected; not
cause unnecessary, while they were in the wilderness, to distinguish
them from others, which was not the principal, at least not the only
use of it; nor because forbidden the Israelites for their disobedience,
murmurings, and rebellion, it not being probable that God should
prohibit the observance of a command of his on that account; nor so
much through criminal neglect, at least contempt of it, as because of
their frequent journeying, and the inconvenience of performing it,
being always uncertain, when they had pitched their tents, how long
they should stay, and when they should remove, since this depended upon
the taking up of the cloud; wherefore, unless they could have been sure
of a continuance for a proper time, it was not safe to administer it;
and now it was enjoined, partly because they were about to celebrate
the passover, which required circumcision in all that partook of it,
(Exodus 12:43,44) ; and partly because they had now entered into the land of
Canaan, which was given them in the covenant of circumcision,
(Genesis 17:8-10) ; wherefore it became them now to observe it, and as
typical of spiritual circumcision, necessary to the heavenly Canaan, as
well as to distinguish them from the uncircumcised Canaanites they were
coming among; and they did not think themselves under obligation to
observe it till they came to settle in that land, as some think, who
hereby account for their long neglect of it.
F16 Moreh Nevochim, par. 1. c. 16.
F17 (Myru twbrh) (macairav petrinav) , Sept. "cultros lapideos", V.
L. "cultros petrarum", Munster, Montanus, Piscator.
F18 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 35. c. 12. Arnob. adv. Gentes, l. 5. p. 189.
F19 Fast. l. 4. ver. 237.
F20 Herod. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 86.
F21 Vid. Pfeiffer. Dubia Vexata, cent. 2. loc. 46.
F23 So in Pirke Eliezer, c. 29.
F24 Works, vol. 1. p. 40.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 5:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=jos&chapter=005&verse=002>. 1999.