on Joshua 5 :8
They abode - in the camp, till they were whole - This required several days; see the notes on Genesis 34:24, Genesis 34:25. Sir J. Chardin informs us that when adults were circumcised they were obliged to keep their beds for about three weeks, or at least during that time they are not able to walk about but with great difficulty. The account he had from several renegadoes, who had received circumcision among the Mohammedans. Is it not strange that during this time they were not attacked by the inhabitants of the land, and utterly destroyed, which might have been easily effected? See the case of the poor Shechemites, as related in Genesis 34:24-31, with the notes there. Joshua, as an able general, would at once perceive that this very measure must expose his whole host to the danger of being totally annihilated; but he knew that God could not err, and that it was his duty to obey; therefore in the very teeth of his enemies he reduced the major part of his army to a state of total helplessness, simply trusting for protection in the arm of Jehovah! The sequel shows that his confidence was not misplaced; during the whole time God did not permit any of their enemies to disturb them. The path of duty is the path of safety; and it is impossible for any soul to be injured while walking in the path of obedience. But why did not God order them to be circumcised while they were on the east side of Jordan in a state of great security? Because he chose to bring them into straits and difficulties where no counsel or might but his own could infallibly direct and save them; and this he did that they might see that the excellence of the power was of God, and not of man. For the same reason he caused them to pass the Jordan at the time that it overflowed its banks, and not at the time when it was low and easily fordable, that he might have the better opportunity to show them that they were under his immediate care and protection; and convince them of his almighty power, that they might trust in him for ever, and not fear the force of any adversaries. In both cases how apparent are the wisdom, power, and goodness of God!
on Joshua 5 :8
The circumcision must have taken place on the day after the passage of Jordan, i. e. the 11th Nisan, and the Passover was kept on the 14th of the same month. For so long at least, they who had been circumcised would be disabled from war (compare the marginal reference), though they would not necessarily be debarred from keeping the feast. The submission of the people to the rite was a proof of faith, even though we remember that the panic of the Canaanites Joshua 5:1 would render any immediate attack from them unlikely, and that there must have been a large number of "men of war" who would not need to be circumcised at all (see the note at Joshua 5:4).
on Joshua 5 :8
5:8 Whole - Free from that pain and soreness which circumcision caused, 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.