2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.
4 Now this is why He did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. 6 The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land He had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So He raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.
Wow. I had completely forgotten about this. Then I recalled the what happened when Dinah the daughter of Leah and Jacob had been raped by Shechem son of the ruler of the Hivates. The story is in Genesis 34 where the Hivate men were convinced to get circumcised so the two tribes could intermarry. There was no intention to remarry though, it was a deception so the Hivates would be very vulnerable to an attack.
Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.
So the question in my mind was why were the men of the nation of Israel not vulnerable to the same type of action at this time after crossing the Jordan? Turns out the answer is in verse one of this chapter
Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
What the Lord had done for them at the Jordan protected them while they were in pain and unable to defend themselves. And all of this happened because when they first had the opportunity to enter the promised land they did not trust in the Lord when they heard the report of the spies. Ten of the twelve spies did not believe they, with the Lord, could take the promised land.
The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord.
The whole story may be read in Numbers 13 and 14. Of twelve spies sent ahead only two spoke up, Caleb and Joshua, saying to the entire assembly of Israel
7 “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
But the people did not listen and even wanted to stone them they were so afraid. Thus they disobeyed the Lord and were sentenced by Him to wander for 40 years in the wilderness.
It’s Monday and it is interesting to contemplate today and throughout the week the consequences of disobeying the Lord when He calls us to do (or not to do) something.