Jos 5:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which [were] on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which [were] by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.
Jos 5:2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
Note that it says the “second” time, which means I need to go back to see when was the first time. Additionally, I want to see more about circumcision and when and why it was initiated. To get that answer, I have to go back to Genesis.
Gen 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I [am] the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Abram was ninety years old and nine--thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael [Gen 16:16]. During that interval he had enjoyed the comforts of communion with God but had been favored with no special revelation as formerly. So long the promise of Isaac was deferred, probably on account of, and to correct his hasty and blamable marriage with Hagar. Note, the comforts we sinfully anticipate are justly delayed.
The Lord appeared--some visible manifestation of the divine presence, probably the Shekinah or radiant glory of overpowering effulgence.
I am the “Almighty God” which is the name by which He made Himself known to the patriarchs ( Exd 6:3 ), designed to convey the sense of "all-sufficient" ( Psa 16:5, 6 73:25 ).
Additionally, the word perfect here refers to complete, whole, entire, sound, healthful, entire (of time), wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity; what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact.
Gen 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
Gen 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
Abram fell on his face--the attitude of profoundest reverence assumed by Eastern people. It consists in the prostrate body resting on the hands and knees, with the face bent till the forehead touches the ground. It is an expression of conscious humility and profound reverence.
Gen 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Gen 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Gen 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Gen 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
Gen 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
“My covenant is with thee,”- Renewed mention is made of it as the foundation of the communication that follows. It is the covenant of grace made with all who believe in the Savior.
“But thy name shall be Abraham,”- In Eastern countries a change of name is an advertisement of some new circumstance in the history, rank, or religion of the individual who bears it. The change is made variously, by the old name being entirely dropped for the new, or by conjoining the new with the old; or sometimes only a few letters are inserted, so that the altered form may express the difference in the owner's state or prospects. It is surprising how soon a new name is known and its import spread through the country. In dealing with Abraham and Sarai, God was pleased to adapt His procedure to the ideas and customs of the country and age. Instead of Abram, "a high father," he was to be called Abraham, "father of a multitude of nations" (see Rev 2:17).
I will give unto thee . . . the land - It had been previously promised to Abraham and his posterity (Gen 15:18). Here it is promised as an "everlasting possession," and was, therefore, a type of heaven, "the better country" (Hbr 11:16).
Gen 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Gen 17:10 This [is] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Gen 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which [is] not of thy seed.
Gen 17:13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
Gen 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
After Abram had sojourned in the land of promise twenty-four years, The Lord made a covenant with him and changed his name to Abraham (Genesis 12:4,5; Genesis 17:1-5). The Lord proposed to make of him a great nation and to perpetuate the covenant through his offspring (Genesis 17:6,7). Birth and purchase were the conditions of membership in this covenant (Genesis 12:13). Of circumcision:
(A) It was a visible mark in the flesh.
(B) It affected only the males of Abraham's family.
(C) The children were circumcised on the eighth day.
(D) The uncircumcised were to be cut off from the covenant (Genesis 17:6-14).
Every man child among you shall be circumcised--This was the sign in the Old Testament Church as baptism is in the New, and hence the covenant is called "covenant of circumcision" ( Act 7:8 Rom 4:11 ). The terms of the covenant were these: on the one hand Abraham and his seed were to observe the right of circumcision; and on the other, God promised, in the event of such observance, to give them Canaan for a perpetual possession, to be a God to him and his posterity, and that in him and his seed all nations should be blessed.