Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.
Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:1-15 NASB
The news of the Israelites’ crossing Jordan travelled to an extensive mass of land with wicked inhabitants. Fear and terror gripped their minds and their hearts melted and they had no spirit in them. Their fear was not of the people of Israel, but a fear of the God of the Israelites, the Lord, Jehovah, “the existing One” who supernaturally performed the crossing at flood state. Here we see the effect of the crossing on the inhabitants of Canaan.
Before taking any of the land, God came to Joshua and required him to have every male of the Israelites circumcised. Circumcision began as a surgical sign of a faith commitment of the covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 17) and had been ignored for the forty years during the time in the wilderness, a sign of the apathy and disobedience to the Law. Moses led a circumcised nation out of Egypt so Joshua would lead a circumcised army in Canaan. Circumcision marked every male Israelite as a son of Abraham and bound in covenant to the service of the Lord. The outward sign was meaningless unless it was coupled with an inward severing of the fleshly deeds of the heart (“circumcision of the heart” in Deut. 30:6).
Once the circumcision ritual was completed, the Lord told Joshua He had “rolled away the reproach of Egypt.” Israel’s era of captivity now came to an end. Gilgal means “Rolling Away.” The inheritance of the Promised Land was ahead. The same verbal root word is used to describe the site of Golgotha, the place where mankind’s captivity to sin ended and where the sins of man were rolled away and onto the person of Jesus Christ in order that believers might enter God’s spiritual inheritance (Colossians 1:12-14).
Circumcision was a prerequisite for the Passover (Ex. 12:11, 17). The celebration of the first Passover preceded the exodus from Egypt with this Passover preceding any warfare to take possession of the land. For those who had never known Egypt, this sacred meal rooted their understanding of God’s ongoing work of the redemption of mankind. Now God wanted both the rite of circumcision and celebration of the Passover, the two basic Israelite rites, to be renewed at Gilgal, preparing a sanctified people ready for the holy warfare that was ahead (Deut. 20:1-4). Both were significant preparations for the conquest of the Promised Land. Only a people now consecrated and dedicated to God could now expect, by faith, to receive victory in the holy war to take possession of Canaan for God, its owner.
When King Solomon had finished the work of building the new temple at Jerusalem, in the conquered land in which the Israelites now entered, he prayed a prayer of dedication calling upon God to remember His covenant with David and for God’s forgiveness and mercy to be given to those who would recognize the dwelling place of God, repent of their sins and return unto God that “… that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers. II Chron. 6:17-31 (Please read vv. 17-31, only verse 31 quoted here).