It was on this day that the generation of Israelites born in the wilderness were circumcised upon entering the land of Israel. This is recorded in Joshua 5:
“So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.” (Joshua 5:8-9)
The generation that was circumcised in the land was not the generation that had left Egypt. According to the Bible, all of those people had died in the wilderness. Still, what Egypt was to Israel – apparently represented by their uncircumcision – was still present in the latter generation until the day they were circumcised. Even though they had been led through the wilderness, had been fed with manna for forty years, and even though they had been receiving and learning God’s instructions, they were still tainted with “Egypt.” All of Egypt that remained with them had to be cut away. Furthermore, it’s important to realize this was all done in preparation for the first Passover that would be kept in the land.
“Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.” (Joshua 5:10-11)
The events that occurred at Gilgal played a significant role in the relationship between God and Israel and the subsequent conquest of the land. Perhaps most notable here is the fact that the reproach of Egypt was rolled away from them. Its fascinating that God decided to put it this way, considering that the word rendered as “rolled away” comes from the same root word from which we get the word, “Golgotha” – the place of the skull. Of course, that is the place where the Lamb of God bled and died that my sins might be atoned for. And it was near to this place of execution that He was taken and sealed in a tomb by a large stone that was rolled into place to cover the entrance.
Three days later, that same stone was rolled away, making it possible for the “reproach of Egypt” to be rolled away from you and me. Just as the generation that entered the land of Canaan had to circumcise themselves in preparation for what lay ahead, we also have the responsibility to prepare ourselves for Passover – a Holy Day that Messiah instructed us to observe in remembrance of Him. It’s necessary that we search diligently within ourselves, that we circumcise our hearts so that the ways of the world within us may be purged from us and rolled away. The experience can be painful but it is something that has to be done if we are going to possess the land – that is fulfill our destiny and purpose in God.