Joshua 5:5 Was the Passover observed the 40 years in the Wilderness?

Josh 5:2 At that time Yahuweh said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

Josh 5:3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

Josh 5:4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

Josh 5:5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, they had not circumcised.

The question has been asked, “Since Joshua was commanded to circumcise the children of Israel again when they first entered the Promise Land before they kept the Passover, is that implying that the Passover was not kept during the 40 years in the wilderness?” We’re not specifically told if Israel did or did not observe the Passover each year in the wilderness, but I believe that after looking at the circumstances leading up to the entering of the Promise Land it will become obvious that they most certainly would have been observing the Passover each year. Let’s begin with the first time Israel was commanded to observe the Passover in Egypt.

Before the children of Israel could leave Egypt Yahuweh required that everyone partake of the Passover Lamb, at which time all the males had to be circumcised (Exo 12:47-50). Three different times before Israel left Egypt Yahuweh commanded that the Passover be observed by Israel “forever, throughout their generations”

Exo 12:14 'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to Yahuweh; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

Exo 12:17 'You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.

Exo 12:24 "And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.

And after Israel departed Egypt Yahuweh specifically commanded Moses to make sure that Israel observed the Passover.

Lev 23:4-5 'These are the appointed times of Yahuweh, holy convocations which you, Moses (vs. 1), shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is Yahuweh’s Passover.

In the second year after the Exodus Yahuweh spoke unto Moses again concerning the Passover.

Num 9:1 And Yahuweh spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,

Num 9:2 Now (meaning “now” at that time) let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season.

Num 9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month (meaning the month of the 2nd year that they were now in), at even, you shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall you keep it.

Num 9:4 And Moses spoke unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover.

Num 9:5And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that Yahuweh commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

At that time there were certain men who were defiled by a dead body and were not able to keep the Passover. So they came to Moses asking what they could do since they could not offer the Passover at it’s appointed season. Moses went to Yahuweh to find out what to do about the matter, and Yahuweh said,

Num 9:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto Yahuweh.

Num 9:11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Num 9:12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

Passover is the only annul feast of Yahuweh in which if someone was unable to observe it at it’s appointed time, on the 14th day of the 1st month, they were to observe it the following month, on the 14th day, “according to all the statutes of the Passover they shall observe it” (vs. 9).

Observing the Passover was of such an importance that if a person was unable to observe it on the 14th day of the 1st month and they had to observed it the following month. If they failed to observe it the following month then Yahuweh said, that “soul shall be cut off from among his people:..." (vs. 13).

So we know with certainty that Moses and all of Israel observed the Passover in the 2nd year after coming out of Egypt. If someone failed to observe it in the first month they were commanded to observe it in the 2nd month, other wise they would have been “put to death”. The term 'cut-off' from among Yahuweh's people means 'put to death' (see Exo 31:14).

With the prospect of being ”cut-off” from among Yahuweh’s People, that is “put to death” can anyone image Moses “forgetting” to remind Israel each and every year that they were to observe it? Is that even a possibility?

Later in the book of Numbers Yahuweh spoke again unto Moses concerning the Passover:

Num 28:1 Then Yahuweh spoke to Moses, saying,…….

Num 28:16 … on the fourteenth day of the first month shall be Yahuweh’s Passover.

Before entering the Promise Land “Moses spoke unto the children of Israel, according to all that Yahuweh had commanded him to give to them“ (Deut 1:3). At which time he again reminded the children Israel to observe the Passover at it’s appointed time.

Deut 16:1 "Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to Yahuweh your God, for in the month of Abib Yahuweh your God brought you out of Egypt by night.

Deut 16:2 "You shall sacrifice the Passover to Yahuweh your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where Yahuweh chooses to establish His name.

In realizing all of the above let me ask again, can anyone imagine Moses disobeying the command in failing to remind Israel each and every year in the wilderness that the Passover had to be observed? If Moses, or anyone else of the children of Israel would have not observed the Passover, even one time, Yahuweh said they were to be cut off from among His People, Israel. and I'm certain if Moses knew of a person who refused to observed the Passover he would have carried out Yahuweh's judgment and cut that person off from among Israel, as he has in the past (Num 15:35-36).

Question: are we ever told that the Passover “was not" kept at any time during the 40 years in the Wilderness? No, never! And from everything we’ve looked at above, one would assume that it was most likely observed each and every year during Israel’s sojourning. But the question still remains “if circumcision was required before a male could partake of the Passover, and we know from the account given in Joshua 5 that there were those who were not circumcised then how could the Passover been observed? I believe if we go back and take a look at the account in Joshua chapter 5 we’ll see the reason why some were not circumcised, and come to the conclusion that the Passover was kept each and every year while in the wilderness.

Josh 5:2 At that time Yahuweh said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.

Josh 5:3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

By saying the “second time” of course is not implying that someone who had already been circumcised should go back and be circumcised again, “a second time“. The language is evidently referring to a “general” circumcision, such as that which was commanded before the Passover could be eaten (Exo_12:47-50), prior to Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

Some people might not be aware of the fact that there could have been, and almost definite were, many Israelites, if not most, that would have ‘already’ been circumcised prior Yahuweh's commanding Moses in Exodus 12:43-51, before the eating of the Passover. The command for all male Israelites to be circumcised “was not” given to Moses, it was commanded to Abraham roughly 300 years before Moses was born (Gen 17:10, 14). As a matter fact at one point Yahuweh almost killed Moses prior to his returning to Egypt because he had not yet circumcised his son Gershom (Exo 4:24-26). On another occasion Jacobs sons, Levi and Simeon, deceived the men of Shechem by making them believe that if their men were all circumcised, as all Israelite men had to be, then their daughters could be given in marriage to the men of Shechem (Gen 34:13-26). So circumcision would have been something Israel would have been very familiar with for hundreds of years before entering Egypt and during their *210 years in Egypt.

If all of Israel understood prior to their entering into Egypt that circumcision was to be preformed on all male children, and if Yahuweh made it extremely clear before they left Egypt that no one who was not circumcised could eat of the Passover, then why after the 40 years of wondering through the desert would there have been those who were not circumcised? I think the answer to that question can be found in the next few passages.

Josh 5:4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: because of all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, that is all the men of war, who died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt.

I added the 4 italicized words for clarity. But with or without them you can see that the reason Joshua had to circumcise the people was because of the “men of war”, all those who were 20 years and older when the left Egypt. Why because of them?

Josh 5:5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

Josh 5:6 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 Yahuweh, to whom Yahuweh had sworn that He would not let them see the land which Yahuweh had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Josh 5:7 And their children whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.

It was the children of “the men of war” that were never circumcised. The children of those men who knew they would never see the Promised Land, those men who knew they were going to spend their remaining days on earth wondering in the desert until they all died. It was their children who were never circumcise. Why were they not circumcised? Maybe a better question might be “why would they have been circumcised”? Why would these men have found it important to obey the commands of Yahuweh? Yahuweh had already passed judgment on them. They were to die in the Wilderness and nothing they could do or say was going to change that.

Shortly after leaving Egypt, when the men of war refused to go up against the army of giants who occupied the Promised Land, these are the words they heard:

'As I live,' says Yahuweh, '….your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Num 14:28-30

'Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. Num 14:33-34

Everyone of these men that Yahuweh was speaking to spent their entire lives in cruel bondage until their exodus from Egypt. After which time they wondered in the desert for a little over a year before coming to the Promised Land. When they refused to fight the giants who occupied that Land (Num 13:32-33), Yahuweh told them to “turn around” you’re going back into the desert (Deut 1:40), which is were you’ll spend the rest of your lives until you die. We can only guess as to why these men had no incentive in obeying the command to circumcise their young, but they didn’t. But for anyone to believe that Moses would not have celebrated the Passover each and every year with Israel, after all the times he was commanded to by Yahuweh is in my opinion is unthinkable.

How could he have observed it though when possibly so many were not circumcised? The Passover was eaten in the individual households and it’s not as though there was a “circumcision check” prior to anyone's eating of the Passover. Moses would not have checked to see if all the males out of the roughly3,000,000 people were circumcised. Nor did anyone have to fill out a questionnaire asking if they were circumcised prior to their eating Passover. So even though there were those who obviously did not circumcised their children, Moses, in my opinion, would have definitely commanded the observance of the Passover each year.

Some of what I stated was of course my opinion, so I’d welcome and appreciate any honest criticism by anyone concerning anything I said here. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Shalom Reuven