Other translations have interpreted the word reproach as shame or ridicule. Some versions have translated this verse to mean that God had taken away the shame of the slavery that his people experienced in Egypt. After Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan river, God commanded him to circumcise the sons of Israel. Once the circumcision was complete, God told Joshua that their reproach had been rolled away. Prior to this the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The entire generation of the Jews who left Egypt died in the wilderness because they did not obey the voice of the Lord.
Joshua and Caleb were the only two men from the original people who lived in Egypt who survived beyond the wilderness. The people rebelled against God and against Moses when they were told to cross into the promised land. They chose to listen to the evil report from the ten spies, rather than listen to what the Lord had said through his servants. It can be said that the people had a slavery mentality and one that was full of the shame and reproach of their past. Their children however did not experience slavery. They were born in the wilderness and longed for a place to call home.
The second generation after their release from Egypt obeyed Joshua and were not afraid to move forward and claim their inheritance. The exercise of circumcision was one of purification and cleansing. We circumcise our hearts and sanctify our spirits with the word of God. We are well able to move forward and take possession of the promises that God has for us. We hold fast to what God has promised us and we walk in freedom. We are free from the failures of our past and the guilt and shame from our tribulations. Many of the challenges that we experienced or are experiencing are through no fault of our own.
There are systems that have been designed to try to keep us in bondage and to prevent us from advancing. God has removed the reproach and we have been set free to move forward. God has rolled the barriers away and took our shame upon himself and nailed it to the cross or Calvary. The penalty for our sins has been paid and we are no longer guilty. The limitations of the past have been removed and we are advancing to a brighter future in God. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).