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Circumcision in the Bible

Circumcision in the Bible

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Religious male circumcision generally occurs shortly after birth, during childhood or around puberty as part of a rite of passage
Rite of passage
A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures....

. Circumcision is most prevalent in Muslim countries and Israel, and is most prevalent in the Jewish and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 faiths, although also common in the United States, the Philippines, South Korea, and Ethiopia, which are predominantly Christian. It is less common in Europe, Latin America and virtually unheard of in China and India. Hodges argues that in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 the foreskin
Foreskin
In male human anatomy, the foreskin is a generally retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers the glans penis and protects the urinary meatus when the penis is not erect...

 was valued and that Greek and Roman attempts to abolish ritual circumcision were prompted by humanitarian concerns.

Male circumcision practiced as a religious rite is found in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, as part of the Abrahamic covenant, such as , and is therefore practiced by Jews and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s and some Christians, those who constitute the Abrahamic religions.

Ancient Egypt


Sixth Dynasty (2345 - 2181 BC) tomb artwork in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 is thought to be the oldest documentary evidence of circumcision, the most ancient depiction being a bas-relief from the necropolis
Necropolis
A necropolis is a large cemetery or burial ground, usually including structural tombs. The word comes from the Greek νεκρόπολις - nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead"...

 at Saqqara
Saqqara
Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of...

 (ca. 2400 B.C) with the inscription reading "Hold him and do not allow him to faint". In the oldest written account, by an Egyptian named Uha, in the 23rd century B.C, he describes a mass circumcision and boasts of his ability to stoically endure the pain: "When I was circumcised, together with one hundred and twenty men...there was none thereof who hit out, there was none thereof who was hit, and there was none thereof who scratched and there was none thereof who was scratched."

Circumcision in ancient Egypt was thought to be a mark of passage from childhood to adulthood. The alteration of the body and ritual of circumcision was supposed to give access to ancient mysteries reserved solely for the initiated. The content of those mysteries are unclear but are likely to be myths, prayers, and incantations central to Egyptian religion. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, for example, tells of the sun god
Solar deity
A solar deity is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms...

 Ra
Ra
Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty he had become a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the mid-day sun...

 performing a self-circumcision, whose blood created two minor guardian deities. Circumcisions were performed by priests in a public ceremony, using a stone blade. It is thought to have been more popular among the upper echelons of the society, although it was not universal and those lower down the social order are known to have had the procedure done.

In the Tanakh



There are numerous references to circumcision in the Jewish Bible. Circumcision was enjoined upon the biblical patriarch Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, his descendants and their slaves as "a token of the covenant" concluded with him by God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 for all generations, an "everlasting covenant" , thus it is commonly observed by the Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

.

The penalty of non-observance was kareth
Kareth
In Judaism, Kareth is a divine punishment for transgressing Jewish law.It is the punishment for serious crimes that were not brought to justice by a human court...

, spiritual excision from the people . Non-Israelites had to undergo circumcision before they could be allowed to take part in the feast of Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 . See also Mosaic Law directed at non-Jews and Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

.

It was "a reproach" for an Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 to be uncircumcised The name arelim (uncircumcised) became an opprobrious term, especially a pejorative name for the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

, who might have been of Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 origin, in the context of the fierce wars recounted in the Book of Samuel  David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 wanted to marry King Saul's daughter, the King required a grisly "dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

" of a hundred Philistine foreskins. David went one better: "and David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full number to the king, that he might be the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife".

"Uncircumcised" is used in conjunction with tame (unpure) for heathen . The word 'arel' (uncircumcised) is also employed for "impermeable" (Lev. 26:41, "their uncircumcised hearts"; compare Jer. 9:25; Ezek. xliv. 7, 9); it is also applied to the first three years' fruit of a tree, which is forbidden .

However, the Israelites born in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 apparently did not carry out the practice of circumcision. According to , "all the people that came out" of Egypt were circumcised, but those "born in the wilderness" were not. In any case, we are told that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

, before the celebration of the Passover, had them circumcised at Gilgal
Gilgal
Gilgal is a place name mentioned by the Hebrew Bible. It is a matter of debate how many of the places named Gilgal are identical.-The Gilgal associated peacefully with Joshua:...

.

The Bible contains several narratives in which circumcision is mentioned. There is the circumcision and massacre of the Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

ites , the hundred foreskin
Foreskin
In male human anatomy, the foreskin is a generally retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers the glans penis and protects the urinary meatus when the penis is not erect...

 dowry and the story of the LORD threatening to kill Moses, and being placated by Zipporah's circumcision of their son , and the Circumcision at Gilgal of .

There is another sense in which the term "circumcise" is used in the Bible. says: "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart," (also quoted in , New JPS
New Jewish Publication Society of America Version
The JPS TANAKH, published in 1985, is a modern Jewish translation of Hebrew Scripture into English.This translation emerged from the collaborative efforts of an interdenominational team of Jewish scholars and rabbis working together over a thirty-year period...

 translates as: "Cut away, therefore, the thickening about your hearts") along with : To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: ... (New JPS translates: "Their ears are blocked"). Some interpret this as giving the rite a spiritual meaning; circumcision as a physical act being enjoined nowhere in the book. says that circumcised and uncircumcised will be punished alike by the Lord; for "all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart." The New JPS translation adds the note: "uncircumcised of heart: I.e., their minds are blocked to God's commandments." Non-Jewish tribes that practiced circumcision were described as being "circumcised in uncircumcision."

In Judaism


According to Jewish law, ritual circumcision of male children is a commandment from God that Jews are obligated to follow, and is only postponed or abrogated in the case of threat to the life or health of the child. Jews do not believe that non-Jews are obligated to follow this commandment; only Noahide laws
Noahide Laws
The Seven Laws of Noah form the major part of the Noachide Laws, or Noahide Code. This code is a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humankind...

 apply to non-Jews. Many Christians have the same understanding of this issue (i.e., that it is a law intended for Jews, but not for Christians), see also Biblical law in Christianity
Biblical law in Christianity
Christian views of the Old Covenant have been central to Christian theology and practice since the circumcision controversy in Early Christianity. There are differing views about the applicability of the Old Covenant among Christian denominations...

 and Dual-covenant theology
Dual-covenant theology
Dual-covenant theology is a Liberal Christian view that holds that Jews may simply keep the Law of Moses, because of the "everlasting covenant" between Abraham and God expressed in the Hebrew Bible, whereas Gentiles must convert to Christianity or alternatively accept the Seven Laws of Noah...

.

In rabbinic literature


During the Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

ian exile, Sabbath
Biblical Sabbath
Sabbath in the Bible is usually a weekly day of rest and time of worship. The Sabbath is first mentioned in the Genesis creation narrative. The seventh day is there set aside as a day of rest—the Sabbath. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in...

 and circumcision became the characteristic symbols of the Jewish people. This seems to be the underlying idea of Isa. lvi. 4: "The eunuchs that keep my Sabbath" still "hold fast by my covenant," though not having "the sign of the covenant" (Gen. xvii. 11.) upon their flesh.. However, the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 orders that a boy must not be circumcised if he had two brothers, from the same mother as him, who have died as a result of their circumcisions; this may be due to a concern about haemophilia
Haemophilia
Haemophilia is a group of hereditary genetic disorders that impair the body's ability to control blood clotting or coagulation, which is used to stop bleeding when a blood vessel is broken. Haemophilia A is the most common form of the disorder, present in about 1 in 5,000–10,000 male births...

.

Contact with Greek polytheistic culture, especially at the games of the arena, made this distinction obnoxious to Jewish-Hellenists
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

 seeking to assimilate into Greek culture
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

. The consequence was their attempt to appear like the Greeks by epispasm ("making themselves foreskins"; ; Josephus, Ant. xii 5, § 1; Assumption of Moses
Assumption of Moses
The Assumption of Moses is a Jewish apocryphal pseudepigraphical work. It is known from a single sixth-century incomplete manuscript in Latin that was discovered by Antonio Ceriani in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan in the mid-nineteenth century and published by him in 1861.-Identification:The...

, viii.; ;, Tosef.; Talmud tractes Shabbat xv. 9; Yevamot 72a, b; Yerushalmi Peah i. 16b; Yevamot viii. 9a). records that after King Antiochus
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 effectively banned traditional Jewish religious practice, including circumcision, the Maccabean rebels "forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys they found within the borders of Israel." Circumcision was again banned by Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 (117-138). His anti-circumcision law is considered by many, to be one of the main causes of the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135).

Jewish circumcision includes the removal of the inner preputial epithelium
Epithelium
Epithelium is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. Epithelial tissues line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body, and also form many glands. Functions of epithelial cells include secretion, selective...

, in a procedure that is named 'priah'(Hebrew: פריעה), which means: 'uncovering'. This epithelium is also removed on modern medical circumcisions, to prevent post operative penile adhesion and its complications
.According to the traditional Jewish sources, the 'priah' is performed, as part of the Jewish circumcision, since the Israelites first inhabited the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, and without it the mitzvah
Mitzvah
The primary meaning of the Hebrew word refers to precepts and commandments as commanded by God...

 isn't performed at all.
However, the editors of the Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, note that priah was probably added by the rabbis, in order to "prevent the possibility of obliterating the traces of circumcision".

To be born without a foreskin
Aposthia
Aposthia is a rare congenital condition in humans, in which the foreskin of the penis is missing.Toward the end of the nineteenth century, E. S. Talbot claimed in Medicine that aposthia among Jews was evidence for the now-discredited Lamarckian theory of evolution...

 was regarded as the privilege of the most saintly of people, from Adam, "who was made in the image of God," and Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 to Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 (see Midrash Ab. R. N., ed. Schechter, p. 153; and Talmud, Sotah 12a).

Uncircumcision being considered a blemish, circumcision was to remove it, and to render Abraham and his descendants "perfect" (Talmud Ned. 31b; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlvi.)

Rabbinic literature holds that one who removes his circumcision has no portion in the world to come
Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

 (Mishnah Ab. iii. 17; Midrash Sifre, Num. xv. 31; Talmud Sanhedrin 99).

According to the Midrash Pirke R. El. xxix., it was Shem
Shem
Shem was one of the sons of Noah in the Hebrew Bible as well as in Islamic literature. He is most popularly regarded as the eldest son, though some traditions regard him as the second son. Genesis 10:21 refers to relative ages of Shem and his brother Japheth, but with sufficient ambiguity in each...

 who circumcised Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 and Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

 on the Day of Atonement
Day of Atonement
Day of Atonement may refer to:*Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement* Day of Atonement , a national day established in 1995 by the Nation of Islam...

; and the blood of the covenant then shed is ever before God on that day to serve as an atoning power. According to the same midrash, Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 prevented the Hebrew slaves from performing the rite, but when the Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 time came and brought them deliverance, they underwent circumcision, and mingled the blood of the paschal lamb with that of the Abrahamic covenant, wherefore (Ezek. xvi. 6) God repeats the words: "In thy blood live!"

Converts to Judaism


Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

 for non-Israelites necessitated circumcision since Biblical times . However, on the 1st century AD, there was a controversy between the Shammai
Shammai
Shammai was a Jewish scholar of the 1st century, and an important figure in Judaism's core work of rabbinic literature, the Mishnah....

tes and the Hillelites
Hillel the Elder
Hillel was a famous Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud...

 regarding a convert born without a foreskin
Aposthia
Aposthia is a rare congenital condition in humans, in which the foreskin of the penis is missing.Toward the end of the nineteenth century, E. S. Talbot claimed in Medicine that aposthia among Jews was evidence for the now-discredited Lamarckian theory of evolution...

: the former demanding the spilling of a drop of blood of the covenant; the latter declaring it to be unnecessary.(Shab. 137a)

Flavius Josephus in Jewish Antiquities book 20, chapter 2 recorded the story of King Izates
Izates bar Monobaz
Izates II or Izates bar Monobaz was a proselyte to Judaism who became King of the Parthian client kingdom of Adiabene. He was the son of Queen Helena of Adiabene and Monobaz I. During his youth he was sent by his father to the court of King Abinergaos I of Characene in Charax Spasinu...

 of Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

 who decided to follow the Law of Moses
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 at the advice of a Jewish merchant named Ananias. He was going to get circumcised, but his mother, Helen, who herself embraced the Jewish customs, advised against it on the grounds that the subjects would not stand to be ruled by someone who followed such "strange and foreign rites". Ananias likewise advised against it, on the grounds that worship of God was superior to circumcision (Robert Eisenman
Robert Eisenman
Robert Eisenman is an American Biblical scholar, theoretical writer, historian, archaeologist, and "road" poet. He is currently Professor of Middle East Religions, Archaeology, and Islamic Law and director of the Institute for the Study of...

 in James the Brother of Jesus claims that Ananias is Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 who held similar views) and that God would forgive him for fear of his subjects. So Izates decided against it. However, later, "a certain other Jew that came out of Galilee, whose name was Eleazar", who was well versed in the Law, convinced him that he should, on the grounds that it was one thing to read the Law and another thing to practice it, and so he did. Once Helen and Ananias found out, they were struck by great fear of the possible consequences, but as Josephus put it, God looked after Izates. As his reign was peaceful and blessed, Helen visited the Jerusalem Temple to thank God, and since there was a terrible famine at the time, she brought lots of food and aid to the people of Jerusalem.

On the other hand, the emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 (117-138) forbade circumcision. His successor Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius , also known as Antoninus, was Roman Emperor from 138 to 161. He was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty and the Aurelii. He did not possess the sobriquet "Pius" until after his accession to the throne...

 (138-161) upheld the decree, but around 140 included an exemption for Jews who circumcised their sons, though not their servants, slaves, or converts. Even before that, in 95 AD, Flavius Clemens
Titus Flavius Clemens (consul)
Titus Flavius Clemens was a great-nephew of the Roman Emperor Vespasian. He was the son of Titus Flavius Sabinus , brother to Titus Flavius Sabinus and a second cousin to Roman Emperors to Titus and Domitian.-In classical sources:...

, a nephew of the emperors Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 and Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

, suffered the penalty of death for undergoing circumcision, and embracing the Jewish faith with his wife Domitilla (see Grätz, "Gesch." iv. 403 et seq., 702).

It can be thus understood why during Early Christian times there groups of Godfearers, who were gentiles who shared religious ideas with Jews, to one degree or another, but were afraid to circumcise, and were not recognized as Jews.
It is possibe that the view of them is echoed in the Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

: "If thy sons accept My Godhead [by undergoing circumcision] I shall be their God and bring them into the land; but if they do not observe My covenant in regard either to circumcision or to the Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

, they shall not enter the land of promise
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

" (Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlvi.). "The Sabbath-keepers who are not circumcised are intruders, and deserve punishment," (Midrash Deut. Rabbah i.)

The uncompromising Jewish stance that the seal of circumcision might not find its substitute in "the seal of baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

" — led Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 to urge the latter in opposition to the former , just as he was led to adopt the antinomistic
Antinomianism
Antinomianism is defined as holding that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation....

 or antinational
Anti-Zionism
Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionistic views or opposition to the state of Israel. The term is used to describe various religious, moral and political points of view in opposition to these, but their diversity of motivation and expression is sufficiently different that "anti-Zionism" cannot be...

 view, which had its exponents in Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

.

Normative position


Subject to overriding medical considerations, the circumcision must take place eight days after the birth of the child, even when this falls on Shabbat; The child must be medically fit for a circumcision to be performed, and Jewish law prohibits parents having their son circumcised if medical doctors hold that the procedure may unduly threaten the child's health (e.g. because of hemophilia). If by reason of the child's debility or sickness the ceremony is postponed, it cannot take place on Shabbat.

It is the duty of the father to have his child circumcised; and if he fails in this, the beth din
Beth din
A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

 of the city must see that the rite is performed In the absence of a grown free Jewish male expert, a women, a slave, or a child, that have the required skills, are also authorized to perform the circumcision, provided that they are Jewish.

However important it may be, circumcision is not a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

, unlike a Christian baptism. Circumcision does not affect a Jew's Jewish status. A Jew by birth is a full Jew, even if not circumcised.

In the Deuterocanon/Biblical Apocrypha


The Deuterocanon/Biblical Apocrypha
Biblical apocrypha
The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...

 reveal the cultural clash between Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 and Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, and between Judaizers
Judaizers
Judaizers is predominantly a Christian term, derived from the Greek verb ioudaïzō . This term is most widely known from the single use in the New Testament where Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling Gentile believers to "judaize", also known as the Incident at Antioch.According to the...

 and Hellenizers
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

. Greeks valued the foreskin, and when they took part in athletic sports, they did it in the nude http://www.cirp.org/library/history/hodges2/. However, they insisted that the glans
Glans
The glans is a vascular structure located at the tip of the penis in men or a homologous genital structure of the clitoris in women.-Structure:...

 remained covered, and they did not approve of the Jewish custom of circumcision. The Books of the Maccabees
Books of the Maccabees
The Books of the Maccabees are books concerned with the Maccabees, the leaders of the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid dynasty, or related subjects.The term mostly refers to two deuterocanonical books contained in some canons of the Bible:...

 reveal that some Jewish men chose to undergo epispasm, foreskin restoration
Foreskin restoration
Foreskin restoration is the process of expanding the residual skin on the penis, via surgical or non-surgical methods. It can be performed for several reasons, among them being a desire to create the appearance of a natural foreskin covering the glans penis, or to increase sexual sensitivity of...

 by stretching the residual skin http://www.cirp.org/library/restoration/hall1/, so that they could conform to Greek culture and take part in these sports. . Some also left their sons uncircumcised . This relatively peaceful period came to an end when Antiochus Epiphanes attacked first Egypt and then sacked and looted Jerusalem . Epiphanes determined to force everyone to live the Greek way
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 and abandon the Jewish way. Among other things, he banned circumcision.

Though many were prepared to conform to Greek culture, observant Jews saw circumcision as a mark of Jewish loyalty and many who kept to the Mosaic Law defied the edict of Antiochus Epiphanes prohibiting circumcision . Jewish women showed their loyalty to the Law, even at the risk of their lives, by themselves circumcising their sons. "For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. They publicly paraded them around the city, with their babies hanging at their breasts, and then hurled them down headlong from the wall ." At the same time, the Zealots forcibly circumcised the uncircumcised boys within the borders of Israel .

In the upshot, the Jewish Zealots defeated the Greeks and they retained the right to circumcise.

The Book of Jubilees, part of the Bible of the Ethiopian Orthodox, written in the time of John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

, reveals the hostility directed against those who abandoned circumcision (xv. 26–27): "Whosoever is uncircumcised belongs to 'the sons of Belial
Belial
Belial is one of the four crown princes of Hell and a demon in the Bible, Jewish apocrypha and Christian apocrypha...

,' to 'the children of doom and eternal perdition'; for all the angels of the Presence and of the Glorification have been so from the day of their creation, and God's anger will be kindled against the children of the covenant if they make the members of their body appear like those of the Gentiles, and they will be expelled and exterminated from the earth".

According to the Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library...

 saying 53, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 says:
"His disciples said to him, 'is circumcision useful or not?' He said to them, 'If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect.'" SV http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/Trans.htm


Parallels to Thomas 53 are found in Paul's , , , , and .

The Jewish Encyclopedia in the article "Gentiles", section "Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah", states:

In Christianity


Today, most Christian denominations are neutral about biblical male circumcision, neither requiring it nor forbidding it. Circumcision was controversial during the period of Early Christianity
Circumcision controversy in early Christianity
There is evidence of a controversy over religious male circumcision in Early Christianity. A Council of Jerusalem, possibly held in approximately 50 AD, decreed that male circumcision was not a requirement for Gentile converts. This became known as the "Apostolic Decree" and may be one of the...

 (before 325) and the first Church Council in Jerusalem
Council of Jerusalem
The Council of Jerusalem is a name applied by historians and theologians to an Early Christian council that was held in Jerusalem and dated to around the year 50. It is considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils...

 (c.50) declared that circumcision was not necessary for new gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

 converts (a record of the council is found in ). But it is customary among the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, and also some other African churches. Some Christian churches in South Africa oppose circumcision, viewing it as a pagan ritual, while others, including the Nomiya church in Kenya, require circumcision for membership. Some participants in focus group discussions in Zambia and Malawi said that Christians should practice circumcision because Jesus was circumcised and the Bible teaches the practice.


While Jesus' circumcision
Circumcision of Christ
The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ is a Christian celebration of the circumcision of Jesus in accordance with Jewish tradition, eight days after his birth, the occasion on which the child was formally given his name.The circumcision of Jesus has traditionally been seen, as explained in the...

 was recorded as having been performed in accordance with Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 requirements in , according to the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

, chapter 15, the leaders of the Christian Church at the Council of Jerusalem
Council of Jerusalem
The Council of Jerusalem is a name applied by historians and theologians to an Early Christian council that was held in Jerusalem and dated to around the year 50. It is considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils...

 rejected circumcision as a requirement for Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

 converts
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

, possibly the first act of differentiation of Early Christianity from its Jewish roots, see also list of events in early Christianity. Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

, who called himself Apostle to the Gentiles, attacked the practice, but not consistently, for example in one case he personally circumcised Timothy "because of the Jews" that were in town (Timothy had a Jewish Christian mother but a Greek father ). He also appeared to praise its value in , hence the topic of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism
Paul of Tarsus and Judaism
The relationship between Paul of Tarsus and Second Temple Judaism continues to be the subject of much scholarly research, as it is thought that Paul played an important role in the relationship between Christianity and Judaism as a whole...

 is still debated. Paul argued that circumcision no longer meant the physical, but a spiritual practice . And in that sense, he wrote : "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised"—probably a reference to the practice of epispasm. Paul was circumcised when he was "called"
Conversion of Paul
The Conversion of Paul the Apostle, as depicted in the Christian Bible, refers to an event reported to have taken place in the life of Paul of Tarsus which led him to cease persecuting early Christians and to himself become a follower of Jesus; it is normally dated by researchers to AD 33–36...

. He added: "Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised", and went on to argue that circumcision did not matter: "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts ."

Later he more explicitly denounced the practice, rejecting and condemning those who promoted circumcision to Gentile Christians. He accused Galatian Christians who advocated circumcision of turning from the Spirit to the flesh. And in says "Are you so foolish, that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?" He accused circumcision advocates of wanting to make a good showing in the flesh and of glorying or boasting of the flesh . Some believe Paul wrote the entire book of Galatians attacking circumcision and requiring the keeping of Jewish law by Christians, saying in chapter five: "If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."

In a late letter he warned Christians to beware of the concision, or mutilation, saying that Christians were the true circumcision because they worshiped in the Spirit of God
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 .

The Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on Judaizers notes: "Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required . Thus he shortly after circumcised Timothy , and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem ( sqq.)."

Simon Peter, who for Catholic Christians is the first Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, condemned circumcision for converts according to . Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, charged that the advocates of circumcision were "false brothers" . Some Biblical scholars think that the Epistle of Titus, generally attributed to Paul, may state that circumcision should be discouraged among Christians , though others believe this is merely a reference to Jews. Circumcision was so closely associated with Jewish men that Jewish Christians were referred to as "those of the circumcision" http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/glass1/ or conversely Christians who were circumcised were referred to as Jewish Christians or Judaizers
Judaizers
Judaizers is predominantly a Christian term, derived from the Greek verb ioudaïzō . This term is most widely known from the single use in the New Testament where Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling Gentile believers to "judaize", also known as the Incident at Antioch.According to the...

. These terms (circumcised/uncircumcised) are generally interpreted to mean Jews and Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, who were predominate, however it is an oversimplification as 1st century Iudaea Province
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 also had some Jews who no longer circumcised (see Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

), and some Greeks (see Proselytes or Judaizers
Judaizers
Judaizers is predominantly a Christian term, derived from the Greek verb ioudaïzō . This term is most widely known from the single use in the New Testament where Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling Gentile believers to "judaize", also known as the Incident at Antioch.According to the...

) and others such as Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Arabs who did.

In the Gospel of Jesus is reported as giving this response to those who criticized him for healing on Sabbath
Biblical Sabbath
Sabbath in the Bible is usually a weekly day of rest and time of worship. The Sabbath is first mentioned in the Genesis creation narrative. The seventh day is there set aside as a day of rest—the Sabbath. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in...

: "If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?"

This passage has been seen as a comment on the Rabbinic belief that circumcision heals the penis (Jerusalem Bible, note to ) or as a criticism of circumcision http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/glass1/.

The Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Circumcision of Christ
Circumcision of Christ
The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ is a Christian celebration of the circumcision of Jesus in accordance with Jewish tradition, eight days after his birth, the occasion on which the child was formally given his name.The circumcision of Jesus has traditionally been seen, as explained in the...

 on 1 January, while Orthodox churches following the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 celebrate it on 14 January. The Russian Orthodox Church considers it a "Great Feast". In the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches it has been replaced by other commemorations.

The Roman Catholic Church


Historically, the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 denounced religious circumcision for its members in the Cantate Domino, written during the 11th Council of Florence
Council of Florence
The Council of Florence was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1431 in Basel, Switzerland, and became known as the Council of Ferrara after its transfer to Ferrara was decreed by Pope Eugene IV, to convene in 1438...

 in 1442. This decision was based on the belief that baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 had superseded
Supersessionism
Supersessionism is a term for the dominant Christian view of the Old Covenant, also called fulfillment theology and replacement theology, though the latter term is disputed...

 circumcision , and may also have been a response to Coptic Christians, who continued to practice circumcision. The modern Roman Catholic Church maintains a neutral position on the practice of non-religious circumcision, and has never addressed the issue of infant circumcision specifically.

Some Catholic scholars, such as Fr. John J. Dietzen, a retired priest and columnist, have argued that paragraph number 2297 from the Catholic Catechism (Respect for bodily integrity) makes the practice of elective and neonatal circumcision immoral. John Paul Slosar and Daniel O'Brien, however, argue that the therapeutic benefits of neonatal circumcision are inconclusive, but that recent findings that circumcision may prevent disease puts the practice outside the realm of paragraph 2297. They also argue that statements regarding mutilation and amputation in the "Respect for bodily integrity" paragraph are made within the context of kidnapping, hostage taking or torture, and that if circumcision is defined as an amputation, any removal of tissue or follicle, regardless of its effect on functional integrity, could be considered a violation of moral law. The proportionality of harm versus benefit of medical procedures, as defined by Directives 29 and 33 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (National Conference of Catholic Bishops), have also been interpreted to support and reject the practice of circumcision. These arguments represent the conscience of the individual writers, and not the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church. The most recent statement by the Roman Catholic Church was that of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

:

"The Church of Antioch sent Barnabas on a mission with Paul, which became known as the Apostle's first missionary journey . . . Together with Paul, he then went to the so-called Council of Jerusalem where after a profound examination of the question, the Apostles with the Elders decided to discontinue the practice of circumcision so that it was no longer a feature of the Christian identity (cf. Acts 15: 1-35). It was only in this way that, in the end, they officially made possible the Church of the Gentiles, a Church without circumcision; we are children of Abraham simply through faith in Christ."


With the exception of the commemoration of the circumcision of Jesus
Circumcision of Jesus
The Circumcision of Jesus is an event from the life of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Luke, which states in verse 2:21 that Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth...

 in accordance with Jewish practice, circumcision has not been part of Roman Catholic practice. According to an epistle of Cyprian of Carthage, Circumcision of the flesh was replaced by circumcision of the spirit.

Islam




The origin of circumcision in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 is a matter of religious and scholarly debate. It is mentioned in some hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, but not in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

. Some fiqh
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

scholars state that circumcision is recommended (sunnah
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

), others that it is obligatory. Some have quoted the hadith to argue that the requirement of circumcision is based on the covenant with Abraham.

The timing of Muslim circumcision varies. Turkish, Balkan, rural Egyptians and Central and South Asian Muslims typically circumcise boys between the ages of six and eleven. Traditionally, Turkish circumcisions are celebrated with sweets and the Sünnet Düğünü, or "Circumcision Feast/Celebration," and performed rarely with no anesthetic. It is considered a very important celebration in man's life as a passage
Rite of passage
A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures....

 to manhood. Many parents of children born in hospitals now choose to have their sons circumcised in the hospital setting, a few days after birth. In Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Muslims may be circumcised at all ages from the newborn period to adulthood, though the medical profession has encouraged medical circumcisions in the first week after birth to reduce complications: "Circumcision is performed by barbers, medical technicians, quacks and doctors including paediatric surgeon[s] [and as] yet there is no consensus for the best age and method." In Iran, Dr. Paula Drew states that “circumcision, which formerly celebrated the onset of manhood, has for many years now been more customarily performed at the age of 5 or 6 for children born at home, and at two days old for those born in a medical setting.…By puberty, all Muslim Iranian boys must be circumcised if they are to participate fully in religious activities.” Kamyar et al. describe circumcision as an "obligatory custom" and note that it is not necessary for the circumciser to be a Muslim.

Other faiths and traditions


Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 do not have any particular tradition or rituals regarding male circumcision, but view female circumcision as mutilation..

Circumcision is widely practiced by the Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

. The procedure is practiced as a cultural tradition, and has no religious significance in the Druze faith. Male Druze infants are usually circumcised shortly after birth.

There is no reference to male circumcision in the Hindu holy books and Hindus in India do not practice circumcision.
Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 infants are not circumcised.

Circumcision in South Korea is largely the result of American cultural and military influence following the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. The origin of circumcision (tuli
Tuli (rite)
Tulì is a Filipino rite of male circumcision. It has a long historical tradition and is considered a rite of passage; boys who have not undergone the ritual are labelled supót and face ridicule from their peers....

) in the Philippines is uncertain. One newspaper article speculates that it is due to the influence of western colonizers. However, Antonio de Morga
Antonio de Morga
Antonio de Morga Sánchez Garay was a Spanish lawyer and a high-ranking colonial official in the Philippines, New Spain and Peru. He was also a historian. He published the book Sucesos de las islas Filipinas in 1609, one of the most important works on the early history of the Spanish colonization...

's seventeenth century History of the Philippine Islands speculates that it is due to Islamic influence
Islam in the Philippines
Islam is the oldest recorded monotheistic religion in the Philippines. Islam reached the Philippines between the 12th and 14th century with the arrival of Muslim traders from Persian Gulf and the Malabar Coast in Southern India, and their followers from several sultanate governments in the Malay...

. In West Africa infant circumcision may have had tribal significance as a rite of passage or otherwise in the past; today in some non-Muslim Nigerian societies it is medicalised and is simply a cultural norm. In early 2007 it was announced that rural aidpost orderlies in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea are to undergo training in the circumcision of men and boys of all ages with a view to introducing the procedure as a means of prophylaxis against HIV/AIDS, which is becoming a significant problem in the country .
Circumcision is part of initiation rites in some African, Pacific Islander, and Australian aboriginal traditions in areas such as Arnhem Land, where the practice was introduced by Makassan traders from Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago. Circumcision ceremonies among certain Australian aboriginal societies are noted for their painful nature, including subincision
Subincision
Penile subincision is a form of body modification consisting of a urethrotomy, in which the underside of the penis is incised and the urethra slit open lengthwise, from the urethral opening toward the base...

 for some aboriginal peoples in the Western Desert.
In the Pacific, ritual circumcision is nearly universal in the Melanesian islands of Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

 and Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

; participation in the traditional land diving
Land diving
Land diving is a ritual performed by the men of the southern part of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. The precursor to bungee jumping, men jump off of wooden towers around high, with two tree vines wrapped around the ankles. Land diving is done without any safety equipment...

 on Pentecost Island
Pentecost Island
Pentecost Island is one of the 83 islands that make up the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. It lies due north of capital Port Vila. Pentecost Island is known as Pentecôte in French and Pentikos in Bislama. The island was known in its native languages by names such as Vanu Aroaroa, although these...

 is reserved for those who have been circumcised . Circumcision is also commonly practised in the Polynesian islands of Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

, Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

, and Tikopia
Tikopia
Tikopia is a small and high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Covering an area of 5 km² , the island is the remnant of an extinct volcano. Its highest point, Mt. Reani, reaches an elevation of 380 m above sea level. Lake Te Roto covers an old volcanic crater which is 80 m...

. In Samoa, it is accompanied by a celebration. Among some West African animist groups, such as the Dogon
Dogon people
The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000 The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and...

 and Dowayo, it is taken to represent a removal of "feminine" aspects of the male, turning boys into fully masculine males. In many West African traditional societies circumcision has become medicalised and is simply performed in infancy without ado or any particular conscious cultural significance . Among the Urhobo of southern Nigeria it is symbolic of a boy entering into manhood. The ritual expression, Omo te Oshare ("the boy is now man"), constitutes a rite of passage from one age set to another. For Nilotic
Nilotic
Nilotic people or Nilotes, in its contemporary usage, refers to some ethnic groups mainly in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and northern Tanzania, who speak Nilotic languages, a large sub-group of the Nilo-Saharan languages...

 peoples, such as the Kalenjin and Maasai, circumcision is a rite of passage observed collectively by a number of boys every few years, and boys circumcised at the same time are taken to be members of a single age set
Age set
In anthropology, an age set is a social category or corporate social group, consisting of people of similar age, who have a common identity, maintain close ties over a prolonged period, and together pass through a series of age-related statuses...

.

The Navajo Nation believes that they are put on the earth the way that they are intended to be. No man would disrupt the spiritual harmony of the family by having circumcision performed on his child. "By the bottom of our feet to the tips of the hair, whence the eagle feather lies on its side." (Clark)

{Clark, Hank. Personal Interview. 2011.

See also

  • Brit milah
    Brit milah
    The brit milah is a Jewish religious circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day old male infants by a mohel. The brit milah is followed by a celebratory meal .-Biblical references:...

  • History of male circumcision
    History of male circumcision
    The origination of male circumcision is not known with certainty. It has been variously proposed that it began as a religious sacrifice, as a rite of passage marking a boy's entrance into adulthood, as a form of sympathetic magic to ensure virility or fertility, as a means of enhancing sexual...

  • Proselyte
    Proselyte
    The biblical term "Proselyte", derives from the Koine Greek προσήλυτος/proselytos, as used in the Septuagint for "stranger", i.e. a "newcomer to Israel"; a "sojourner in the land", and in the New Testament for a convert to Judaism from Paganism...

  • Murder in the Bible
  • Old Testament#Christian view of the Law
  • Sex in the Bible
    Sex in the Bible
    Sex occurs frequently in the Hebrew Bible, with extensive laws regulating it.-Passages:*Ham's actions in Genesis 9:20-25, are debated upon because of the vagueness of the script, but some interpret it as Ham doing something sexual with his father, Noah, while Noah was passed out drunk in his tent...


External links