Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, He was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel even before He was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so His parents took Him to Jerusalem t o present Him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—”either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”Luke 2:21-24
Eight days after birth is the time for circumcision according to the Law. In fact circumcision is kind of glossed over, skipped over quickly, the emphasis is given to the significance of naming. Which is understandable. It is better to skip over circumcision quickly cos it hurts. Well I don’t really know. I don’t remember what it felt like. Not aware of feeling it at all to be honest. God had ordained that a baby boy be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. [Gen 17:12, Lev 12:3] Notice John went through it too. Note the combo package deal: named and cut on the 8th day. The construction of this section is interesting – it spells out clearly the connection between 8 days and circumcision. After eight days – then circumcision.
Moses, when writing the Pentateuch, made the statement that the Jewish male needed to be circumcised on the eight day. God seems to have set circumcision for the eight day. But why the eighth day?
It is interesting that a new born infant is particularly susceptible to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life. The reason for that is that the blood clotting factor prothrombin is building in the body between the 5th to the 8th day. In fact the first safe day for performing circumcision is the eight day. It is all related to prothrombin. On the 3rd day prothrombin is only 30% of normal. Interestingly enough on the 8th day prothrombin is 110% of normal. In other words, only on the 8th day is prothrombin 10% above the amount considered normal. By the 9th day and subsequent days it drops to normal (100%). That is the very day that Moses chose to set as the day to circumcise, the only day of life that prothrombin is 110% of normal. In fact, the best day for circumcision is the 8th day.
How did Moses know that? Where did he get his knowledge from? Could it be from God? The One who made our bodies in the first place and knows exactly how they function. He designed it that way.
The Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC – AD 50) gives six reasons for the practice of circumcision in his writings Of the Special Laws, Book 1. He attributes four of the reasons to “men of divine spirit and wisdom”.
- protects against disease,
- secures cleanliness “in a way that is suited to the people consecrated to God”,
- causes the circumcised portion of the penis to resemble a heart, thereby representing a physical connection between the “breath contained within the heart [that] is generative of thoughts, and the generative organ itself [that] is productive of living beings”.
- promotes prolificness by removing impediments to the flow of semen.
- “signified figuratively the excision of all superfluous and excessive pleasure”
- “that it is a symbol of a man’s knowing himself”.
Rabbi Saadia Gaon considers something to be ‘complete’, if it lacks nothing, but also has nothing that is unneeded. He regards the foreskin an unneeded organ that God created in man, and so by amputating it, the man is completed.
Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon “Rambam”, CE 1135-1204), who apart from being a great Torah scholar was also a physician and philosopher, argued that circumcision acts to repress sexual pleasure and serves as a common bodily sign to members of the same faith.
The author of Sefer ha-Chinuch provides three reasons for the practice of circumcision:
To complete the form of man, by removing what he claims to be a redundant organ;To mark the chosen people, so their body will be different as their soul is; The organ chosen for the mark is the one responsible for the sustenance of the species.Said completion isn’t congenital, but left to the man. This implies, that as he completes the form of his body, so can he complete the form of his soul.
Talmud professor Daniel Boyarin offered two explanations for circumcision. One is that it is a literal inscription on the Jewish body of the name of God in the form of the letter “yud” (from “yesod”). The second is that the act of bleeding represents a feminization of Jewish men, significant in the sense that the covenant represents a marriage between Jews and (a symbolically male) God.
There are all sorts of fanciful thoughts as to the reasons for circumcision. I think I will leave you at this point to ponder “why circumcision”? See what you can make of it. I will come back tomorrow to add more. But you do some thinking first. You could add another question to “why circumcision?” and that would be “why was Christ circumcised?”. If you want something further to ponder try this one: Is there a link between circumcision and naming? More tomorrow.
Two five year old boys are sitting in a hospital waiting room. One leans over to the other and says, “What are you in here for?” The other says, “Circumcision.” The first boy says “Oh, man! I had that done right after I was born. I couldn’t walk for a year!”Anon
God gave men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time.Robin Williams
You don’t have to understand everything to believe in something.Andy Stanley
When we are unwilling to hear God in one area of our life, it may render us unable to hear in other areas.Joyce Meyer