Circumcision in Easton's Bible Dictionary
cutting around. This rite, practised before, as some think,
divers races, was appointed by God to be the special
his chosen people, an abiding sign of their
consecration to him.
It was established as a national ordinance (Gen.
17:10, 11). In
compliance with the divine command, Abraham, though
years of age, was circumcised on the same day with
was thirteen years old (17:24-27). Slaves, whether
purchased, were circumcised (17:12, 13); and all
have their males circumcised before they could enjoy
privileges of Jewish citizenship (Ex. 12:48). During
through the wilderness, the practice of circumcision
disuse, but was resumed by the command of Joshua
entered the Promised Land (Josh. 5:2-9). It was
afterwards among the tribes of israel, although it
expressly mentioned from the time of the settlement
till the time of Christ, about 1,450 years. The Jews
themselves in the possession of this covenant
14:3; 15:18; 1 Sam. 14:6; 17:26; 2 Sam. 1:20; Ezek.
As a rite of the church it ceased when the New
began (Gal. 6:15; Col. 3:11). Some Jewish Christians
impose it, however, on the Gentile converts; but
apostles resolutely resisted (Acts 15:1; Gal. 6:12).
was circumcised, for it "became him to fulfil all
righteousness," as of the seed of Abraham, according
flesh; and Paul "took and circumcised" Timothy (Acts
avoid giving offence to the Jews. It would render
labours more acceptable to the Jews. But Paul would
by no means
consent to the demand that Titus should be
2:3-5). The great point for which he contended was
admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the church.
contended successfully in behalf of Titus, even in
In the Old Testament a spiritual idea is attached to
circumcision. It was the symbol of purity (Isa.
52:1). We read
of uncircumcised lips (Ex. 6:12, 30), ears (Jer.
(Lev. 26:41). The fruit of a tree that is unclean is
as uncircumcised (Lev. 19:23).
It was a sign and seal of the covenant of grace as
well as of
the national covenant between God and the Hebrews.
sealed the promises made to Abraham, which related
commonwealth of Israel, national promises. (2.) But
made to Abraham included the promise of redemption
a promise which has come upon us. The covenant with
a dispensation or a specific form of the covenant of
circumcision was a sign and seal of that covenant.
It had a
spiritual meaning. It signified purification of the
inward circumcision effected by the Spirit (Deut.
Ezek. 44:7; Acts 7:51; Rom. 2:28; Col. 2:11).
Circumcision as a
symbol shadowing forth sanctification by the Holy
Spirit has now
given way to the symbol of baptism (q.v.). But the
embodied in both ordinances is ever the same, the
sin, the sanctifying effects of grace in the heart.
Under the Jewish dispensation, church and state were
identical. No one could be a member of the one
being a member of the other. Circumcision was a sign
and seal of
membership in both. Every circumcised person bore
evidence that he was one of the chosen people, a
member of the
church of God as it then existed, and consequently
also a member
of the Jewish commonwealth.
Read More about Circumcision in Easton's Bible Dictionary