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"Are You Jewish by Hospitalization?" The Origins of Circumcision

 

I am not Jewish by birth (I was by marriage, rather, but that's a long story), but Jewish by hospitalization. During the time period I was born, in the United States, the majority of Gentile baby boys went under the knife, supposedly for hygienic reasons. 


(And unlike Jewish baby boys, I wasn't the focus of a big bris party with tons of deli. Not that I would have remembered anyway. Oh well...) 
 

Rabi eating

Why even circumcise? There's a clear directive in Genesis 17; all male descendants of Abraham on the eight day after birth, require foreskin removal. Thus both Jews and Muslims follow the practice, Muslims because they regard themselves as descendants of Abraham through his first son, Ishmael. 

But though this text, from a source in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) called the “P” or “Priestly” source that concerns itself primarily with rituals and explanations for their origins and practices, seems to imply that the practice began with the ancient Israelites, it actually did not. 

Many of the nations who bordered on Israel practiced it, including the Egyptians, the Moabites, and the Ammonites. The Philistines did not practice it (Judges 14:3 and I Samuel 17:26). Thus, one of the most famous Philistines, the nine-foot tall Goliath, most probably sported a huge uncut cock. 

big uncut cock


The Egyptians waited until puberty to perform the ritual; in that culture and in many other cultures, it was a rite of passage for young men. In Genesis 34, after the rape of their sister Dinah by a Canaanite prince, Jacob's sons insist he be circumcised before he can marry her. (Yes, this story is in the Bible. It's quite shocking on many levels. Check it out.

Based on the Bible, it's not clear if the Israelites originally performed the ritual at puberty; the “P” sources that claim it should be done on infants are rather late. 

 

Before/AFter Circumcision illustration


Some Jewish athletes around the time of the Maccabees (2nd century B.C.E.), actually underwent an incredibly painful procedure to surgically create a foreskin in order to participate in Greek competitions, which meant they would no longer be Jewish. 

St. Paul in Romans 4:1-12, writing a few decades after the life and death of Jesus (a Jew, and thus he was circumcised; see Luke 2:21), claims that Christians don't need to be circumcised like Jews, as their salvation is not contingent on being physically born of a certain people. 

By the way, someone supposedly saved Jesus' foreskin. It is called the Holy Prepuce. (Ew … ) 

 

Painting: Circumcision of Jesus

Yet, as I mentioned above, circumcision became a mainstream medical practice in the United States and in the United Kingdom, especially in the middle twentieth century. Some reasons included: a fear that uncircumcised men would more easily spread venereal disease; the view of childbirth and anything associated with it (including the baby) as the object of a sterile medical procedure that should only occur in a hospital; and a deep-rooted hostility to masturbation (not that being cut precludes one from wanking off). 


Since the 1970s, doctors in the United States have come to realize that removing the foreskin on baby boys is unnecessary, potentially harmful, and possibly unethical, unless some medical emergency or specific condition requires it. 

Check out our titles that feature famous cut and uncut cocks. Cut or uncut, the cock is still a cock. 

 

uncut cock and cut cock

 

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