Some rabbinic midrash claims that a number of biblical heroes were born circumcised ( 2).
Ezekiel is full of contempt for the uncircumcised heathen whose fate he foretells (Ezek. In Hellenistic times, Jews encountered the mockery of Gentiles who believed circumcision to be an unnecessary and unseemly mutilation and circumcision was widely neglected (Jubilees –34).
Many Jews who wanted to participate nude in the Greek games in the gymnasia underwent painful operations to obliterate the signs of circumcision (epispasm).
; ; for alternative translations see the translation of the Torah (1962) to Leviticus and Deuteronomy and 30:6).
Such passages as the foregoing, however, do not warrant a purely spiritual interpretation of the commandment which would make the actual physical circumcision superfluous.
The word describes the lips of a person whose speech is not fluent (Ex.
, 30) or the heart and ear of a person who will not listen to reason (Jer.The first definite prohibition against circumcision was enacted under Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. Many mothers who had their sons circumcised suffered martyrdom. ) that two women who had circumcised their children were led round the city with their infants bound to their breasts and then cast headlong from the wall.Conversely, with the victory of the Hasmoneans and the extension of the frontiers, John Hyrcanus forced the conquered Idumeans to undergo circumcision (Jos., Ant., 7f., 318). Hyrcanus required both circumcision and ritual immersion for the admission of a proselyte, while R.Elijah's zeal in persuading the Israelites to resume the forsaken covenant won him the name of "Herald of the Covenant" (see Chair of Elijah ). Jeremiah declared that all the nations were uncircumcised in the flesh, but the whole house of Israel were of uncircumcised heart (Jer. It has been suggested that the Hebrew word for uncircumcised עָרֵל (arel) means properly "obstructed," as is indeed explicitly stated by Rashi (to Lev.In the time of the Prophets, the term "uncircumcised" was applied allegorically to the rebellious heart or to the obdurate ear (Ezek. ) and the fact that the same word and the related orlah ("foreskin") are also used to describe a certain kind of taboo (ibid.) has resulted in the infelicitous translation of many biblical passages.Religious leaders at that time differed about the necessity for circumcision of proselytes. Joshua held that a proselyte needed only ritual immersion (Yev. The custom of circumcision seems to have spread among the Romans in the Diaspora under the influence of the Jewish community in Rome.