Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Get Back to the First Century: Circumcision

To Circumcise, or Not to Circumcise, That is the Question

Many people misinterpret the writings of Rav Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) and say we do not have to keep circumcision.  Okay, this is the crux of the issue.  The Judaisers argued, “You must be circumcised to be saved.  Circumcise first, teach Torah later.”  Rav Sha’ul said, “If you think your foreskin is your ticket to heaven you are sorely mistaken.   What sense does it make to circumcise first, only to have the convert disagree with some of the commandments and say, ““This is not for me.”, and splits.  In this instance the circumcision would have been all in vain, thus harming ADONAI’s Name and reputation, and our reputations among the goyim (gentiles) by publicly professing ADONAI, His Torah, and His Messiah, then living contrary to that; no, “teach Torah first then circumcise.”  The reputation and responsibility of being circumcised is comparable to that of Christian baptism.  A potential convert to Judaism under went a year of training in the Torah (Acts 15:19-21).  Even today, when one converts to Judaism, if the convert disagrees with just one mitzvah (commandment), including circumcision, he cannot become a Jew.  This work is not meant to be an exhaustive expository on misinterpreted passages, but I will cover one for you.  In Galatians 2:3, it speaks of Titus not being compelled to be circumcised.  The reason for Rav Shaul’s (Paul’s) statement for this is so as not to give into the false authority the Judaizers (Pharisaic believers in Yeshua, called the Circumcision sect who believed one must be circumcised to be saved) over the people.  Therefore, it would not appear as if Rav Sha’ul (Paul) was agreeing, or siding with the Judaizers or their interpretation of the Torah and how to keep the Commandments.  Rav Sha’ul (Paul) wanted it to be Titus’ decision, and not a decision based on “peer pressure.”  Not only that, but, if Titus were to under go brit milah (circumcision) under the Judaisers, this would display publicly that Titus had to follow and agree with the Judaizers authority and Halachah (way of obeying and practicing the Law).  This argument is similar to the modern-day arguments by certain sects of Protestant Christianity, such as, “You’ve got to be baptized to be saved!” (By the way, infant baptism and baby dedications have REPLACED circumcision, with no Biblical grounds for doing so.)  Or, “You have to speak in tongues to be saved!”  We all know nothing could be further from the truth.  Same with circumcision, Rav Sha’ul (Paul) was not saying it wasn’t important or unnecessary, he only said it does not save you, and it is optional for the Gentile. 

Also, one must remember that circumcision was a commandment given to Abraham (Gen. 17) and his descendants prior the giving of the Torah (Law) to Moses and Israel. So circumcision applied to literal sons of Abraham and ones who choose to become sons of Abraham and convert to Judaism via the post Maccabean ritual of circumcision. So circumcision for Gentiles is a choice, not a commandment. But the obedience to Torah is incumbent upon Jews as well as the Gentile who chooses to follow and worship the God of Israel.

People try to spiritualize the Torah command of circumcision, and say that since “Jesus” came we no longer have to do it outwardly but inwardly, basing that belief on Romans 2:28-29 and Colossians 2:11.  This is what Rabbi Trimm had to say in his paper on the subject:
“Physical circumcision was to be a required token of the covenant for all generations forever (Read Gen. 17:9-14). This "circumcision of the heart" is mentioned in the Ketuvim Netzarim in Rom. 2:28-29 and Col. 2:11. Many have misunderstood this circumcision of the heart as being a substitute for physical circumcision. However, this circumcision of the heart was not a substitute for physical circumcision nor a substitute for Torah observance in general. In context here, it seems to refer to removing the stubbornness in ones heart and making it open to Torah. This Torah tells us to circumcise our heart (Deut. 10:16) love ADONAI with all our heart, keep his commandments (Deut. 11:1, 13), and place the Torah in our heart (Deut.11:18). Thus circumcision of the heart would seem to involve loving ADONAI and keeping his commandments and placing the Torah in our hearts.”

Here is a portion of a letter I received regarding a very important issue:

“I am aware that Romans 11 says that we engrafted into Israel through Messiah. I want to do everything possible for my creator and not just be a simple God-feared using Acts 15 Noachide laws. When it says that Gentiles should remain as they are and Jews as they are, what does this mean? I am just confused over the whole conversion thing. Thank you in Advance!”

I Cor. 7:17-21 Only, as Elohim (God) has distributed to each one, as the Master has called each one, so let him walk. And so I order in all the assemblies. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.  The circumcision is naught, and the uncircumcision is naught, but the guarding of the commands of Elohim (God) does matter! 1 Footnote: 1Rom. 2:26-29. Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? It matters not to you, but if you are able to become free too, rather use it. – The Scriptures Version

According to the Peshitta text, the whole circumcision thing is dealing with the sect called, "the circumcision" who tried to convince the people that if you were not circumcised, and in their way at that, means, that you were not saved. Sha'ul (Paul) is reiterating that before the penis is circumcised the heart must be, and the heart is more important than that of the flesh. He is not saying circumcision is obsolete, but that the heart comes first. In whatever state you came to Messiah is fine, do not feel obligated to change in this way, but if you want and can better yourself in such a manner do so, just make sure the motive for circumcision is for all the right reasons.

Circumcision is like having a Kroger (a Grocery store chain in the northern United States) plus card.  Anyone can shop at Kroger, just as anyone can be saved.  However, not everyone will get the same deals.  Those who have the Kroger plus card will get the “perks” of being a member, and get a discount, and benefit from certain bargains, just as those circumcised get the benefit of certain aspects of the Covenants; entering the Promised Land Josh1:1-12; partaking in the Passover Lamb Ex.12:43-49; to name a few.  Just as those who do not have the Kroger plus card will not have certain privileges, it is likewise with those who are uncircumcised.

Some may argue that circumcision is only for those born a Jew. This is not true; circumcision is for anyone wanting to follow the God of Israel and become part of the people of Israel.  The Gentiles who came out of Egypt with Israel agreed to keep the Torah, and that included circumcision. (Ex.12:38; 19:8)  Besides, when circumcision was first instituted, not only the first Jew partook of it (Abraham, who was not even a Jew until he was circumcised), but his whole household, which was made up of foreign servants (Gen.17:9-14)!   If circumcision was not important, then why was ADONAI ready to kill Moses over the issue (Ex.4:24-26)?

Eddie Chummney, in his paper about Circumcision, concluded the paper in this manner:

“…in context, we can come to the conclusion that Paul was NOT teaching AGAINST CIRCUMCISION or FOLLOWING TORAH but was making the argument that physical circumcision without faith in the Messiah has no eternal value. The Torah, Prophets and the NT teach us that the ideal is having faith in Messiah, have circumcised hearts and seek to follow Torah, which includes physical circumcision. YHVH REQUIRES physical circumcision when you enter the land of Israel. If you have faith in Messiah and are circumcised in your heart, YHVH is more lenient toward you if you have been born in the wilderness (nations of the world) because the lands outside of the land of Israel have less sanctity than the land of Israel. However during the Messianic Era, those who live in the land of Israel and who desire to fellowship in the Temple will be REQUIRED to be circumcised in the HEART AND THE FLESH.”

Most men need to grow up and quit being so concerned with their own plumbing, and using that as an excuse for not fulfilling the commandments, and partaking in the Covenants, the blessings that God has in store for us.   Other religions and cultures have much more painful “rite of passage” rituals, such as branding, body tattooing, torture, etc.  Most of us were circumcised anyway at birth, and do not remember a thing.  All we must do is partake in a ritual circumcision called, “Hatafat Dam Brit”, where something like a diabetic lancet is used to draw one drop of blood which is put on a piece of gauze, in front of two male witnesses. This procedure is virtually painless (trust me I know first hand).  It hurts even less than pricking your finger for blood work at the doctor. The blood is the whole meaning and purpose of entering into the Covenants.  It is such a beautiful, meaningful and holy thing, such a beautiful, meaningful, and holy moment in time.  For those who need a full circumcision, there are medications and salves to help alleviate the pain and speed the healing process.  All that is possibly needed is time off work.   In this day and age, it has never been easier to partake in this holy act.  This along with a mikvah (baptism) and the giving of your Hebrew name is how a male converts to Judaism.  All women have to do is the Mikvah part. But again this is a choice for Gentiles.