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The Rite of Circumcision, Brit Milah Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

The Seal of the Righteousness of One’s Faith

“This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you…. and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:10-13)

There are believed to be parallels between baby baptism practiced by some churches and circumcision in the shared concept of the saving power of blood, as well as the role of ‘godparents’ in both rituals. There are also parallels in the concept of it being an outward sign of entering into a special relationship with G-d as well as both being ceremonies welcoming babies into the community of those with shared beliefs. But there is a greater message in the Brit Milah for the Body of Messiah than is apparent on the surface.

From the very beginning of Abraham’s walk with G-d, the L-rd used visible signs that pointed to inward truths in order to express the relationship He desired to have with mankind and the way to achieve that connection. The Jews were chosen to be examples to all humanity of what it meant to have this bond with the Almighty. For example: Jerusalem, the Temple, the Priesthood, the Sacrifices, the Festivals, the Prayer Shawl, the Mezuzah, Immersion (Baptism), and even Marriage were ‘signs’ and ‘types’ that revealed the L-rd and His desired relationship with mankind. They pointed to a spiritual reality, which was G-d’s intended purpose. Circumcision is no exception being a ‘type’ of Yeshua’s accomplished work on the cross. In fact, all the ‘signs’ and ‘types’ pointed to Yeshua.

Most members of the Jewish community practice the rite of circumcision called Brit Milah, the Covenant of Circumcision. A Mohel (circumciser) performs the ritual on the eighth day of the child’s life. This ancient ritual of circumcision is a blood covenant, not just the removal of the foreskin. The ceremony connects the naming of the child to a blood covenant using G-d’s words to Ezekiel. 

“Our G-d and G-d of our Fathers, sustain this child for his father and mother and let his name in Israel be ________ son of ________. May the father rejoice in the child from his loins, and the mother receive happiness from the fruit of her womb, as it is written: ‘When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you “Live in spite of your blood.” I said to you “In your blood live”’ (Ezekiel 16:6).” 

After the ceremony, the father recites the benediction, “…Who hast hallowed us by Thy commandments and hast commanded us to make our sons enter into the Covenant of Abraham our father.” The congregated guests reply, “Even as this child has entered into the Covenant, so may he enter into the Torah, the nuptial canopy, and into good deeds.”

Jews who keep the Covenant of Circumcision state several reasons why they do so…

  • It is an important physical statement about man's covenant with G-d.
  • A covenant of the flesh is akin to a covenant of the heart - the foreskin is like an unneeded part of fruit, like the stem of an apple, which is not necessary for the enjoyment of the fruit.
  • It recognizes that G-d has ownership of the body and it is G-d who gave the command to circumcise.
  • It is a historic act that binds the circumcised to their ancestors and peers.
  • It gives a sense of community and belonging.

Circumcision was and is an outward sign in the flesh that the individual being circumcised was covenanted to G-d, to serve and obey Him through faith. This can be demonstrated in that G-d called Abraham righteous, due to his great faith, long before he was circumcised in the flesh (Hebrews 11:8). For the price of obedience to the Almighty, G-d offered Abraham and his descendants, as well as all those who were in Abraham’s household, this special (blessed) relationship (Genesis 17:13) and sealed it with a sign in the flesh, the seal of the righteousness of one’s faith.

“Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised…” (Romans 4:9-11)

The L-rd compared un-circumcision to being stiff-necked and rebellious towards G-d and circumcision to being obedient, having a heart for G-d. 

“Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16)

The physical foreskin being removed is an outward sign symbolic of the ‘cutting off’ of the deeds of the flesh, deeds that G-d called “the evil of your doings”.

“Circumcise yourselves to the L-rd, and take away the foreskins of your hearts…lest My fury come forth like fire…because of the evil of your doings.” (Jeremiah 4: 4)

Circumcision in the flesh pointed to the future “circumcision of Christ”, which the apostle Paul describes as the “putting off the sins of the flesh” by Yeshua’s crucifixion. The Mohel (circumciser) is the Holy Spirit, who is the Facilitator of this New Covenant with mankind.

When an individual accepts Yeshua and His finished work on the cross to remove his/her sins, that person has been circumcised by the Holy Spirit of G-d, entering into a New Covenant with the L-rd, becoming a new creation. 

“I, Adonai, called You in righteousness, I will take hold of Your hand, I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations…” (Isaiah 42:6)

Accepting Yeshua is equivalent to entering into the New Covenant made by G-d with mankind. It is the ‘Brit Milah’ to which the original Covenant of Abraham pointed. 

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ…And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses…(Colossians 2:11-13)

While mostly non-Jewish believers have had this heart circumcision, G-d has promised that His chosen people from the house of Israel and the house of Judah will also come into this miraculous relationship with Him. They, too, will receive Yeshua’s circumcision by the ‘hand’ of the Holy Spirit Mohel.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the L-rd, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.…I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their G-d, and they shall be My people. No longer will each teach his neighbor or each his brother, saying: ‘Know Adonai,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.” It is a declaration of Adonai. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:30-33)

While most Jews have the sign of circumcision in their flesh, we must pray for the Brit Milah of their hearts, so that all Israel will be saved.

For thus says the L-rd: “Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O L-rd, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!’” (Jeremiah 31:7)

Kee Va Mo'ed! (The Appointed Time Has Come)

1. Eight is the number of new beginnings. Being circumcised on the eighth day would symbolize the child becoming a new creation of G-d on the day of circumcision (Galatians 6:15)

2. Marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman as one flesh. Therefore, male circumcision covers both husband's and wife's relationship with G-d although only performed on the man. An unmarried female is 'covered' under her father's household.


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