All Jewish boys are circumcised at the age of eight days. Circumcision can perhaps best be described as ‘the seal of G-d’. In Bereshit, the first book of the Torah, G-d says: ‘This is my covenant… every man child among you shall be circumcised.’ Abraham, in fact, then went and circumcised himself!
The circumcision represents an obligation; to observe and uphold the covenant between G-d and Israel (the Jews). It is the physical manifestation OF the covenant.
Historically, circumcision has met with intense opposition. Antiochus Epiphanes made it against the law and instigated the death penalty for anyone who broke that law. Hadrian also forbade the practice of circumsision, and a Visigoth monarch named Sisebut, ordered Jews to be baptized instead. Despite all this and more, circumcision has remained a Jewish custom.
Perhaps our ancient ancestors knew more than us? For today, numerous studies confirm that the partners of circumcised men do not develop cervical cancer.
Interestingly, while circumcision is almost associated with Jews, Judaism did not invent it. Herodotus refers to the custom among ancient Egyptians. The Syrians, Phoenicians and Ethiopians all practised circumcision, as do many tribes around the world, in India, Africa, Indonesia, the Philipines, and Australia. Many Eskimos and Native American Indians also circumcise young boys.