Genesis 17:14 (NKJV)

14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

God tells Abraham that a person who had not been circumcised shall be cut off from his people because they have broken the covenant

It's clear from the above text that circumcision was restricted to males, how were women covered under this covenant

Could there be some ritual that women also undertook so as to be covered under this covenant?

  • @NigelJ,the ordinance that you mentioned only pertains to child birth,but not the covenant in Genesis 17 Commented May 27, 2018 at 19:52
  • Tangential, but something to be aware of: who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation and newsweek.com/fgm-rates-have-doubled-us-2004-304773
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 21:55
  • Circumcision was instituted as a memory aid. Any time a Hebrew male was sexually aroused he couldn't escape being reminded of the covenant between the the LORD and Abraham, causing him to seriously consider what he was intending to do with his reproductive organ -- "Does what I'm about to do with it, distinguish me from the other nations as does the mark of circumcision I bear?" From the male organ comes the seed. It is the male who determines where his seed is to be planted.
    – enegue
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 22:20
  • Hebrew women are not responsible for what a Hebrew male chooses to do with his reproductive organ. The LORD made His covenant with the party who was.
    – enegue
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 22:39
  • Of course the absence of the foreskin is visible all the times, which makes it a good memory aid all the time, but the mark of circumcision -- the scar from the removal of the foreskin is most prominent when the male is aroused. The scar is a reminder that he wasn't born without a foreskin. It was removed because his father loved him and wanted him to share in the blessings of God promised to covenant keepers.
    – enegue
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 13:33

3 Answers 3


God created man and woman after His image:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.(Gen. 1:27-KJV)

that image was reflected in both men and women. Furthermore, God gave him a Covenant partner, and together God calls them "One flesh".

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.(Gen. 2:23-25-KJV)

She was different from Adam, yet because she was Adam's wife, she was One Flesh with Adam. Therefore, because of their "One Flesh" Covenant, what God sees is "One Flesh", and treats them as such concerning His Covenant. One part of the "One Flesh" is male, and that's what God required to be circumcised. When one part of the "One Flesh" Covenant is circumcised they both are circumcised, since together they are "One Flesh". The Promises of God that apply to Adam also apply to Eve and vs versa.

Sarai's name was changed to Sarah after Abraham was circumcised, by virtue of the "One Flesh" Covenant she had with Abraham. Therefore, the promises and admonitions of God's Covenant equally applied to her, and her name being changed, just like Abraham's, was a sign that Abraham's circumcision equally applied to her.

  • +1 for the One Flesh Covenant Commented May 29, 2018 at 8:38

Stephen is recorded by Luke (in Acts 7:8) saying :

... and he gave him the covenant of circumcision and thus he begat Isaac

[EGNT Literal interlinear]

Stephen's wording conveys that the significance of circumcision, in its inauguration, was closely linked to the begetting of Isaac. The wording is very emphatic : the one follows the other as a consequence, not just in time.

Paul in his epistle to the Galatians confirms this :

Abraham had two sons ... he of the bondwoman was born after the flesh ; but he of the freewoman by promise.

[Galatians 3:22, 23 - KJV minus the italicised words]

The significance of circumcision is the fact of a birth that was beyond nature (Abraham being ninety-nine years old and Sarah being past the age of natural child-bearing) and the begetting, therefore, was wholly as a result of the promise of God - with whom nothing is impossible.

Paul further confirms that circumcision is a figure of the new birth (a birth that is not of the flesh, the flesh is removed) :

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

[Galatians 3:28 KJV]

In answer to your question (regarding the place of woman in this covenant) it is Eve who is, undeniably, the focus of the promise made by God when judging the Serpent :

I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed ; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel


Which Paul plainly interprets in Galatians 3:16 :

He saith not, To seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.


Wherefore Adam called his wife 'Eve' - the mother of all living. That is to say the mother of all that would truly live, according to the promise. That is, of a life not of nature, not of flesh, but of promise and of Spirit.


On the bible area and even untill the 20th century - women ( and children ) were considered like merchandise ( like camals or cows ). So once the male decide to do something like choose god to worship the women didn't have what to do ( maybe just try to hide her "paganism" - like Rachel on Genesis).

Since God restrict paganism, it offer to women who beleive it the most important part of every baby life - decide if he is jew or not..

Hope it answer to your question. Luckly we are on 2018.

  • 1
    I don't know, I kind of miss 3000BC!
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 22:56
  • How do you explain the judge Debra, Queen Jezebel, and Queen Athaliah? In cultures where women are treated like cattle, the husband is responsible and charged with the crime for any legal violations committed by the wife. Do you see any of this in the Bible?
    – Perry Webb
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 0:38
  • @Perry Webb You mention just 3 names. There were other more women that left remarks (good/bad one) but they were exceptional. This question about the covenant asking about women generaly - and not specific about remarkable women ( ie Yael, Deborah etc)
    – A. Meshu
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 3:30

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