According to the Abrahamic covenant, what did the circumcision procedure actually entail? Did they just cut off the tip and did they use anaesthesia (Genesis 2:21 seems to reveal knowledge about this)?

And since one has to technically cut off a body part in circumcision, why would God condemn other forms of mutilation like in Leviticus 19:28? Double standards?


By definition, cutting off the foreskin is what male circumcision is. The foreskin is the retractable roll of skin covering the end of the penis. Scripture never mentions anything other than the foreskin being removed during circumcision. So yes they just cut off the tip as you put it.

God is righteous, so without even looking into it further I can tell you there are no hypocritical double standards concerning this.

But if we look further, it was custom for the surrounding pagan nations to make cuttings and marks in their flesh in worship of their "gods" and in times of sorrow and mourning. (1 Kings 18:28) It seems to me that God wanted to make a demarcation between the Israelites and the heathen by prohibiting such markings of the flesh.

Logically I would think God does not consider circumcision to be a disfigurement or mutilation, which implies leaving a blemish or imperfection. Perhaps God actually created the foreskin with the intent of it being removed at some point in the history of man, to establish His covenant. This would seem likely the case as there is no real use of the foreskin, but has actually proven to pose "risk to the male from various diseases and adverse conditions over his lifetime." Rather than an imperfecting, perhaps a perfecting, rather than a curse, a blessing? I think so.


  • A good thought regarding perfection. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 8 '19 at 12:54
  • "here is no real use of the foreskin" you present this as a fact, but it is utterly false. The foreskin has important biological function for men, just as the clitoris and clitoris hood does for women.
    – Stewart
    Jan 20 '20 at 23:17
  • What important biological function?
    – GFFG
    Jan 22 '20 at 0:06
  • @www.gffg.info It protects the sensitive glans from unwanted sexual stimulation, and protects against infection. This is especially true in an infant where the foreskin is fused to the glans much like a fingernail to a finger. In an adult, it preserves sexual sensitivity and softness. If removed, the glans becomes dry over years, covered in a later of keratin protein (the same protein as hair and rhino horn). Finally, lots of circumcisions result in painful erections because there is not enough skin left; instead skin is pulled up from around the pubic area, giving a "hairy shaft" effect.
    – Stewart
    Jun 16 '20 at 17:25

First, circumcision does not mean cutting off the tip of the penis. It does mean removing the foreskin by making a circular cut - hence the name circumcision!

Second, Gen 2:21 is not discussing circumcision at all so nothing can be deduced about it from this text.

Third, no body part is removed. The operation of circumcision was largely a hygiene matter and did not involve mutilation or compromising the function of any body part.

Fourth, Lev 19:28 is about an unrelated practice of scaring the body for various ceremonial purposes and was correctly condemned by the Torah. Circumcision involves no cutting of flesh, only loose skin.

Last, no anaesthetic was used.

  • "no body part is removed" - I think you will find that the foreskin is a body part.
    – Stewart
    Jan 20 '20 at 23:16
  • I referenced Genesis 2:21 to indicate how the Israelites thought that anesthesia was proper when operating on the body. Jan 26 at 7:01

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