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THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AGAINST CIRCUMCISION
(The Ten Commandments and the right to the property of the body)
Violent methods of education: hitting 1, circumcision, are the norm in the Bible. So, the abolition of circumcision during the reign of Moses is a little-known fact. It is yet historically proved since the custom was reinstituted only after his death, in Gilgal, and since the Bible speaks of re-circumcision at this time simply because the first circumcision was the Mosaic one, circumcision of the heart. Foremost, the Book of the Exodus recounts that the circumcision of Zipporah's son was committed against his father’s will:
“During this journey, he (Moses) stopped in a hostelry; the Lord approached him and wanted to make him die (if he did not have his son circumcised). Zipporah seized a piece of flint, cut her son’s outgrowth off and threw it at his feet (the Lord’s) saying (to her son and her husband): “Is it by blood that you are united to me?” The Lord let him (Moses) alone. Then she said: “By blood are you united to me, because of this circumcision.” (4: 24-26, literally translated from the French Rabbinate. Paris: Les éditions Colbo; 1966)
These verses show that the Pharaoh (Adonaï, Aton) tried to keep control over the fugitives and ensure his power through circumcision. Zipporah saved Moses’s life through circumcising her son and, in a mad rage, cheered up her men through defying the Pharaoh with an insulting gesture and words that scoffed at the intentions of the circumcisers: submitting the child through separating him from his parents. This word made this circumcision a covenant against Pharaoh and circumcision. But the child was traumatized to such an extent that, forty years later, he ordered the collective crime in Gilgal, a direct prelude to Jericho, the first genocide in history. For Moses very well knew why he refused circumcision:
“The duration of our journey… had been of 38 years. At that time, the whole warlike generation had disappeared…” (Deuteronomy, 4: 14, French Rabbinate)
The Second (*) Commandment in the Book of the Exodus
The concern for condemning the circumcision of his son was keenly present with the author of the Ten Commandments. It was a humiliated father, wounded in the flesh of his flesh and in his dignity, who, in front of the people, solemnly pronounced the first great juridical discourse in history, first declaration of the duties and rights of man, of universal value, basis of elementary ethics and juridical systems (**). The new Covenant respects the human body: "You shall not kill". Parallel, it abolishes Abraham’s law of subjection by terror and condemns circumcision as soon as the Second Commandment:
“You shall not make yourself idols, nor any image of what is… down on the earth.”
(20: 4, French Rabbinate)
For by making the phallus a fetish and an idol, circumcision achieves an indecent image upon man’s body. Worshippers of the phallus, the Egyptians practised it and had imposed it on the Jews as a token of slavery. Having succeeded in freeing the Jews, Moses could not tolerate that some would perpetuate the as barbarous as pagan custom, a human sacrifice, bloody homage to polytheism, to the archaic, telluric divinities of fertility and procreation. He denounces verses 17-10 to -14 of the Book of Genesis. Mohammed will imitate him in verses 2: 124 and 4: 118-119 of the Koran. A "jealous God" cannot admit idolatry of the phallus.
But the orthodox commentators of the following verse:
“For I, the Eternal, your God, I am a jealous God, who prosecute the crime of fathers upon (committed upon) children ((banim, plural of ben) usually means “sons”) up to the third and fourth generation (grandfathers and great-grandfathers; going further back is impossible).” (20: 5, French Rabbinate)
make a quite different interpretation, as if the text said:
“… who prosecute children for the fathers' crime…”
This at the price of two mistakes. First, one does not prosecute a crime on somebody but somebody for a crime. Second, through translating “banim” by “children” – a translation possible in some rare contexts – rather than “sons”, they exclude the veritable meaning that abolishes circumcision. Therefore Moses did not wrongly word the Second Commandment. The rabbis – very likely deliberately – did ill interpret it through introducing an inexistent double meaning, in order to conceal that “the crime of fathers upon sons” is circumcision perpetrated upon the person of the sons.
However, when dictating his Commandments to his people, the Eternal does not play with double meanings. Then here on the Sinai, the historical context is that of abandonment of circumcision till Gilgal. Therefore, only the bad faith of the fanatics of circumcision could twist the text in a misinterpretation that nobody ever should have imagined. For in order to restore circumcision, the rabbis, denaturing the sacred text, concealed the veritable meaning of the Second Commandment. The manipulation of the faithful is obvious and, from legislators, liable of the crime of attack on public trust. The sole attenuating circumstance is pathological denial of the reality of the meaning of the Second Commandment, due to blind faith in Abraham’s commandment and to the deep psychological trauma its implementation provokes. It is indeed high time to put and end to it.
For a jealous God is also jealous of his own creation and cannot stand its alteration by man taking himself for God; the “crime of fathers upon sons” is circumcision that Moses deliberately classifies as crime. Indeed, if the matter was condemning ordinary crime, the idea of an unjust God, who would punish children irresponsible for the fathers’ crimes, is unbearable. Besides, in this hypothesis, why should it be spoken of one crime only and why should vengeance stop at the fourth generation (Hitler’s madness disastrously copied from the rabbis, and amplified, this interpretation), why at last speak of jealousy?
At last, our interpretation is strongly reinforced by the following verse, just a few lines further on:
“If however you build a stone altar for me, do not build it with carved stones for by touching them with the iron, you made them lay.” (20: 22, French Rabbinate)
Moses illustrates through this image that the pagan custom desecrates man's body, offending God.
Abolishing the commandment of Abraham, the Second Commandment makes the right to physical integrity the first of the rights of man. One can even think that in the Third Commandment that comes right after this condemnation of circumcision:
“You will not invoke the name of the Eternal your God to support lie...”,
(20: 7, French Rabbinate)
Moses reproaches Abraham for having perjured saying that God would have ascribed him circumcision.
The Book of Deuteronomy also bans circumcision
Modern exegesis 2 considers that the Book of Deuteronomy was written under the direction of Moses with a great unity of style (unlike other books of the Bible). It does not explicitly condemn circumcision; it is content with not saying one sole word about it and, contrary to the other books of the Torah, it does not speak about excluding the "non circumcised" from the temple and the meal of Passover. On the contrary, it insists upon the fact that the only condition of the Second Covenant is the respect of the Ten Commandments. Indeed, introducing them (***), it takes care to say:
“Observe everything I lay down for you, without adding anything to it... ”
(13: 1, French Rabbinate)
We are in the presence of the Preliminary Commandment, which forbids everything that is not included in the following, and thus circumcision.
The Deuteronomy then speaks on thirteen occasions (4: 5, 4: 8, 4: 14, 4: 45, 5: 7, 5: 31, 6: 1, 6: 20, 7: 11, 7: 12, 8: 11, 11: 1) of "the laws and rules… " (4: 1, French Rabbinate) it advocates. But circumcision does not figure there any more than in the Ten Commandments. Neither does it figure in the regulations of verses 12: 1 to 27: 26. Furthermore, in those very regulations he recommends, not without humour:
“You will make yourself tassels at the four corners of the cover you will wear.”
(22: 12, Ecumenical Bible)
In the following rules, on one hand Moses excludes distinctive physical signs; the consecration of the Jewish people to the divinity does not allow it to distinguish itself through gross exterior signs:
“You are the children of the Eternal, your God: do not cut your body, do not shave yourself between the eyes, in the honour of a dead man. Because you are a people consecrated to the Eternal, your God, and you are the one he chose, the Eternal, to be for him a special people amongst all the peoples spread over the earth”
(14: 1, French Rabbinate),
on the other hand he shows his distrust towards the last (circumcised) survivors belonging to the old warlike generation:
“The one who has crushed or mutilated genitals will not be admitted in the assembly of the Lord.” (23: 2, French Rabbinate)
In order to notify the abolition of Abraham's law, he specifies:
“The Eternal did not conclude this covenant with our fathers but with ourselves, who are here today, all alive.” (5: 3, French Rabbinate),
He does not ignore the ancient Covenant:
“... he will not forget the covenant of your fathers...” (5: 3, French Rabbinate)
but seems to refer to the version of chapter 15 of the Book of Genesis, which does not mention circumcision, rather than to that of chapter 17.
Then Moses insists upon the great difference of nature between both laws, a difference that condemns Abraham's Covenant through submission:
“The Eternal talked with you face to face…” (5: 4, French Rabbinate),
whereas Abraham had kept his face on the ground, the new Covenant is a genuine covenant between equals, in which Moses obtained the abolition of circumcision from Pharaoh:
“And now, Israel, the Eternal, your God, only expects from you that you revere the Lord, your God, that you follow his ways in everything, that you love him and serve him with all your heart and all your soul, observing the precepts and laws of the Lord which I impose on you today, so that you would be happy.”
(10: 12-13, French Rabbinate)
Both Covenants are discrepant. On the other hand, Moses lays down circumcision "of the heart":
“Thus circumcise your heart, stop stiffening your neck.” (10: 16, French Rabbinate)
Inviting the Hebrews to relax, Moses underlines a typically obsessive symptom, undoubtedly a sign of pride but also of emotional distress, fear of beheading, of total castration, of impotence.
This "circumcision" is granted by God as a grace:
“And the Eternal, your God, will circumcise your heart and your descendants' heart so that you love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and make your living.” (30: 6, French Rabbinate)
Mention of the descendants, a reference to Abraham's Covenant, is significant of the replacement of circumcision of the body by that of the heart.
By making the respect of the natural Law the only requirement of the Covenant with the divinity, Moses abolished circumcision. Bedouin Cephora's husband kept his people in the desert for forty years. He enjoyed the life of nomads. It is likely too, that the author of the Ten Commandments was reluctant to the genocide implied by the settlement in Canaan.
For achieving this Biblical recall, “God” could not both have ordered circumcision to Abraham and accepted to condemn it towards Moses. As revealed by Messod and Roger Sabbah 3, the God in question could only have been a divinized man, the Egyptian Pharaoh, then one of his successors for the Second Covenant. The archaeologist Madame Desroches-Noblecourt just brought great support to this thesis: a transcription of the Ten Commandments has been found in a tomb of the time of the pyramids 4. Would it be the grave of Pharaoh Moses, Ramose Ist, Ra-Mesou (Mesou for Moses), according to the explanations of the Sabbah brothers?
Our restoration of the deep meaning of the second Covenant a covenant though speech rather than by ablation of the flesh, locates Christianity as the direct heir of the tradition of authentic and moderate Mosaic Judaism, adversary and martyr of the Levite extreme-right. The latter tolerates the philosophers (Spinoza, Marx, Freud), it slaughters religious or political leaders (Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, Rabin). It also locates circumcision as an insidious technique of domination of the masses, as a state criminality against humanity.
Here are four millennia that some cultures, in order to dominate the population through a traumatism provoking deep guilt on sexual life (the “original sin”), ignore the Mosaic Law protecting the respect of the human body and the right of the human person to its property and liberty. Sharp claims to the right of liberty of cult and to a respect of cultures ignoring that of the rights of the child favoured a veritable intimidation that prevented governments and courts to condemn infantile sexual mutilation as a whole, whatever the sex of the child may be. Only in 2006 did a Finnish magistrate's court5, 6 follow the requisition of the Prosecution to rank circumcision amongst common law criminality, without a penalty being pronounced. Yet was it necessary that the child be defended by one of his parents for nothing would have been done otherwise! Whereas mainly private initiative (****) leads the fight against infantile sexual mutilation, positive law of democracies and of the universal declaration of the rights of man in this matter would gain by coming back to the letter of the Ten Commandments.
firstname.lastname@example.org – http://groups.msn.com/circabolition
1 Martin S. Thy Rod and thy staff they comfort me, Christians and the spanking controversy. Sorensic; 2006.
(*) Rabbinic numerotation
(**) Moses also was the founder of one of the very first two-level-jurisdiction syste(ms. However, the limits of the charismatic leader who on one hand gathered his people to recite them poems, on the other hand did not hesitate to commit genocide against the peoples he encountered on his way, are obvious. A law worded at the second person is that of a dictator who, affirming himself God, reserves for himself the right to violate it.
2 Cf. the article "Bible" of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
(***) An Eleventh Commandment synthesizes the first: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.” (6: 5, French Rabbinate). Jesus-Christ only interpreted it extensively by recommending: “You will love your neighbour as yourself.”
3 The secrets of the Exodus. London: Thorsons Ltd; 2002.
4 Figaro Magazine. 13 mai 2005, n° 18902.
6 http://www.france.fi/article.php3?id_article=1142 - CIRCONCISION (site of the French embassy in Finland)
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