The circumcision of Jesus (Lk 2:21-2:21)

“After eight days

Had passed,

It was time

To circumcise

The child.

He was called

Jesus.

This was the name

Given to him

By the angel

Before he was conceived

In the womb.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν, καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦς, τὸ κληθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου πρὸ τοῦ συλλημφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ.

 

Just as Luke had the circumcision and naming of John, so too he has the circumcision and naming of Jesus, his cousin.  Like John, it takes place on the 8th day after the birth in chapter 1:59.  So too, just like John, chapter 1:63, Jesus got his name at his circumcision.  Luke said that after eight days had been completed (Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ), it was time to circumcise the child (τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν).  He was called Jesus (καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦς), the name given to him by the angel Gabriel (τὸ κληθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου) before Mary conceived him in the womb (πρὸ τοῦ συλλημφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ) in chapter 1:31.  Luke continued these parallel stories of John and Jesus.  Both families clearly followed all the Jewish laws and customs about circumcision and naming a child, but John and Jesus were nevertheless special children.

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The circumcision (Lk 1:59-1: 59)

“On the eighth day,

They came

To circumcise

The child.

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ὀγδόῃ ἦλθον περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον,

 

Luke explained what happened on the eighth day (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ὀγδόῃ) after the birth of the child.  They came to circumcise this child (ἦλθον περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον).  This circumcision, brit milah, or bris was a sign of the covenant with God that goes back to Abraham in Genesis, chapter 17:11-12.  This sacerdotal covenant alliance story emphasized male circumcision as the main part of the Yahweh covenant.  Thus. circumcision became a big deal.  Every male was to be circumcised by removing the flesh of the foreskin of his penis, when he was eight days old.  This also included male slaves born or brought into the house.  An uncircumcised Jewish male would be cut off from his people, because he had broken the covenant with God.  Circumcision has been practiced among many ancient and contemporary groups for either religious or hygienic reasons.  In fact, despite their differences, Islamic males practice circumcision also.  In the USA, most boys born in a hospital are circumcised for hygienic or health purposes.

The call to Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 4:3-4:4)

“Thus says Yahweh

To the people of Judah,

To the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

‘Break up your fallow ground!

Do not sow among thorns!

Circumcise yourselves to Yahweh!

Remove the foreskin of your hearts!

O people of Judah!

Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

Otherwise my wrath will go forth like fire.

My wrath will burn with no one to quench it,

Because of the evil of your doings.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, has a call to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were to work their uncultivated lands. They were not to sow seeds among the thorns. They were to circumcise themselves to Yahweh by removing the foreskins on their hearts. The call to Judah and Jerusalem was clear. If they did not listen, the wrath of Yahweh would go forth against them like a roaring unquenchable burning fire, because of their evil deeds.