The purification (Lk 2:22-2:22)

“When the time came

For their purification,

According to the law

Of Moses,

They brought him up

To Jerusalem

To present him

To the Lord.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ,

 

Luke said that when the time or the days were completed (Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι) for their purification (τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν), according to the law of Moses (κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem (ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) to present him to the Lord (παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ).  What is this purification and is it different than circumcision.  The story of John did not have this purification ritual.  Strictly speaking, this was a purification of the mother to take place 40 days after the birth of a child that had made her unclean as described in Leviticus, chapter 12:1-8.  The presentation of the child and the father were not part of this purification ritual.  There was no law or custom about the presentation of a child, other than the presentation of the first born as in Exodus, chapter 13:2 and 13:16.  Women were considered unclean after childbirth because of the blood discharge that took place with birthing.  If a male was born, the woman was unclean for 7 days, like menstruation, so that on the 8th day the male child could be circumcised.  There were 33 more days of blood purification for the male child.  During her unclean period, this new mother could not touch any holy thing, or go into the sanctuary.  Thus, the purification ritual took place on the 40th day, a symbolic number based on the 40 years of the Israelites in the desert wilderness.

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The false circumcision (Jer 9:25-9:26)

“Says Yahweh.

‘The days are surely coming

When I will attend to

All those who are circumcised

Only in the foreskin.

This includes

Egypt,

Judah,

Edom,

The Ammonites,

Moab,

As well as all those with shaven temples

Who live in the desert.

All these nations are uncircumcised.

All the house of Israel

Is uncircumcised in heart.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, criticizes those who are uncircumcised in their hearts. He seems to indicate that that Egyptians, the Edomites, the Moabites are also circumcised, as it must have been a common custom. He also indicates that Judah is also circumcised along with the Arabs in the desert with their shaven temples. However, the harshest treatment is for the house of Israel that is uncircumcised in the heart.

The punishment for circumcision (2 Macc 6:10-6:10)

“For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. They publicly paraded them around the city, with their babies hung at their breasts. Then they hurled them down headlong from the wall.”

This is a reference to some incidents that occurred in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. Here it is only 2 women who had their children circumcised. They were then publically displayed with their dead children on their breasts. Then they were thrown from a wall and killed.

The persecution of the Jews (1 Macc 1:54-1:61)

“Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offerings. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah. They offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by the decree of the king. They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised. They put to death their families and those who circumcised them. They hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.”

Once again, we have specific days and years. Chislev was December of 167 BCE. The sacrilege mentioned might be the idol of Zeus. There will be more indications of this in the Book of Daniel and 2 Maccabees, which must be from about the same time period. They used the old altars with incense in the house and streets. When they found the book of the law, they tore it apart and burned it. Thus we have an early instance of the burning of books. Anyone who was following the Mosaic covenant was condemned to death. Violence was a way of life. They put to death any women who circumcised their children, plus their whole family. Then they would hang the infants on their mother’s necks. This seems like an especially brutal way to get rid of strange customs.

Achior becomes an Israelite (Jdt 14:6-14:10)

“They summoned Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came, he saw the head of General Holofernes in the hand of one of the men in the assembly of the people. He fell down on his face in a faint. When they raised him up, he threw himself at Judith’s feet. He did obeisance to her. He said.

‘Blessed are you in every tent of Judah!

In every nation those who hear your name will be alarmed.

Now tell me what you have done during these days.’

Then Judith told him in the presence of the people all that she had done, from the day she left until the moment she began speaking to them. When she had finished, the people raised a great shout. They made a joyful noise in their town. When Achior saw all that the God of Israel had done, he believed firmly in God. So then he was circumcised. He joined the house of Israel, remaining so to this day.”

Achior had been staying with Uzziah, the chief of his town, so they brought him to Judith. He was the one who had told the Assyrian general that they could not defeat the Israelites because of their God. He was then sent to the Israelites, who instead of killing him, listened to his story. However, when Achior saw one of the men holding the head of General Holofernes, he fainted. As they raised him up, he threw himself at the feet of Judith. He called her blessed and wanted to know what had happened. Then Judith in the presence of everyone told her story of what had happened to her. When she finished, the people of the town gave out a great joyous shout. This might have scared the Assyrians also. On top of that Achior, the Ammonite, decided to become an Israelite. He was circumcised that day. The author points out that Achior remained an Israelite until this day, as if he was contemporary. The problem, of course, is that Ammonites were not allowed to be in the assembly of Yahweh, among the Israelites down to the 10th generation, according to Deuteronomy, chapter 23. This may be why some Jewish people have not accepted this book as canonical.