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In ancient times, the practice of blood covenants served as binding religious contracts among Middle Eastern peoples. God established circumcision as a symbol of His covenant with Abraham, marking it as a perpetual sign of faith and commitment. The Hebrew term “bris” means “covenant.” As recorded in Genesis 17:12-14, God commanded Abraham: “Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised, including house-born slaves and those acquired with money from any foreigner who is not of your descendants. Yes, both the house-born slaves and those acquired with money must be circumcised. Thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant. If a male is uncircumcised, that is, if the flesh of his foreskin has not been cut away, such a one will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

The scar of circumcision served as an outward evidence of this divine covenant. The Jewish people have continued this practice from the time of Abraham, seeing it as a sign of their special relationship with God.

The Significance of the Eighth Day

The Israelites traditionally circumcised male children on the eighth day after birth. This act signaled the child’s initiation into the covenant with God and their formal inclusion in the community of Israel. Even if the eighth day fell on the Sabbath, a day normally reserved for rest and devoid of work, circumcision was performed, highlighting the ceremony’s paramount importance.

God’s covenant with Abraham included three significant promises:
1. Land: The promise that Israel would inherit Canaan, the promised land.
2. Seed: The emergence of a great nation from Abraham’s descendants.
3. Blessing: The promise of salvation to the entire world through Abraham’s seed, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Gen 22:18).

Circumcision thus symbolized incorporation into the people of Israel and a person’s covenantal relationship with God. Much like a wedding ring serves as a reminder of the marriage covenant, circumcision reminded Israelite males of their permanent commitment to God.

The Eighth Day and Biblical Numerology

In biblical numerology, the number eight signifies recreation and new beginnings. God completed the creation of the universe in seven days, including a day of rest. Hence, the eighth day represents a new start. The covenant through circumcision was a fresh beginning for the child, marking their entry into the community of God’s people.

Furthermore, medical science supports the timing of circumcision on the eighth day. It has been found that blood clotting factors, such as prothrombin and vitamin K, peak on this day, making it the safest time for the procedure. This scientific insight reveals the wisdom of God’s command, though it was unknown to humans until recently.

Circumcision Ritual and Naming of the Child

The Israelites could perform circumcisions either at home or in the synagogue. For instance, John the Baptist’s circumcision took place at home, attended by priests and relatives (Lk 1:59-64). According to the Mosaic Law, a mother was considered unclean for seven days after giving birth to a boy and could not enter the sanctuary until her purification period of forty days was complete (Lev 12:4).

Naming a child also occurred during the circumcision ceremony. John the Baptist and Jesus were both named on the eighth day following their births, in accordance with this tradition (Lk 1:59-64; 2:21).

Circumcision of the Heart

While physical circumcision was a crucial aspect of the covenant, Moses and later prophets emphasized the need for a deeper, spiritual circumcision – a circumcision of the heart. Moses exhorted the Israelites: “Circumcise therefore the foreskins of your hearts, and be stiff-necked no longer” (Deut 10:16).

Jeremiah also warned the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Be circumcised for the LORD, remove the foreskins of your hearts, people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Or else my anger will break out like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of your evil deeds” (Jer 4:4).

In the New Covenant established by Jesus, physical circumcision is no longer required. Salvation is offered to all believers, irrespective of physical lineage. Paul reiterated this in his letters: “Circumcision means nothing, and uncircumcision means nothing; what matters is keeping God’s commandments” (1 Cor 7:19).

Jesus, who was circumcised on the eighth day, ultimately bore the scars of His crucifixion, representing the ultimate sacrifice and the circumcision of the heart.


Through baptism, Christians enter into a covenant with God, gaining the privilege of calling Him Father. Although we no longer need to shed blood, we must consecrate our hearts to fulfill the Christian responsibilities God has given us in our homes, churches, and communities.

The call to circumcise our hearts remains vital. We are urged to live in faithful obedience to God’s commandments, demonstrating our commitment to Him through love, service, and holiness. This spiritual circumcision is a daily journey of renewing our hearts and aligning our lives with God’s will.

As believers, let us remember that our outward practices are important, but the true measure of our faith is found in the transformation of our hearts and minds. By embracing this spiritual circumcision, we fulfill our covenant with God, living as His faithful people and shining His light in the world.

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