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In the words of the Rev. Dr. Giles:
"The rite of circumcision must not be passed over in any work
that concerns the religion and literature of that (the Jewish)
The first mention of Circumcision, in the Bible, occurs in
Genesis,[85:2] where God is said to have commanded the Israelites to
perform this rite, and thereby establish a covenant between him and his
"This is my covenant (said the Lord), which ye shall keep,
between me and you and thy seed after thee; every male child
among you shall be circumcised."
"We need not doubt," says the Rev. Dr. Giles, "that a Divine command
was given to Abraham that all his posterity should practice the rite of
Such may be the case. If we believe that the Lord of the Universe
communes with man, we need not doubt this; yet, we are compelled to
admit that nations other than the Hebrews practiced this rite. The
origin of it, however, as practiced among other nations, has never been
clearly ascertained. It has been maintained by some scholars that this
rite drew its origin from considerations of health and cleanliness,
which seems very probable, although doubted by many.[85:4] Whatever may
have been its origin, it is certain that it was practiced by many of the
ancient Eastern nations, who never came in contact with the Hebrews, in
early times, and, therefore, could not have learned it from them.
The Egyptians practiced circumcision at a very early period,[85:5] at
least as early as the fourth dynasty--pyramid one--and therefore, long
before the time assigned for Joseph's entry into Egypt, from whom some
writers have claimed the Egyptians learned it.[86:1]
In the decorative pictures of Egyptian tombs, one frequently meets with
persons on whom the denudation of the prepuce is manifested.[86:2]
On a stone found at Thebes, there is a representation of the
circumcision of Ramses II. A mother is seen holding her boy's arms back,
while the operator kneels in front.[86:3] All Egyptian priests were
obliged to be circumcised,[86:4] and Pythagoras had to submit to it
before being admitted to the Egyptian sacerdotal mysteries.[86:5]
Herodotus, the Greek historian, says:
"As this practice can be traced both in Egypt and Ethiopia, to
the remotest antiquity, it is not possible to say which first
introduced it. The Phenicians and Syrians of Palestine
acknowledge that they borrowed it from Egypt."[86:6]
It has been recognized among the Kaffirs and other tribes of
Africa.[86:7] It was practiced among the Fijians and Samoans of
Polynesia, and some races of Australia.[86:8] The Suzees and the
Mandingoes circumcise their women.[86:9] The Assyrians, Colchins,
Phenicians, and others, practiced it.[86:10] It has been from time
immemorial a custom among the Abyssinians, though, at the present
The antiquity of the custom may be assured from the fact of the New
Hollanders, (never known to civilized nations until a few years ago)
having practiced it.[86:12]
The Troglodytes on the shore of the Red Sea, the Idumeans,
Ammonites, Moabites and Ishmaelites, had the practice of
The ancient Mexicans also practiced this rite.[86:13] It was also
found among the Amazon tribes of South America.[87:1] These
Indians, as well as some African tribes, were in the habit of
circumcising their women. Among the Campas, the women circumcised
themselves, and a man would not marry a woman who was not
circumcised.[87:2] They performed this singular rite upon arriving at
the age of puberty.[87:3]
Jesus of Nazareth was circumcised,[87:4] and had he been really the
founder of the Christian religion, so-called, it would certainly be
incumbent on all Christians to be circumcised as he was, and to observe
that Jewish law which he observed, and which he was so far from
abrogating, that he declared: "heaven and earth shall pass away" ere
"one jot or one tittle" of that law should be dispensed with.[87:5] But
the Christians are not followers of the religion of Jesus.[87:6] They
are followers of the religion of the Pagans. This, we believe, we
shall be able to show in Part Second of this work.
[85:1] Giles: Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. i. p. 249.
[85:2] Genesis, xvii. 10.
[85:3] Giles: Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. i. p. 251.
[85:4] Mr. Herbert Spencer shows (Principles of Sociology, pp. 290, 295)
that the sacrificing of a part of the body as a religious offering to
their deity, was, and is a common practice among savage tribes.
Circumcision may have originated in this way. And Mr. Wake, speaking of
it, says: "The origin of this custom has not yet, so far as I am
aware, been satisfactorily explained. The idea that, under certain
climatic conditions, circumcision is necessary for cleanliness and
comfort, does not appear to be well founded, as the custom is not
universal even within the tropics." (Phallism in Ancient Religs., p.
[85:5] "Other men leave their private parts as they are formed by
nature, except those who have learned otherwise from them; but the
Egyptians are circumcised. . . . They are circumcised for the sake of
cleanliness, thinking it better to be clean than handsome." (Herodotus,
Book ii. ch. 36.)
[86:1] We have it also on the authority of Sir J. G. Wilkinson, that:
"this custom was established long before the arrival of Joseph in
Egypt," and that "this is proved by the ancient monuments."
[86:2] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, pp. 414, 415.
[86:3] Ibid. p. 415.
[86:4] Ibid. and Knight: Ancient Art and Mythology, p. 89.
[86:5] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 415.
[86:6] Herodotus: Book ii. ch. 36.
[86:7] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 114. Amberly: Analysis
Religious Belief, p. 67, and Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 309.
[86:8] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 414, and Amberly's Analysis, pp.
[86:9] Amberly: Analysis of Relig. Belief, p. 73.
[86:10] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, p. 414: Amberly's Analysis, p. 63;
Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 163, and Inman: Ancient Faiths, vol. ii.
pp. 18, 19.
[86:11] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, p. 414.
[86:12] Kendrick's Egypt, quoted by Dunlap; Mysteries of Adoni, p. 146.
[86:13] Amberly's Analysis, p. 63, Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p.
309, and Acosta, ii. 369.
[87:1] Orton: The Andes and the Amazon, p. 322.
[87:2] This was done by cutting off the clytoris.
[87:3] Orton: The Andes and the Amazon, p. 322. Gibbon's Rome, vol. iv.
p. 563, and Bible for Learners, vol. i. p. 319.
"At the time of the conquest, the Spaniards found circumcised nations in
Central America, and on the Amazon, the Tecuna and Manaos tribes still
observe this practice. In the South Seas it has been met with among
three different races, but it is performed in a somewhat different
manner. On the Australian continent, not all, but the majority of
tribes, practiced circumcision. Among the Papuans, the inhabitants of
New Caledonia and the New Hebrides adhere to this custom. In his third
voyage, Captain Cook found it among the inhabitants of the Friendly
Islands, in particular at Tongataboo, and the younger Pritchard bears
witness to its practice in the Samoa or Fiji groups." (Oscar Peschel:
The Races of Man, p. 22.)
[87:4] Luke, ii. 21.
[87:5] Matthew, v. 18.
[87:6] In using the words "the religion of Jesus," we mean simply the
religion of Israel. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew, in
every sense of the word, and that he did not establish a new religion,
or preach a new doctrine, in any way, shape, or form. "The preacher from
the Mount, the prophet of the Beatitudes, does but repeat with
persuasive lips what the law-givers of his race proclaimed in mighty
tones of command." (See chap. xi.)
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