Uncircumcised and Circumcised Gentiles in the Hebrew Bible

Matthew Thiessen

in Contesting Conversion

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199793563
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914456 | DOI:
Uncircumcised and Circumcised Gentiles in the Hebrew Bible

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Chapter Two builds upon the conclusions of Chapter One, arguing that no passage in the Hebrew Bible suggests that non-Israelites can become Israelites through circumcision. While the Hebrew Bible portrays some ethnic groups as uncircumcised, it acknowledges the existence of other ethnic groups that, like Israel, practiced circumcision. Thus the binary thinking that most passages deal with is not circumcision versus uncircumcision, but Israelite circumcision versus non-Israelite circumcision. For instance, Genesis 34, which envisages the circumcision of the Shechemites, demonstrates that undergoing circumcision does not overcome the genealogical distance between Israel and the nations. Even passages that require the circumcision of non-Israelites, such as Genesis 17 and Exodus 12, do not break down this barrier between Israelites and non-Israelites.

Keywords: circumcision; uncircumcision; binary; Hebrew Bible; Genesis 34

Chapter.  10112 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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