Eighth-Day Circumcision in <i>Jubilees</i>

Matthew Thiessen

in Contesting Conversion

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199793563
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914456 | DOI:
Eighth-Day Circumcision in Jubilees

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This chapter discusses Shaye Cohen’s argument that Jewishness, which up until the second century b.c.e. had been defined in terms of ethnic descent, came to be defined in a religious sense. The Hasmoneans helped redefine Jewishness in terms that permitted people who were not born Jews to convert to Judaism. This chapter argues that some Jews rejected this redefinition of Jewishness and reasserted a genealogical definition of Jewishness. The author of the book of Jubilees holds to a genealogical definition of Jewishness. Thus it is important to see how he treated the rite of circumcision. This chapter argues that for Jubilees, covenantal circumcision is eighth-day circumcision—a rite practiced only by Jews. Those who had a Gentile genealogy but underwent circumcision were therefore not becoming Jews, because they were not undergoing the rite at the proper time.

Keywords: Jubilees; Jewishness; circumcision; conversion; genealogy

Chapter.  9816 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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