Genesis 17:23-27, “On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
It’s amazing to think of the concept of circumcising a 99 year old man. Or even a thirteen year old. I mean, here was Abraham, a man who had lived much more of a life that we generally expect to live today, and all of a sudden, he’s lopping off the skin on the most sensitive part of his body. I’ve heard stories that it’s not that painful, and perhaps they had some sort of anesthetic back then which could have been used, but all the same, this is a sign of a man who was more than willing to follow the command of his LORD.
So, here begins the long religious tradition of circumcision. There is, of course, no reason to believe that this wasn’t a practice that was already known to mankind, since there’s very little description of how the act would need to be performed (which would, in theory, be relatively important information when performing such a surgery), but this is when we begin to see it as something done to make God happy. And, in theory, this would also mark the creation of the job of the mohel.
A long tradition begins with these verses, one that marks the birth of a son, but also marks the bringing of that son into the faith of the LORD. It would seem very similar, in my mind, to the current practice of infant baptism, in that this is done shortly after birth, and is a sign of reverence to our God. Just another example of how cyclical the Bible really is in it’s actions between the Old Testament and the New.