Most of us know how circumcision in America is done — the complete removal of all the flesh around the head of the penis. (If you’re unsure, you can watch the video on this link to see how horrific it is.)
Most people in America circumcise because of “like father like son”, or some vague idea that “it’s in the Bible,” or the belief that it’s “cleaner” or has some health benefit. I’ve previously talked about it (but it’s been a year ago), including the Christian perspective. I’m bringing it up again because I’ve recently read in one version of the Bible (the Ancient Roots version, which is a literal word-for-word translation from the Hebrew — pretty cool to read it this way, because it doesn’t flow as easily as most translations), the original circumcision covenant, and it goes like this:
Gen. 17:10-11, “This is my covenant, which you keep between me and you and your seed after you: Circumcise all your males. Clip the flesh of your foreskin. It is a sign of the covenant between me and you.”
It seems as if circumcision is more or less defined as “clip the flesh of your foreskin.” I’ve clipped my fingernails, and it involved cutting off the tips of the nails, not the removal of the entire nail. “Clip” has quite a different connotation from other words that can also mean some sort of cutting. If the translators are correct in using this term, then the modern circumcision process — inserting a sharp object between the prepuce and the glans, cutting it all the way around, and then cutting the prepuce entirely off — is quite a different process from the ancient form of circumcision as practiced by Abraham, which was just the “clipping” of the tip of the foreskin that extended past the head of the penis. And this only makes sense. Modern circumcision can quite easily lead to quite an infection, because of how much raw flesh is exposed — and that is with modern standards of cleanliness and sterility; one can only imagine what this form of surgery might have done in the days before antibiotics and sterile technique!