Images de page



over, even down to modern times, the rite of circumcision has included a recognition, however unconscious, of the primitive blood-friendship rite, by the custom of the ecclesiastical operator, as God's representative, receiving into his mouth, and thereby being made a partaker of, the blood mingled with wine, according to the method described among the Orientals, in the rite of blood-friendship, from the earliest days of history.1

It is a peculiarity of the primitive compact of blood

1 Buxtorf, who is a recognized authority, in the knowledge of Rabbinical literature and of Jewish customs, says, on this point: "Cum deinde compater infantulum in sinu habet jacentem, tum Mohel sive circumcisor eum è fasciis evolvit, pudendum ejus apprehendit, ejusque anteriorem partem per cuticulam præputii comprehendit, granulumque pudendi ejus retrorsum premit; quo facto cuticulam præputii fricat, ut illa per id emortua infantulus cæsuram tanto minus sentiscat. Deinde cultellum circumcisorium è pueri astantis manu capit, claraque voce, Benedictus (inquit) esto tu Deus, Domine noster, Rex mundi, qui nos mandatis tuis sanctificasti, nobisque pactum circumcisionis dedisti. Interim dum ille loquitur sic, particulam præputii anteriorem usque eo abscindit, ut capitellum pudendi nudum conspici queat, illamque festinanter in patellam arena ista plenam conjicit; puero quoque isti, à quo acceperat, cultellum reddit circumcisorium; ab alio vero poculum vino rubro (ceu dictum fuit) impletum, capit; haurit ex eo quantum ore continere potest, quod mox super infantulum expuit, eoque sanguinem ejus abluit: in faciem quoque infantuli vini aliquid expuit, si eum viribus defici conspexerit. Mox pudendum puelli ore comprehendit, et sanguinis ex eodem quantumcunque potest, exugit, ut sanguis idem tanto citius se sistat; sanguinem exuctum in alterum poculorum vino rubro refertorum, vel in patellam arena abundantem, expuit." (Synagoga Judaica, Cap. II.)

friendship, that he who would enter into it must be ready to make a complete surrender of himself, in loving trust, to him with whom he covenants. He must,

in fact, so love and trust, as to be willing to merge his separate individuality in the dual personality of which he becomes an integral part. Only he who believes in another unreservedly and fearlessly can take such a step intelligently. The record concerning Abraham stands: "He believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness." The Hebrew

word heëmeen (P), here translated "believed in," carries the idea of an unqualified committal of self to another. It is from the root aman (P) with the two-fold idea of "to be faithful" and "to trust." 2 Its correspondent in the Arabic, (amana,,) carries the same double idea, of a confident and an entire committal of self to another, in trust and in trustworthiness.3 Lane's definition of the substantive from this root is: "The becoming true to the trust, with respect to which God has confided in one, by a firm believing of the heart."5 Abraham so trusted the 1 Gen. 15: 6; Rom. 4: 3; Gal. 3: 6; James 2: 23.


2 See Fuerst's Heb. Chald. Lex., s. v.

3 See Freytag's Lex. Arab. Lat., s. v.

4 See Lane's Arab. Eng. Lex., s. v.

5 In the Chinese language, likewise, "the word for faithfulness means both to be trustworthy, and also to trust to, and refers chiefly to friendship." (Edkins's Relig. in China, p. 118.)



Lord, that he was ready to commit himself to the Lord, as in the rite of blood-friendship. Therefore the Lord counted Abraham's spirit of loving and longing trust, as the equivalent of a spiritual likeness with himself; and the Lord received Abraham, by his circumcision, into the covenant of blood-friendship.1 Or, as the Apostle James states it: "Abraham believed [in] God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God."2 Here is the doctrine of "imputation," with real life in it; in lieu of a hard commercial transaction, as some have viewed it.

The recognition of the covenant of blood in the rite of circumcision, throws light on an obscure passage in the life of Moses, as recorded in Exodus 4: 20-26. Moses, himself a child of the covenant, had neglected the circumcision of his own first-born; and so he had been unfaithful to the covenant of Abraham. While on his way from the Wilderness of Sinai to Egypt,

1 The Rabbis give a pre-eminent place to circumcision as the rite by which Abraham became the Friend of God. They say (see citations from the Talmud, in Nethivoth Olam, p. 367): “Abraham was not called perfect before he was circumcised; and because of the merit of circumcision was the covenant made with him concerning the inheritance of the Land. It [circumcision] also saves from the punishment of hell; for our sages have said, that Abraham sits at the gates of hell and suffers no one to enter in there who is circumcised."

2 James 2: 23.

with a message from God to Pharaoh, concerning the un-covenanted first-born of the Egyptians,' Moses was met by a startling providence, and came face to face with death-possibly with a bloody death of some sort. "The Lord met him, and sought to kill him," it is said. It seems to have been perceived, both by Moses and his wife, that they were being cut off from a farther share in God's covenant-plans for the descendants of Abraham, because of their failure to conform to their obligations in the covenant of Abraham.

"Then Zipporah took a flint, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at [made it touch] his [Moses'] feet; and she said, Surely a bridegroom of blood [one newly bound through blood], art thou to me. So He [the Lord] let him [Moses] alone [He spared him, as one newly true to the covenant of Abraham, and newly safe within its bounds]. Then she [Zipporah] said [again], A bridegroom of blood art thou, because of the circumcision;" or, as the margin renders it: "A bridegroom of blood [art thou] in regard of the circumcision." 2

The Hebrew word khathan (), here translated "bridegroom," has, as its root idea, the binding through severing, the covenanting by blood; an idea that is 2 Exod. 4: 25, 26.

1 Exod. 4: 21-23.


3 See Fuerst's Heb. Chald. Lex., s. v.



in the marriage-rite, as the Orientals view it,' and that is in the rite of circumcision, also. Indeed, in the Arabic, the corresponding term (khatan,), is applied interchangeably to one who is a relation by the way of one's wife, and to one who is circumcised.2 Hence, the words of Zipporah would imply that, by this rite of circumcision, she and her child were brought into blood-covenant relations with the descendants of Abraham, and her husband also was now saved to that covenant; whereas before they were in danger of being covenanted with a bloody death. It is this idea which seems to be in the Targum of Onkelos, where it renders Zipporah's first words: "By the blood of this circumcision, a khathna [a blood-won relation] is given to us ;" and her second speech: “If the blood of this circumcision had not been given [to, us; then we had had] a khathna [a blood-won relation] of slaughter [of death]." It is as though Zipporah had said: "We are now newly covenanted to each other, and to God, by blood; whereas, but for this, we should have been covenanted to slaughter [or death] by blood."

1 See Deut. 22: 13-21. To this day, in the East, an exhibit of bloodstains, as the indubitable proof of a consummated covenant of marriage, is common. See Niebuhr's Beschreibung von Arabien, pp. 35-39; Burckhardt's Arabic Proverbs, p. 140; Lane's Mod. Egypt., I., 221, note.

2 See Lane, and Freytag, s. vv., Khatan, Khatana.

« PrécédentContinuer »