Circumcision Kit

Abstract

Circumcision is the oldest known surgical procedure and is the most widely practiced religious and social custom throughout the world. Its origin is not known but there is evidence of this practice dating from ancient Egypt. The oldest known depiction dates from a famous tomb wall relief from the 23rd century B.C.E. in Middle Egypt; it depicts circumcision on two adolescent boys. Originally, circumcision was used to identify male slaves. In 1862, Edwin Smith, an American Egyptologist, discovered the world’s oldest surgical text, the Ebers Papyrus, dating from 1550 B.C.E. Included in its 48 case reports is a description of a remedy for bleeding from a circumcision that was performed as part of a religious ceremony. “Remedy for a prepuce which is cut off and whence blood comes out: honey, cuttle-bone, sycamore, fruit of dzja (unknown) are mixed together and applied thereto.” The Egyptians were just one of several Semitic peoples to practice circumcision. It was considered a puberty rite among the Egyptians to prepare a man for sexual relations; this also appears to be the case in other ancient ethnic groups who were circumcised. The Israelites (ancient Jews), who have practiced circumcision continuously since the time of Abraham, learned circumcision from the Egyptians. Among the Israelites, the male child was circumcised when he was 8 days old (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3) and it had an entirely different significance. It was a religious rite with individual religious significance. In rabbinic thought, it is described as being a sign to God as well as oneself of membership in the Jewish people’s covenant with God; it is not a sign identifying Israelites to the outside world. If two sons of the same mother died of uncontrolled bleeding, subsequent offspring were not circumcised indicating an awareness of hereditary bleeding. Throughout history, the practice of circumcision has been hotly contested in the cultures in which Jews lived. The Greeks, and later the Romans, issued prohibitions against circumcision. During the reign of Antiochus IV, the Syrian Hellenistic ruler (215–163 B.C.E.), mothers who had their sons circumcised were thrown off the city wall with their infants tied to their breasts. The Roman Emperor Hadrian (76–138 C.E.) prohibited the rite and decapitated Jews who performed it on their sons. The animosity toward circumcision from non-Jews continued into the Middle Ages under Christianity. This was reinforced by the seventh-century Catholic Visigoth-Code of Spain, which forced Jews to renounce the rite and

DOI: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2007.01081.x

Cite this paper

@article{Kravetz2007CircumcisionK, title={Circumcision Kit}, author={Robert E Kravetz}, journal={The American Journal of Gastroenterology}, year={2007}, volume={102}, pages={714-715} }