Circumcision Of The Heart In Leviticus And Deuteronomy: Divine Means For Resolving Curse And Bringing Blessing -- By: John D. Meade

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 18:3 (Fall 2014)
Article: Circumcision Of The Heart In Leviticus And Deuteronomy: Divine Means For Resolving Curse And Bringing Blessing
Author: John D. Meade


Circumcision Of The Heart In Leviticus And Deuteronomy: Divine Means For Resolving Curse And Bringing Blessing1

John D. Meade

John D. Meade is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Phoenix Seminary. Dr. Meade earned his Ph.D. in Old Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has contributed articles to Brill’s forthcoming Textual History of the Bible and is currently preparing a critical text of the hexaplaric fragments of Job and Isaiah for the Hexapla Institute.

Introduction

Circumcision, both inside and outside the Bible, has raised no small discussion in the literature.2 This study seeks to contribute to this discussion in two ways: (1) the meaning of the biblical rite of circumcision will be explained against the background of the ancient Near East. Although a complete discussion of circumcision in ancient Near Eastern cultures is outside of the purview of this paper, the results of a previous study on this topic can be summarized.3 (2) Once the significance of circumcision has been understood, then how the theme of circumcision of the foreskin is developed in Leviticus and Deuteronomy with respect to heart (un)circumcision will be set forth. In the Torah, heart circumcision is predicted to be the resolution to Israel’s covenant infidelity (and accompanying curse) and to bring blessing accompanying the return from exile.

Summary Of The History And Significance Of Circumcision

Circumcision is first mentioned in the Bible at Genesis 17 at the confirming/upholding of the Abrahamic covenant, previously initiated in Genesis 15.4 After rehearsing the promises for seed (v. 6; cf. 15:4) and land (v. 7; cf. 15:18), verse 9 introduces further information about the already existing covenant relationship. Yahweh commands Abram to keep (שׁמר) “my covenant.” Verse 10 clarifies that the covenant Abraham shall keep is the circumcision of every male of his. The text includes several details concerning the rite: (1) the act of circumcising the flesh of the foreskin (v. 11a), (2) circumcision will be a sign ...

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