God knows his people by their penises (penii? penisees?)

Genesis 17
God asks Abram to take a walk with him, so that God may establish his covenant, and keep his promise to Abram about giving his descendants a nation. First, Abram will now be called Abraham. Abraham, however, must uphold his end of the bargain, which God tells him now. Abraham must circumcise himself and all of the males in his group, and all of his descendants must be circumcised as well. This includes all of the slaves. Any new male child born shall be circumcised on their 8th day of life.

If a male is uncircumcised, that is, if the flesh of his foreskin has not been cut away, such a one will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. (Genesis 17:14)

God also says that Sarai is now to be called Sarah. Now God will have her bear him a son, and Abraham should name him Isaac. It is through Isaac that God will keep his covenant. However, because of his pleading, God says that he will also make a nation out of the descendants of Ishmael. The chapter ends with Abraham circumcising all the males around him.

Ok, my first impression was honestly, “what the fuck?” Now the footnotes state that circumcision was traditionally a right of passage to adulthood in that time and place, and that God made it different by having it happen so young. But still, I don’t get this at all. If God wanted males to not have foreskin, why didn’t he create them without it? Why is God so interested in how the penis looks anyways? This is a horrible way to have to identify ones own people, as it was already established that nudity was a bad thing. Wouldn’t God be better off having people get a tattoo or piercing? Or maybe this is something he wants everyone to keep secret.

I really don’t understand this God…

What God is asking of Abram in this chapter really strikes me as being eerily similar to that of a cult leader we see in modern times. He has asked Abram and his wife to move to a far away land., making promises of wealth and land. Now he tells them that they have new names, and he tells Abraham (now) that he also needs to mutilate his genitals(!) and those of all the men around him as their end of a promise. Before this God was promising gifts, it is now 24 years later and God suddenly wants something very strange in return, before he even bestows those gifts. This is starting to sound utterly insane.

Lessons I learned:

  • This is why I don’t have foreskin.

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