There are special laws relating to the time of circumcision of a child born during twilight of the Sabbath or festival (262:4–6). The traditional lyre-shaped shield to protect the glans has been in use at least since the 17 century; this together with the knife and a flask for styptic powder were kept in a lyre-shaped bag.
There was a talmudic disputation as to whether preparations for the operation that are forbidden on the Sabbath may be undertaken on that day, if they have been previously omitted (Shab. Joshua used flint knives to circumcise the children of Israel (Josh. One set of instruments dating from 1801 also contains a probe.
Although circumcision may be performed by any Jew (including a woman, if no man is available: Maim.
Yad, Milah, 2:1), in the first instance it is desirable that the operator, called a mohel, be a loyal adherent to the tenets of Judaism (Sh. Even in talmudic times, he was described as a craftsman.
Should the child be premature or in poor health, the rite must be postponed until seven days after he has recovered from a general disease or until immediately after recovery from a local disorder (262:2–263:3).
Should a child for any reason have been circumcised before the eighth day or have been born already circumcised (i.e., without a foreskin), the ceremony of "shedding the blood of the covenant" (hattafat dam berit) must be performed on the eighth day, provided it is a weekday and the child is fit (263:4).
Ezekiel is full of contempt for the uncircumcised heathen whose fate he foretells (Ezek. In Hellenistic times, Jews encountered the mockery of Gentiles who believed circumcision to be an unnecessary and unseemly mutilation and circumcision was widely neglected (Jubilees –34).
In the time of the Prophets, the term "uncircumcised" was applied allegorically to the rebellious heart or to the obdurate ear (Ezek. ) and the fact that the same word and the related orlah ("foreskin") are also used to describe a certain kind of taboo (ibid.) has resulted in the infelicitous translation of many biblical passages.The first definite prohibition against circumcision was enacted under Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. Many mothers who had their sons circumcised suffered martyrdom. ) that two women who had circumcised their children were led round the city with their infants bound to their breasts and then cast headlong from the wall.Conversely, with the victory of the Hasmoneans and the extension of the frontiers, John Hyrcanus forced the conquered Idumeans to undergo circumcision (Jos., Ant., 7f., 318). Hyrcanus required both circumcision and ritual immersion for the admission of a proselyte, while R.; ; for alternative translations see the translation of the Torah (1962) to Leviticus and Deuteronomy and 30:6).Such passages as the foregoing, however, do not warrant a purely spiritual interpretation of the commandment which would make the actual physical circumcision superfluous.