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Pronunciation:  `surkum'sizhun

WordNet Dictionary
  1. [n]  the act of circumcising; surgical removal of the foreskin of males
  2. [n]  the act of circumcising performed on males eight days after birth as a Jewish and Muslim religious rite
  3. [n]  (Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church) a feast day celebrating the circumcision of Jesus; celebrated on January 1st
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 Synonyms: Feast of the Circumcision, January 1
 See Also: abscission, Berit, Berith, Bris, Briss, Brith, cutting off, feast day, fete day, religious rite, rite



Webster's 1913 Dictionary
\Cir`cum*cision\, n. [L. circumcisio.]
1. The act of cutting off the prepuce or foreskin of males,
   or the internal labia of females.

Note: The circumcision of males is practiced as a religious
      rite by the Jews, Mohammedans, etc.

2. (Script.)
   (a) The Jews, as a circumcised people.
   (b) Rejection of the sins of the flesh; spiritual
       purification, and acceptance of the Christian faith.

Medical Dictionary
 Definition: Removal of the foreskin from the penis.
Easton Bible Dictionary

cutting around. This rite, practised before, as some think, by divers races, was appointed by God to be the special badge of his chosen people, an abiding sign of their consecration to him. It was established as a national ordinance (Gen. 17:10, 11). In compliance with the divine command, Abraham, though ninety-nine years of age, was circumcised on the same day with Ishmael, who was thirteen years old (17:24-27). Slaves, whether home-born or purchased, were circumcised (17:12, 13); and all foreigners must have their males circumcised before they could enjoy the privileges of Jewish citizenship (Ex. 12:48). During the journey through the wilderness, the practice of circumcision fell into disuse, but was resumed by the command of Joshua before they entered the Promised Land (Josh. 5:2-9). It was observed always afterwards among the tribes of israel, although it is not expressly mentioned from the time of the settlement in Canaan till the time of Christ, about 1,450 years. The Jews prided themselves in the possession of this covenant distinction (Judg. 14:3; 15:18; 1 Sam. 14:6; 17:26; 2 Sam. 1:20; Ezek. 31:18).

As a rite of the church it ceased when the New Testament times began (Gal. 6:15; Col. 3:11). Some Jewish Christians sought to impose it, however, on the Gentile converts; but this the apostles resolutely resisted (Acts 15:1; Gal. 6:12). Our Lord was circumcised, for it "became him to fulfil all righteousness," as of the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh; and Paul "took and circumcised" Timothy (Acts 16:3), to avoid giving offence to the Jews. It would render Timothy's labours more acceptable to the Jews. But Paul would by no means consent to the demand that Titus should be circumcised (Gal. 2:3-5). The great point for which he contended was the free admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the church. He contended successfully in behalf of Titus, even in Jerusalem.

In the Old Testament a spiritual idea is attached to circumcision. It was the symbol of purity (Isa. 52:1). We read of uncircumcised lips (Ex. 6:12, 30), ears (Jer. 6:10), hearts (Lev. 26:41). The fruit of a tree that is unclean is spoken of as uncircumcised (Lev. 19:23).

It was a sign and seal of the covenant of grace as well as of the national covenant between God and the Hebrews. (1.) It sealed the promises made to Abraham, which related to the commonwealth of Israel, national promises. (2.) But the promises made to Abraham included the promise of redemption (Gal. 3:14), a promise which has come upon us. The covenant with Abraham was a dispensation or a specific form of the covenant of grace, and circumcision was a sign and seal of that covenant. It had a spiritual meaning. It signified purification of the heart, inward circumcision effected by the Spirit (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Ezek. 44:7; Acts 7:51; Rom. 2:28; Col. 2:11). Circumcision as a symbol shadowing forth sanctification by the Holy Spirit has now given way to the symbol of baptism (q.v.). But the truth embodied in both ordinances is ever the same, the removal of sin, the sanctifying effects of grace in the heart.

Under the Jewish dispensation, church and state were identical. No one could be a member of the one without also being a member of the other. Circumcision was a sign and seal of membership in both. Every circumcised person bore thereby evidence that he was one of the chosen people, a member of the church of God as it then existed, and consequently also a member of the Jewish commonwealth.

Thesaurus Terms
 Related Terms: adoption, agape, asperges, aspersion, auricular confession, bar mitzvah, bas mitzvah, celebration, confession, confirmation, conversion, high celebration, incense, invocation, invocation of saints, kiss of peace, lesser litany, litany, love feast, lustration, new birth, new life, pax, processional, rebirth, reciting the rosary, redeemedness, redemption, reformation, regeneration, salvation, second birth, spiritual purification, telling of beads, the confessional, the confessionary