01a. B'rit Milah (Part A)

01a. B'rit Milah (Part A)

1. B’rit Milah

The Torah says in Genesis chapter 12, verses 1-3,

Now ADONAI said to Avram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

The opening monologue from HaShem (God), containing both directives and promises, is packed with some very important facts that affect every man, woman, and child who will be born from here on out!  To be sure, it still affects everyone today!

Later on in Genesis chapter 17 we find God instructing Avraham (Abraham) concerning circumcision.  Amazing that God would select that part of the body to demonstrate a most wonderful spiritual truth to both Avraham and the entire world!  Equally amazing to me is that even at such an old age, Avraham did not question God’s reasons behind this somewhat strange covenantal sign!  However, important by way of theology and chronology is the fact that Avraham was pronounced as being “righteous” in B'resheet chapter 15.  Sha'ul makes no small mention of the Genesis 15 incident in his letters,

For what does the Tanakh say? "Avraham put his trust in God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness (Romans 4:3).

Given its location within Paul’s arguments, both from Romans and Galatians, it is clear that the phrase is referring to imputed righteousness, that is, positional (forensic) right standing with HaShem.  For Paul, it is axiomatic that Moshe describes this quality chronologically before Avraham receives the covenant of circumcision in B'resheet chapter 17.  This bespeaks of the correct order in which to appropriate the covenant responsibilities of God.  On the micro, saving faith in God, symbolized by God accrediting his account as righteous (Hebrew: tz’dakah), precedes the patriarch’s obedience to the sign of circumcision.  On the macro, the covenant of Avraham precedes the covenant with Moshe.[1]

Thinking from a 21st century Western mindset, one might presume that since God declared him righteous already, any added covenantal sign might prove to be superfluous.  Avraham—and apparently God—thought otherwise.


[1] Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy, Excursus - Genesis 15: Credited to Him as Righteousness (Tetze Torah Ministries, 2006), p. 1.

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