I Can’t be Circumcised

Does that mean I don’t have a covenant?

Is it possible for a single and/or divorced woman [who identifies as Gentile] to enter into a covenant relationship with God, and if so, how? Due to the female anatomy, I can not be circumcised. This is something I’ve wondered about for years. Is there a verse that covers this question [that I have overlooked]? I currently use the New International Version Study Bible. Thank you.

Catherine M.

Dear Catherine,

We wish we could allay the concerns of everyone who writes to us as completely as we can yours. The Hebrew word for a covenant, ברית – BRiT (sometimes pronounced as BRiS), appears many times in the Five Books of Moses. Genesis itself contains over two dozen instances of the word. After the Flood, it is used to refer to a covenant between God and all mankind (Genesis 9). It describes a covenant between God and Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 15:18, Genesis 17), and it is also used to quantify certain relationships between men (Genesis 14:13 and 21:27). In other words, there are many different types of covenants.

The physical circumcision that ideally takes place on the eighth day of a Jewish baby boy’s life is called a BRiT MiLaH, or the covenant of circumcision. However, as important as that is, it is only one type of a BRiT and, as you say, it is specific to males. A Jewish boy whose parents neglect to “bring him into this covenant” has the obligation, when he is grown, to remedy that situation. However, until he does so, he is still Jewish and other covenants can still apply to him.

Worrying about not being able to have a covenant with God because you aren’t circumcised is as unnecessary as worrying about manufacturers of freckle-removing lotion not marketing to you because you don’t have freckles. You don’t need it.

Celebrate the day,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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