Ep. 10: Circumcision, Power, and Violence in Genesis 17

Who gets to put (which) skin in the game, and why does it matter?

Partial transcript:

Hello and Welcome to Worst Church Ever, the progressive Christian podcast that grew up down the block from Wayside School.  We like our stories sideways and our Biblical theology…subversive. 

In the last episode, we talked about Sarah’s treatment of Hagar in Chapter 16 as Sarah’s way of reproducing her own trauma.  Trafficked by her husband in the court of Pharaoh, Sarah now traffics her Egyptian slave in Abraham’s tent. We said that it’s hard to see the patriarch and matriarch as anything but villains in this story, and we ended with Hagar’s exaltation of El Roi, the God who she saw in the wilderness, and, perhaps more importantly, the God who saw her.

We pick up today with Chapter 17, which again finds God (Yahweh) making a covenant with Abram/Abraham:  

“ When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”
9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. 13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Listen to episode 10 for the rest of the story!