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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9239
Philo Of Alexandria, On The Special Laws, 1.2-1.3


nanThe ordinance of circumcision of the parts of generation is ridiculed, though it is an act which is practised to no slight degree among other nations also, and most especially by the Egyptians, who appear to me to be the most populous of all nations, and the most abounding in all kinds of wisdom.


nanIn consequence of which it would be most fitting for men to discard childish ridicule, and to investigate the real causes of the ordinance with more prudence and dignity, considering the reasons why the custom has prevailed, and not being precipitate, so as without examination to condemn the folly of mighty nations, recollecting that it is not probable that so many myriads should be circumcised in every generation, mutilating the bodies of themselves and of their nearest relations, in a manner which is accompanied with severe pain, without adequate cause; but that there are many reasons which might encourage men to persevere and continue a custom which has been introduced by previous generations, and that these are from reasons of the greatest weight and importance.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

24 results
1. Horace, Sermones, 1.9.70 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Philo of Alexandria, On The Preliminary Studies, 84-85, 83 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

83. These things, now, being previously sketched out in this manner, we must become aware that Egypt is the symbol of the passions and the land of the Canaanites, the emblem of the wickednesses; so that it is in strict accordance with natural probability that God, after having roused his people and made them depart from Egypt, leads them into the country of the Canaanites;
3. Philo of Alexandria, On The Decalogue, 77-80, 76 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Philo of Alexandria, On Flight And Finding, 180 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

180. for what the heaven during winter bestows on the other countries, the Nile affords to Egypt at the height of summer; for the heaven sends rain from above upon the earth, but the river, raining upward from below, which seems a most paradoxical statement, irrigates the corn-fields. And it is starting from this point that Moses has described the Egyptian disposition as an atheistical one, because it values the earth above the heaven, and the things of the earth above the things of heaven, and the body above the soul;
5. Philo of Alexandria, On The Migration of Abraham, 144, 143 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

143. This is the end of the path of those who follow the arguments and injunctions contained in the law, and who walk in the way which God leads them in; but he who falls short of this, on account of his hunger after pleasure and his greediness for the indulgence of his passions, by name Amalek; for the interpretation of the name Amalek is, "the people that licks up" shall be cut off.
6. Philo of Alexandria, On The Change of Names, 16, 118 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

118. for the outward senses, being on the confines between the objects of the intellect and those of the outward senses, we must be content if they aim at both of them, and are not allured by the objects of the outward sense alone. And to think that they are inclined only to attend to the things which are purely objects of the intellect is great folly; on which account they give him both these names, since when they call him a man, they indicate the things which are within the province of reason alone to contemplate, and when they call him an Egyptian, they indicate the objects of the external senses.
7. Philo of Alexandria, On The Posterity of Cain, 2, 177 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

177. On which account Moses has separated his impious and obscure progeny from the whole of the divine company; for he says, "The Ammonites and the Moabites shall not come into the assembly of the Lord:" and these are the descendants of the daughters of Lot, supposing that everything is generated of the outward sense and of mind, being male and female like a father and mother, and looking upon this as in real truth the cause of all generation:
8. Philo of Alexandria, On The Special Laws, 1.1, 1.3, 1.6-1.9, 1.79, 2.150, 2.188-2.192 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.1. The genera and heads of all special laws, which are called "the ten commandments," have been discussed with accuracy in the former treatise. We must now proceed to consider the particular commands as we read them in the subsequent passages of the holy scriptures; and we will begin with that which is turned into ridicule by people in general. 1.3. In consequence of which it would be most fitting for men to discard childish ridicule, and to investigate the real causes of the ordice with more prudence and dignity, considering the reasons why the custom has prevailed, and not being precipitate, so as without examination to condemn the folly of mighty nations, recollecting that it is not probable that so many myriads should be circumcised in every generation, mutilating the bodies of themselves and of their nearest relations, in a manner which is accompanied with severe pain, without adequate cause; but that there are many reasons which might encourage men to persevere and continue a custom which has been introduced by previous generations, and that these are from reasons of the greatest weight and importance. 1.6. Thirdly, there is the resemblance of the part that is circumcised to the heart; for both parts are prepared for the sake of generation; for the breath contained within the heart is generative of thoughts, and the generative organ itself is productive of living beings. Therefore, the men of old thought it right to make the evident and visible organ, by which the objects of the outward senses are generated, resemble that invisible and superior part, by means of which ideas are formed. 1.7. The fourth, and most important, is that which relates to the provision thus made for prolificness; for it is said that the seminal fluid proceeds in its path easily, neither being at all scattered, nor flowing on its passage into what may be called the bags of the prepuce. On which account those nations which practise circumcision are the most prolific and the most populous.II. 1.8. These considerations have come to our ears, having been discussed of old among men of divine spirit and wisdom, who have interpreted the writings of Moses in no superficial or careless manner. But, besides what has been already said, I also look upon circumcision to be a symbol of two things of the most indispensable importance. 1.9. First of all, it is a symbol of the excision of the pleasures which delude the mind; for since, of all the delights which pleasure can afford, the association of man with woman is the most exquisite, it seemed good to the lawgivers to mutilate the organ which ministers to such connections; by which rite they signified figuratively the excision of all superfluous and excessive pleasure, not, indeed, of one only, but of all others whatever, though that one which is the most imperious of all. 1.79. Now there are twelve tribes of the nation, and one of them having been selected from the others for its excellence has received the priesthood, receiving this honour as a reward for its virtue, and fidelity, and its devout soul, which it displayed when the multitude appeared to be running into sin, following the foolish choices of some persons who persuaded their countrymen to imitate the vanity of the Egyptians, and the pride of the nations of the land, who had invented fables about irrational animals, and especially about bulls, making gods of them. For this tribe did of its own accord go forth and slay all the leaders of this apostacy from the youth upwards, in which they appeared to have done a holy action, encountering thus a contest and a labour for the sake of piety.XVI. 2.150. And there is another festival combined with the feast of the passover, having a use of food different from the usual one, and not customary; the use, namely, of unleavened bread, from which it derives its name. And there are two accounts given of this festival, the one peculiar to the nation, on account of the migration already described; the other a common one, in accordance with conformity to nature and with the harmony of the whole world. And we must consider how accurate the hypothesis is. This month, being the seventh both in number and order, according to the revolutions of the sun, is the first in power; 2.188. Immediately after comes the festival of the sacred moon; in which it is the custom to play the trumpet in the temple at the same moment that the sacrifices are offered. From which practice this is called the true feast of trumpets, and there are two reasons for it, one peculiar to the nation, and the other common to all mankind. Peculiar to the nation, as being a commemoration of that most marvellous, wonderful, and miraculous event that took place when the holy oracles of the law were given; 2.189. for then the voice of a trumpet sounded from heaven, which it is natural to suppose reached to the very extremities of the universe, so that so wondrous a sound attracted all who were present, making them consider, as it is probable, that such mighty events were signs betokening some great things to be accomplished. 2.190. And what more great or more beneficial thing could come to men than laws affecting the whole race? And what was common to all mankind was this: the trumpet is the instrument of war, sounding both when commanding the charge and the retreat. ... There is also another kind of war, ordained of God, when nature is at variance with itself, its different parts attacking one another. 2.191. And by both these kinds of war the things on earth are injured. They are injured by the enemies, by the cutting down of trees, and by conflagrations; and also by natural injuries, such as droughts, heavy rains, lightning from heaven, snow and cold; the usual harmony of the seasons of the year being transformed into a want of all concord. 2.192. On this account it is that the law has given this festival the name of a warlike instrument, in order to show the proper gratitude to God as the giver of peace, who has abolished all seditions in cities, and in all parts of the universe, and has produced plenty and prosperity, not allowing a single spark that could tend to the destruction of the crops to be kindled into flame.THE NINTH FESTIVALXXXII.
9. Philo of Alexandria, On The Contemplative Life, 8-9, 78 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

78. And these explanations of the sacred scriptures are delivered by mystic expressions in allegories, for the whole of the law appears to these men to resemble a living animal, and its express commandments seem to be the body, and the invisible meaning concealed under and lying beneath the plain words resembles the soul, in which the rational soul begins most excellently to contemplate what belongs to itself, as in a mirror, beholding in these very words the exceeding beauty of the sentiments, and unfolding and explaining the symbols, and bringing the secret meaning naked to the light to all who are able by the light of a slight intimation to perceive what is unseen by what is visible.
10. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Moses, 1.23-1.24, 2.44, 2.161-2.162, 2.193-2.194, 2.270 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.23. Accordingly he speedily learnt arithmetic, and geometry, and the whole science of rhythm and harmony and metre, and the whole of music, by means of the use of musical instruments, and by lectures on the different arts, and by explanations of each topic; and lessons on these subjects were given him by Egyptian philosophers, who also taught him the philosophy which is contained in symbols, which they exhibit in those sacred characters of hieroglyphics, as they are called, and also that philosophy which is conversant about that respect which they pay to animals which they invest with the honours due to God. And all the other branches of the encyclical education he learnt from Greeks; and the philosophers from the adjacent countries taught him Assyrian literature and the knowledge of the heavenly bodies so much studied by the Chaldaeans. 1.24. And this knowledge he derived also from the Egyptians, who study mathematics above all things, and he learnt with great accuracy the state of that art among both the Chaldaeans and Egyptians, making himself acquainted with the points in which they agree with and differ from each other--making himself master of all their disputes without encouraging any disputatious disposition in himself--but seeking the plain truth, since his mind was unable to admit any falsehood, as those are accustomed to do who contend violently for one particular side of a question; and who advocate any doctrine which is set before them, whatever it may be, not inquiring whether it deserves to be supported, but acting in the same manner as those lawyers who defend a cause for pay, and are wholly indifferent to the justice of their cause. 2.44. and then, if they make any fresh start and begin to improve, how great is the increase of their renown and glory? I think that in that case every nation, abandoning all their own individual customs, and utterly disregarding their national laws, would change and come over to the honour of such a people only; for their laws shining in connection with, and simultaneously with, the prosperity of the nation, will obscure all others, just as the rising sun obscures the stars. 2.161. When Moses had gone up into the neighbouring mountain and had remained several days alone with God, the fickle-minded among the people, thinking that his absence was a favourable opportunity, as if they had no longer any ruler at all, rushed unrestrainedly to impiety, and, forgetting the holiness of the living God, became eager imitators of the Egyptian inventions. 2.162. Then, having made a golden calf in imitation of that which appeared to be the most sacred animal in that district, they offered up unholy sacrifices, and instituted blasphemous dances, and sang hymns which differed in no respect from dirges, and, being filled with strong wine, gave themselves up to a twofold intoxication, the intoxication of wine and that of folly, revelling and devoting the night to feasting, and, having no foresight as to the future, they spent their time in pleasant sins, though justice had her eye upon them, who saw them while they would not see, and decided what punishments they deserved. 2.193. A certain man, illegitimately born of two unequal parents, namely, an Egyptian father and a Jewish mother, and who disregarded the national and hereditary customs which he had learnt from her, as it is reported, inclined to the Egyptian impiety, being seized with admiration for the ungodly practices of the men of that nation; 2.194. for the Egyptians, almost alone of all men, set up the earth as a rival of the heaven considering the former as entitled to honours equal with those of the gods, and giving the latter no especial honour, just as if it were proper to pay respect to the extremities of a country rather than to the king's palace. For in the world the heaven is the most holy temple, and the further extremity is the earth; though this too is in itself worthy of being regarded with honour; but if it is brought into comparison with the air, is as far inferior to it as light is to darkness, or night to day, or corruption to immortality, or a mortal to God. 2.270. Such then are the predictions which he delivered, under the influence of inspiration, respecting the food which came down from heaven; but he also delivered others in succession of great necessity, though they appeared to resemble recommendations rather than actual oracles; one of which is that prediction, which he delivered respecting their greatest abandonment of their national customs, of which I have already spoken, when they made a golden calf in imitation of the Egyptian worship and folly, and established dances and prepared an altar, and offered up sacrifices, forgetful of the true God and discarding the noble disposition of their ancestors, which had been increased by piety and holiness
11. Philo of Alexandria, Against Flaccus, 29, 17 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

17. But when a magistrate begins to despair of his power of exerting authority, it follows inevitably, that his subjects must quickly become disobedient, especially those who are naturally, at every trivial or common occurrence, inclined to show insubordination, and, among people of such a disposition, the Egyptian nation is pre-eminent, being constantly in the habit of exciting great seditions from very small sparks.
12. Philo of Alexandria, On The Embassy To Gaius, 163, 205, 120 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

120. And the mixed and promiscuous multitude of the Alexandrians perceiving this, attacked us, looking upon it as a most favourable opportunity for doing so, and displayed all the arrogance which had been smouldering for a long period, disturbing everything, and causing universal confusion
13. Philo of Alexandria, Allegorical Interpretation, 3.228, 3.232-3.234, 3.236-3.242 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

14. Juvenal, Satires, 6.159-6.160, 14.98-14.99 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

15. Martial, Epigrams, 7.30.5, 7.82, 11.94 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

16. Martial, Epigrams, 7.30.5, 7.82, 11.94 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

17. New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 7.18-7.19 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

7.18. Was anyone called having been circumcised? Let him not becomeuncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not becircumcised. 7.19. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision isnothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
18. New Testament, Colossians, 2.11-2.13, 3.11, 4.11 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.11. in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; 2.12. having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 2.13. You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; 3.11. where there can't be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all. 4.11. and Jesus who is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These are my only fellow workers for the Kingdom of God, men who have been a comfort to me.
19. New Testament, Galatians, 2.7-2.9, 2.12, 5.6, 6.12-6.15 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.7. but to the contrary, when they saw that Ihad been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcision, even asPeter with the gospel for the circumcision 2.8. (for he who appointedPeter to the apostleship of the circumcision appointed me also to theGentiles); 2.9. and when they perceived the grace that was given tome, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars,gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should goto the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision. 2.12. For before some people came fromJames, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he drew back andseparated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 5.6. For in Christ Jesusneither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but faithworking through love. 6.12. As many as desire to look good in the flesh, they compel you tobe circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross ofChrist. 6.13. For even they who receive circumcision don't keep thelaw themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they mayboast in your flesh. 6.14. But far be it from me to boast, except inthe cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has beencrucified to me, and I to the world. 6.15. For in Christ Jesus neitheris circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
20. New Testament, Romans, 4.9, 15.8-15.9 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

4.9. Is this blessing then pronounced on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 15.8. Now I say that Christ has been made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers 15.9. and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles, And sing to your name.
21. Petronius Arbiter, Satyricon, 68.8 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

22. Petronius Arbiter, Satyricon, 68.8 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

23. Plutarch, Table Talk, 4.5 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

24. Tacitus, Histories, 5.5.2 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
alexandria/alexandrians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
allegorical interpretation Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
ammonites Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
amorites Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
anti-semitism, tacitus and Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
authority, scripture Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
barbarians/barbarity, praise accorded to Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
canaan/canaanites Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
chaldea/chaldeans Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
circumcision, jews and Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
customs, jewish Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
customs/traditions/practices as identity markers, among egyptians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
divine, torah/law Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
egypt Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
egyptians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
ethnos/ethne, as gentiles Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
ethnos/ethne, in paul Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
gentiles, and paul Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
gentiles, as contrast with jews Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
greeks/hellenes, and jews Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
hellenistic, interpretation Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
interpretation Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
jews/judeans/ioudaioi, and circumcision Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
jews/judeans/ioudaioi, and non-jews in paul Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
jews/judeans/ioudaioi, in alexandria Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
law, mosaic (law of moses) Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
law, natural Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
law, universal Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
law, unwritten' Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
martial Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
moses Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
paideia/greek education Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
paul Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
peter Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
petronius Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158; Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
philo of alexandria, law of moses Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
rome and romans, and jewish customs Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
scripture Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
tacitus, histories Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
tacitus, on the jews Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
temple in jerusalem, destruction of Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (2011) 184
virtue Najman, The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (2010) 104
worship/ritual/cult as identity markers, for egyptians Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158
worship/ritual/cult as identity markers, for jews in paul Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 195
worship/ritual/cult as identity markers, for jews in philo Gruen, Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter (2020) 158