One bulwark against disease was circumcision, or the removal of the foreskin from the male sexual organ. The command to practice circumcision (Genesis 17) was far from a barbaric practice inflicted on babies'or grown men. In fact it shows God's wisdom and protection for his people.
The procedure was to be carried out on the eighth day. (That in itself is noteworthy, as the clotting factor is more present in a baby eight days old than in one seven days old'or nine days old!) The Israelites were not the only ones who practiced circumcision. The Egyptians followed the practice, for example, while the Philistines were notorious for rejecting it. Although obviously improved hygiene in our society, more frequent bathing, and better medical care have made the need of circumcision less urgent (and this has been pointed out recently in the medical literature), there are still several advantages to circumcision. Among them are reduced rates of infection. Further, while it is true that penile cancer is rare these days among all men, circumcised or not, it is a fact that it is virtually unknown among the circumcised.
As with the kosher laws, circumcision was more than a medical or hygienic blessing. It served to separate the people of God from the surrounding nations. And while Christians today are not obligated to follow the Old Testament practice'well, it wouldn't hurt! (Medically, that is.)
As we are seeing in our examination of the Bible and its medical wisdom, an all-wise God made available to his people a medical wisdom that far transcended anything available in their day. He was well able, indeed, to protect them from disease (Deuteronomy 28).
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