When I was about 15 I watched a funny satyrical twist on Robin Hood called “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” by Mel Brooks a famous Jewish writer and comedian. As in most of his movies Mel Brooks had a cameo appearance, this time playing the roll of “Rabbi Tuckman” replacing the well-known role of Friar Tuck. In his role Rabbi Tuck came around peddling circumcision to Robin Hood and his merry men (in tights). The result led to another hilarious decent into Mel Brooks hilarity that you can read here. The scene certainly would leave most wondering, “what was God thinking when he came up with the covenant sign of circumcision?”
Circumcision may or may not have had religious or hygiene significance before the time of the Covenant with Abraham, but neither past religions significance or hygiene are the significance here.
Circumcision has to do with a uniting of the spiritual and the physical. In other words, what is said must also be done. Circumcision was dramatic, but it created a radical sense of belonging. “Circumcision announces that Israelites belong only to this community and only to this God.” Circumcision is weighty, it represents a radical committed faith. Furthermore, it speaks to something deeper. Throughout scripture, and culminating in Romans 2:29, we see that Circumcision is more than just the outward, it deals with the inward. The phrase ‘circumcision of the heart’ speaks to a deeper connection then just a physical sign. It represents a “yielding [of] affections and will to [God].”
Quotes from Walter Bruggemann’s Interpretation commentary on Genesis, page 155.