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(528 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
The term “Hasidism” (from Heb. ḥāsı̂d, “devout, pious”) is a general one for various popular movements in Judaism that historically bore no relation to one another. 1. There was first the “assembly of the devout” (synagogē asidaiōn), which came on the scene at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt (1 Macc. 2:42) and was distinguished for strict adherence to the Torah (vv. 29–38). It is conjectured that the Essenes (Qumran) and Pharisees had their roots here. 2. There was then Ashkenazic Hasidism, in Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries. Perhaps influenced by the …


(553 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
The practice of circumcision, or the cutting off of the foreskin, was not confined to Israel and Judaism but was common among other peoples (e.g., in Egypt; see Jer. 9:25–26). It probably arose in prehistoric times as an apotropaic act and was originally performed shortly before puberty (see Gen. 17:25). The OT refers also to the circumcision of adults (Josh. 5:2–9; Gen. 34:13–26). Only in P is circumcision made mandatory on the eighth day after birth. It thus acquires wide-ranging theological significance as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:10–14). In early Judaism circumcision was…