MIchel Hervé Bertaux-Navoiseau
Chercheur en psychanayse, spécialiste des mutilations sexuelles
Abonné·e de Mediapart

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Billet de blog 28 mai 2021

MIchel Hervé Bertaux-Navoiseau
Chercheur en psychanayse, spécialiste des mutilations sexuelles
Abonné·e de Mediapart

"Thou shalt not circumcise.", the hidden meaning of the Second Commandment

Agoravox published this article. Its exegetic finding was published by the British medical journal and, was the subject of a lecture at the eighth Symposium of NOCIRC in Keele University (UK). Twelve years later, a new exegetic finding confirmed it. Finally, the Dead Sea scrolls and the Septuagint bring the proof of a material falsification to the intellectual falsification we expose.

MIchel Hervé Bertaux-Navoiseau
Chercheur en psychanayse, spécialiste des mutilations sexuelles
Abonné·e de Mediapart

Ce blog est personnel, la rédaction n’est pas à l’origine de ses contenus.

Professor Römer, the tenant of the chair “Biblical circles” in the Collège de France, the highest academic institution in France, commented our finding:

“..., you are right asserting that Gn 17 displays another view of circumcision than Gn 15 or the Book of Deuteronomy. The ‘lay’ writers were seemingly less interested in that practice and even opposed to it. The expression ‘circumcision of the heart’ might even contain a polemic stance against ‘circumcision of the flesh.’”1

I - The great proof of the identity of Abraham and Akhenaten,

the Second Commandment resumes word for word

Akhenaten’s revolution: monotheism,

banning idols, images, and sexual mutilation

“Feminine and masculine sexual mutilation, the greatest crime against humanity.”

- “That is very true!” Alain de Mijolla (psychoanalyst)

“If Moses was an Egyptian, if he transmitted his religion to the Jews, it was that of Akhenaten...” Freud1

Let us review the revolution of Akhenaten. For Egyptology, it consisted of monotheism of the sun and forbidding idols and images. But its greatest revolution was that of his coronation name: Neferkheperure: “The creation of Re is perfect”, an idea confirmed by this excerpt of the Great hymn to Aten:

“Your hand formed the beings of the earth as you wanted them.”

Both affirmations indicate that the third part of Akhenaten’s revolution was the abolition of sexual mutilation. We are going to see that Moses fully resumes that revolution in the Second Commandment.

Moses was a saintly man. Deeply religious like Akhenaten, he carved the ideas of the latter into the stone of the Ten Commandments. Like Akhenaten, he was a pacifist; he preferred walking in the desert for forty years to invading Palestine and wrote:

“You will love the foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10: 19 

“Our journey… had lasted 38 years. At that time, the whole warlike generation had disappeared…” Deuteronomy 2: 14

“The one who has crushed or mutilated genitals will not be admitted in the assembly of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 23: 2

It was the generation of the polytheist circumcised. Those verses show that Moses particularly hated circumcision because of its psychosociological outcomes. Educated by the coup against Akhenaten related by Genesis 17 and the worshipping the golden calf, he does not trust the circumcised and refuses the right to take part in assemblies to them.

Rumour has it: the Law of Moses would include circumcision. Some apocryphal verses of the Books of Exodus and Leviticus found it. The Gospels, the Book of the Mormons, Freud in the first two chapters of Moses and monotheism, and Roudinesco (30.4.1993 Libération and preface to the book by Carlo Bonomi, accomplice thus (Sulla soglia della psychoanalisi, Freud i la follia infantile)), peddle it. But the contrary is a historical fact (cf. Joshua 5: 2-9). The recall of the forced circumcision of his son (cf. Exodus 4: 24-26) was keenly present in the mind of the author of the Ten Commandments. A humiliated father, wounded in the flesh of his flesh and his dignity, solemnly pronounced the first historic declaration of human duties and rights, of universal value, the basis of elementary ethics and legal systems of all democracies(*), in front of the people. The fourth Covenant respects the human body: “Do not commit homicide.” We shall see that the Second Commandment (Exodus 20: 3-6) abolishes the submission of the human person by the terror of the commandment imposed on Abraham. That commandment is the archaeological and Biblical proof that Moses was a follower of Akhenaten. Indeed, like him, it begins with forbidding polytheism and its cult of idols and images:

Illustration 1

The god Amun-Min (Louvre Museum)

“You shall have no other God than I. You shall not make yourself idols or whatever image of what is above in the sky or down on the earth, or in the waters under the earth…” Exodus 20: 3-4

That prescription includes the idolatry of the phallus and its complement: sexual mutilation. The expression of a cult of the male phallus joined to the destruction of the feminine one, it modifies, “down on the earth”, “the image” of the human body.

Verse 5 goes much further:

“You will not bow down in front of them, you will not adore them; for I, the Eternal, your God, I am a jealous God, who prosecute the crime of fathers upon (against) children up to the third and fourth (ascending) generations...”

The conjunction “for”, is crucial; it indicates that “the crime of fathers” violates the ban of idols and images. In Egyptian culture, which the Hebrews had just left, the “crime of fathers upon children” that modifies the image of “what is down on the earth”, and which God affirms being jealous of, can only be sexual mutilation. Thinking that there could not be any doubt upon its meaning, Moses used that periphrasis to emphasize that sexual mutilation is a crime. The God of Moses is not only jealous of other Gods and their representations; he is also jealous of all alteration of the human body that he created. He forbids the human sacrifice perpetrated upon the body of children, a bloody homage to polytheism, to the archaic, telluric divinities of fertility and procreation.

The Book of Deuteronomy does not order circumcision. It confirms:

“Observe everything I lay down for you, without adding anything to it...” 13: 1

But the religious back upon Exodus 34, the apocryphal nature of which is obvious since it rewrites verse 20: 5 denaturing it (cf. III) to disregard both the order of terms and the accurate wording to interpret it as if it said “... who prosecute upon children” either “the crime of the father or the crimes of fathers” and thus condemned common criminality. That is absurd:

- Firstly, because if the sentence had that meaning, it would have one of those two wordings,

Secondly, so interpreted, the jealousy of that God would be very limited, it should apply to the crimes of mothers, brothers and sisters, and the crimes of children also should rebound on parents and grandparents,

- Thirdly, the Sixth Commandment (“Do not commit homicide.”) already condemns ordinary crime,

- Fourthly, one does not punish children of criminals. It would be aberrant that a divine command would institute familial responsibility. It would give the word jealous the immoderate meaning of suspicious enough to be unjust. Only paranoid conservatives may have devised such an idea, challenged by the prophet Ezekiel:

“... the son will not bear the fault of the father, nor the father the fault of the son...” 18: 20

- Fifthly, the Rabbis ignore verse 20: 22, a little further, which affirms that iron desecrates even stone:

“If... you build a stone altar for me, do not build it with carved stones for by touching them with iron, you made them lay.”

Iron would profane stone but not the human body?! Moses says, in an imaged way, that the excision of the foreskin is a profanation, a blasphemy against the work of the creator. Denuding the glans is a barbarity of the Egyptians.

- Sixthly, the contradiction between both classical Hebrew versions of the Second Commandment (Exodus 20: 5 and Deuteronomy 5: 9) and their translation present a problem that the Dead Sea scrolls and Ptolemy Bible solve.

In the Hebrew texts, there is a small but important difference that is rubbed out in the translations. Let us examine the debatable terms in the text given by the French Rabbinate (sefarim.fr):

- Exodus 20: 5:עֲו‍ֹן אָבֹת עַל בָּנִים עַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים

(עֲוֹן) the crime (אָבֹת) of fathers (עַל) upon (בָּנִים) children (עַל) upon (or up to) (שִׁלֵּשִׁים) the third generation (וְעַל) (וְ means “and”) and upon (or up to) (רִבֵּעִים) the fourth generation

- Deuteronomy 5: 9:עֲו‍ֹן אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְעַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים

(עֲוֹן) the crime (אָבֹת) of fathers (עַל) upon (בָּנִים) children (וְעַל) and upon (or up to) (שִׁלֵּשִׁים) the third generation (וְעַל) (וְ means “and”) and upon (or up to) (רִבֵּעִים) the fourth generation

The difference lies in the term “and” added, in the Book of Deuteronomy, between “children” and “third generation”.

On the one hand, a change in the text of the Second Commandment has something aberrant, on the other hand, that apocryphal addition is a very awkward falsification.

Indeed, no mention is made of the second generation, which assumes that children are the second and fathers the first. That is absurd; children are the first generation in all languages. Aware of that absurdity, the French Rabbinate’s translation crosses the terms “upon children” out. It does not respect the sacred text.

Then and above all, that “and” makes believe that the crime is indefinitely prosecuted upon descending generations. It forbids considering that “the crime of fathers upon children” is a circumlocution designating sexual mutilation. It could have been added at the time of the discovery of the manuscript in the temple of Solomon at the return of Babylon, whereas circumcision had to be reinstated (it had been abandoned to make believe that the Jews had nothing to do with the Egyptians, like the other peoples of Palestine).

The version of Exodus 20: 5 too does not mention the second generation. That is logical if one considers generations in the ascending sense. The second is not mentioned because the matter is the fathers whose crime is in question.

The Dead Sea scrolls and the Ptolemy Bible (cf. the Hebrew-French Bible of Louis Segond) bring us a definitive proof of the falsification. Their version of Deuteronomy 5: 92 does not add “and” between “children” and “upon the third generation”. How not to think that the classical version has been falsified in the sense of supporters of circumcision?

Finally, several implausibilities of the orthodox interpretation suggest that it is inexact:

- the Second Commandment comes right after the first because it illustrates it; a mass paedo-sexual criminality offends God in a particularly reprehensible way. Stigmatizing sexual mutilation as crime against creation, it punishes it without limitation, looking for the culprits in all surviving generations of fathers. It is unclear why a God furious enough with common criminality to punish children of criminals would precisely stop at the fourth descending generation. But the other way round, the punishment naturally stops at great-grandfathers. To repress the greatest and most trivialized crime against humanity, the legislator of genius invented the notion of non-applicability of statutory limitations, three millennia before Nuremberg,

- God can only be jealous of his creation; man may not alter without usurping his place. “You shall have no other God than I.” implies: “You shall not set yourself up as a God through altering my creation.”,

- God does not discriminate against the sexes; he cannot have excluded women by requiring a sign of Covenant from men only,

- Abraham also circumcised Ishmael and circumcision does not give the Jews more right on Canaan than the Arabs,

- finally, through abolishing sexual mutilation, Moses tolls the death knell for the terrible sanction of lack of circumcision: exclusion. Affiliations founded on a particular sign had instituted a physical, and even moral discrimination and. “Circumcision of the heart” replaces it.

That beam of corroborating mistakes, carelessness, and lies hides the right interpretation to conceal the condemnation of sexual mutilation by Moses. The Second Commandment should have been: “You shall not circumcise.”, its intellectual falsification would have been impossible. The circumlocution: “the crime of fathers upon children” enabled the supporters – and victims – of circumcision to distort it by a sacrilegious interpretation. To restore circumcision, its followers pulled the text into an incredible misinterpretation. They introduced an unlikely double meaning to hide that that crime was sexual mutilation. But when dictating his Commandments, the Eternal does not play with double meanings. Especially since, here on the Sinai, the historical context is the abandonment of sexual mutilation for forty years. But if proponents of circumcision dared to falsify the meaning of the Second Commandment for boys, they gave up the monstrous and often-deadly excision of Hebrew girls.

“God” changed his mind between the Covenant with Abraham and that with Moses. The Fourth Covenant abolished the law imposed on Abraham because law may not speak against life. On the one hand, the foreskin is the property of the human person and a child is a human person, on the other hand, it is a sexual organ and circumcision is mutilation, for three reasons: skin is an organ, the foreskin is not dead skin, it is not a fold of skin but a protective doubled-layered organ: skin outside, mucosa inside. Without that particularly erogenous lip, the mucosa of the glans keratinizes, becomes skin and loses some of its sensitivity. One makes love mucosa against mucosa, for the greatest pleasure of both partners (spouses of circumciseds often complain about the irritation provoked by a callous glans). Against the Covenant by submission of Genesis 17, the liberator of the Hebrews established the Covenant between equals of the great, authentic and universal Judaism, which abolished sexual mutilation. The Decalogue is the first historical declaration of human duties and rights. The Second and Sixth Commandments decree the first, inalienable, and sacred of those rights: the right to the body.

The fact that the Second Commandment transcribes Akhenaten’s reforms is the great disclosure of The birth of Judaism, between exegesis and archaeology (The birth of Judaism, between exegesis and Egyptology: Bertaux-Navoiseau, Michel Hervé: 9781070252629: Amazon.com: Books). Akhenaten ad Moses rebelled against the alliance of fathers and grandfathers against children. We end with the myth of circumcision in the Law of Moses. According to Freud and a few others, he would have been murdered, likely because he did not want to invade Palestine. Moses, Jesus, Rabin, fanatic Jews assassinate their pacifist leaders.

The God of the Bible does not absurdly prosecute children for paternal criminality; he prosecutes fathers for the sexual mutilation of children. The Book of Deuteronomy confirms it.

II - The Book of Deuteronomy bans circumcision

Several books of the Bible do not mention circumcision. The terms “circumcised”, “circumcise “ and “circumcision” do not appear in the following books of the Torah: The Book of Numbers, The Book of Deuteronomy, in the great majority of the books of the prophets: Kings, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and in the hagiographies: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, The Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, The Ecclesiastes. The most remarkable is the Book of Deuteronomy. Modern exegesis considers that, unlike the other Books of the Torah, Moses directed its writing with a great unity of style3. Directed at the priest, it details the religious rules to respect. But the Jewish encyclopedia4 notices: “Circumcision as a physical act (is) enjoined nowhere in the whole book.” Whereas it is considered as the central mitzvah (rule) of Judaism, the Book of Deuteronomy forbids it:

“Observe everything I lay down for you, without adding anything to it...” 13: 1

Besides, Moses stresses:

“And now, Israel, the Eternal, your God, only expects you to revere the Lord, your God, follow his ways in everything, love him and serve him with all your heart and all your soul, observing the precepts and laws of the Lord that I impose on you today so that you would be happy.” 10: 12-13

Then, he speaks on thirteen occasions (4: 5, 4: 8, 4: 14, 4: 45, 5: 7, 5: 31, 6: 1, 6: 20, 7: 11, 7: 12, 8: 11, 11: 1) of “the laws and rules…” (4: 1) it advocates. But circumcision does not figure in them. Neither does it appear in the regulations of verses 12: 1 to 27: 26. Furthermore, it excludes distinctive physical signs; of spiritual nature, the election of the Jewish people and its consecration to the deity forbid it to single itself out through gross exterior signs:

“You are the children of the Eternal, your God: do not cut your body, do not shave between your eyes in honour of a dead person. Because you are a people holy to the Eternal, your God, and the Eternal chose you to be for him a special people between all peoples scattered on the earth.” 14: 1

“Do not cut your flesh because of a dead person and do not print any tattoo on yourself: I am the Eternal.” Leviticus 19: 28

Contrary to some other books of the Torah, those meticulous rules do not speak of excluding the “non-circumcised” from the temple and the meal of Passover.

Typical of Akhenaten's mysticism, approved by Jeremiah (10: 24-25), “circumcision of the heart” is an ethical stand opposed to the alleged moralization(*) by circumcision of the flesh:

“And the Eternal, your God, will circumcise your heart and your descendants’ heart so that you love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, and make your living.” 30: 6(*)

A reference to Abraham’s Covenant, the mention of descendants is significant of the replacement of circumcision of the body by that of the heart. The Eternal, not man, performs the latter.

Deuteronomy 23: 2 is the clearest verse against circumcision of the whole Bible:

“The one who has crushed or mutilated genitals will not be admitted in the assembly of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 23: 2

Excluding the circumcised, Moses does the exact opposite of the God of Genesis 17.

The Hebrews were categorically opposed to circumcision. The Book of Deuteronomy bans it.

III - Apocryphal, chapter 34 of the Book of the Exodus

falsifies the Second Commandment of Exodus 20: 5

But the opponents of circumcision did not disarm. So, its upholders resorted to a ploy. Chapter 34 of the Book of Exodus gives a rare example of the Bible commenting and modifying one of its verses. It modifies and lengthily comments verse 5 of chapter 20 as if it posed an issue. Verses 6-7 of that chapter go back over the Second Commandment denaturing it by novelties, a change in the order and the logic of ideas, substitutions, removals, and contradictions:

6ADONAI is the eternal Being, all-powerful, lenient, forgiving, late for wrath, full of benevolence and equity; 7he keeps his favour to the thousandth generation; he endures crime, rebellion, fault, but he does not absolve them; he prosecutes the mischief of fathers upon children, upon grandchildren, up to the third and fourth offspring.”

- Second alteration, the aberrant idea of a God who endures crime is absent of Genesis 20: 5.

- Third alteration, the image of the God only described as “jealous” in Exodus 20 is totally new and very contradictory; it seems that, in their concern for imposing their interpretation, the writers of Exodus 34 got entangled in their comment; it would be aberrant that a God “lenient, forgiving, late at anger, full of benevolence and equity (would prosecute) the mischief of fathers upon children, upon grand-children”. It would be heavily unfair, as Ezekiel stressed.

- Fourth alteration, the idea of jealousy is removed. Discerning, so as not to worry the reader, religious writers repeat that idea seven verses further on, but limiting it, as we shall see.

- Fifth alteration, verse 7 denatures Exodus20: 5 in three places:

“…he endures crime, rebellion, fault, but he does not absolve them; he prosecutes the mischief of fathers upon children, upon grand-children, up to the third and fourth offspring.”

. The notion of “mischief of fathers”, the list of which is enumerated: “crime, rebellion, fault”, is substituted to that of “crime of fathers”. Broadening and lessening the idea of crime, it dismisses the idea of a particular crime, obvious in Exodus 20: 5. The matter is to exclude the right interpretation. A last avatar of the trimillenary polemic, a Hebrew-French polemic translates עֲו‍ֹן by fault in the text of Deuteronomy 5: 9 and a Hebrew-English version free on internet translates it by iniquity, and also in Exodus 20: 5.

. Exodus 20: 5 did not mention grandchildren and spoke of “generations”, not “offspring”.

. children, grandchildren, grand-grandchildren, and grand-grand-grandchildren are prosecuted instead of grand and grand-grandfathers. That ethical and juridical aberration institutes familial responsibility, hereditary but not indefinitely?!

All that forbids considering that the Second Commandment bans sexual mutilation. Pretending to paraphrase the initial text to impress the adversary and cheat the feeble-minded, it insistently and repetitively decides in favour of the Orthodox interpretation.

- Sixth alteration, verse 14 resumes the idea of a jealous God:

“… you must not bend in front of a foreign divinity, because the Eternal's name is JEALOUS...”

It is with the meaning of jealous of other Gods, without adding to it the second motive of jealousy, that of the alteration of creation by “the crime of fathers against children”.

  • That closes the loop; everything that, in Exodus 20: 3-6, could be at variance with the Orthodox interpretation is intellectually or materially falsified. That proves that the right interpretation (“The misleading pen of the scribes made it a lie!” Jeremiah 8: 8) prevailed before Moses’ death. Verses 6, 7 and 14 of chapter 34 the Book of the Exodus are an apocryphal comment of Exodus 20, designed to give credence to the false interpretation. The paradigm of the falsification of the Second Commandment by upholders of circumcision, Exodus 34 is a shining proof of the relevance of our interpretation of Exodus 20: 5.

The multiplication of rewritings of the Second Commandment testifies to the harshness of the opposition between adversaries and supporters of circumcision. It shows that the first wording strongly embarrassed the latter and gives evidence of the resistance that their reenactment of circumcision raised. Besides, as shown by Saint Peters' declaration, it seems that some families went on respecting Moses' ban on circumcision:

“...some former Pharisees, became believers, stepped in to say that pagans had to be circumcised and ordered to observe the law of Moses... Peter stood up and said: ‘Why do you try to put God to the test by placing a yoke, which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear, upon the neck of the disciples?’” Acts XV: 5-1


The Judaic interpretation of the Second Commandment perpetuates the Egyptian circumcision against Hebraic religion. Chapter 34 of the Book of the Exodus proves it by absurdity.

1 Freud S. Moses and monotheism. 1936. London: The Hogarth press ltd.; 1964. S.E., XXIII.

(*)Moses also was the founder of one of the first three-level-of-jurisdiction systems (Exodus 18: 19-26). However, the charismatic leader, on the one hand, gathered his people to recite poems to them, on the other hand, did not hesitate to commit the genocide of the peoples he encountered on his way. His limits are obvious. A law worded in the second person is that of a dictator who, affirming himself God, reserves the right to violate it for himself.

2 Berthelot K. La bibliothèque de Qumrân. Paris : Editions du cerf ; 2014. Vol. 3a, p. 140-41.

3 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Article “Bible”.

4 Jewish encyclopedia. Circumcision. New York and London : Funk and Wagnalls company ; 1901-1906. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4391-circumcision

(*) “That commandment has not been prescribed to correct a physical deficiency but a moral one.” Maïmonides M. The guide of the perplexed. 1160. Chicago: Chicago University press; 1963, Chapter 49.

(*) Verses 10: 16 and 30: 6 are the only acceptations of the term “circumcision” in the Book of Deuteronomy.

Ce blog est personnel, la rédaction n’est pas à l’origine de ses contenus.