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Saturday, January 27, 2007

CIRCUMCISION, AND THE EGYPTIAN FERTILITY CULT

(Click on image to enlarge)


Let's talk about circumcision. Why not? I discuss nearly everything else, so why not yet it all hang out, so to speak...


This article will be in reference to a couple of other articles dealing with what ancient people knew about procreation and the natural world and how their cultural and religious philosophies were influenced by this knowledge and lack knowledge.. So for any of you who want a background to this article, read here and here first.

The other point I would like to make is that I am reading and analysing the bible not from a position of faith. I am looking at it in the same way I would read any other book. I am allowing myself to not only doubt the claims that are made in it, but to ask where did these claims originate and why did people thousands of years ago interpret their world the way they did. In other words, I am examining the information they had which formed their worldview.

Now, to start with, I will accept for the sake of argument, that the hebrews were historically a group of people who left Egypt. So an exodus in this sense did occur. (Exodus 2:23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.) What was this covenant that the hebrews made with their god?

The covenant, or Abraham's Brit, occurred in 1714 BCE on the 13th of Nissan of the year 2048 from creation (1713 BCE). God supposedly appeared to Abram, changed his name to Abraham and commanded him to circumcise himself and all members of his household and all future descendents so that "My covenant shall be in your flesh, as an eternal covenant". Abraham was supposedly 99 years old at the time, and his son Ishmael, 13. Isaac, who was born a year later, was supposedly the first Jew to be circumcised at eight days.



To find out specifically what this covenant was, we need to look at Genesis 17: 2,9 and 10.

  • Genesis 17: 2 “And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”
  • Genesis 17:6 "And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. "
  • Genesis 17:9 “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.”
  • Genesis 17:10 “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”
  • Genesis 17:11 "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you."

So the covenant with god was that god would multiply the hebrews exceedingly, that they would be fruitful if they performed the ritual of circumcision. This ritual was to be performed on every man who was a jew and in return god's promise was that he would make the hebrew people abundant and powerful.

Now where did this idea of circumcision originate? Many jews, christians and muslims will claim that it originated with the jewish traditions as that is where most people are familar with it as a religious and a cultural practice, but the oldest recorded evidence of circumcision is in Egypt. Tomb artwork from the Sixth Dynasty (2345 - 2181 BC) shows men with circumcised penises, and one relief from this period shows the rite being performed on a standing adult male. Evidence of circumcision abounds in ancient egyptian temple reliefs and egyptologists have found both circumcised and uncircumcised penises on the unwrapped mummies of pharaohs.

The egyptians seem to have been circumcising males for at least a few hundred years before the hebrews had circumcision as their covenant with god. So, why did the egyptians have male circumcision as part of their culture? What purpose did it have and what did it symbolise?

For a start, some historians have suggested that the priests of Egypt were circumcised as a sacrifice. As a way of forsaking "sinful pleasures". This sounds more like modern christian morality trying to retrofit itself into an ancient culture, because the concept of sex as sin, is not known to have been a part of the Egyptian religion. What is known is that the circumcised penis was a symbol of fertility, as can be seen in temple reliefs throughout Egypt. So, the origin of circumcision in Egypt, is more likely to be that the circumcised penis was seen as a fertility symbol.

"According to Egyptologist, E. A. Budge ('The Gods of the Egyptians'. Dover Publications), there was a very early God of Circumcision whose job was to maintain the fertility of the Nile banks. Another early Egyptian myth contended that God circumcised himself and the blood from his penis fell and created the universe. This myth is thought by some to be the progenitor of the blood cults, in which animals were sacrificed and the blood covenants in the modern Semitic religions. Another theory, quite unorthodox, holds that the Great Pyramid (Cheops) was not a tomb at all (it contained no artifacts, no mummies, etc.) but was a temple of initiation. The young initiates to the priesthood were, supposedly, led single file through the narrow passages receiving one initiatory degree after another and, reaching what is now called the "Queen's Chamber", they were circumcised and then proceeded up the Grand Gallery towards the "King's Chamber" and their final degree. The circumcised priests were the guardians of immortality; symbols of fertility and life everlasting." (From Ancient Egyptian Circumcision & Modern Day Practices in Males)

Whichever theory is correct, circumcision was seen as a symbol of fertility and power. I don't consider it to be a coincidence that the hebrews would ALSO see circumcision as a symbol of fertility and a symbol of power, as the most powerful nation in the world at that time, Egypt, practised this ritual. Now, to understand why the egyptians and the hebrews would see circumcision as a symbol of ferility and power we have to back up a bit further historically.

So HOW was circumcision associated with fertility? Now, if you lived in Egypt you were dependent upon the flooding of the Nile and the prosperity of crops and food resources that resulted from this annual event. The flooding of the Nile rendered the narrow strip of land on either side of the river extremely fertile. Intensive agriculture was practised on these strips of land by the majority of the peasant population. So, after the flood waters of the Nile receded, sowing and ploughing would have taken place using primitive wooden ploughs. Therefore, the fertility of the soil, which was built up through flood and alluvial deposits was crucial to the existence of Egypt.

Two of the major gods of fertility were Hapi/Hapy and Min. Interestingly, some of the major fertility gods were male. Hapi is often depicted as a male with female breasts and was the god who personified the flooding of the Nile. He was honoured as it was through his actions that the land was made fertile and ready for the sowing of seed. Soil, earth, and fields have in many ancient cultures traditionally represented the female. Hapi, as the flood god, represented the male force which makes the female soil fertile for the sowing of seed.

One of the other major fertility gods in Egypt was Min. Min was once again a male god who symbolized fertility and sexuality. He was also the patron of travelers through the eastern Sahara. He was depicted as a man with a large erect penis. He is most often depicted holding his penis erect in his left hand (a masturbatory reference to fertility), and wearing the attire of a pharaoh, a feathered crown and carrying a flail. (The way he holds his flail might be symbolic of sexual intercourse as the flail forms the V while his upraised forearm seems to thrust inside the V.)

Min wasn't just a fertility god, he was also a god of male fertility who could give the pharaoh (and other men) the power to father children. As a god of male sexual potency, he was honoured during the coronation rites of the New Kingdom, when the pharaoh was expected to sow his seed. This was generally thought to have been plant seeds, although there has been the suggestion that the pharaoh was expected to demonstrate that he could ejaculate and thus ensure the annual flooding of the Nile.

Therefore, the phallic god Min, (sometimes referred to as Menu), represented the sexual potency of the pharaoh, the Great House, an aspect of the Good God considered necessary to the fertility of the Nile valley. During the annual festival of Min, men engaged in public acts of masturbation in his honour. (From Masturbation Throughout History)

One of the symbols of Min was a bed of lettuce that the egyptians believed to be an aphrodisiac, as egyptian lettuce was tall, straight, and released a milk-like substance when rubbed. A characteristic similar to the penis. Min was always depicted with an erect and uncovered phallus, and thus, in later history, christians routinely defaced his monuments in temples, and Victorian egyptologists would take only waist-up photographs of Min, or otherwise find ways to cover his protruding manhood.

However, to the ancient egyptians, Min was not a matter of scandal, but part of their religious and cultural belief system. And he was obviously a very important part, that of male fertility. He was worshipped to not only ensure the fertility of the pharoah and other men, but also to ensure the flooding of the Nile. No flooding of the Nile meant no fertile fields. No fertile fields meant no crops. No crops meant no herd animals which meant starvation and eventual death. Farming was the life's blood of Egypt and the fertility of the land was paramount to its survival.

So what has circumcision as a fertility ritual have to do with this? Why would the egyptians and consequently the hebrews, see circumcision as a means to prosperity, abundance and power? What information did they have that would have led them to such a conclusion? But more importantly, I think, what information did they NOT have?

The ancient Egyptians saw fertility and the creation of new life as primarily a male responsibility. Afterall, they had evidence of the role that the male played in reproduction. They had evidence of ejaculation, which is often refered to as seed in ancient texts. The male penis was a symbol of fertility, for as the seed was sown in the soil and field to produce fruits, so was the seed of man sown in woman to produce "human fruit." The male seed held the "spark of life."

If you believe that it is the male who contains the seed necessary to create life, it stands to reason that your culture and religion mirrors this belief. So seed, (semen) and seed for crops, may have all been considered as originating from the male of the species. Seed, which was produced EXCLUSIVELY, by men. The earth, soil, fields and womankind, may have only been considered the depository for seed and where the seed would take fruit.

How do I know that the ancient Egyptians considered that the responsibility for fertility as the producers of seed was primarily a male responsibility? I know this because the ovum (female egg) was only discovered by Prussian-Estonian embryologist Dr. Karl Ernst von Baer in 1827. And that in 1843 Martin Berry discovered the fact that human conception occurs when the sperm enters the ovum. While people used to believe that the male implants life into the female, they now knew that both the male and female EACH contributed half the material needed to create life. This changed forever the way the world would see human reproduction. But it did NOT change the cultures and religions which grew out of male fertility cults.

Now, back to Egypt for a moment. It is highly probable that the egyptians, who revered the instrument of human production, and bore its image in their processions, conceived the idea of offering to their main gods, Isis and Osiris, a small portion of that organ with which these deities had connected the perpetuation of the human species. (From Voltaire - Philosophical Dictionary)

Afterall, if you have the belief that seed is produced exclusively by males and that women do not contribute genetic material in order to create new life, then you most probably create a ritual which symbolises the importance of this belief. If women and men were made from seed which man produced, then the male penis would take on special religious significance. I suggest that the ritual which was created to symbolize this male power was circumcision.

So, did the hebrews take with them the religious culture of circumcision when they left Egypt? I think so. And I think they practised it for the same reasons that the ancient egyptians did. The god of the old testament promised the jews the same things that the ancient egyptians believed they were getting from their religious ritual of circumcision. They were promised abundance and power. Lots of “fruit”, (descendents), through the sowing of "seed" means economic and political power.

Which brings me to the final part of this article. You really want to know why I think the ancient hebrews created laws about bestiality and homosexuality? Or why they believed that certain sexual practices were sinful? I suggest that they made the rules about bestiality and homosexuality because the covenant with god was to make them prosperous and abundant.

Genesis 17: 2 “And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” That is, seed would be wasted if it was sown where it could not bear fruit. Therefore, there was to be NO wasting of “seed” on men or animals as seed sown there didn't bear “fruit.” All that “seed” was to be used for procreation, if a people wanted to become prosperous and abundant. Religions know that big groups are powerful groups. Lots of “fruit” (descendents) means economic and political power.

And your circumcision scar, (as small or as large as it might be), probably has its origin in Egypt, in a time when the penis was part of fertility worship. So, guys, what does it feel like to be part of an ancient fertility cult? ;)

The Bangles - "Walk Like An Egyptian"

(I had considered posting the track "The First Cut Is The Deepest" but I thought better of it. No point in rubbing salt into the wound. Oooops.. )



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27 Comments:

Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Aww come on, someone must have a comment about circumcision. Don't be shy now. :)

28/1/07 4:41 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

My theory is much simpler:
They got tired of getting sand in the flaps.

28/1/07 4:52 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ka

I would agree that hygiene may have been part of the issue, except that circumcision was not performed, according to my knowledge, upon everyone.

It seems that for priests it was a common occurrence. Some pharoahs were circumcised and some weren't. But it was very common for priests. With that knowledge, it seems that it did play a religious, fertility role.

28/1/07 6:15 pm  
Blogger Dikkii said...

An absolutely fascinating post, Beep.

I don't recall my moment of circumcision, 'cause I was too young, but there's no pain there now.

Incidentally (I'm not of Jewish stock) I went through a circumcision revival that took place in the early 70's when it was hypothesised that circumcised males were less likely to get penile cancer.

That appears to be regarded as less of a risk, these days. A bit more fortnate for young blokes everywhere. Unless your parents are practising jews, of course.

28/1/07 6:48 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

I have to admit Beep, I've always been a bit puzzled as to why god required this particular mutilation to be performed.

I understand what you're saying here, but I can't see that cutting some off would help with fertility. Maybe we've got it back to front and idea was actually to stop the priests from breeding. Now there's an idea...:)

But as with Dikkii, I was born during the swingin' 60's when it was all the rage...

28/1/07 9:05 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ted:

Some of the words from ths rabbi also seem to corroborate the idea I put forward in the article.

"I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous... You shall be the father of a multitude of nations...I will make you exceedingly fertile (v. 2, 4, 6).

The Torah then delineates Abraham's role in this covenant – the faithful observance of circumcision. The description of the covenant in our parashah suggests a powerful connection between circumcision and fertility."

Chancellor's Parashah Commentary
http://www.jtsa.edu/community/parashah/archives/5762/lekhlekha.shtml

I wonder whether we primarily accept cultural rituals because they are familiar to us. We don't question the origin of most of these rituals because our cultures have since gone on to find other reasons as to why the ritual should, or should not continue.

28/1/07 9:40 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE dikki:

To me, there always seems to be a reason as to why ritual mass circumcision is performed. They just differ according to the time period or country in which one lives.

That jews believe that it a religious covenant that they have with their god, doesn't bother me. But I like to know the origin of these things.

Apparently there is, or was, an african tribe that used to chop off one testicle as a religious initiation into manhood. So, various cultures have had some pretty strange deals with their gods, as far as I can tell.

It fascinates me that a deal with a god would be a bit of penis skin. The deal brokered, in my mind, just HAS to be about reproduction, sexuality and fertility. Otherwise the covenant could have been some other part of the body, say the right earlobe - to remind people to always listen to god (for example.)

Specifically, the supposed deal was for part of the male reproductive organ. The male reproductive organ contained "the spark of life". I can't imagine that a god would ask for that piece of anatomy unless it symbolized something about fertility.

28/1/07 9:56 pm  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

When Set killed his brother Osiris, he chopped him up into 14 pieces and scattered them all over Egypt (Khemet). Isis (Aeset) managed to find all the pieces of her mutilated husband, save one, his penis. The other 13 bits she bound together to make the first mummy, which is why Osiris (Aesir) is always depicted that way.
Could it be that circumcision was a symbolic identification with Osiris by the priesthood (Hemu Netcheru)?

29/1/07 3:04 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
Ummm...I was jokin' about the 'sand in the flaps' thing.
Really, what better way to seperate 1 group of folks from everyone else, than by taking off the turtleneck?
Oh - here's a Penn 'n Teller BS episode on circumcision. Best watch it quick: these things tend to get taken off toot sweet.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3905278052597257549

29/1/07 7:50 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE KA: Oooops - Hard for me to tell sometimes if people are joking.

Thanks for the Penn & Teller link. Gunna look now.

29/1/07 7:59 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE deacon

Osiris was also looked upon as a fertility god. His penis falling into the Nile is what supposedly made the Nile fertile. (penis - semen/seed = water/life?)

Also, in some Egyptian texts, the scattering of the body parts is likened to the scattering of grain in the fields. Wood-framed barley seedbeds in the shape of Osiris were sometimes placed in tombs - and the plants which sprouted from these beds symbolized the resurrection of life after death.

http://www.greatdreams.com/osiris.htm

And this one is also interesting
http://www.bartleby.com/196/88.html

One of the reasons given as to why Set and Osiris hated each other was because of Nephthys, Set's sister-wife. She was barren (she represented the desert, as did Set), and she hit on the plan of disguising herself as Isis and seducing Osiris. Getting Osiris drunk, Nephthys took Osiris to her bed, and the two had drunken sex together. Osiris dropped his garland of melilot flowers in the act of passion. Set found the adulterous goddess and the flowers, and knowing who the flowers belonged to, he began to plan Osiris' death. The child of this union was thought to be Anubis, god of mummification.

After his first attempt, Set managed to kill Osiris again and cut up his body into numerous parts. These parts Set spread all over Egypt. Isis, Nephthys and Anubis searched Egypt, and managed to retrieve all of the pieces of the body, except one - Osiris' phallus. Set had dropped the penis into the Nile (making it fertile), where it was eaten by a fish.

The god and goddesses pieced Osiris together and created the first mummy. Using her magic, Isis fashioned a replacement for Osiris' missing part, either out of clay, wood or gold, and attached this to her dead husband's body. Through magical spells, life was breathed back into Osiris' body. The goddess managed to share a time of passion with her husband who impregnating her with their child, Horus. Osiris then passed into the afterlife, becoming god of the dead.

http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/sexuality.html

Maybe guys chopped off a piece of penis and offered it up to Osiris in tribute for Osiris having lost his? Maybe they hoped that by doing so, this would please the gods and the gods would continue to shower properity and abundance upon them.

29/1/07 9:22 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Re KA: Excellent stuff. Thanks...:)

29/1/07 10:55 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I just had another thought. Maybe if the ancient egyptians thought that Osiris' penis made the river Nile fertile, then giving up a bit of their penis might ensure their OWN fertility.

29/1/07 1:47 pm  
Anonymous Jeff Guinn said...

I was cirumcised when I was four, in conjunction withing getting a cast on my broken arm.

Near as I can figure, my parents must have gotten some sort of two-fer discount.

So I remember the stitches on my penis, but, even so, don't give it any thought one way or the other.

When we found out we were going to have a son, my wife and I faced the same dilemma as Krystal and her husband in that hilarious Penn & Teller video.

She for, I against. She wanted him to be like all the other boys, and I wanted to avoid perpetrating an unecessary, barbaric tradition.

Like all happily married men, I eventually caved.

His circumcision went awry, though, and required a painful redo to put this right.

In almost all cases, caving to my wifes wishes has been the smart thing to do. This caving, though, I still regret.

29/1/07 3:17 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE jeff
Don't beat yourself up over it, it is hard to move away from the cultural mores.

Women sometimes are the ones who want their children to fit in so desperately, that they just go with the tradition - no matter what that tradition is.

29/1/07 4:15 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey, all this talk about...severed johnsons is kinda...(shivers sympathetically, Brrrhh!)
Memories of Lorena Bobbit surface.
1 of the things in the P&T episode, they went around interviewing women, most of whom found it most unesthetically pleasing for a fella to have a 'turtleneck'.
I always wondered why King David had to donate 1000's of the damned things to his little voice as sacrifice.

29/1/07 5:24 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Foreskins were also used to buy a bride in the bible.

1 Samuel 18:27
Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

It was also mentioned that Saul wanted the forskins of the Phillistines as a kind of vengence and that he was hoping that David would be killed in the process.

1 Samuel 18:25
And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

Apparently, taking the loser's foreskin might have been a way of keeping tally as to how many of the enemy you killed.

All terribly Freudian. But then, I kinda figure Freud wasn't far off the mark.

29/1/07 6:37 pm  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm happy to say my ex-h and I were in agreement about circumcising our boys. It was mutilation serving no purpose and therefore would not be done.

Fascinating post, beepbeep.

29/1/07 8:39 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE sarah

And this is how it should be. People having the right to choose either or without this huge pressure to choose what complies with the cultural habit.

I am always suspicious of mass medication or mass treatment. I found the mass treatment of the public water supply in some areas with fluoride to be quite appalling. (To limit tooth decay)

In the same way, I find the mass snipping off baby boy's genitals to be one of those cultural norms we should think very carefully about.

Do these things on a needs basis would be my idea.

Having said that, I am in favour of childhood vaccinations. A child can always be circumcised later when and if a problem develops, a person can always choose to take fluoride to decrease the chances of tooth decay, but a person can't be vaccinated against smallpox, whooping cough, diptheria or german measles once they have contracted it.

30/1/07 10:47 am  
Blogger zooplah said...

Woo hoo! I'm in the 1/3 of American males not part of a fertility ritual. Snaps for me!

30/1/07 4:23 pm  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

That was a well researched post. I feel like leaving you a tip. Ba dum bum.

The thing is that since the OT was written way after the fact, and the Exodus didn't happen, and most likely there was no such thing as Judaism until around 650 BC and maybe later, the new Jews just usurped a whole whack of traditions and myths that were already out there.

Judaism, I believe was most likely loosely based on the Zoroastrians.

31/1/07 12:34 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE BEAJ

I figure that religions did and do evolve from the ideas and concepts of previous ones. So, I wouldn't be surprised at all if judaism co-opted the stories concepts from various sources including zorostrianism. Unfortunately most of the zoroastrian culture was destroyed (this was common too - destroy all evidence of a competing civilization), so we have very little info about them.

I wonder if the zoroastrians practised circumcision? I will have to see if I can find out now.

The circumcision thing and its origins has always fascinated me probably in part because I am a woman and it is a cultural and religious practice which has little to do with me, but also because I could never get my head around why a god would want foreskins.

31/1/07 7:54 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE zooplah

Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments. Unfortunately, I don't understand spanish, (is it spanish?), so I went to your blog but couldn't understand it. I am a monolinguist, therefore I am severely limited in this blogging world.

31/1/07 8:00 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

BEAJ:
Judaism, I believe was most likely loosely based on the Zoroastrians.
Nah, while I think Osman's a bit of a wackadoof, it's more likely monotheism stemmed from Ankhenaton.
Osman's the Egyptian feller who claims that Egypt had Hebraic pharaohs, Moses was Ankhenaton, & jebus was King Tut.
Real wooster.

31/1/07 6:55 pm  
Blogger new.atheist said...

Two things...

One; if "spilling of seed" was a bad bad thing, why wasn't there anything in the bible to forbid masturbation? I know the verses people refer to often to say that god punished someone for masturbating, but I thought god was pissed cuz god commanded him to reproduce and he pulled out early (forgive me for not having that verse on hand).

Second: There is acknowledgment in the bible of the woman being barren, so they obviously knew it was a combination of seed and soil that produced the best fruit... but I still think it might be interesting to see what the knowledge of animal-husbandry at the time? Like did they acknowledge combinations of animals that produced the best offspring? Like, there's a difference between a mule and a hinny (a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, the reverse, the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey, is called a hinny), and this is the kind of breeding that ancients would probably have known about, so what did they make of it?

And, why didn't they circumcise the animals? I mean, the pay is crap, but the tips are great! (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

1/2/07 4:34 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE new atheist

I think that any activity which wasted seed, like masturbation, bestiality or homosexuality would have been frowned upon as seed used in this way wouldn't produce fruit. This of course may have also led to the idea that the wife should always submit to her husband's sexual desires so he wouldn't be tempted to waste seed on some other sexual activity.

Women were only barren like soil is barren, if they did not produce children or fruit. So, like agriculture, there are times when you can seed the soil and the seed doesn't grown into a plant, or tree or crop.

On the issue of whether a male child or a female child was born, to paraphrase Thomas Aacquinis - female children are born to weak men. Strong men produce sons. So, there was the thought that the male produced the ingredients for life, and that this was dependent upon his "maleness."

Of course if male children were the result of a dominant male, then the production of female children could be blamed upon powerful female forces corrupting the seed to produce female children.

(I agree that I am speculating here, but it makes sense to me.)

Regarding the animal husbandry. The powerful egyptian male god of fertility, Min, or Menu, had a variety of symbols. One of those symbols was the egyptian lettuce which released a white substance when rubbed, (how Freudian lol), but one of the other major symbols of this god was the white bull. He was known as the "God of The Phallus" and this is a hymn or prayer to him.

"Min, Bull of the Great Phallus,
You are the Great Male, the owner of all females.
The Bull who is unites with those of the sweet love, of beautiful face and of painted eyes,
Victorious sovereign among the Gods who inspires fear in the Ennead.
The goddesses are glad, seeing your perfection."

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/min.htm

In Akhmin and Coptos, Min was worshipped in the form of a white bull (representing virility) known as "Bull of the Great Phallus" and in Heliopolis he was associated with the Mnevis bull cult.

The three bright stars of Orion's belt, were believed to represent Min's erect penis.

There were a number of "bull cults."
http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/bullcult.html

As to why animals weren't circumcised, I don't know. Not all Egyptian males were circumcised either. It seems to have been a ritual associated to some extent with rank. Many priests were circumcised, as were many pharoahs.

1/2/07 9:04 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zoroastrianism (as practised in Iran and by Parsis in India) does not advocate ritual circumcision.

19/3/07 10:57 am  

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