Circumcision and law

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There exist laws restricting or regulating circumcision, some dating back to ancient times. In a number of modern states, circumcision of males is presumed to be legal, but under certain circumstances, more general laws, such as laws about assault or child custody, may sometimes be interpreted as applying to situations involving circumcision. Some countries have placed restrictions on circumcision.



There are ancient religious requirements for circumcision. The Hebrew Bible commands Jews to circumcise their male children on the eighth day of life and also to circumcise their male slaves (Genesis 17:11-12).

Laws banning circumcision are also ancient. The ancient Greeks prized the foreskin and disapproved of the Jewish custom of circumcision.[1] 1 Maccabees, 1:60–61 states that King Antiochus IV of Syria, the occupying power of Judea in 170 BC, outlawed circumcision on penalty of death.[2] one of the grievances leading to the Maccabean Revolt.[3]

According to the Historia Augusta, the Roman emperor Hadrian issued a decree banning circumcision in the empire,[4] and some modern scholars argue that this was a main cause of the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt of 132 AD.[5] The Roman historian Cassius Dio, however, made no mention of such a law, and blamed the Jewish uprising instead on Hadrian's decision to rebuild Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina, a city dedicated to Jupiter.

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