The Gospel of Luke provides us with an important clue that reveals what took place on the eighth day of Yeshua’s life.
And when eight days had been fulfilled for circumcising, his name was called Yeshua. (Luke 2:21a)
Yeshua’s Jewish culture provides more clues that will help us understand what happened and what those acts meant. Circumcision is a religious rite performed on male children of Jews on the eighth day after birth; also on their slaves, whether born in the house or not. It was enjoined upon Abraham and his descendants as "a token of the covenant" concluded with him by God for all generations, the penalty of non-observance being "karet," excision from the people.[i]
This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep. Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner — those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. (Genesis 17:10-14)
YAHWEH said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:3)
It is incumbent on the father to circumcise his son. If the father cannot perform this act himself, he may appoint a mohel as his agent to perform this mitvah (commandment) for him.[ii] It would have been Joseph’s responsibility to circumcise Yeshua. Therefore, Joseph would have been the person that either performed the act or appointed the mohel. We know that the act of circumcision was completed because of another cultural clue Luke left in his text -- his name was called Yeshua.
After the mohel completed the ritual act of circumcision, he would have handed the child back to Joseph. The mohel would then have recited blessings and a prayer for the welfare of the child. After that, the mohel would have announced the name of the child to those gathered with Joseph, Mary, and other family members and friends. They would have all heard the mohel declare that the child laying before them was named – Yeshua.[iii] When Luke wrote -- “his named was called Yeshua” -- it would have been a declaration that the circumcision ritual had been completed. Yeshua was now a son of the Covenant of Abraham and the newest member of the community.
[ii] The Mitzvot: The Commandments and Their Rationale by Abraham Chill © 1975 Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, Israel; p. 5.
[iii] Encyclopedia Judaica; © 1972 Keter Publishing House; Jerusalem, Israel; Vol. 5 Col. 572.