But of the fathers - That is, it came from the patriarchs. Circumcision was not, properly speaking, one of the laws of the Mosaic institution, it having been given at first to Abraham, and continued among his posterity till the giving of the law: Genesis 17:9 , Genesis 17:10 , etc.
Ye - circumcise a man - That is, a male child: for every male child was circumcised when eight days old; and if the eighth day after its birth happened to be a Sabbath, it was nevertheless circumcised, that the law might not be broken, which had enjoined the circumcision to take place at that time, Leviticus 12:3 . From this and several other circumstances it is evident that the keeping of the Sabbath, even in the strictest sense of the word, ever admitted of the works of necessity and mercy to be done on it; and that those who did not perform such works on that day, when they had opportunity, were properly violators of every law founded on the principles of mercy and justice. If the Jews had said, Why didst thou not defer the healing of the sick man till the ensuing day? He might have well answered, Why do ye not defer the circumcising of your children to the ensuing day, when the eighth day happens to be a Sabbath? - which is a matter of infinitely less consequence than the restoration of this long-afflicted man.