Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision ,.... The command of circumcision, which he renewed and established, Leviticus 12:3 ;
(not because, or that it is of Moses ; originally, or that he was the first giver of it, for it was enjoined before his time; this is a correction of what is before said, giving a more accurate account of the rise of circumcision:
but of the fathers) ; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom it was enjoined by God, and who practised it before the times of Moses; so that this command was in force before him, and obligatory upon the descendants of Abraham, before he delivered it; and would have been, if he had never mentioned it; though the Jews say
"we do not circumcise because Abraham our father, on whom be peace, circumcised himself and his household, but because the holy blessed God commanded us by Moses, that we should be circumcised, as Abraham our father was circumcised.'
But no doubt it would have been binding on them, if Moses had said nothing about it; the command to Abraham is so express, for the circumcision of his male offspring, Genesis 17:10 ; however, it being both of Moses and of the fathers, laid a very great obligation on the Jews to observe it:
and ye on the sabbath day, circumcise a man ; a male child, as they did, when the eighth day fell on a sabbath day; for the law of circumcision was before the law of the sabbath, and therefore was not to be made void by it, nor was it made void by it; and so much is intimated by our Lord's observing, that it was not of Moses, but of the fathers; and this is the reason which the Karaite Jews give for circumcision on the sabbath day: for
"say they, because it is a former command, from the time of Abraham our father, on whom be peace, before the giving of the law of the sabbath, היו מלים בשבת , "they circumcise on the sabbath day", and when the command of the sabbath afterwards took place, it was not possible it should disannul circumcision on the sabbath day; and for the same reason, they also allow the sacrifice of the passover to be done on the sabbath day, because it is a command which went before the command of the sabbath.'
And this was also the sense and practice of the other Jews: thus citing the law of Moses in Leviticus 12:3 . "And in the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised", by way of gloss upon it add, ואפילו בשבת , "and even on the sabbath day"
"they do all things necessary to circumcision, on the sabbath day.'
R. Abika says
"all work that can be done on the evening of the sabbath, does not drive away the sabbath; but circumcision, which cannot be done on the evening of the sabbath, drives away the sabbath: they do all things necessary to circumcision; they circumcise, and make bare, and suck, and put (on the wound) a plaster and cummin; and which, if not bruised on the evening of the sabbath, they may chew with their teeth.'
Also it is allowed of
"wash the infant on the third day of circumcision, which happens to be on the sabbath.'
Moreover, a case is put after this manner
"if a man has two infants, one to be circumcised after the sabbath, and the other to be "circumcised on the sabbath", and forgets, and circumcises that, that was to be after the sabbath, on the sabbath, he is guilty of sin; if one is to be circumcised in the evening of the sabbath, and the other on the sabbath, and he forgets, and circumcises that which should be on the evening of the sabbath, on the sabbath, R. Eliezer pronounces him guilty, but R, Joshua absolves him.'
And we have an instance
"R. Sheshana, the son of R. Samuel bar Abdimo, that when he was to be circumcised, it was the sabbath day, and they forgot the razor; and they inquired of R. Meni and R. Isaac ben Eleazar, and it was drove off to another day.'
From all which it appears, that circumcision on the sabbath day, was a common practice, and which confirms the assertion of Christ.