(46) What is the meaning of, “And every male of you shall be circumcised, and you shall circumcise, or you shall be circumcised, in, the flesh of your foreskin?” (#Ge 17:10). I see here a twofold circumcision, one of the male creature, and the other of the flesh; that which is of the flesh takes place in the genitals, but that which is of the male creature takes place, as it seems to me, in respect of his thoughts. Since that which is, properly speaking, masculine in us is the intellect, the superfluous shoots of which it is necessary to prune away and to cast off, so that it, becoming clean and pure from all wickedness and vile, may worship God as his priest. This therefore is what is designated by the second circumcision, where God says by an express law, “Circumcise the hardness of your hearts,” that is to say, your hard and rebellious thoughts and ambition, which when they are cut away and removed from you, your most important part will be rendered free.
(47) Why orders he the males only to be circumcised? (#Ge 17:11). For in the first place, the Egyptians, in accordance with the national customs of their country, in the fourteenth year of their age, when the male begins to have the power of propagating his species, and when the female arrives at the age of puberty, circumcise both bride and bridegroom. But the divine legislator appoints circumcision to take place in the case of the male alone for many reasons: the first of which is, that the male creature feels venereal pleasures and desires matrimonial connexions more than the female, on which account the female is properly omitted here, while he checks the superfluous impetuosity of the male by the sign of circumcision. But the second reason is, that the material of the female is supplied to the son from what remains over of the eruption of blood, while the immediate maker and cause of the son is the male. Because therefore the male supplies the most indispensable part in the fact of generation, God deservedly represses his pride by the figure of circumcision, but the material or feminine cause, as being inactive, does not display ambition in the same degree. And this is enough to say on this head. But afterwards we must note this likewise, that the intellect in us is endued with the power of sight, therefore it is necessary to cut away its superfluous shoots. And these superfluous shoots are empty opinions, and all the actions which are done in accordance with them. So that the intellect after circumcision may only bear about with itself what is necessary and useful; and that whatever causes pride to increase may be cut away; with which also the eyes are circumcised as if they did not see.