Unintentionally bumped into this verse (Macabbees A) that appears to be historically authentic:

והנשים אשר מלו את בניהן הומתו על פי המלך.
(And women who circumcised their sons were executed)

Do we have a similar statement in our official sources, and why would women (not men that are obligated) did the circumcision in the times of Maccabees?

  • 4
    Also in Exodus 4:25
    – b a
    Jul 12, 2019 at 10:09
  • 1
    Maybe they were hoping it would be less conspicuous that way. We pasken a woman can do it bedieved.
    – Heshy
    Jul 12, 2019 at 10:56
  • i heard a story that a woman do it on her baby prior to the nazis taking the baby away in a concentration camp Jul 12, 2019 at 18:42
  • @l--''''''---------'''''''''''' welcome back to the site, nice to see you
    – msh210
    Jul 13, 2019 at 18:13
  • What are you asking about - the historical authenticity of this, the halachic issues of women circumcising their children, why it was the women who did it and not the men...?
    – DonielF
    Jul 14, 2019 at 4:16

1 Answer 1


Actually, if you look two verses later, it mentions separately ואת המלים אותם (those who circumcised them), and states that they were beheaded (whereas the mothers had their babies hanged from their necks).

Presumably, then, הנשים אשר מלו את בניהן means those who arranged for the circumcisions of their sons; they'd be the ones caught red-handed, so to speak, seeing as how usually they'd be the ones carrying the babies around. ואת המלים אותם, then, would be the fathers or the mohalim.

(Which isn't to say that some of these women didn't perform the bris themselves - as pointed out in comments, it is halachically acceptable, and we have other examples in Jewish history where they did so under extreme circumstances of mesiras nefesh, for example the story witnessed by the Bluzhever Rebbe zt"l recorded here - but I don't think this passage indicates that it was necessarily that common.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .