It is clear that Abraham understood the Torah, and that he waited to enact his bris until commanded, but who performed it? Did he do it himself, or was someone else instructed to do it, to serve in the sealing of his covenant?


5 Answers 5


Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer 29 says that Shem Ben Noach performed Avraham's bris.

The Medrash Rabba Bereishis 49:2 says that Hashem held Avraham's hand and helped him perform the bris.

בראשית רבה מט ב.

אמר לפניו ומי ימול אותי? אמר: אתה בעצמך. מיד נטל אברהם סכין, והיה אוחז בערלתו ובא לחתוך והיה מתירא שהיה זקן, מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא? שלח ידו ואחז עמו והיה אברהם חותך,

Bereshit Raba 49b

Avraham asked God "who will circumcise me"? God replied: you will. Immediately Avraham took a knife and held his foreskin, and wanted to cut it, but he was afraid because he was old. What God did do? He reached with his hand and held on togather with him, and Avraham did the cutting

The verse in Bereishis 17:24 supports that it was performed by someone else, as it uses the passive language בהמולו, when he was circumcised, and Rashi there points out that this is הפעל, acted upon.

וְאַבְרָהָם בֶּן תִּשְׁעִים וָתֵשַׁע שָׁנָה בְּהִמֹּלוֹ בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ

  • Could it be that the passive tense demonstrates that Abraham was acted upon by the will of Hashem?
    – Zachariah
    Jun 21, 2020 at 23:20
  • In the [archive.org/details/bereschitrabba02albe/page/499/mode/… Theodor-Albeck Genesis Rabbah it is argued that quoted midrash is not part of the original Genesis Rabbah but was imported from the Tanhuma
    – user19234
    Nov 4, 2022 at 18:53

This website recounts the medrash that says that

According to the Midrash (Tanchuma VaYeira 3), Abraham only circumcised himself after consulting with his friend Mamrei.


The Midrash Rabbah Lech Lacha 9: "א"ר לוי מל אברהם אין כתיב כאן אלא נימול בדק את עצמו ומצא עצמו מהול "

Reb Levi said that the Torah said nimol Avraham opposed to maol Avrham,meaning Avraham checked and saw that he had a milah already.


According to the Chida Avraham was afraid to circumcise himself so he was circumcised by a scorpion. The Chida brings a remez from the passuk .

Text :


Bereshit/Genesis 17:23 clearly states that Avraham took all people of which G-d said they should be circumcised with him and then it reads: וַיָּמָל אֶת-בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתָם, בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אִתּוֹ, אֱלֹהִים. The one that performs the brit here is one that did exactly as G-d had said. To whom did G-d told all these things regards the circumcision? That person seems to be Avraham. Thus Avraham took, circumcised and did as G-d had told Him.

You must log in to answer this question.

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