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?


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.

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

  • Read Pirkei Dereb Yishmael properly: וקרא לשם בן נח ומל את בשר ערלתו של ישמעאל בנו - Shem performed his son Yishmael's Bris, not Avraham's. See he.wikisource.org/wiki/… – user5303 Jul 30 '14 at 19:24
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    @user5303, I have to agree with YEZ's read. The verse quoted makes no sense as a reference to Yishmoel only. Check this version out. – Yishai Jul 30 '14 at 20:39
  • @user5303 and what's pirkei dereb "Yishmael"? – Y     e     z Jul 30 '14 at 21:31
  • woops, typo. Didn't realize there were other versions. – user5303 Jul 31 '14 at 9:09

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.

  • Not sure how this helps answer who performed the bris. – gt6989b Jul 30 '14 at 18:46
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    @gt6989b it says that he did it to himself. It just includes other info also. – Y     e     z Jul 30 '14 at 18:51
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    @gt6989b, Avraham Avinu was clearly a Sefardi :-) – Yishai Jul 30 '14 at 20:33
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    @gt6989b Why does it need to be halachically valid? Rambam says we derive mitzvot d'oreita not from Bereshit, so if the details of the mitzvah were described only after the fact that Avraham Avinu did his own brit. – rosenjcb Jul 30 '14 at 20:39
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    @rosenjcb If you assume gemara is wrong on this, we are in a different religion. Debating makes sense only when the sets of axioms coincide. – gt6989b Jul 31 '14 at 22:18

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.

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