And it came to pass that on the eighth day
The precise time fixed in the normal restitution of the ordinance of circumcision, ( Genesis 17:12 ) though this was not always attended to, but circumcision was sometimes deferred to another time; yet keeping the exact time was judged most commendable and praiseworthy; (See Gill on Philippians 3:5)
they came to circumcise the child;
that is, the neighbours and cousins of Elisabeth, who were at the time of her delivery; eight days after they came again to be at the circumcision of the child: who was the operator is not known; nor was there any particular person appointed for this service; but any one might do it, whether ecclesiastic or laic, men or women, father or mother, or any other friend; for the rule is F14,
``all are fit to circumcise; even an uncircumcised person, and a woman, and a minor, may circumcise in a place where there is no man; but a Gentile may not circumcise at all.''The circumcision of John seems to be performed in Zacharias's house, and by one of those that came; for Zacharias, being dumb, could not say the blessing which the circumciser was obliged to say: nor indeed could he say that, which, as the father of the child, belonged to him; concerning which, take the following account F15:
``the circumciser blesses before he circumcises, "saying", blessed is he that hath sanctified us by his precepts, and hath commanded us concerning circumcision: if he circumcises the son of his friend, or if he circumcises his own son, he blesses him with "this blessing"; and hath commanded us to circumcise a son: and the father of the son blesses with another blessing; blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hath sanctified us by his precepts, and hath commanded us to enter him into the covenant of Abraham our father.----If his father is not there, they do not say this other blessing.----And if there are any standing there, they say, as he hath brought him into the covenant, so bring him to the law, and to matrimony, and to good works; and after that the father of the child, or the circumciser, or one of those that stand by, bless, "saying", blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who sanctified the beloved (Isaac) from the womb''How many of Elisabeth's neighbours and relations were present at this ceremony, is not related; but the Jews require ten persons as witnesses of it; for they say F16, that
``testimonies worthy of belief, in Israel, are ten, the witnesses of the covenant of circumcision are ten, the witnesses of a dead person ten''and at this time also it was usual to give the child a name, which was not by divine appointment, but was a custom that prevailed among them; which took its rise from Abraham, having his name changed at the time when circumcision was enjoined him, ( Genesis 17:5 Genesis 17:10 ) and from the naming and circumcision of Isaac, mentioned together, ( Genesis 21:3 Genesis 21:4 )
and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father:
as the neighbours of Naomi gave a name to the son of Boaz and Ruth, calling him Obed, ( Ruth 4:17 ) . This they took upon them to do, because that Zacharias was deaf and dumb; but why they should call him by his name, cannot well be accounted for, it not being usual to call the father, and the son, by the same name; unless they were desirous of continuing the same name in the family, which had been famous in Israel for a prophet, and a priest: to call children by Gentile names was not lawful. In the Targum on ( Amos 6:1 ) it is said,
``woe to them that name their children after the names of the Gentiles.''
F14 Maimon. Hilch. Milah, c. 2. sect. 1,
F15 Ib. c. 3. sect. 1, 2, 3.
F16 Pirke Eliezer, c. 19.