I’ve been wondering lately how weird it is that Yahweh commanded Abraham and his male descendants to mutilate their genitals. Richard Beck writes about the transition of circumcision of the penis to the ears:
What I find of interest here is how circumcision is a deliberate act of setting something apart, an act of consecration. Which is interesting given the anatomical relationship between ears and heart. A relationship that I think the prophets were getting at.
The ears function as gate-keepers. If the ears are “closed” then nothing gets to the heart. Thus the shift to the ears, as I see it, is a temporal shift of focus. That is, there is something in the immediate and initial reaction to the Word of God that is picked out by pointing to the ears. A reference to the ears is pointing out something about your reaction right here and right now. Like when you are talking to someone and you say, “You are not listening to me.” To be sure, this refusal to listen is a matter of the heart, but the reference to the ears changes the emphasis. This is a a shift from “their hearts are far from me”–which points to a chronic condition of waning affections, a falling out of love–to the more acute and immediate assessment of “I’m talking to you but you’re not listening to me.” Resistance in the moment is being pointed out. Someone is talking and you’re sticking your fingers in your ears.