Genesis Chapter 17
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless.
2 I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."
3 Abram fell on his face. God talked with him, saying,
4 "As for me, behold, my covenant is with you. You will be the father of a multitude of nations.
5 Your name will no more be called Abram, but your name will be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you. Kings will come out of you.
7 I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your offspring after you.
8 I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are travelling, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. I will be their God."
9 God said to Abraham, "As for you, you will keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you. Every male amongst you shall be circumcised.
11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. It will be a token of the covenant between me and you.
12 He who is eight days old will be circumcised amongst you, every male throughout your generations, he who is born in the house, or bought with money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring.
13 He who is born in your house, and he who is bought with your money, must be circumcised. My covenant will be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 The uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people. He has broken my covenant."
15 God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but her name will be Sarah.
16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations. Kings of peoples will come from her."
17 Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to him who is one hundred years old? Will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth?"
18 Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you!"
19 God said, "No, but Sarah, your wife, will bear you a son. You shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.
20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year."
22 When he finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
23 Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house, and all who were bought with his money: every male amongst the men of Abraham's house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the same day, as God had said to him.
24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25 Ishmael, his son, was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
26 In the same day both Abraham and Ishmael, his son, were circumcised.
27 All the men of his house, those born in the house, and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
- Verse 19 (Isaac)
- Isaac means "he laughs".
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Genesis Chapter 17 Guide
This chapter gives the account of the fifth appearance of God to Abram in which a divine covenant was made. At this point his name was changed from Abram, which means exalted father, to Abraham, which means, the father of a multitude. The change was significant, as it placed emphasis not upon the importance of the man, but upon the purpose of God through him. Here Jehovah announced Himself as El-Shaddai, the full meaning of which is God all-sufficient.
Abraham yielded himself to the revelation in adoring prostration and thus entered into a yet higher region of fellowship. It was now that the symbol of circumcision was appointed. This was to be an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible relationship. It is well to remind ourselves that while this rite was indeed the sign of a spiritual relationship, it was by no means capricious and cruel but hygienic and beneficent. Medical science has now set its seal on the value of the rite.
At this point also the name of Sarai was changed to Sarah. The meaning of the old name is uncertain. The meaning of the new is Princess, in that she was to be the mother of nations. Abraham's laughter, unlike Sarah's later, was the laughter of gladness; and if the questions asked seem to suggest doubt, the fact of asking them on his face before God is evidence of the triumph of faith.
It was now that Abraham, in communion, gave expression to something that was evidently pulling at his heart. Ishmael was dear to him. The answer of God was not discipline, but the realization of a divine purpose. God is ever patient with us when the heart clings in affection to some method which is not His own. However, He never allows the man of faith to have his own way. There is a kindness which would be cruel. There is an apparent cruelty which is of the essence of kindness.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.