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Genesis 17

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Covenant of Circumcision.#The Priestly source gathers the major motifs of the story so far and sets them firmly within a covenant context; the word “covenant” occurs thirteen times. There are links to the covenant with Noah (v. 1 = 6:9; v. 7 = 9:9; v. 11 = 9:12–17). In this chapter, vv. 1–8 promise progeny and land; vv. 9–14 are instructions about circumcision; vv. 15–21 repeat the promise of a son to Sarah and distinguish this promise from that to Hagar; vv. 22–27 describe Abraham’s carrying out the commands. The Almighty: traditional rendering of Hebrew El Shaddai, which is P’s favorite designation of God in the period of the ancestors. Its etymology is uncertain, but its root meaning is probably “God, the One of the Mountains.” 1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said: I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless.#Gn 35:11; Ex 6:3. 2Between you and me I will establish my covenant, and I will multiply you exceedingly.#Gn 12:2; 13:16; Ex 32:13.
3Abram fell face down and God said to him: 4For my part, here is my covenant with you: you are to become the father of a multitude of nations.#Sir 44:21; Rom 4:17. 5No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,#Abram and Abraham are merely two forms of the same name, both meaning, “the father is exalted”; another variant form is Abiram (Nm 16:1; 1 Kgs 16:34). The additional -ha- in the form Abraham is explained by popular etymology as coming from ab-hamon goyim, “father of a multitude of nations.” for I am making you the father of a multitude of nations.#Neh 9:7. 6I will make you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings will stem from you. 7I will maintain my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.#Ps 105:42; Lk 1:72–73; Gal 3:16. 8I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now residing as aliens, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.#Ex 32:13; Dt 1:8; 14:2; Lk 1:55; Acts 7:5. 9God said to Abraham: For your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages. 10This is the covenant between me and you and your descendants after you that you must keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.#Circumcised: circumcision was widely practiced in the ancient world, usually as an initiation rite for males at puberty. By shifting the time of circumcision to the eighth day after birth, biblical religion made it no longer a “rite of passage” but the sign of the eternal covenant between God and the community descending from Abraham. #Jn 7:22; Acts 7:8; Rom 4:11. 11Circumcise the flesh of your foreskin. That will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.#Sir 44:20. 12Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised, including houseborn slaves and those acquired with money from any foreigner who is not of your descendants.#Lv 12:3; Lk 1:59; 2:21. 13Yes, both the houseborn slaves and those acquired with money must be circumcised. Thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant. 14If a male is uncircumcised, that is, if the flesh of his foreskin has not been cut away, such a one will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.
15God further said to Abraham: As for Sarai your wife, do not call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.#Sarai and Sarah are variant forms of the same name, both meaning “princess.” 16I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. Her also will I bless; she will give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples will issue from her.#Gn 18:10; Gal 4:23. 17Abraham fell face down and laughed#Laughed: yishaq, which is also the Hebrew form of the name “Isaac”; similar explanations of the name are given in Gn 18:12 and 21:6. as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah give birth at ninety?”#Rom 4:19; Heb 11:11–12. 18So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael could live in your favor!” 19God replied: Even so, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. It is with him that I will maintain my covenant as an everlasting covenant and with his descendants after him.#Gn 11:30; 21:2; Ex 32:13; Sir 44:22. 20Now as for Ishmael, I will heed you: I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly. He will become the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation.#Gn 16:10; 21:13, 18; 25:12–16. 21But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you by this time next year.#Gn 18:14; 21:2; 26:2–5; Rom 9:7. 22When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God departed from him.
23Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all his slaves, whether born in his house or acquired with his money—every male among the members of Abraham’s household—and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that same day, as God had told him to do. 24Abraham was ninety-nine years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised,#Gn 17:10; Rom 4:11. 25and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised. 26Thus, on that same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised; 27and all the males of his household, including the slaves born in his house or acquired with his money from foreigners, were circumcised with him.
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1When Avram was 99 years old Adonai appeared to Avram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai [God Almighty]. Walk in my presence and be pure-hearted. 2I will make my covenant between me and you, and I will increase your numbers greatly.” 3Avram fell on his face, and God continued speaking with him: 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations. 5Your name will no longer be Avram [exalted father], but your name will be Avraham [father of many], because I have made you the father of many nations. 6I will cause you to be very fruitful. I will make nations of you, kings will descend from you.
(vii) 7“I am establishing my covenant between me and you, along with your descendants after you, generation after generation, as an everlasting covenant, to be God for you and for your descendants after you. 8I will give you and your descendants after you the land in which you are now foreigners, all the land of Kena‘an, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.”
9God said to Avraham, “As for you, you are to keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation. 10Here is my covenant, which you are to keep, between me and you, along with your descendants after you: every male among you is to be circumcised. 11You are to be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; this will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12Generation after generation, every male among you who is eight days old is to be circumcised, including slaves born within your household and those bought from a foreigner not descended from you. 13The slave born in your house and the person bought with your money must be circumcised; thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant. 14Any uncircumcised male who will not let himself be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin — that person will be cut off from his people, because he has broken my covenant.”
15God said to Avraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are not to call her Sarai [mockery]; her name is to be Sarah [princess]. 16I will bless her; moreover, I will give you a son by her. Truly I will bless her: she will be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17At this Avraham fell on his face and laughed — he thought to himself, “Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah give birth at ninety?” 18Avraham said to God, “If only Yishma‘el could live in your presence!” 19God answered, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you are to call him Yitz’chak [laughter]. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20But as for Yishma‘el, I have heard you. I have blessed him. I will make him fruitful and give him many descendants. He will father twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21But I will establish my covenant with Yitz’chak, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.” 22With that, God finished speaking with Avraham and went up from him.
23Avraham took Yishma‘el his son, all the slaves born in his house and all who had been bought with his money, every male among the people in Avraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin that very day, just as God had said to him.
(Maftir) 24Avraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, 25and Yishma‘el his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26Avraham and Yishma‘el his son were circumcised on the same day; 27and all the men in his household, both slaves born in his house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Haftarah Lekh L’kha: Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 40:27–41:16
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Lekh L’kha: Acts 7:1–8; Romans 3:19–5:6; Galatians 3:15–18; 5:1–6; Colossians 2:11–15; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 7:1–19; 11:8–12