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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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Abram and Circumcision, the Sign of the Covenant
1When#Literally “And it happened that” Abram was ninety-nine years old Yahweh appeared to Abram. And he said to him, “I am El-Shaddai;#Often translated, “God Almighty” walk before me and be blameless 2so that#Or “and” I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you exceedingly.”#Literally “with very very” 3Then Abram fell upon his face and God spoke with him, saying, 4“As for me, behold, my covenant shall be with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5Your name shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 6And I will make you exceedingly#Literally “with very very” fruitful. I will make you a nation, and kings shall go out from you. 7And I will establish my covenant between me and you, and between your offspring after you, throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant to be as God for you and to your offspring after you. 8And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land in which you are living as an alien,#Literally “a land of your sojournings” all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting property. And I will be to them as God.”
9And God said to Abraham, “Now as for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you, throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant which you shall keep, between me and you, and also with#Or “between” your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12And at eight days of age#Literally “a son of eight days” you shall yourselves circumcise every male belonging to your generations and the servant born in your house and the one bought from any foreigner#Literally “those born of house and acquisition of money from every son of a foreigner” who is not from your offspring. 13You must certainly circumcise#Literally “circumcising you will circumcise” the servant born in your house and the one bought from any foreigner.#Literally “those born of house and acquisition of money from every son of a foreigner” And my covenant shall be with your flesh as an everlasting covenant. 14And as for any uncircumcised male who has not circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his#Literally “her”; the reference is still to a male; the pronoun is feminine because “person” (nephesh) is grammatically feminine people. He has broken my covenant. 15And God said to Abraham, “as for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, for Sarah shall be her name. 16And I will bless her; moreover, I give to you from her a son. And I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations.#Literally “she shall become to nations” Kings of peoples shall come#Or “be” from her.” 17And Abraham fell upon his face and laughed. And he said in his heart, “Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old,#Literally “to a man one hundred years old can he be born?” or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?”#Literally “can ninety-year-old Sarah bear a child?” 18And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19And God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear a son for you, and you shall call his name Isaac. And I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant to his offspring after him. 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I will bless him and I will make him fruitful, and I will multiply him exceedingly.#Literally “with very very” He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this appointed time next year.” 22When#Or “And” he finished speaking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23And Abraham took Ishmael his son and all who were born of his house, and all those acquired by his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskin on the same day that God spoke with him. 24Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin. 25And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin. 26Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on the same day. 27And all the men of his house, those born in the house, and those acquired by money from a foreigner,#Literally “born of house and acquisition of money from the son of a foreigner” were circumcised with him.