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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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Proof of the Agreement
1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty. Obey me and do what is right. 2I will make an agreement between us, and I will make you the ancestor of many people.”
3Then Abram bowed facedown on the ground. God said to him, 4“I am making my agreement with you: I will make you the father of many nations. 5I am changing your name from Abram to Abraham because I am making you a father of many nations. 6I will give you many descendants. New nations will be born from you, and kings will come from you. 7And I will make an agreement between me and you and all your descendants from now on: I will be your God and the God of all your descendants. 8You live in the land of Canaan now as a stranger, but I will give you and your descendants all this land forever. And I will be the God of your descendants.”
9Then God said to Abraham, “You and your descendants must keep this agreement from now on. 10This is my agreement with you and all your descendants, which you must obey: Every male among you must be circumcised. 11Cut away your foreskin to show that you are prepared to follow the agreement between me and you. 12From now on when a baby boy is eight days old, you will circumcise him. This includes any boy born among your people or any who is your slave, who is not one of your descendants. 13Circumcise every baby boy whether he is born in your family or bought as a slave. Your bodies will be marked to show that you are part of my agreement that lasts forever. 14Any male who is not circumcised will be cut off from his people, because he has broken my agreement.”
Isaac—the Promised Son
15God said to Abraham, “I will change the name of Sarai, your wife, to Sarah. 16I will bless her and give her a son, and you will be the father. She will be the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will come from her.”
17Abraham bowed facedown on the ground and laughed. He said to himself, “Can a man have a child when he is a hundred years old? Can Sarah give birth to a child when she is ninety?” 18Then Abraham said to God, “Please let Ishmael be the son you promised.”
19God said, “No, Sarah your wife will have a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will make my agreement with him to be an agreement that continues forever with all his descendants.
20“As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will bless him and give him many descendants. And I will cause their numbers to grow greatly. He will be the father of twelve great leaders, and I will make him into a great nation. 21But I will make my agreement with Isaac, the son whom Sarah will have at this same time next year.” 22After God finished talking with Abraham, God rose and left him.
23Then Abraham gathered Ishmael, all the males born in his camp, and the slaves he had bought. So that day Abraham circumcised every man and boy in his camp as God had told him to do. 24Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. 25And Ishmael, his son, was thirteen years old when he was circumcised. 26Abraham and his son were circumcised on the same day. 27Also on that day all the men in Abraham’s camp were circumcised, including all those born in his camp and all the slaves he had bought from other nations.