Genesis 17

1 And Abram was ninety-nine years old, and the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am thy God, be well-pleasing before me, and be blameless.
2 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell upon his face, and God spoke to him, saying,
4 And I, behold! my covenant with thee, and thou shalt be a father of a multitude of nations.
5 And thy name shall no more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraam, for I have made thee a father of many nations.
6 And I will increase thee very exceedingly, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish my covenant between thee and thy seed after thee, to their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be thy God, and of thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give to thee and to thy seed after thee the land wherein thou sojournest, even all the land of Chanaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them a God.
9 And God said to Abraam, Thou also shalt fully keep my covenant, thou and thy seed after thee for their generations.
10 And this the covenant which thou shalt fully keep between me and you, and between thy seed after thee for their generations; every male of you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between me and you.
12 And the child of eight days shall be circumcised by you, every male throughout your generations, and born in the house and he that is bought with money, of every son of a stranger, who is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with money shall be surely circumcised, and my covenant shall be on your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised male, who shall not be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin on the eighth day, that soul shall be utterly destroyed from its family, for he has broken my covenant.
15 And God said to Abraam, Sara thy wife—her name shall not be called Sara, Sarrha shall be her name.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son of her, and I will bless him, and he shall become nations, and kings of nations shall be of him.
17 And Abraam fell upon his face, and laughed; and spoke in his heart, saying, Shall there be a child to one who is a hundred years old, and shall Sarrha who is ninety years old, bear?
18 And Abraam said to God, Let this Ismael live before thee.
19 And God said to Abraam, Yea, behold, Sarrha thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to him and to his seed after him.
20 And concerning Ismael, behold, I have heard thee, and, behold, I have blessed him, and will increase him and multiply him exceedingly; twelve nations shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarrha shall bear to thee at this time, in the next year.
22 And he left off speaking with him, and God went up from Abraam.
23 And Abraam took Ismael his son, and all his home-born , and all those bought with money, and every male of the men in the house of Abraam, and he circumcised their foreskins in the time of that day, according as God spoke to him.
24 And Abraam was ninety-nine years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25 And Ismael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
26 And at the period of that day, Abraam was circumcised, and Ismael his son,
27 and all the men of his house, both those born in the house, and those bought with money of foreign nations.

Genesis 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

God renews the covenant with Abram. (1-6) Circumcision instituted. (7-14) Sarai's name changed, Isaac promised. (15-22) Abraham and his family are circumcised. (23-27)

Verses 1-6 The covenant was to be accomplished in due time. The promised Seed was Christ, and Christians in him. And all who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abram, being partakers of the same covenant blessings. In token of this covenant his name was changed from Abram, "a high father," to Abraham, "the father of a multitude." All that the Christian world enjoys, it is indebted for to Abraham and his Seed.

Verses 7-14 The covenant of grace is from everlasting in the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it. The token of the covenant was circumcision. It is here said to be the covenant which Abraham and his seed must keep. Those who will have the Lord to be to them a God, must resolve to be to him a people. Not only Abraham and Isaac, and his posterity by Isaac, were to be circumcised, but also Ishmael and the bond-servants. It sealed not only the covenant of the land of Canaan to Isaac's posterity, but of heaven, through Christ, to the whole church of God. The outward sign is for the visible church; the inward seal of the Spirit is peculiar to those whom God knows to be believers, and he alone can know them. The religious observance of this institution was required, under a very severe penalty. It is dangerous to make light of Divine institutions, and to live in the neglect of them. The covenant in question was one that involved great blessings for the world in all future ages. Even the blessedness of Abraham himself, and all the rewards conferred upon him, were for Christ's sake. Abraham was justified, as we have seen, not by his own righteousness, but by faith in the promised Messiah.

Verses 15-22 Here is the promise made to Abraham of a son by Sarai, in whom the promise made to him should be fulfilled. The assurance of this promise was the change of Sarai's name into Sarah. Sarai signifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to one family only; Sarah signifies a princess. The more favours God confers upon us, the more low we should be in our own eyes. Abraham showed great joy; he laughed, it was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day; now he saw it and was glad, ( John 8:56 ) . Abraham, dreading lest Ishmael should be abandoned and forsaken of God, put up a petition on his behalf. God gives us leave in prayer to be particular in making known our requests. Whatever is our care and fear, should be spread before God in prayer. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and the great thing we should desire is, that they may be kept in covenant with Him, and may have grace to walk before him in uprightness. Common blessings are secured to Ishmael. Outward good things are often given to those children of godly parents who are born after the flesh, for their parents' sake. Covenant blessings are reserved for Isaac, and appropriated to him.

Verses 23-27 Abraham and all his family were circumcised; so receiving the token of the covenant, and distinguishing themselves from other families that had no part nor lot in the matter. It was an implicit obedience; he did as God said unto him, and did not ask why or wherefore. He did it because God bade him. It was a speedy obedience; in the self-same day. Sincere obedience makes no delay. Not only the doctrines of revelation, but the seals of God's covenant, remind us that we are guilty, polluted sinners. They show us our need of the blood of atonement; they point to the promised Saviour, and teach us to exercise faith in him. They show us that without regeneration, and sanctification by his Spirit, and the mortification of our corrupt and carnal inclinations, we cannot be in covenant with God. But let us remember that the true circumcision is that of the heart, by the Spirit, ( romans 2:28 romans 2:29 ) . Both under the old and new dispensation, many have had the outward profession, and the outward seal, who were never sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 17

This chapter treats of a covenant made with Abram, sometimes called the covenant of circumcision, the time when God appeared to him, and promised to make it, and did, Ge 17:1-3; the particulars of it, both with respect to himself, whose name was now changed, and to his posterity, Ge 17:4-8; the token of it, circumcision, the time of its performance, and the persons obliged to it, Ge 17:9-14; the change of Sarai's name, and a promise made that she should have a son, to the great surprise of Abraham, Ge 17:15-17; a prayer of his for Ishmael, and the answer to it, with a confirmation of Sarah's having a son, whose name should be called Isaac, and the establishment of the covenant with him, Ge 17:18-22; and the chapter is closed with an account of the circumcision of Abraham, and all his family of the male sort, agreeably to the command of God, Ge 17:23-27.

Genesis 17 Commentaries