Genesis 17:5

5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.

Genesis 17:5 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 17:5

Neither shall thy name be any more called Abram
Which signifies an "high father", which name he bore for many years before he was the father of anyone:

but thy name shall be Abraham:
with all addition of the letter (h) inserted into it, and makes the last syllable two, "raham": which word in the Arabic language, as Hottinger F7 observes, signifies "numerous" {h}; so that with this addition his name Abraham may be interpreted, the father of a numerous offspring; and with this agrees the reason of it, as follows:

for a father of many nations have I made thee;
not that he was so already in fact, but in the purpose and promise of God, ( Romans 4:17 ) ; Abraham has not only been the father of many nations, in a literal sense, as before observed, but in a mystical sense, of the whole world; that is, of all in it that believe, whether Jews or Gentiles; and so the Rabbins F9 interpret it: at first, they say, he was the father of Aram, and therefore his name was called Abram, but now he is the father of the whole world, and therefore called Abraham; and so Maimonides F11 himself says, quoting this passage,

``behold he is the father of the whole world, who are gathered under the wings of the Shechinah.''


FOOTNOTES:

F7 Smegma Oriental. p. 88.
F8 <arabic>, "numerus", "copiosus", Golius, col. 1055, 1056. Castel. col. 3537.
F9 In Massechet Biccurim, apud Galat. in Arcan. Cathol. Ver. l. 5, 13. & 9, 12. in Maimon. in Misn. ib. c. 1. sect. 4.
F11 Hilchot Biccurim, c. 4. sect. 3.

Genesis 17:5 In-Context

3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him,
4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from 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 God to you and to your offspring after you.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. That is [exalted ancestor]
  • [b]. Here taken to mean [ancestor of a multitude]