Genesis 17

God changes Abram's name to Abraham

1 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him. The Lord said, ‘I am God Almighty. In all your life, obey me and do nothing wrong. 2 Then I will certainly keep my covenant with you. I will make your descendants grow in number.’

17:2Almighty’ means that God is the Lord of everything. He is the one who blesses people and gives them life. God had already promised Abraham that he would have very many descendants See Genesis 15:4-5. Now God is reminding Abram of his promise. Abram should continue to trust God.

3 Abram fell down so that his face touched the ground. God said to him, 4 ‘As for me, this is my covenant that I have made with you. You will become the ancestor of many nations of people. 5 Your name will not be Abram any more. Instead your name will be Abraham, because I will cause you to become the ancestor of many nations. 6 I will give you many descendants. These will make many nations of people. Some of your descendants will become kings.

17:4Abram will have many descendants. They will live all over the earth, in many different countries.

7 My covenant with you is very strong. I am making it with you and with your descendants. It will continue for generation after generation of your descendants, for all time. I will be your God. I will also be the God of all your descendants. 8 You are now living here in Canaan as a foreign person. But I will give all of this land to you and to your descendants. It will belong to them for ever. I will be their God.’

Circumcision

9 God continued to speak to Abraham. He said, ‘As for you, you must agree to obey me. You must obey the rules of my covenant. You, and all your descendants after you must obey it. 10 This is what you and all your descendants must do to obey my covenant: Every male person in your family must be circumcised. 11 Your circumcision will show that you have agreed to my covenant with you. 12 Every male child among you must be circumcised when he is 8 days old. You must continue to do this for every generation. Do it for every male that lives with you, not just your own family. Circumcise servants that have been born in your house. Also circumcise foreign servants that you have bought with money. 13 You must circumcise all the male servants who work for you in your house. Circumcision will be a mark in your bodies which shows that you accept my covenant. It will continue for all time.

14 If any male person among you has not been circumcised, I will not accept him as one of my people. He must become separate from his people. He has not obeyed my covenant.’

17:14Circumcision showed that a person trusted God. Every father had to circumcise his son. This showed that the family agreed to obey God's covenant.

God changes Sarai's name to Sarah

15 Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for your wife, do not call her Sarai any more. Instead, her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her. She will give birth to a son for you. Many nations of people will be her descendants. Some of them will become kings. That is how much I will bless her!’

17 Abraham fell down so that his face touched the ground. He laughed and he said to himself, ‘I am now 100 years old. That is too old to have a son. Sarah is 90 years old, so she could never give birth to a child. That is too old to have a child.’ 18 So Abraham said to God, ‘I would be happy if you would bless Ishmael as my son.’

19 God said to Abraham, ‘No, your wife Sarah will give birth to a son for you. You must give to him the name “Isaac”. I will make my covenant with him and with his descendants for all time. 20 I have heard what you want me to do for Ishmael. I will bless him. I will cause him to have many descendants. Among his descendants there will be 12 rulers. His descendants will become a great nation. 21 But I will make my covenant with Isaac, not with Ishmael. At about this time next year, Sarah will give birth to your son, Isaac.’

17:19God tells Abraham that Sarah's child will continue Abraham's family line. It will not be Hagar's child, Ishmael. The name ‘Isaac’ means ‘he laughs’.

22 When God had finished speaking to Abraham, he went away.

17:22God agrees to bless Ishmael because Abraham asked him to do that. But God makes his covenant with Isaac because he will be Abraham and Sarah's own son. That is what God had promised to do for them.

23 On that same day, Abraham circumcised Ishmael and every male person in his house. He circumcised every male servant that was born in his house, as well as those that he had bought with money. He did this in the way that God had told him. 24 Abraham himself was circumcised when he was 99 years old. 25 His son, Ishmael, was 13 years old when he was circumcised. 26 Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised on the same day. 27 As well as them, all the male people living in Abraham's house were circumcised. This included the male servants that had been born in his house and those that he had bought with money.