Chapter 17


From chapter 16, it was known the human/traditional laws allowed another woman to be designated to have a baby for a barren woman. God had promised Abraham that Abraham would father a nation. If he were truly faithful, Abraham would have waited. Abraham had waited about 12 years and had not heard anything else from God.

Gen. 17:1-4:

Now the Lord speaks to Abraham again. It appears He is going to nail down this covenant "thing" that has been plaguing Abraham. Abraham is 99 years old, very old by our standards. God asks Abraham to follow Him and be blameless. Abraham falls on his face to worship God in humility. God declares a covenant with Abraham.

Gen. 17:5:

Abraham's (means "father of the multitude") name is changed to Abraham from Abram (As mentioned early in this study, we have been using the new name of Abraham throughout the study.) God FINALLY comes to Abraham and restates His covenant with Abraham. Now Abraham must take an action within the covenant of God. He must become circumcised as a sign or token of the covenant.

Abraham did not originate circumcision. It was actually used within the culture of Abraham to show the powers of human reproduction or, perhaps, a tribal mark. The tribal mark (mark of the Jews) was probably the primary purpose for circumcision of Abraham and his male followers from eight days old and up. Therefore, God utilized an old, well known, and accepted physical custom and uses it for His own spiritual purposes. Abraham had all males, over whom he had authority, circumcised.

Gen. 17:6-10:

God clearly designates the land which are to be given to Abraham and his descendants. That is defined as the Land of Canaan. Abraham will be fruitful and make nations of Abraham's descendants. Even the kings will depend on him. God declares He is THE God to Abraham and all descendants.

Gen. 17:11-14:

God states the circumcision, the cutting off the foreskin of males, will be a sign of the covenant. All males over which Abraham has influence and directions shall be circumcised. (Note; there is a circumcision for females. But, that is not within the covenant God makes with Abraham.) In the future, eight days after the male is born, he shall be circumcised. In Abraham's case, all males eight days old and older are to be circumcised immediately. Even the servants that were born in the house or were bought from a foreigner shall be circumcised. It is obvious by the amount of coverage of this action in this chapter that God takes this act seriously. He states that any who refuse circumcision will be cut off from his people. Those persons would be breaking God's covenant.

Gen. 17:15-16:

Sarah's name was changed from Sarai. God specifically says that He is going to give Abraham and Sarah a son. She will be blessed. By her being the chosen "mother", she will then be the mother of nations. This is the start of the story for the twelve nations of Israel of which Abraham will be the first Patriarch The word patriarch comes from a combination of the Latin word pater, “father,” and the Greek verb archo, “to rule.” A patriarch is thus a ruling ancestor who may be the founding father of a family, a clan, or a nation..

Gen. 17:17-19:

When God tells Abraham of the coming child, Abraham falls on his face and laughs. He would be 100 years old and Sarah would be 90 years old when the new child is born. God says it will be done. Also, Ishmael would also be the father of a nation in which he will beget twelve princes. However, Sarah's son would be the one through whom the covenant relationship is made.

We have to remember that Abraham especially loved Ishmael. It was his son, although it was not through Sarah. Abraham in v18 asks about Ishmael. Since God tells Abraham that Isaac was to be the descendant of choice for God to start the "nations", Abraham asks God if Ishmael would also be blessed ("Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!") will some of this lineage. The words are a little hard to understand. God says no. The son of Sarah, Isaac, is the one through whom the everlasting covenant would be placed.

Gen. 17:20:

Abraham is told that the Lord has heard the pleas of Abraham. God will bless Ishmael. He will be fruitful and be the father of twelve prices and a great nation (Gen 25:12-16). This gives a listing of Ishmael's sons, who were all leaders princes in their tribes.. From Ishmael proceeded the various tribes of the Arabs, called also Saracens by Christian writers. These were members of the nomadic people of the Syrian and Arabian deserts at the time of the Roman Empire They were anciently, and still continue to be, a very numerous and powerful people.

Gen. 17:21-22:

God specifically states the covenant will be established through the lineage of Isaac. Sarah would be the mother this season. Then God left Abraham in terms of conversing with Abraham.

Gen. 17:23-27:

Abraham now had to fulfill his part of the covenant. He gathered his son Ishmael, and all his servants, whether born in his house or purchased. He had them all circumcised. When we read the BIble, we are concerned about things such as this. Imagine being in a household that the master came in and said all the men would be circumcised. The only way this could occur with order is to have the people of the household have so much love and trust in Abraham that they would do almost anything for him. Also, remember that is one rejected this act, he would not be included in God's kingdom. It is stated that Abraham was 99 years old and Ishmael was 13 years old at the time of the circumcision ( done the same day).

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