Add parallel Print Page Options

17 When Abram was 99 years old, the Eternal One appeared to him again, assuring him of the promise of a child yet to come.

Eternal One: I am the God-All-Powerful.[a] Walk before Me. Continue to trust and serve Me faithfully. Be blameless and true. If you are true and trust Me, then I will make certain the covenant with you that I promised. I will bless you with a throng of descendants.

Abram bowed low, his face and body flat on the ground.

Eternal One: Here is My covenant with you. I promise you will become the root of a huge family tree of multiple nations. To symbolize your foundational role in this covenant, I hereby change your name. You will no longer go by the name “Abram.” Your new name will be “Abraham,” which means “father of a great multitude of nations,” because that is exactly what I will make of you.[b] Your descendants will be exceedingly fruitful. Nations and kings will descend from you. I hereby make this covenant—this sacred bond—between Me and you and all of your children and their children’s children throughout the coming generations. It will be an eternal covenant. I will be your God and the God to all who come after you! I will fulfill My promise to give you and your descendants the land of Canaan, where you now live as foreigners. I will place all of Canaan into your hands to be yours forever. I will be your God and their God forever.

(continuing to Abraham) As for your part in the agreement, you and your descendants must keep My covenant throughout the generations. 10-11 The sign that you and your family keep My covenant is this: each male who lives among you shall be circumcised. The circumcised flesh of your foreskins constitutes a special “sign” of the covenant I made with you, a relationship bonded together by loyalty and love. 12-13 From this point onward, throughout coming generations, each male child born to you should be circumcised when he is eight days old. You must circumcise all male members of your household, even the slaves born within your household or the servants purchased from foreigners who aren’t your flesh and blood; anyone and everyone within your household must carry this sign. This external mark on his body will be a sign of My everlasting covenant. 14 Any male who is not separated from his foreskin will be cut off from his people and excluded from these covenant promises because he has broken My covenant.

15 (continuing to Abraham) As for Sarai, your wife, the covenant applies to her as well. No longer will she be known as Sarai; her new name will be Sarah. 16 She will receive My special blessing, and she will conceive a son by you. With My blessing on her, she will become the founding princess of nations to come. Kings of many peoples will be counted among her children.

The Scriptures tell us that names matter. What we call people and places often describes and defines them in ways other kinds of words do not. People’s names may recall the circumstances of their birth or reflect their character or perhaps depict their destiny. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham to signify that he will become the founding father of many nations. The change in Sarah’s name is a bit more complicated because both “Sarai” and “Sarah” mean “princess.” Still the name “Sarah” becomes her covenant-name, the name by which generations know her. As the wife of Abraham’s youth and old age, Sarah is destined to become the founding princess of many nations, a royal mother to many kings.

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and erupted into laughter in a moment of private absurdity, as he thought to himself, “Yeah, right! How can a centenarian father a child? Am I supposed to believe that Sarah, my 90-year-old wife, is going to have a baby?”

Abraham (to God): 18 There’s Ishmael of course. May my son Ishmael be blessed and live a long life beneath Your watchful eye.

Eternal One: 19 No, Abraham. I mean what I am telling you. Your wife Sarah will certainly become pregnant and bear a son. I want you to name him Isaac. I will continue to establish My covenant with him; through his line My covenant will last forever. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard your prayers for him! Look, he is your son too. I will bless him as well and make his lineage fruitful. His descendants will also be of a huge number. In fact, he will be the father of 12 princes. I will make sure that a great nation arises from his descendants as well. 21 But My special covenant—this I will establish with Isaac. Sarah is going to give birth to him at this very time next year.

22 When God was finished talking with Abraham about all of this, He left and Abraham went home. 23 Abraham immediately took his son Ishmael and all of the slaves born in his household or bought with his money—every single male within his household—and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that very day, just as God had told him to do. 24 Abraham was already 99 years old when he was circumcised. 25 His son Ishmael was 13 years old when he received the mark of the covenant. 26 On the day Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised, 27 all men of the household, no matter where they had come from, were circumcised along with them.


  1. 17:1 Hebrew, El Shaddai
  2. 17:5 Romans 4:17

Bible Gateway Recommends