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Genesis 17:9-27 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep[a] the covenantal requirement[b] I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep:[c] Every male among you must be circumcised.[d] 11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This will be a reminder[e] of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old[f] must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants. 13 They must indeed be circumcised,[g] whether born in your house or bought with money. The sign of my covenant[h] will be visible in your flesh as a permanent[i] reminder. 14 Any uncircumcised male[j] who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin will be cut off[k] from his people—he has failed to carry out my requirement.”[l]

15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai;[m] Sarah[n] will be her name. 16 I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations.[o] Kings of countries[p] will come from her!”

17 Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed[q] as he said to himself,[r] “Can[s] a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old?[t] Can Sarah[u] bear a child at the age of ninety?”[v] 18 Abraham said to God, “O that[w] Ishmael might live before you!”[x]

19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac.[y] I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual[z] covenant for his descendants after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you.[aa] I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants.[ab] He will become the father of twelve princes;[ac] I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.” 22 When he finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.[ad]

23 Abraham took his son Ishmael and every male in his household (whether born in his house or bought with money)[ae] and circumcised them[af] on that very same day, just as God had told him to do. 24 Now Abraham was 99 years old[ag] when he was circumcised;[ah] 25 his son Ishmael was thirteen years old[ai] when he was circumcised. 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on the very same day. 27 All the men of his household, whether born in his household or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.


  1. Genesis 17:9 tn The imperfect tense could be translated “you shall keep” as a binding command, but the obligatory nuance (“must”) captures the binding sense better.
  2. Genesis 17:9 tn Heb “my covenant.” The Hebrew word בְּרִית (berit) can refer to (1) the agreement itself between two parties (see v. 7), (2) the promise made by one party to another (see vv. 2-3, 7), (3) an obligation placed by one party on another, or (4) a reminder of the agreement. In vv. 9-10 the word refers to a covenantal obligation which God gives to Abraham and his descendants.
  3. Genesis 17:10 tn Heb “This is my covenant that you must keep between me and you and your descendants after you.”
  4. Genesis 17:10 sn For a discussion of male circumcision as the sign of the covenant in this passage see M. V. Fox, “The Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in the Light of the Priestly ʾot Etiologies,” RB 81 (1974): 557-96.
  5. Genesis 17:11 tn Or “sign.”
  6. Genesis 17:12 tn Heb “the son of eight days.”
  7. Genesis 17:13 tn The emphatic construction employs the Niphal imperfect tense (collective singular) and the Niphal infinitive.
  8. Genesis 17:13 tn Heb “my covenant.” Here in v. 13 the Hebrew word בְּרִית (berit) refers to the outward, visible sign, or reminder, of the covenant. For the range of meaning of the term, see the note on the word “requirement” in v. 9.
  9. Genesis 17:13 tn Or “an eternal.”
  10. Genesis 17:14 tn The disjunctive clause calls attention to the “uncircumcised male” and what will happen to him.
  11. Genesis 17:14 tn Heb “that person will be cut off.” The words “that person” have not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.sn The meaning of “cut off” has been discussed at great length. An entire tractate in the Mishnah is devoted to this subject (tractate Keritot). Being ostracized from the community is involved at the least, but it is not certain whether this refers to the death penalty.
  12. Genesis 17:14 tn Heb “he has broken my covenant.” The noun בְּרִית (berit) here refers to the obligation required by God in conjunction with the covenantal agreement. For the range of meaning of the term, see the note on the word “requirement” in v. 9.
  13. Genesis 17:15 tn Heb “[As for] Sarai your wife, you must not call her name Sarai, for Sarah [will be] her name.”
  14. Genesis 17:15 sn Sarah. The name change seems to be a dialectical variation, both spellings meaning “princess” or “queen.” Like the name Abram, the name Sarai symbolized the past. The new name Sarah, like the name Abraham, would be a reminder of what God intended to do for Sarah in the future.
  15. Genesis 17:16 tn Heb “she will become nations.”
  16. Genesis 17:16 tn Heb “peoples.”
  17. Genesis 17:17 sn Laughed. The Hebrew verb used here provides the basis for the naming of Isaac: “And he laughed” is וַיִּצְחָק (vayyitskhaq); the name “Isaac” is יִצְחָק (yitskhaq), “he laughs.” Abraham’s (and Sarah’s, see 18:12) laughter signals disbelief, but when the boy is born, the laughter signals surprise and joy.
  18. Genesis 17:17 tn Heb “And he fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart.”
  19. Genesis 17:17 tn The imperfect verbal form here carries a potential nuance, as it expresses the disbelief of Abraham.
  20. Genesis 17:17 tn Heb “to the son of a hundred years.”
  21. Genesis 17:17 sn It is important to note that even though Abraham staggers at the announcement of the birth of a son, finding it almost too incredible, he nonetheless calls his wife Sarah, the new name given to remind him of the promise of God (v. 15).
  22. Genesis 17:17 tn Heb “the daughter of ninety years.”
  23. Genesis 17:18 tn The wish is introduced with the Hebrew particle לוּ (lu), “O that.”
  24. Genesis 17:18 tn Or “live with your blessing.”
  25. Genesis 17:19 tn Heb “will call his name Isaac.” The name means “he laughs,” or perhaps “may he laugh” (see the note on the word “laughed” in v. 17).
  26. Genesis 17:19 tn Or “as an eternal.”
  27. Genesis 17:20 sn The Hebrew verb translated “I have heard you” forms a wordplay with the name Ishmael, which means “God hears.” See the note on the name “Ishmael” in 16:11.
  28. Genesis 17:20 tn Heb “And I will multiply him exceedingly, exceedingly.” The repetition is emphatic.
  29. Genesis 17:20 tn For a discussion of the Hebrew word translated “princes,” see E. A. Speiser, “Background and Function of the Biblical Nasi’,” CBQ 25 (1963): 111-17.
  30. Genesis 17:22 tn Heb “And when he finished speaking with him, God went up from Abraham.” The sequence of pronouns and proper names has been modified in the translation for stylistic reasons.sn God went up from him. The text draws attention to God’s dramatic exit and in so doing brings full closure to the scene.
  31. Genesis 17:23 tn Heb “Ishmael his son and all born in his house and all bought with money, every male among the men of the house of Abraham.”
  32. Genesis 17:23 tn Heb “circumcised the flesh of their foreskin.” The Hebrew expression is somewhat pleonastic and has been simplified in the translation.
  33. Genesis 17:24 tn Heb “the son of ninety-nine years.”
  34. Genesis 17:24 tn Heb “circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin” (also in v. 25).
  35. Genesis 17:25 tn Heb “the son of thirteen years.”
New English Translation (NET)

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