Genesis 17

Genesis 17


When AbramI wasII ninetyIII-nineIV years old,V

Notes on verse 1a

I “Abram” = Abram. From the same as Abiram (exalted father, a high father – lofty) {from ab (father literal or figurative) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Abram, exalted father.
II “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
III “ninety” = tishim. From the same as tesha (nine, perhaps as looking to the next number associated with fullness – 10); perhaps from sha’ah (to gaze at, gaze around, regard – to look to, especially for help; to consider or be compassionate; to look at in amazement or while confounded). This is ninety.
IV “nine” = tesha. Related to “ninety” in v1. See note III above.
V “old” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

the LordVI appearedVII to Abram, and said to him, “I am GodVIII Almighty;IX 

Notes on verse 1b

VI “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “was” in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note II above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
VII “appeared” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
VIII “God” = El.
IX “Almighty” = Shaddai. Perhaps from shadad (to ruin, assault, devastate, oppress, destroy completely; properly, it is being burly; figuratively it is something that is powerful) OR from shed (protective spirit) OR shadah (to moisten) OR shad (breast). Perhaps meaning almighty, “my destroyer,” “my protective spirit,” “my rainmaker,” “self-sufficient, “who is abundantly,” or “breasted one” – as the one who abundantly provides or grants fertility/abundance to humans. See

walkX before me,XI and be blameless.XII 

Notes on verse 1c

X “walk” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XI “before me” = paneh. Literally “before my face.” From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
XII “blameless” = tamim. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is ecntire in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be complete, full, intact, or without defect. Alternately, it could refer to being sound, having integrity, being sincere or perfect.

And I will makeXIII my covenantXIV between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.”XV 

Notes on verse 2

XIII “make” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XIV “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
XV “make…numerous” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.

Then Abram fellXVI on his face;XVII and GodXVIII saidXIX to him, 

Notes on verse 3

XVI “fell” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
XVII “face” = paneh. Same as “before m” in v1. See note XI above.
XVIII “God” = Elohim. Related to “God” in v1. See note VIII above.
XIX “said” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.

“As for me,XX this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestorXXI of a multitudeXXII of nations.XXIII 

Notes on verse 4

XX {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
XXI “ancestor” = ab. Related to “Abraham” in v1. See note I above.
XXII “multitude” = hamon. From hamah (to growl, cry out, be moved, murmur, hum, mourn, rage, clamor). This is a sound, noise, roar, rumbling, wealth, crowd, disquietude.
XXIII “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

No longer shall your nameXXIV beXXV Abram, but your name shall be Abraham;XXVI for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful;XXVII and I will make nations of you, and kings shall comeXXVIII from you.

Notes on verses 5-6

XXIV “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
XXV “be” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XXVI “Abraham” = Abraham. Related to “Abram” in v1 & “ancestor” in v4. From the same as Abiram (see note I above). This is Abraham, father of many nations or father of a multitude.
XXVII “make…fruitful” = parah. This is to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase. It is bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense.
XXVIII “come” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.

 I will establishXXIX my covenant between me and you, and your offspringXXX after you throughout their generations,XXXI for an everlastingXXXII covenant, to be GodXXXIII to you and to your offspring after you. 

Notes on verse 7

XXIX “establish” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
XXX “offspring” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
XXXI “generations” = dor. From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.
XXXII “everlasting” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
XXXIII “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.

And I will giveXXXIV to you, and to your offspring after you, the landXXXV where you are now an alien,XXXVI all the land of Canaan,XXXVII

Notes on verse 8a

XXXIV “give” = natan. Same as “make” in v2. See note XIII above.
XXXV “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
XXXVI “alien” = magor. From gur (properly, the act of turning off the road for any reason; sojourning, becoming a guest; can mean being fearful since one is outside of home territory; also dwelling, living, or inhabiting if one has turned off the root to encamp for a longer duration). This is a dwelling place, a temporary lodging. It can also mean to be fearful as one might be in a strange place.
XXXVII “Canaan” = Kna’an. From kana’ (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled. This could mean lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt. See

for a perpetualXXXVIII holding;XXXIX and I will be their God.”XL

Notes on verse 8b

XXXVIII “perpetual” = olam. Same as “everlasting” in v7. See note XXXII above.
XXXIX “holding” = achuzzah. From achaz (to grasp, catch, seize, take and hold in possession). This is a possession, particularly used of land.
XL “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.

GodXLI said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keepXLII my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every maleXLIII among you shall be circumcised.XLIV 

Notes on verses 9-10

XLI “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.
XLII “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
XLIII “male” = zakar. From zakar (to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention). This is male. Properly, perhaps, it means one who is remembered, which is to say a male.
XLIV “be circumcised” = mul. This is to cut off, cut in pieces, or destroy. It is used for to circumcise. It can also mean to blunt.

11 You shall circumciseXLV the fleshXLVI of your foreskins,XLVII and it shall be a signXLVIII of the covenant between me and you. 

Notes on verse 11

XLV “circumcise” = namal. Related to “be circumcised” in v10. 5x in OT. From the same as mul (see note XLIV above).  This is to cut down, language, circumcise, wither, or fade.
XLVI “flesh” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.
XLVII “foreskins” = orlah. 16x in OT. Perhaps from arel (uncircumcised, unskilled, exposed, forbidden); from arel (to strip or expose, restrain; to remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is foreskin or uncircumcised. It can also mean forbidden.
XLVIII “sign” = oth. From avah (to mark, sign, point out); OR from uth (to agree). This is a sign in a literal or figurative sense. It could be a flag or monument. It could be evidence or a mark. It could also be an omen or a miracle. 

12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eightXLIX days old, including the slave bornL in your houseLI and the one boughtLII with your moneyLIII from any foreignerLIV who is not of your offspring. 

Notes on verse 12

XLIX “eight” = shemoneh. Perhaps from shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat); from shaman (to grow fat, shine, be oily). This is eight or eighth. It can refer to abundance as being more than 7, the number of sacred fullness.
L “born” = yalid. 13x in OT. From yalad (to bear, bring forth; can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage). This is born, children, or otherwise referring to descendants.
LI “house” = bayit. Perhaps related to “old” in v1. Perhaps from banah (see note V above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
LII “bought” = miqnah. 15x in OT. From qanah (to get, buy, redeem, create, possess). This is buying so it could be the process of buying something, the thing bought (land or object or livestock), or the price of the thing.
LIII “money” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.
LIV “foreigner” = ben + nekar. Literally “son of foreignness.” Ben is the same as “old” in v1. See note V above. Nekar is from the same as neker (misfortune, disaster). This is foreign or strange.

13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised.LV So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcisedLVI male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskinLVII shall be cut offLVIII from his people;LIX he has brokenLX my covenant.”

Notes on verses 13-14

LV “must be circumcised” = mul + mul. Same as “be circumcised” in v10. See note XLIV above. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
LVI “uncircumcised” = arel. Related to “foreskins” in v11. See note XLVII above.
LVII {untranslated} = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
LVIII “cut off” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
LIX “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
LX “broken” = parar. This is to break, defeat, frustrate, caste off, clean, cease.

15 GodLXI said to Abraham, “As for SaraiLXII your wife,LXIII you shall not callLXIV her Sarai, but SarahLXV shall be her name. 

Notes on verse 15

LXI “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.
LXII “Sarai” = Saray. 17x in OT. From the same as sar (chief, ruler, lord, official, governor, prince; someone at the top of a rank or class). This is Sarai, which means princess or ruler.
LXIII “wife” = ishshah. From ish (man); perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is woman, wife, or female.
LXIV “call” = qara + et + shem. Literally “call her name.”  Qara is the same as “be” in v5. See note XXV above. Shem is the same as “name” in v5. See note XXIV above.
LXV “Sarah” = Sarah. Related to “Sarai” in v15. From the same as Sarah (see note LXII above). This is Sarah, meaning princess.

16 I will blessLXVI her, and moreover I will give you a sonLXVII by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise toLXVIII nations; kings of peoples shall comeLXIX from her.”

Notes on verse 16

LXVI “bless” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
LXVII “son” = ben. Same as “old” in v1. See note V above.
LXVIII “give rise to” = hayah. Same as “was” in v1. See note II above.
LXIX “come” = hayah. Same as “was” in v1. See note II above.

 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed,LXX and said to himself,LXXI “Can a childLXXII be bornLXXIII to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old,LXXIV bear a child?” 

Notes on verse 17

LXX “laughed” = tsachaq. 13x in OT. This is to laugh, mock, play, make sport. It is laughing out loud whether in joy or in a scornful way. This is the root of “Isaac.”
LXXI “to himself” = leb. Literally “in his heart.” May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
LXXII “child” = ben. Same as “old” in v1. See note V above.
LXXIII “be born” = yalad. Related to “born” in v12. See note L above.
LXXIV “old” = bat. Perhaps related to “old” in v1 & “house” in v12. From ben (see note V above). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.

18 And Abraham said to God,LXXV “O that IshmaelLXXVI might liveLXXVII in your sight!” 

19 GodLXXVIII said, “No, butLXXIX your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall nameLXXX him Isaac.LXXXI I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 

Notes on verses 18-19

LXXV “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.
LXXVI “Ishmael” = Yishmael. Related to “God” in v1 & “God” in v3. From shama (hear, call, consent, or consider; implies listening intelligently, giving attention; obedience and action are often implied) + el (see note VIII above). This is Ishmael, meaning “God hears” or “God will hear.”
LXXVII “might live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
LXXVIII “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.
LXXIX “no, but” = abal. 11x in OT. Perhaps from abal (to mourn, bewail). This is truly, indeed, but.
LXXX “name” = qara + et + shem. Literally “call his name.” See note LXIV above.
LXXXI “Isaac” = Yitschaq. Related to “laughed” in v17. From tsachaq (see note LXX above). This is Isaac, meaning “he laughs.”

20 As for Ishmael, I have heardLXXXII you;LXXXIII I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father ofLXXXIV twelveLXXXV princes,LXXXVI and I will make him a greatLXXXVII nation. 

Notes on verse 20

LXXXII “heard” = shama. Related to “Ishmael” in v18. See note LXXVI above.
LXXXIII {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as {untranslated} in v4. See note XX above.
LXXXIV “be the father of” = yalad. Same as “be born” in v17. See note LXXIII above.
LXXXV “twelve” = shenayim + asar. Shenayim is from sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple. Asar is from the same as eser (ten). This is ten or -teen.
XXXVI “princes” = nasi. From nasa (to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively; to carry, take, or arise; to bring forth, advance, accept). This is one lifted up or exalter. So, it could be prince, chief, ruler, captain, king, or vapor.
LXXXVII “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.

21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this seasonLXXXVIII next year.” 22 And when he had finishedLXXXIX talkingXC with him, GodXCI went upXCII from Abraham.

Notes on verses 21-22

LXXXVIII “season” = moed. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree). This is a meeting, assembly, fixed time. It can be used for a festival or feast. It can also refer to a meeting place.
LXXXIX “finished” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
XC “talking” = dabar. Same as “said” in v3. See note XIX above.
XCI “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.
XCII “went up” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.

23 Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the menXCIII of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that veryXCIV day, as GodXCV had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And his son Ishmael was thirteenXCVI years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised; 27 and all the men of his house, slaves born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

Notes on verses 23-27

XCIII “men” = ish. Related to “wife” in v15. See note LXIII above.
XCIV “very” = etsem. From atsam (vast, numerous, strong; to close one’s eyes, to make powerful; to break bones). This is self, life, strength, bone, or substance.
XCV “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v3. See note XVIII above.
XCVI “thirteen” = shalosh + asar. Shalosh is three, fork, three times. Asar is the same as “twelve” in v20. See note LXXXV above.

Image credit: “Stories from Genesis: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” by Wycliffe Russia.

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