Genesis 17:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 17:11, NIV: "You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you."

Genesis 17:11, ESV: "You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you."

Genesis 17:11, KJV: "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you."

Genesis 17:11, NASB: "And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you."

Genesis 17:11, NLT: "You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you."

Genesis 17:11, CSB: "You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskin to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and you."

What does Genesis 17:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

God has made sweeping covenant promises to Abraham and to every generation of Abraham's descendants. Now God describes one thing He will require from Abraham and his offspring as a symbol of this covenant: circumcision. Every male, including Abraham, will need to be circumcised by cutting off the foreskin. This was to be a sign of the covenant God was making between Himself and Abraham. Circumcision may already have been practiced in the world at this time by specific tribes and nations, but it was far from universal. Abraham had never been circumcised, so it is likely it was not practiced by his family or the people of Mesopotamia.

In this instance, the ritual of circumcision presents several important symbols of our relationship to God. The process involves a circle, a common symbol of eternity and continuity. Through this circle, the next generation would pass via reproduction. It involves the "setting aside" or removal of a naturally-born part of the person. It creates a permanent change in the person making that commitment. It's an outward, visible representation of a spiritual covenant.

No matter who else in the world did or did not practice circumcision at that time, God made abundantly clear to Abraham that circumcision would become a sign of this covenant between God and Abraham. It would also be a sign for all those who would come from him. The following verses reveal that God's requirements about the practice would be very specific.