Genesis 17:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 17:12, NIV: "For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner--those who are not your offspring."

Genesis 17:12, ESV: "He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,"

Genesis 17:12, KJV: "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed."

Genesis 17:12, NASB: "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, including a slave who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants."

Genesis 17:12, NLT: "From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased."

Genesis 17:12, CSB: "Throughout your generations, every male among you is to be circumcised at eight days old--every male born in your household or purchased from any foreigner and not your offspring."

What does Genesis 17:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

God has just revealed to Abraham that He will require that he and every male member of his household be circumcised. In this way, God's people, born through Abraham, will be set apart for Him. This will be a sign of the covenant between God and Israel, starting right now. Circumcision involves the removal of the foreskin from the penis. This symbolizes the imperfection of our "natural" state, the eternal promise of God, and the influence of God in the very existence of future generations.

Verse 12 gets more specific about how God expects Abraham and his family to apply this practice. The ritual of circumcision is to be performed on every male baby at eight days old. This applies to absolutely everyone who is part of the household; even male slaves, not related to Abraham by blood or marriage, must be circumcised. This requirement from God is given to Abraham centuries before the Law of Moses. Covenant circumcision is one of the foundational aspects of God's relationship with Israel.

Later verses will also specify that those who refuse this sign are to be "cut off" from the people—they cannot claim to be part of the chosen nation of God if they refuse to take on this covenant sign (Genesis 17:14). This applies to the nation of Israel, not to all Christian believers, as the New Testament will make clear.