Genesis 17:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 17:5, NIV: "No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations."

Genesis 17:5, ESV: "No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations."

Genesis 17:5, KJV: "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."

Genesis 17:5, NASB: "No longer shall you be named Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations."

Genesis 17:5, NLT: "What's more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations."

Genesis 17:5, CSB: "Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations."

What does Genesis 17:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, God's covenant promise was that Abram would become the father of many nations. Now God changes Abram's name to match this destiny. After 23 years, and more than 4 chapters of the book of Genesis, the man called Abram will take on the famous name of Abraham (Genesis 12:4; Genesis 17:1).

In modern times, specific names are not always thought to be very important. Parents typically choose names based on how they sound or how they look in writing. The "meaning" of names, for the modern era, is almost never an important consideration. In ancient times, however, names were often given by parents to describe the lives they hoped their children would fulfill. In other cases, they were used as declarations of past events. God's change of Abram's name at the age of 99 years old was highly significant.

The name Abram, given by Abram's father Terah, means "exalted father." It was likely meant to suggest that Abram came from a royal line. This new name, Abraham, sounds similar to the Hebrew phrase meaning "father of a multitude," exactly matching God's revelation of what Abram would become.

This name change required another act of faith from Abraham. He would have asked people to call him Abraham—to refer to him as a "father of a multitude." Would he feel foolish telling people his new name, as a 99-year-old man with just one son born of a servant girl? Or would his new name increase his confidence that God's promise was reliable?