What does Genesis 17:12 mean?
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NKJV: He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Genesis 17:1–14 describes God's appearance to a 99-year-old Abram. Again God confirms His expansive covenant promises: to make Abram a father of nations and to give to him and his offspring the land of Canaan. At this time, God even changes Abram's name to Abraham to mark the occasion. This time, though, the repetition of the promise comes with God's requirements for Abraham: walk with me, be blameless, and circumcise yourself and every male of your household from now through every generation in the future.
Chapter Summary:
God appears to Abram once more in Genesis 17, but this instance is very different from prior meetings. God reconfirms His promises to make Abram a father of nations and to give to him and his descendants the land of Canaan. This time, though, God changes Abram's name to Abraham and gives him a requirement to circumcise himself and every male in his household forever. He also changes Sarai's name to Sarah. God announces that Abraham and Sarah will have a son, after all. His 13-year old son Ishmael will be blessed, but this new son, Isaac, to be born within the year, will be the one to whom God's covenant promises will pass.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 17 records the details of God's appearance to Abram, now 99. Thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael to Sarah's servant Hagar, God arrives to change Abram's name to Abraham, to confirm the covenant promises, and to command Abraham. He is to circumcise every male in his household as a sign of the covenant. Then the big news: within a year, Abraham's wife—now renamed Sarah—would bear Abraham a son. This long-awaited son would be the one through whom God would keep all of His promises to Abraham.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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