What does Genesis 17:13 mean?
ESV: both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.
NIV: Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.
NASB: A slave who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall certainly be circumcised; so My covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant.
CSB: Whether born in your household or purchased, he must be circumcised. My covenant will be marked in your flesh as a permanent covenant.
NLT: All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant.
KJV: He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
NKJV: He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
Verse Commentary:
This verse repeats the requirements detailed in verse 12. Every male of Abraham's household, both now and for all generations, is to be circumcised. Male children born into this extended family, including those not related by birth or marriage, are to be circumcised at eight days old. Newly acquired male slaves are also to be circumcised. God spells out His intention that His covenant with Abraham and with the generations to follow would be "in your flesh." They would carry this reminder of their covenant relationship with God with them on the most intimate part of their bodies, one generation after another, forever.

The following verse will help to explain how important this sign is meant to be. Those who refuse to take on this sign—men who will not take this covenant step—are to be "cut off," or separated, from God's chosen people. Those who refuse to identify with God through circumcision will not be allowed to partake in His covenant blessings.

This, however, is a requirement specific to this covenant, and for this covenant people. Circumcision is not a requirement for those who are not part of the nation of Israel. In fact, in the New Testament, references to circumcision will become shorthand for those who attempt to earn salvation by good works, rather than by faith (Acts 11:2; Galatians 6:12).
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.
Accessed 7/20/2024 5:13:43 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.