What does Genesis 17:17 mean?
ESV: Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"
NIV: Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?"
NASB: Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth to a child?'
CSB: Abraham fell facedown. Then he laughed and said to himself, "Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?"
NLT: Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. 'How could I become a father at the age of 100?' he thought. 'And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?'
KJV: Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
NKJV: Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?
Verse Commentary:
Compared to modern times, it seems the people of Abraham's era lived slightly longer lives. But even then, 100-year-old men did not have babies with 90-year-old women. The very idea of it was laughable. So Abraham fell facedown before God and laughed to himself. It's notable that Abraham's disbelieving comment is directed to himself. Abraham is, very directly, expressing doubt that God can or will follow through on this particular declaration.

It's not that Abraham had stopped believing that God would keep His promise to give him countless offspring. He just didn't expect those offspring to come through Sarah. They waited a full decade between receiving the promise and deciding that God must mean for a child to come through another woman (Genesis 16:1–2). That had worked, according to Abraham and his wife. Hagar birthed Ishmael, now 13 years old (Genesis 16:16). God told Hagar that Ishmael's offspring would be so numerous as to be uncountable (Genesis 16:10–12). Apparently, Abraham seems to have decided that Ishmael's birth was God's plan to fulfill His promise.

It was not. God said Sarah would become the mother of nations. Abraham laughed and then, in the following verse, protested. This, in part, explains the specific name God chooses for this son of promise: Isaac, which means "he laughs."
Verse Context:
Genesis 17:15–27 describes God's surprising revelation to the newly renamed, 99-year-old Abraham: His presumably barren, 89-year-old wife, Sarai, now to be named Sarah, would bear him a son within a year. Ishmael, now 13, would still be abundantly blessed, but this new son, Isaac, would be the one through whom God would keep His covenant promises. As soon as God left, Abraham immediately set about obeying God's command to circumcise himself and every male in his household as a sign of the covenant with the Lord.
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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