What does Genesis 17:3 mean?
ESV: Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him,
NIV: Abram fell facedown, and God said to him,
NASB: Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
CSB: Then Abram fell facedown and God spoke with him:
NLT: At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him,
KJV: And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
NKJV: Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:
Verse Commentary:
In the previous two verses, God appeared to Abram and told him to walk before the Lord and to be blameless. God also repeated His promise to increase Abram's numbers greatly. Abram's response in this verse is entirely appropriate. He fell facedown before the Lord. Throughout history and in many cultures, this has been the ultimate expression of humility and submission. In one gesture, Abram communicated to God that he would receive all that God was saying with humility and great reverence. Although God does not require it of us, many believers today continue to approach God in prayer while kneeling or lying facedown on the ground.

Later, when God provides details on how He will accomplish His promises, Abram will once again fall on his face. At that point, however, it will be in laughter and disbelief. God's suggestion that a 99-year-old man and a barren, 89-year-old woman will have a child will be quite a shock (Genesis 17:17).
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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Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.