Circumcision and a New Lease on Life

Oct 18, 2015

וַיְהִי אַבְרָם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִים שָׁנָה וְתֵשַׁע שָׁנִים וַיֵּרָא יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי־אֵל שַׁדַּי הִתְהַלֵּךְ לְפָנַי וֶהְיֵה תָמִים׃

When Avram was ninety-nine years old, Hashem appeared to Avram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless.

Genesis 17:1

וְכָל־אַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ יְלִיד בָּיִת וּמִקְנַת־כֶּסֶף מֵאֵת בֶּן־נֵכָר נִמֹּלוּ אִתּוֹ׃

and all his household, his homeborn slaves and those that had been bought from outsiders, were circumcised with him.

Genesis 17:27

When Abram is 99 years old, and Sarai is 89, God appears to Abram and once again promises him many descendants to inherit the land. He tells Abram that from now on, he will be known as Abraham, meaning father of many nations, and his wife’s name will change to Sarah (which means princess, but is not defined by the text).


God instructs Abraham to circumcise himself and all male members of his household. From this point forward, all males born into Abraham’s family will be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. He promises that with these changes, he and Sarah will have a son.


Incredulous, Abraham expresses the hope that Ishmael would walk in God’s ways, but God insists it is from Sarah, whose son will be called Isaac, that God’s promise to Abraham’s descendants will be fulfilled.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think God changes Abraham and Sarah’s names?

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