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Genesis 17:9-14

Context

17:9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep 1  the covenantal requirement 2  I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 17:10 This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep: 3  Every male among you must be circumcised. 4  17:11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This will be a reminder 5  of the covenant between me and you. 17:12 Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old 6  must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants. 17:13 They must indeed be circumcised, 7  whether born in your house or bought with money. The sign of my covenant 8  will be visible in your flesh as a permanent 9  reminder. 17:14 Any uncircumcised male 10  who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin will be cut off 11  from his people – he has failed to carry out my requirement.” 12 

1 tn The imperfect tense could be translated “you shall keep” as a binding command; but the obligatory nuance (“must”) captures the binding sense better.

2 tn Heb “my covenant.” The Hebrew word בְּרִית (bÿrit) can refer to (1) the agreement itself between two parties (see v. 7), (2) the promise made by one party to another (see vv. 2-3, 7), (3) an obligation placed by one party on another, or (4) a reminder of the agreement. In vv. 9-10 the word refers to a covenantal obligation which God gives to Abraham and his descendants.

3 tn Heb “This is my covenant that you must keep between me and you and your descendants after you.”

4 sn For a discussion of male circumcision as the sign of the covenant in this passage see M. V. Fox, “The Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in the Light of the Priestly ‘ot Etiologies,” RB 81 (1974): 557-96.

5 tn Or “sign.”

6 tn Heb “the son of eight days.”

7 tn The emphatic construction employs the Niphal imperfect tense (collective singular) and the Niphal infinitive.

8 tn Heb “my covenant.” Here in v. 13 the Hebrew word בְּרִית (bÿrit) refers to the outward, visible sign, or reminder, of the covenant. For the range of meaning of the term, see the note on the word “requirement” in v. 9.

9 tn Or “an eternal.”

10 tn The disjunctive clause calls attention to the “uncircumcised male” and what will happen to him.

11 tn Heb “that person will be cut off.” The words “that person” have not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

sn The meaning of “cut off” has been discussed at great length. An entire tractate in the Mishnah is devoted to this subject (tractate Keritot). Being ostracized from the community is involved at the least, but it is not certain whether this refers to the death penalty.

12 tn Heb “he has broken my covenant.” The noun בְּרִית (bÿrit) here refers to the obligation required by God in conjunction with the covenantal agreement. For the range of meaning of the term, see the note on the word “requirement” in v. 9.



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