17:5 No longer will your name be 1 Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham 2 because I will make you 3 the father of a multitude of nations.
1 tn Heb “will your name be called.”
2 sn Your name will be Abraham. The renaming of Abram was a sign of confirmation to the patriarch. Every time the name was used it would be a reminder of God’s promise. “Abram” means “exalted father,” probably referring to Abram’s father Terah. The name looks to the past; Abram came from noble lineage. The name “Abraham” is a dialectical variant of the name Abram. But its significance is in the wordplay with אַב־הֲמוֹן (’av-hamon, “the father of a multitude,” which sounds like אַבְרָהָם, ’avraham, “Abraham”). The new name would be a reminder of God’s intention to make Abraham the father of a multitude. For a general discussion of renaming, see O. Eissfeldt, “Renaming in the Old Testament,” Words and Meanings, 70-83.
3 tn The perfect verbal form is used here in a rhetorical manner to emphasize God’s intention.
4 tn Heb “[As for] Sarai your wife, you must not call her name Sarai, for Sarah [will be] her name.”
5 sn Sarah. The name change seems to be a dialectical variation, both spellings meaning “princess” or “queen.” Like the name Abram, the name Sarai symbolized the past. The new name Sarah, like the name Abraham, would be a reminder of what God intended to do for Sarah in the future.