Genesis 17:13
(13) He that is born in thy house . . . --Two things follow from this wide extension of the rite of circumcision: the first, that all members of Abram's household, being thus sharers in the covenant, were also numbered as belonging to the nations that sprang from him. We have seen that even in early days his followers must have numbered six or seven hundred men (Genesis 14:14), and they were growing in multitude all the rest of his life, and during the lifetime of Isaac. They were then divided between Esau and Jacob at Isaac's death (Genesis 35:27; Genesis 36:6-7), but the diminution in the number of Jacob's family thus caused must have been compensated by those whom he gathered for himself in Mesopotamia (Genesis 30:43). All his household went down with him into Egypt, as part of his taf, translated "little ones" in Genesis 46:5, but really signifying the whole body of dependents, men, women, and children. Placed there in the fruitful Delta, they would be counted as members of that tribe to the chief of which they belonged, and would swell the numbers of the vast host which left Egypt (Exodus 12:37). The second point is, that as all who were circumcised were regarded as Israelites, so also circumcision was confined to the Israelites. It was not 'a catholic ordinance, intended, like baptism, for all people and all times. Nor was it primarily a religious institution. The bought slave was circumcised first, and instructed afterwards. No profession of faith was required, but he was admitted to the privilege in right of his master. The reason of this was that it was an admission into the Jewish nation first, and by consequence only into the church. It is one of the many points which distinguish slavery, as practised among the Jews, from the degrading form of it which existed in modem times, that from the days of Abram onwards the slave by being circumcised was proclaimed to be one of the same race and nation as his master, and thereby entitled to share in his national and religious privileges.

Verse 13. - He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised. Literally, circumcised, must be circumcised, he that is born, etc., the niph. inf. abe. with the finite verb occupying the place of emphasis at the beginning of the sentence (vide Gesenius, 'Grammar,' § 131). And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

17:7-14 The covenant of grace is from everlasting in the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it. The token of the covenant was circumcision. It is here said to be the covenant which Abraham and his seed must keep. Those who will have the Lord to be to them a God, must resolve to be to him a people. Not only Abraham and Isaac, and his posterity by Isaac, were to be circumcised, but also Ishmael and the bond-servants. It sealed not only the covenant of the land of Canaan to Isaac's posterity, but of heaven, through Christ, to the whole church of God. The outward sign is for the visible church; the inward seal of the Spirit is peculiar to those whom God knows to be believers, and he alone can know them. The religious observance of this institution was required, under a very severe penalty. It is dangerous to make light of Divine institutions, and to live in the neglect of them. The covenant in question was one that involved great blessings for the world in all future ages. Even the blessedness of Abraham himself, and all the rewards conferred upon him, were for Christ's sake. Abraham was justified, as we have seen, not by his own righteousness, but by faith in the promised Messiah.He that is born in thine house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised,.... Or "in circumcising shall be circumcised" (l), shall certainly be circumcised; this is repeated to denote the necessity of it, and what care should be taken that this be done, because there was to be no uncircumcised male among them, Genesis 17:10; nor any conversation and communion to be had among them, especially in a religious way.

And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant; circumcision was to be seen in their flesh, and no methods were to be taken to draw over the foreskin again, but it was to continue as long as they lived; and so in their posterity, in all succeeding ages, as a sign of the covenant and promise which should remain until the Messiah's coming.

(l) "circumcidendo circumcidetur", Pagninus, Montanus &c.

Genesis 17:12
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