|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:23-27 Abraham and all his family were circumcised; so receiving the token of the covenant, and distinguishing themselves from other families that had no part nor lot in the matter. It was an implicit obedience; he did as God said unto him, and did not ask why or wherefore. He did it because God bade him. It was a speedy obedience; in the self-same day. Sincere obedience makes no delay. Not only the doctrines of revelation, but the seals of God's covenant, remind us that we are guilty, polluted sinners. They show us our need of the blood of atonement; they point to the promised Saviour, and teach us to exercise faith in him. They show us that without regeneration, and sanctification by his Spirit, and the mortification of our corrupt and carnal inclinations, we cannot be in covenant with God. But let us remember that the true circumcision is that of the heart, by the Spirit, Ro 2:28,29. Both under the old and new dispensation, many have had the outward profession, and the outward seal, who were never sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
Verse 25. - And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old (the same form of expression as above), when he was circumcised. Hence among the Arabs the ceremony is usually delayed till the thirteenth year (cf. Josephus, 'Ant.,' 1:13).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. Hence the Arabians, as Josephus (w) relates, circumcise their children when at thirteen years of age, because Ishmael, the founder of their nation, was circumcised at that age; and Origen (x) asserts the same; and with which agrees what an Arabic writer says (y) of the Arabians before Mahomet, that they used to circumcise at a certain age, between the tenth and fifteenth years of their age. So Rauwolff says (z), there are some, chiefly among the Arabians, that imitate their patriarch Ishmael. As for the Mahometans, though they circumcise, they do not always do it in the thirteenth year, as some write; for it is performed by them sometimes in the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, or sixteenth, and sometimes in the sixth or seventh year (a). The Egyptians, according to Ambrose (b), circumcised their children at fourteen years of age, which comes pretty near to the time of the Ishmaelites or Arabs, from whom they might receive circumcision, if not of the Israelites, as before observed. A certain traveller says (c), the modern Egyptians, as the rest of the Mahometans, are not circumcised until the thirteenth year. The Africans circumcise on the seventh day, which comes nearer to the Jews (d).
(w) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 12. sect. 2.((x) Philocalia, c. 23. p. 77. (y) Ebnol Athir apud Pocock. Specimen Arab. Hist. p. 319. (z) Travels, part 1. ch. 7. p. 59. by Ray. (a) Vid. Reland. de Relig. Mohammed. p. 75. (b) De Abraham, l. 2. c. 11. p. 266. (c) Baumgarten. Peregrin. l. 1. c. 16. (d) Leo. African. Descriptio Africae, l. 3. p. 33.
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