Genesis 17:12
And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of your seed.
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(12) Eight days old.—That is, just one week after birth, as the day of birth was counted among the eight days.

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.The time of circumcision is the eighth day. Seven is the number of perfection. Seven days are therefore regarded as a type of perfectage and individuality. At this stage, accordingly, the sign of sanctification is made on the child, betokening the consecration of the heart to God, when its rational powers have come into noticeable activity. To be "cut off from his people" is to be excluded from any part in the covenant, and treated simply as a Gentile or alien, some of whom seem to have dwelt among the Israelites. It was sometimes accompanied with the sentence of death Exodus 31:14; and this shows that it did not of itself imply such a doom. Excommunication, however, for the omission of circumcision, would be extremely rare, as no parent would intentionally neglect the sacred interest of his child. Yet the omission of this rite has not been unprecedented, as the children of Israel did not generally circumcise their children in the wilderness Joshua 5:5.10. Every man child among you shall be circumcised—This was the sign in the Old Testament Church as baptism is in the New, and hence the covenant is called "covenant of circumcision" (Ac 7:8; Ro 4:11). The terms of the covenant were these: on the one hand Abraham and his seed were to observe the right of circumcision; and on the other, God promised, in the event of such observance, to give them Canaan for a perpetual possession, to be a God to him and his posterity, and that in him and his seed all nations should be blessed. Eight days; not before that time, because of the child’s weakness and imperfection, and impurity too, Exodus 22:30 Leviticus 12:3, for which reason also beasts were not to be offered to God before the eighth day, Exodus 22:30.

Every man-child in your generations, successively, until the Messias come, who shall circumcise your hearts, and change this ordinance for another.

Bought with money of any stranger: these were of two sorts.

1. Children, who being entirely his possession, and having not understanding to discern, nor will to choose or refuse, were to be circumcised.

2. Grown persons, who were not to be compelled to be circumcised, but if they refused it, were not to be permitted to dwell in his family, lest they should infect others, but were to be sold to strangers, as the Hebrew doctors teach. But as for Abraham’s servants here, they were thoroughly instructed in religion, Genesis 18:19, and doubtless did willingly embrace it, and submit to this sacrament. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you,.... A son or infant of eight days old; it might not be circumcised before, but for some reasons might be deferred longer. The reasons why this rite was ordered to be performed in infancy, according to Maimonides (d), were, because if it had been deferred to riper age it might have been neglected, and never performed; and because at such an age the pain is not so sensibly felt, by reason of the tenderness of the skin, and the weakness of the imagination; as also because the affections of parents are not then so strong as they are when one year, and especially three or four years old; and particularly it was ordered on the eighth day, because all animals, as soon as born, on account of their great humidity, are very weak, and scarce any other than they were in their mother's womb, until the end of seven days, after which they begin to be reckoned among those that perceive the air of this world; and so he remarks the same is to be observed in beasts, that seven days they were to be with their dam, Exodus 22:30. According to the Jewish canon (e),"an infant might be circumcised on the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth, neither less nor more; (not less than eight days, nor more than twelve (f);) according to the usual custom on the eighth; if he was born between the two evenings, he is circumcised on the ninth; if between the two evenings of the evening of the sabbath, he is circumcised on the tenth; if on a festival day, after the sabbath, he is circumcised on the eleventh; if on the two days of the beginning of the year, he is circumcised on the twelfth: an infant that is sick, they do not circumcise it until it is well.''Which sickness they interpret not of sore eyes, and the like, but of an ague or fever; and when a child on the eighth day is red or yellow, or a woman has lost her children through circumcision, two or three one after another, then it is deferred; and they reckon seven days from a child's recovery from sickness, and then circumcise it (g); but circumcision on the eighth day was always reckoned most valid and authentic, and according to rule; see Gill on Philippians 3:5; and the Jews were careful to do it on the eighth day as soon as they could, though only when and while it was day. Their canon or rule runs thus (h),"they do not circumcise until the sun shines out on the eighth day of a child's birth, and all the day is fit for circumcision; but they that are prepared hasten to the commandment, and circumcise immediately in the morning; and indeed circumcision, which is not in its proper time, is never performed but in the day:''for they observe (i), it is said on the eighth day, Leviticus 12:3; the day, and not the night. And this was to be done to

every man child in your generations; in all succeeding ages until the Messiah came, the end of the law; and when the lease of the land of Canaan, of which this was a seal, would be out; and when the righteousness of faith, it was also a seal of, would come upon the uncircumcised Gentiles:

he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger,

which is not of thy seed; concerning which Maimonides (k) gives these rules,"a servant is born in the power of an Israelite, and another that is taken from Heathens, the master is bound to circumcise them; but he that is born in the house is circumcised on the eighth day; and he that is bought with money is circumcised on the day that he is received, even if he received him on the day he is born, he is circumcised on that day; if he receives a grown servant of Heathens, and the servant is not willing to be circumcised, he bears with him a whole year, but more than that it is forbidden to keep him, seeing he is uncircumcised, but he must send him again to the Heathens.''No man was to be forced to embrace the true religion, or obliged against his will to submit to its ordinances.

(d) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 49. p. 506. (e) Misn. Sabbat, c. 19. sect. 5. (f) Misn. Eracin, c. 2. sect. 2.((g) Maimon. Hilchot Milah, c. 1. sect. 16, 17, 18. Schulchan Aruch, ib. c. 262. sect. 2. 263. sect. 1, 2.((h) Schulchan Aruch, c. 262. sect. 1.((i) Maimon. Hilchot Milah, c. 1. sect. 8. (k) Ibid sect 3, 6.

And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
12. he that is eight days old] The performance of the rite at this early age is distinctive of the Israelite usage. Cf. Genesis 21:4; Leviticus 12:3; Luke 1:59; Luke 2:21; Php 3:5. The operation at this exceedingly early age (see note on Genesis 17:25) is probably for the purpose (1) of including all males, (2) of coinciding with the first period of the mother’s uncleanness, Leviticus 12:2-3, (3) of inflicting the smallest degree of suffering.

every male] The important principle is here laid down that the rite is to be required of every male member of the household. All slaves are to be circumcised, both those “born in the house” (cf. Genesis 14:14), and those “bought with money” (cf. Exodus 12:44). It was thus that the first principles of charity were interwoven with the foundation of the Chosen People. The privileges of the covenant relation are at once extended beyond the literal seed of Abraham.Verse 12. - And he that is eight days old - literally, and the son of eight days (cf. Genesis 17:1) - shall be circumcised among you (Leviticus 12:3; Luke 2:21; Philippians 3:5), every man child - "The fact that several times the circumcision of the males only is enjoined may point to the legislator's intention to exclude that rite in the other sex, though it was customary among many ancient nations, but not universal among the Egyptians" (Kalisch). Though not administered to both, the symbol was ordained for the sake of both sexes (Calvin) - in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. Not only a proof of the Divine benignity to Abraham in embracing all the members of his household within the pale of the visible Church now constituted, but likewise a hint of the world-wide aspect of the Abrahamic covenant, a first-fruits as it were of the "all the families of the earth" that should be blessed in Abram. On the part of God אני placed at the beginning absolutely: so far as I am concerned, for my part) it was to consist of this: (1) that God would make Abram the father (אב instead of אני chosen with reference to the name Abram) of a multitude of nations, the ancestor of nations and kings; (2) that He would be God, show Himself to be God, in an eternal covenant relation, to him and to his posterity, according to their families, according to all their successive generations; and (3) that He would give them the land in which he had wandered as a foreigner, viz., all Canaan, for an everlasting possession. As a pledge of this promise God changed his name אברם, i.e., high father, into אברהם, i.e., father of the multitude, from אב and רהם, Arab. ruhâm equals multitude. In this name God gave him a tangible pledge of the fulfilment of His covenant, inasmuch as a name which God gives cannot be a mere empty sound, but must be the expression of something real, or eventually acquire reality.
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