Today we begin Genesis Chapter 17.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
A full 13 years has passed since Genesis Chapter 16.
Outside of knowing that Hagar’s son Ishmael is now about 13 years old, we have no record of what transpired in that 13-year period.
However, we know certain things have NOT changed.
Sarai still hasn’t given birth to any children and everybody is still residing in Canaan.
And then, seemingly out of the blue, God appears to Abram and after reiterating the original promise that Abram will produce much fertile offspring, God tells Abram the following:
“And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations.”-Genesis 17:5
Abram is about to undergo an identity transformation.
Abram means “Exalted Father“.
Abraham means “Father of Multitudes“.
In the Bible, a name was not just a means of identification, it expressed one’s true nature and their role in life.
Let’s take a close look at the word “nations“.
The Hebrew for the word “nations” in the above verse is GOYIM.
The modern day meaning of this word is the “Gentile nations” or “Gentile people“.
However, that wasn’t its original meaning.
Since the Hebrews were not yet in existence and Abraham himself was still just in the process of becoming a Hebrew, at this time the word goyim just meant any old nation just like how we use the word today.
It should also be noted that when it says that Abraham will be a father of a multitude of nations, his fatherhood will not be restricted to just Israel.
He will also be the father of a number of Gentile groups.
As we move along in the Torah, you will see how this happens.