The Meaning of Genesis 17:1 Explained

Genesis 17:1

KJV: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

YLT: And Abram is a son of ninety and nine years, and Jehovah appeareth unto Abram, and saith unto him, 'I am God Almighty, walk habitually before Me, and be thou perfect;

Darby: And Abram was ninety-nine years old, when Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God: walk before my face, and be perfect.

ASV: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

What does Genesis 17:1 Mean?

Study Notes

Almighty God
"Almighty God" (Heb. El Shaddai)
(1) The etymological signification of Almighty God (El Shaddai) is both interesting and touching. God (El) signifies the "Strong One" . The qualifying word Shaddai is formed from the Hebrew word "shad," the breast, invariably used in Scripture for a woman's breast; e.g. Genesis 49:25 ; Job 3:12 ; Psalms 22:9 ; Song of Solomon 1:13 ; Song of Solomon 4:5 ; Song of Solomon 7:3 ; Song of Solomon 7:7 ; Song of Solomon 7:8 ; Song of Solomon 8:1 ; Song of Solomon 8:8 ; Song of Solomon 8:10 ; Isaiah 28:9 ; Ezekiel 16:7 . Shaddai therefore means primarily "the breasted." God is "Shaddai," because He is the Nourisher, the Strength-giver, and so, in a secondary sense, the Satisfier, who pours himself into believing lives. As a fretful, unsatisfied babe is not only strengthened and nourished from the mother's breast, but also is quieted, rested, satisfied, so El Shaddai is that name of God which sets Him forth as the Strength-giver and Satisfier of His people. It is on every account to be regretted that "Shaddai" was translated "Almighty." The primary name El or Elohim sufficiently signifies almightiness. "All-sufficient" would far better express both the Hebrew meaning and the characteristic use of the name in Scripture.
(2) Almighty God (El Shaddai) not only enriches, but makes fruitful. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the first occurrence of the name Genesis 17:1-8 . To a man ninety-nine years of age, and "as good as dead" Hebrews 11:12 . He said: "I am the Almighty God El Shaddai. .. I will. .. multiply thee exceedingly." To the same purport is the use of the name in Genesis 28:3 ; Genesis 28:4 .
(3) As Giver of fruitfulness, Almighty God (El Shaddai) chastens His people. For the moral connection of chastening with fruit bearing, see John 15:2 ; Hebrews 12:10 ; Ruth 1:20 . Hence, Almighty is the characteristic name of God in Job, occurring thirty-one times in that book. The hand of El Shaddai falls upon Job, the best man of his time, not in judgment, but in purifying unto greater fruitfulness Job 5:17-25 .
See, for other names of Deity:
See Scofield " Genesis 2:4 " Genesis 2:7 See Scofield " Genesis 14:18 " See Scofield " Genesis 15:2 " See Scofield " Genesis 21:33 " See Scofield " 1 Samuel 1:3 "

Context Summary

Genesis 17:1-14 - God's Covenant With Abraham
At least thirteen years had passed since the promise of Isaac was first made. Years of sorrow and discipline, but God had not forgotten. Always under such circumstances the Eternal voice bids us to walk before him and be perfect. Our surrender must be complete, our obedience absolute, our faith fixed steadfastly on the Promiser. So only can God fulfill His covenant, which includes fruitfulness, the salvation of our households, the inheritance and abundance of spiritual reproductiveness. These promises were made to Abram, being yet uncircumcised, when he was yet a Gentile, proving that they were irrespective of any mere Hebrew interpretation. See Romans 4:11. But the rite was the sign and seal of the national covenant with the Hebrew race. Spiritually it stands for the separation of the believer; and though the rite passed away with Judaism, its spiritual significance is permanent, see Colossians 2:11. [source]

Chapter Summary: Genesis 17

1  God renews the covenant with Abram,
5  and changes his name to Abraham, in token of a greater blessing
9  Circumcision is instituted
15  Sarai's name is changed to Sarah, and she is blessed
17  Isaac is promised, and the time of his birth fixed
23  Abraham and Ishmael are circumcised

What do the individual words in Genesis 17:1 mean?

And when was Abram old ninety years and nine years then appeared Yahweh to Abram and said to him I [am] God Almighty walk before Me and be blameless
וַיְהִ֣י אַבְרָ֔ם בֶּן־ תִּשְׁעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְתֵ֣שַׁע שָׁנִ֑ים וַיֵּרָ֨א יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־ אַבְרָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ אֲנִי־ אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י הִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ לְפָנַ֖י וֶהְיֵ֥ה תָמִֽים

וַיְהִ֣י  And  when  was 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אֶהְיֶה 
Sense: to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.
אַבְרָ֔ם  Abram 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: אַבְרָם  
Sense: original name of Abraham.
בֶּן־  old 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: בֵּן 
Sense: son, grandson, child, member of a group.
תִּשְׁעִ֥ים  ninety 
Parse: Number, common plural
Root: תִּשְׁעִים  
Sense: ninety.
שָׁנָ֖ה  years 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular
Root: שָׁנָה  
Sense: year.
וְתֵ֣שַׁע  and  nine 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Number, feminine singular
Root: תֵּשַׁע  
Sense: nine, nonad.
שָׁנִ֑ים  years 
Parse: Noun, feminine plural
Root: שָׁנָה  
Sense: year.
וַיֵּרָ֨א  then  appeared 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Nifal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: רָאָה 
Sense: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.
יְהוָ֜ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
אַבְרָ֗ם  Abram 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: אַבְרָם  
Sense: original name of Abraham.
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר  and  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
אֵלָיו֙  to  him 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine singular
Root: אֶל  
Sense: to, toward, unto (of motion).
אֲנִי־  I  [am] 
Parse: Pronoun, first person common singular
Root: אֲנִי  
Sense: I (first pers.
אֵ֣ל  God 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: אֵל 
Sense: god, god-like one, mighty one.
שַׁדַּ֔י  Almighty 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: שַׁדַּי  
Sense: almighty, most powerful.
הִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ  walk 
Parse: Verb, Hitpael, Imperative, masculine singular
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.
לְפָנַ֖י  before  Me 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, masculine plural construct, first person common singular
Root: לִפְנֵי 
Sense: face.
וֶהְיֵ֥ה  and  be 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Imperative, masculine singular
Root: אֶהְיֶה 
Sense: to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.
תָמִֽים  blameless 
Parse: Adjective, masculine singular
Root: תָּמִים  
Sense: complete, whole, entire, sound.