Genesis 17:1-8

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”

Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:

“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.

No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.

I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.

And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.

Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

“Almighty God”—Shaddai—is the name of God characteristically used by the patriarchs prior to the giving of the law at Sinai. It’s most frequent occurrence is in the book of Job, where Shaddai occurs thirty-one times. The name Jehovah largely replaces it from Exodus 6 onward, where attention is centered more particularly on Israel as God’s covenant people.

(1) El Shaddai is the name of God which sets Him forth primarily as the strengthener and satisfier of His people. It is to be regretted that Shaddai was translated “Almighty.” The primary name, El or Elohim, sufficiently signifies almightiness. “All-sufficient” would far better express the characteristic use of the name in Scripture.

(2) El Shaddai not only enriches but makes fruitful. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the first occurrence of the name. To a man ninety-nine years of age, and “as good as dead” (Hebrews 11:12), He said, I am the Almighty God … I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” To the same purport is the use of the name in Genesis 28:3-4.

(3) As bestower of fruitfulness, El Shaddai chastens His people. For the moral connection of chastening with fruit-bearing, see John 15:2; cp, Ruth 1:20; Hebrews 12:10. Hence, Almighty is the characteristic name of God in Job. The hand of Shaddai falls upon Job, the best man of his time, not in judgment but in purifying unto greater fruitfulness (Job 5:17-25). —Scofield, page 25.


Fourteen years of silence on the part of God follow upon Abraham’s folly in the matter of Ismael; but man’s foolish plannings cannot undo God’s eternal counsels. The time is fulfilled and the child of promise must be born. But faith must be energized if Isaac is to be begotten; and accordingly there is a new and abrupt revelation made of Jehovah to Abraham’s soul as “El-Shaddai.” This is the first occurrence of this great Divine title. It assured Abraham that what God had promised, He was almighty to perform. … Throughout the chapter, man is dead and God is the actor; and it is not so much what God was for Abraham, but what He was Himself—not “I am thy shield,” but “I am El-Shaddai.” Hence, the third verse in contrast with Genesis 15:2-3, pictures the patriarch as a silent worshiper listening to Elohim who talks with him.

In the first verse God, as El-Shaddai, says, “Walk before me and be thou perfect.” “Perfect” here means “guileless”; that is, God says, be simple, leave all to me, let me plan for  you. I am Almighty. No longer scheme to begat an Ismael, but trust me to give you an Isaac. This is the meaning of “perfect” in this passage. It does not mean that Abraham could be sinlessly perfect, for he could not. This word “perfect” occurs four times in the New Testament: Matthew 5:48; Matthew 19:21; Philippians 3:12; and Hebrews 10:1. These four passages treat of benevolence, self-denial, glory and assurance of salvation. None of them teach sinless perfection. — Williams, page 21.


First, [God] admonished Abram to be careful to walk in fellowship with Him (as occasionally in the past he had forgotten to do), and to be wholly dedicated to performing the will of God (the word is translated “perfect,” but means, simply, “whole”). These admonitions were not stated as conditions of the covenant, however, but simply as commands.

God again promised to make Abram a father of many nations, and then changed his name to Abraham (“father of a multitude”) instead of Abram (“exalted father”) in token thereof.  God stressed also that His covenant was not only with Abraham, but with “thy seed after thee,” as an everlasting covenant. Specifically He said that Canaan would be an everlasting possession; so it is clear no action on the part of Abraham’s descendants can ever permanently sever the land from them. — Morris, page 332.


God’s statement in verses 2 and 7 should properly be rendered: “I am upholding my covenant …”—and hence His previous command to “walk before me and be blameless” is intended not as a condition to ensure that the covenant will be made, but rather as a response to the fact that the covenant has been made.—Wechsler, page 194.

This entry was posted in Genesis. Bookmark the permalink.