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Genesis 16:12


16:12 He will be a wild donkey 1  of a man.

He will be hostile to everyone, 2 

and everyone will be hostile to him. 3 

He will live away from 4  his brothers.”

Genesis 25:18

25:18 His descendants 5  settled from Havilah to Shur, which runs next 6  to Egypt all the way 7  to Asshur. 8  They settled 9  away from all their relatives. 10 

1 sn A wild donkey of a man. The prophecy is not an insult. The wild donkey lived a solitary existence in the desert away from society. Ishmael would be free-roaming, strong, and like a bedouin; he would enjoy the freedom his mother sought.

2 tn Heb “His hand will be against everyone.” The “hand” by metonymy represents strength. His free-roaming life style would put him in conflict with those who follow social conventions. There would not be open warfare, only friction because of his antagonism to their way of life.

3 tn Heb “And the hand of everyone will be against him.”

4 tn Heb “opposite, across from.” Ishmael would live on the edge of society (cf. NASB “to the east of”). Some take this as an idiom meaning “be at odds with” (cf. NRSV, NLT) or “live in hostility toward” (cf. NIV).

5 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Ishmael’s descendants) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 tn Heb “which is by the face of,” or near the border. The territory ran along the border of Egypt.

7 tn Heb “as you go.”

8 sn The name Asshur refers here to a tribal area in the Sinai.

9 tn Heb “he fell.”

10 tn Heb “upon the face of all his brothers.” This last expression, obviously alluding to the earlier oracle about Ishmael (Gen 16:12), could mean that the descendants of Ishmael lived in hostility to others or that they lived in a territory that was opposite the lands of their relatives. While there is some ambiguity about the meaning, the line probably does give a hint of the Ishmaelite-Israelite conflicts to come.

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