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Genesis 16:7-13

Context

16:7 The Lord’s angel 1  found Hagar near a spring of water in the desert – the spring that is along the road to Shur. 2  16:8 He said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from 3  my mistress, Sarai.”

16:9 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit 4  to her authority. 16:10 I will greatly multiply your descendants,” the Lord’s angel added, 5  “so that they will be too numerous to count.” 6  16:11 Then the Lord’s angel said to her,

“You are now 7  pregnant

and are about to give birth 8  to a son.

You are to name him Ishmael, 9 

for the Lord has heard your painful groans. 10 

16:12 He will be a wild donkey 11  of a man.

He will be hostile to everyone, 12 

and everyone will be hostile to him. 13 

He will live away from 14  his brothers.”

16:13 So Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” 15  for she said, “Here I have seen one who sees me!” 16 

1 tn Heb “the messenger of the Lord.” Some identify the angel of the Lord as the preincarnate Christ because in some texts the angel is identified with the Lord himself. However, it is more likely that the angel merely represents the Lord; he can speak for the Lord because he is sent with the Lord’s full authority. In some cases the angel is clearly distinct from the Lord (see Judg 6:11-23). It is not certain if the same angel is always in view. Though the proper name following the noun “angel” makes the construction definite, this may simply indicate that a definite angel sent from the Lord is referred to in any given context. It need not be the same angel on every occasion. Note the analogous expression “the servant of the Lord,” which refers to various individuals in the OT (see BDB 714 s.v. עֶבֶד).

2 tn Heb “And the angel of the Lord found her near the spring of water in the desert, near the spring on the way to Shur.”

3 tn Heb “from the presence of.”

4 tn The imperative וְהִתְעַנִּי (vÿhitanni) is the Hitpael of עָנָה (’anah, here translated “submit”), the same word used for Sarai’s harsh treatment of her. Hagar is instructed not only to submit to Sarai’s authority, but to whatever mistreatment that involves. God calls for Hagar to humble herself.

5 tn Heb “The Lord’s angel said, ‘I will greatly multiply your descendants….” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

6 tn Heb “cannot be numbered because of abundance.”

7 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) focuses on her immediate situation: “Here you are pregnant.”

8 tn The active participle refers here to something that is about to happen.

9 sn The name Ishmael consists of the imperfect or jussive form of the Hebrew verb with the theophoric element added as the subject. It means “God hears” or “may God hear.”

10 tn Heb “affliction,” which must refer here to Hagar’s painful groans of anguish.

sn This clause gives the explanation of the name Ishmael, using a wordplay. Ishmael’s name will be a reminder that “God hears” Hagar’s painful cries.

11 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.

12 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.

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

14 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).

15 tn Heb “God of my seeing.” The pronominal suffix may be understood either as objective (“who sees me,” as in the translation) or subjective (“whom I see”).

16 tn Heb “after one who sees me.”

sn For a discussion of Hagar’s exclamation, see T. Booij, “Hagar’s Words in Genesis 16:13b,” VT 30 (1980): 1-7.



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