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Genesis 17:16-21

Context
17:16 I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations. 1  Kings of countries 2  will come from her!”

17:17 Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed 3  as he said to himself, 4  “Can 5  a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? 6  Can Sarah 7  bear a child at the age of ninety?” 8  17:18 Abraham said to God, “O that 9  Ishmael might live before you!” 10 

17:19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. 11  I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual 12  covenant for his descendants after him. 17:20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. 13  I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants. 14  He will become the father of twelve princes; 15  I will make him into a great nation. 17:21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”

1 tn Heb “she will become nations.”

2 tn Heb “peoples.”

3 sn Laughed. The Hebrew verb used here provides the basis for the naming of Isaac: “And he laughed” is וַיִּצְחָק (vayyitskhaq); the name “Isaac” is יִצְחָק (yitskhaq), “he laughs.” Abraham’s (and Sarah’s, see 18:12) laughter signals disbelief, but when the boy is born, the laughter signals surprise and joy.

4 tn Heb “And he fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart.”

5 tn The imperfect verbal form here carries a potential nuance, as it expresses the disbelief of Abraham.

6 tn Heb “to the son of a hundred years.”

7 sn It is important to note that even though Abraham staggers at the announcement of the birth of a son, finding it almost too incredible, he nonetheless calls his wife Sarah, the new name given to remind him of the promise of God (v. 15).

8 tn Heb “the daughter of ninety years.”

9 tn The wish is introduced with the Hebrew particle לוּ (lu), “O that.”

10 tn Or “live with your blessing.”

11 tn Heb “will call his name Isaac.” The name means “he laughs,” or perhaps “may he laugh” (see the note on the word “laughed” in v. 17).

12 tn Or “as an eternal.”

13 sn The Hebrew verb translated “I have heard you” forms a wordplay with the name Ishmael, which means “God hears.” See the note on the name “Ishmael” in 16:11.

14 tn Heb “And I will multiply him exceedingly, exceedingly.” The repetition is emphatic.

15 tn For a discussion of the Hebrew word translated “princes,” see E. A. Speiser, “Background and Function of the Biblical Nasi’,” CBQ 25 (1963): 111-17.



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