Genesis 16:10-13

Genesis 16:10-13
Feast of Mary Magdalene – A Women’s Lectionary


10 The angelA of the LordB also said to her, “I will so greatly multiplyC your offspringD that they cannot be countedE for multitude.”F 

Notes on verse 10

A “angel” = malak. This is a messenger, an angel, or a deputy of some kind. Can be used for human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God. Also used for supernatural messengers i.e. angels.
B “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
C “greatly multiply” = rabah + rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
D “offspring” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
E “counted” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
F “multitude” = rob. From rabab (to be or become much or many, multiply). This is any kind of abundance.

11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“NowG you have conceivedH and shall bearI a son;J

Notes on verse 11a

G “now” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
H “conceived” = harah. 16x in OT. From harah (to conceive or be pregnant –literal or figurative). This is conceive or pregnant.
I “bear” = yalad. This is to bear or bring forth. It can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage. This is often used for birth or begetting.
J “son” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

    you shall callK him Ishmael,L
    for the Lord has given heedM to your affliction.N

Notes on verse 11b

K “call” = qara + shem. Literally, “call his name.” Qara is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth. Shem may be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
L “Ishmael” = Yishmael. From shama (hear, call, consent, or consider; implies listening intelligently, giving attention; obedience and action are often implied) + el (God, a god). This is Ishmael, meaning “God hears” or “God will hear.”
M “given heed” = shama. Related to “Ishmael” in v11. See note L above.
N “affliction” = oniy. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is misery, poverty, or affliction.

12 He shall beO a wild assP of a man,Q
with his handR against everyone,S

Notes on verse 12a

O “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v10. See note B above.
P “wild ass” = pere. 10x in OT. Perhaps from para (to be fruitful, to run free as a wild animal). This is a wild donkey.
Q “man” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
R “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
S “everyone” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.

    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall liveT at oddsU with allV his kin.”W

Notes on verse 12b

T “live” = shakan. This is to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently. It can mean abide or continue. “Mishkan,” taken from this verb, is the Hebrew word for the Tabernacle (as a place where God abided).
U “odds” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
V “all” = kol. Same as “everyone” in v12. See note S above.
W “kin” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.

13 So she namedX the Lord who spokeY to her, “You are El-roi,”Z for she said, “Have I really seenAA God and remained alive after seeing him?”BB

Notes on verse 13

X “named” = qara + shem. Same as “call” in v11. See note K above.
Y “spoke” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
Z “El-roi” = El + roi. El is related to “Ishmael” in v11. See note L above. Roi is 5x in OT. From raah (to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view). This is seeing, appearance, vision, spectacle.
AA “seen” = raah. Related to “El-roi” in v13. See note Z above.
BB Perhaps literally, “have I seen the back of the one who sees me?”

Image credit: “Sappho” by Alphonse Osbert, 1888.

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