Genesis 16

Genesis 16


Now Sarai,A Abram’sB wife,C boreD him no children.

Notes on verse 1a

A “Sarai” = Saray. 17x in OT. From the same as sar (chief, ruler, lord, official, governor, prince; someone at the top of a rank or class). This is Sarai, which means princess or ruler.
B “Abram’s” = Abram. From the same as Abiram (exalted father, a high father – lofty) {from ab (father literal or figurative) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Abram, exalted father.
C “wife” = ishshah. From ish (man); perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is woman, wife, or female.
D “bore” = 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.

She had an EgyptianE slave-girlF whose nameG was Hagar,H 

Notes on verse 1b

E “Egyptian” = Mitsri. From the same as mitsrayim (Egypt); perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egyptian.
F “slave-girl” = shiphchah. Root may mean to spread out – it would be the same root used in mishpachah, which means family or clan. This is maidservant, female slave, or female bondslave.
G “name” = 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.
H “Hagar” = Hagar. 12x in OT. Perhaps from hagar (fleeing; a stranger or foreigner) OR from ha (the) + garar (to drag out or away) OR from Persian/Greek aggareuo (to press into service). This is Hagar. it may mean “flight,” “to be dragged off,” or “pressed into service.” See and

and Sarai said to Abram, “You seeI, J that the LordK has preventedL me from bearing children;

Notes on verse 2a

I “see” = 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!
J {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
K “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.
L “prevented” = atsar. To inclose, restrain, keep, hold back, or prevail. It can also mean to maintain, rule, or gather together.

go inM, N to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain childrenO by her.” And Abram listenedP to the voiceQ of Sarai. 

Notes on verse 2b

M “go in” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
N {untranslated} = na. Same as {untranslated} in v2. See note J above.
O “obtain children” = banah. This is to build, make, set up, restore, repair, or obtain children. It is to build literally or figuratively.
P “listened” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
Q “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.

So, after Abram had livedR ten years in the landS of Canaan,T Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husbandU Abram as a wife. 

Notes on verse 3

R “lived” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
S “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
T “Canaan” = Kna’an. From kana’ (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled. This could mean lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt. See
U “husband” = ish. Related to “wife” in v1. See note C above.

He went in to Hagar, and she conceived;V and when she sawW that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.X 

Notes on verse 4

V “conceived” = harah. This is to conceive or be pregnant – it can be literal or figurative.
W “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
X “looked with contempt on her mistress” = qalal + gebereth + ayin. Literally “her mistress became despised in her eyes.” Qalal is to be little, insignificant, swift. It can also mean to bring down in esteem, create contempt, curse. Gebereth is 9x in OT. From gebir (lord or master); from gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or be insolent). This is lady or mistress. Ayin is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrongY done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace,Z and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judgeAA between you and me!” 

But Abram said to Sarai, “BBYour slave-girl is in your power;CC doDD to her as you please.”EE

Notes on verses 5-6a

Y “wrong” = chamas. From chamas (to violate, do violence, to wrong; implies mistreatment). This is violence, cruelty, damage, wrong, injustice, or unrighteous. Violence implies a wrong done. The term is also used to describe unjust gain.
Z “embrace” = cheq. Root may mean to enclose. This is bosom in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be arms, lap, or midst. It can also be care or cherish.
AA “judge” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
BB {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “see” in v2. See note I above.
CC “power” = 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.
DD “do” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
EE “please” = tob + ayin. Literally “what is good in your eyes.” Tob is from tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good. Ayin is the same as “looked with contempt on her mistress” in v4. See note X above.

Then Sarai dealt harshlyFF with her, and she ran awayGG from her.HH

Notes on verse 6b

FF “dealt harshly” = anah. This is to be bowed down. It can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed. This can be literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance.
GG “ran away” = barach. This is to flee, drive away, hurry, to bolt.
HH “her” = paneh. Literally “from her face.” 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.

The angelII of the Lord foundJJ her by a springKK of waterLL in the wilderness,MM the spring on the wayNN to Shur.OO 

Notes on verse 7

II “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.
JJ “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
KK “spring” = ayin. Same as “looked with contempt on her mistress” in v4. See note X above.
LL “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
MM “wilderness” = midbar. From dabar (to speak, command, declare). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle.
NN “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
OO “Shur” = Shur. 6x in OT. Perhaps from shur (to travel, turn, journey; travelling like a prostitute or a merchant) OR from shur (to excite, to rise up). This is Sur, a desert place in eastern Egypt. It may mean “wall,” “bull,” or “fortification.”  See  

And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you comePP from and where are you going?”QQ

She said, “I am running away fromRR my mistress Sarai.” 

Notes on verse 8

PP “come” = bo. Same as “go in” in v2. See note M above.
QQ “going” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
RR {untranslated} = paneh. Same as “her” in v6. See note HH above. Literally “From the face of Sarai my mistress I am fleeing.”

The angel of the Lord said to her, “ReturnSS to your mistress, and submitTT to her.”UU 

Notes on verse 9

SS “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
TT “submit” = anah. Same as “dealt harshly” in v6. See note FF above. Here, in Hithpael, which means it is reflexive. It would have the sense of “have yourself be dealt with harshly.”
UU “to her” = tachat + yad. Literally “beneath her hand.” Tachat is underneath, below, the bottom, instead of. Yad is the same as “power” in v6. See note CC above.

10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiplyVV your offspringWW that they cannot be countedXX for multitude.”YY 

Notes on verse 10

VV “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.”
WW “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.
XX “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.
YY “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,

“NowZZ you have conceivedAAA and shall bear a son;BBB

Notes on verse 11a

ZZ “now” = hinneh. Same as “see” in v2. See note I above.
AAA “conceived” = harah. Related to “conceived” in v4. 16x in OT. From harah (see note V above). This is pregnant or conceived.
BBB “son” = ben. Related to “obtain children” in v2. Perhaps from banah (see note O above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

    you shall callCCC him Ishmael,DDD
    for the Lord has given heedEEE to your affliction.FFF

Notes on verse 11b

CCC “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 is the same as “name” in v1. See note G above.
DDD “Ishmael” = Yishmael. Related to “listened” in v2. From shama (see note P above) + el (God, a god). This is Ishmael, meaning “God hears” or “God will hear.”
EEE “given heed” = shama. Same as “listened” in v2. See note P above.
FFF “affliction” = oniy. Related to “dealt harshly” in v6. From anah (see note FF above). This is misery, poverty, or affliction.

12 He shall be a wild assGGG of a man,HHH
with his handIII against everyone,
    and everyone’s hand against him;

Notes on verse 12a

GGG “wild ass” = pere. 10x in OT. Perhaps from para (to be fruitful, to run free as a wild animal). This is a wild donkey.
HHH “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.
III “hand” = yad. Same as “power” in v6. See note CC above.

and he shall liveJJJ at odds withKKK all his kin.”LLL

Notes on verse 12b

JJJ “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).
KKK “at odds with” = al + paneh. Literally “in or against the presence of.” Paneh is the same as “her” in v6. See note HH above.
LLL “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 namedMMM the Lord who spokeNNN to her, “You are ElOOO-roi”;PPP for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?”QQQ 

Notes on verse 13

MMM “named” = qara + shem. Same as “call” in v11. See note CCC above.
NNN “spoke” = dabar. Related to “wilderness” in v7. See note MM above.
OOO “El” = El. Related to “Ishmael” in v11. See note DDD above.
PPP “roi” = roi. Related to “saw” in v4. 5x in OT. From raah (see note W above). This is seeing, appearance, vision, spectacle.
QQQ Perhaps literally “have I seen after the one who sees me?”

14 Therefore the wellRRR was called Beer-lahai-roi;SSS, TTT it lies between KadeshUUU and Bered.VVV

Notes on verse 14

RRR “well” = beer. From baar (to make plain; to dig; can also mean to engrave or figuratively to explain). This is a well or pit.
SSS “Beer-lahai-roi” = Beer lahai roi. Related to “well” in v14 & “saw” in v4 & “roi” in v13. 3x in OT. From beer (see note RRR above) + roi (see note PPP above). This is Beer-lahai-roi, perhaps “well of the living one that sees me” or “well of a living one my seer.”
TTT {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “see” in v2. See note I above.
UUU “Kadesh” = Qadesh. 18x in OT. From the same as qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.) This is Kadesh, a place whose name means sacred or sanctuary.
VVV “Bered” = Bared. 2x in OT. From the same as barad (hailstone). This is Bered, a place and personal name.

15 Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eightyWWW-sixXXX years oldYYY when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Notes on verses 15-16

WWW “eighty” = shemnmim. From shemoneh (eight or eighth; abundance as being more than 7, the number of sacred fullness); perhaps from shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat); from shaman (to grow fat, shine, be oily). This is eighty.
XXX “six” = shesh. This is six. Figuratively, it can be a surplus since it is one more than the number of fingers on the hand.
YYY “old” = ben. Same as “son” in v11. See note BBB above.

Image credit: “Hagar” by Jacques Lipschitz, 1971. Photo by Amarnath.

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