Genesis 21:1-3 & 22:1-14

Genesis 21:1-3 & 22:1-14
Narrative Lectionary


21:1 The LordA dealtB with SarahC as he had said, and the Lord didD for Sarah as he had promised.E 

Notes on verse 21:1

A “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.
B “dealt” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
C “Sarah” = Sarah. From the same as Saray (princess, mistress, noble lady, queen); from sar (chief, ruler, captain, official, prince). This is Sarah, meaning princess.
D “did” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
E “promised” = 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.

Sarah conceivedF and boreG AbrahamH a sonI in his old age,J

Notes on verse 21:2a

F “conceived” = harah. This is to conceive or be pregnant – it can be literal or figurative.
G “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.
H “Abraham” = Abraham. 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 Abraham, father of many nations or father of a multitude.
I “son” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
J “old age” = zaqun. 4x in OT– all in Genesis. From zaqen (to be old, grow old, old man); from the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old age.

at the timeK of which GodL had spokenM to him. 

Notes on verse 21:2b

K “time” = moed. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree). This is a meeting, assembly, fixed time. It can be used for a festival or feast. It can also refer to a meeting place.
L “God” = Elohim.
M “spoken” = dabar. Same as “promised” in v21:1. See note E above.

Abraham gaveN the nameO IsaacP to his son whom Sarah bore him.

Notes on verse 21:3

N “gave” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
O “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.
P “Isaac” = Yitschaq. From tsachaq (to laugh, mock, play, make sport; this is laughing out loud whether in joy or in a scornful way). This is Isaac, meaning “he laughs.”

22:1 QAfter these thingsR God testedS Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.”T 

Notes on verse 22:1

Q {untranslated} = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v21:1. See note A above.
R “things” = dabar. Related to “promised” in v21:1. From dabar (see note E above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
S “tested” = nasah. This is to test, prove, try, tempt, or attempt.
T “here I am” = 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!

2 He said, “TakeU, V your son, your onlyW son Isaac, whom you love,X

Notes on verse 22:2a

U “take” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
V {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.”
W “only” = yachid. 12x in OT. From yachad (to join, be united). This is united, sole, solitary, only, or desolate. It can also mean beloved or darling.
X “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.

and goY to the landZ of Moriah,AA

Notes on verse 22:2b

Y “go” = 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.
Z “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
AA “Moriah” = Moriyyah. Related to “Lord” in v21:1 & {untranslated} in v22:1. 2x in OT. Perhaps from raah (to see in a literal or figurative sense; also to experience or discern) + Yah (the shortened form of the name of the God of Israel; God, Lord); {from YHVH (see note A above)}. This is Moriah, perhaps meaning “seen of the Lord.”

and offerBB him there as a burnt offeringCC on oneDD of the mountainsEE that I shall show you.” 

Notes on verse 22:2c

BB “offer” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
CC “burnt offering” = olah. Related to “offer” in v22:2. From alah (see note BB above). This is a step, stairs, or some kind of ascent. It is also used for whole burnt offerings, being the offering in which the whole things is burned and rises as smoke. Burnt offerings were the least common of the offerings: most were eaten, shared with the priest and the one bringing the offering.
DD “one” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
EE “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.

So Abraham rose earlyFF in the morning,GG saddledHH his donkey,II and took twoJJ of his young menKK with him, and his son Isaac;

Notes on verse 22:3a

FF “rose early” = shakam. This is leaning one’s shoulder into a burden or load, whether a person or an animal. Thus, it meant starting or rising early.
GG “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
HH “saddled” = chabash. This is to wrap tightly or bind, to bandage, or heal. It can be to saddle an animal or wrap a turban. Figuratively, it can mean to stop or to govern.
II “donkey” = chamor. From chamar (to be red, blush). This is a male donkey.
JJ “two” = shenayim. From sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple.
KK “young men” = naar. May be from na’ar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a child or a servant. It is a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence.

he cutLL the woodMM for the burnt offering, and set outNN and went to the placeOO in the distance that God had shown him. 

Notes on verse 22:3b

LL “cut” = baqa. This is to break open, breach, divide, rip, shake, tear. It can also mean dash into pieces or being ready to burst.
MM “wood” = ets. Perhaps from atsah (to shut, fasten, firm up, to close one’s eyes). This is tree or other things related to trees like wood, sticks, or stalks. It can also refer to wood products like a plank or staff or gallows. Additionally, this can refer to a carpenter.
NN “set out” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
OO “place” = maqom. Related to “set out” in v22:3. From qum (see note NN above). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.

On the third dayPP Abraham looked upQQ and sawRR the place far away.SS 

Notes on verse 22:4

PP “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
QQ “looked up” = nasa + Abrahham + et + ayin. Literally, “lifted up Abraham his eyes.” Nasa is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept. Ayin is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
RR “saw” = raah. Related to “Moriah” in v22:2. See note AA above.
SS “far away” = rachoq. From rachaq (to widen, become distant, cast, or remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is distant or far, whether of space or of time.

5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “StayTT here with the donkey; the boyUU and I will go over there; we will worship,VV and then we will come backWW to you.” 

Notes on verse 22:5

TT “stay” = 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.
UU “boy” = naar. Same as “young men” in v22:3. See note KK above.
VV “worship” = shachah. This is to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God.
WW “come back” = 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.”

Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laidXX it on his son Isaac, and he himselfYY carriedZZ the fireAAA and the knife.BBB

Notes on verse 22:6a

XX “laid” = sum. Related to “name” in v21:3. See note O above.
YY “himself” = yad. Literally, “in his hand.” This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
ZZ “carried” = laqach. Same as “take” in v22:2. See note U above.
AAA “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
BBB “knife” = maakeleth. 4x in OT. From akal (to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume; eating in a literal or figurative sense). This is something used to eat, which is to say, a knife.

So the two of them walkedCCC on together.DDD Isaac said to his fatherEEE Abraham, “Father!”FFF

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

He said, “GGGThe fire and the wood are here, but where is the lambHHH for a burnt offering?” 

Abraham said, “God himself will provideIII the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

Notes on verses 22:6b-8

CCC “walked” = halak. Same as “go” in v22:2. See note Y above.
DDD “together” = yachad. Related to “only” in v22:2. From yachad (see note W above). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.
EEE “father” = ab. Related to “Abraham” in v21:2. See note H above.
FFF Literally, “my father.”
GGG {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “here I am” in v22:1. See note T above.
HHH “lamb” = seh. Perhaps from sha’ah (to make a loud noise or crash, devastate, rush). This is a lamb, sheep, or goat – a part of a flock.
III “provide” = raah. Same as “saw” in v22:4. See note RR above.

When they cameJJJ to the place that God had shown him, Abraham builtKKK an altarLLL there and laid the wood in order.MMM

Notes on verse 22:9a

JJJ “came” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
KKK “built” = banah. Related to “son” in v21:2. See note I above.
LLL “altar” = mizbeach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is an altar.
MMM “laid…in order” = arak. This is to arrange by setting in a row. It can also mean to set a battle, estimate, put in order, or compare.

He boundNNN his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached outOOO his handPPP and took the knife to killQQQ his son. 

Notes on verses 22:9b-10

NNN “bound” = aqad. 1x in OT. This is to bind or tie down with strips.
OOO “reached out” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
PPP “hand” = yad. Same as “himself” in v22:6. See note YY above.
QQQ “kill” = shachat. This is to go to ruin, perish, decay, batter, cast off, lose, one who destroys. This can be used in a literal or figurative sense.

11 But the angelRRR of the Lord calledSSS to him from heaven,TTT and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” 

Notes on verse 22:11

RRR “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.
SSS “called” = qara. Same as “gave” in v21:3. See note N above.
TTT “heaven” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.

12 He said, “Do not layUUU your hand on the boy or do anythingVVV to him; for now I knowWWW that you fearXXX God, since you have not withheldYYY your son, your only son, from me.” 

Notes on verse 22:12

UUU “lay” = shalach. Same as “reached out” in v22:10. See note OOO above.
VVV “anything” = meumah. From the same as mum (defect – an ethical one or a literal bodily one). Its root may mean to stain. This can mean a speck or fault. More broadly, it can also refer to anything or nothing.
WWW “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
XXX “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
YYY “withheld” = chasak. This is to restrain, refrain, or hold back. It can mean to spare, to preserve or to punish, depending on the context.

13 And Abraham looked up and sawZZZ a ram,AAAA caughtBBBB in a thicketCCCC by its horns.DDDD Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham calledEEEE that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Notes on verses 22:13-14

ZZZ {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as {untranslated} in v22:1. See note T above.
AAAA “ram” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.
BBBB “caught” = achaz. This is to grasp, catch, seize, take and hold in possession. It can also be to be afraid or hold back.
CCCC “thicket” = sebak. From sabak (to tangle, entwine). This is a thicket or copse.
DDDD “horns” = qeren. This is horn or hill. It can be a flask or cornet, ivory, altar corner, mountain peak, or figuratively power.
EEEE {untranslated} = shem. Same as “name” in v21:3. See note O above.

Image credit: “Abraham’s Sacrifice” by Peter Koenig, 1970.

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