16:1 Now Sarai, 1 Abram’s wife, had not given birth to any children, 2 but she had an Egyptian servant 3 named Hagar. 4 16:2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Since 5 the Lord has prevented me from having children, have sexual relations with 6 my servant. Perhaps I can have a family by her.” 7 Abram did what 8 Sarai told him.
16:3 So after Abram had lived 9 in Canaan for ten years, Sarai, Abram’s wife, gave Hagar, her Egyptian servant, 10 to her husband to be his wife. 11 16:4 He had sexual relations with 12 Hagar, and she became pregnant. 13 Once Hagar realized she was pregnant, she despised Sarai. 14 16:5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You have brought this wrong on me! 15 I allowed my servant to have sexual relations with you, 16 but when she realized 17 that she was pregnant, she despised me. 18 May the Lord judge between you and me!” 19
16:7 The Lord’s angel 26 found Hagar near a spring of water in the desert – the spring that is along the road to Shur. 27 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 28 my mistress, Sarai.”
16:9 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit 29 to her authority. 16:10 I will greatly multiply your descendants,” the Lord’s angel added, 30 “so that they will be too numerous to count.” 31 16:11 Then the Lord’s angel said to her,
“You are now 32 pregnant
and are about to give birth 33 to a son.
You are to name him Ishmael, 34
for the Lord has heard your painful groans. 35
He will be hostile to everyone, 37
and everyone will be hostile to him. 38
He will live away from 39 his brothers.”
16:13 So Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” 40 for she said, “Here I have seen one who sees me!” 41 16:14 That is why the well was called 42 Beer Lahai Roi. 43 (It is located 44 between Kadesh and Bered.)
17:1 When Abram was 99 years old, 49 the Lord appeared to him and said, 50 “I am the sovereign God. 51 Walk 52 before me 53 and be blameless. 54 17:2 Then I will confirm my covenant 55 between me and you, and I will give you a multitude of descendants.” 56
17:3 Abram bowed down with his face to the ground, 57 and God said to him, 58 17:4 “As for me, 59 this 60 is my covenant with you: You will be the father of a multitude of nations. 17:5 No longer will your name be 61 Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham 62 because I will make you 63 the father of a multitude of nations. 17:6 I will make you 64 extremely 65 fruitful. I will make nations of you, and kings will descend from you. 66 17:7 I will confirm 67 my covenant as a perpetual 68 covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 69 17:8 I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing 70 – to you and your descendants after you as a permanent 71 possession. I will be their God.”
17:9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep 72 the covenantal requirement 73 I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 17:10 This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep: 74 Every male among you must be circumcised. 75 17:11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This will be a reminder 76 of the covenant between me and you. 17:12 Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old 77 must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants. 17:13 They must indeed be circumcised, 78 whether born in your house or bought with money. The sign of my covenant 79 will be visible in your flesh as a permanent 80 reminder. 17:14 Any uncircumcised male 81 who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin will be cut off 82 from his people – he has failed to carry out my requirement.” 83
17:15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; 84 Sarah 85 will be her name. 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. 86 Kings of countries 87 will come from her!”
17:17 Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed 88 as he said to himself, 89 “Can 90 a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? 91 Can Sarah 92 bear a child at the age of ninety?” 93 17:18 Abraham said to God, “O that 94 Ishmael might live before you!” 95
17:19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. 96 I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual 97 covenant for his descendants after him. 17:20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. 98 I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants. 99 He will become the father of twelve princes; 100 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.” 17:22 When he finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. 101
17:23 Abraham took his son Ishmael and every male in his household (whether born in his house or bought with money) 102 and circumcised them 103 on that very same day, just as God had told him to do. 17:24 Now Abraham was 99 years old 104 when he was circumcised; 105 17:25 his son Ishmael was thirteen years old 106 when he was circumcised. 17:26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on the very same day. 17:27 All the men of his household, whether born in his household or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
18:1 The Lord appeared to Abraham 107 by the oaks 108 of Mamre while 109 he was sitting at the entrance 110 to his tent during the hottest time of the day. 18:2 Abraham 111 looked up 112 and saw 113 three men standing across 114 from him. When he saw them 115 he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low 116 to the ground. 117
18:3 He said, “My lord, 118 if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant. 119 18:4 Let a little water be brought so that 120 you may all 121 wash your feet and rest under the tree. 18:5 And let me get 122 a bit of food 123 so that you may refresh yourselves 124 since you have passed by your servant’s home. After that you may be on your way.” 125 “All right,” they replied, “you may do as you say.”
18:6 So Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Take 126 three measures 127 of fine flour, knead it, and make bread.” 128 18:7 Then Abraham ran to the herd and chose a fine, tender calf, and gave it to a servant, 129 who quickly prepared it. 130 18:8 Abraham 131 then took some curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and placed the food 132 before them. They ate while 133 he was standing near them under a tree.
18:9 Then they asked him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He replied, “There, 134 in the tent.” 18:10 One of them 135 said, “I will surely return 136 to you when the season comes round again, 137 and your wife Sarah will have a son!” 138 (Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, not far behind him. 139 18:11 Abraham and Sarah were old and advancing in years; 140 Sarah had long since passed menopause.) 141 18:12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, 142 “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, 143 especially when my husband is old too?” 144
18:13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why 145 did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really 146 have a child when I am old?’ 18:14 Is anything impossible 147 for the Lord? I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.” 148 18:15 Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But the Lord said, “No! You did laugh.” 149
18:16 When the men got up to leave, 150 they looked out over 151 Sodom. (Now 152 Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.) 153 18:17 Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 154 18:18 After all, Abraham 155 will surely become 156 a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another 157 using his name. 18:19 I have chosen him 158 so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep 159 the way of the Lord by doing 160 what is right and just. Then the Lord will give 161 to Abraham what he promised 162 him.”
18:20 So the Lord said, “The outcry against 163 Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant 164 18:21 that I must go down 165 and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. 166 If not, 167 I want to know.”
18:22 The two men turned 168 and headed 169 toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 170 18:23 Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? 18:24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare 171 the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 18:25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge 172 of the whole earth do what is right?” 173
18:26 So the Lord replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
18:27 Then Abraham asked, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord 174 (although I am but dust and ashes), 175 18:28 what if there are five less than the fifty godly people? Will you destroy 176 the whole city because five are lacking?” 177 He replied, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
[16:1] 4 sn The passage records the birth of Ishmael to Abram through an Egyptian woman. The story illustrates the limits of Abram’s faith as he tries to obtain a son through social custom. The barrenness of Sarai poses a challenge to Abram’s faith, just as the famine did in chap. 12. As in chap. 12, an Egyptian figures prominently. (Perhaps Hagar was obtained as a slave during Abram’s stay in Egypt.)
[16:2] sn The Hebrew expression translated have sexual relations with does not convey the intimacy of other expressions, such as “so and so knew his wife.” Sarai simply sees this as the social custom of having a child through a surrogate. For further discussion see C. F. Fensham, “The Son of a Handmaid in Northwest Semitic,” VT 19 (1969): 312-21.
[16:3] 11 sn To be his wife. Hagar became a slave wife, not on equal standing with Sarai. However, if Hagar produced the heir, she would be the primary wife in the eyes of society. When this eventually happened, Hagar become insolent, prompting Sarai’s anger.
[16:4] 14 tn Heb “and she saw that she was pregnant and her mistress was despised in her eyes.” The Hebrew verb קָלַל (qalal) means “to despise, to treat lightly, to treat with contempt.” In Hagar’s opinion Sarai had been demoted.
[16:5] sn May the
[16:7] 26 tn Heb “the messenger of the
[16:9] 29 tn The imperative וְהִתְעַנִּי (vÿhit’anni) 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.
[16:11] 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.
[16:12] 36 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.
[16:12] 37 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.
[16:12] 39 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).
[16:14] 43 sn The Hebrew name Beer Lahai Roi (בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי, bÿ’er lakhay ro’i) means “The well of the Living One who sees me.” The text suggests that God takes up the cause of those who are oppressed.
[16:16] 48 tn The Hebrew text adds, “for Abram.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons; it is somewhat redundant given the three occurrences of Abram’s name in this and the previous verse.
[17:1] 51 tn The name אֵל שַׁדַּי (’el shadday, “El Shaddai”) has often been translated “God Almighty,” primarily because Jerome translated it omnipotens (“all powerful”) in the Latin Vulgate. There has been much debate over the meaning of the name. For discussion see W. F. Albright, “The Names Shaddai and Abram,” JBL 54 (1935): 173-210; R. Gordis, “The Biblical Root sdy-sd,” JTS 41 (1940): 34-43; and especially T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 69-72. Shaddai/El Shaddai is the sovereign king of the world who grants, blesses, and judges. In the Book of Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he both blesses/protects and takes away life/happiness. The patriarchs knew God primarily as El Shaddai (Exod 6:3). While the origin and meaning of this name are uncertain (see discussion below) its significance is clear. The name is used in contexts where God appears as the source of fertility and life. In Gen 17:1-8 he appeared to Abram, introduced himself as El Shaddai, and announced his intention to make the patriarch fruitful. In the role of El Shaddai God repeated these words (now elevated to the status of a decree) to Jacob (35:11). Earlier Isaac had pronounced a blessing on Jacob in which he asked El Shaddai to make Jacob fruitful (28:3). Jacob later prayed that his sons would be treated with mercy when they returned to Egypt with Benjamin (43:14). The fertility theme is not as apparent here, though one must remember that Jacob viewed Benjamin as the sole remaining son of the favored and once-barren Rachel (see 29:31; 30:22-24; 35:16-18). It is quite natural that he would appeal to El Shaddai to preserve Benjamin’s life, for it was El Shaddai’s miraculous power which made it possible for Rachel to give him sons in the first place. In 48:3 Jacob, prior to blessing Joseph’s sons, told him how El Shaddai appeared to him at Bethel (see Gen 28) and promised to make him fruitful. When blessing Joseph on his deathbed Jacob referred to Shaddai (we should probably read “El Shaddai,” along with a few Hebrew
[17:1] 54 tn There are two imperatives here: “walk…and be blameless [or “perfect”].” The second imperative may be purely sequential (see the translation) or consequential: “walk before me and then you will be blameless.” How one interprets the sequence depends on the meaning of “walk before”: (1) If it simply refers in a neutral way to serving the
[17:2] 55 tn Following the imperative, the cohortative indicates consequence. If Abram is blameless, then the
[17:3] 57 tn Heb “And Abram fell on his face.” This expression probably means that Abram sank to his knees and put his forehead to the ground, although it is possible that he completely prostrated himself. In either case the posture indicates humility and reverence.
[17:5] 62 sn Your name will be Abraham. The renaming of Abram was a sign of confirmation to the patriarch. Every time the name was used it would be a reminder of God’s promise. “Abram” means “exalted father,” probably referring to Abram’s father Terah. The name looks to the past; Abram came from noble lineage. The name “Abraham” is a dialectical variant of the name Abram. But its significance is in the wordplay with אַב־הֲמוֹן (’av-hamon, “the father of a multitude,” which sounds like אַבְרָהָם, ’avraham, “Abraham”). The new name would be a reminder of God’s intention to make Abraham the father of a multitude. For a general discussion of renaming, see O. Eissfeldt, “Renaming in the Old Testament,” Words and Meanings, 70-83.
[17:9] 73 tn Heb “my covenant.” The Hebrew word בְּרִית (bÿrit) can refer to (1) the agreement itself between two parties (see v. 7), (2) the promise made by one party to another (see vv. 2-3, 7), (3) an obligation placed by one party on another, or (4) a reminder of the agreement. In vv. 9-10 the word refers to a covenantal obligation which God gives to Abraham and his descendants.
[17:10] 75 sn For a discussion of male circumcision as the sign of the covenant in this passage see M. V. Fox, “The Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in the Light of the Priestly ‘ot Etiologies,” RB 81 (1974): 557-96.
[17:13] 79 tn Heb “my covenant.” Here in v. 13 the Hebrew word בְּרִית (bÿrit) refers to the outward, visible sign, or reminder, of the covenant. For the range of meaning of the term, see the note on the word “requirement” in v. 9.
[17:14] sn The meaning of “cut off” has been discussed at great length. An entire tractate in the Mishnah is devoted to this subject (tractate Keritot). Being ostracized from the community is involved at the least, but it is not certain whether this refers to the death penalty.
[17:14] 83 tn Heb “he has broken my covenant.” The noun בְּרִית (bÿrit) here refers to the obligation required by God in conjunction with the covenantal agreement. For the range of meaning of the term, see the note on the word “requirement” in v. 9.
[17:15] 85 sn Sarah. The name change seems to be a dialectical variation, both spellings meaning “princess” or “queen.” Like the name Abram, the name Sarai symbolized the past. The new name Sarah, like the name Abraham, would be a reminder of what God intended to do for Sarah in the future.
[17:17] 88 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.
[17:17] 92 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).
[17:22] sn God went up from him. The text draws attention to God’s dramatic exit and in so doing brings full closure to the scene.
[18:2] 113 tn Heb “and saw, and look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) draws attention to what he saw. The drawn-out description focuses the reader’s attention on Abraham’s deliberate, fixed gaze and indicates that what he is seeing is significant.
[18:2] 116 tn The form וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ (vayyishtakhu, “and bowed low”) is from the verb הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה (hishtakhavah, “to worship, bow low to the ground”). It is probably from a root חָוָה (khavah), though some derive it from שָׁחָה (shakhah).
[18:2] 117 sn The reader knows this is a theophany. The three visitors are probably the
[18:3] 118 tc The MT has the form אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Master”) which is reserved for God. This may reflect later scribal activity. The scribes, knowing it was the
[18:4] 121 tn The word “all” has been supplied in the translation because the Hebrew verb translated “wash” and the pronominal suffix on the word “feet” are plural, referring to all three of the visitors.
[18:5] 123 tn Heb “a piece of bread.” The Hebrew word לֶחֶם (lekhem) can refer either to bread specifically or to food in general. Based on Abraham’s directions to Sarah in v. 6, bread was certainly involved, but v. 7 indicates that Abraham had a more elaborate meal in mind.
[18:6] 126 tn The word “take” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the sentence lacks a verb other than the imperative “hurry.” The elliptical structure of the language reflects Abraham’s haste to get things ready quickly.
[18:6] 127 sn Three measures (Heb “three seahs”) was equivalent to about twenty quarts (twenty-two liters) of flour, which would make a lot of bread. The animal prepared for the meal was far more than the three visitors needed. This was a banquet for royalty. Either it had been a lonely time for Abraham and the presence of visitors made him very happy, or he sensed this was a momentous visit.
[18:10] 135 tn Heb “he”; the referent (one of the three men introduced in v. 2) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Some English translations have specified the referent as the
[18:10] sn I will surely return. If Abraham had not yet figured out who this was, this interchange would have made it clear. Otherwise, how would a return visit from this man mean Sarah would have a son?
[18:14] 148 sn Sarah will have a son. The passage brings God’s promise into clear focus. As long as it was a promise for the future, it really could be believed without much involvement. But now, when it seemed so impossible from the human standpoint, when the
[18:18] 155 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The disjunctive clause is probably causal, giving a reason why God should not hide his intentions from Abraham. One could translate, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation?”
[18:18] 157 tn Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. (The Niphal of “bless” is only used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant. See Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14.) Traditionally the verb is taken as passive here, as if Abram were going to be a channel or source of blessing. But in later formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form, suggesting a translation “will bless [i.e., “pronounce blessings upon”] themselves [or “one another”].” The Hitpael of “bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 18:18 (like 12:2) predicts that Abraham will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae. For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11.
[18:19] 158 tn Heb “For I have known him.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) here means “to recognize and treat in a special manner, to choose” (see Amos 3:2). It indicates that Abraham stood in a special covenantal relationship with the
[18:21] sn I must go down. The descent to “see” Sodom is a bold anthropomorphism, stressing the careful judgment of God. The language is reminiscent of the
[18:21] 166 tn Heb “[if] according to the outcry that has come to me they have done completely.” Even the
[18:22] 168 tn Heb “And the men turned from there.” The word “two” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied here for clarity. Gen 19:1 mentions only two individuals (described as “angels”), while Abraham had entertained three visitors (18:2). The implication is that the
[18:22] 170 tc An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition reads “but the
[18:25] 173 sn Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right? For discussion of this text see J. L. Crenshaw, “Popular Questioning of the Justice of God in Ancient Israel,” ZAW 82 (1970): 380-95, and C. S. Rodd, “Shall Not the Judge of All the Earth Do What Is Just?” ExpTim 83 (1972): 137-39.