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Kejadian 16:1--18:33

The Birth of Ishmael

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 

16:6 Abram said to Sarai, “Since your 20  servant is under your authority, 21  do to her whatever you think best.” 22  Then Sarai treated Hagar 23  harshly, 24  so she ran away from Sarai. 25 

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 

16:12 He will be a wild donkey 36  of a man.

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.)

16:15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, whom Abram named Ishmael. 45  16:16 (Now 46  Abram was 86 years old 47  when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.) 48 

The Sign of the Covenant

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.

Three Special Visitors

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 

Abraham Pleads for Sodom

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.”

18:29 Abraham 178  spoke to him again, 179  “What if forty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”

18:30 Then Abraham 180  said, “May the Lord not be angry 181  so that I may speak! 182  What if thirty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

18:31 Abraham 183  said, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”

18:32 Finally Abraham 184  said, “May the Lord not be angry so that I may speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

18:33 The Lord went on his way 185  when he had finished speaking 186  to Abraham. Then Abraham returned home. 187 

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[16:1]  1 tn The disjunctive clause signals the beginning of a new episode in the story.

[16:1]  2 sn On the cultural background of the story of Sarai’s childlessness see J. Van Seters, “The Problem of Childlessness in Near Eastern Law and the Patriarchs of Israel,” JBL 87 (1968): 401-8.

[16:1]  3 tn The Hebrew term שִׁפְחָה (shifkhah, translated “servant” here and in vv. 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8) refers to a menial female servant.

[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]  5 tn Heb “look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) introduces the foundational clause for the imperative to follow.

[16:2]  6 tn Heb “enter to.” The expression is a euphemism for sexual relations (also in v. 4).

[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.

[16:2]  7 tn Heb “perhaps I will be built from her.” Sarai hopes to have a family established through this surrogate mother.

[16:2]  8 tn Heb “listened to the voice of,” which is an idiom meaning “obeyed.”

[16:2]  sn Abram did what Sarai told him. This expression was first used in Gen 3:17 of Adam’s obeying his wife. In both cases the text highlights weak faith and how it jeopardized the plan of God.

[16:3]  9 tn Heb “at the end of ten years, to live, Abram.” The prepositional phrase introduces the temporal clause, the infinitive construct serves as the verb, and the name “Abram” is the subject.

[16:3]  10 tn Heb “the Egyptian, her female servant.”

[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]  12 tn Heb “entered to.” See the note on the same expression in v. 2.

[16:4]  13 tn Or “she conceived” (also in v. 5)

[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]  15 tn Heb “my wrong is because of you.”

[16:5]  16 tn Heb “I placed my female servant in your bosom.”

[16:5]  17 tn Heb “saw.”

[16:5]  18 tn Heb “I was despised in her eyes.” The passive verb has been translated as active for stylistic reasons. Sarai was made to feel supplanted and worthless by Hagar the servant girl.

[16:5]  19 tn Heb “me and you.”

[16:5]  sn May the Lord judge between you and me. Sarai blamed Abram for Hagar’s attitude, not the pregnancy. Here she expects to be vindicated by the Lord who will prove Abram responsible. A colloquial rendering might be, “God will get you for this.” It may mean that she thought Abram had encouraged the servant girl in her elevated status.

[16:6]  20 tn The clause is introduced with the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh), introducing a foundational clause for the coming imperative: “since…do.”

[16:6]  21 tn Heb “in your hand.”

[16:6]  22 tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.”

[16:6]  23 tn Heb “her”; the referent (Hagar) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[16:6]  24 tn In the Piel stem the verb עָנָה (’anah) means “to afflict, to oppress, to treat harshly, to mistreat.”

[16:6]  25 tn Heb “and she fled from her presence.” The referent of “her” (Sarai) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[16:7]  26 tn Heb “the messenger of the Lord.” Some identify the angel of the Lord as the preincarnate Christ because in some texts the angel is identified with the Lord himself. However, it is more likely that the angel merely represents the Lord; he can speak for the Lord because he is sent with the Lord’s full authority. In some cases the angel is clearly distinct from the Lord (see Judg 6:11-23). It is not certain if the same angel is always in view. Though the proper name following the noun “angel” makes the construction definite, this may simply indicate that a definite angel sent from the Lord is referred to in any given context. It need not be the same angel on every occasion. Note the analogous expression “the servant of the Lord,” which refers to various individuals in the OT (see BDB 714 s.v. עֶבֶד).

[16:7]  27 tn Heb “And the angel of the Lord found her near the spring of water in the desert, near the spring on the way to Shur.”

[16:8]  28 tn Heb “from the presence of.”

[16:9]  29 tn The imperative וְהִתְעַנִּי (vÿhitanni) 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.

[16:10]  30 tn Heb “The Lord’s angel said, ‘I will greatly multiply your descendants….” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[16:10]  31 tn Heb “cannot be numbered because of abundance.”

[16:11]  32 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) focuses on her immediate situation: “Here you are pregnant.”

[16:11]  33 tn The active participle refers here to something that is about to happen.

[16:11]  34 sn The name Ishmael consists of the imperfect or jussive form of the Hebrew verb with the theophoric element added as the subject. It means “God hears” or “may God hear.”

[16:11]  35 tn Heb “affliction,” which must refer here to Hagar’s painful groans of anguish.

[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]  38 tn Heb “And the hand of everyone will be against him.”

[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).

[16:13]  40 tn Heb “God of my seeing.” The pronominal suffix may be understood either as objective (“who sees me,” as in the translation) or subjective (“whom I see”).

[16:13]  41 tn Heb “after one who sees me.”

[16:13]  sn For a discussion of Hagar’s exclamation, see T. Booij, “Hagar’s Words in Genesis 16:13b,” VT 30 (1980): 1-7.

[16:14]  42 tn The verb does not have an expressed subject and so is rendered as passive in the translation.

[16:14]  43 sn The Hebrew name Beer Lahai Roi (בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי, bÿer lakhay roi) means “The well of the Living One who sees me.” The text suggests that God takes up the cause of those who are oppressed.

[16:14]  44 tn Heb “look.” The words “it is located” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[16:15]  45 tn Heb “and Abram called the name of his son whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.”

[16:15]  sn Whom Abram named Ishmael. Hagar must have informed Abram of what the angel had told her. See the note on the name “Ishmael” in 16:11.

[16:16]  46 tn The disjunctive clause gives information that is parenthetical to the narrative.

[16:16]  47 tn Heb “the son of eighty-six years.”

[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]  49 tn Heb “the son of ninety-nine years.”

[17:1]  50 tn Heb “appeared to Abram and said to him.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) and the final phrase “to him” has been left untranslated for stylistic reasons.

[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 mss, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the LXX, and Syriac) as the one who provides abundant blessings, including “blessings of the breast and womb” (49:25). (The direct association of the name with “breasts” suggests the name might mean “the one of the breast” [i.e., the one who gives fertility], but the juxtaposition is probably better explained as wordplay. Note the wordplay involving the name and the root שָׁדַד, shadad, “destroy”] in Isa 13:6 and in Joel 1:15.) Outside Genesis the name Shaddai (minus the element “El” [“God”]) is normally used when God is viewed as the sovereign king who blesses/protects or curses/brings judgment. The name appears in the introduction to two of Balaam’s oracles (Num 24:4, 16) of blessing upon Israel. Naomi employs the name when accusing the Lord of treating her bitterly by taking the lives of her husband and sons (Ruth 1:20-21). In Ps 68:14; Isa 13:6; and Joel 1:15 Shaddai judges his enemies through warfare, while Ps 91:1 depicts him as the protector of his people. (In Ezek 1:24 and 10:5 the sound of the cherubs’ wings is compared to Shaddai’s powerful voice. The reference may be to the mighty divine warrior’s battle cry which accompanies his angry judgment.) Finally, the name occurs 31 times in the Book of Job. Job and his “friends” assume that Shaddai is the sovereign king of the world (11:7; 37:23a) who is the source of life (33:4b) and is responsible for maintaining justice (8:3; 34:10-12; 37:23b). He provides abundant blessings, including children (22:17-18; 29:4-6), but he can also discipline, punish, and destroy (5:17; 6:4; 21:20; 23:16). It is not surprising to see the name so often in this book, where the theme of God’s justice is primary and even called into question (24:1; 27:2). The most likely proposal is that the name means “God, the one of the mountain” (an Akkadian cognate means “mountain,” to which the Hebrew שַׁד, shad, “breast”] is probably related). For a discussion of proposed derivations see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 70-71. The name may originally have depicted God as the sovereign judge who, in Canaanite style, ruled from a sacred mountain. Isa 14:13 and Ezek 28:14, 16 associate such a mountain with God, while Ps 48:2 refers to Zion as “Zaphon,” the Canaanite Olympus from which the high god El ruled. (In Isa 14 the Canaanite god El may be in view. Note that Isaiah pictures pagan kings as taunting the king of Babylon, suggesting that pagan mythology may provide the background for the language and imagery.)

[17:1]  52 tn Or “Live out your life.” The Hebrew verb translated “walk” is the Hitpael; it means “to walk back and forth; to walk about; to live out one’s life.”

[17:1]  53 tn Or “in my presence.”

[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 Lord, then the second imperative is likely sequential. (2) But if it has a positive moral connotation (“serve me faithfully”), then the second imperative probably indicates purpose (or result). For other uses of the idiom see 1 Sam 2:30, 35 and 12:2 (where it occurs twice).

[17:2]  55 tn Following the imperative, the cohortative indicates consequence. If Abram is blameless, then the Lord will ratify the covenant. Earlier the Lord ratified part of his promise to Abram (see Gen 15:18-21), guaranteeing him that his descendants would live in the land. But the expanded form of the promise, which includes numerous descendants and eternal possession of the land, remains to be ratified. This expanded form of the promise is in view here (see vv. 2b, 4-8). See the note at Gen 15:18 and R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 35-54.

[17:2]  56 tn Heb “I will multiply you exceedingly, exceedingly.” The repetition is emphatic.

[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.

[17:3]  58 tn Heb “God spoke to him, saying.” This is redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[17:4]  59 tn Heb “I.”

[17:4]  60 tn Heb “is” (הִנֵּה, hinneh).

[17:5]  61 tn Heb “will your name be called.”

[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.

[17:5]  63 tn The perfect verbal form is used here in a rhetorical manner to emphasize God’s intention.

[17:6]  64 tn This verb starts a series of perfect verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive to express God’s intentions.

[17:6]  65 tn Heb “exceedingly, exceedingly.” The repetition is emphatic.

[17:6]  66 tn Heb “and I will make you into nations, and kings will come out from you.”

[17:7]  67 tn The verb קוּם (qum, “to arise, to stand up”) in the Hiphil verbal stem means “to confirm, to give effect to, to carry out” (i.e., a covenant or oath; see BDB 878-79 s.v. קוּם).

[17:7]  68 tn Or “as an eternal.”

[17:7]  69 tn Heb “to be to you for God and to your descendants after you.”

[17:8]  70 tn The verbal root is גּוּר (gur, “to sojourn, to reside temporarily,” i.e., as a resident alien). It is the land in which Abram resides, but does not yet possess as his very own.

[17:8]  71 tn Or “as an eternal.”

[17:9]  72 tn The imperfect tense could be translated “you shall keep” as a binding command; but the obligatory nuance (“must”) captures the binding sense better.

[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]  74 tn Heb “This is my covenant that you must keep between me and you and your descendants after you.”

[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.

[17:11]  76 tn Or “sign.”

[17:12]  77 tn Heb “the son of eight days.”

[17:13]  78 tn The emphatic construction employs the Niphal imperfect tense (collective singular) and the Niphal infinitive.

[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.

[17:13]  80 tn Or “an eternal.”

[17:14]  81 tn The disjunctive clause calls attention to the “uncircumcised male” and what will happen to him.

[17:14]  82 tn Heb “that person will be cut off.” The words “that person” have not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[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]  84 tn Heb “[As for] Sarai your wife, you must not call her name Sarai, for Sarah [will be] her name.”

[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.

[17:16]  86 tn Heb “she will become nations.”

[17:16]  87 tn Heb “peoples.”

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

[17:17]  90 tn The imperfect verbal form here carries a potential nuance, as it expresses the disbelief of Abraham.

[17:17]  91 tn Heb “to the son of a hundred years.”

[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).

[17:17]  93 tn Heb “the daughter of ninety years.”

[17:18]  94 tn The wish is introduced with the Hebrew particle לוּ (lu), “O that.”

[17:18]  95 tn Or “live with your blessing.”

[17:19]  96 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).

[17:19]  97 tn Or “as an eternal.”

[17:20]  98 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.

[17:20]  99 tn Heb “And I will multiply him exceedingly, exceedingly.” The repetition is emphatic.

[17:20]  100 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.

[17:22]  101 tn Heb “And when he finished speaking with him, God went up from Abraham.” The sequence of pronouns and proper names has been modified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[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.

[17:23]  102 tn Heb “Ishmael his son and all born in his house and all bought with money, every male among the men of the house of Abraham.”

[17:23]  103 tn Heb “circumcised the flesh of their foreskin.” The Hebrew expression is somewhat pleonastic and has been simplified in the translation.

[17:24]  104 tn Heb “the son of ninety-nine years.”

[17:24]  105 tn Heb “circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin” (also in v. 25).

[17:25]  106 tn Heb “the son of thirteen years.”

[18:1]  107 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:1]  108 tn Or “terebinths.”

[18:1]  109 tn The disjunctive clause here is circumstantial to the main clause.

[18:1]  110 tn The Hebrew noun translated “entrance” is an adverbial accusative of place.

[18:2]  111 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:2]  112 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes.”

[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]  114 tn The Hebrew preposition עַל (’al) indicates the three men were nearby, but not close by, for Abraham had to run to meet them.

[18:2]  115 tn The pronoun “them” has been supplied in the translation for clarification. In the Hebrew text the verb has no stated object.

[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 Lord and two angels (see Gen 19:1). It is not certain how soon Abraham recognized the true identity of the visitors. His actions suggest he suspected this was something out of the ordinary, though it is possible that his lavish treatment of the visitors was done quite unwittingly. Bowing down to the ground would be reserved for obeisance of kings or worship of the Lord. Whether he was aware of it or not, Abraham’s action was most appropriate.

[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 Lord, may have put the proper pointing with the word instead of the more common אֲדֹנִי (’adoni, “my master”).

[18:3]  119 tn Heb “do not pass by from upon your servant.”

[18:4]  120 tn The imperative after the jussive indicates purpose here.

[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]  122 tn The Qal cohortative here probably has the nuance of polite request.

[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.

[18:5]  124 tn Heb “strengthen your heart.” The imperative after the cohortative indicates purpose here.

[18:5]  125 tn Heb “so that you may refresh yourselves, after [which] you may be on your way – for therefore you passed by near your servant.”

[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.

[18:6]  128 sn The bread was the simple, round bread made by bedouins that is normally prepared quickly for visitors.

[18:7]  129 tn Heb “the young man.”

[18:7]  130 tn The construction uses the Piel preterite, “he hurried,” followed by the infinitive construct; the two probably form a verbal hendiadys: “he quickly prepared.”

[18:8]  131 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:8]  132 tn The words “the food” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the verb has no stated object.

[18:8]  133 tn The disjunctive clause is a temporal circumstantial clause subordinate to the main verb.

[18:9]  134 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) often accompanies a gesture of pointing or a focused gaze.

[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 Lord (cf. RSV, NIV) based on vv. 1, 13, but the Hebrew text merely has “he said” at this point, referring to one of the three visitors. Aside from the introductory statement in v. 1, the incident is narrated from Abraham’s point of view, and the suspense is built up for the reader as Abraham’s elaborate banquet preparations in the preceding verses suggest he suspects these are important guests. But not until the promise of a son later in this verse does it become clear who is speaking. In v. 13 the Hebrew text explicitly mentions the Lord.

[18:10]  136 tn The Hebrew construction is emphatic, using the infinitive absolute with the imperfect tense.

[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?

[18:10]  137 tn Heb “as/when the time lives” or “revives,” possibly referring to the springtime.

[18:10]  138 tn Heb “and there will be (הִנֵּה, hinneh) a son for Sarah.”

[18:10]  139 tn This is the first of two disjunctive parenthetical clauses preparing the reader for Sarah’s response (see v. 12).

[18:11]  140 tn Heb “days.”

[18:11]  141 tn Heb “it had ceased to be for Sarah [after] a way like women.”

[18:12]  142 tn Heb “saying.”

[18:12]  143 tn It has been suggested that this word should be translated “conception,” not “pleasure.” See A. A. McIntosh, “A Third Root ‘adah in Biblical Hebrew,” VT 24 (1974): 454-73.

[18:12]  144 tn The word “too” has been added in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[18:13]  145 tn Heb “Why, this?” The demonstrative pronoun following the interrogative pronoun is enclitic, emphasizing the Lord’s amazement: “Why on earth did Sarah laugh?”

[18:13]  146 tn The Hebrew construction uses both הַאַף (haaf) and אֻמְנָם (’umnam): “Indeed, truly, will I have a child?”

[18:14]  147 tn The Hebrew verb פָּלָא (pala’) means “to be wonderful, to be extraordinary, to be surpassing, to be amazing.”

[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 Lord fixed an exact date for the birth of the child, the promise became rather overwhelming to Abraham and Sarah. But then this was the Lord of creation, the one they had come to trust. The point of these narratives is that the creation of Abraham’s offspring, which eventually became Israel, is no less a miraculous work of creation than the creation of the world itself.

[18:15]  149 tn Heb “And he said, ‘No, but you did laugh.’” The referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:16]  150 tn Heb “And the men arose from there.”

[18:16]  151 tn Heb “toward the face of.”

[18:16]  152 tn The disjunctive parenthetical clause sets the stage for the following speech.

[18:16]  153 tn The Piel of שָׁלַח (shalakh) means “to lead out, to send out, to expel”; here it is used in the friendly sense of seeing the visitors on their way.

[18:17]  154 tn The active participle here refers to an action that is imminent.

[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]  156 tn The infinitive absolute lends emphasis to the finite verb that follows.

[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 Lord.

[18:19]  159 tn Heb “and they will keep.” The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive carries on the subjective nuance of the preceding imperfect verbal form (translated “so that he may command”).

[18:19]  160 tn The infinitive construct here indicates manner, explaining how Abraham’s children and his household will keep the way of the Lord.

[18:19]  161 tn Heb “bring on.” The infinitive after לְמַעַן (lÿmaan) indicates result here.

[18:19]  162 tn Heb “spoke to.”

[18:20]  163 tn Heb “the outcry of Sodom,” which apparently refers to the outcry for divine justice from those (unidentified persons) who observe its sinful ways.

[18:20]  164 tn Heb “heavy.”

[18:21]  165 tn The cohortative indicates the Lord’s resolve.

[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 Lord going down to see the Tower of Babel in Gen 11:1-9.

[18:21]  166 tn Heb “[if] according to the outcry that has come to me they have done completely.” Even the Lord, who is well aware of the human capacity to sin, finds it hard to believe that anyone could be as bad as the “outcry” against Sodom and Gomorrah suggests.

[18:21]  167 sn The short phrase if not provides a ray of hope and inspires Abraham’s intercession.

[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 Lord was the third visitor, who remained behind with Abraham here. The words “from there” are not included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[18:22]  169 tn Heb “went.”

[18:22]  170 tc An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition reads “but the Lord remained standing before Abraham.” This reading is problematic because the phrase “standing before” typically indicates intercession, but the Lord would certainly not be interceding before Abraham.

[18:24]  171 tn Heb “lift up,” perhaps in the sense of “bear with” (cf. NRSV “forgive”).

[18:25]  172 tn Or “ruler.”

[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.

[18:27]  174 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here and in vv. 30, 31, 32 is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

[18:27]  175 tn The disjunctive clause is a concessive clause here, drawing out the humility as a contrast to the Lord.

[18:28]  176 tn The Hebrew verb שָׁחַת (shakhat, “to destroy”) was used earlier to describe the effect of the flood.

[18:28]  177 tn Heb “because of five.”

[18:29]  178 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:29]  179 tn The construction is a verbal hendiadys – the preterite (“he added”) is combined with an adverb “yet” and an infinitive “to speak.”

[18:30]  180 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:30]  181 tn Heb “let it not be hot to the Lord.” This is an idiom which means “may the Lord not be angry.”

[18:30]  182 tn After the jussive, the cohortative indicates purpose/result.

[18:31]  183 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:32]  184 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[18:33]  185 tn Heb “And the Lord went.”

[18:33]  186 tn The infinitive construct (“speaking”) serves as the direct object of the verb “finished.”

[18:33]  187 tn Heb “to his place.”

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