Genesis 16:7-13

Genesis 16:7-13
A Women’s Lectionary 1


The angelA of the LordB foundC her

Notes on verse 7a

A “angel” = malak. This is a messenger, an angel, or a deputy of some kind. Can be used for human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God. Also used for supernatural messengers i.e. angels.
B “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
C “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.

by a springD of waterE in the wilderness,F the spring on the wayG to Shur.H 

Notes on verse 7b

D “spring” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
E “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
F “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.
G “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.
H “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,I slave-girlJ of Sarai,K where have you comeL from and where are you going?”M

Notes on verse 8a

I “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, a name meaning “flight,” “to be dragged off,” “pressed into service,” “sojourner,” “foreigner,” or “messenger.” See and
J “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.
K “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.
L “come” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
M “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.

She said, “I am running awayN fromO my mistressP Sarai.” 

The angel of the Lord said to her, “ReturnQ to your mistress, and submitR to her.”S 

Notes on verses 8b-9

N “running away” = barach. This is to flee, drive away, hurry, to bolt.
O {untranslated} = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
P “mistress” = geberet. 9x in OT. From gebir (lord, master); from gabar (to be strong, might, behave arrogantly, strengthen, surpass, prevail, be valiant). This is lady, queen, or mistress.
Q “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.”
R “submit” = 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.
S {untranslated} = 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.

10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiplyT your offspringU that they cannot be countedV for multitude.”W 

Notes on verse 10

T “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.”
U “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.
V “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.
W “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,

“NowX you have conceivedY and shall bearZ a son;AA

Notes on verse 11a

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

    you shall callBB him Ishmael,CC
    for the Lord has given heedDD to your affliction.EE

Notes on verse 11b

BB “call” = qara + shem. Qara is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth. Shem may be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
CC “Ishmael” = Yishmael. From shama (hear, call, consent, or consider; implies listening intelligently, giving attention; obedience and action are often implied) + el (God, a god). This is Ishmael, meaning “God hears” or “God will hear.”
DD “given heed” = shama. Related to “Ishmael” in v11. See note CC above.
EE “affliction” = oniy. Related to “submit” in v9. From anah (see note R above). This is misery, poverty, or affliction.

12 He shall beFF a wild assGG of a man,HH
with his handII against everyone,JJ
    and everyone’s hand against him;
and he shall liveKK at odds withLL allMM his kin.”NN

Notes on verse 12

FF “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v7. See note B above.
GG “wild ass” = pere. 10x in OT. Perhaps from para (to be fruitful, to run free as a wild animal). This is a wild donkey.
HH “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.
II “hand” = yad. Same as {untranslated} in v9. See note S above.
JJ “everyone” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
KK “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).
LL “at odds with” = paneh. Literally, “in the presence of.” Same as {untranslated} in v8. See note O above.
MM “all” = kol. Same as “everyone” in v12. See note JJ above.
NN “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 namedOO the Lord who spokePP to her, “You are ElQQ-roi”;RR for she said, “Have I really seenSS God and remained alive after seeing him?”TT

Notes on verse 13

OO “named” = qara + shem. Same as “call” in v11. See note BB above.
PP “spoke” = dabar. Related to “wilderness” in v7. See note F above.
QQ “El” = El. Related to “Ishamel” in v11. See note CC above.
RR “roi” = roi. 5x in OT. 5x in OT. From raah (to see, show, stare, think, view; to see in a literal or figurative sense) + ben (son, age, child; son in a literal or figurative sense). This is seeing, appearance, vision, spectacle.
SS “seen” = raah. Related to “roi” in v13. See note RR above.
TT Literally, “have I seen the back of the one who sees me?”

Image credit: “Cluster Headaches” by Sodanie Chea, 2012.

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