#42. Is Ishmael 15-17 years old when Sarah expels him and his mother Hagar OR still a mere babe? (Gen 17:25 vs Gen 21: 8-17)

We have already seen on various occasions that the Priestly writer has a vested interest in genealogies, dates, and the ages of the patriarchs. But when this textual tradition with its dates and ages is redacted together with the JE text some interesting narrative tensions arise. For instance, P informs us that Ishmael “was 13 years old when he was circumcised at the flesh of his foreskin” (17:25)—that is “on that very day”Read More

#39. Who names Ishmael: Yahweh OR Abraham? (Gen 16:11 vs Gen 16:15)

This contradiction, which builds upon #38, was also formed as the result of an editorial process that stitched together the Yahwist and the Priestly sources. Simply put, the Yahwist tradition accredits Yahweh’s angel with the naming of Ishmael, playing of the etymology: “And you shall call his name Ishmael, for Yahweh has heard (shama‘) your suffering” (Gen 16:11). Yet consistent with his reinterpretive agenda, the Priestly writer does 2 things in rewriting this passage: 1) he eliminates anyRead More

#38. Is Ishmael’s blessing conveyed by an angel of Yahweh to Hagar OR by God to Abraham? (Gen 16:10 vs Gen 17:20)

In #34-37 we looked at the contradictions in the Hagar-Ishmael story that were created as a result of a later editorial process that stitched together two once separate versions of the story, the Yahwist and Elohist. But there appears to be yet another textual tradition now preserved in Genesis that also told of the blessing of Ishmael. In this version we are given further details about Ishmael’s blessing, Abraham’s role, emphasis on “the eternalRead More

#37. What is the origin of Ishmael’s name: Yahweh has heard Hagar OR God has heard the boy? (Gen 16:11 vs Gen 21:17)

Many of the biblical scribes and/or the stories they wrote down display an avid interest in the etymologies of names. An etymology attempts to find the original meaning of a name by referencing what the root of that name means, or was thought to mean. There are many etymologies given in the Bible, from patriarchal names to place names. What we are interested in is where the biblical record gives us 2 different etymologies on the same name.Read More