Re: Gen. 21:9-LXX

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Wed Nov 11 1998 - 10:57:03 EST

---clayton stirling bartholomew
<> wrote:

>Edgar Foster wrote:

>The text of Gen. 21:10 reads:PAIZONTA META ISAAK TOU hUIOU AUTHS.<

>My question: What was Ishmael doing to Isaac? I have my own ideas,
but this verse has brought up some questions.<

>George Bush (mid 19th cent) notes two issues that are significant.
One, the Hebrew verb is from the same root as Issac's name which means
laughter. Bush didn't think that laughter was an adequate explanation
for Sarah's behavior. He thought that Sarah would not have cast out
Ishmael for laughter. (Women were perhaps some what more docile in
Bush's day).<

I agree. This would not put Sarah in a good light if she chased
Ishmael away for merely "laughing" at Isaac.

>Bush points out that PIAZW is used in 2 Sam 2:14-18 LXX for fighting
which results in the death of one of the participants. From this
evidence he concludes that something a little rougher than laughter
was involved here.<

The Hebrew uses a form of TSACHAQ. As Jim pointed out, this word is
also used in 26:8 to describe Isaac "sporting" with his wife.
Therefore, some scholars have concluded that Ishmael was molesting
Isaac. It seems that the words must be viewed in their proper context,
however. While the piel stem in the Hebrew may connote nasty
overtones, I fail to see how the LXX makes it self-evident that
Ishmael was molesting Isaac. Something terrible happened, but I don't
think it was molestation. I think that Paul interprets the Genesis
account as a case of DIDWKO in Gal. 4:29. This ties in with the
example from 2 Sam. 2:14-18(LXX). The context of Gen. 21:9 also seems
to center around who shall be the legal heir of Abraham. I thus
interpret the story in this fashion.

>Since the Hebrew word was apparently chosen because it formed a kind
of pun on Issac's name, one should not try and wring too much
significance out of the semantic value of this word. About all I think
we can safely conclude from the lexical evidence is that Ishamel was
harassing Issac. Anything beyond that is probably empty speculation.<

Based on some of the "speculations" I have read, I agree.


Edgar Foster

Lenoir-Rhyne College

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