Genesis 16

Study the Inner Meaning

English: World English Bible

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1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

2 Sarai said to Abram, "See now, Yahweh has restrained me from bearing. Please go in to my handmaid. It may be that I will obtain children by her." Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

3 Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife.

4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived. When she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

5 Sarai said to Abram, "This wrong is your fault. I gave my handmaid into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes. Yahweh judge between me and you."

6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your maid is in your hand. Do to her whatever is good in your eyes." Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her face.

7 The angel of Yahweh found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

8 He said, "Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, where did you come from? Where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai."

9 The angel of Yahweh said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hands."

10 The angel of Yahweh said to her, "I will greatly multiply your seed, that they will not be numbered for multitude."

11 The angel of Yahweh said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and will bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because Yahweh has heard your affliction.

12 He will be like a wild donkey among men. His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him. He will live opposite all of his brothers."

13 She called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees," for she said, "Have I even stayed alive after seeing him?"

14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi. Behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 Hagar bore a son for Abram. Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 1890, 1891, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, ...

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 417


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 340, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, ...

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 11:30, 12:16, 17:19, 20, 20:1, 21:5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 24:62, 25:11, 12, 18, 30:3, 4, 9, 31:53, 32:31

Judges 11:27, 19:17

1 Samuel 15:7, 24:13, 16

1 Kings 19:9

2 Kings 5:25

1 Chronicles 1:28

Job 39:5

Matthew 1:21

Luke 13

Acts of the Apostles 7:5

Galatians 4:22, 23

1 Peter 2:18

Word/Phrase Explanations

Abram
Abram and Nahor taking to themselves wives, Sarah and Milcah (Gen 11:29), signifies marriages of evil with falsity in idolatrous worship. Abram, Nahor, and Haran,...

wife
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg...

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

handmaid
'A handmaid' signifies the affection of rational and scientific things. 'A handmaid,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:3, signifies the affirming medium of conjoining inner truths...

Egyptian
In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

Hagar
Hagar, as mentioned in Genesis 16, signifies the affection of sciences of the outward self and also the life of the outer or natural self.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

Yahweh
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

after
According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

ten
Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

Land of Canaan
The land of Canaan' in the Word, means love, and consequently, the will of the celestial self.

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

of Canaan
'Sons of Canaan,' as in Genesis 10, are people who kept external worship separate from internal.

Canaan
Canaan signifies a worship in things external without internals, which arose out of the internal church corrupted, called Ham. Thus it is that Ham is...

husband
In general, men are driven by intellect and women by affections, and because of this men in the Bible generally represent knowledge and truth and...

Mistress
'Mistress,' as in Genesis 16:9, signifies the affection for interior truth.

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

bosom
"Bosom" in general terms means the chest, but more as the seat of the emotions than simply as part of the body. You'd think of...

judge
It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

hand
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good. In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

Angel
"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

Fountain
A fountain signifies the Lord and the Word. A fountain signifies superior truth, and well, inferior truth. A fountain, as in Psalm 104:10, denotes knowledges....

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

wilderness
'The wilderness of Sin,' as in Exodus 16, signifies the good from truth in a state of temptation.

Way
'To set a way,' as in Genesis 30:36, signifies being separated.

Shur
'Shur,' or 'Assyria,' signifies the Lord's state when He first received instruction in matters of doctrine regarding charity and faith.

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

hands
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

multiply
'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

Seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

Multitude
'A multitude' relates to truths.

with child
To be with child, (Gen. 38:24), signifies to produce something.

bear
Like many verbs, the spiritual meaning of "bearing" something depends greatly on context – what it is that's being borne, and why. It is further...

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

Call
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

Ishmael
'Ishmael' represents the first rationality pertaining to the Lord. 'Ishmael' signifies rationality separate from good. 'Ishmael' signifies the Lord's merely human rational. Ishmael, in Genesis...

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

Affliction
An affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be", mentioned in Matte 24:21, means the infestation from...

men
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

brothers
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

spoke
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

well
A pit,' or 'well which has no water,' as in Jeremiah 2:13, signifies doctrines which have no truths.

Kadesh
'Kadesh' denotes truths, and contention about truths.

old
Swedenborg tells us that space and time in the physical world correspond to states of life in the spiritual world. So when the Bible talks...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library by following this link.


 Abraham and Ishmael
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 Abraham and Lot
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Questions Asked by God
Article | Ages over 15

 Questions from the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Bodies of Spirits
The Old and New testaments give examples of people seeing angels in human form. These stories confirm that after resurrection a person will have a spiritual body like the natural body--but more perfect.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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