Genesis 16:12
And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brothers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) He will be a wild man.—Heb., he will be a wild-ass man. The wild ass of the Arabian deserts is a very noble creature, and is one of the animals selected in the Book of Job as especially exemplifying the greatness of God (Job 39:5-8). Its characteristics are great speed, love of solitude, and an untamable fondness of liberty. It is thus the very type of the Bedaween Arabs, whose delight is to rove at will over the desert, and who despise the ease and luxury of a settled life.

His hand will be against every man . .·.—The Bedaween can be bound by no treaties, submit to no law, and count plunder as legitimate gain. Nevertheless—

He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.—That is, he shall maintain his independence, and his descendants shall continue to exist as a free race in the presence of the other Abrahamic nations. Many commentators, however, consider that the more exact rendering is, he shall dwell to the east of all his brethren. This is certainly the meaning of the word in Genesis 25:6, but does not suit equally well there in Genesis 25:18.

Genesis 16:12. He will be a wild man — A wild ass of a man; so the word is: rude, and bold, and fearing no man; untamed, untractable, living at large, and impatient of service and restraint. His hand will be against every man — That is his sin; and every man’s hand against him — That is his punishment. Those that have turbulent spirits, have commonly troublesome lives: they that are provoking and injurious to others, must expect to be repaid in their own coin. But this prediction chiefly respects the seed of Ishmael, who, it is here foretold, should be wild, free men, like wild asses, mischievous to all around them, and extremely numerous. Such they have been for almost four thousand years; infamous for theft, pillage, robbery, revenge, and murder. “It hath, therefore,” as Mr. Brown justly observes, “been the continued and common interest of mankind to extirpate them from the earth. But though almost every noted conqueror who hath appeared in the world, whether Persian, Grecian, Roman, Tartar, or Turkish, hath pushed his conquests to their borders, or even beyond them, into Egypt or Arabia Felix, not one hath ever been able to subdue these Ishmaelites, or deprive them of their freedom.” Here then we have another remarkable prophecy most evidently fulfilled, and a continued and standing proof, before the face of the whole world, exactly like that which arises from the present state of the Jews, of the truth of divine revelation. He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren — Although threatened and insulted by all his neighbours, he shall keep his ground; and, for Abram’s sake, more than his own, shall be able to make his part good against them. Accordingly, we read, Genesis 25:18, that he died, as he lived, in the presence of all his brethren. But this also was chiefly intended of his posterity: for Ishmael had twelve sons, who gave rise to as many tribes or nations, called by their names, and who dwelt southward in Arabia, before the face, or in the presence of the Ammonites and Moabites, of the descendants of Keturah, and of the Edomites and Jews, all nearly related to them.16:7-16 Hagar was out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the Angel found her. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way, either by conscience or by providence. Whence comest thou? Consider that thou art running from duty, and the privileges thou wast blest with in Abram's tent. It is good to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider who have this advantage. Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running into sin; if Hagar return to Egypt, she will return to idol gods, and into danger in the wilderness through which she must travel. Recollecting who we are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring whence we came, would show us our sin and folly. Considering whither we shall go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their space and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever it be. The declaration of the Angel, I will, shows this Angel was the eternal Word and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire the Lord's mercy, and feel, Have I, who am so unworthy, been favoured with a gracious visit from the Lord? She was brought to a better temper, returned, and by her behaviour softened Sarai, and received more gentle treatment. Would that we were always suitably impressed with this thought, Thou God seest me!I will multiply. - This language is proper only to the Lord Himself, because it claims a divine prerogative. The Lord is, therefore, in this angel. He promises to Hagar a numerous offspring. "Ishmael." "El," the Mighty, will hear; but "Jehovah," the Lord (Yahweh), heard her humiliation. Yahweh, therefore, is the same God as El. He describes Ishmael and his progeny in him as resembling the wild ass. This animal is a fit symbol of the wild, free, untamable Bedouin of the desert. He is to live in contention, and yet to dwell independently, among all his brethren. His brethren are the descendants of Heber, the Joctanites, composing the thirteen original tribes of the Arabs, and the Palgites to whom the descendants of Abram belonged. The Ishmaelites constituted the second element of the great Arab nation, and shared in their nomadic character and independence. The character here given of them is true even to the present day.12. he will be a wild man—literally, "a wild ass man," expressing how the wildness of Ishmael and his descendants resembles that of the wild ass.

his hand will be against every man—descriptive of the rude, turbulent, and plundering character of the Arabs.

dwell in the presence of all his brethren—dwell, that is, pitch tents; and the meaning is that they maintain their independence in spite of all attempts to extirpate or subdue them.

He will be a wild man; Heb. A wild-ass man, i.e. a man like a wild ass, fierce and untamed, and unsettled in his habitation; or as that creature is, Job 39:5,8 Jer 2:24 Hosea 8:9, living in deserts and mountains, warlike and violent, exercising himself continually in hunting beasts, and oppressing men. See Genesis 21:20. He will provoke and injure all that converse with him, and thereby will multiply his enemies; which is to be understood not only of him, but also of his posterity.

And he shall dwell in the borders of the other sons and kindred of Abram and Isaac, who though they shall be vexed and annoyed with his neighbourhood, yet shall not be able to make him quit his habitation. See Genesis 25:18. And he will be a wild man,.... Living in a wilderness, delighting in hunting and killing wild beasts, and robbing and plundering all that pass by; and such an one Ishmael was, see Genesis 21:20; and such the Saracens, his posterity, were, and such the wild Arabs are to this day, who descended from him; or "the wild ass of a man" (t); or "a wild ass among men", as Onkelos; or "like to a wild ass among men", as the Targum of Jonathan; wild, fierce, untamed, not subject to a yoke, and impatient of it, see Job 11:12; such was Ishmael, and such are his posterity, who never could be subdued or brought into bondage, neither by the Assyrians, nor Medes and Persians, nor by the Greeks nor Romans, nor any other people (u); and at this day the Arabs live independent on the Turks, nay, oblige the Turks to pay a yearly tribute for the passage of their pilgrims to Mecca, and also to pay for their caravans that pass through their country, as travellers into those parts unanimously report; wherefore Aben Ezra translates the word rendered "wild", or "wild ass", by "free", and refers to the passage in Job 39:5. These people having been always free, and never in bondage, always lived as free booters upon others:

his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; signifying, that he would be of a quarrelsome temper and warlike disposition, continually engaged in fighting with his neighbours, and they with him in their own defence; and such the Arabs his posterity always have been, and still are, given to rapine and plunder, harassing their neighbours by continual excursions and robberies, and pillaging passengers of all nations, which they think they have a right to do; their father Ishmael being turned out into the plains and deserts, which were given him as his patrimony, and as they suppose a permission from God to take whatever he could get. And a late traveller into those parts observes (w), that they are not to be accused of plundering strangers only, or whomsoever they may find unarmed or defenceless; but for those many implacable and hereditary animosities which continually subsist among themselves, literally fulfilling to this day the prophecy of the angel to Hagar, Genesis 16:12; the greatest as well as the smallest tribes are perpetually at variance with one another, frequently occasioned upon the most trivial account, as if they were from the very days of their first ancestor naturally prone to discord and contention.

And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren; the sons of Abram by Keturah, the Midianites, and others; and the Edomites that sprung from Esau, the son of his brother Isaac; and the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob, another son of Isaac; and his kinsmen the Moabites and Ammonites, upon all which he and his posterity bordered, see Genesis 25:18. It may be rendered, "he shall tabernacle" (x), or dwell in tents, as he did, and his posterity afterwards; particularly the Scenite Arabs, so called from their dwelling in tents, and the Bedouins, such were the tents of Kedar, one of his sons, Sol 1:5; the same with them to this day: according to Jarchi, the sense of the phrase is, that his seed should be large and numerous, and spread themselves, and reach to the borders of all their brethren.

(t) "onager hominis", Cocceius, Schmidt. (u) Vid. Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 131. (w) Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 238, 239. Ed. 2.((x) "figet tabernacula", V. L. "tabernaculabit", Malvenda.

And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and {f} he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

(f) That is, the Ishmaelites will be a separate people by themselves and not part of another people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. as a wild-ass among men] Lit. “a wild-ass of a man.” This description of Ishmael vividly portrays the characteristics of his descendants. The wild ass, for which see Job 39:5-8, Hosea 8:9, is the typically untameable, strong, free, roaming, suspicious, and untrustworthy animal, living wild in the desert, far from the haunts of men.

in the presence of all his brethren] R.V. marg. over against. Cf. Genesis 25:18. “Brethren”: see notes on Genesis 13:8, Genesis 14:14. While “in the presence,” or “in the face of” all his brethren, might legitimately be rendered “to the east of” the Israelites, the east was scarcely the quarter in which the Ishmaelites were chiefly found. A better explanation gives to the words the meaning of a foe, dwelling close at hand and “over against” his brethren, ever ready to attack and raid their territory.Verse 12. - And he will be a wild man. Literally, a wild ass (of a) man; the פֶּרֶא, snarler, being so called from its swiftness of foot (cf. Job 39:5-8), and aptly depicting "the Bedouin s boundless love of freedom as he rides about in the desert, spear in hand, upon his camel or his horse, hardy, frugal, reveling in the varied beauty of nature, and despising town life in every form" (Keil). As Ishmael and his offspring are here called "wild ass men," so Israel is designated by the prophet "sheep men" (Ezekiel 36:37, 38). His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him. Exemplified in the turbulent and lawless character of the Bedouin Arabs and Saracens for upwards of thirty centuries. "The Bedouins are the outlaws among the nations. Plunder is legitimate gain, and daring robbery is praised as valor (Kalisch). And he shall dwell in the presence of - literally, before the face of, L e. to the east of (Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Tuch, Knobel, Delitzsch); or, "everywhere before the eyes of" (Kalisch, Wordsworth); or, independently of (Calvin, Keil, Lunge, Murphy) - all his brethren. The Arabs of today are "just as they were described by the spirit of prophecy nearly 4000 years ago" (Porter's 'Giant Cities of Bashan,' pp. 28, 31, 324). As the promise of a lineal heir (Genesis 15:4) did not seem likely to be fulfilled, even after the covenant had been made, Sarai resolved, ten years after their entrance into Canaan, to give her Egyptian maid Hagar to her husband, that if possible she might "be built up by her," i.e., obtain children, who might found a house or family (Genesis 30:3). The resolution seemed a judicious one, and according to the customs of the East, there would be nothing wrong in carrying it out. Hence Abraham consented without opposition, because, as Malachi (Malachi 2:15) says, he sought the seed promised by God. But they were both of them soon to learn, that their thoughts were the thoughts of man and not of God, and that their wishes and actions were not in accordance with the divine promise. Sarai, the originator of the plan, was the first to experience its evil consequences. When the maid was with child by Abram, "her mistress became little in her eyes." When Sarai complained to Abram of the contempt she received from her maid (saying, "My wrong," the wrong done to me, "come upon thee," cf. Jeremiah 51:35; Genesis 27:13), and called upon Jehovah to judge between her and her husband,

(Note: בּיניך, with a point over the second Jod, to show that it is irregular and suspicious; since בּין with the singular suffix is always treated as a singular, and only with a plural suffix as plural.)

Abram gave her full power to act as mistress towards her maid, without raising the slave who was made a concubine above her position. But as soon as Sarai made her feel her power, Hagar fled. Thus, instead of securing the fulfilment of their wishes, Sarai and Abram had reaped nothing but grief and vexation, and apparently had lost the maid through their self-concerted scheme. But the faithful covenant God turned the whole into a blessing.

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