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Genesis 21:16

16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[a] began to sob.

Genesis 21:16 in Other Translations

16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, "Let me not look on the death of the child." And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.
16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.
16 and went off, fifty yards or so. She said, "I can't watch my son die." As she sat, she broke into sobs.
16 Then she went and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she said, "I can't [bear to] watch the boy die!" So as she sat nearby, she wept loudly.

Genesis 21:16 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 21:16

And she went and sat her down over against [him], a good way
Not being able to bear the sight of her child in his agonies, and, as she apprehended, ready to expire, she went from the place where she had laid him, and sat down under one of the shrubs or trees to shade herself, right over against that where her child was, though at some distance, which is next expressed:

as it were a bowshot;
about as far off from him as an arrow can be shot, or is usually shot out of a bow; according to the Jews this was about half a mile, for they say F9 two bowshots make a mile; here she sat waiting what would be the issue, whether life or death, which last she expected:

for she said, let me not see the death of the child;
she could not bear to hear his dying groans, and see him in his dying agonies:

and she sat over against [him], and lift up her voice and wept;
on account of her desolate and forlorn condition, being in a wilderness, where she could get no water, and her child, as she thought, dying with thirst: the Septuagint version is, "and the child cried and wept"; and certain it is, from ( Genesis 21:17 ) , that the child did lift up its voice and cry, but that is not expressed in the text; it is quite clear in the original that it was Hagar and not her son that is said to weep, since the verb is feminine.


F9 Bereshit Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 53. fol. 47. 4.)

Genesis 21:16 In-Context

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.
16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Cross References 1

  • 1. Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Hebrew; Septuagint "the child"
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