Genesis 16:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 16:12, NIV: "He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.'"

Genesis 16:12, ESV: "He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”"

Genesis 16:12, KJV: "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 brethren."

Genesis 16:12, NASB: "But he will be a wild donkey of a man; His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live in defiance of all his brothers.'"

Genesis 16:12, NLT: "This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.'"

Genesis 16:12, CSB: "This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives.""

What does Genesis 16:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, the angel of the Lord--perhaps Christ Himself, given the phrasing used (Genesis 16:10; Genesis 16:13)—began a prophecy or "birth oracle" about the baby Hagar is carrying. It is a boy and she is to call him Ishmael, a name referring to this moment when God has heard and helped her.

The rest of the oracle is less favorable. Even though Ishamel will be the first son born to Abram, he is not the promised child which God has guaranteed. This was not the way God intended to fulfill His vows to Abram. And so, this firstborn boy of Abram will become a wild donkey of a man. He won't be a people person. His hand will be against everyone and everyone will be against him. He will live in hostility to his kinsmen.

Eventually, we will learn that Ishmael's descendants become the Arabic people. These cultures have been at odds with the Jewish people for millennia. The descendants of Ishamael soon take on a bedouin lifestyle, on the fringes of society, committed to their personal freedom above the need to be accepted by others.