To get what Genesis 17:20 means based on its source text, scroll down or follow these links for the original scriptural meaning , biblical context and relative popularity.

“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”

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Popularity relative to other verses in Genesis chapter 17 using average monthly Google searches.

Genesis 17:20 Translation & Meaning

What does this verse really mean? Use this table to get a word-for-word translation of the original Hebrew Scripture. This shows the English words related to the source biblical texts along with brief definitions. Follow the buttons in the right-hand column for detailed definitions and verses that use the same root words. Use this reference information to gain deeper insight into the Bible and enrich your understanding. Information based on Strong's Exhaustive Concordance[1].

KJV Verse Original Hebrew Meaning/ Definition
This is a simplified translation of the original Hebrew word. Follow the buttons on the right to get more detail.
Use the buttons below to get details on the Hebrew word and view related Bible verses that use the same root word.
And as for Ishmael, וּֽלְיִשְׁמָעֵאל֮ Jishmael, the name of Abraham's oldest son, and of five Israelites Ishmael
I have heard thee: שְׁמַעְתִּיךָ֒ To hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.; causatively, to tell, etc.) heard
Behold, הִנֵּ֣ה׀ Lo! Behold
I have blessed בֵּרַ֣כְתִּי To kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the king, as treason) blessed
him, and will make him fruitful, וְהִפְרֵיתִ֥י To bear fruit (literally or figuratively) make fruitful
and will multiply וְהִרְבֵּיתִ֥י To increase (in whatever respect) multiply
him exceedingly; בִּמְאֹ֣ד Properly, vehemence, i.e., (with or without preposition) vehemently; by implication, wholly, speedily, etc. (often with other words as an intensive or superlative; especially when repeated) exceedingly
twelve עָשָׂ֤ר Ten (only in combination), i.e., -teen; also (ordinal) -teenth twelve
princes נְשִׂיאִם֙ Properly, an exalted one, i.e., a king or sheik; also a rising mist princes
shall he beget, יוֹלִ֔יד To bear young; causatively, to beget; medically, to act as midwife; specifically, to show lineage beget
and I will make him וּנְתַתִּ֖יו To give, used with greatest latitude of application (put, make, etc.) make
a great גָּדֽוֹל׃ Great (in any sense); hence, older; also insolent great
nation. לְג֥וֹי A foreign nation; hence, a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts nation

Verse Context

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  • 18  And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

  • 19  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

  • 20  And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

  • 21  But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

  • 22  And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.


The King James Bible (1611) and Strong's Concordance (1890) with Hebrew and Greek dictionaries are sourced from the BibleForgeDB database ( within the BibleForge project ( Popularity rankings are based on search volume data from the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool.

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