To Build or To Be

An Intertextual Exploration of Sarai’s Scheme


  • Narelle Coetzee Alphacrucis College
  • Emma M. Austin Alphacrucis College


This paper explores Sarai’s scheme in Genesis 16.2, in which Sarai proposes that she can “build” a family with Abram through Hagar. The term “to build” (בנה) is an unusual choice where one would expect Sarai’s desire to be phrased “to bear” (ילד) a family. Typically, commentators have noticed this discrepancy but theorised that the term “to build” is used for its assonance with the word “son” (בן), as well as to describe the advent of the promised Abrahamic dynasty. However, through an intertextual reading with other verbal resonances of “to build” in selected Genesis texts, this paper argues that the term “to build” was chosen deliberately to subtly highlight the impetuous error of Sarai’s actions to overcome her barrenness. Second, a consideration of how an intertextual approach of reading the biblical text aligns with Pentecostal readers was discussed, highlighting that it invites them into fresh encounters with the wider biblical text, not only exegetically, but also for personal transformative experiences.




How to Cite

Coetzee, N., & Austin, E. M. (2022). To Build or To Be: An Intertextual Exploration of Sarai’s Scheme. Australasian Pentecostal Studies, 23(1), 59–72. Retrieved from