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Genesis 21

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1Nowe the Lord visited Sarah, as he had saide, and did vnto her according as he had promised. 2For Sarah conceiued, and bare Abraham a sonne in his olde age, at the same season that God tolde him. 3And Abraham called his sonnes name that was borne vnto him, which Sarah bare him, Izhak. 4Then Abraham circumcised Izhak his sonne, when he was eight dayes olde, as God had commanded him. 5So Abraham was an hundreth yeere olde, when his sonne Izhak was borne vnto him. 6Then Sarah said, God hath made me to reioyce: all that heare will reioyce with me. 7Againe she said, Who would haue saide to Abraham, that Sarah shoulde haue giuen children sucke? for I haue borne him a sonne in his olde age. 8Then the childe grewe and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Izhak was weaned. 9And Sarah sawe the sonne of Hagar the Egyptian (which she had borne vnto Abraham) mocking. 10Wherefore she saide vnto Abraham, Cast out this bond woman and her sonne: for ye sonne of this bonde woman shall not be heire with my sonne Izhak. 11And this thing was very grieuous in Abrahams sight, because of his sonne. 12But God said vnto Abraham, Let it not be grieuous in thy sight for the childe, and for thy bonde woman: in all that Sarah shall say vnto thee, heare her voyce: for in Izhak shall thy seede be called. 13As for the sonne of the bond woman, I will make him a nation also, because he is thy seede. 14So Abraham arose vp early in ye morning, and tooke bread, and a bottell of water, and gaue it vnto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the childe also, and sent her away: who departing wandred in the wildernesse of Beer-sheba. 15And when the water of the bottell was spent, she cast the childe vnder a certaine tree. 16Then she went and sate her ouer against him a farre off about a bowe shoote: for she said, I will not see the death of the child. and she sate downe ouer against him, and lift vp her voyce and wept. 17Then God heard the voyce of ye childe, and the Angel of God called to Hagar from heauen, and said vnto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? feare not, for God hath heard the voyce of the childe where he is. 18Arise, take vp the childe, and holde him in thine hand: for I will make of him a great people. 19And God opened her eyes, and she sawe a well of water. so she went and filled the bottell with water, and gaue the boy drinke. 20So God was with the childe, and he grewe and dwelt in the wildernesse, and was an archer. 21And he dwelt in the wildernesse of Paran, and his mother tooke him a wife out of the land of Egypt. 22And at that same time Abimelech and Phichol his chief captaine spake vnto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest. 23Nowe therefore sweare vnto me here by God, that thou wilt not hurt me, nor my children, nor my childrens children: thou shalt deale with me, and with the countrey, where thou hast bene a stranger, according vnto the kindnesse that I haue shewed thee. 24Then Abraham said, I will sweare. 25And Abraham rebuked Abimelech for a well of water, which Abimelechs seruants had violently taken away. 26And Abimelech saide, I knowe not who hath done this thing: also thou toldest me not, neither heard I of it but this day. 27Then Abraham tooke sheepe and beeues, and gaue them vnto Abimelech: and they two made a couenant. 28And Abraham set seuen lambes of the flocke by themselues. 29Then Abimelech said vnto Abraham, What meane these seuen lambes, which thou hast set by themselues? 30And he answered, Because thou shalt receiue of mine hand these seuen lambes, that it may be a witnes vnto me, that I haue digged this well. 31Wherefore the place is called Beer-sheba, because there they both sware. 32Thus made they a couenant at Beer-sheba: afterward Abimelech and Phichol his chiefe captaine rose vp, and turned againe vnto the land of the Philistims. 33And Abraham planted a groue in Beer-sheba, and called there on the Name of ye Lord, the euerlasting God. 34And Abraham was a stranger in the Philistims land a long season.
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Birth of Isaac.#The long-awaited birth of Isaac parallels the birth of Ishmael in chap. 16, precipitating a rivalry and expulsion as in that chapter. Though this chapter is unified, the focus of vv. 1–7 is exclusively on Sarah and Isaac, and the focus of vv. 8–21 is exclusively on Hagar and Ishmael. The promise of a son to the barren Sarah and elderly Abraham has been central to the previous chapters and now that promise comes true with the birth of Isaac. The other great promise, that of land, will be resolved, at least in an anticipatory way, in Abraham’s purchase of the cave at Machpelah in chap. 23. The parallel births of the two boys has influenced the Lucan birth narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus (Lk 1–2). 1The Lord took note of Sarah as he had said he would; the Lord did for her as he had promised.#Gn 17:19; 18:10. 2Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time that God had stated.#Gal 4:23; Heb 11:11. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him.#Mt 1:2; Lk 3:34. 4When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded.#Gn 17:10–14; Acts 7:8. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6Sarah then said, “God has given me cause to laugh,#Laugh: for the third time (cf. 17:17 and 18:12) there is laughter, playing on the similarity in Hebrew between the pronunciation of the name Isaac and words associated with laughter. and all who hear of it will laugh with me.#Gn 17:17. 7Who would ever have told Abraham,” she added, “that Sarah would nurse children! Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” 8The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great banquet on the day of the child’s weaning.
9Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing with her son Isaac; 10so she demanded of Abraham: “Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!”#Jgs 11:2; Gal 4:30. 11Abraham was greatly distressed because it concerned a son of his.#A son of his: Abraham is the father of both boys, but Sarah is the mother only of Isaac. Abraham is very concerned that Ishmael have a sufficient inheritance. 12But God said to Abraham: Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. Obey Sarah, no matter what she asks of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants will bear your name.#Rom 9:7; Heb 11:18. 13As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also,#I will make a nation of him also: Ishmael’s descendants are named in 25:12–18. since he too is your offspring.
14Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back,#Placing the child on her back: a reading based on an emendation of the traditional Hebrew text. In the traditional Hebrew text, Abraham put the bread and the waterskin on Hagar’s back, while her son apparently walked beside her. In this way the traditional Hebrew text harmonizes the data of the Priestly source, in which Ishmael would have been at least fourteen years old when Isaac was born; compare 16:16 with 21:5; cf. 17:25. But in the present Elohist (?) story, Ishmael is obviously a little boy, not much older than Isaac; cf. vv. 15, 18. he sent her away. As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, 15the water in the skin was used up. So she put the child down under one of the bushes, 16and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, “I cannot watch the child die.” As she sat opposite him, she wept aloud. 17God heard the boy’s voice, and God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven: “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not fear; God has heard the boy’s voice in this plight of his.#Gn 16:7. 18Get up, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.” 19Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.
20God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert bowman. 21He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
The Covenant at Beer-sheba. 22#Of the two related promises of progeny and land, that of progeny has been fulfilled in the previous chapter. Now the claim on the land begins to be solidified by Abimelech’s recognition of Abraham’s claim on the well at Beer-sheba; it will be furthered by Abraham’s purchase of the cave at Machpelah in chap. 23. Two levels of editing are visible in the story: (1) vv. 22–24, 27, 32, the general covenant with Abimelech; (2) vv. 25–26, 28–30, 31, Abraham’s claim on the well. Both versions play on the root of the Hebrew word sheba‘, which means “seven” and “swear,” and the place name Beer-sheba. At that time Abimelech, accompanied by Phicol, the commander of his army, said to Abraham: “God is with you in everything you do. 23So now, swear to me by God at this place#This place: Beer-sheba (v. 31). Abimelech had come from Gerar (20:2), about thirty miles west of Beer-sheba. that you will not deal falsely with me or with my progeny and posterity, but will act as loyally toward me and the land in which you reside as I have acted toward you.” 24Abraham replied, “I so swear.”
25Abraham, however, reproached Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had seized by force. 26“I have no idea who did that,” Abimelech replied. “In fact, you never told me about it, nor did I ever hear of it until now.”
27Then Abraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech and the two made a covenant. 28Abraham also set apart seven ewe lambs of the flock, 29and Abimelech asked him, “What is the purpose of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30Abraham answered, “The seven ewe lambs you shall accept from me that you may be my witness that I dug this well.” 31This is why the place is called Beer-sheba; the two of them took an oath there. 32When they had thus made the covenant in Beer-sheba, Abimelech, along with Phicol, the commander of his army, left to return to the land of the Philistines.#Philistines: one of the Sea Peoples, who migrated from Mycenaean Greece around 1200 B.C. and settled on the coastland of Canaan, becoming a principal rival of Israel. Non-biblical texts do not use the term “Philistine” before ca. 1200 B.C.; it is probable that this usage and those in chap. 26 are anachronistic, perhaps applying a later ethnic term for an earlier, less-known one.
33Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and there he invoked by name the Lord, God the Eternal.#God the Eternal: in Hebrew, ’el ‘olam, perhaps the name of the deity of the pre-Israelite sanctuary at Beer-sheba, but used by Abraham as a title of God; cf. Is 40:28. 34Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines for a long time.