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Genesis 21

21
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.

Genesis 21

21
Isaac Is Born
1And the Lord #1 Sam. 2:21visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah #Gen. 17:16, 19, 21; 18:10, 14; (Gal. 4:23, 28)as He had spoken. 2For Sarah #Acts 7:8; Gal. 4:22; Heb. 11:11, 12conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, #Gen. 17:21; 18:10, 14; Gal. 4:4at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—#Gen. 17:19, 21Isaac. 4Then Abraham #Acts 7:8circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, #Gen. 17:10, 12; Lev. 12:3as God had commanded him. 5Now #Gen. 17:1, 17Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6And Sarah said, #Gen. 18:13; Ps. 126:2; Is. 54:1“God has made me laugh, and all who hear #Luke 1:58will laugh with me.” 7She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? #Gen. 18:11, 12For I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Hagar and Ishmael Depart
8So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9And Sarah saw the son of Hagar #Gen. 16:1, 4, 15the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, #(Gal. 4:29)scoffing. 10Therefore she said to Abraham, #Gen. 25:6; 36:6, 7; Gal. 3:18; 4:30“Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” 11And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight #Gen. 17:18because of his son.
12But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for #Matt. 1:2; Luke 3:34; (Rom. 9:7, 8); Heb. 11:18in Isaac your seed shall be called. 13Yet I will also make #Gen. 16:10; 17:20; 21:18; 25:12–18a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”
14So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and #John 8:35sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 15And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. 16Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.
17And #Ex. 3:7; Deut. 26:7; Ps. 6:8God heard the voice of the lad. Then the #Gen. 22:11angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for #Gen. 16:10; 21:13; 25:12–16I will make him a great nation.”
19Then #Gen. 3:7; Num. 22:31; 2 Kin. 6:17; Luke 24:31God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. 20So God #Gen. 28:15; 39:2, 3, 21was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, #Gen. 16:12and became an archer. 21He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother #Gen. 24:4took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
A Covenant with Abimelech
22And it came to pass at that time that #Gen. 20:2, 14; 26:26Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, #Gen. 26:28; Is. 8:10“God is with you in all that you do. 23Now therefore, #Josh. 2:12; 1 Sam. 24:21swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt.”
24And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
25Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech’s servants #Gen. 26:15, 18, 20–22had seized. 26And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today.” 27So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them #Gen. 26:31; 31:44; 1 Sam. 18:3made a covenant. 28And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29Then Abimelech asked Abraham, #Gen. 33:8“What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?”
30And he said, “You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that #Gen. 31:48, 52they may be my witness that I have dug this well.” 31Therefore he #Gen. 21:14; 26:33called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there.
32Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines. 33Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and #Gen. 4:26; 12:8; 13:4; 26:25there called on the name of the Lord, #Gen. 35:11; Ex. 15:18; Deut. 32:40; 33:27; Ps. 90:2; 93:2; Is. 40:28; Jer. 10:10; Hab. 1:12; Heb. 13:8the Everlasting God. 34And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines many days.