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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.
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1And Jehovah hath looked after Sarah as He hath said, and Jehovah doth to Sarah as He hath spoken;
2and Sarah conceiveth, and beareth a son to Abraham, to his old age, at the appointed time that God hath spoken of with him;
3and Abraham calleth the name of his son who is born to him, whom Sarah hath born to him — Isaac;
4and Abraham circumciseth Isaac his son, [being] a son of eight days, as God hath commanded him.
5And Abraham [is] a son of a hundred years in Isaac his son being born to him,
6and Sarah saith, ‘God hath made laughter for me; every one who is hearing laugheth for me.’
7She saith also, ‘Who hath said to Abraham, Sarah hath suckled sons, that I have born a son for his old age?’
8And the lad groweth, and is weaned, and Abraham maketh a great banquet in the day of Isaac's being weaned;
9and Sarah seeth the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she hath borne to Abraham, mocking,
10and she saith to Abraham, ‘Cast out this handmaid and her son; for the son of this handmaid hath no possession with my son — with Isaac.’
11And the thing is very wrong in the eyes of Abraham, for his son's sake;
12and God saith unto Abraham, ‘Let it not be wrong in thine eyes because of the youth, and because of thy handmaid: all that Sarah saith unto thee — hearken to her voice, for in Isaac is a seed called to thee.
13As to the son of the handmaid also, for a nation I set him, because he [is] thy seed.’
14And Abraham riseth early in the morning, and taketh bread, and a bottle of water, and giveth unto Hagar (placing [it] on her shoulder), also the lad, and sendeth her out; and she goeth on, and goeth astray in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba;
15and the water is consumed from the bottle, and she placeth the lad under one of the shrubs.
16And she goeth and sitteth by herself over-against, afar off, about a bow-shot, for she said, ‘Let me not look on the death of the lad;’ and she sitteth over-against, and lifteth up her voice, and weepeth.
17And God heareth the voice of the youth; and the messenger of God calleth unto Hagar from the heavens, and saith to her, ‘What to thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath hearkened unto the voice of the youth where he [is];
18rise, lift up the youth, and lay hold on him with thy hand, for for a great nation I set him.’
19And God openeth her eyes, and she seeth a well of water, and she goeth and filleth the bottle [with] water, and causeth the youth to drink;
20and God is with the youth, and he groweth, and dwelleth in the wilderness, and is an archer;
21and he dwelleth in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother taketh for him a wife from the land of Egypt.
22And it cometh to pass at that time that Abimelech speaketh — Phichol also, head of his host — unto Abraham, saying, ‘God [is] with thee in all that thou art doing;
23and now, swear to me by God here: thou dost not lie to me, or to my continuator, or to my successor; according to the kindness which I have done with thee thou dost with me, and with the land in which thou hast sojourned.’
24And Abraham saith, ‘I — I do swear.’
25And Abraham reasoned with Abimelech concerning the matter of a well of water which Abimelech's servants have taken violently away,
26and Abimelech saith, ‘I have not known who hath done this thing, and even thou didst not declare to me, and I also, I have not heard save to-day.’
27And Abraham taketh sheep and oxen, and giveth to Abimelech, and they make, both of them, a covenant;
28and Abraham setteth seven Lambs of the flock by themselves.
29And Abimelech saith unto Abraham, ‘What [are] they — these seven lambs which thou hast set by themselves?’
30And he saith, ‘For — the seven lambs thou dost accept from my hand, so that it becometh a witness for me that I have digged this well;’
31therefore hath he called that place ‘Beer-Sheba,’ for there have both of them sworn.
32And they make a covenant in Beer-Sheba, and Abimelech riseth — Phichol also, head of his host — and they turn back unto the land of the Philistines;
33and [Abraham] planteth a tamarisk in Beer-Sheba, and preacheth there in the name of Jehovah, God age-during;
34and Abraham sojourneth in the land of the Philistines many days.