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Genesis 21

21
1 THE Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for her as He had promised.
2 For Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had told him.
3 Abraham named his son whom Sarah bore to him Isaac [laughter].
4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5 Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born.
6 And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh; all who hear will laugh with me.
7 And she said, Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children at the breast? For I have borne him a son in his old age! [Heb. 11:12.]
8 And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking [Isaac].
10 Therefore she said to Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be an heir with my son Isaac. [Gal. 4:28-31.]
11 And the thing was very grievous (serious, evil) in Abraham's sight on account of his son [Ishmael].
12 God said to Abraham, Do not let it seem grievous and evil to you because of the youth and your bondwoman; in all that Sarah has said to you, do what she asks, for in Isaac shall your posterity be called. [Rom. 9:7.]
13 And I will make a nation of the son of the bondwoman also, because he is your offspring.
14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a bottle of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulders, and he sent her and the youth away. And she wandered on [aimlessly] and lost her way in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs.
16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept.
17 And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is.
18 Arise, raise up the youth and support him with your hand, for I intend to make him a great nation.
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the [empty] bottle with water and caused the youth to drink.
20 And God was with the youth, and he developed; and he dwelt in the wilderness and became an archer.
21 He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him out of the land of Egypt.
22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, God is with you in everything you do.
23 So now, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my son or with my posterity; but as I have dealt with you kindly, you will do the same with me and with the land in which you have sojourned.
24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
25 When Abraham complained to and reasoned with Abimelech about a well of water [Abimelech's] servants had violently seized,
26 Abimelech said, I know not who did this thing; you did not tell me, and I did not hear of it until today.
27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a league or covenant.
28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs of the flock,
29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, What do these seven ewe lambs which you have set apart mean?
30 He said, You are to accept these seven ewe lambs from me as a witness for me that I dug this well.
31 Therefore that place was called Beersheba [well of the oath], because there both parties swore an oath.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba; then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army returned to the land of the Philistines.
33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.
34 And Abraham sojourned in Philistia many days.
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.