Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Genesis 21

Genesis 21: Isaac is born; Hagar and Ishmael are sent away; Abraham swears an oath with the king of the land where he lives

Synopsis

In this chapter, Abraham and Sarah finally have the son the LORD has been promising them, and they name the son Isaac, as they were told to do. And Sarah seems pretty happy about it:

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” (verse 6)

Abraham is 100 when Isaac is born.

Unfortunately, once Isaac is born, Sarah catches Ishmael “mocking”—I assume mocking Isaac, although it’s not really clear. So, once again, Sarah asks Abraham to get rid of Hagar (“that slave woman” (verse 10) and Ishmael. She doesn’t want Ishmael sharing in Isaac’s inheritance.

This distresses Abraham, because Ishmael is still his son, but God tells Abraham not to worry about it, because His plan is for Isaac to have Abraham’s inheritance anyway. As the LORD has already told Abraham, it’s through Isaac that his offspring will be reckoned, not through Ishmael. Plus, the LORD tells Abraham that He will still make Ishmael into a nation in his own right, because he is Abraham’s son.

So, the next morning—no time wasted there—Abraham gives Hagar and Ishmael some food and water, and sends them away. They end up wandering in the desert, until the water runs out, and then Hager leaves Ishmael under a bush to die, and goes a distance away, because she can’t bear to watch.

But God hears the boy crying, and sends an angel to Hagar. He tells her not to worry, and that God is going to make Ishmael into a great nation. Then God opens her eyes, and she sees a well of water. Verses 20–21 tell us that Hagar and Ishmael continue to live in the desert, while Ishmael grows up, and his mother later goes to Egypt to bring him back a wife.

The end of the chapter (verses 22–34) recounts a treaty between Abraham and Abilelech, the king of the region where Abraham is living. The king has seen that God is with Abraham in everything that he does, so he wants to sign a treaty with Abraham stating that Abraham “will not deal falsely with [the king] or [his] children or [his] descendants” (verse 23) Abraham then brings up a well that he has dug, that Abimelech’s men have siezed, and they swear an oath saying that the well belongs to Abraham.

The oath that they swear involves some kind of ceremony involving sheep, cattle, and seven ewe lambs, so the place where they swore it was called “Beersheba”, which can mean “well of seven” or “well of the oath”.

Thoughts

My only thought: was the well of water in the desert always there, and Hager just couldn’t see it, or did God create the well of water? Not important, I know.

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