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Genesis Chapter 21

1 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had spoken.

2 Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

3 Abraham called his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.

4 Abraham circumcised his son, Isaac, when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

5 Abraham was one hundred years old when his son, Isaac, was born to him.

6 Sarah said, "God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me."

7 She said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age."

8 The child grew and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

9 Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.

10 Therefore she said to Abraham, "Cast out this servant and her son! For the son of this servant will not be heir with my son, Isaac."

11 The thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight on account of his son.

12 God said to Abraham, "Don't let it be grievous in your sight because of the boy, and because of your servant. In all that Sarah says to you, listen to her voice. For your offspring will be named through Isaac.

13 I will also make a nation of the son of the servant, because he is your child."

14 Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a container of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder; and gave her the child, and sent her away. She departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 The water in the container was spent, and she put the child under one of the shrubs.

16 She went and sat down opposite him, a good way off, about a bow shot away. For she said, "Don't let me see the death of the child." She sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice, and wept.

17 God heard the voice of the boy. The angel of God called to Hagar out of the sky, and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Don't be afraid. For God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.

18 Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him with your hand. For I will make him a great nation."

19 God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, filled the container with water, and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy, and he grew. He lived in the wilderness, and as he grew up, became an archer.

21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother got a wife for him out of the land of Egypt.

22 At that time, Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his army spoke to Abraham, saying, "God is with you in all that you do.

23 Now, therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son. But according to the kindness that I have done to you, you shall do to me, and to the land in which you have lived as a foreigner."

24 Abraham said, "I will swear."

25 Abraham complained to Abimelech because of a water well, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.

26 Abimelech said, "I don't know who has done this thing. You didn't tell me, and I didn't hear of it until today."

27 Abraham took sheep and cattle, and gave them to Abimelech. Those two made a covenant.

28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.

29 Abimelech said to Abraham, "What do these seven ewe lambs, which you have set by themselves, mean?"

30 He said, "You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that it may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well."

31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because they both swore an oath there.

32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Abimelech rose up with Phicol, the captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.

34 Abraham lived as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines many days.


Verse 3 (Isaac)
Isaac means "He laughs".
Verse 31 (Beersheba)
Beersheba can mean "well of the oath" or "well of seven".

Version: World English Bible

Genesis Chapter 21 Guide

At last in God's 'Set time," and in spite of all natural difficulties, the long-promised son was born. Sarah who at an earlier point had laughed with the laughter of incredulity, now laughed with the laughter of realization.

There is something vivid and startling, even, in the story of Ishmael. It was necessary that, because of an act of unbelief, the son should be cast out in order to carry out the divine purpose. Yet in this act the tenderness of God is revealed in that He "heard the voice of the lad," and sent an angel, promising that he also should become a great nation.

The principal value of the story is that of the part it plays in the history of Abraham. In spite of personal inclination and in simple obedience, he sent forth the child of the bond-woman and leaned back wholly and only on the divine provision for the fulfilment of the promise.

The chapter closes with the account of the covenant made with Abimelech. This covenant was based on Abimelech's clear recognition of the fact that God was with Abraham. Notwithstanding the previous failure of Abraham's faith, which had brought about Abimelech's rebuke, the deeper fact of the existence of his faith had influenced this man and did bring him into covenant relationship with God through Abraham. As the story is written, there seems to be no reason to think that in this covenant made on the basis of the recognition of God there was anything contrary to the purpose of God. I prefer to think of it as revealing the influence that might have been growingly exerted by the people of faith had they been true to God.

From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.