Genesis 21


וַיהוָה פָּקַד אֶת שָׂרָה כַּאֲשֶׁר אָמָר וַיַּעַשׂ יְהוָה לְשָׂרָה כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר  21:1

Gene. 21:1  And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had


וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד שָׂרָה לְאַבְרָהָם בֵּן לִזְקֻנָיו לַמּוֹעֵד אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֹתוֹ אֱלֹהִים  21:2

Gene. 21:2  And Sarah conceived and bore a son for Abraham for his old age at the set time that

God had promised him.

וַיִּקְרָא אַבְרָהָם אֶת שֶׁםבְּנוֹ הַנּוֹלַד לוֹ אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לּוֹ שָׂרָה יִצְחָק  21:3

Gene. 21:3  And Abraham called the name of his son born to him, whom Sarah bore for him, Isaac.

The name Isaac can mean he will laugh, he will make laugh, or he will mock or even he will be mocked.  I can’t

decide which fits best.  Notice that in Gene. 17:19 and 21 God had already spoken the name Isaac.

וַיָּמָל אַבְרָהָם אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ בֶּן שְׁמֹנַת יָמִים כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה אֹתוֹ אֱלֹהִים  21:4

Gene. 21:4  And Abraham circumcised Isaac, his son, of age eight days, as God had commanded


וְאַבְרָהָם בֶּן מְאַת שָׁנָה בְּהִוָּלֶד לוֹ אֵת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ  21:5

Gene. 21:5  And Abraham was a hundred years of age on Isaac, his son, being born to him.

If Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born, then Ishmael was fourteen.

וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרָה צְחֹק עָשָׂה לִי אֱלֹהִים כָּל הַשֹּׁמֵעַ יִצְחַק לִי  21:6

Gene. 21:6  And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone hearing will laugh for me.”

וַתֹּאמֶר מִי מִלֵּל לְאַבְרָהָם הֵינִיקָה בָנִים שָׂרָה כִּי יָלַדְתִּי בֵן לִזְקֻנָיו  21:7

Gene. 21:7  And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham, ‘Sarah nurses children,’ for I have

borne a son in his old age.”

וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד וַיִּגָּמַל וַיַּעַשׂ אַבְרָהָם מִשְׁתֶּה גָדוֹל בְּיוֹם הִגָּמֵל אֶת יִצְחָק  21:8

Gene. 21:8  And the boy grew and was weaned.  And Abraham made a great banquet in the day of

weaning  Isaac.

וַתֵּרֶא שָׂרָה אֶת בֶּן הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית אֲשֶׁריָלְדָה לְאַבְרָהָם מְצַחֵק  21:9

Gene. 21:9  And Sarah saw the son of Hagar, the Egyptian, whom she had borne for Abraham,

making fun.

 וַתֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָהָם גָּרֵשׁ הָאָמָה הַזֹּאת וְאֶת בְּנָהּ כִּי לֹא יִירַשׁ בֶּן הָאָמָה הַזֹּאת עִם בְּנִי עִם יִצְחָק  21:10

Gene. 21:10   And she said to Abraham, “Expel this maidservant, and with her son, for the son of

this maidservant shall not be heir with my son -- only Isaac.”

וַיֵּרַע הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּעֵינֵי אַבְרָהָם עַל אוֹדֹת בְּנוֹ  21:11

Gene. 21:11   And the thing was very displeasing in the eyes of Abraham because of his son.

Abraham was not happy that he was being asked to expel Ishmael (or Hagar?).  Despite all that has happened to

this time, Abraham still seems to favor Ishmael.  They apparently shared much.  At the very least, their

circumcisions on the same day!

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל אַבְרָהָם אַל יֵרַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ עַל הַנַּעַר וְעַל אֲמָתֶךָ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר תֹּאמַר אֵלֶיךָ שָׂרָה  21:12

 שְׁמַע בְּקֹלָהּ כִּי בְיִצְחָק יִקָּרֵא לְךָ זָרַע

Gene. 21:12   And God said to Abraham, “Let it not be displeasing in your eyes because of the boy

and your maidservant.  All that Sarah says to you, hear her voice, for through Isaac shall seed be

called yours.”

Now along with my thought that Abraham represents the Jewish people from the Exodus until the fall of the

temples, I believe that Isaac represents the Jewish people from then until the rebirth of Israel.  I will point out why

I believe this as we go along.

On another subject, perhaps a very important one; notice that the Lord says that Abraham’s seed will be called his

 through Isaac (not through Ishmael).  This prophecy has not been fulfilled yet.  After all, Muslims claim that they

 are also the seed of Abraham.                                                                              [Return to Gene. 22:2]

וְגַם אֶת בֶּן הָאָמָה לְגוֹי אֲשִׂימֶנּוּ כִּי זַרְעֲךָ הוּא  21:13

Gene. 21:13   “But the son of the maidservant, I will also make him into a nation, because he is

your seed.”

וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר וַיִּקַּח לֶחֶם וְחֵמַת מַיִם וַיִּתֵּן אֶל הָגָר שָׂם עַל שִׁכְמָהּ וְאֶת הַיֶּלֶד וַיְשַׁלְּחֶהָ  21:14

וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתֵּתַע בְּמִדְבַּר בְּאֵר שָׁבַע

Gene. 21:14   And Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a bottle of water that he

gave to Hagar, put on her shoulder, and the child, and he sent her away; and she left and she

wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

וַיִּכְלוּ הַמַּיִם מִן הַחֵמֶת וַתַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת הַיֶּלֶד תַּחַת אַחַד הַשִּׂיחִם  21:15

Gene. 21:15   When they had finished the water from the bottle, then she cast the child under one

of the shrubs.

Use of the term %lev.T;w, and she cast or tossed, 14-year-old Ishmael implies to me that she was sure it was all

over for them.

וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתֵּשֶׁב לָהּ מִנֶּגֶד הַרְחֵק כִּמְטַחֲוֵי קֶשֶׁת כִּי אָמְרָה אַל אֶרְאֶה בְּמוֹת הַיָּלֶד וַתֵּשֶׁב מִנֶּגֶד   21:16

וַתִּשָּׂא אֶת קֹלָהּ וַתֵּבְךְּ

Gene. 21:16   And she went and sat down at a distance removed as a shot of a bow, for she said,

“I cannot look on the death of the child.”  And she sat afar off and lifted her voice and wept.

וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶת־קוֹל הַנַּעַר וַיִּקְרָא מַלְאַךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶל־הָגָר מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַה־לָּךְ הָגָר  21:17

 אַל־תִּירְאִי כִּי־שָׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶל־קוֹל הַנַּעַר בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא־שָׁם׃

Gene. 21:17   And God heard the sound of the boy, and He summoned an angel of God to Hagar

out of heaven, and he said to her, “What is with you, Hagar?  You need not fear, for God has

listened to the sound of the boy in the place where He is.”

Is it of significance that God heard the sound of the boy, and not the cry of Hagar?  This can be construed as the

favor that God gave to Ishmael on behalf of Abraham.  On a lesser note, it’s impossible to tell who is the antecedent

of the pronoun aWh, meaning he, at the end of the verse.  Is it the boy or God?  In a desire not to ignore the point

that it might be God, I have capitalized the word in the translation, but keep in mind that it could be the boy being

 referred to.

קוּמִי שְׂאִי אֶת הַנַּעַר וְהַחֲזִיקִי אֶת יָדֵךְ בּוֹ כִּי לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל אֲשִׂימֶנּוּ  21:18

Gene. 21:18   “Arise, lift up the boy and grasp him with your hand, for I will make him into a great


וַיִּפְקַח אֱלֹהִים אֶת עֵינֶיהָ וַתֵּרֶא בְּאֵר מָיִם וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתְּמַלֵּא אֶת הַחֵמֶת מַיִם וַתַּשְׁקְ אֶת הַנָּעַר  21:19

Gene. 21:19   And God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the

bottle of water and gave the boy to drink.

וַיְהִי אֱלֹהִים אֶת הַנַּעַר וַיִּגְדָּל וַיֵּשֶׁב בַּמִּדְבָּר וַיְהִי רֹבֶה קַשָּׁת  21:20

Gene. 21:20   And God was with the boy, so he grew and dwelled in the wilderness and became

an archer.

וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּמִדְבַּר פָּארָן וַתִּקַּח לוֹ אִמּוֹ אִשָּׁה מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם  21:21

Gene. 21:21   And he dwelled in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from

the land of Egypt.

וַיְהִי בָּעֵת הַהִוא וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וּפִיכֹל שַׂר צְבָאוֹ אֶל אַבְרָהָם לֵאמֹר אֱלֹהִים עִמְּךָ בְּכֹל  21:22

אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה

Gene. 21:22   And it was at that time that Abimelech spoke, and Phicol, head of his army, to

Abraham saying, “God is with you in all that you are doing.”

וְעַתָּה הִשָּׁבְעָה לִּי בֵאלֹהִים הֵנָּה אִם תִּשְׁקֹר לִי וּלְנִינִי וּלְנֶכְדִּי כַּחֶסֶד אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי עִמְּךָ  21:23

תַּעֲשֶׂה עִמָּדִי וְעִם הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר גַּרְתָּה בָּהּ

Gene. 21:23   “So now swear to me here by God that you will not lie to me, nor to my son, nor to

my grandson, but the kindness that I have done with you, you will do with me and with the land

wherein you have sojourned.”

Why does Abimelech ask Abraham not to lie to him?  Probably because Abraham allegedly “lied” to him about Sarah, saying she was his sister, which caused much trouble and near death for Abimelech and his household, not to mention all it cost him (see Gene. 20:3 ff).

וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אָנֹכִי אִשָּׁבֵעַ  21:24

Gene. 21:24   And Abraham said, “I will swear.”

וְהוֹכִחַ אַבְרָהָם אֶת אֲבִימֶלֶךְ עַל אֹדוֹת בְּאֵר הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר גָּזְלוּ עַבְדֵי אֲבִימֶלֶךְ  21:25

Gene. 21:25   But Abraham would reprove Abimelech about the well of water that servants of

Abimelech had seized.

The first verb, x;kiAhw>, appears in the perfect tense and is normally assumed to contain a non-inverting vav.  I believe

the phrase %l,m_,ybia]-ta, ~h'r'b.a; x;kiAhw>, whose translation is typically given as “And Abraham reproved Abimelech,”

is mistranslated.  I translate the vav as inverting, putting the verb in the imperfect tense.  I believe this because we

have not heard before this that Abimelech’s servants had seized a well of Abraham’s.  So I believe the phrase is

supposed to imply a passage of some time, possibly only a few minutes, but indicating the start of a different

narrative, after Abraham swore in v. 21:24.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ לֹא יָדַעְתִּי מִי עָשָׂה אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה וְגַם־אַתָּה לֹא־הִגַּדְתָּ לִּי וְגַם אָנֹכִי לֹא שָׁמַעְתִּי  21:26

בִּלְתִּי הַיּוֹם׃

Gene. 21:26   And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing, and also you did not

make known to me, and also I have not heard except today.”

וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָהָם צֹאן וּבָקָר וַיִּתֵּן לַאֲבִימֶלֶךְ וַיִּכְרְתוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בְּרִית  21:27

Gene. 21:27   And Abraham took sheep and cattle that he gave to Abimelech, and the two of them

made a covenant.

An interesting biblical custom may be revealed here.  I would think that because Abimelech had Abraham swear

an oath, that Abimelech would be giving tribute to Abraham to show his appreciation.  Instead, Abraham gives a

gift to Abimelech, perhaps to demonstrate his sincerity.  Or else, Abraham was paying tribute to him for returning

ownership of the well.  According to my belief (expressed in regard to v. 21:25), the episode of Abraham’s oath

ended with v. 21:24.  Jumping ahead to v. 21:30, the reader can see that the tribute was indeed for indicating

Abraham’s ownership of the well.

וַיַּצֵּב אַבְרָהָם אֶת שֶׁבַע כִּבְשֹׂת הַצֹּאן לְבַדְּהֶן  21:28

Gene. 21:28   And Abraham set apart seven ewe-lambs of the flock by themselves.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ אֶל אַבְרָהָם מָה הֵנָּה שֶׁבַע כְּבָשֹׂת הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר הִצַּבְתָּ לְבַדָּנָה  21:29

Gene. 21:29   And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What are these seven ewe-lambs that you have

set by themselves?”

וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי אֶת שֶׁבַע כְּבָשֹׂת תִּקַּח מִיָּדִי בַּעֲבוּר תִּהְיֶה לִּי לְעֵדָה כִּי חָפַרְתִּי אֶת הַבְּאֵר הַזֹּאת  21:30

Gene. 21:30   And he said, “Indeed, you will take the seven ewe-lambs from my hand so that it

shall be for me as a witness that I have dug this well.”

עַל כֵּן קָרָא לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא בְּאֵר שָׁבַע כִּי שָׁם נִשְׁבְּעוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם  21:31

Gene. 21:31   Therefore that place is called Beer-sheba because both of them swore there.

וַיִּכְרְתוּ בְרִית בִּבְאֵר שָׁבַע וַיָּקָם אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וּפִיכֹל שַׂר צְבָאוֹ וַיָּשֻׁבוּ אֶל אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים  21:32

Gene. 21:32   So they made a covenant at Beer-sheba; then Abimelech  arose, and Phicol,

the head of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.

וַיִּטַּע אֶשֶׁל בִּבְאֵר שָׁבַע וַיִּקְרָא שָׁם בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה אֵל עוֹלָם  21:33

Gene. 21:33   And he planted a Tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba and he called there on the name of

the Lord, eternal God.

He didn’t build an altar.  He planted a tree.  Was that a substitute for an altar?  Presumably the pagans in the land

used trees as idols and places of worship.                        [Return to Gene. 22:2]

וַיָּגָר אַבְרָהָם בְּאֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים יָמִים רַבִּים  21:34

Gene. 21:34   And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.


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