The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 21

Gen 21:6

Read as: "God made ISAAC for me; every ISHMAEL shall ISAAC for me."

Sarah, who once laughed in incredulity (Gen 18:12), now laughs in joy and faith. " 'Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,' says the LORD" (Isa 54:1). "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age -- and Sarah herself was barren -- was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise" (Heb 11:11).

This v is the brief model of songs of Hannah (1Sa 2) and Mary (Luk 1:46-56).

Gen 21:7

CHILDREN: Plural, pointing to Christ, singular and multitudinous (WAbr 89).

Gen 21:8

The 400-year affliction of Abraham's seed begins here: cp Gen 15:13n; Gal 4:24. Ages: Ishmael 18 or 19, Isaac 5. See Gen 13:5.

A GREAT FEAST: Like Matthew gave for Jesus, the designated heir, where the supposed "heirs" (the Pharisees) mocked him (Mat 9:9-13) (WGos 133).

Gen 21:9

MOCKING: "Tsachaq" = "laughing". "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac' " (Gen 21:9,10).

Paul comments on this incident, in Gal 4:29, where he interprets Ishmael's mocking of Isaac as a persecution: "At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now."

"Tsachaq" may have a sexual aspect: sw Gen 26:8 for the behavior that betrayed Isaac's relationship with Rebekah; Gen 39:17 used by wife of Potiphar in her accusation against Joseph; Exo 32:6 for what the worshipers of the Golden Calf "rose up to" do.
In referring to Ishmael's behavior to Isaac, in Gal 4:29, Paul used a Gr word that can mean "to follow
after with desire", eg Rom 9:30,31; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22; 1Pe 3:11; Phi 3:12: a possible attempt at sexual molestation?

Prob Ishmael was insinuating that Isaac was the son of the illicit union of Abimelech and Sarah -- conceived while she spent time, unwillingly, in his household the year before.

In a similar fashion, Christ, who was -- like Isaac -- a special seed of promise, was mocked or taunted. Evidently some believed (or at least proclaimed the lie) that Jesus was born of fornication (some rabbis said, with a Roman soldier) while Mary was betrothed to Joseph: " 'You are doing the things your own father does.' 'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested. 'The only Father we have is God himself'...The Jews answered him, 'Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?' " (Joh 8:41,48; cp Joh 9:29). (The use of the term "Samaritan" is their thinly-veiled suggestion of illegitimacy, since the Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile.) [WAbr 90,91]

Gen 21:10

Sarah was a prophet (Gen 20:3). This saying is Scripture (Gal 4:30).

GET RID OF (CAST HIM OUT): Cp Christ's answer to the Jews' insinuations: "Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever" (Joh 8:35).

Gen 21:14

Abraham loved Ishmael: he would have provided well for him when he left. It was Hagar's fault she became lost. (Beersheba was only a short distance away. Perh the plan was for Hagar and Ishmael to wait there for further advice and provisions. But Hagar, headstrong as usual, went her own way and got lost. Cp Abraham's treatment of his other sons: Gen 25:6.) (GVG, Ber 43:105). Abraham is taught that he must give away even his paternal feeling for the Truth's sake.

Gen 21:15

PUT: "Cast" in AV. But sw in Isa 2:20; 2Ki 7:15; Jer 14:16; 36:30. Note that Ishmael was approx 18 years old, not a small child!

Gen 21:17

GOD HEARD: Lit "Ishmael"! Cp Heb "shema": see use in Gen 17:20; 21:17,26; 22:18; 26:5; 27:8,13,43; 28:7. In Gen 21:17, the Heb elohim (God) is used twice. The word for angel is malak. The combined phrase is "the malak of the elohim." So elohim cannot equal angels. The overwhelming majority of the time, elohim, though plural in form, is used in a singular way as a name of God Himself. (The verb dictates how one is to understand the sentence and the verb used with elohim is most always singular). (WIHN 51...)

Gen 21:18

In every way, Ishmael was his mother's son, but he was still blessed for the sake of his father!

Gen 21:19

Ishmael (typ natural Israel) was cast out for rejecting the true Seed. But God still cared for him, and after wandering in the "desert", he is led to "fountains of water" (Zec 13:1).

Gen 21:21

Hagar was an Egyptian (Gen 16:1), poss acquired when Abraham went there in Gen 12, and apparently her heart was still there; hence, her choosing Ishmael a bride from there. A number of similarities between the incident in Gen 24 of Abraham's servant choosing a bride for Isaac, the chosen seed, from his own kindred and the beautiful Scriptural passages showing Christ, the chosen seed, choosing his bride (redeemed ecclesia) from those of his own (way of thinking, etc.) in ct to choosing his bride from the world that lies in wickedness (ie Egypt).

Gen 21:22

Abim is impressed that God helps Abraham, even though Abraham has failed Him.

Gen 21:23

Abimelech recognizes Abraham's divine right to the Land: Gen 20:15.

Gen 21:25

Abraham exercises this right (cp v 23n). It is this well, related to Ishmael's inheritance -- Beersheba (see v 31, cp v 14).

Gen 21:28

SEVEN: Number of covenant; a religious agreement.

Gen 21:31

Perh Ishmael had a portion in this covenant (see vv 14,25).

Beersheba excavations: Tes 36:222. The ancient well of Beersheba has been recently discovered: Tes 48:2.

Gen 21:33

ABRAHAM: Not in orig. Poss should be "Abimelech"?

THE LORD, THE ETERNAL GOD: "Yahweh El Olahm" = "He who shall be the Strength of the Millennium" (and beyond!).

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