Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Visited, either by the angel, chap. xviii. 10, or by enabling her to have what he had promised, at the return of the season.
Isaac. This word signifies laughter; (Challoner) or "he shall laugh," and be the occasion of joy to many, as St. John the Baptist was, Luke i. 14; and thus Sara seems to explain it, ver. 6.
Gave suck; a certain proof that the child was born of her. (Menochius) --- His old age, when both the parents were far advanced in years, ver. 2. The mother being ninety at this time, would render the event most surprising. (Haydock)
Weaned. St. Jerome says when he was five years old, though some said twelve. The age of men being prolonged, their infancy continued longer. One of the Machabees suckled her child three years, 2 Machabees vii. 27. (2 Paralipomenon xxxi. 16.) (Calmet) --- Feast. The life of the child being now considered in less danger. From the time of conception till this place, the husband kept at a distance from his wife. (Clement of Alexandria, strom. iii.) Samuel's mother made a feast or present when she weaned him, 1 Kings i. 24. (Menochius)
Playing, or persecuting, as St. Paul explains it, Galatians iv. 29. The play tended to pervert the morals of the young Isaac, whether we understand this term metsachak, as implying idolatry, or obscene actions, or fighting; in all which senses it is used in Scripture. See Exodus xxxii. 6; Genesis xxvi. 8; 2 Kings ii. 14.) (Menochius) --- Ismael was 13 years older than Isaac; and took occasion, perhaps, from the feast, and other signs of preference given by his parents to the latter, to hate and persecute him, which Sara soon perceiving, was forced to have recourse to the expedient apparently so harsh, of driving Ismael and his mother from the house, that they might have an establishment of their own, and not disturb Isaac in the inheritance after the death of Abraham. (Haydock) --- In this she was guided by a divine light; (Menochius) and not by any female antipathy, ver. 12. Many of the actions of worldlings, which at first sight may appear innocent, have a natural and fatal tendency to pervert the morals of the just; and therefore, we must keep as much as possible at a distance from their society. --- With Isaac her son. Hebrew has simply mocking, without mentioning what. But the sequel shews the true meaning; and this addition was found in some Bibles in the days of St. Jerome, as he testifies, and is expressed in the Septuagint. (Haydock) --- Ismael was a figure of the synagogue, which persecuted the Church of Christ in her birth. (Du Hamel)
For his son. He does not express any concern for Agar. But we cannot doubt but he would feel to part with her also. It was prudent to let both go together: and the mother had perhaps encouraged Ismael, at least by neglecting to punish or watch over him, and so deserved to share in his affliction.
Bread and water. This seems a very slender allowance to be given by a man of Abraham's riches. But he might intend her to go only into the neighbourhood, where he would take care to provide for her. She lost herself in the wilderness, and thus fell into imminent danger of perishing. (Haydock) --- This divorce of Agar, and ejection of Ismael, prefigured the reprobation of the Jews.
Of the boy, who was 17 years old, and wept at the approach of death. --- Fear not. Yare are under the protection of God, who will not abandon you, when all human succour fails; nor will he negelct his promises. (chap. 16.) (Haydock)
Wilderness, in Arabia Petrea. --- An archer, living on plunder. (Calmet)
Abimelech, king of Gerara, who knew that Abraham was a prophet, and a favourite of God, chap. xx. 7. (Haydock)
Hurt me. Hebrew, "lie unto me, " or revolt and disturb the peace of my people.
I will swear. The matter was of sufficient importance. Abraham binds himself, but not his posterity, who by God's order fought against the descendants of this king.
Gave them; thus rendering good for evil. (Du Hamel)
Bersabee. That is, the well of oath; (Challoner) or "the well of the seven;" meaning the seven ewe-lambs set apart. (Menochius) --- This precaution of Abraham, in giving seven lambs as a testimony that the well was dug by him, was not without reason. See chap. xxvi. 15. (Calmet)
A grove: in the midst of which was an altar, dedicated to the Lord God eternal; to testify that he alone was incapable of change. Thither Abraham frequently repaired, to thank God for all his favours. Temples were not probably as yet known in any part of the world. The ancient saints, Abraham, Isaac, Josue, &c., were pleased to shew their respect for God, and their love of retirement, by planting groves, and consecrating altars to the supreme Deity. If this laudable custom was afterwards perverted by the idolaters, and hence forbidden to God's people, we need not wonder. The best things may be abused; and when they become a source of scandal, we must avoid them. (Haydock) --- (Josue xxix. 26; Deuteronomy xvi. 23; Judges vi. 25.)