Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
Ge 21:1-13. Birth of Isaac.
1. the Lord visited Sarah—The language of the historian seems designedly chosen to magnify the power of God as well as His faithfulness to His promise. It was God's grace that brought about that event, as well as the raising of spiritual children to Abraham, of which the birth of this son was typical [Calvin].
For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
3, 4. Abraham called the name of his son … Isaac … and circumcised—God was acknowledged in the name which, by divine command, was given for a memorial (compare Ge 17:19), and also in the dedication of the child by administering the seal of the covenant (compare Ge 17:10-12).
And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.
And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
8. the child grew, and was weaned—children are suckled longer in the East than in the Occident—boys usually for two or three years.
Abraham made a great feast, &c.—In Eastern countries this is always a season of domestic festivity, and the newly weaned child is formally brought, in presence of the assembled relatives and friends, to partake of some simple viands. Isaac, attired in the symbolic robe, the badge of birthright, was then admitted heir of the tribe [Rosenmuller].
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
9. Sarah saw the son of Hagar … mocking—Ishmael was aware of the great change in his prospects, and under the impulse of irritated or resentful feelings, in which he was probably joined by his mother, treated the young heir with derision and probably some violence (Ga 4:29).
Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.
10. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman—Nothing but the expulsion of both could now preserve harmony in the household. Abraham's perplexity was relieved by an announcement of the divine will, which in everything, however painful to flesh and blood, all who fear God and are walking in His ways will, like him, promptly obey. This story, as the apostle tells us, in "an allegory" [Ga 4:24], and the "persecution" by the son of the Egyptian was the commencement of the four hundred years' affliction of Abraham's seed by the Egyptians.
And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.
And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
12. in all that Sarah hath said—it is called the Scripture (Ga 4:30).
And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
13. also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation—Thus Providence overruled a family brawl to give rise to two great and extraordinary peoples.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
Ge 21:14-21. Expulsion of Ishmael.
14. Abraham rose up early, &c.—early, that the wanderers might reach an asylum before noon. Bread includes all sorts of victuals—bottle, a leathern vessel, formed of the entire skin of a lamb or kid sewed up, with the legs for handles, usually carried over the shoulder. Ishmael was a lad of seventeen years, and it is quite customary for Arab chiefs to send out their sons at such an age to do for themselves: often with nothing but a few days' provisions in a bag.
wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba—in the southern border of Palestine, but out of the common direction, a wide extending desert, where they lost their way.
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
15. the water was spent, &c.—Ishmael sank exhausted from fatigue and thirst—his mother laid his head under one of the bushes to smell the damp while she herself, unable to witness his distress, sat down at a little distance in hopeless sorrow.
And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.
19. God opened her eyes—Had she forgotten the promise (Ge 16:11)? Whether she looked to God or not, He regarded her and directed her to a fountain close beside her, but probably hid amid brushwood, by the waters of which her almost expiring son was revived.
And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
20, 21. God was with the lad, &c.—Paran (that is, Arabia), where his posterity has ever dwelt (compare Ge 16:12; also Isa 48:19; 1Pe 1:25).
his mother took him a wife—On a father's death, the mother looks out for a wife for her son, however young; and as Ishmael was now virtually deprived of his father, his mother set about forming a marriage connection for him, it would seem, among her relatives.
And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
Ge 21:22-34. Covenant.
22. Abimelech and Phichol—Here a proof of the promise (Ge 12:2) being fulfilled, in a native prince wishing to form a solemn league with Abraham. The proposal was reasonable, and agreed to [Ge 21:24].
Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
And Abraham said, I will swear.
And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.
25-31. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well—Wells were of great importance to a pastoral chief and on the successful operation of sinking a new one, the owner was solemnly informed in person. If, however, they were allowed to get out of repair, the restorer acquired a right to them. In unoccupied lands the possession of wells gave a right of property in the land, and dread of this had caused the offense for which Abraham reproved Abimelech. Some describe four, others five, wells in Beer-sheba.
And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
33. Abraham planted a grove—Hebrew, "of tamarisks," in which sacrificial worship was offered, as in a roofless temple.
And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.
34. Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land—a picture of pastoral and an emblem of Christian life.