BIRTH OF ISAAC, AND REJECTION OF ISHMAEL.
(1) And the Lord (Jehovah) visited Sarah as he had said.—See Genesis 17:19, where it is Elohim who gives the promise. So here in Genesis 21:2 the name Elohim is interchanged with Jehovah.
Isaac.—This name not only recorded the fact of the laughter of the father (Genesis 17:17) and of the mother (Genesis 18:12), but was a standing memorial that Isaac’s birth was contrary to nature, and one of which the promise was provocative of ridicule in the sight even of his parents.
Who would have said unto Abraham
Sarah suckleth sons?
For I have borne a son to his old age.
She departed, and wandered.
The wilderness of Beer-sheba.—As yet this region had no name (see Genesis 21:31). It lay about twenty Roman miles or more below Hebron, and was the most southerly part of Palestine, while beyond it lay the vast desert of Et-Tih, of which the wilderness of Beer-sheba formed a part. Gerar, which place Abraham had now evidently left, was situated upon the western side of Beer-sheba, but at no great distance from it. (Seo Genesis 21:22; Genesis 26:26.)
And dwelt in the wilderness.—He sought no refuge in Egypt, where so large a Semitic population was gathering, nor in any Canaanite town, but took to the wandering life in the desert, such as is still usual with the Arabs.
An archer.—Heb., a shooter of bowshots. Another explanation, from a verb signifying to multiply, or be great, is not tenable.
Genesis 21:22And 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:ABIMELECH’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM.
(22) Abimelech and Phichol.—Abimelech, that is Father-King, was the title not only of the king of Gerar, but of the kings of the Philistines generally (Genesis 26:1; 1 Samuel 21:10, marg.; Psalms 34, tit.). In like manner Phichol, mouth of all, seems to have been the official designation of the prime minister, and commander-in-chief. This visit of the king and his vizier appears to have taken place some considerable time after the beginning of the sojourn of Abraham at Gerar; for the friendly feelings which then existed had evidently given way to a coolness, occasioned by the quarrels between their herdsmen. In this narrative, Abraham appears as a chieftain powerful enough for a king to wish to make an alliance with him; and thus his abandonment of Sarah, and his receiving of presents in compensation for the wrong done her, seems the more unworthy of him. Abimelech, on the other hand, acts generously as of old, and shows no signs of ill-will at the growing power of one whose expectation was that his race would possess the whole land.
And called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.—Heb., on the name of Jehovah, El ‘olam (comp. Genesis 4:26). In Genesis 14:22, Abraham claimed for Jehovah that he was El ‘elyon, the supreme God; in Genesis 17:1, Jehovah reveals Himself as El shaddai, the almighty God; and now Abraham claims for Him the attribute of eternity. As he advanced in holiness, Abraham also grew in knowledge of the manifold nature of the Deity, and we also more clearly understand why the Hebrews called God, not El, but Elohim. In the plural appellation all the Divine attributes were combined. El might be ‘elyon, or shaddai, or ‘olam; Elohim was all in one.