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Song of Solomon
Genesis 21 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
And the Lord
; not because the verse is Jehovistic (Knobel, Bleek,
), but because the promise naturally falls to be implemented by him who gave it (
- remembered with love (Onkelos),
1 Samuel 2:21
); though it sometimes means to approach in judgment (
). Alleged to be peculiar to the Jehovist (the term used by the Elohist being
), the word occurs in
, which Tuch and Bleek ascribe to the Elohist -
Sarah as he had said
Genesis 18:10, 14
), - God's word of promise being ever the rule of his performance (cf.
and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken
implemented his promise; the proof of which is next given (cf.
For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
For Sarah conceived
, - through faith receiving strength from God for that purpose (
); the fruit of the womb, in every instance God's handiwork (
), being in her case a special gift of grace and product of Divine power -
and bare -
the usual construction (
) is here somewhat modified by the Jehovist (Kalisch); but the clause may be compared with
Genesis 30:22, 23
, commonly assigned to the Elohlst -
) a son in his old age,
to his old age
εἰς τὸ γῆρας
at the set time
Genesis 18:10, 14
of which God had spoken to him.
God's word gave Abraham strength to beget, Sarah to conceive, and Isaac to come forth. Three times repeated in two verses, the clause points to the supernatural character of Isaac's birth.
And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
And Abraham called the name of his son
- the naming of a child by its father is, according to partitionists, a peculiarity of the Elohist as distinguished from the Jehovist, who assigns that function to the mother; but
that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him
(the latter clause being added to distinguish him from Hagar's child), Isaac -
laughter; the name appointed for him by God before his birth
And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
And Abraham circumcised
on Genesis 17:11, and note at the end of that chapter)
his son Isaac being eight days old
a son of eight days
(not only because, but in the manner in which)
God had commanded him.
And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
And Abraham was an hundred years old
Genesis 17:1, 17
when his son Isaac was born unto him
at the time of bearing to him
ἐν τῷ τεκεῖν
Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 143). Thus Abraham had waited twenty-five years for the fulfillment of the promise - a remarkable instance of faith and patience (
), as Isaac's birth was a signal display of Divine power (
). Whether Isaac was born at Gerar or at Beersheba cannot with certitude be inferred.
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh,
all that hear will laugh with me.
And Sarah said,
- the spiritual elevation of her soul being indicated by the poetical form of her speech. Differing from Mary s magnificat in having been uttered after, and not before, the birth of the promised seed, the anthem of Sarah was obviously designed as a prelude to that loftier song of the Virgin (cf.
). It consists of two sentences, the first containing two, and the second three lines -
God hath made me to laugh.
Or, retaining the order of the Hebrew,
To laugh hath made me Elohim
; the emphatic position of
, containing an allusion to the name Isaac, probably indicating that Sarah's laughter was of a different character now from what it had previously been (
); and her ascription of it to Elohim intimating that him whom she formerly mistook for a traveler she now recognized to be Divine ('Speaker's Commentary').
all that hear me will laugh with me.
Not, will laugh at me,
(Peele), a sense the words will bear (Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'), though in the instances adduced (
Job 39:7, 18, 22
rather conveys the idea of despising difficulties (Kalisch); but, will laugh with me,
(LXX., Vulgate, Targums, Calvin, Dathe, Keil).
And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born
a son in his old age.
And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham
, the poetic word for
, is introduced by
in order to express astonishment; the meaning being that what had happened was altogether out of the ordinary course of nature, was, in fact, God's work alone (Vatablus, Calvin, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary'). Less happy are
τίς ἀναγγελεῖ τῳ Ἀβραὰμ
quis auditurum crederet Abraham quod
quam fidelis est ille qui dixit Abrahamo
that Sarah should have given children suck?
Sarah suckleth sons
. "Many of the greatest saints in Holy Scripture, and even our Lord himself, were nursed by their own mothers" (Wordsworth).
For I have born him a son in his old age.
I have born a son to his old
age. The LXX. incorrectly render
ἐν τῶ γήρᾳ μου
And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the
day that Isaac was weaned.
And the child grew
(LXX.): imitated by Luke concerning Christ:
τὸ παιδίον ηὔξανε
and was weaned
. The verb
originally signifies to do good to any one, to do completely; hence to finish, or make completely ready, as an infant; hence to wean, since either at that time the period of infancy is regarded as complete, or the child s independent existence is then fully reached. The time of weaning is commonly believed to have been at the end of the second or third year (cf.
1 Samuel 1:22-24
2 Chronicles 31:16
; 2 Macc. 7:27; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 2:09, 6).
And Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
in the day of the weaning of Isaac
; probably, therefore, when Isaac was three years old and Ishmael seventeen. "It is still customary in the East to have a festive gathering at the time a child is weaned. Among the Hindoos, when the time for weaning has come, the event is accompanied with feasting and religious ceremonies, during which rice is formally presented to the child" ('Bible Manners and Customs,' by Rev. J. A. Freeman, M.A., ' Homiletical Quarterly,' vol. 1. p. 78; cf. Roberts' 'Oriental Illustrations,' p. 24).
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
And Sarah saw
- at the feast already mentioned (Knobel, Keil); probably also on different occasions since the birth of Isaac -
the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking
Παίζοντα μετὰ Ισαὰκ τοῦ υἰοῦ αὐτης
ludentem cum Isaaco filio sue
(Vulgate), playing like a child (Aben Ezra, Knobel, Tuch, Ilgen), playing and dancing gracefully (Gesenius); but the stronger sense of the word, implying mockery, scoffing, irritating and deriding laughter (Kimchi, Vatablus, Grotius, Calvin, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Murphy), besides being admissible (cf.
Genesis 39:14, 17
), seems involved in the Piel form of the participle
(Kurtz), and is demanded by
. That Ishmael ridiculed the banquet on the occasion of Isaac's weaning (Malvenda), quarreled with him about the heirship (Fagins, Piseator), and perhaps made sport of him as a father of nations (Hengstenberg), though plausible conjectures, are not stated in the text. Ainsworth dates from this event the 400 years of Israel's oppression (
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,
Wherefore she said
- though with an admixture of sinful feelings, non
dubito arcane Spiritus instinctu gubernatam fuisse ejus linguam et mentem
unto Abraham, Cast out
- by some kind of legal act (as divorce: cf.
Leviticus 21:7, 14
), which should insure the disinheriting of Ishmael (Bush); though probably- this is to import later Mosaic legislation rote the records of primitive tunes -
- a term ill befitting Sarah, who had given Hagar to her husband as a wife (
and her son
(who was Abraham's offspring, though not the promised seed; a consideration which should have mitigated Sarah's anger):
for the son of this bondwoman
(a repetition evincing the bitter ness of her contempt and the intensity of her choler)
shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.
Notwithstanding the assurance (
) that the covenant was made with Isaac, Sarah was apprehensive lest Ishmael should contrive to disinherit him; an act of unbelief into which she was manifestly betrayed by her maternal fears and womanly jealousy.
And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.
- And the thing
(literally, the word,
was very grievous
; for the contrary phrase
in Abraham's sight
in the eyes of
because of his son
- who, besides being bound to him by the ties of natural affection, had for years been regarded as the Heaven-appointed heir of the promise (
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.
And God said unto Abraham
, - probably in a dream, or night vision (
Ver. 14) -
Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman
; - who was never recognized by God as Abraham's wife (cf.
in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice.
Though Sarah's counsel was approved by God, it does not follow that her conduct was. On a former occasion Abraham's hearkening unto Sarah's voice had led to sin (
); this time it would lie exactly in the line of duty. For in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Literally,
in Isaac shall seed
be called to thee
; meaning neither, "
Isaac shall thy seed be called, or named" (Hofmann, Kalisch, Ainsworth), nor, "in Isaac shall thy seed be called into existence" (Dreschler); but, "in Isaac shall there be posterity to thee which shall pass as such,"
be called or recognized as such (Keil); or, more simply, "in Isaac,"
in the line of Isaac, "shall be called to thee a seed,"
, the seed already promised (Bleek, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Alford, Murphy).
And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he
And also of the son of the bond-woman will I make a nation.
to nation I will set or put him
; a promise already given (
), but here repeated to render Ishmael's dismissal easier.
Because he is thy seed
. "Thy son according to the flesh, though not after the promise, as Isaac was" (Ainsworth); a proof that men may sometimes receive mercies for their fathers' sakes.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave
unto Hagar, putting
on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning
, - hastening to put in force the Divine instructions (cf.
, Jacob) -
and took bread, and a bottle of water,
- the bottle, from a root signifying to enclose (Furst);
(LXX.), was composed of skin, the material of which the earliest carrying vessels were constructed (cf.
Joshua 9:4, 13
1 Samuel 16:20
). "The monuments of Egypt, the sculptures of Mesopotamia, and the relics of Herculaneum and Pompeii afford ample opportunities to learn the shape and use of every variety of bottles, often surprising us both by their elegance and costliness" (Kalisch) -
and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder
, - the usual place for carrying such vessels among Oriental women. According to Herodotus (2. 35), Egyptian women carried burdens on their shoulders, Egyptian men upon their heads -
and the child
, - not placing the child, now a youth of over seventeen years, upon her shoulder (LXX., Schumann, Bohlen);
but giving him, along with the bottle
(Havernick, Kalisch, A Lapide, Ainsworth), or, as well as the bread (Keil, Murphy), to Hagar, not to be carried as a burden, but led as a companion -
and sent her away
- divorced her by the command of God (A Lapide); but as Hagar was never recognized by God as Abraham's wife, her sending away was not a case of divorce (Wordsworth) - and she departed (from Beersheba, whither Abraham had by this time removed, and where, in all probability, Isaac had been born), and wandered - i.e. lost her way (cf.
) - in the wilderness (the uncultivated waste between Palestine and Egypt) of Beersheba - introduced here by anticipation, unless the incident in Vers. 22-33 had previously taken place (
on Ver. 31).
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
And the water was spent in
, - so that the wanderers became exhausted, and were in danger of fainting through thirst -
and she cast the child
- a translation which certainly conveys an erroneous impression, first of Ishmael, who was not an infant, but a grown lad (
supra, Ver. 14), and secondly of Ishmael's mother, whom it represents as acting with violence, if not with inhumanity; whereas the sense probably is that, having, as long as her rapidly diminishing strength permitted, supported her fainting son, she at length suddenly, through feebleness, released his nerveless hand as he fell, and in despair, finding herself unable to give him further assistance, left him, as she believed, to die where he had flung himself in his intolerable anguish -
under one of the shrubs
And she went, and sat her down over against
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
, and lift up her voice, and wept.
And she went, and sat her down
, the pronoun being added to the verb, as an ethical dative, to indicate that the action was of special importance to her, meaning, "she, for herself, or for her part, sat down" (
Ewald's 'Hebrews Synt. ,' § 315, a.; and Glass, 'Phil Tract.,' 1. 3. tr. 2. c. 6; and cf.
) - over against him a good way off. The hiph. inf. of
, to go far away, to recede from any one, is here used adverbially, as in
(Gesenius, Furst, Kalisch), though by others it is understood as explaining the action of the previous verbs, and as equivalent to a gerund in
, or a participle,
(Rosenmüller), or simply" removing to a distance" (Ewald;
'Hebrews Synt., § 280 a.).
As it were a bowshot
as those who draw the bow, i.e.
as far off as archers are accustomed to place the target (Keil). The sense is correctly given by the LXX.:
μακρόθεν ὡσεὶ τόξου βολήν
For she said, Let me not see
look upon with anguish (cf.
the death of the child
τοῦ παιδίου μου
And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept
. The verbs, being feminine, indicate that it is Hagar's grief which is here described, and that the rendering, "and the child lifted up his voice and wept" (LXX.), is incorrect; although the next verse may suggest that Ishmael, like his mother, was also dissolved in tears.
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
; Hagar and Ishmael having now been removed from the care and superintendence of the covenant God to the guidance and providence of God the ruler of all nations (Keil) -
heard the voice of the lad
; - praying (Inglis), or weeping,
and the angel of God
, as in
, for the reason above specified (Hengstenberg, Quarry) -
called to Hagar out of heaven
, - it may be inferred there was no external appearance or
, such as was vouchsafed to her when wandering in the wilderness of Shut (
and said unto her, What aileth thee
Hagar? fear not;
- so the word of Jehovah addressed Abram (
), Isaac (
), Daniel (
), and John (
for God hath heard the voice of the lad
the voice (perhaps the mute cry) of the lad's misery, and in that also the audible sob of Hagar's weeping. It is net said that either Ishmael or his mother prayed to God in their distress. Hence the Divine interposition on their behalf
a se peterent, sed quid servo suo Abrahae de Ismaele pollicitus foret, respexit
where he is
- an ellipsis for from, or in, the place where he is;
ἐκ τοῦ τόπου οὑ ἐστιν
ex loco ubi est
(Calvin); meaning either "in his helpless condition" (Keil), or out in the desolate wilderness, as contrasted with the house of Abraham (Calvin).
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand
bind fast ray hand to him, i.e.
give him thy support now, and take cars of him till he reaches manhood. Cf. God's promise to Israel (
For I will make him
a great nation
Ver. 13; and cf.
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.
And God opened her eyes
. Not necessarily by miraculous operation; perhaps simply by providentially guiding her search for water, after the administered consolation had revived her spirit and roused her energies. And she saw a well of water,
, as distinguished from
, a pit or cistern, meant a fountain or spring of living water (cf.
Genesis 24:11, 20
Genesis 26:19, 20, 21
). It had not been previously observed by Hagar, either because of her mental agitation (
dolors quasi caeca
. Rosenmüller), or because, as was customary, the mouth of the well was covered -
and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink
- which was certainly the first of the youth s necessities, being needful to the preservation of his life and the reviving of his spirits.
And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
Verses 20, 21.
And God was with the lad
. Not simply in the ordinary sense in which he is with all men (
Acts 17:27, 28
); not, certainly, in the spiritual sense in which he had promised to be with Isaac (
), and in which he is with believers (
); but in the particular sense of exercising towards him a special providence, with a view to implementing the promise made concerning him to Abraham and Hagar.
And he grew
became great, i.e.
progressed towards manhood),
and dwelt in the wilderness
led a roving and unsettled life),
and became an archer
and he was
׃ך׃ך רֹבֶה קַשָּׁת
, to grow great or multiply, either
when he grew up, an archer, or man using the bow (Gesenius, Keil);
growing an archer, or acquiring skill as a bowman (Kalisch, Wordsworth); or
growing, or multiplying into, a tribe of archers (Murphy). With the first of these substantially agree the renderings
factus est juvenis sagittarius
(Vulgate). Others, connecting
, in the sense of to cast arrows (cf.
"and he was a shooter of arrows from the bow" (Jarchi, Kimchi, Rosenmüller), though in this case
would have to be read for
a marksman, archer,
a marksman skilled in using the bow (Ewald,
' Hebrews Synt.,' § 287). Baumgarten translates, a hero (or great one), an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: - the desert of
Tih, on the south of Canaan (cf.
and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt
Genesis 24:4, 55
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
with thee in all that thou doest:
And it came to pass at that time
, - possibly in immediate sequence to the incident of the preceding chapter, but, "according to the common law of Hebrew narrative, probably not long after the birth of Isaac." (Murphy) -
- the king of Gerar (
Genesis 26:1, 16
- if the name be Shemitic, "mouth of all,"
spokesman of all (Murphy), ruler of all (Gesenius); or "
distinguished" (Furst); believed to have been a titular designation of the Philistine monarch's grand vizier or prime minister (Lange, 'Speaker's Commentary'), who was also -
the chief captain of his host
the commander-in-chief of his forces)
spake unto Abraham
(having come from Gerar for the purpose),
saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest
- a conviction derived from his former acquaintance with the patriarch (
.), his knowledge of Isaac s birth, and his general observation of the patriarch's prosperity.
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:
according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
Now therefore swear unto me here by God
- the verb to swear is derived from the Hebrew numeral seven, inasmuch as the septennary number was sacred, and oaths were confirmed either by seven sacrifices (
) or by seven witnesses and pledges -
that thou wilt not deal falsely with me
, - literally,
if thou shalt lie unto me
; a common form of oath in Hebrew, in which the other member of the sentence is for emphasis left unexpressed (cf.
). As a prince, Abimelech was afraid of Abraham's growing power; as a good man, he insures the safety of himself and his dominions not by resorting to war, but by forming an amicable treaty with his neighbor -
nor with my son, nor with my son's son
σπέρμα καὶ ὅνομα
posteri et stirps
(Vulgate); offspring and progeny (Kalisch); kith and kin (Murphy) -
but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee
thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned
- the land being put for the people (cf.
And Abraham said, I will swear.
And Abraham said, I will swear.
Only before concluding the agreement there was a matter of a more personal character that required settlement.
And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.
And Abraham reproved
, and proved to the satisfaction of)
(who was, until informed, entirely unacquainted with the action of his servants)
because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.
The greatest possible injury of a material kind that could be done to a nomads chief was the all faction of his water supplies. Hence "the ownership of wells m Palestine was as jealously guarded as the possession of a mine in our own" (Inglis). Contests for wells "
now very common all over the country, but more especially in the southern deserts" (Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 559).
And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I
, but to day.
And Abimelech said, I wet not who hath done this thing
. There is no reason to question the sincerity of the Philistine monarch in disclaiming all knowledge of the act of robbery committed by his servants.
Neither didst thou toll me, neither yet heard I of it, but today.
The prince rather complains that Abraham had done him an injustice.
And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech As the usual covenant presents
1 Kings 15:19
And both of them made a covenant
. As already Mature, Aner, and Eshcol had formed a league with the patriarch (
And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves
(designing by another covenant to secure himself against future invasion of Isis rights).
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 this peculiar kind of oath never occurs again in Old Testament history is no proof of the mythical character of the narrative (Bohlen); on the contrary, "that the custom existed in primitive Hebrew times is shown by the word
, which had early passed into the language, and which would be inexplicable without the existence of such a custom" (Havernick) -
that I have digged this well.
And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What
these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
And he said, For
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.
Wherefore he called that place Beersheba
"the well of the oath,"
(LXX., Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller), or the well of the seven (Keil), rather than the seven wells (Lange); discovered by Robinson in
the Wady-es-seba, twelve miles to the south of Hebron, with two deep wells of excellent water. "The great well has an internal diameter at the mouth of twelve feet six inches, or a circumference of nearly forty feet. The shaft is formed of excellent masonry to a great depth until it reaches the rock, and at this juncture a spring trickles perpetually. Around the mouth of the well is a circular course of masonry, topped by a circular parapet of about a foot high; and at a distance of ten or twelve feet are stone troughs placed in a concentric circle with the well, the sides of which have deep indentions made by the wear of ropes on the upper edges The second well, about 200 yards farther south, is not more than five feet in diameter, but is formed of equally good masonry, and furnishes equally good water" (
'Byeways in Palestine,' by James Finn, M.R.A.S., p. 190).
Because there they aware 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.
planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
And Abraham planted
- as a sign of his peaceful occupation of the soil (Calvin); as a memorial of the transaction about the well ('Speaker's Commentary'); or simply as a shade for his tent (Rosenmüller); scarcely as an oratory (Bush, Kalisch) -
- wood, plantation (Targum, Vulgate, Samaritan, Kimchi); a field,
(LXX.) - was probably the
(Gesenius, Furst, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Kalisch), which, besides being common in Egypt and Petraea, is mid to have been found growing near the ancient Beersheba -
in Beersheba, and called there
(not beneath the tree or in the grove, but in the place) on
the name of the Lord
, - Jehovah (
the everlasting God
the God of eternity
(LXX., Vulgate, Onkelos); not in contrast to heathen deities, who are born and die (Clericus), but "as the everlasting Vindicator of the faith of treaties, and as the infallible Source of the believer's rest and peace" (Murphy).
And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.
And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.
The apparent contradiction between the statement of this verse and that of Ver. 32 may be removed by supposing either,
that as the land of the Philistines had no fixed boundary toward the desert, Beersheba may at this time have been claimed for the kingdom of Gerar (Keil); or,
that as Beersheba was situated on the confines of the Philistines' territory, Abraham must frequently have sojourned in their country while pasturing his flocks (Rosenmüller).
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