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American Standard Version with Notes

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Genesis Chapter Twenty-one


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50



1. And Jehovah visited Sarah as he had said, and Jehovah did unto Sarah as he had spoken.




2. And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.


3. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.


Isaac was elected to be a type of Christ. F170

4. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.



5. And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.


6. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh. Every one that heareth will laugh with me.

The name Isaac signifies laughter, yet it would appear to be a misfit so far as the boy and the man were concerned. Retiring, peace-loving, meditative, quiet, he had not the rollicking disposition that might be represented by the name. A probable suggestion is that the laughter connected with his name was the remembrance of the experience of his parents in that matter. (1) We read, for instance, in Genesis 17:17 that Abraham laughed at the idea of a son being born to those so old.  (2) In Gen. 18:12 we read that Sarah laughed at the idea of her having a son in old age. (3) In Gen. 21:6we read that Sarah laughed with joy at the birth of her son. Another thought is that as Isaac was a type of Christ (Gal. 4:28), and the joy typified by his name was a prophecy of the blessing that is yet to come through the glorified Christ to all nations, in harmony with the prediction of the angels—"good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people." (Luke 2:10.) But as Isaac was not peculiarly mirthful or joyous, neither was Jesus, his great antitype, nor yet the Church, the body of Christ. Nevertheless there are joys of the Lord which the world cannot appreciate—the experience of all of those who have the divine peace and blessing. R3952 


7. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should give children suck? For I have borne him a son in his old age.



8. nd the child grew, and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.



9. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, mocking.

This same lesson of the first-born occupying the position of favor and opportunity, yet being unworthy and unready to use it, is illustrated in Abraham's sons. First was Ishmael, who for years was looked upon as the heir of Abraham and the promises made to him, and who continued to so regard himself even after Isaac, the child of promise, was born,—mocking and persecuting him. Similarly again, Esau, as the first-born of Isaac, held the birth-right to the same promise, yet not appreciating it rightly, sold it to Jacob for a mess of pottage, and then strove to retain it unjustly to himself, and was angry with the one who did rightly value it.

The Apostle points out to us (Gal. 4:22-31) that these things were allegories or pictures, written aforetime for our admonition and instruction, that we through these illustrations might gather the thought that God foreknew and designed that in bringing in [R2777 : page 87] the true Seed (Christ Jesus, the Head, and the Church, his body) there should be just such an experience as was pictured in these three illustrations. The first seed of promise was Moses and his house, fleshly Israel. These were represented in Cain and Ishmael and Esau—not that there were no exceptions in the nation of fleshly Israel, but that the nation as a whole was thus typified. R2778:5

The actual bondage in Egypt was of comparatively short duration (one-half of 430 years); but the affliction of the seed of Abraham commenced in his son, Isaac. The interval between Isaac's birth and the Exodus was 405 years; and if we place the predicted affliction of the seed to commence in Isaac's 5th year, when he would begin to feel the effects of Ishmael's mockery, we then have the afflictions enduring 400 years, and including in the last period of it the bondage. R2482

On another occasion, after Isaac was born and the two boys were growing up together, the rivalry of Hagar again cropped out in Ishmael, who persecuted Isaac, Sarah's son. (Gen. 21:9Gal. 4:29.) And again Sarah was grieved and appealed to Abraham to cast out the bond woman and her son; for she feared Abraham would make him heir with her son, which would not have been in accordance with the promise of God. (Gen. 21:10-1215:417:17-19.) This, Abraham was not inclined to do, and as Sarah urged her claim, we read that "the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son," Ishmael, until God indicated his will in the matter. R1548

10. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this handmaid and her son. For the son of this handmaid shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

And when God would give us a clear conception of the generation of the new creatures to the divine nature, he represents them as begotten of his word of promise in the womb of the Covenant which he made with Abraham, which Covenant was symbolized by a woman, Sarah, telling us that as Isaac was the heir of Abraham and child of promise (by Sarah), so we, as or like Isaac, are children of God, being children of the promise, or Sarah Covenant. See Gal. 4:23-311 Pet. 1:3,232 Pet. 1:4. E105

Tell me, you that desire to be under the Law Covenant, Do you not understand what it is? It is a bondage, as allegorically shown in Abraham's two sons. Abraham, here, is a figure of God; and Sarah, the real wife, is a figure of the real covenant of blessing, out of which the Christ should come as heir of all, to bless the world. For a long time Sarah was barren; so, too, for a long time the original Covenant of God (made with Abraham: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed) brought forth no fruit—until Christ Jesus. Hagar, the servant of Sarah, in the meantime was treated as Sarah's representative, and her son as the representative of Sarah's son. Hagar represented the Law Covenant, and fleshly Israel was represented by her child, Ishmael. For the time they represented the true Covenant and the true seed of blessing, though they were always really servants—child, as well as mother. When the true son of the real wife, the heir, was born, it was manifest that the son of the bondwoman was not the heir of promise. And to show typically that the Law Covenant was not to have any rule over the spiritual sons of God, Hagar was not allowed to become the governess of Isaac, but in his interest was dismissed entirely.—Gal. 4:21-31Gen. 21:10.

The Apostle's argument, based on this allegory, is, that we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the seed to whom the promise was made; we are not children of the bondwoman, the Law Covenant, but children of the original, Abrahamic Covenant, born free from the slavery and conditions of the Law Covenant. And not only so born, but the Law is entirely put away from us, and has nothing whatever to do with us. "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage"—the Law Covenant. "If ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the Law [Covenant]."—Gal. 5:1,18. R1723

Of a very different character indeed was Isaac's elder half-brother, Ishmael—domineering, tyrannical. Not amenable to restraints and reproofs, he made life miserable for Isaac until Abraham, in harmony with the Lord's direction, treated him as an incorrigible, and refused to him and his mother the privileges of the home. (Gen. 21:12.) We are informed that Hagar also had a sneering spirit. (Gen. 16:4.) Separation was not only wise but necessary to the type, as St. Paul shows. Ishmael was 13 years old, or 18 if, as some think, this occurred in Isaac's fifth year. We are to remember the Apostle's explanation of this incident, that it was typical: that Hagar and her son Ishmael represented the Law Covenant and the Jews, while Sarah and her son represented the original Abrahamic Covenant and the Church of this Gospel age. The persecution of the Isaac class at the first advent was very manifest, and as a result the Ishmael class, the Jews, have been cast off from divine favor and have had a [R3953 : page 72] time of trouble ever since. It is with pleasure that we see in the type, as well as in the direct statement of the Apostle, that the time will come when God's favor shall return to them and they shall return to the Lord, and he shall abundantly have mercy upon them, and we rejoice that this time is now near at hand, even at the door. R3952

11. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight on account of his son.



12. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy handmaid. In all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice. For in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Our begetting Promise, through Christ, to the new nature, is very different from that by which the Jews were constituted the House of Servants, and wholly different from those promises by which restored Israel and all the families of the earth will be brought to human perfection through Restitution processes, as children of the Keturah, or New Covenant. Since our Lord was developed under the Abrahamic Covenant, the Church also must be developed under that Covenant; for the Spiritual Seed cannot be the child of two mothers. It is written, "In Isaac shall thy Seed be called."—Gen. 21:12. R5300

Jacob was the acknowledged heir of the great Covenant God made with his grandfather Abraham. This promise was considered so important, and faith in it so necessary, that God subsequently confirmed it by His oath. Divine Wisdom indicated beforehand that the blessing would not come through Ishmael, but through Isaac.—Genesis 21:12. PD28

Abraham was elected to be a type of Jehovah, and his wife Sarah to be a type of the Abrahamic Covenant, through which the Messiah would come. The servant Hagar was elected to be a type of the Law Covenant, and her son Ishmael a type of the natural Israelites, who, though brought forth first, should not be a joint-heir with Isaac, the son of promise. Isaac was elected to be a type of Christ, and his wife Rebecca, [F171] a type of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife; while Abraham's servant, Eliezer, was elected to be a type of the holy Spirit, whose mission it should be to invite the Church, and to assist her, and ultimately to bring her and the virgins, her companions, to Isaac. F170  

13. And also of the son of the handmaid will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

14. 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 [gave her] the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.


From Strong's 884, beer sheba, well of seven, from 875, beer, a well or pit, from 7651, sheba, shibah, seven.

This was a well dug by Abraham. It was named because it was here he and Abimelech entered into a compact (Genesis 21:31). Isaac reopened the well and gave it the same name (Genesis 26:31-33). It is mentioned among the "cities" given to the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:21 Chronicles 4:28). From Dan to Beersheba, a distance of about 144 miles, signifying the whole Promised Land. (Judges 20:11 Chronicles 21:22 Samuel 24:2) The phrase is narrowed after the return from Babylonin to "from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom" (Nehemiah 11:30). The kingdom of the ten tribes extended from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim (2 Chronicles 19:4). It is midway between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. 

Beersheba; Beersheba Map; Beersheba Ruins photo

15. And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.



16. 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 look upon the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept.



17. 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.




18. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand. For I will make him a great nation.

19. 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.  
20. And God was with the lad, and he grew. And he dwelt in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. St. Paul says that Hagar typified the Law Covenant made with Israel at Mt. Sinai, and that the nation of Israel was typified in Ishmael.  (Galatians 4:25.) As Hagar and Ishmael were cast off when Isaac was born, and had almost perished, so the Jewish people have been cast off from Divine favor for eighteen centuries, and today are nearly famished. As the angel of God pointed to the fountain of water, and Ishmael was revived, so God's message now is pointing the Jews to a spring of water; their Zionistic hopes are reviving. PD23/34
21. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. And his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.



22. And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest.


From Strong's 6369, pikol, unknown; Abraim Publications, from (1) the noun פה (peh), or פי (pi), mouth, and (2) the noun כל (kol), all or whole.

The captain of the army of Abimelech, king of Gerar. He was involved with the alliance with Abraham and Abimelech at called Beersheba.

23. 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.


24. And Abraham said, I will swear.  
25. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of the well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.


26. And Abimelech said, I know not who hath done this thing. Neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to-day.  
27. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech. And they two made a covenant.  
28. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.  
29. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?  
30. And he said, These seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that it may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.  
31. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba. Because there they sware both of them.  
32. So they made a covenant at Beer-sheba. And Abimelech rose up, and Phicol the captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.  
33. And [Abraham] planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Jehovah, the Everlasting God.  
34. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.