King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 21

Birth of Isaac, Sarah’s joy. (1-8) Ishmael mocks Isaac. (9-13) Hagar and Ishmael are cast forth, They are relieved and comforted by an angel. (14-21) Abimelech’s covenant with Abraham. (22-34)

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Birth of Isaac, Sarah’s joy

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

2 For 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.

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

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

6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

7 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.

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

Ishmael mocks Isaac

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

10 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.

11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because 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 bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

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

Hagar and Ishmael are cast forth, They are relieved and comforted by an angel

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 the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 And the water was spent in the bottle, 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 bow shot: 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.

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 thine 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 dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

Abimelech’s covenant with Abraham

22 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:

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 a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.

26 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.

27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them 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, 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.

31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.

32 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.

33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.

34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Visited, either by the angel, C. xviii. 10, or by enabling her to have what he had promised, at the return of the season.

Ver. 3. Isaac. This word signifies laughter; (Ch.) or “he shall laugh,” and be the occasion of joy to many, as S. John was. Luke i. 14; and thus Sara seems to explain it, v. 6.

Ver. 7. Gave suck; a certain proof that the child was born of her. M. — His old age, when both the parents were far advanced in years, v. 2. The mother being ninety at this time, would render the event most surprising. H.

Ver. 8. Weaned. S. Jerom 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 Mac. vii. 27. 2 Par. xxxi. 16. C. — 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. S. Clem. strom. iii. Samuel’s mother made a feast or present when she weaned him. 1 K. i. 24. M.

Ver. 9. Playing, or persecuting, as S. Paul explains it. Gal. 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 Ex. xxxii. 6. G. xxvi. 8. 2 K. ii. 14. M. — 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. H. — In this she was guided by a divine light; (M.) and not by any female antipathy, v. 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. Heb. 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 S. Jerom, as he testifies, and is expressed in the Sept. H. — Ismael was a figure of the synagogue, which persecuted the Church of Christ in her birth. D.

Ver. 11. 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.

Ver. 14. 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. H. — This divorce of Agar, and ejection of Ismael, prefigured the reprobation of the Jews.

Ver. 17. 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. G. 16. H.

Ver. 20. Wilderness, in Arabia Petrea. — An archer, living on plunder. C.

Ver. 22. Abimelech, king of Gerara, who knew that Abraham was a prophet, and a favourite of God. G. xx. 7. H.

Ver. 23. Hurt me. Heb. “lie unto me, ” or revolt and disturb the peace of my people.

Ver. 24. 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.

Ver. 27. Gave them; thus rendering good for evil. D.

Ver. 31. Bersabee. That is, the well of oath; (Ch.) or “the well of the seven;” meaning the seven ewe-lambs set apart. M. — This precaution of Abraham, in giving seven lambs as a testimony that the well was dug by him, was not without reason. See G. xxvi. 15. C.

Ver. 33. 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. H. Jos. xxix. 26. Deut. xvi. 23. Jud. vi. 25.