Old Testament

Genesis 21
The Birth of Isaac
211The Lord visited[] Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. 2Sarah conceived and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age, at the set time which God had announced to him. 3Abraham named the son who was born to him—the son whom Sarah had borne to him—[]Isaac.[] 4Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7She said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne a son for him in his old age.”
8The child grew and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, the son whom Hagar had borne to Abraham, laughing at Isaac. 10Therefore she said to Abraham, “Throw out this slave girl[] and her son! For the son of this slave will not be heir with my son Isaac.”
11Abraham was very distressed because of his son. 12God said to Abraham, “Do not be so distressed because of the boy and because of your maid.[] Listen to everything that Sarah says to you, because the family line of your descendants[] will be traced through Isaac. 13I will also make the son of the maid into a nation because he too is your offspring.”
14Abraham got up early in the morning. He took bread and a waterskin, which he gave to Hagar, putting it over her shoulder. He sent her away with her child. She set out and wandered in the wilderness near Beersheba. 15The water in the skin was used up, and she dragged the child under one of the bushes. 16She went and sat down by herself, across from him, at a distance, about a bow shot away, because she said, “Do not let me see the death of the child.” She sat across from him and wept loudly.
17God heard the boy's voice, and the Angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, “What is wrong, Hagar? Do not be afraid, for God has heard the boy's voice right where he is. 18Get up. Help the boy up, and take him by the hand, because I will make him into a great nation.”
19God opened her eyes, and she saw a well with water in it. She went, filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. 20God was with the boy, and as he grew up, he lived in the wilderness and became an archer. 21He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Abraham and Abimelek
22At that time Abimelek and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham. He said, “God is with you in everything that you do. 23Now swear to me here by God that you will not deal treacherously with me, or with my son, or with my grandson. But just as I have been kind to you, you shall do the same for me and for the land in which you have lived as an alien.”
24Abraham said, “I will swear it.”
25Abraham complained to Abimelek because of a well which Abimelek's servants had seized violently. 26Abimelek said, “I do not know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I did not hear about it until today.”
27Abraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek. The two of them made a treaty.[] 28Abraham set aside seven ewe lambs from the flock.
29Abimelek said to Abraham, “Why have you set these seven ewe lambs by themselves?”
30He said, “You shall accept these seven ewe lambs from my hand as legal testimony that I have dug this well.” 31He called that place Beersheba,[] because they both took an oath there. 32So they made a treaty at Beersheba. Then Abimelek got up with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he proclaimed[] the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34Abraham lived as an alien in the land of the Philistines for a long time.[]


  • 21:1 In the Bible, visit means to bring blessing or judgment. Here it obviously is the former.
  • 21:3 Hebrew narrative style is often repetitious. We have tried to preserve that style.
  • 21:3 Isaac means he laughs.
  • 21:10 The word which is used in this chapter for female slave or servant (amah) is said to be somewhat higher than the one used in connection with Ishmael's birth in chapter 16 (shiphchah). See the note to verse 12.
  • 21:12 The word which is used in this chapter for female slave or servant (amah) is allegedly somewhat higher than the one used in connection with Ishmael's birth in chapter 16 (shiphchah). In Sarah's eyes, Hagar is still a slave, but as Sarah's surrogate, she also has the status of a secondary wife of Abraham. It is not clear, however, whether any distinction is intended by this shift of terms. Critics, of course, see the shift as evidence of two sources.
  • 21:12 Literally seed
  • 21:27 Or covenant
  • 21:31 Beersheba can mean well of the oath or well of seven.
  • 21:33 Or called on
  • 21:34 Literally for many days. In Hebrew this can cover months or even years.