Genesis 21:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 21:12, NIV: "But God said to him, 'Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."

Genesis 21:12, ESV: "But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named."

Genesis 21:12, KJV: "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."

Genesis 21:12, NASB: "But God said to Abraham, 'Do not be distressed because of the boy and your slave woman; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named."

Genesis 21:12, NLT: "But God told Abraham, 'Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted."

Genesis 21:12, CSB: "But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed about the boy and about your slave. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her, because your offspring will be traced through Isaac,"

What does Genesis 21:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abraham was very displeased about Sarah's angry demand that Hagar and Ishmael be cast out of their household. The language may indicate that he became explosively angry. He clearly loved Ishmael, who was born to Sarah's servant Hagar at Sarah's own urging. This was not the first time Sarah reacted to Hagar with anger and bitterness (Genesis 16:4–6). Abraham is understandably concerned: he does not want to see his teenaged son die from being cast out.

Now God speaks to Abraham and tells him not to be displeased. In fact, He tells Abraham to do whatever Sarah tells him to do. God agrees with Sarah's point about Isaac and his inheritance, restating what He said to Abraham in Genesis 17:21: Abraham's name will pass to Isaac, not Ishmael.

Though God will assure Abraham again in the following verse that Hagar and Ishmael will be blessed, it still seems harsh for Abraham to cast them out in into the wilderness. It doesn't seem that either the mother or the boy have done anything to deserve such treatment. The context, however, is clear that the Lord intended to take the responsibility for caring for Hagar and Ishmael Himself. He would not abandon them.

As painful as it was for Abraham, God wanted Abraham to end his role in Ishmael's life for the sake of the covenant and Israel's future.