Genesis 21:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 21:14, NIV: "Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba."

Genesis 21:14, ESV: "So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba."

Genesis 21:14, KJV: "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."

Genesis 21:14, NASB: "So Abraham got up early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba."

Genesis 21:14, NLT: "So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar's shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba."

Genesis 21:14, CSB: "Early in the morning Abraham got up, took bread and a waterskin, put them on Hagar's shoulders, and sent her and the boy away. She left and wandered in the Wilderness of Beer-sheba."

What does Genesis 21:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The concept of "slavery" most often seen in the Bible is a type of servanthood very different from the lifelong, abusive slavery modern people associate with the term. The slavery practiced by Egypt, on the other hand, brought them condemnation and judgment (Exodus 1:8–11; Exodus 3:9–10). It was not uncommon in this era to give a slave his or her freedom. With that freedom, however, would come the understanding that any children born to the slave, by the slave owner, would lose any claim on future inheritance. This appears to have been Sarah's intent in demanding that Abraham cast out Hagar and his firstborn son Ishmael.

After being instructed by God to do so, Abraham now complies. At first glance, this feels cold and uncaring. At the same time, we need to remember that God has promised to prosper Ishmael (Genesis 21:13). So, Abraham gives Hagar bread and water and sends her off to wander in the wilderness. We're not told of any parting words or additional provisions. From Abraham's earlier reaction, we can only assume that it wounded him deeply to send them away in such a fashion.

It's helpful to understand that Ishmael was likely about 16 years old at this time. He had been born when Abraham was 86. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and this takes place after Isaac was weaned, likely at the age of two or three. When the passage says that Abraham placed the skin of water on Hagar's shoulder, "along with the child," we should not read that he placed Ishmael on her shoulder.

Mother and son walked away together into the wilderness of Beersheba, which would be in the desert region of the Negev. We're told they wandered. They had nowhere to go.