What does Genesis 21:20 mean?Abraham evicted Hagar and Ishmael at the demand of Sarah (Genesis 21:9–10). At first, the idea made Abraham extremely upset, but God promised to prosper Ishmael (Genesis 21:11–13), and agreed that they should be sent away. Eventually, the pair ran out of water after wandering in the wilderness, and Hagar went to sit far enough away from her son that she would not have to watch him die.
God's promise, however, was not going to fail. In the prior verse, God saved Hagar and Ishmael from dying of thirst in the wilderness, as Hagar stumbles across a well of water. God's promise is still in place. Ishmael would not only survive; he would become a great nation.
In Genesis 17, Abraham had expressed his desire for his son Ishmael to live with God. Though God would not establish Abraham's covenant with Ishmael, the Lord had assured Abraham that Ishmael would not be abandoned (Genesis 17:18–20). Now we see that God is still with Ishmael.
Though he and his mother continued to live in the wilderness, Ishmael grew and thrived. He became an expert bowman. This may mean he became a skilled hunter or skilled in battle as an archer, or both.