Genesis 21:29 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 21:29, NIV: and Abimelek asked Abraham, 'What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?'

Genesis 21:29, ESV: And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?”

Genesis 21:29, KJV: And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?

Genesis 21:29, NASB: Then Abimelech said to Abraham, 'What do these seven ewe lambs mean, which you have set by themselves?'

Genesis 21:29, NLT: Abimelech asked, 'Why have you set these seven apart from the others?'

Genesis 21:29, CSB: And Abimelech said to Abraham, "Why have you separated these seven ewe lambs? "

What does Genesis 21:29 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abraham and Abimelech have been discussing a formal covenant to solidify their relationship. This has included provisions that Abraham be honest with Abimelech and his descendants—inspired by Abraham's own dishonesty regarding Sarah (Genesis 20:3–11). Abraham agreed to this idea, but also brought up the issue of a well which he had dug, and which Abimelech's men had captured (Genesis 21:25). The covenant process, so far, has included the exchange of animals.

In addition to the more general covenant of friendship between Abraham and Abimelech, Abraham set aside seven ewe lambs. Now Abimelech asks what this is about. What is the meaning of these seven lambs? The following verses will reveal that these lambs are Abraham's attempt to resolve the issue of a disputed well.