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Genesis chapter 21

New International Version

1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, 'God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.' 7 And she added, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.'
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.'
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 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. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.'
14 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.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, 'I cannot watch the boy die.' And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.'
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, 'God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.'
24 Abraham said, 'I swear it.'
25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek's servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, 'I don't know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.'
27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, 'What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?'
30 He replied, 'Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.'
31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.
32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
English Standard Version

1 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 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. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 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.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
25 When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, 26 Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.
King James Version

1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. 6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. 8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. 12 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. 13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
14 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. 15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. 21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: 23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. 24 And Abraham said, I will swear. 25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day. 27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. 28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? 30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. 31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. 32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.
New American Standard Bible

1 Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. 2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham named his son who was born to him, the son whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 Sarah said, 'God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.' 7 And she said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have given birth to a son in his old age.'
8 And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.
9 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking Isaac. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, 'Drive out this slave woman and her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be an heir with my son Isaac!' 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son Ishmael. 12 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. 13 And of the son of the slave woman I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.' 14 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.
15 When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, 'May I not see the boy die!' And she sat opposite him, and raised her voice and wept. 17 God heard the boy crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.' 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 And God was with the boy, and he grew; and he lived in the wilderness and became an archer. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
22 Now it came about at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, 'God is with you in all that you do; 23 so now, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my descendants, but according to the kindness that I have shown to you, you shall show to me and to the land in which you have resided.' 24 Abraham said, 'I swear it.' 25 But Abraham complained to Abimelech because of the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. 26 And Abimelech said, 'I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today.'
27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. 28 But Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, 'What do these seven ewe lambs mean, which you have set by themselves?' 30 He said, 'You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand so that it may be a witness for me, that I dug this well.' 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba; and Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, got up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines for many days.
New Living Translation

1 The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
6 And Sarah declared, 'God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!'
8 When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael--the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar--making fun of her son, Isaac. 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won't have it!'
11 This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. 12 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. 13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar's son because he is your son, too.'
14 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.
15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. 'I don't want to watch the boy die,' she said, as she burst into tears.
17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, 'Hagar, what's wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.'
19 Then God opened Hagar's eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.
20 And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, 21 and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.
22 About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. 'God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,' Abimelech said. 23 'Swear to me in God's name that you will never deceive me, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.'
24 Abraham replied, 'Yes, I swear to it!' 25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech's servants had taken by force from Abraham's servants.
26 'This is the first I've heard of it,' Abimelech answered. 'I have no idea who is responsible. You have never complained about this before.'
27 Abraham then gave some of his sheep, goats, and cattle to Abimelech, and they made a treaty. 28 But Abraham also took seven additional female lambs and set them off by themselves. 29 Abimelech asked, 'Why have you set these seven apart from the others?'
30 Abraham replied, 'Please accept these seven lambs to show your agreement that I dug this well.' 31 Then he named the place Beersheba (which means 'well of the oath'), because that was where they had sworn the oath.
32 After making their covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines. 33 Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the LORD, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham lived as a foreigner in Philistine country for a long time.
Christian Standard Bible

1 The LORD came to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him. 3 Abraham named his son who was born to him--the one Sarah bore to him--Isaac. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and everyone who hears will laugh with me." 7 She also said, "Who would have told Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne a son for him in his old age."
8 The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son mocking--the one Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham. 10 So she said to Abraham, "Drive out this slave with her son, for the son of this slave will not be a coheir with my son Isaac!"
11 This was very distressing to Abraham because of his son. 12 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, 13 and I will also make a nation of the slave's son because he is your offspring."
14 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. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she left the boy under one of the bushes 16 and went and sat at a distance, about a bowshot away, for she said, "I can't bear to watch the boy die!" While she sat at a distance, she wept loudly.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What's wrong, Hagar? Don't be afraid, for God has heard the boy crying from the place where he is. 18 Get up, help the boy up, and grasp his hand, for I will make him a great nation." 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well. So she went and filled the waterskin and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy, and he grew; he settled in the wilderness and became an archer. 21 He settled in the Wilderness of Paran, and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
22 At that time Abimelech, accompanied by Phicol the commander of his army, said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do. 23 Swear to me by God here and now, that you will not break an agreement with me or with my children and descendants. As I have been loyal to you, so you will be loyal to me and to the country where you are a resident alien."
24 And Abraham said, "I swear it." 25 But Abraham complained to Abimelech because of the well that Abimelech's servants had seized.
26 Abimelech replied, "I don't know who did this thing. You didn't report anything to me, so I hadn't heard about it until today."
27 Abraham took flocks and herds and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. 28 Abraham separated seven ewe lambs from the flock. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, "Why have you separated these seven ewe lambs?"
30 He replied, "You are to accept the seven ewe lambs from me so that this act will serve as my witness that I dug this well." 31 Therefore that place was called Beer-sheba because it was there that the two of them swore an oath. 32 After they had made a covenant at Beer-sheba, Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, left and returned to the land of the Philistines.
33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham lived as an alien in the land of the Philistines for many days.

What does Genesis chapter 21 mean?

Genesis 21 begins with the long-awaited birth of the son God had promised to Abraham and Sarah. This is the child through whom God would make of Abraham a great nation (Genesis 17:6–7). More recently, the Lord had promised both Abraham and Sarah that they would conceive and bear a son within a year's time. Both of them laughed (Genesis 17:17; Genesis 18:12). God said the name of their son would be Isaac, which means laughter (Genesis 17:19).

Now the time has come. The Lord visits Sarah. She and Abraham conceive, just as God said, just as He promised (Genesis 18:14). At the ages of 100 and 90 respectively, Abraham and Sarah become parents. Sarah bears Abraham a son, full of joy at the laughter He has brought to her (Genesis 21:1–7).

That joy sours, though, after Isaac is weaned. Sarah sees Abraham's son through Hagar, Ishmael, laughing. She seems to think this is directed at little Isaac. Ishmael is Abraham's firstborn son, born to him by Sarah's own Egyptian slave girl Hagar, at Sarah's insistence. Now though, Sarah furiously demands that Abraham cast Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness to eliminate any possibility that Hagar's son will share the inheritance with her Isaac (Genesis 21:8–10).

Abraham is greatly displeased at Sarah's demand since he is attached to Ishmael. The Lord, however, speaks to Abraham. Abraham's name and inheritance must pass to and through Isaac. The Lord assures Abraham He will still make a great nation of Ishmael, and so tells him to do what Sarah has asked (Genesis 21:11–13).

Abraham obeys and sends his slave wife and son into the wilderness with some bread and water. They soon run out of water, and Hagar puts her son under the shade of a bush to die. An angel calls to her from heaven, however. God has heard Ishmael's voice, and He will still make of Ishmael a great nation. Water is provided; Hagar and Ishmael survive. Ishmael grows up in the wilderness, becoming a great archer, and eventually marrying an Egyptian woman (Genesis 21:14–21).

After Hagar and Ishmael have gone, Abimelech, king of Gerar, approaches Abraham. In spite of the fact that Abraham's deception about Sarah being his wife nearly led to Abimelech's death, the king has noticed that God is with Abraham. He has respect for God's power and His blessing of all that Abraham does. Previously Abimelech has given to Abraham animals, servants, silver, and the land Abraham has been occupying. Now Abimelech would like to formalize their relationship, giving Abraham a permanent home in his region and becoming official allies (Genesis 21:22–24).

Abraham agrees to Abimelech's request to swear not to deceive him or his offspring ever again, and to deal kindly with him and his people. Abraham insists on including in their agreement the resolution of the ownership of a disputed well, one Abraham himself had dug. He gives seven additional lambs to Abimelech as a sign that the well does indeed belong to Abraham (Genesis 21:25–30).

After they both swear their oaths to bind the agreement, the place where they met is called Beersheba, which means "well of seven" or "well of the oath." It becomes an important place in Israel's history (Genesis 21:31–34).

As Genesis 21 concludes, Isaac has been born and Abraham owns a well in Canaan. The promises of God to make of him a great nation and to give to him possession of the entire land have begun to come true. Still ahead, however, is the greatest test of all Abraham has learned about God, a dire request which seems to threaten this promised son.