What does Genesis 21:18 mean?
ESV: Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
NIV: Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
NASB: Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.'
CSB: Get up, help the boy up, and grasp his hand, for I will make him a great nation."
NLT: Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.'
KJV: Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
NKJV: Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”
Verse Commentary:
Hagar and her son Ishmael have come to the end of their lives, as far as she is concerned. They are out of water and lost in the wilderness. She has recently put him under a bush and sat down some distance from him, expecting him to die. Then an angel of God called to her from heaven. God had heard Ishmael's voice.

Now the angel instructs Hagar to get up and move back to her son, to lift him up and embrace him. In other words, it's not time to give up. The angel renews God's promise that Ishmael would become a great nation. This is the only reason Abraham agreed to Sarah's demand that Hagar and Ishmael be cast out: God's promise to prosper Ishmael, not to destroy him (Genesis 21:12–13).

A common theme of the book of Genesis is that God's plans are often fulfilled in ways we would not have expected. They sometimes take longer to complete than we'd prefer. Hagar's story serves to remind us that our individual stories aren't done until God's promises to us have all been fulfilled, no matter how bleak things look in the moment.
Verse Context:
Genesis 21:8–21 describes the painful departure of Hagar and Ishmael from Abraham's life. Now that Isaac is born, Sarah furiously demands that Abraham cast them out. He is greatly displeased, but is told by God that Ishmael will be protected and blessed. So Abraham obeys the Lord and sends them into the wilderness. God steps in and saves the mother and child. He renews his promise to make Ishmael a great nation in his own right. Ishmael grows up in the wilderness, eventually marrying an Egyptian woman.
Chapter Summary:
The Lord did as He had promised. Sarah, now 90 years old, gives birth to Isaac, the long-awaited child. Her joy sours, though, over a fear that Isaac might have to share an inheritance with Ishmael. In obedience to the Lord, who promises to safeguard Ishmael, Abraham sends him and his mother, Hagar, into the wilderness. God rescues them and renews His promise to make Ishmael a great nation in his own right. Meanwhile, Abimelech, king of Gerar, approaches Abraham to make a permanent treaty between them and their descendants. The agreement includes Abraham's possession of a well, at a place which will become known as Beersheba.
Chapter Context:
In the prior chapter, Abraham managed to get Sarah back from Abimelech, following his own deception and God's intervention. Here, Abraham and Sarah finally conceive a natural child. Isaac, the long-awaited child of the promise, is born. In obedience to God, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away. Abimelech approaches Abraham to make a treaty, giving Abraham a permanent home in a place that becomes known as Beersheba. In the following chapter, God will test Abraham's faith and obedience, in one of Scripture's ultimate examples of trust.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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