What does Genesis 21:27 mean?
ESV: So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant.
NIV: So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty.
NASB: So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant.
CSB: Abraham took flocks and herds and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant.
NLT: Abraham then gave some of his sheep, goats, and cattle to Abimelech, and they made a treaty.
KJV: And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
Abimelech, king of Gerar, had approached Abraham to make a covenant meant to formalize their relationship. Abraham was living in Abimelech's land, at his invitation, in spite of Abraham's earlier deception (Genesis 20). Abraham has agreed to swear not to deceive Abimelech and to deal kindly with him. At the same time, Abraham has expressed his concern that Abimelech's men have taken his well. A water source, which Abraham had established, had been captured by men under Abimelech's command. Abimelech claims he knows of no such incident, and agrees to return the rights to this well to Abraham.
Now Abraham gives to Abimelech sheep and oxen as a sign of this covenant between them. In the following verses, he will give additional sheep specifically to show a clear resolution to the issue of the disputed well.
Genesis 21:22–34 describes a covenant treaty between Abraham and Abimelech, king of Gerar. Abimelech had previously given Abraham land to occupy. Now the king wishes to formalize their relationship. Abraham swears not to deceive Abimelech or his offspring again, and to deal kindly with all in the land. Abimelech agrees to recognize Abraham's ownership of a well at the place which becomes known as Beersheba, which means ''well of seve'' or ''well of the oath.''
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.
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.
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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