What does Genesis 21:29 mean?
ESV: And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?”
NIV: and Abimelek asked Abraham, 'What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?'
NASB: Then Abimelech said to Abraham, 'What do these seven ewe lambs mean, which you have set by themselves?'
CSB: And Abimelech said to Abraham, "Why have you separated these seven ewe lambs? "
NLT: Abimelech asked, 'Why have you set these seven apart from the others?'
KJV: And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
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.''
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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