Genesis 21:14

Genesis 21:14

And Abraham rose up early in the morning
It was in the night the Lord spoke to him, and bid him hearken to the voice of Sarah; and, as soon as it was morning, he arose, and was not disobedient to the heavenly vision; for, though the thing he was directed to was disagreeable to flesh and blood, and contrary to his natural affection, yet, it being the will of God, he readily complied with it:

and took bread and a bottle of water;
a loaf of bread very probably, and a leathern or wooden bottle of water, as Aben Ezra supposes it to be; for there is no need to say that these are put for all necessaries, and a liberal provision that might be made by Abraham; but it is to be taken strictly, according to the letter and history, as a matter of fact, since it could be no more than Hagar could carry, and did carry upon her shoulder: and, though Abraham could have sent cattle laden with provisions, and servants to attend them, yet he did not, which his natural affection and liberal disposition might dictate to him; but, as he was to hearken in this affair to whatsoever Sarah said, and act accordingly, perhaps this was all she would grant; or it might be so ordered by the providence of God, as a chastisement for their ill behaviour, and that they might know the difference between being in Abraham's house and out of it; and that there might be an opportunity given to show favour to them for Abraham's sake, who might probably direct them to some place where to go; and, till they came there, this might be a sufficient supply, when he gave them reason to expect more from him; but they got into the wilderness, wandered about and lost their way, and so became destitute of provisions; and this may be an emblem of the low, mean, and starving condition such are in who are under the law, and seek for happiness by the works of it:

and gave [it] unto Hagar, putting [it] on her shoulder;
that is, the bread and the water, which might be put in one parcel or bundle, or in a basket, and so laid and carried on her shoulder: the Targum of Jonathan adds,

``and bound it to her loins, to show that she was an handmaid:''

and the child;
not that the child was "on her shoulder", which is quite improbable; for, since he was thirteen years of age when he was circumcised, he must be fourteen when Isaac was born; and if Isaac was two years old when weaned, Ishmael must be sixteen; and if he was three years of age, he must be seventeen; and if five years, he must be nineteen: some of the Jewish writers say F26, he was twenty seven years of age when he went out of his father's house; but they seem to come nearest the truth that make this event to be when he was at the age of seventeen F1, and when he must be too big to be carried on his mother's shoulder: but the sense is, that Abraham, when he put the provision on her shoulder, gave Ishmael to her, delivered him into her hand, to be taken care of by her; and very probably she led him in her hand:

and sent her away
out of his house to some place assigned for her; the Targum of Jonathan adds, with a bill of divorce, dismissing her not only from his house, but as his wife; and so the Jewish writers F2 generally understand it: but there is no reason to believe there was any such custom before the law of Moses: nay, they go further, and say, that he dismissed her from himself, and from Isaac his son, and from this world, and from the world to come:

and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba;
or, as the Targum of Jonathan, in the wilderness which was near to Beersheba; the place where it is probable Abraham now lived, and where Isaac was born, and the above affair was transacted, which was afterwards called by this name; for this is said by way of anticipation, see ( Genesis 21:31 ) . Beersheba is said F3 to be twelve miles from Gerar, and twenty miles from Hebron, to the south F4.


F26 Pirke Eliezer, c. 30. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 53. fol. 47. 4.
F1 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 2. 2.
F2 Pirke Eliezer & Shalshalet, ut supra. (F26, F1.)
F3 Bunting's Travels, p. 57.
F4 Hieron. de loc. Heb. fol. 89. E.