And God was with the lad
To confirm his health, to provide for him the necessaries of life, to protect him from danger in the wilderness where he was, and to prosper and succeed him in temporal things; all which is owing to the providential goodness of God:
and he grew;
increased in bodily stature, and arrived to manhood; or, "he became great", in riches and in substance, as Ben Melech interprets it:
and dwelt in the wilderness;
of Beersheba, where he now was, or of Paran after mentioned, a fit place for a wild man to dwell in, as it was said he should be; and by this means the oracle was fulfilled, ( Genesis 16:12 ) :
and became an archer;
skilful in the use of the bow and arrow, both for hunting and slaying of wild beasts, on whose flesh he lived, and for lighting with men, against whom his hand would be: the Jewish writers
F12 say he was born with a bow, and brought up with one, and that he shot an arrow at his brother Isaac, with an intention to kill him, while he was in Abraham's house; but it does not appear that he had any knowledge or use of the bow until he was in the wilderness and was grown up, by which he lived and defended himself; and so his posterity the Kedarenes, who sprung from his son Kedar, were famous for archery, ( Isaiah 21:17 ) ; and the Ituraeans, from Jetur, another of his sons, ( Genesis 25:15 ) , were remarkable for their bows, of which Virgil F13 speaks; and so the Arabians that live in the deserts and round about them, called Nabathees, from Nabaioth, another son of Ishmael, are now extraordinary marksmen for bows and arrows, and to sling darts which are made of cane F14: the Saracens got their living not by the plough, but chiefly by the bow, and were all of them warriors, and lived upon wild flesh, and as rapacious as kites F15; and now the troops of the governor of Mecca, whereabout Ishmael, by the Arabs, is supposed to live, which are only infantry, are called Al-Harrabah, that is, archers, or dart men F16.
F12 Pirke, c. 30. Ammian. Marcellin. Hist. l. 14.
F13 "Ithyraeos taxi curvantur in arcus". Georgic. l. 2. ver. 448.
F14 Rauwolff's Travels, par. 2. ch. 4. p. 118. by Ray.
F15 Ammian. Marcellin. l. 14. p. 8. Ed. Vales.
F16 Sharif al Edrisi, apud Pocock. Specim. Arab. Hist. p. 122, 124.