Separation of the Seed Born After the Flesh from the Seed
Genesis 21:8-13
And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.…

that is by promise: — Beyond all question, the thing here done is felt, at first sight, on all hands to be harsh; and the manner of doing it perhaps even harsher still. Now, it is not necessary to acquit Sarah of all personal vindictiveness, or to consider her as acting from the best and hightest motives, merely because God commanded Abraham to hearken unto her voice. This may be only another instance of evil overruled for good.

I. Thus, in the first place, LET THE ACTUAL OFFENCE OF ISHMAEL, Now no longer a child, but a lad of at least some fourteen years of age, be fairly understood and estimated. The apostle Paul represents it in a strong light — "He that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit " — and he points to it as the type and model of the cruel envy with which the " children of promise " are in every age pursued (Galatians 4:28, 29.) It may have been little more than an act of self-defence on the part of Sarah, when she seized the first opportunity of overt injury or insult, to put an end to a competition of rights that threatened consequences so disastrous.

II. Again, secondly, it is to be remembered THAT THE COMPETITION IN QUESTION ADMITTED OF NO COMPROMISE; and that, whatever might be her motives, Sarah did, in point of fact, stand with God in the controversy.

III. Nor, in the third place, is it to be overlooked that the severity of the measure resorted to is apt to be greatly EXAGGERATED IF IT IS LOOKED AT IN THE LIGHT OF THE SOCIAL USAGES AND SOCIAL ARRANGEMENTS OF MODERN DOMESTIC LIFE. It was no unusual step for the head of a household in these primitive times, to make an early separation between the heir, who was to be retained at home in the chief settlement of the tribe, and other members of the family, who must be sent to push their way elsewhere. Nor are the wanderers sent away to a far country. They are to tarry for farther orders on the very borders of the place where Abraham himself is dwelling. The wilderness of Beer-sheba is almost at his very door; and long ere the bread and water they take with them are consumed, it may be expected that Abraham will be in circumstances to communicate with them more fully as to what they are to do. By some mistake or mischance, however, it unfortunately happened otherwise. Unforseen delay occured; and the wanderers were reduced to straits. Were a conjecture here warranted, it might be surmised as not improbable that the impatience of disappointed ambition may have tended to precipitate, as well as to aggravate, the crisis.

IV. Once more, in the fourth place, a presumptive proof, at least, of THE PATRIARCH'S CONTINUED INTEREST IN ISHMAEL, and continued care for his accommodation, is to be found in the account given of his interview with Abimelech, king of Gerar (vers. 25, 26). If it was a well that had belonged to Ishmael especially if it was the well which God caused Hagar in her distress to see, and around which, probably, her son formed his earliest settlement, Abimelech's ignorance and Abraham's anxiety are simply and naturally explained.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

WEB: The child grew, and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Isaac and Ishmael Separated
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