Genesis 21:9

It was necessary that this should take place for the accomplishment of the Divine plan. Human conduct is employed, as in so many other cases, as the instrument or occasion. There was mockery or unbelief in Ishmael. It was not personal merely, but a mockery of Jehovah and of his Church. Sarah saw it. The mother's keen affections were sharpened to detect the scorn of her joy. Abraham and Sarah were both severely tried. Their lack of faith must yield fruit of sorrow. The separation was pain to the father, but it was part of the gracious work of God for Isaac. Abraham was being prepared by such discipline for his great climax of trial. There is beautiful tenderness and simplicity in Abraham's conduct (Ver. 14). It is -

1. Entire obedience.

2. Kind and gentle consideration for Sarah and Hagar.

3. Strong faith; he committed her to God according to his word.

4. The master and the servant at the door of the house in the early morning; the master himself placing the bottle of water on the bondwoman's shoulder as a sign of continued affinity. God commands separations. In obedience to him they may involve severe struggle with self. Should still be carried out with as little wounding of human affections as possible. - R.

Cast out this bondwoman and her son.

1. As to the liberty enjoyed.

2. As to the security of their positions.

(T. H. Leale.)

It only needs a glance beneath the surface to see that the future course of these two great branches of the Abrahamic blood was destined to be so divergent, that their currents could no longer mingle with advantage to either.

1. So far as Ishmael was concerned, the archer and huntsman whose home was to be the desert, with his bow for his best inheritance, it was well that he should be early trained to the hardships of a nomadic chieftain. For his own comfort, he could not be too soon compelled to forego all idle dreams of one day succeeding to his father's estate. Too soon he could not be withdrawn from the presence of a brother whose priority would only inflame his envy. It was the kindest thing for the youth to send him away from his father's tents. Let it be remembered that he was not sent away from his father's God. The mercies of God are not limited to the area of His covenant.

2. For Isaac's sake, on the other hand, it was scarcely less advisable to "cast out" the bondmaid's son. His yielding disposition was ill fitted to withstand the influence or endure the hostility of his older and more impetuous brother. Besides, the people of the covenant needed to be from the outset a separated people, kept clear of Gentile alliances. Ishmael's mother was a pagan slave; out of her Egyptian home he married a pagan wife. From all such close contact with heathendom it was requisite to guard the selected family through which a purer faith was to be transmitted.

3. Perhaps we may add a further consideration. No single home can long hold with safety the child of nature and the child of grace. This early family history was meant to be full of significance for the Church of God. And it had to be made clear that in God's spiritual family circle, or within their eternal home, no place can be found for such as are His only after the flesh, bearing on their body, indeed, the seal of His covenant, yet not born again of His Holy Spirit.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

The Congregational Pulpit.
I. THE BIRTH OF ISAAC.Observe on this event —

1. That God has a fixed time for fulfilling his word (see v. Genesis 21:2.)

2. When the time comes he is always found faithful.

3. The birth of Isaac connects itself with a blessing imparted to his parents. Each renewed his or her youth.


1. That which is carnal always hates and despises that which is spiritual.

2. The world seems to be much stronger than the children of promise.

3. But, in the end, Isaac prevails over Ishmael.

III. THE EPISODE. Hagar means "fugitive." First, she fled from Egypt, of which country she was a native; then, from her mistress (see ch. 16); and now from her master and husband. Ishmael means " God heareth." God heard Abraham's prayer for him (Genesis 17:18); and now he hears Hague's cry.

(The Congregational Pulpit.)

1. In particular we see first that the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, in their full and ultimate significance, are precisely identical with those of the Gospel. The Church began in Abraham's household — as Paul has emphatically put it, the Gospel was preached before unto him, and so if the initiatory rite of that covenant, which was not a mere national thing, but included in it spiritual blessings for all the nations of the earth, could be administered to infants we need have no scruple about the baptism of infants. In Abraham's case, an adult circumcision, as the Apostle affirms, was a seal of the righteousness of his faith. That is to say, faith was necessary to his circumcision, and yet he was commanded to circumcise Isaac upon the eighth day when it was impossible that Isaac could have faith. Why, then, though faith be required of an adult for his baptism, may we not baptize the infant of a believer, just as Abraham circumcised Isaac, being eight days old?

2. Again, the view which I have brought out concerning the promised seed, sets vividly before us the ultimate number of the saved. Abraham was to be the father of many nations, and to have a seed as the dust of the earth, or as the stars of heaven innumerable — and that, as we have seen, refers not to the Jewish nations, but to the seed of believers.

3. Finally, we have brought out into distinct relief by this view of the promised seed, the character of the saved. Abraham "is the father of all them that believe," but this faith is inseparably connected with a spiritual birth-a birth resulting not from the operation of natural causes, but from the agency of the Holy Ghost. Now see how plainly that is foreshadowed tin the birth of Isaac as contrasted with that of Ishmael. Ishmael's birth was of the flesh, but that of Isaac was in fulfilment of promise. It was really supernatural, it was a divine gift; and one great reason for the long delay was just that this might be made apparent. Isaac thus stands for those who are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."Let me conclude by giving in plainest language what I judge to be for us now the spiritual truths suggested by this old history.

1. In the first place, the Deliverer for whom Abraham looked, whose actual coming in the future was made sure to him by the birth of Isaac, and whose day he saw afar off and was glad, has appeared among men. By a yet more striking miracle than that which issued in the birth of Isaac, "The Word who was God was made flesh and dwelt among us."

2. Secondly, we learn from this old history, that in connection with the exercise of this faith, we must be supernaturally born, in order to enjoy the full blessings of salvation.

3. Finally, there is no inheritance without spiritual sonship. Ishmael who was born of the flesh, was cast out. Isaac who was born of the promise was the heir — the promised land belongs to the promised seed. "If children, then heirs."

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

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.)

"Cast out this bondwoman and her son" (ver. 10). These were harsh words; it was hard for one so young to have all blighted; it was grievous in Abraham's sight to witness the bitter fate of his eldest born. And yet was it not the most blessed destiny that could happen to the boy? The hot blood of the Egyptian mother which coursed through his veins could not have been kept in check in the domestic circle among vassals and dependants; he was sent to measure himself with men, to cat out his own way in the world, to learn independence, resolution, energy; and it is for this reason that to this very day his dependants are so sharply stamped with all the individuality of their founder. In them are exhibited the characteristics of Abraham and Hagar, the marvellous devoutness of the one with the fierce passions of the other, and together with these the iron will, the dignified calmness of self dependence wrought out by circumstances in the character of Ishmael. And how often is it that in this way the darkest day is the beginning of the brightest life. Reverses, difficulties, trials, are often amongst God's best blessings. From the loss of property is brought out very often the latent energies of character, a power to suffer and to act which in the querulous being without a wish ungratified you would have scarcely said had existed at all. The man compelled to labour gains energy, strength of character, the development of all that is within him. Can you call that loss? The richest resources are not from without, but from within.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Abimelech, Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Phichol, Sarah
Beersheba, Egypt, Gerar, Paran
Born, Borne, Egyptian, Hagar, Isaac, Making, Mocking, Playing, Sarah, Sport
1. Isaac is born, and circumcised.
6. Sarah's joy.
8. Isaac is weaned.
9. Hagar and Ishmael sent away.
15. Hagar in distress.
17. The angel relieves and comforts her.
23. Abimelech's covenant with Abraham at Beersheba.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 21:8-9

     5661   brothers

Genesis 21:8-10

     5568   suffering, causes

Genesis 21:8-12

     5672   concubines

Genesis 21:8-13

     5657   birthright
     5686   fathers, examples

Genesis 21:8-14

     5076   Abraham, life of

Genesis 21:9-14

     5077   Abraham, character

Compassion for Souls
Behold the compassion of a mother for her child expiring with thirst, and remember that such a compassion ought all Christians to feel towards souls that are perishing for lack of Christ, perishing eternally, perishing without hope of salvation. If the mother lifted up her voice arid wept, so also should we; and if the contemplation of her dying, child was all too painful for her, so may the contemplation of the wrath to come, which is to pass upon every soul that dies impenitent, become too painful
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Therefore, if we Compare the Things Themselves, we May no Way Doubt that The...
28. Therefore, if we compare the things themselves, we may no way doubt that the chastity of continence is better than marriage chastity, whilst yet both are good: but when we compare the persons, he is better, who hath a greater good than another. Further, he who hath a greater of the same kind, hath also that which is less; but he, who only hath what is less, assuredly hath not that which is greater. For in sixty, thirty also are contained, not sixty also in thirty. But not to work from out that
St. Augustine—On the Good of Marriage

The Gospel Feast
"When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?"--John vi. 5. After these words the Evangelist adds, "And this He said to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would do." Thus, you see, our Lord had secret meanings when He spoke, and did not bring forth openly all His divine sense at once. He knew what He was about to do from the first, but He wished to lead forward His disciples, and to arrest and
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

Of Bearing the Cross --One Branch of Self-Denial.
The four divisions of this chapter are,--I. The nature of the cross, its necessity and dignity, sec. 1, 2. II. The manifold advantages of the cross described, sec. 3-6. III. The form of the cross the most excellent of all, and yet it by no means removes all sense of pain, sec. 7, 8. IV. A description of warfare under the cross, and of true patience, (not that of philosophers,) after the example of Christ, sec. 9-11. 1. THE pious mind must ascend still higher, namely, whither Christ calls his disciples
Archpriest John Iliytch Sergieff—On the Christian Life

But if Moreover any not Having Charity, which Pertaineth to the Unity of Spirit...
23. But if moreover any not having charity, which pertaineth to the unity of spirit and the bond of peace whereby the Catholic Church is gathered and knit together, being involved in any schism, doth, that he may not deny Christ, suffer tribulations, straits, hunger, nakedness, persecution, perils, prisons, bonds, torments, swords, or flames, or wild beasts, or the very cross, through fear of hell and everlasting fire; in nowise is all this to be blamed, nay rather this also is a patience meet to
St. Augustine—On Patience

The Annunciation of Jesus the Messiah, and the Birth of his Forerunner.
FROM the Temple to Nazareth! It seems indeed most fitting that the Evangelic story should have taken its beginning within the Sanctuary, and at the time of sacrifice. Despite its outward veneration for them, the Temple, its services, and specially its sacrifices, were, by an inward logical necessity, fast becoming a superfluity for Rabbinism. But the new development, passing over the intruded elements, which were, after all, of rationalistic origin, connected its beginning directly with the Old Testament
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The First Chaldaean Empire and the Hyksos in Egypt
Syria: the part played by it in the ancient world--Babylon and the first Chaldaean empire--The dominion of the Hyksos: Ahmosis. Some countries seem destined from their origin to become the battle-fields of the contending nations which environ them. Into such regions, and to their cost, neighbouring peoples come from century to century to settle their quarrels and bring to an issue the questions of supremacy which disturb their little corner of the world. The nations around are eager for the possession
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4

The Holiness of God
The next attribute is God's holiness. Exod 15:51. Glorious in holiness.' Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known. Psa 111:1. Holy and reverend is his name.' He is the holy One.' Job 6:60. Seraphims cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.' Isa 6:6. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God's holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil. Of purer eyes than
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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