A Daily Genesis

Genesis 21:13-14c

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:13 . . As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed.[/B]

Abraham certainly must have been worried what would become of Ishmael; so God reassured him his boy would be just fine.

I think it's significant that God didn't refer to either Hagar or to Ishmael by name, probably because the emphasis here is upon Divine purpose instead of upon people.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:14a . . Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar.[/B]

The Hebrew word for "bread" is [I]lechem[/I] (lekh'-em) which just simply means food (for man or beast), which therefore includes grain. So Abraham didn't necessarily send the poor woman out on her own with a ration of bread and water like some sort of hardened criminal, but very likely provisioned Hagar and his son Ishmael with enough camper-grade food stuffs to keep them going for a while.

But it's puzzling why Abraham didn't provide them with an escort; at least until they reached the safety of a village or a town. That suggests to me that Abraham fully believed God's promise to "make a nation of him" which implies that God Himself would look out for them from here on in.
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[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:14b . . He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child,[/B]

I would have hated to observe that scene. Abraham didn't dispatch a servant or a butler to equip Hagar. He did it himself. And he didn't just bring the provisions out to her and set it down at her feet. No. He put them up on her shoulder himself. You have to stand close to someone to do that; close enough to look them right in the eyes.

There's no record of ever any ill will between Hagar and Abraham, nor any between him and his boy Ishmael either. Those three were truly family in every sense of the word— mom, dad, and child. There couldn't have been a dry eye nor a cheerful face at any time during this excruciating farewell. If you've ever experienced something so upsetting as to make you nauseous, lead-bellied, and lose your appetite; then you know what I'm talking about. Anybody who can read this story without feeling the slightest twinge of compassion for any one of those three; has got to be the most insensitive clod on earth.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:14c . . and sent her away.[/B]

The phrase "sent her away" is from the Hebrew word [I]shalach[/I] (shaw-lakh') which is a versatile word that can be used of divorce as well as for the emancipation of slaves. In other words: Hagar wasn't banished as is commonly assumed; no, she was set free; and it's very important to nail that down in our thinking because if Abraham had merely banished Hagar, then her son Ishmael would have retained his legal status as Abraham's eldest biological son.

Technically, Ishmael retained his status as one of Abraham's biological sons (Gen 25:9) but not legally; no, his legal association with Abraham was dissolved when he emancipated Ishmael's mother.

I believe it's important to emphasize that Hagar and Ishmael weren't cut loose because they were no longer worthy to live in Abraham's camp any more. No. It was only as a measure to expedite God's future plans for Isaac. Even if Sarah hadn't proposed the idea of emancipating Hagar, I suspect that God would have eventually required it so anyway.

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