Genesis  ◦   Chapter 21

1The Lord visited Sarah and healed her infertility, just as he promised. 2Sarah became pregnant by her husband, Abraham, and gave birth to his son in his old age, at the very time God had promised she would. 3Abraham named his son, by Sarah, Isaac. 4When Isaac was eight days old, Abraham followed God’s instruction and circumcised Isaac, cutting into his flesh the sign of God’s plan to excise sin out of the hearts of all who trust him. 5Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born.

6Sarah joyfully said, “God has turned my sorrow to joy and given me laughter, and all who receive the Lord’s promise will share my joy and laugh with me.” 7Then she added, “Who would have predicted to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I gave birth to his son in his old age.”

8When Isaac grew and was ready to be weaned, Abraham prepared a great feast to celebrate the day of his weaning. 9But Sarah saw Ishmael, the son who was born to Abraham by Hagar the Egyptian, mocking and ridiculing Isaac. 10So she went to Abraham and said, “You must sever all ties with that slave woman and her son and drive them out, for that slave woman’s son thinks he is the heir and is demeaning my son Isaac, trying to dominate him, but he is not the heir of God’s promises.”

11Abraham was quite distraught when he heard this about his son Ishmael. 12But God reassured him, saying, “You don’t need to worry about the boy and your slave Hagar, for I will watch over them. Follow Sarah’s guidance in this, because it is through Isaac that your promised descendant will come. 13I will also make the descendants of the son of the slave woman into a nation, because he is your child.”

14Early the next morning, Abraham gathered some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He placed them on her shoulders and sent her and Ishmael away. They left and wandered in the wastelands of Beersheba.

15When their water was gone, Hagar put her son under the shade of some bushes. 16Then she moved about 100 yards (90 meters) away. Exhausted and discouraged, she sat down and began to sob, thinking to herself, “I cannot bear to watch my son die.”

17God watched over them, and hearing the boy crying, the angel of God went from heaven to Hagar and gently said to her, “What’s wrong, Hagar? You have nothing to fear, for God has heard the boy’s cry from where he rests. 18Go, take his hand, and encourage him with the knowledge that I will make him into a great nation.”

19Then God showed her a well of water, from which she filled her water skin and gave the boy a drink.

20 God watched over the boy, and he grew up and settled in the wilderness, and he became an archer. 21While he was living in the wilderness of Paran, his mother arranged for him to marry an Egyptian woman.

22At that time, king Abimelech and Phicol, his military commander, went to Abraham and said, “We know you are God’s spokesman, and he is with you in all that you do. 23So give me your oath before God that you will always be completely honest with me and never again mislead me, my children, or any of my descendants. And give me your word that you will be loyal and kind to this country and its people where you now reside, just as I have been to you.”

24Abraham said, “I swear it,” 25but then Abraham suggested that Abimelech was not totally honorable, as Abimelech’s servants had taken a well from Abraham by force.

26But Abimelech was stunned that Abraham might question his integrity and said, “I don’t know who has done this. But you never told me; seriously, this is the first I have heard about it.”

27Hearing this, Abraham brought some sheep and cattle to Abimelech and they cut a deal – a treaty between them. 28Abraham separated seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29and Abimelech asked him, “What are these seven ewe lambs for?”

30Abraham said, “Accept these seven ewe lambs from me as a public testament that you acknowledge that I dug this well.”

31So they named the place Beersheba (which means ‘well of oath’), because it was there that the two of them swore an oath.

32After they made the treaty at Beersheba, king Abimelech and Phicol, his military commander, went home to the land of the Philistines. 33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba and there he proclaimed the glorious character of the Eternal Creator God. 34And Abraham lived in the land of the Philistines for a long time.