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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 21

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-34

CHAPTER 21 Isaac and Ishmael and the Covenant with Abimelech

1. Isaac’s birth (Genesis 22:1-3 ) 2. His circumcision (Genesis 22:4-8 )

3. Ishmael mocking (Genesis 22:9 )

4. Sarah’s demand (Genesis 22:10-11 )

5. God speaks to Abraham (Genesis 22:12-13 )

6. Hagar and Ishmael cast out (Genesis 22:14-16 )

7. The intervention of God (Genesis 22:17-21 )

8. The covenant with Abimelech (Gen. 22:22-34)

Isaac, the promised seed, was born at the set time as God had spoken.

As there was a set time when the promised son was born to Abraham, so there was an appointed time when God gave His Son “when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son.” There is also a set time, when the First-Begotten will be brought into the world again, His second coming. Then it will be the set time for Israel, too, when God remembers His promises and when He visits and does all, what He has spoken concerning them. “Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time is come” (Psalms 102:13 ).

Isaac’s name means laughter, the laughter of God in view of man’s helplessness. Isaac the promised one, the only one, in his wonderful birth and in his name is a type of the promised seed, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God’s laughter over Satan, sin and death.

Sarah laughed again, but it is the laughter of joy. The word the Lord spoke to her: “is anything too hard for the Lord?” wrought faith in her heart. “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11 ). We have called attention before to the allegory in Galatians 4:21-31 . This passage gives meaning to the historical account. Sarah stands for the grace covenant; Hagar for the law covenant. As soon as the Seed came (Christ) the law was cast out. The law was only the schoolmaster till Christ came. Hagar’s son also typifies the flesh. Isaac is typical of the nature which grace bestows. No sooner was Isaac weaned and a great feast made than the son of Hagar, the Egyptian, mocked. Ishmael manifests his true character. As long as there was no Isaac, nothing is heard of Ishmael; the presence of Isaac makes known what was in the son of the bond-woman. The presence of the new nature makes known what the flesh really is and it is fulfilled what is written “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.”

Here we have also a dispensational picture. According to the passage in Galatians Hagar corresponds to Jerusalem which is now, the one who is in bondage with her children. As Hagar wandered in the wilderness so the natural descendants of Abraham have become wanderers. It is on account of that “covenant of grace” that rich grace in the Lord Jesus Christ, which they rejected that they are cast out. But they are like Hagar in the wilderness of “Beersheba”, which means translated, “well of the oath,” reminding us of the oath of God and His gifts and calling, which are without repentance. Like Hagar’s eyes their eyes are blinded and they see not the “well of water” which is for them. A time, however, will come when their eyes will be opened and when they shall draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3 ). The rest of the chapter is taken up with the record of the covenant, which Abimelech made with Abraham. He, who had been healed in answer to the prayer of Abraham, now acknowledges openly that God is with his servant. This shows the faithfulness of God to His promises. Abraham is blest and is a blessing. In the grove of Beersheba he called on the name of Jehovah, the everlasting God.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Genesis 21". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/genesis-21.html. 1913-1922.
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