Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Abraham, Sarah and Isaac: Genesis 21:1-24:67

Genesis 21

The Birth of Isaac

1Then the LORD did exactly what he had promised. 2Sarah became pregnant, and she gave a son to Abraham in his old age. It all happened at the time God had said it would. 3And Abraham named his son Isaac.[a] 4Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5Abraham was one hundred years old at the time.
6And Sarah declared, "God has brought me laughter! All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7For who would have dreamed that I would ever have a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!"

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

8As time went by and Isaac grew and was weaned, Abraham gave a big party to celebrate the happy occasion. 9But Sarah saw Ishmael--the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar--making fun of Isaac. 10So she turned to Abraham and demanded, "Get rid of that servant and her son. He is not going to share the family inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won't have it!"
11This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. 12But God told Abraham, "Do not be upset over the boy and your servant wife. Do just as Sarah says, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. 13But I will make a nation of the descendants of Hagar's son because he also is your son."

14So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food for the journey, and strapped a container of water to Hagar's shoulders. He sent her away with their son, and she walked out into the wilderness of Beersheba, wandering aimlessly. 15When the water was gone, she left the boy in the shade of a bush. 16Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards[b] away. "I don't want to watch the boy die," she said, as she burst into tears.

17Then God heard the boy's cries, and the angel of God called to Hagar from the sky, "Hagar, what's wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy's cries from the place where you laid him. 18Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants."

19Then God opened Hagar's eyes, and she saw a well. She immediately filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. 20And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness of Paran. He became an expert archer, 21and his mother arranged a marriage for him with a young woman from Egypt.

A Treaty with Abimelech

22About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. "It is clear that God helps you in everything you do," Abimelech said. 23"Swear to me in God's name that you won't deceive me, my children, or my grandchildren. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country in which you are living."
24Abraham replied, "All right, I swear to it!" 25Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech's servants had taken violently from Abraham's servants.

26"This is the first I've heard of it," Abimelech said. "And I have no idea who is responsible. Why didn't you say something about this before?" 27Then Abraham gave sheep and oxen to Abimelech, and they made a treaty. 28But when Abraham took seven additional ewe lambs and set them off by themselves, 29Abimelech asked, "Why are you doing that?"

30Abraham replied, "They are my gift to you as a public confirmation that I dug this well." 31So ever since, that place has been known as Beersheba--"well of the oath"--because that was where they had sworn an oath. 32After making their covenant, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines. 33Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and he worshiped the LORD, the Eternal God, at that place. 34And Abraham lived in Philistine country for a long time.


Genesis 21:3 Isaac means "he laughs."
Genesis 21:16 Hebrew a bowshot.

Genesis 22

Abrahams Obedience Tested

1Later on God tested Abraham's faith and obedience. "Abraham!" God called.
"Yes," he replied. "Here I am."

2"Take your son, your only son--yes, Isaac, whom you love so much--and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you."

3The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son Isaac. Then he chopped wood to build a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place where God had told him to go. 4On the third day of the journey, Abraham saw the place in the distance. 5"Stay here with the donkey," Abraham told the young men. "The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back."

6Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac's shoulders, while he himself carried the knife and the fire. As the two of them went on together, 7Isaac said, "Father?"

"Yes, my son," Abraham replied.

"We have the wood and the fire," said the boy, "but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?"

8"God will provide a lamb, my son," Abraham answered. And they both went on together.

9When they arrived at the place where God had told Abraham to go, he built an altar and placed the wood on it. Then he tied Isaac up and laid him on the altar over the wood. 10And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to kill his son as a sacrifice to the LORD. 11At that moment the angel of the LORD shouted to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

"Yes," he answered. "I'm listening."

12"Lay down the knife," the angel said. "Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me."

13Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son. 14Abraham named the place "The LORD Will Provide."[a] This name has now become a proverb: "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

15Then the angel of the LORD called again to Abraham from heaven, 16"This is what the LORD says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your beloved son, I swear by my own self that 17I will bless you richly. I will multiply your descendants into countless millions, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. They will conquer their enemies, 18and through your descendants,[b] all the nations of the earth will be blessed--all because you have obeyed me." 19Then they returned to Abraham's young men and traveled home again to Beersheba, where Abraham lived for quite some time.

20Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahor's wife, had borne Nahor eight sons. 21The oldest was named Uz, the next oldest was Buz, followed by Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. 24In addition to his eight sons from Milcah, Nahor had four other children from his concubine Reumah. Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.


Genesis 22:14 Hebrew Yahweh Yir'eh.
Genesis 22:18 Hebrew seed.

Genesis 23

The Burial of Sarah

1When Sarah was 127 years old, 2she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her. 3Then, leaving her body, he went to the Hittite elders and said, 4"Here I am, a stranger in a foreign land, with no place to bury my wife. Please let me have a piece of land for a burial plot."
5The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6"Certainly, for you are an honored prince among us. It will be a privilege to have you choose the finest of our tombs so you can bury her there."

7Then Abraham bowed low before them and said, 8"Since this is how you feel, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of Zohar 9to let me have the cave of Machpelah, down at the end of his field. I want to pay the full price, of course, whatever is publicly agreed upon, so I may have a permanent burial place for my family."

10Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the elders of the town. 11"No, sir," he said to Abraham, "please listen to me. I will give you the cave and the field. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead."

12Abraham bowed again to the people of the land, 13and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. "No, listen to me," he insisted. "I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there."

14"Well," Ephron answered, 15"the land is worth four hundred pieces[a] of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead."

16So Abraham paid Ephron the amount he had suggested, four hundred pieces of silver, as was publicly agreed. 17He bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field, the cave that was in it, and all the trees nearby. 18They became Abraham's permanent possession by the agreement made in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate. 19So Abraham buried Sarah there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, which is at Hebron. 20The field and the cave were sold to Abraham by the Hittites as a permanent burial place.


Genesis 23:15 Hebrew 400 shekels, about 10 pounds or 4.6 kilograms in weight; also in 23:16.

Genesis 24

Isaac Marries Rebekah

1Abraham was now a very old man, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2One day Abraham said to the man in charge of his household, who was his oldest servant, 3"Swear[a] by the LORD, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not let my son marry one of these local Canaanite women. 4Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac."
5The servant asked, "But suppose I can't find a young woman who will travel so far from home? May I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives?"

6"No!" Abraham warned. "Be careful never to take my son there. 7For the LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my offspring.[b] He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a young woman there to be my son's wife. 8If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there."

9So the servant took a solemn oath[c] that he would follow Abraham's instructions. 10He loaded ten of Abraham's camels with gifts and set out, taking with him the best of everything his master owned. He traveled to Aram-naharaim[d] and went to the village where Abraham's brother Nahor had settled. 11There the servant made the camels kneel down beside a well just outside the village. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water.

12"O LORD, God of my master," he prayed. "Give me success and show kindness to my master, Abraham. Help me to accomplish the purpose of my journey. 13See, here I am, standing beside this spring, and the young women of the village are coming out to draw water. 14This is my request. I will ask one of them for a drink. If she says, `Yes, certainly, and I will water your camels, too!'--let her be the one you have appointed as Isaac's wife. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."

15As he was still praying, a young woman named Rebekah arrived with a water jug on her shoulder. Her father was Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham's brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. 16Now Rebekah was very beautiful, and she was a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. 17Running over to her, the servant asked, "Please give me a drink."

18"Certainly, sir," she said, and she quickly lowered the jug for him to drink. 19When he had finished, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough!" 20So she quickly emptied the jug into the watering trough and ran down to the well again. She kept carrying water to the camels until they had finished drinking. 21The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not she was the one the LORD intended him to meet. 22Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he gave her a gold ring for her nose and two large gold bracelets[e] for her wrists.

23"Whose daughter are you?" he asked. "Would your father have any room to put us up for the night?"

24"My father is Bethuel," she replied. "My grandparents are Nahor and Milcah. 25Yes, we have plenty of straw and food for the camels, and we have a room for guests."

26The man fell down to the ground and worshiped the LORD. 27"Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham," he said. "The LORD has been so kind and faithful to Abraham, for he has led me straight to my master's relatives."

28The young woman ran home to tell her family about all that had happened. 29Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban. 30When he saw the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister's wrists, and when he heard her story, he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels. Laban said to him, 31"Come and stay with us, you who are blessed by the LORD. Why do you stand here outside the village when we have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels!"

32So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw to bed them down, fed them, and provided water for the camel drivers to wash their feet. 33Then supper was served. But Abraham's servant said, "I don't want to eat until I have told you why I have come."

"All right," Laban said, "tell us your mission."

34"I am Abraham's servant," he explained. 35"And the LORD has blessed my master richly; he has become a great man. The LORD has given him flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many servants and camels and donkeys. 36When Sarah, my master's wife, was very old, she gave birth to my master's son, and my master has given him everything he owns. 37And my master made me swear that I would not let Isaac marry one of the local Canaanite women. 38Instead, I was to come to his relatives here in this far-off land, to his father's home. I was told to bring back a young woman from here to marry his son.

39" `But suppose I can't find a young woman willing to come back with me?' I asked him. 40`You will,' he told me, `for the LORD, in whose presence I have walked, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must get a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father's family. 41But if you go to my relatives and they refuse to let her come, you will be free from your oath.'

42"So this afternoon when I came to the spring I prayed this prayer: `O LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, please guide me in a special way. 43Here I am, standing beside this spring. I will say to some young woman who comes to draw water, "Please give me a drink of water!" 44And she will reply, "Certainly! And I'll water your camels, too!" LORD, let her be the one you have selected to be the wife of my master's son.'

45"Before I had finished praying these words, I saw Rebekah coming along with her water jug on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water and filled the jug. So I said to her, `Please give me a drink.' 46She quickly lowered the jug from her shoulder so I could drink, and she said, `Certainly, sir, and I will water your camels, too!' And she did. 47When I asked her whose daughter she was, she told me, `My father is Bethuel, the son of Nahor and his wife, Milcah.' So I gave her the ring and the bracelets.

48"Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me along the right path to find a wife from the family of my master's relatives. 49So tell me--will you or won't you show true kindness to my master? When you tell me, then I'll know what my next step should be, whether to move this way or that."

50Then Laban and Bethuel replied, "The LORD has obviously brought you here, so what can we say? 51Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed."

52At this reply, Abraham's servant bowed to the ground and worshiped the LORD. 53Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and lovely clothing for Rebekah. He also gave valuable presents to her mother and brother. 54Then they had supper, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight. But early the next morning, he said, "Send me back to my master."

55"But we want Rebekah to stay at least ten days," her brother and mother said. "Then she can go."

56But he said, "Don't hinder my return. The LORD has made my mission successful, and I want to report back to my master."

57"Well," they said, "we'll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks." 58So they called Rebekah. "Are you willing to go with this man?" they asked her.

And she replied, "Yes, I will go."

59So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham's servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah's childhood nurse went along with her. 60They blessed her with this blessing as she parted:

"Our sister, may you become
the mother of many millions! May your descendants overcome
all their enemies."

61Then Rebekah and her servants mounted the camels and left with Abraham's servant.

62Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahairoi. 63One evening as he was taking a walk out in the fields, meditating, he looked up and saw the camels coming. 64When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted. 65"Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?" she asked the servant.

And he replied, "It is my master." So Rebekah covered her face with her veil. 66Then the servant told Isaac the whole story.

67And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother's tent, and she became his wife. He loved her very much, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.


Genesis 24:3 Hebrew Put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear.
Genesis 24:7 Hebrew seed.
Genesis 24:9 Hebrew put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore an oath.
Genesis 24:10 Aram-naharaim means "Aram of the two rivers," thought to have been located between the Euphrates and Balih Rivers in northwestern Mesopotamia.
Genesis 24:22 Hebrew a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel [0.2 ounces or 6 grams] and two gold bracelets weighing 10 shekels [4 ounces or 114 grams].