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Verses 14-16

"And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and gave her the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not look upon the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept."

"Bread and a bottle of water ..." It should not be supposed that this was the total endowment given to Hagar and her son when Abraham sent them away. It would be totally out of character for Abraham to have sent them away without sufficient provisions, or monies with which to procure them, sufficient for the journey she was compelled to make. The love of Abraham for Ishmael would have prevented such an injustice. Besides that, when Abraham sent away his concubines, near the end of his career, it is written that, "Unto the sons of the concubines that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts; and he sent them away from Isaac his son" (Genesis 25:6). There is no room for doubt that Abraham also bestowed gifts upon Hagar and Ishmael. The cryptic mention of "bread ... and water" here indicates only the load that she carried with her, but not any money or silver which would not have been carried on her shoulder. This whole narrative is extremely abbreviated. One other thing about this is that even the water supply did not give out because of any unusual limitation of it, but because she had been lost and had "wandered" in the wilderness (Genesis 21:14).

"The wilderness of Beersheba ..." This was southward from the home of Abraham in the direction of Egypt, which had been Hagar's home before Pharaoh had given her to Abraham. It was only natural that she should have attempted to go back home. One has to be without pity to view the narrative here without sorrow and concern for this woman and her son so suddenly thrust out of the affluent circumstances to which they were accustomed. One redeeming factor of Hagar's expulsion, however, should not be overlooked - her freedom, and that of her son, were the glorious corollaries of the hardships to which they were exposed. With that in view, it was worth it.

"Beersheba ..." was situated some 50 miles southwest of Jerusalem, "about half way between the Mediterranean and the southern portion of the Dead Sea."[8] The entire area there appears to have had a sparse population in the times of Abraham, and it served somewhat as a buffer area between Egypt and the Philistines. The principal importance of Beersheba with its wells lay in the fact of its being a watering place on the trade route to and from Egypt.

"And gave her the child ..." These words "and gave her" are supplied by the translators to make the meaning clear. Their omission would make the passage seem to say that Abraham had placed the child, along with the bread and water, on Hagar's shoulder. The critical scholars have proposed all kinds of emendations, substitutions, and rearrangements of the text here for the purpose of setting up "contradictions" of other Biblical passages, but as one of them freely admitted, "The various emendations that have been proposed merely substitute one set of problems for another. An acceptable solution is yet to be discovered." There are places in the Hebrew Bible where the text is uncertain, due to the antiquity of it, and to human error visible in places where the text is uncertain, but God has seen to it that the meaning is almost always perfectly clear anyway. Take the alleged "problem" here, for example. Speiser defined it: "The real problem is Ishmael's age at the time (of this episode)."[9] That is really no problem at all. The reading of the previous chapters makes it perfectly clear that he was 16 or 17 years of age. Besides that, the efforts of source-splitters to make this passage assert that Ishmael was a little child during this episode are frustrated by the dates for the circumcision of Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael was age 13 when circumcised, and Isaac, circumcised on the eighth day, was three years old at his weaning. Therefore, the age of Ishmael here was 16 or 17. Both these dates are memorialized perpetually in the various customs of the Arabians and the Hebrews, so there cannot be any doubt of the age of Ishmael here. Thus, two independent sources attest the validity of our conclusion, those of the Genesis record, and the monumental testimony of the rite of circumcision, observed by literally millions of people all over the world, conforming to the dates given. Note too that Ishmael was circumcised the very first day that God gave the ordinance, that he was then age 13, and that Isaac was born after Ishmael, and was three years of age when this episode occurred. Thus, 13 plus three equals 16, a figure that might vary a year due to the Hebrew method of calculating birthdays.

"She cast the child under one of the shrubs ..." This too is pressed into service to prove an untruth. But Keil said, the word for "child" here is actually "lad." "It does not mean an infant, but a "boy" or a "young man."[10]

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