And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)She cast the child under one of the shrubs.—The act was one of despair. Ishmael, though seventeen years of age, had not yet come to his strength, and at a time when human life was so prolonged that forty was the usual age for marriage, was probably not as capable of bearing fatigue as a young man nearly grown up would be in our days. He thus became exhausted, and apparently fainted; and his mother, after trying in vain to support him, cast him down in anguish, and abandoned herself to her grief.Genesis 17:20.
He proceeds with all singleness of heart and denial of self to dismiss the mother and the son. This separation from the family of Abraham was, no doubt, distressing to the feelings of the parties concerned. But it involved no material hardship to those who departed, and conferred certain real advantages. Hagar obtained her freedom. Ishmael, though called a lad, was at an age when it is not unusual in the East to marry and provide for oneself. And their departure did not imply their exclusion from the privileges of communion with God, as they might still be under the covenant with Abraham, since Ishmael had been circumcised, and, at all events, were under the broader covenant of Noah. It was only their own voluntary rejection of God and his mercy, whether before or after their departure, that could cut them off from the promise of eternal life. It seems likely that Hagar and Ishmael had so behaved as to deserve their dismissal from the sacred home. "A bottle of water."
This was probably a kid-skin bottle, as Hagar could not have carried a goat-skin. Its contents were precious in the wilderness, but soon exhausted. "And the lad." He took the lad and gave him to Hagar. The bread and water-skin were on her shoulder; the lad she held by the hand. "In the wilderness of Beer-sheba." It is possible that the departure of Hagar occurred after the league with Abimelek and the naming of Beer-sheba, though coming in here naturally as the sequel of the birth and weaning of Isaac. The wilderness in Scripture is simply the land not profitable for cultivation, though fit for pasture to a greater or less extent. The wilderness of Beer-sheba is that part of the wilderness which was adjacent to Beer-sheba, where probably at this time Abraham was residing. "Laid the lad." Ishmael was now, no doubt, thoroughly humbled as well as wearied, and therefore passive under his mother's guidance. She led him to a sheltering bush, and caused him to lie down in its shade, resigning herself to despair. The artless description here is deeply affecting.
and she cast the child under one of the shrubs; not from off her shoulder, but out of her hand or bosom; being faint through thirst, he was not able to walk, and she, being weary in dragging him along in her hand, perhaps sat down and held him in her lap, and laid him in her bosom; but, imagining he was near his end, she laid him under one of the shrubs in the wilderness, to screen him from the scorching sun, and there left him; the Greek version is, "under one of the fir trees", and so says Josephus (f): some Jewish writers (g) call them juniper trees; and some make this to be Ishmael's own act, and say, that, being fatigued with thirst, he went and threw himself under the nettles of the wilderness (h), see Job 30:7.And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. cast the child] This expression taken with the mention of the child in Genesis 21:14; Genesis 21:18 (“hold him in thine hand”), 20 (“and he grew”) implies that Ishmael is regarded in this story as a little boy, who could be carried by his mother.
under one of the shrubs] We should probably understand by this word the low scrub such as grows in the desert, like the broom, under which Elijah rested, 1 Kings 19:4. The word used occurs also in Genesis 2:5 in a general sense; see note.Verse 15. - And the water was spent in (literally, from) the bottle, - so that the wanderers became exhausted, and were in danger of fainting through thirst - and she cast the child - a translation which certainly conveys an erroneous impression, first of Ishmael, who was not an infant, but a grown lad (vide supra, Ver. 14), and secondly of Ishmael's mother, whom it represents as acting with violence, if not with inhumanity; whereas the sense probably is that, having, as long as her rapidly diminishing strength permitted, supported her fainting son, she at length suddenly, through feebleness, released his nerveless hand as he fell, and in despair, finding herself unable to give him further assistance, left him, as she believed, to die where he had flung himself in his intolerable anguish - under one of the shrubs. Genesis 17:18 and Genesis 17:20). But God (Elohim, since there is no appearance mentioned, but the divine will was made known to him inwardly) commanded him to comply with Sarah's demand: "for in Isaac shall seed (posterity) be called to thee." This expression cannot mean "thy descendants will call themselves after Isaac," for in that case, at all events, זרעך would be used; for "in (through) Isaac shall seed be called into existence to thee," for קרא does not mean to call into existence; but, "in the person of Isaac shall there be posterity to thee, which shall pass as such," for נקרא includes existence and the recognition of existence. Though the noun is not defined by any article, the seed intended must be that to which all the promises of God referred, and with which God would establish His covenant (Genesis 17:21, cf. Romans 9:7-8; Hebrews 11:18). To make the dismissal of Ishmael easier to the paternal heart, God repeated to Abraham (Genesis 21:13) the promise already given him with regard to this son (Genesis 17:20).
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